Vieira, Owen, Sven, Hughes oh and some matches too!

Hello all, my name’s Will Cooling of www.comicsnexus.com, the soon to launch insidepulse/tv and formerly 411Black. Now I was looking at the sports staff forum and noticed there was no football (“soccer”) coverage. So being the massive fan I am I volunteered to write a weekly column about it until the strain of writing six columns a week sends me crazy, or they get someone in to do it properly. The idea would be that usually I’d give you the results and upcoming fixtures, perhaps with a little preview. However, this has been a last minute job so no upcoming fixtures!

Btw, anyone who wants to do football coverage on a regular basis should keep a look out, as Daniels and Slayer will be advertising soon.

On with the show”¦

Weekend Football League Results

England’s second division kicked off last weekend, with the confusing new name “The Championship”. Here are the results:

Okay must admit didn’t pay much attention to much attention to the goings on in the Football League this weekend although its interesting to see Leeds get off to a good start especially as from what I saw it was a deserving win. Whether they’ve got the staying power (in particular upfront) to stay in contention for an automatic return to the Premier League is doubtful. However, one man did closely follow the opening day, a legend amongst teenage girls in the Midlands area. A man with the sex appeal of a thousand ferrets and the face of a gerbil, he is the one and only Mong. A man whose knowledge of football knows’s no bounds. Here’s his (hopefully regular) round up of the week’s Championship action

“It was an action packed first day of the coca cola championship, and the league promises to be extremely strong on the basis of the squads we can expect up there come may.
LEEDS UNITED kicked the season off at Elland Road, and a Frazer Richardson curler from the edge of the box was enough to beat DERBY COUNTY who could have snatched a late point when Neil Sullivan saved incredibly from Ian Taylor. Leeds deserved the victory nonetheless and Kevin Blackwell’s men made a positive start to their rebuilding process that lies ahead.
BRIGHTON got out of the blocks quickly too, extremely quickly in fact, as teenager Molango Maheta found the back of the net at the Madjeski Stadium after just 19 seconds against Mark Mcghee’s READING. In a topsy turvey game, Reading equalised through a well-taken goal from Dave Kitson and went ahead on 41 minutes from a James Harper header. Nicky Forster also added a 59th minute goal from the edge of the area before the seagulls retrieved some pride from Jack Robinson’s tap in on 63 minutes.
Ex Leicester coach Steve Cotterill saw his BURNLEY side hold SHEFFIELD UNITED to a 1-1 draw at turf moor. Mica Hyde bundled the ball into the net for Burnley after some in the box pinball, but only to see the lead wiped out by Andy Gray’s fine finish past Burnley keeper Danny Coyne on 52 minutes.
WATFORD are expected to struggle this season, and lost 2-1 at deepdale to PRESTON NORTH END. Former England u21 striker Richard Cresswell scored with a close range header on 34 minutes. Paul Devlin levelled the scores two minutes after the break with a smart finish evading Chris Lucketti’s tackle, but the hero was to turn villain as he hacked down USA international Eddie Lewis in the box, the penalty converted by the impressive David Healy.
The JJB stadium hosted WIGAN managed by Paul Jewell as they entertained NOTTINGHAM FOREST. Wigan opened the scoring in somewhat controversial circumstances. Nathan Ellington appeared to push James Perch before laying the ball off to Lee McCulloch to drill home from 18 yards. Forests equaliser was bizarre too. The far side linesman appeared to give a forest player offside as Gareth Taylor headed home to gain a point for Joe Kinnea’s men.
In a bore draw, MILLWALL and PLYMOUTH drew 0-0. Plymouth have not lost a game at home for 8 months and Millwall lacked ideas, culminating in their best player being on loan Graham Stack in goal.
CARDIFF beat relegation strugglers CREWE 2-1, despite falling behind to an early Dean Ashton penalty. Lee, then ex Charlton midfielder John Robinson snatched the points for the men from Nene Park.
IPSWICH beat GILLINGHAM by the same score. An early goal from Paul Smith was not enough for the gills at Portman road, as striker turned defender Richard Naylor headed home on 36 minutes from a corner, and teenager Dean Bowditch scored the goal of the weekend with a peach of a volley that left keeper Banks with no chance.
QPR and ROTHERHAM drew 1-1. Two similar goals close together in the first half from Gareth Ainsworth and Paul Shaw was enough to settle a draw.
And finally the last uncovered game took place at the Britannia Stadium, as promotion favourites WOLVES lost 2-1 to STOKE CITY. The opener came on 55 from Darrell Russell, and the lead was doubled after Mark Clyde’s poor tackle on Ade Akinbiyi, resulting in a cool finish from Clive Clark from the spot. Wolves did pull one back through a Kenny Miller penalty but Dave Jones’ men still tumbled in their opening fixture.”

Now game of the weekend was certainly West Ham vs the relegated last season Leicester City, an eventful game that saw two sendings off. Now even though I am a Leicester fan I still haven’t caught anything from this game (I was out until 12.30 then had loads of www.insidepulse.com stuff to sort out) but I know someone who was there. Yep the man who wears Jeremy Beadle’s smile with pride, its Mong again with his report from the stands:

With once again an enormous turnover of players during the pre season, Bookies favourites Leicester City have much work to do between now and May to seriously challenge for the coca cola championship crown.
Squad depth is Adams’ key to promotion, and with Tiatto and Gudjonsson both unavailable, and now the impending suspension of stalwart Dion Dublin, more chopping and changing can be expected in forthcoming weeks.
For a player of Dion Dublin’s stature, his hotheaded dismissal for an immature lash out at Rufus Brevett was unnecessary and with the conditions less than ideal for good football, Leicester owed much to good pre season preparation in order to last out the high tempo the hammers were dishing out. Dublin’s 18th minute dismissal coincided with a period of West Ham dominance, which was to be expected of their numerical advantage, this despite the absence of Michael Carrick, who now looks premiership bound. Marlon Harewood, ex Nottingham Forest was a constant danger with good running off and on the ball, forcing one save from Ian Walker and assisting Hayden Mullins who blazed over from the edge of the box. Both defences were largely on top in a game of attrition and stamina rather than flair. The mix of youth and experience in the form of Nikky Dabizas and Matt Heath kept quiet the influential Sheringham and Sergey Rebrov who remained anonymous for the whole game and were replaced in the second half, Rebrov struggling to adapt to a more orthodox right side of midfield role.
West Ham didn’t have it all their way however. Stephen Bywater in between the Hammers’ sticks was busy all afternoon, saving well from two-second half Connolly efforts in what was an extremely positive debut for the former West Ham striker despite playing most of the match up front on his own with little support. Bywater could do nothing about Lillian Nalis’ tracer bullet left foot shot that rattled the bar from 12 yards.
Despite Rufus Brevett’s second yellow card for a lunge of Scowcroft, the game rather fizzled out as both sides in the simmering heat settled for a point. The late addition of experienced Martin Keown sured up the back line, although the Hammers nearly snatched all three points at the death as Tomasz Repka’s header dipped inches over the bar.
Both sides remain firm favourites for promotion despite mundane performances from both sides, Alan Pardew was the happier manager of the two claiming Leicester as the hot favourites for the coca cola championship. Both sides face tough midweek games, Leicester travel to Pride Park to face Derby County, West Ham will entertain Reading at home.

Thanks for that Mong! Give Sarah my love!

This weekend also saw Arsenal triumph 3-1 over Manchester United in the Community Shield a game I caught on the radio whilst writing for www.comicsnexus.com (ha, ha think I wouldn’t plug it? You fools!) and I thought it was a fascinating game. What it certainly confirmed in everyone’s mind is that these two’s squads are threadbare at the moment, which is ominous when you consider how delicious Chelsea’s squad looks. To be fair Manchester United have an excuse in a staggeringly bad injury list that has seen them loose six players made worse by Rio Ferdinand’s suspension and new defender Heniz and the player of Euro 20004 Cristanio Ronaldo having been called up to play in the Olympics. Arsenal on the other have no excuse, with only a handful of players injured threatening they entire mode of play. Arsenal have consistently had the best 11 and perhaps the best 16 in England if not Europe but modern day competitions are built on the back of squads and with the likes of Parlour, Kanu and Keown all leaving unless Arsenal have a load of young sensations ready to burst onto the scene they are now a weaker side then at the close of last season.

Yet let’s not forget Arsenal won with a commanding performance without the soon to be gone (?) Vieira with Reyes, Bergkamp and Silva in particular all playing well whilst Ashley Cole further confirmed himself as the best left back today. Yet such a performance was achieved against an injury ravaged Manchester United who was holding back for a Champions League qualifier on Wednesday and it wasn’t anywhere near as convincing as some are making out. It’ll be very interesting to see how Arsenal do against Everton on the opening day.

Transfer News

Item 1: Confusion reins over Vieira situation as Wenger puts Saturday deadline on any move to Real Madrid. Pires denies saying that he is as s good as gone.

Whilst every close season has rumours of Vieria going to Madrid this time it seems serious with Wenger almost sounding resigned to losing him. What this means to Arsenal is unclear, it certainly rules them out as a major force in Europe this season but even with Vieria they were never going to be that. As for domestically they probably are a good enough side that with a good enough replacement they should be able to more than hold their own against most teams without him. What may worry them is the extent to which Manchester United were able to hit Arsenal on the counter-attack on Sunday as shown best by Alan Smit’s superb goal. Arsenal defend very high up the pitch and without Vieira providing cover they may be punished for that especially by Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea if he brings across his counter attacking methods from his Porto days.

As for Madrid this is good and bad news. Whilst Vieira is a brilliant player and will fill the hole that the exit of Makelele to Chelsea left last season it shows that they are still obsessed with buying the bigger players rather than creating the full squad they need to provide squad competition and rotation. It should also be noted that in many ways Wenger is the French parallel of Brian Clough, players that he discovers are nowhere near the same when they leave his tutelage. Just look at the difference between T. Henry for Arsenal and for France.

Credit: BBC Ceefax and Daily Mail

Item 2: Owen on brink of move to Real Madrid, Morientes and 10 million going the other way

When I sat down to write this (man that seems a long time ago) there were rumblings that Owen may be on his way, which was a surprise given the lovey-dovey “we’re going to win the title with the same crap squad as last season” attitude that’s been coming from Liverpool. The crux of the matter is whether Owen will play tonight against Grazer AK in their Champion’s League qualifier; if he does then he’ll stay as it will mean he’s cup tied for all European competitions if he doesn’t then he’s going. To be honest it looks likes he’s going with his manger Benitez saying on whether he’ll play “Michael is on the list of players [available for selection], but we will see tomorrow whether he is to play or not,” and on his future that he’s “rather not talk about his future until after this match.”

Is it a good deal? Well depends who we’re talking about, for Liverpool this in my mind would be a fantastic deal! Firstly, they get some funds in to strengthen their squad with rumours of a move for Shaun Wright-Phillips showing Benítez has noted Liverpool’s chronic weakness down the wings but best of all they get Morientes in return. Whether you like Owen or not, there’s no denying he has been in terrible form for the past year whilst Morientes was Monaco’s MVP in reaching the Champion’s League final. Where as Owens tends to be a player prone to goal scoring droughts and gluts Morientes will provide Liverpool with the consistent goal scoring they need. For Owen becoming a galacticos is a gamble, he may very well be consigned to second choice behind Ronaldo and Raul although neither is terrific form so he could probably fight for his place. For Madrid, they get a decent striker with a good (if slightly tarnished by recent poor performances) image and marketability plus they get a follow English player to keep Beckham company and help him settle down in Spain.

Credit: Guardian.co.uk and Daily Mail

Item 3: Spurs pull out of 3 million pound deal for Danny Murphy due to refusal to guarantee first team football

I’m very surprised that Spurs would not only use Danny Murphy as a squad player not a first team player but that they’d pay 3 million for such a player. To me both ideas are crazy, I’d much rather have Murphy in my starting 11 than Jamie Redknapp and the idea that a club of Spurs’ standing can be splashing such money out on squad players is ridiculous. That said Spurs’ have had a good close season with some choice summer buys including Paul Robinson and Sean Davis with rumours of a move for Shaun Wright-Philips refusing to die down, although they’ll face tough competition for his signature.

As for Murphy well Charlton want him and he wanted Charlton anyway. He’ll probably fit in well there with his efficient and sound playing as a water-carrier suiting Charlton well. With rumours of a move for Francis Jeffers as well, Charlton may be an interesting side to watch

Credit: Guardian.co.uk and Ceefax

Item 4: Newcastle agree 2million pound fee for Spurs’ Stephen Carr

Newcastle have along with Middlesborough been the surprise package on the transfer market pulling off some good buys. The addition of Nicky Butt to midfield will add bite and defensive cover to their midfield, which should help their notoriously leaky defence whilst Leeds teenage sensation James Milner should add a degree of class and creativity. Combine that with the huge gamble on Patrick Kluivert who is not only already injured but also unsettling Alan Shear and you have an interesting set of buys. What separates the three above players from Stephen Carr is that there’s more than a suspicion they have been brought on the say so of Chairman Freddie Shepherd not manger Bobby Robson. Carr on the other hand is a long time target of Robson’s and it’s not hard to see why. Not only will he add some quality to a brittle defence but also his wing play is excellent and the thought of him and Dyer on the Newcastle right wing must be mouth watering to their fans.

Credit: Ceefax

Item 5: Aston Villa bid 6million pounds for James Beattie

I am literally rendered speechless that Doug Ellis would allow his manger six mil for one player.

“¦

No really.

Credit: Guardian.co.uk

Injury News

This column is rapidly eating into the time I need to get interviews/CV done so this we’ll be just a quickie run down of the fact that Solskjaer may be out for the season with right knee cartilage damage and that Patrick Berger an injury doubt for Portsmouth against Birmingham.

Okay let’s all laugh and point at the cripples and move on”¦

Football in the Dock

Football may be the national game of England and it may even be the beautiful game (more on that later) but its (according to the tabloids at least) full of some of the dirtiest, most disgusting, outrageously decadent scoundrels this side of a copy of Manhunt. So in our regular feature we’ll take a look at who’s bringing Football into dispute”¦

Case 1: Faria Alam vs Mark Palois vs Sven Goran Eriksson

This is the old case of secretary meets older, uglier, richer executive has a kiss and a grope then meets an even older, uglier, richer executive and has yet another kiss and a grope. Sadly this has the standard epilogue where the wicked press gain hold of the story and manage to twist it so that the two rich executives are doing something wrong (apart from being taken as dupes by a money grabbing cow).

And that’s where things get interesting.

You see one of old, ugly and rich executives was Mark Palios Chief Executive of the FA and slayer of Rio Ferdinand. To make matters worse the second one was Sven Goran Eriksson David Beckham’s assistant as England Manger. Then to make matters even worse when the Press came calling the FA denied it with threats of legal action following without getting an explicit denial from Sven. Then to make matters even more worse the paper in question (News of the World) learnt of Mark Palios’ original affair with the office bike. Then to somehow make matters even more worse some idiot named Colin Gibson offered the News of the World a deal, we’ll give all the juicy details on Sven (i.e. its really a comb over) in return for you keeping quiet on Palios. Unsurprisingly the paper shouted from the rooftops about the deal so forcing the resignation of Mark Palios, Colin Gibson and destroying any of the momentum for sacking the randy Swede. Worse was said to come from Faria’s kiss and tell story to the News of the World/Sun but thankfully the FA it turned out to be Women’s Own nonsense that no one in their right mind would take seriously.

The end result is we have a leaderless FA and a badly damaged England manger. To be honest Eriksson was a dead man walking before the revelations the fans and press had turned on him for his inept tactics, his slavish loyalty to non-performing star players like Owen, Beckham and Scholes and the fact that we pay about 800% more than we would pay an English manger and aren’t getting value for money. The effect of these revelations is to make like Graham Taylor and Glenn Hoddle before a figure of fun and ridicule and no manger can survive such a fate.

CASE 2: Instead of Going Down, Sent Down!

Monday saw West Brom striker Lee Hughes sentenced a six-year prison sentence after being convicted of causing the death of father of four, Mr. Graham 56 after Hughes’ Mercedes ploughed into the car he was travelling in. To make matters worse Hughes did not hand himself in to police until 36 hours later. West Brom has terminated his contract.

I think we can also good riddance, I understand that accidents happen but to leave the scene of one is absolutely deplorable. What makes this worse for football is the sense that this is yet another manifestation of young men having too much money. It’s not fair and its probably damn right near slander but you can imagine the slack-jawed yob in his 100,000-pound car hurtling the road without a care in the world or thought for anyone else. Now I’m a conservative and a firm opponent of incomes’ policy but in the case of football something must be done. Too many good young players are being ruined by getting ridiculous money at such a young age with Hughes being a prime example, he was at one point one of the hottest things in English football with a 30plus goal season with West Brom in the old First Division. At some point the public is going wake up and apply the pidgin socialist envy it applies to every other walk of like and realise that the site of young men being paid more in a fortnight for kicking a ball around than the Prime Minister is in a year is just not on.

Okay that’s your lot. No previews this week due to their being loads of transfer news and dodgy goings on but I will leave you on a prediction for Chelsea vs Manchester United, okay here goes:

Chelsea will win.

Right that’s it, I’ve been Will Cooling, you’ve been bored, and I’m still unemployed!!!