Fernando Alonso and Mclaren-Honda set for a divorce?

Double world champion Fernando Alonso’s patient with Mclaren Honda might be heading for a divorce after some string of  poor reliability & performance issues at preseason and the Australian GP.  What was gone wrong  for Fernando Alonso at his second stint with Mclaren

alonso4

3 year term at Mclaren-Honda

Alonso was signed at Mclaren-Honda for a period of 3 years starting from 2015/16 to 2017/18. During the first year at Mclaren, he had to face too many reliability & poor performance issues. He did not complete most of the races and despite this poor show, Alonso was patient enough & he repeatedly said that the Honda was in their initial phase of new V6 turbo engine and the project was mainly focused on building Mclaren for 2016/17 season. In his second stint back at Mclaren, the team finished in 9th position ahead of Manor Racing in the constructors championship.

Reasonable 2nd year

Although, Honda improved their reliability and the performance was said to be reasonable, Mclaren were regularly fighting for a spot in the midfield. Alonso with his extra-ordinary driving, gave Mclaren their highest ever finish with Honda. He notched up two fifth place finishes at the Grand Prix of Monaco and United States respectively. He has a 6th place finish at Russian Grand Prix and couple of 7th place that saw him earn 10th in the drivers championship. Mclaren-Honda achieved 6th in the constructors championship with 76 points.

alonso3

Early Expectation

The pressure was obviously on Honda engines to deliver and both the Mclaren & the Honda were confident going into the pre-season testing. They have changed the livery from black to orange thereby sticking to their vintage color. The livery changes was matched by the name change moving from their trademark “MP4” to “MCL32”. There was quite a major change at helm as Ron Dennis, the founder & CEO was ousted from Mclaren. American Zak Brown took over the position of executive director at Mclaren.

Preseason woes

With new livery & with great hopes, Mclaren-Honda started the preseason in the worst possible manner. Fernando Alonso was forced to stop the car twice with intermittent electrical issues. The team had changed a number of electrical components on both PU and the chassis, but the problem persisted. Finally, Honda found the source of the problem and it was the excessive vibrations from Honda engine that some-how brought the car to stall.

alonso2.jpg

Overall, the statistics have provided that the Mclaren were the last team in terms of mileage & performnace. This preseason failure dashed any hopes for the season opener at Melbourne. Mclaren-Honda had 2 weeks time to prepare for the Australian GP

Albert Park, Melbourne

With the poor reliability, there were questions whether the Mclaren-Honda would complete the full 57 laps at the Albert Park. With such a poor car Mclaren Honda entered the qualifying with utterly no hopes. Fernando Alonso used all his experience and talent to get the best out of the car as he qualified at stunning 13th position. Daniel Ricciardo who finished 10th in qualifying was demoted after receiving a penalty from FIA which in-turn pushed Alonso to 12th in the qualification.

alonso1

Alonso had reasonable start gaining one position and occupying 11th. Romain Grosjean who was running in 6th position had to retire early, this moves Alonso to 10th & an unlikely points finish was on the cards for Mclaren. Alonso firmly held on to the 10 position for major part of the race and he was fighting the Force India of Esteban Ocon & Nico Hulkenberg of Renault for 10th, 11th & 12th positions respectively. Alonso did a great job in holding off Ocon who had 20km/hr advantage on the straight over him. Eventually Alonso lost his place to Ocon & Hulkenberg.  In the end, the double world champion had to retire from the Australian GP with a suspension failure.

Alonso blasts Honda

Despite producing a promising Australian GP display, the two time world champion showed his frustration by claiming that Mclaren ‘Should be last’ on the performance-wise when compared to other competitors. Alonso played down the good Australian GP performance by saying it was down to some good fortune and has nothing to do with the car.

Alonso & Honda stands on a single thread

Going by Mark Webber, a F1 pundit & close friend of Alonso, who said that “Alonso might not see full season with Mclaren Honda”. Alonso is started showing signs of frustration & he has openly criticized Honda, the very first time he is being doing that. One cannot question the patient shown by Fernando Alonso as he is giving everything and rightfully earning pundit’s applause for his spectacular driving skill throughout this troublesome period.

alonso5

Honda said that they will be bringing an upgraded engine in one month time (max). Should Honda fail yet again, then Fernando Alonso who is in last year of his contract with Mclaren may walk away before even the contract expires, if the same level of performance shown by Honda at Melbourne is being repeated . Fernando Alonso may switch over for a vacancy at Mercedes if Bottas fails to live up to the expectation in the current season or Ferrari consider to replace Raikkonen.

 

Featured post

Favorites England take on Unpredictable Pakistan at Sophia Gardens

Preview

England, one of the top favorites to win the tournament take on the Men in green from Pakistan in the first Semi-Final clash at Cardiff on Wednesday.

England

The tournament host England have defied the expectation & played like one of the favorites. In fact, they are the only side to remain undefeated in the tournament. England has been consistent throughout the group stages both with bat & ball and they are the red hot favorites going into the semi final. England have stick on to the winning combination and a possible change in playing XI is expected.

Roy set to be dropped

The only issue for England is that the form of opener Jason Roy. Jason Roy is a type of player who can decimate the opposition once he keeps going but unfortunately he has never got that form back. The opener has scored 51 runs in his past eight one day internationals. England are set to drop Roy and Jonny Bairstow lined up as his replacement.

Morgan on Baristow, ” Jonn is our next man in line. He is a very fine batsman. One thing he does exceptionally well is deal with no baggage. He comes in and wants to prove wrong everyone the whole time. It has been a huge attribute in him scoring runs when he has had a chance”.

Key players

Ben Stokes is the man for England in this tournament. He has scored 150 runs in 2 group stage matches including a match winning century against their arch rivals Australia. He has also taken 3 wickets from 3 matches played so far. Pakistan should be aware of the danger possessed by stokes.

Joe Root, Eoin Morgan & Alex Hales have all scored bunch of runs and possess quite a threat to Pakistan. As for as England’s bowling is concern in Mark wood, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid & Jake Ball they have a strong bowling unit to bundle out the opposition. Between them they have 22 wickets at an economy of 4.80.

Alex Hales
Joe Root
Eoin Morgan
Ben Stokes
Liam Plunkett
Mark Wood

Pakistan

Pakistan have always been a dark horse in the ICC Tournaments. They have recovered strongly after their 124 runs loss against arch-rivals India. They had defeated the No.1 world ranked team in South Africa by 19 runs(D/L method) thanks to the rain interruption. They have crossed the line against sri lanka by 3 wickets to set up clash with England

Fakhar Zaman

Opener Fakhar Zaman has been crucial for the Pakistan’s change of fortunes. The Pakistani opener have batted in a positive manner and created a platform for the middle-orders to set up the chase. His scores of 41 & 50 have beautifully set up Pakistani win contrast to Ahmed Shehzad who has dropped after scoring 12 against India.

Fearsome Bowling

Hasan Ali has been a major threat to the opposition scalping 7 wickets in 3 matches played so far. With the likes of Mohammad Amir & Junaid Khan who have taken 7 wickets between them at an economy of 4.75 they have controlled the ability of opposition to score freely. The spin-duo of Imad Wasim & Mohammad Hafeez have chipped in with crucial wickets in the middle overs.

Key players

Hasan Ali will be the trump card for Pakistan. Pakistan will be hoping Hasan Ali to provide the crucial breakthrough like he did it in earlier matches. Fakhar Zaman & Shoaib Malik are the other two key factors if Pakistan have to trump England.

Fakhar Zaman
Babar Azam
Shoaib Malik
Hasan Ali
Mohammad Amir
Junaid Khan

Possible Lineups

England

  1. Jonny Bairstow, 2. Alex Hales, 3. Joe Root, 4. Eoin Morgan, 5. Ben Stokes, 6. Jos Buttler,  7. Moeen Ali, 8. Adil Rashid, 9. Liam Plunkett, 10. Jake Ball, 10. Mark Wood

Pakistan

1. Azhar Ali, 2. Fakhar Zaman, 3. Babar Azam, 4. Shoiab Malik, 5. Mohammad Hafeez    6. Sarfraz Ahmed, 7. Imad Wasim, 8. Fakim Ashraf, 9.Mohammad Amir, 10. Junaid Khan, 11. Hasan Ali

Conclusion – Advantage England

England will start this match as a favorite as they have the crucial advantage in running between the wickets and fielding.

Was Wigan Athletics’ decision to sack Joyce & appoint Barrows – Justified?

graham.jpg

Was the decision by latics to sack Joyce & to appoint his assistant as a interim manager justified?

Wigan Athletic have sacked Warren Joyce less than four months after he was appointed as the manager, with Graham Barrow to take over until the end of the season. Wigan have become the third club to fire their manager in week after Norwich City axed Alex Neil and Derby County dispensed  Steve McClaren.

Fans back David Sharpe

Wigan, lie at 23rd in the standing with the club four points adrift of safety with only nine fixtures remaining. Considering this form, it is justified enough to sack the former Man United manager less than four months in-charge of the club.

wigan vote.png

This was a great move by Sharpe and many fans have backed Sharpe in this decision. The appointment of Joyce successor was eagerly awaited by many latics fans. It is expected from the board of management to appoint someone who possess relegation experience to guide the club to safety. But the decision of board to appoint Barrow as the Interim manager till the end of the season, rises eyebrows and question the board’s decision to sack Joyce.

Question of logic?

If the chairman David Sharpe thinks that Warren Joyce cannot save Wigan Athletic from the drop, yes- he made the right decision to sack Joyce. But what makes David Sharpe & the board to think Graham Barrow is the right man to save the latics?

barrow

Barrow was working as a assistant coach under Joyce. He was an integral part of coaching team & if Joyce is responsible for what wigan has acheived today, Barrow should also take equal responsiblity. With the sack of Joyce, he was a failure as a assistant coach and by giving him the interim manager, the board have made a mistake.

So sacking Joyce – Justified?

It is very clear that the board have sacked Joyce without having a potential replacement. Now, they pay the price by appointing Graham Barrow till the end of season. This sack will demoralize the team and it can be seen very clearly from what had happened in the game against Aston Villa where Wigan lost 0-2.

joyce

Take Wigan’s relegation rival Blackburn Rovers for example. They had a poor run of results under Owen Coyle, the board decides to sack him and they have appointed Tony Mowbray. Since his appointment they have never lost in 7 league games until now & that is what an experienced manager can bring to a team.

mowbray.jpg

So, with the appointment of Barrow, the club had clearly made a mistake. They have appointed Barrow as an interim manager & have assigned him a daunting task of keeping Wigan in the championship. Its a move that will simply have no progress at all. They are going to finish at the same 23rd position. So, I personally consider this sack on Joyce is unfair.  Wigan will be relegated and will play Championship League 1 at the next season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review – West Bromwich Albion vs Arsenal

At Hawthorns

The Game-Week 29 kicked off at the Hawthorns where West Bromwich Albion hosted Arsenal at 12.30 pm on Saturday. The bookmakers and the odds were in favour of Arsenal to win this fixture.

dawson1st.jpg

Team Line-ups

Arsenal starting XI

arsenallineup

WBA starting XI

wbastarting

1st half Analysis

The match started by Arsenal kick and it was high intense clash with both the teams showing early sign of intent. It was the Baggies who drew the first blood through Dawson’s goal at the 12th min. Dawson rises above a host of Arsenal defenders to head the ball into the back of the net from Chadli’s corner.

dawson1st.jpg

It took only 3 minutes for the gunners to respond and it was their in-form star man Alexis Sanchez who level the scoring at the 15th minute. Sanchez receives the ball from the right, cuts inside and powers a volley beyond Foster from 8 yards.

sanchez.jpg

Turning point

The crucial moment of the match came in 35th min when Arsenal goalie Petr Cech complained about a hamstring problem and Arsene Wenger was forced to sub Cech with the club’s 2nd choice goal keeper David Ospina.

ospina.jpg

The 1st half ended as 1-1 with Dawson & Sanchez sccoring for their respective teams.

2nd Half Analysis

Darren Fletcher restarts the game and they were attacking the Birmingham Road End. Rondon was subbed at 54th min and in came Robson-Kanu. With-in the minutes of stepping into the pitch, Robson-Kanu gave home side the lead. It was David Ospina’s fault that lead to the goal. Ospina failed to collect Chadli’s ball in and Robson-Kanu made the most of it as he scored the goal from 10 yards.

kanu.jpg

The Arsenal were chasing the game and in came super-sub Giroud for Theo Walcott at the 65th min. Arsenal forward Welbeck came close to level the scoring but the ball was slashed across the crossbar from a gooner corner with Arsenal trailing at 2-1. At the other end of the pitch it was Chadli who looked liike scoring when his shot was blocked on the line by Mustafi. Robson-Kanu tried to hit the ball from rebound, only for Ospina to save the shot.

It was Chadli in 74th min earned the corner for the Baggies and the shot was taken by McClean. It was met by Craig Dawson who scores through a brilliant header to score his 2nd and West Brom’s 3rd goal of the match.

dawson2nd

The game was all but over for Arsenal. Although gunners enjoyed 77% of the possession they cannot find a way to break the baggies wall for the 2nd time. The Baggies played positively & defended the ball without any pressure. At the end, it was a deserved victory for Tony pulis & West Brom Albion.

possession

Man of the Match

dawson mom

What it means for Wenger

For Arsene Wenger the pressure is mounting on him to leave Emirates at the end of the season. Arsenal fans were in a split mood where majority of the fans want Wenger to walk away after the current season is over, while some backed Wenger to stay. Arsenal fans demonstrated a protesting by flying a wenger out banner.

wengerout.jpg

In-response to the #WeengerOut banner, an another banner was flyed out and it was carrying the backing for Arsene Wenger.

wengerin.jpg

Arsene Wenger or Arsenal Wenger?

Over the years, the atmosphere is toxic at Emirates and the fans were protesting against Wenger’s regime. Arsene have done so much for the Arsenal and the Board of Management will leave it to Arsene Wenger to take the final call on his Emirates Career.

 

The Contenders to replace Karanka at Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough and Altior Karanka have parted company by a mutual consent. The struggling Teesside club who lie second-bottom of the Premier League and without a Premier League win in 2017 have confirmed his departure just 72 hours before they face Manchester United on Sunday.

karanka

Who will succeed Karanka

With the Assistant Manager Steve Agnew taking over first-team duties against Manchester United on Sunday we will take a look at the contenders for Karanka’s replacement.

Steve Mclaren

Steve Mclaren was sacked by Derby County recently but the timing of Altior Karanka’s sack may come as blessing in disguise for Mclaren. With Middlesbrough languish second bottom of the table, Steve Gibson knows he needs someone like Mclaren who has plenty of experience to steer the club away from relegation. Gibson knows well that it was Mclaren who led Boro to League Cup glory in 2004. Mclaren would love to return to the top flight of English  Football if a chance is given to him

Steve McClaren Mouth Open Newcastle United

Nigel Pearson

The other man who looks to give Mclaren a tough run is none other than Nigel Pearson. Pearson was sacked by Derby County after falling out with the owner. Nigel Pearson may have been out of job for months but he is still widely consider as a top manager, the man who changed the Leicester City’s fortunes. Like Mclaren, Pearson have fought many battles in the relegation and his experience might come in handy for owner Steve Gibson to save Middlesbrough.

pearson

Claudio Ranieri

Claudio Ranieri, the man behind the success of Leicester City being crowned as the Champions of England is a free agent after being sacked at controversial circumstances. Ranieri have worked across Europe’s most elite clubs but has a little experience when it comes to the relegation battles. Although Ranieri had kept Parma in Serie A a decade ago, the football has changed a lot over a decade.

ranieri

Alan Pardew

The 55 year old Alan Pardew has been out of work since Palace sacked him in December. He is the manager with most experience among all the contenders. He has faced many relegation battles over the years at Reading, West Ham, Charlton, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace. He has been reportedly eager to get into the management and he is also linked with a vacancy at Norwich.

pardew

Steve Agnew

Steve Agnew was Altior Karanka’s assistant coach and he will in-charge of the club on Sunday’s clash against Manchester United. If Middlesbrough can come up with a draw or a win against Manchester United, then Steve Gibson would consider Steve Agnew as a real contender. Will Steve Agnew do a Craig Shakespeare at Leicester? Only time will provide the answer.

agnew

Ryan Giggs

Former Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs was strongly looked as a contender to replace Francesco Guidolin at Swansea but the swans had the other ideas and overlooked him. Whenever there is a managerial vacancy in the top flight, Giggs named will be linked by the bookmakers but he is yet to land a job. Giggs without any managerial experience, this will be a massive gamble if Steve Gibson appoints him to save Middlesbrough.

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-NORWICH

FA Cup Preview: Chelsea vs Manchester United

Quarter-Final

Chelsea set to take on Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup Quarter-final. This will be Jose Mourinho’s second visit to Stamford Bridge after his bizarre sacking last october. Jose Mourinho’s first visit at Stamford Bridge ended up in a 4-0 loss and will be eyeing up for an revenge.

Image result for chelsea vs man utd

Team News

United will have to do it without inform striker Zlatan ibrahimovic who is set to serve his first of three match ban. United will also be without star strikers Rooney and Martial due to injury while the youngster Marcus Rashford was left behind due to illness.Without many senior forwards, Mourinho is expected to play Fellani at the center Forward with Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata in the nearest supporting role.

Antonio Conte has a fully-fit squad and is considering his options open. Chelsea captain John Terry has played in three  prior FA Cup rounds, but the defender’s place against United in not guaranteed.

United’s record at Bridge

United have set a dismal record against their FA Cup opponents. Chelsea have won 11 of their 20 previous meetings at the Bridge in all competitions, losing only two. They have scored a whopping 33 goals and conceded mere 18. There are six different managers who have acheived this feet for chelsea namely Claudio Ranieri (1), Mourinho (4), Avram Grant (1), Carlo Ancelotti (2), Roberto di Matteo (1), Rafa Benitez (1) and Antonio Conte (1) – have scored home victories against United in this period, with Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal often heading back to Old Trafford empty handed.

The last victory for United came under the helm of Sir Alex Ferguson. He halted the Stamford Bridge rut in 2011. Ever since Fergueson’s retirement in 2013, Chelsea have beaten United at home in three out of four subsequent seasons.

chelseaunstoppable

Mind-Games

Jose Mourinho: It looks like this season that to be phenomenal defensively and good in counterattack is art

Antonio Conte: I have to tell you one thing. Not only here [at Chelsea] but I never, ever train for the counterattack

Predicted Line-ups

Chelsea Starting XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro, Costa, Hazard

Man United Starting XI: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Rojo; Pogba, Herrera, Carrick, mata, Mkhitaryan, Fellani

Head to Head

chemun

Start Time

Chelsea host Manchester United at Stamford Bridge with kick-off scheduled for 1:15AM on Monday, March 14.

Review – Melbourne Stars vs Adelaide Strikers

Melbourne Stars vs Adelaide Strikers

striker

Melbourne Stars hosted Adelaide strikers at MCG in what was a crucial match for both sides aiming to qualify for the finals.

Team News 

Melbourne Stars have missed Maxwell, Adam Zampa & James Faulkner to the national duty and their replacement were Peter Handscomb who returned from national side, Gulbis and Liam Bowe.

Strikers too had lost some player like Travis Head and Stanlake while Chris Jordon missed the game due to injury. The replacement were fan favourite Tim Ludeman, Wes Agar and New Zealand leggy Ish Sodhi.

Adelaide Innings

David Hussey won the toss and opted to bowl first. The opening pair of Jack Weatherald and Ben Dunk started the innings positively. They got of to a reasonable start but could not continue the momentum as Weatherlad was one of the many victim’s picked by Scot Boland. Ben Ludeman joined Dunk and carried the innings forward. The young bowler Bowe picked the prize scalp of Dunk. In came, Striker’s captain Hodge but he too did not lost long as he fell for mere 17 runs as he was clean bowled by Boland.

The Next person to go was Ludeman who tried hitting  Boland for a maximum but endedup caught by Quiney. The big West Indian Kieran Pollard, known for his hard hitting fell cheaply for 16 runs as Adelaide strikers got 152 in the end. Scot Boland was the star men as he picked 4 for 30.

Melbourne Innings

Quiney and Wright went out to chase what was an easy target. Wright fell cheaply in the 4th over. One of clever move made by Hodge bringing Ben Dunk to bowl as a second choicebowler. The move paid off as he removes Wright. Next up was Quiney who has made quick-fire 41 of 17 balls. Pietersen and Handscomb tried to steady the innings but Handscomb was bowled by a beauty of delivery by Ish Sodhi.

sodhi

Stonis and Hussey fell cheaply as Stars have lost half of the side for 84 runs. It was left to in-form Pietersen to finish the game but a untimely run-out saw stars lose Pietersen. As the momentum shift in favour of strikers it was Gulbis and Big Ben who rescued Stars by a unlikely parternship of 37 runs stand for 7th wicket which swung the match in favour of stars.

ben

In the end, Big Ben finished the game off  with an unbeaten score of 32 runs that saw Melbourne Stars won by 2 wickets with 3 ball remaining.

Standings

bbl-table

What’s Next

Striker’s will face Melbourne Renegades on Jan 16 at Home while Stars face Perth Scorchers at WACA.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑