Monday, 11 July 2016

Portugal a better result for football than you might first think

Portugal did exactly the number on France that Greece had done to them twelve years ago. I was there in Lisbon to see a crestfallen Cristiano Ronaldo miss what I thought would be his one career opportunity to win a trophy for his country. 

Which is why I was so gutted for him to fall victim of a chancers tackle last night - but so chuffed he could scream "Vamos!" when lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy less than two hours later. 

Portugal might've won less matches than Wales this tournament but no nation can hold a candle to their durability and determination. Pepe was majestic in defence and embodied class disguised as drive. 

They have players of experience and quality playing throughout Europe and though Ronaldo is their standout superstar, they proved they're no one-man team. 

Remember, Portugal was the greatest football nation never to win a major trophy – until last night.

It's a better result for football than at first glance. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The new Aston Villa badge confirms the disconnect

As Aston Villa embark on a new life in Division 2, it's time we tweaked the badge, eh? Yep, lob the "Prepared" in Rennie McIntosh-font-for-no-reason-at-all off the bottom (as Villa have been ill-prepared for at least six years)  and lumber on with the colours of Manchester City instead.

Villa have reportedly spent £80,000 on removing Prepared, sticking high-res claws on the lion - and we've been laughed at on talkSPORT. We look like a ship of fools.

It's in sky blue so the claret of the shirt is required to give it context. Trouble is, our colours aren't blue and claret - they're claret and blue.
If I want a Manchester City badge, I'll commission one
It was under the stewardship of Richard Fitzgerald as CEO when this half-baked badge first appeared. I challenged him once about how inappropriate it was - and why the iconic round badge was shelved - and he passed the buck, telling me it wasn't his idea. Yet it was on his watch.

There's no recourse to history. The lack of boardroom continuity results in these sort of decisions.

No, there really is only one badge that should be used and it's the one of Peter Withe, Brian Little, Gary Shaw, Andy Gray, Sid Cowans - even Keith Leonard and Charlie Aitken. Of Rotterdam. Of Highbury. Of Penarol.

Stick a European Cup star discreetly above this.
Some might say, it's the guys performing under the shirts that count. That this doesn't matter. To those, I say yes, but you've heard of playing for the shirt, playing for the badge?

We have enough history in the locker to go back in time. Sometimes that's the only solution. We might've spent considerably less than £2m and stuck a European Cup star above the famous badge instead. But now let's bloody well get on with promotion.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Hired hand Bernstein bigs up loser Randy

New Aston Villa board member, the former FA chief, David Bernstein has given effusive backing to owner Randy Lerner. 

As Villa slumped to another home thrashing - 4-0 by Chelsea, Bernstein claimed, "Randy's been a terrific owner in his own way even though we are where we are." 

What an unnecessary comment from Bernstein. He's a good football administrator with sound judgment. After the parade of duff FA bosses, he cut a thoughtful, measured and intelligent figure at Soho Square and Wembley.   

But this is Aston Villa. A club where the board and fans have never been as far apart as this. 

Frankly, we don't need anymore hired cheerleaders telling us what a great guy Lerner is. He may indeed be superb company, a chap to laugh with over a wee dram or two. 

But most of us will never ever know this because he's never ever coming to Villa Park again. He wouldn't dare show his face. 

In reality, Lerner is an absentee landlord chasing his losses (£300m and counting) like a pathetic gambler.

Aston Villa is a passion centre for hundreds of thousands – not a vehicle for his commercial-negligence-cum-half-interested-attention.

He should sell as soon as possible to a more committed owner. 

The board which new chairman Steve Hollis has created with Bernstein, Adrian Bevington, Brian Little and Mervyn King MUST deliver promotion back to the Premier League in twelve months - it's the only way Randy can recoup his massive personal losses. 

That's what this latest besuited "dream team" is all about. Short-termism with no other option on the table.

If promotion doesn't happen quickly, our  great club's sidelining will be complete.

Randy Lerner deserves nothing more for his cursory custody over the last six seasons.

We all know part-time Bernstein would be out the door with a club sale - so please, spare us the unrestrained (paid-for) Randy love  - and halt the slide. You have twelve months. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Official EURO 2016 Panini TV advert

It's just the biggest thrill to be the Voice of Panini's TV advertising around the world. I mean, who didn't collect and trade the stickers with schoolfriends back in the day?

If you didn't, you were a geek into computers and heavy metal! Nah, football existed quite happily before the Premier League, thanks very much.

Here's two versions of the ad promoting the Adrenalyn XL Trading Cards product.

My first collection was EURO 76 (didn't finish), Football '78 (didn't finish), then Football '79 (needed 4, didn't finish!)

I'm sure the kids of today (and some dads too) will get a huge kick out of finishing their England page - and how else could you find out who plays for Albania? Essential pre-match reading for Jonathan Pearce and the rest. Got Got Need!

10 second version:

20 second version: