Monday, 24 January 2011
Following the victory Gerard Houllier was quick to praise the ex-Sunderland man stating he has the potential to be a world class player.
The Villa boss said ‘Every player has a level. Sometimes it is Premier League level, then you have international level and above that you have the world-class level.’
‘I would say at the moment the target for Darren is for him to reach the international level on a regular basis and then from there try to step up to world class.’
There has been intense debate as to whether Bent is worth the £24 million that Villa had to part with to secure his striking services.
Many have pointed to the England internationals goal scoring record of 82 Premier League goals that puts him amongst the highest scoring strikers in the division to justify his price tag.
Villa defender James Collins has stated his belief that Bent’s goals will send the club up the league table and away from the relegation places that they currently hover above.
Collins said ‘It is great for the players to see someone of Darren’s quality coming into Villa and it does show the intent of the club.’
‘He has given a lift to the players, the staff and the fans.’
‘It is not being disrespectful to anyone but we haven’t scored enough goals this season as well as conceding too many.’
‘Darren has scored goals where ever he has been and I’m sure he will get a lot of Villa because we do create chances.’
Dalglish’s second spell in charge at Anfield is due to run only until the end of the season.
Speaking about newly appointed King Kenny, Werner said ‘I think he’s the right man for the job. Is there a scenario where he could get the job full time? Sure.’
We have witnessed Premiership comeback specials in the past and they have usually been underwhelming and short-lived.
Kevin Keegan only managed 232 days in his second spell as Newcastle manager in which he was dubbed the ‘Geordie Messiah’.
Another returning legend was Alan Shearer who was brought in by Newcastle an attempt to try and steer the club clear from relegation in 2009, despite the ex-England captain having no managerial experience.
Liverpool have followed the Newcastle manager selection template by appointing a terrace hero in the hope it will turn the clubs fortunes around.
So far the euphoria that surrounded King Kenny’s appointment has not yet translated into an upturn in results on the pitch, with the record after three games in charge being two defeats and a draw.
The momentum that Liverpool were expected to pick up following the second coming of Kenny Dalglish has yet to materialise, but it is still early days.
Does King Kenny have a long a bright future ahead of him as Liverpool manager?
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Ryan Babel’s cyber activity has landed him in trouble with the police.
Don’t worry, he hasn’t gone all Gary Glitter on us.
The Liverpool striker has joked that he has been sent to ‘Twitter Jail’ by the ‘Twitter Police’ after his recent online outburst criticising referee Howard Webb.
He has since ceased all twitter activity, depriving the world of his insights and Run-D.M.C. quotes.
The FA has confirmed that they will be investigating the outburst which could lead to him being charged with improper conduct and banned.
This is not the first time that his twitter activity has landed him in bother.
He complained on Twitter about being left out of the side and then had to apologize to his ex-boss Rafa Benitez.
Babel is believed to be the first player charged with improper conduct relating to a post on the social networking site.
Professional Footballers’ Association head Gordon Taylor has defended the player asking “Where’s our sense of humour gone in our game?”
“He’s apologised, let’s move on,” he added on BBC Radio Merseyside.
Are the FA overstepping the mark on this occasion?
Thursday, 6 January 2011
Many were quick to write off Blackpool’s chances of survival in their first appearance in English footballs top flight for 39 years.
Contrary to everyone’s expectations the Tangerines have gone a long way to dispelling the idea they are relegation fodder and they sit at eighth in the Premier League with a game in hand as we head into the New Year.
Much of the credit has to go to manager Ian Holloway who has crafted a successful team from limited means.
Speaking about the driving force that inspires his work as Blackpool manager Holloway said ‘I am now doing it for total enjoyment, to try to help my lads play better than they have ever played in their lives and encourage them.’
Plaudits for the eccentric Blackpool boss have come from Harry Redknapp who has stated his belief that Holloway has performed a ‘miracle’ by turning the Seasiders into a legitimate force to be reckoned with in the Premiership.
‘Mourinho couldn’t have done as well at Blackpool as Ian Holloway’, said Redknapp. ‘No one could have done a better job. How he’s scraped a team together, with free transfers, loans, people that have been here, there and everywhere, and just got them to play the way they’ve played has been fantastic. It’s a fairy story.’
We have seen recent examples how quickly a fairly tale start in the Premiership can turn sour, after Hull City were swiftly brought back to earth following an impressive start to the 2008-09 season.
With 25 points from 17 games Blackpool are just 6 points off the 31 points needed to survive in the Premiership this season and look in good stead to stay up.
Ahead of Blackpool’s visit to Eastlands this Saturday Manchester City assistant manager Brain Kidd has stated his belief that Ian Holloway should be the manager of the season if he keeps his side in the Premier League this season, which is a sentiment I am inclined to agree with!
Christmas tis the season to be jolly, but this is not necessarily the case for a number of Premiership managers.
The chairmen at Newcastle and Blackburn ensured that it would be a not so merry Christmas for Chris Hughton and Sam Allardyce after they were dismissed in way that many have condemned as being harsh and unfair.
Another manager whose future looks as promising as a Christmas turkey is Avram Grant, after having been given an ultimatum in which he will be sacked if he fails to secure a win in one of the relegation threatened side’s next three games.
But it isn’t just mangers of teams at the bottom of the Premiership who are starting to feel the heat as Carlo Ancelotti has admitted ‘Obviously I am under pressure because I’d like Chelsea to win every game. The coach is in trouble when the team doesn’t produce results’.
Ancelotti’s Chelsea side looked as though they had the season wrapped up with an impressive start to the season that took them five points clear at the top of the Premiership, but have since suffered a severe slump in form.
Chelsea have since slipped down to fourth in the table and are without a win in five Premier League games, which has led to speculation over Ancelotti’s future at Stamford Bridge
The next two games against fellow title contenders Manchester United and Arsenal could go along way to either restoring or further reducing faith in Ancelotti’s ability to retain the Premiership crown.
Ancelotti is said to still have the full support of Chelsea Chairman Roman Abramovich, but the Russian is known for being ruthless with his dismissal of staff as the likes of Claudio Ranieri, Avram Grant, Luis Phllipe Scolari and Ray Wilkins know all too well.
A manager lasting more than two seasons is a rare occurrence these days at Stamford Bridge.
Could Ambramovich be getting an itchy trigger finger result in Ancelotti getting the sack this Christmas?
Arsenal’s victory over Everton on Sunday saw them leapfrog Manchester United into second place in the Premier League and narrowed the gap between them and leaders Chelsea to just two points.
With Chelsea’s aura of invincibility beginning to wane following a home defeat against Sunderland and being turned over by Liverpool, many have stated their belief that Arsenal can mount a serious challenge for the title this season.
Following the victory at Goodison park Arsene Wenger said ‘three important points came as the result of great spirit and great resilience, as well as style’ and that ‘you need those qualities to win a title’.
He added: “I feel the performance today has shown I have something that is not only quality football, but we have spirit – fighting spirit.”
Arsenal’s Premiership challenge fell short last season finishing eleven points behind the eventual Champions Chlesea, adding yet another year for the club without any trophies.
Arsenal may be on a barren run in terms of winning silverware over the last few years, but at least their manager isn’t short on conquests at the grand old age of 61.
The Sun has reported that he has been having a secret affair with Sonia Tatar, a 39-year-old French rapper he met in a Paris restaurant two years ago.
Whilst accusations of extra marital affairs had negative repercussions for Wayne Rooney they don’t appear to have caused Arsene Wenger any great difficulty.
As we near Remembrance Day I find myself thinking of the famous Churchill quote ‘Never was so much owed by so many to so few’.
Or rather ‘Never was so much owed by so many to one man, Steven Gerrard.
The number of times he has saved Liverpool’s skin is unbelievable.
I struggle to think of another player that has rescued his team time and again the way Gerrard has. The word incredible doesn’t do him justice.
Gerrard was inspirational against Napoli on Thursday when came on at half-time with his team trailing 1-0 and scored a hat-trick to keep his side top of Group K and on the brink of a last-32 place in the Europa League.
Following the game Hodgson was first to admit “We owe a big debt of gratitude to him”.
Chelsea’s own goal match winning talisman Didier Drogba has admitted he is wary of facing resurgent Liverpool side on Sunday, who are showing signs of improvement following a disappointing start to the season.
“There is never a good time to go to Anfield because they are a very strong team,” said Drogba. “They will try to use this game to start their season, so we have to be ready.
“We are seeing a different Liverpool than the one from earlier in the season. They have won their last two matches and their confidence is getting higher.
“We have to be careful. It’s true that we shouldn’t fear any team but we’re going to have some difficult moments. Since I’ve been here, Chelsea v Liverpool has been special and it’s always a difficult game.
“We’re going there to win but it’s not going to be easy.”
Confidence in the Liverpool squad should be high after winning three games in a row and no doubt Hodgson will be praying for another heroic Gerrard performance to help his team get a result against the Champions.
According to Sir Alex Ferguson it will be five weeks before Wayne Rooney recovers from the reoccurring ‘ankle injury’ that has plagued him so far this season.
Speaking to the Sunday Express he said “He will have to pick up his fitness again. I would think five weeks should be about right.”
However, we have learned to take some of Fergie’s comments with a pinch of salt following the revelation he has used fake injuries in the past as a convenient way of dropping out of form players whilst sparing red faces.
This admission that Fergie is not adverse to concealing the truth has led some to speculate that Rooney’s ankle injury is just a smokescreen and that he will still be offloaded in January for a higher price following the signing of his new contract.
Whilst this conspiracy theory would give tin-foil hat wearing David Icke a run for his money, photos of Rooney frolicking by the pool on holiday with no ankle support have added fuel to the fire.
Whether or not there is any substance to this rumour, Rooney’s absence from the United squad has served as a blessing in disguise as it has allowed other players to shine.
Javier Hernadez has established an effective partnership with Dimitar Berbatov and Luis Nani is developing into one of the finest attackers attacking midfielders around.
Perhaps Fergie will be encouraging Wayne to spend some of his rapidly increasing fortune on an extended holiday until the reopening of the transfer window.
This season Wayne Rooneyand Fernando Torres have undergone a transformation from being forwards who strike fear into the hearts of opposition defence, to misfiring flops that defences relish playing against.
Both players look like a shadows of their former selves and there has yet to be any sign of a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
Some thought Liverpool’s change of ownership might resurrect the Torres of old, but the Torres who took to the field against Everton on Sunday was a far cry from the player who took Premier League by storm just a short few years back.
It is now becoming increasingly evident that all is not well for Rooney at Old Trafford, with his relationship with Sir Alex seemingly on the rocks.
Though he is solely responsible for the misdemeanors in his private life, the intense glare and magnifying effect of the British media can be adjudged to have had a negative effect on his psychological state of mind and his form on the pitch.
With every passing match the confidence issues and pressure continues to mount for both players.
Liverpool’s season hit a new low this weekend, with an embarrassing home defeat against Premiership new boys Blackpool.
Roy Hodgson was quick to take responsibility for the result stating “The fans are entitled to take out their frustrations, lots of things have happened to frustrate them and I’m the one responsible because I’m the team manager. When the team does badly criticism will fall my way and I have to accept it.”
The Liverpool boss was quizzed about his thoughts as his team dropped into the bottom three. He said “My concerns aren’t about relegation. They are about making us play to our full potential. We are only doing it in periods and not from the first to the 90th minute.”
Talk of relegation is perhaps a bit premature, though we have seen what can potentially happen to big clubs under the right set of unfortunate circumstances when Leeds United plummeted from the Premiership to League One in a matter of seasons.
Liverpool are entering a perfect storm in which distracting off the pitch financial problems are coupled with uninspiring performances on the pitch, with Hodgson at the helm.
Can they endure it?
Fernando Torres and Wayne Rooney’s goal scoring form has been missing for quite some time now.
Last season both players’ names were regular features on Premiership score sheets and always looked dangerous in attack.
But with just one goal each after six games, we are still waiting for them to rediscover the goal scoring form that we know they are capable of.
They were expected to light up the World Cup this summer, but both players had subdued performances during the World Cup and the return of the Premiership has not brought about a return to form.
Excuses have been a plenty as for reasons why, including the effects of close media scrutiny on Rooney’s private life and failure to fully recover from injuries.
There have been suggestions coming from a number of different sources citing that a switch of club is needed for the players to escape their current predicaments.
Fergie has admitted that he thinks that the high level of media attention Rooney has received of late is having a detrimental effect on his psychological state of mind and it is showing on the pitch.
Interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona have been cited as potential escape routes for Rooney, should he deem it necessary to escape the spotlight of the British media.
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has also said that a move away from Liverpool is what is needed for Torres if he wants the successes of his club football team to match that of his international side.
Pique lays blame on the current Liverpool squad as to part of the reason why Torres’ goal scoring has taken a dip stating rather bluntly ‘It’s really embarrassing for Nando to play in a team of that quality’. Harsh.
Switching club would be a drastic measure, but watching these two play this season there has been little sign of the players we know from last season. The search continues…
This statement certainly holds true for Capello, as everybody sang his praises when England walked through World Cup qualification under his stewardship.
Following Sven and Steve McClaren’s leniency, his disciplinarian management style was seen as exactly what was needed to get England’s golden generation to really shine.
However there has been a drastic change of opinion following England’s World Cup flop and confidence in Capello has hit an all time low.
If England are able to convincingly win their two upcoming Euro qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland then the healing process start can begin after the massive disappointment suffered in South Africa.
Anything other than two victories could spell disaster for Capello and the scrutiny he will be under will be more intense than ever.
After receiving a roasting in the media for some of his recent errors of judgment and with The Sun keeping its tradition of gleefully ripping England managers to pieces, Capello will want to use these two games as a way to answer his critics and prove he is still committed to the job.
The England manager job managed to make a fool out of Steve McClaren and Capello will be hoping he isn’t heading down the same road!