26th March – Simon Kjaer

Simon Kjaer has been one of the more consistent centre backs around Europe in recent years but it seems like every time he is close to a really big move his form plummets and mistakes creep into his game.

The centre back is still only 26 but has a lot of experience and has played in some big games for both club and country so his career will more than likely get better. Over the years he has been linked with transfers to Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea to name a few and it is felt that he would be good in the Premier League and the English top flight definitely needs more top quality defenders.

Kjaer started his career at Danish club Midtjylland and even at a young age he was linked with big moves and even had a trial with Real Madrid in August 2007 but unfortunately a deal could not be agreed. Instead he signed a new five year deal with his first club and made his debut in a 2-0 win over AGF on the 30th September 2007. He would play 21 times for the club before making the move to Italian side Palermo in July 2008.

Kjaer Palermo

He would have to wait until October to make his debut as a half time substitute in a 3-1 defeat to Fiorentina. Despite the loss Kjaer played well and quickly established himself as an important member of the side and ended the season with 27 appearances and three goals. After a very successful first season he was named the 2009 Danish Talent of the Year and during the 2009-10 campaign he would go on to produce even better performances, ending with a very consistent World Cup which meant once again that many other clubs were looking at him and Palermo had to accept they were going to lose him in the summer.

On the 8th July 2010 he made the move to Wolfsburg but unfortunately Kjaer and the club got off to an indifferent start and were not achieving what they had expected to. After manager Steve McClaren was sacked, Felix Magath took over and it was much tougher for Kjaer to get a regular place in the team and was made a scapegoat by the new manager for the problems Wolfsburg were having.

Kjaer Wolfsburg

After making three appearances at the start of the 2011-12 season the centre back made the move to Roma on a season long loan. This was also not a good move for him as he struggled to show his quality and was even sent off against Lazio in a 2-1 defeat which led to the club not buying him permanently and he had to return to Wolfsburg. After burying the hatchet with Magath he would eventually get back into the team but he only lasted one more season.

His next move was to Lille in France and was very impressive in his first campaign helping the club to 21 clean sheets and was included in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season after they only conceded 26 goals in 38 league games. The defender has continued to put in good performances and has proven that when he is on form he can be a leader and one of the best in Europe.

Kjaer Lille

The final word can go to Palermo director Walter Sabatini. “I have heard that Juventus and their observers have been watching Kjaer. There is also an interest from Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. But he’ll stay, even he knows that. All is well, he wants to complete his development. Simon should be valued based on the qualities he has.”

13th February – Eljero Elia

Southampton have had a fantastic season so far and to help them secure European football next season they brought in winger Eljero Elia on loan and he looks to be a fantastic addition.

At the age of 28 he has been around a while and many people believe he hasn’t quite lived up to his potential and has had a few fallings out in his career which have stopped him reaching the very top but he is showing now that he can succeed at the very top. Koeman will be hoping his unpredictability helps him on the pitch and if they can secure a top four place then Elia will have a big part to play.

Elia ADO

Elia began his career at ADO Den Haag and made his professional debut at the age of 17 against Groningen and he went on to play a further three games over the season and scored his first goals against AZ. In the following seasons he was a first team regular but after several disagreements with the new coach at the club he left for Twente in 2007. In his first season he played 30 times and scored two goals but produced some exciting performances and when Steve McClaren became manager he seemed to get the best out of him, scoring 11 goals and being named the Dutch Football Talent of the Year in 2009. This led to him being linked with moves away and he eventually left for German side Hamburg. His first season at the club was blighted by injuries and he only managed to play 24 games and in his second season he began to get frustrated at not getting more chances in the first team and was subsequently fined after he claimed the club didn’t look after him when he was injured.

Elia Twente

On the 31st August 2011 he made the move to Italian giants Juventus but once again he found first team opportunities limited and after just one season he was on the move again this time to Werder Bremen. Elia found it difficult to adapt to the team’s style of play and was also suspended by the club after being caught speeding. A better second season meant the club changed their mind about selling him but it wasn’t long before he was causing controversy again and manager Viktor Skrypnyk decided to drop him before the Nordderby against former club Hamburg.

Elia WB

This seemed to be the last straw at the club and it was announced that he would be joining Southampton on loan soon afterwards. He made his debut for the club in a 1-0 win over Manchester United and then followed this up in the next Premier League game with two goals in the win over Newcastle United. Southampton fans will be hoping he can keep up his early promise and just give them the extra energy needed in their push for the top four.

The final word can go to Ronald Koeman. “He is a good option for us. I believe in his qualities. He is fast, can play from the left and right, and can take people on one on one. He is hungry and that is the most important thing. We need really good players who want to develop themselves.”

19th September – Leon Best

Leon Best is already a legend at Derby County after scoring his first goal for the club in the last minute against local rivals Nottingham Forest.

It may have been one of the easiest goals of his career but in the 89th minute with your team losing in a derby it must be hard to keep your composure and pass the ball into the back of the net. Derby will be hoping that this will be the first of many as they look to go gain promotion to the Premier League.

Best started his career at Southampton and made his debut on this day in 2004 as an 18 year old against Newcastle United. Over the course of his first season he played 10 times, five at Southampton and another five while on loan at QPR. He scored his first professional goal in the following season after joining Sheffield Wednesday on loan. On the 9th August 2005 he scored at Hillsborough against Hull City but unfortunately his loan spell had to be cut short after he broke his foot in the game. After recovering he returned to Wednesday once more, but could only score once in 11 appearances.
Best SW
He struggled to break into the first team at Southampton and had to spend more time out on loan, firstly to Bournemouth, where he scored three times in 15 games and then to Yeovil Town. At Yeovil he showed all his quality, scoring 10 times in just 15 games. When he returned he started in the second leg of the Championship playoff against Derby. But this turned out to be a disaster for the striker as he scored an own goal and after the game went to penalties he missed his spot kick.

On the 5th July 2007 he joined Coventry City. He spent three seasons at the club and although he was never prolific he became a fan favourite and in his final season he did win the Championship Player of the Month in September 2009. He scored 19 league goals in 92 games and this was good enough to convince Newcastle to sign the striker on the 1st February 2010 to help them gain promotion.
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In his first half season he had to settle for a place on the bench as Peter Lovenkrands and Andy Carroll were in such good form. He did not score and was linked with moves away but after an impressive pre season he was seen as a vital member of the squad. However, a cruciate injury forced him to miss the first few months of the season. He finally made his comeback on the 2nd January 2011 in a 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic and then started his first Premier League match for the club in the next game scoring a hatrick in a 5-0 win over West Ham.

He ended the season with six goals in just 11 games and continued his great form at the start of the next campaign, as he scored twice in a 2-1 win over Fulham and grabbed an equaliser against Aston Villa. He then went 12 games without scoring but ended this drought with the only goal in a 1-0 win over QPR.
Best NU
This proved to be his last goal for the club as he joined Blackburn Rovers on the 2nd July 2012. Less than a month after joining the club he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury and he has never really been given the chance at the club, playing just 16 times in two seasons so on the 14th February 2014 he joined Sheffield Wednesday for a third time and played a key role in helping them pull away from the relegation zone. He added another six goals to his total for Wednesday in 13 league games.

The final word can go to Steve McClaren. “I’m extremely pleased that we have been able to sign Leon Best. He is a player with Premier League and Championship experience, knows how to score goals and will provide a different option in our attacking armoury.”

21st June – Cheick Tiote

Cheick Tiote is currently at the World Cup with Ivory Coast and for his 28th birthday he will want nothing more than his country getting out of the group stages.

They started with a 2-1 win over Japan but lost against Colombia in their second group match and will be hoping that they can beat Greece in their final match they will qualify for their next round but the midfielder is on a yellow card and will have to be careful not to pick up another or he will be out of the second round match. Tiote is a player that picks up a lot of cards but this has never changed his style of play and never pulls out of a tackle.

Tiote has always had to battle to have a football career and didn’t own a pair of football boots until the age of 15. He started his career at FC Bibo in the Ivory Coast before he was scouted by Belgian club Anderlecht, who he signed for in 2005. He did not get many opportunities at the club and after just four league games he was sent out on loan to Roda JC. He had more success in Holland where he played 26 times and even managed to score twice in the league.
Tiote Roda
His performances convinced FC Twente to sign the Ivorian in October 2008. He gained a reputation for being a determined player that also had a keen eye for a pass. During his time at the club he played 58 league games and scored once, as well as assisting a further 14. His greatest moment was the 2009-10 season where he helped his team lift the Dutch title under the guidance of Steve McClaren.
Tiote Twente
On the 26th August 2010 Tiote signed for Newcastle United and made his debut shortly after against Everton where he impressed everyone by completing ever pass he attempted. Manager Chris Hughton was very happy with his purchase. “Cheick is a terrific signing for us and I am sure he will prove to be an excellent addition to the squad. He has a first class pedigree and I think his game is well suited to the Premier League.”

He quickly became a fan favourite for his all action displays but he received his first red card for the club in a third round FA Cup game against Stevenage. However, on his return he scored one of the most memorable goals in Premier League history against Arsenal. Newcastle had been trailing 4-0 at half time but managed to pull it back to 4-3 and in the last few minutes Tiote scored a volley from 25 yards to level the scores.
In 2011 he signed new six year deal at Newcastle and although his form has been slightly up and down over the last few seasons he is still one of their most important players and when he is on form Newcastle usually get results.
Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Newcastle United - Emirates Stadium
Still a problem that Tiote has is the number of yellow cards he receives and in his first 50 Premier League games he picked up 25 bookings, however he still only has one red card which was slightly controversial in a game against Sunderland.

The final word can go to his current manager Alan Pardew. “Cheick is exactly the type of player I want in my squad. He is fantastic on the pitch and in the dressing room. He offers us strength and presence in midfield and has proved himself to be one of the best in his position in the Premier League.”

3rd May – Steve McClaren

Not many England managers have took on jobs abroad but this particular one has had a lot of success and is now in with a good chance of gaining promotion to the Premier League.

Steve McClaren is 53 today and is currently in charge of Derby County where he has led them to a third place finish and will compete in the playoffs for a place in the top flight. It has been a long journey since the last time he managed in the Premier League which has seen him be the national team manager, manage in Holland and Germany and then have a spell at local rivals Nottingham Forest.

He spent most of his playing career in the lower leagues playing for Hull City, Derby County, Lincoln City, Bristol City and Oxford United until an injury in 1992 forced him to retire. He became a coach at Oxford until 1995 when he joined Jim Smith at Derby to help them gain promotion in their first season and helped them consolidate their position. He was gaining a very good reputation and in 1999 he moved to Manchester United and in his first half a season he helped the club win the treble. The success continued as every year he spent at the club they won the league title but at the end of the 2000-01 season he was actively looking for a managerial position and he had three clubs chasing him. Ultimately he decided to join Middlesbrough.

Every season there was slight improvement and in 2004 he led the team to victory in the League Cup final against Bolton Wanderers, meaning he was the first Middlesbrough manager to win a major honour and take them into Europe. Middlesbrough’s games in Europe against Steaua Bucharest and FC Basel will live long in the memory as the club recovered from positions that never seemed possible and meant they got to the final of the UEFA Cup. Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson said of his manager: “What he has achieved in his time here is highly impressive, and yet I don’t feel he has had anything like the praise his achievements deserve.”
Mcclaren England
However he was being recognised by some and on the 4th May 2006 McClaren became England manager. Taking over from Sven Goran Eriksson who said: “I have worked closely with Steve ever since I came to England and know how good of a coach he is. He is well liked and well respected by all the players and staff.” Unfortunately he only lasted 18 games and failed to qualify for Euro 2008 but he did win nine of his games in charge.

In June 2008 he returned to football and took over Dutch club FC Twente. In his first season at the club they finished in second place and many predicted they would struggle the next season after losing key players but this did not happen as they were crowned champions in 2010 for the first time in their history. Twente won 16 of their 17 home matches and had to withstand some serious pressure from Ajax who won their last 14 games which shows how impressive McClaren had to be.
Mcclaren Twente
Even after this achievement he decided to move on and join German side Wolfsburg. However he did not do as well as he hoped and was only in charge for 24 games and was sacked in February 2011. McClaren then decided to return to England but success did not return as he only won three games out of 13 with Nottingham Forest and resigned.

He then returned to Twente but once again he could not rediscover the golden touch and after a disappointing 6th place finish and tough time in the next season he resigned from his post. After a brief spell as coach at QPR he joined Derby County and in his 37 games in charge so far he was won 22 games and it is hard to argue against them winning the playoffs and he will be quietly confident that he will be a Premier League manager once again next season.
Mcclaren Derby
The final word can go to Jim Smith who made him his assistant at Derby. “He’s a very talented coach and very good at man management. He’s up there with the best in coaching terms.”