Friday, 26 November 2010

Rooney's not apologised properly

We've waited weeks for Wayne Rooney's apology to fans for the drama and brinkmanship which might've resulted in him quitting Manchester United.
"Sorry for my side of things": Rooney

We were told he'd said "sorry" to the gaffer and his teammates. So we all waited for the headline grabbing apology to the supporters.

And waited... and waited.

But when it came, with a big fanfare in The Sun, it showed him up yet again as an uncouth yob.

Rooney declared, "I feel like I've apologised to the fans, but everyone keeps saying that I haven't and, if that is the case, then I apologise for my side of things. "My side of things"? What's that supposed to mean?

In my book, the apology he's dished out is at best grudging and at worst, conditional.

Does he think he's only partially required to say sorry and that United are equally culpable for an apology? or perhaps he believes he's not really required to say sorry as much as others feel he is?

He also thinks he'd already said sorry to supporters.

Wayne Rooney's not apologised wholeheartedly.

Obviously as a reportable quote, it'll be declared an apology to the fans. But it isn't. 

Rooney also made it clear that he would've never joined Manchester City or any other Premier League club for that matter. He's arrogant enough to believe Barcelona and Real Madrid would sign him. That was by no stretch of the imagination, a certainty.

He clearly doesn't give a monkeys for any relationships he has and he should be treated accordingly.

My advice for United fans from now on: cheer when he scores and boo him when he's not delivering. For United's board, keep him performing at the highest level - and transfer him for a fortune within the next three years when he doesn't.

Wayne Rooney, another footballer who contributes to the sport's growing bad image.

Friday, 19 November 2010

The Queen sits for Villa portrait

Why shouldn't such a moment of national joy be marked with something very, very special.
Bigger than me and you!
We're gonna score one or two.
The Queen's posed for an Official Portrait to commemorate the engagement of her grandson, Prince William to Kate Middleton.

Prince William is an Aston Villa fan, that we've known for years. Now it's Her Majesty's turn to confirm what we all suspected.
Photoshopped 2010 version of Diana with Ash & Will
In the News Release accompanying the Portrait, Her Majesty remarked, "One's delighted at Will's engagement, but it rather overshadowed the main stories of the week; Barry Bannan's Scotland debut and the signing of World Cup ledge, Robert Pires".

"Nevertheless", she added "The City is One's, The City is One's, be rid Small Heath: The City is One's!"

"But me quandry is this. How do I demonstrate my impartiality at Wembley when Reo steps up to collect the FA Cup next May?"

(with thanks to Ian Huxtable)

Thursday, 18 November 2010

What did Capello learn from this inept England show?

England 1-2 France, Wembley.

Listen!As a paying supporter who goes to every international at Wembley, I'm so angry at this latest wreckage of an England show.

Lame duck Fabio Capello, who's already announced his retirement after EURO 2012, can have learned just one thing from picking the likes of Carroll, Henderson and Bothroyd.

England 1 France deux
Never pick them for England again.

Yes, yes, Andy Carroll is "buzzing" after his debut - and you can't fault his enthusiasm and application. But he's a player who became obsolete in 1987. We won't things pumping long balls upto a target man.
Arrivederla Capello?
Please go early, Capello. The Lakes must be beckoning. If being England manager is part cheerleader, part symbol - then Broken England needs some Redknapp medicine to convert inertia into momentum.

Bobby Gould once told me he "did the decent thing" and resigned the Welsh job after a 7-1 thrashing in Holland. He's a man of honour and self-respect. Capello's holding on for payday. He's got no reason to maintain his reputation by staying. He's announced his retirement - and he's got enough money. Go!
Fabio Bear's 2D view.
Not only did Capello select unviable players if we want to beat Germany, Italy and Spain, he's also got lazy: If Cardiff and Sunderland triers get a look in, why didn't Stewart Downing and Marc Albrighton?
Capello is Pudsey Bear. No spatial vision and with just one eye on the domestic game.

Last night's ineptitude was the clearest business case yet for a National Football Centre.

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Monday, 15 November 2010

Alarm bells at Chelsea?

It might be overstating matters to suggest Chelsea are in crisis following their shock three-nil home defeat to Sunderland.

After all, they were one game short of completing a club record for home clean sheets and remain top of the Premier League.

But did we get a sneak preview of how the Blues might look if they can't replace thirtysomethings, John Terry and Frank Lampard?

Such dominant figures in this Chelsea decade are hard to replace, but at Stamford Bridge where the duo's influence extends well beyond the dressing room, you wonder where Chelsea's future lies - and what they're doing about it.

Add to that a Malaria-recovering Didier Drogba at half-speed - and it was amazing how easily the Blues were brushed aside by Sunderland, full of adventure and talent.

Was the club affected by the ruthlessness of coach Ray Wilkins' instant dismissal during the week? Someone had a word in his shell-like during halftime in a reserve game - and puff, an ex-Chelsea captain and legend is history.

They certainly didn't seem carefree - wherever they may be!

As Arsenal, Manchester United and Aston Villa blood youngsters in readiness for UEFA's financial fairplay rules of 2014, Chelsea need to contemplate the future, rather than the here and now.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Villa blend taught a harsh lesson

Ashley Young penalty puts Villa ahead against United
It's not often you see one of Sir Alex Ferguson's team reeling but that's exactly what happened during the second half of Aston Villa's 2-all draw with Manchester United.

Villa looked to have killed off United at 2-nil, but they failed to factor in that this is a team led by the Govanator.

After a misshapen, eventless first-half, Villa's youngsters grew in stature and confidence as United buckled under a tirade of AV adventure.

Peppering United's woodwork turned out to be more than just a fruitless phase. Referee Mike Dean awarded Ashley Young a penalty, and he duly converted to put the home team into a deserved lead.
Yippee-yi-yay! Albrighton is a Holte Ender

Then 2-nil on the break real United-style. Man-of-the-match Marc Albrighton got his reward for a performance of box-to-box tenacity.

But United are never beaten until the final whistle and finished strongly. Sharp shooter Federico Macheda struck with 12 minutes left (17 including Fergie Time) - and Nemanja Vidic headed superbly across the body of Brad Friedel.

Gerard Houllier's blooding of youth seems a touch gung ho - but in introducing Jonathan Hogg from the start and Chris Herd at the end for their debuts, the Villa squad is suddenly looking a lot deeper.

Vidic: He comes from Serbia; he'll fookin' murder yer.
Brad Friedel defies his age and looks at the top of his game and James Collins gives his all. But Richard Dunne's let a few mistakes creep into his game. He's a vital old head at the back but Ciaran Clark is an early demonstration of Houllier's policy. Competition is vital to any winning side.

Another draw means Villa can't get carried away - so there's plenty to aim for for this blend of kids and cockers!

But if this carries on well, Houllier will have selection headaches across a winning team!

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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Blackpool face Premier League trouble

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway is threatening to resign if the Premier League fine him for making ten changes for the league game at Aston Villa.
Jonny and Kev face off!
It was a match the Seasiders only narrowly lost anyway - to a last minute James Collins strike in a 3-2 defeat.

Kevin Hatchard, Sportsmedia radio reporter for 200 stations across the UK agrees with Holloway's stance and tells me it's none of the Premier League's business anyway.

As Kev will tell you, Holloway selected a starting XI from his 25 registered Premier League players, so what's the fuss?

Other top flight managers are rallying around him in support including Wigan boss Roberto Martinez and Mick McCarthy, who was involved in a similar controversy last season, when Wolves went to Manchester United with kids - and lost 3-nil.

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Monday, 8 November 2010

Houllier's getting to grips at Villa

Another draw maybe, but the enforced substitution of Nigel Reo-Coker sparked something very exciting in the Villa performance, writes Villa fan and talkSPORT's Jonny Gould.

Putting aside the wretched disappointment of conceding a goal which denied Villa a deserved victory in the 1-all draw at Fulham, this was a very significant day in the Gerard Houllier regime.

Albrighton's strike should've been the winner at Fulham.
Because now the team's looking like his. The Martin O'Neill era is consigned to history. And that moment came at the exact point when we lost skipper Nigel Reo-Coker to injury.

On in his place came Ciaran Clark. Forced to push up to midfield from his customary defensive position (as he did against Blues), Clark found his feet immediately - and produced a consummate display.

But it's not just about a fine young talent producing on demand. It's what Clark represents when he plays alongside Barry Bannan, Marc Albrighton and Nathan Delfouneso.

Villa have a class of 2010 - When these young lads combined with the attacking instincts and experience of Stewart Downing and Ashley Young, Villa looked a threat on the break every time they had the ball.

Now watch Villa's poor away form on the road improve vastly. If they play like that, results and confidence will follow.

Naturally, they'll have to play a different kind of game at home. One can't rely on attacking on the break at Villa Park. And with Heskey, Carew and Agbonlahor all missing at Fulham, the focal point of a target man will change the team's dynamic anyway.

But Houllier's way is being stamped on the players. Not only that, he's giving decent youngsters a proper chance to stake their claim to a Villa career. Something O'Neill just didn't do.

Villa lost Gary Cahill to Bolton for that reason - and it's a crying shame as Villa's youth policy has always produced a conveyor belt of good talent.

I'm excited by the performance at Craven Cottage - and while this is a year of transition forced on Villa by O'Neill's shock decision to quit five days from the season's start, we have in Houllier's Class of 2010, something to make the heart beat faster.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Houllier's still at the drawing board at Villa

I'd like rooom to sort out le Villa, s'il vous plait!
While Aston Villa extended their unbeaten run to seven against Birmingham City, there wasn't much ease and flow about their game.

Part of it was down to the tactics of Alex McLeish, who very effectively stopped Stewart Downing and Ashley Young in midfield.

But it was mostly about Gerard Houllier's inability to stamp his authority on the club. He's preparing and fielding Martin O'Neill's squad. Houllier has to fashion Villa to his mould.

A goalless draw is probably a fair reflection of a game full of bluster and effort, but there were no thoroughbreds in this derby.

Blues had a penalty claim, so did Villa. Ciaran Clark, Barry Bannan, Ashley Young and Nigel Reo-Coker might've snatched it.

What a good defensive unit Villa have. If you remember how James Collins, Richard Dunne and Stephen Warnock all made their debut in a 1-nil derby win at St. Andrews last year, they've never looked back since. No worries there for the new administration.

But Houllier is not yet a big figure at Villa Park. He needs to impress his personality on the team for them to rise again.

Saying things like "they will finish somewhere between seventh and twelfth" hardly echoes around the halls of Villa Park like the words of Churchill. And he's repeated that phrase.

All this after inheriting the baton from Martin O'Neill, who steered Villa to three sixth-placed finishes in a row.

Villa need to maintain the momentum of the last few years if they're to keep pace with Spurs and Manchester City. Liverpool's stunning decline affords clubs like these a great opportunity to gatecrash the Big Four Party.

Villa should take the initiative but it starts with Houllier cutting a bigger figure.