Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Oh, to be a Villa Fan...

Firstly, apologies for the lack of Villa related match reports, it just became difficult to sum up woeful in more than one word. I don't mind the team going out there, fighting hard and coming away with nothing, as that signifies honour, but there is no honour in not fighting at all, a prime example, before taking the lead against Swansea [which was the first time they managed to find the net in the first half all season at home] The last time a goal was scored at Villa park by them, was back in November I believe, in a 2-0 win against Wales' other Premier league side, Cardiff.

For whatever reason, the team is lacking in confidence, and panic easily, and as fans, we haven't always been supportive, but when your team is getting at most 30% of the ball in a game what are we supposed to do? For the most part, I think us the Villa Fans are in this for the long haul, but we are alarmed at how woeful they have been lately. Things have to change, and this is the right time of year to add something new, and slightly abandon the youth policy we have going on. Youth is fine, but with injuries to the experienced players, the young lions look lost and vulnerable.

That said, we can take heart that they didn't lose against Swansea, to remain unbeaten by them in the Premier League, P3 W1 D2 . What the team needs, is a but of steely determination in the midfield, and a slight formation change. It's all well and good playing 4 - 3 - 3 but when one of your strikers has to cover Left Back, then things are never going to go that well.

Winning games against Manchester City [H] and Southampton [A] mask over the real problems, but with 65% possession against Crystal Palace, in a match they lost 0-1 , indicates what exactly we will need to kick on.

1) Experienced CB - Jores Okore looks a really decent buy, but with his ACL injury early in the season, he's not likely to play again until next season, a real shame, and Ron Vlaar is also injured at present, but he should be back within a week or two. The team look confident enough with Vlaar at the back, but another experienced head at the back, can help mentor, or guide Clark and Baker through the season.

2) A Distributor in the Midfield. While Delph and Westwood are good at what they do, they need something different in the midfield who can make that killer pass to open up defences , or can hold the ball up so strikers can find better positions. Also discipline is a slight worry, but like Delph's technical skill, that can only improve with more experience.

3) Ditch the long ball stuff. It is easy to play against Villa, home or away now, as teams are wise to their tendancy to pump it long through the air to the big men up front [Benteke or Kozak] but the team play their best stuff, when Benteke isn't in the lineup and they get the ball to feet and pass and move. After all, that's how they took the lead against Swansea with that exciting style. People say Kozak won't make it, but I'm, fairly sure he will, and if he played together with Benteke, he'd be very effective, as defenders might get confused as to which one to mark, and with Albrighton and a new buy whipping in crosses, the attacking line should be very profitable indeed. If you are going with three up front, I'd modify it so that it's more like an Attacking Midfielder and Benteke + Kozak in there, however, Benteke hasn't been properly fit for months, which begs the question, why was he played so much when he clearly wasn't right ?

4) Do not sack the manager. That seems like a ridiculous thing to have to say, but stick with Lambert, even with this questionable substitutions, but that's part of the job, they work he's a hero, they don't work he's a moron. With more options available, and from the changes he's made, I can understand some of them, but I can't fathom why bringing one someone with 5 minutes to go, to change the game is good. Sometimes, I feel that the changes are a little backwards, in that by all means, bring on some new legs with less than ten minutes remaining, but that's best used for holding a lead. If it's an attacking change, do it no later than 75 minutes. Everything will work out, people are just too impatient, and lets not forget, this was the guy we all wanted from another club. Give him a break.

Hopefully, if just one of these steps is taken from now till the end of the season then it will improve fortunes greatly, and when that questionable substitution works out, the Holte will go crazy for more, but while it's not looking close to being a formula for success, it is easier to criticise than to see the bigger picture. Every manager makes changes that are baffling, it's a learning process for the manager, as well as the XI on the pitch, but in two years, hopefully the nucleus is there to challenge for the right end of the table again.

To sum up, there will be some lows, but as time goes on more highs, and hopefully this will be a side that can stay together for five-eight years, and then slowly bring in the next breed to do exactly the same again.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

NFL Ones to watch Week 11

Week Ten continued to surprise where the Jaguars surprised the Titans, the 49ers only conceded 10 points and still couldn’t win and Atlanta’s season is officially over now. Well, that’s less of a surprise.
It wasn’t surprising to me that the Buccaneers dispatched the Dolphins as that club is an utter mess right now although they should have an easier time of it against the equally matched 4-5 Chargers. With that said the three games to watch in Week Eleven are Washington at Philadelphia , Jets at Buffalo and finally Green Bay Packers on the road in New Jersey.

Redskins vs. Eagles. This will be a reverse fixture of the first week when the Eagles were electric and got off to a really fast start, but since then had really struggled, but are now back at .500 with some excellent performances of late, particularly from back up QB Nick Foles (who 2 weeks ago tied an NFL record with 7 TD Passes). Nick Foles also has more TDs in a months’ worth of games, than RG III has all season long. The numbers are extremely close overall, as the Eagles have 413 YPG, 260 Passing YPG and 153 Rushing YPG compared to Washington’s 410, 259 & 151 respectively. Eagles should find a way to win again as they are steadily improving all round to have the full team game in full flow, but it’s not going to be as easy as week one. RG III is finally showing that his injury is on the back burner and he looks able to plant and go at will now, which is something he rarely looked like in the season’s opening weeks. If the Redskins are to have any hope in this one, they have to stop McCoy , as he is their rushing weapon. His numbers of 932 yards, at an average of 4.8 YPC for 3 TD’s off 193 carries may not seem like much by way of TD’s, but what he does do is gets them first down in big spots, which is how the Eagles go on to score through the air mostly. Very important player. For the Skins, for them to win they have to fully utilise Alfred Morris who rush for rush is slightly better than McCoy with numbers of 825 yards, at an average of 5.2 per carry with 5 TD’s off 159 carries. RG III is also a run option and he should easily add a secondary threat. Eagles win by 5 points.
Jets at Buffalo. This is shaping up to be a fascinating battle between the two teams that will be fighting for second place in the AFC East. You can see why the Jets have a better record, and Jets have beaten New England already, and have a very favourable schedule the rest of the way. The Bills need a Win here more than the Jets, although the Jets need a Win to move 2 games above .500. With the Bills being 4 games under .500 their road to second place is really difficult, but they must start with a win here, to go on with a purpose. The Bills actually have more Yards per game than the Jets, but the Jets execute better. That seems like an obvious thing to write, but with 11 rushing yards per game more than the Jets, the Bills also average 332 yards per game, which is an advantage over New York by 2 yards per game. 11 and 2 doesn’t sound like much, but if it wasn’t for their strength on the Rush, they’d have negative splits all across the stats as their pass YPG is negative of 200. This one won’t be pretty based on what is at stake for both sides, but based on everything, The Jets will win this one by 2 possessions, and for what it’s worth, the Bills should at least get to third place as the Dolphins aren’t solid and their tow headed rushing threat totals over 1000 yards, they can play spoiler if teams don’t pay attention to them, and if it’s any comforter to them, if this were baseball, they’d have a competitive batting average.

Finally this week, Packers vs Giants. The Pack should make short work of the recently rejuvenated Giants and it will be a tougher task for the Packers with Aaron Rodgers still on the shelf with a fractured collarbone. Although even in this state, he’d be more useful than Eli Manning. The Packers already have an average of more than double Rush Yards than the Giants, and with Tolzien starting at QB I would like to think they’d run even more. Of course the old adage remains, that the NFL is a passing league, and Tolzien will do enough of that to keep the Giants guessing, though the Giants have won 3 in a row don’t look as useless as they once did. Eli is below the leagues average in Touchdowns and Completion Rate, but is above average in Pass Yards. Goody, he’s above average in something, finally. The Packers have the 3rd ranked O line, Mid range D line (18) and Top 6 Pass and Rush lines (5th & 6th respectively) which compares to the Giants 23, 11, 14 & 29 respectively. The Giants come into this encounter off the back of 3 straight wins, and the Packers are rather inconsistent at 5-4 and off 2 straight Losses. This will have huge implications on possible play off races in both the NFC East which is being co-led by the Eagles and the Cowboys [whom are on a Bye this week] and the NFC North in which while the Packers are sitting third currently, a few wins can get them back to the brink as the Lions currently sit in first place with a 6-3 and the Bears at 5-4.

To sum up, the AFC East is probably over with the Patriots winning the way [somehow] at 7-2 who will look to move to 8-2 on Monday Night Football at the Panthers who could also be playoff bound as they sit just behind the Saints [7-2] in the NFC South at 6-3. Go football ! 

* It got even more complicated as the Patriots lost to the Panthers last night , so they sit at 7-3, while the Panthers also now sit at 7-3. 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

3-0 or is it 0-3 ?

So, this is the week in which I’m beginning to look silly with my pre-season predictions. Hmm, let’s proceed.
I may as well start with announcing that this week’s Team focus is the Kansas City Chiefs.  They certainly will have more than the total amount of touchdowns last season that Peyton threw in week one, plus one more. Ok, that’s the last time I’ll mention it, I promise. Perhaps just one more, with this victory over the Eagles, in which they forced five turnovers… No, I’ll leave it, but you know where I was going with it.

With that said, the 3-0 Chiefs, [Yeah you read that right], have promised much, and surprisingly have looked accomplished. They destroyed the Eagles, who after dominating against the Skins in Week One, have for the large part, failed to live up to that early promise, and made a mug of many so far. (I am one of them). Though it is still possible the Eagles can live up to the dark horse tag I had them being, they need to stop the rookie like mistakes, and quit calling timeouts whilst on Defence.
(True, that would have left them unable to mount a possible comeback as time wound down, a Timeout would likely have been called against them, and the Field Goal still scored, but who am I to argue?)
Moving on, (which is something the Steelers need to do) as do I with my obsession to take a cheap shot on them, and others… [Despite me pegging them to have a .500 Season]

With the Chiefs spoken about, I’m going to move onto the NFC. The Buccaneers. With this week’s trip to Foxborough, it is important that they exploit the weaknesses within Tom Brady’s gang, to ensure that they do not go back home to fight against the Cardinals at a 0-3 clip. What can they learn from their narrow opening week defeat to The Jets (Really?) and last week’s 2 point defeat to the Saints. Their rush game is strong, so they must continue to exploit that, and take heart that without experience in the receiving end for TFB and co, that they will always have extra opportunities to force turnovers. This game will likely see a defeat to one of the teams, and the other will roll on out of town. Ok, you forced it out of me, I reckon that the Patriots will squeak out a Win, but it won't be by more than 3 or 4 points (again). Or perhaps the Bucs will finally get over the line. Either way, I can say that I predicted it, and it's in print. 

With both divisions focussed on this week, there’s not really anything left to do.
I’d like to take this moment to remind you all that the next blog will be up on Tuesday, reflecting on Aston Villa’s away game to Norwich. As it’s an away game, it will likely have a happier tone to it than if it were being reported on a home match. I do wish it were different, but as it is, I gotta ride it out.

Thanks again for reading, and I apologise for the slightly shorter version of this week’s blog, I’ve been under the weather. It will be back to regular length next week.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Not so glorious Return

Boy. That was not worth the wait.

I can’t even remember the first half, and I was there for it, apparently. I may have blacked out through boredom. What I do remember is Air Belgium via Chicago. What that means is a lot of balls were played long and high from Goalkeeper Guzan to forward Benteke, with little else going on. There were little spells in the first half in which they promised much, but nothing really of note, and I struggle to remember a single shot in the first half. Anyway, Newcastle scored mid-way through the first, when Villa failed to deal with a low cross and the initial shot was parried by Guzan and the follow up dispatched. It was 1-0 at half time much to the relief of probably everyone. It was good that it finished and would give a chance to regroup and come out fighting in the second half. Well not fighting, but with fight in them. They at this point looked like a team who had three weeks off, and that it was a pre-season friendly they were taking part in.

Suddenly, the fans got really loud, and you’ll not be surprised to hear, that a former Villa player was riding around the perimeter of the pitch to promote his recent charity bike ride, one Steve Staunton. This passed and the players returned from their half time roasting, I would presume.
The second half began and Villa, apparently decided that to play football, meant playing the ball along the ground, and looked really dangerous in doing so. They created a few half chances, and 2 chances, which should have been converted, and had that happened, it would have been a rout. Eventually, an equaliser! A well won corner, crossed in from Westwood, converted by the Belgian Tank beast, Christian Benteke. 1-1 ! (Obviously, you all knew that).

Suddenly Villa though, let’s go over the top again, with the oh so familiar tactic, called by everyone sitting around me, before it was happening, Guzan to Benteke aerial passes. It would be fine had it been an NFL game, as I doubt anyone could out jump Benteke, but it isn’t so Benteke was able to win the headers, but there was nobody near him for the link up, so wasteful play. Also, very shortly after the equaliser, Newcastle scored again, after some suspect defending. 2-1 to the visitors, and literally, change after change happened, with the new signing Kozak coming on just before the equaliser, and with 3 minutes to go , Tonev, the promising , creative winger. Why PL waited until there were only 3 minutes left, is beyond me, as I feel that had he made that change, when Villa were dominating shortly before equalising, it would have helped to open the game up more, and would have seen Villa take all 3 points, there is no question in my mind about that.

If you unleash a dangerous Tonev down the left, the pace of Agbonlahor down the right (which is where he should be, not down the middle, as he tended to drift for the majority of the game) with Weimann anonymous, largely by part of the tendency to go through the air. If I was given the opportunity to pick the next starting lineup which would be against Norwich City away, I would have it look like this :
Guzan, Vlaar, Clark (As Okore picked up a knock), [It has since emerged that Okore is likely to miss 9 months and will need surgery to repair the ACL]. Luna, Lowton, Sylla, Westwood, Delph, Tonev , Helenius  and Kozak in a 4-4-2 . I feel this would keep things fresh, and would give a look to a formation that should be utilised at home as playing counter attacking football is fine, but is more useful on the road. Personally, if all teams are now targeting Benteke and marking him 2 or 3 men at a time, it would probably confuse them if Benteke isn’t starting and would prove that the team isn’t one dimensional.
I do believe in the football Lambert wants the team to play, and it is certainly (for the most part) better to watch then under Alex McLeish. Although at times I am baffled as to what is going on out there, for the most part, I’m at least enjoying being part of the Holte End. I can’t do it forever though, so I’ll savour the moments in which I can do it.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

2013 NFL Season - Week One

So, what did we learn in week one?
We learned what we already knew. We learned that anything can happen when the players cross the white lines. This is what makes it so exciting! Or angry, depending on what game it was you happened to watch. We also learned that gut feelings are to be trusted, so if you have a thought about a game, definitely go with it.

Which is something I didn’t do last week, and I apologise, in the section about the AFC Shock team, I was initially going to write about the Patriots, and how I believe they’ll struggle this year, and judging on week ones evidence, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think that would be the case. However, I’m also aware that it is only week two now, with just one game played, things can quickly change. I do honestly believe, the Patriots won’t be anywhere near the Super Bowl for the next 6 years, Brady and Bellicheck will be gone in 3. It’s sad to see, but the signs are there, although it’s not totally on these two, although with no capable WRs, No Steven Ridley, it may as well be just those on the field. All in all, Patriots will probably sneak into the playoffs, but not due to performance of themselves, more under performance of their peers around them. Predicted record, an un-impressive 9-7. Wouldn’t usually make the playoffs, but in their division are the Dolphins, Jets and Bills, this should see them win their division. I still love you TFB. 

Another story coming out of week one of the NFL is that Peyton Manning in one game threw one less TD than the Kansas City Chiefs did all last season. Think about that for a second, while I tell you that don’t expect Peyton to do that EVERY week. Now, has that shocking stat sunk in yet? Good, because we’ll never talk about it again. Unless I use it in the week I talk about the Kansas City Chiefs. Which isn’t now, despite the mention. Sorry KC, your time is coming. (on the blog, not in terms of getting to the post season)
This weeks’ NFC shock team is Arizona Cardinals. Similar to the Eagles I like their draft class of 2013, Solid, but nobody really stands out as the guy that will make the difference to this team in the next 3- 4 seasons. With their narrow defeat to the Rams last week, they will look to make the difference against Detroit, and this is a game in which Arizona could easily win, although the Lions are on a high after dispatching the Vikings last week. While this season isn’t likely to be a winning season for the Cardinals, it won’t be as bad as many people may think, and how they finish, will definitely impact on peoples predictions for next season. They could win 5 or 6 games, but they definitely won’t beat the Falcons (Week 8) , or the 49ers (Week 6 &17 ) The others will be back and forth affairs, in which they will be competitive, but it remains to be seen whether or not they can pull out the W. 2013 Final record 6-10 , but is probably 4 or 5 more than people think. They will of course, definitely miss the playoffs though.

*It should be noted, some of this is written before the first game of the week on Thursday, but since that game, happened to feature the Patriots, there’s one thing I can take from it, and that’s this…

I’m glad that’s over. It was brutal to watch, some of the play calling from the Jets was incredibly ridiculous, and the display from the Pats was lukewarm, at best. Awful game, I wanted to bleach my eyes out, but a W is a W, especially for a team that isn’t going to do well in the offseason, or, as what could be said, great teams find a way to win when they aren’t playing at their best. Which is the case for the Patriots? Join me all season long to find out, as well as the trials of the other teams in the NFL. (I still think they'll barely get past the Wild Card round, but we'll see) 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

NFL . 2013 Season Predictions

Hi, you know me from my Barclay’s Premier League review, in which I follow my Team Aston Villa, throughout all 38 league games with an analysis of what happened, what could have been better and how I see the next game going.

I don’t claim to be an expert in NFL, but as a fan, I feel that I can give an educated insight into how I see the 2013 NFL Football season unfolding.

Let me start with the team that won it all last time, the Baltimore Ravens.
Now, considering they got demolished this past Thursday, it’s not all bad for the Baltimore fans. Sure losing a few members of the championship winning side will hurt a bit, but under Joe Flacco and his mighty arm, they should remain competitive, especially as they won’t be facing an inspired Payton manning every week. I believe their overall record will end up at 9-7 and should see them in contention for at least a Wild Card place.

Now, last season’s losing Super bowl finalists, San Francisco 49ers. Usually, the team that lost in the Super bowl the season before, really struggle to make in impact the season after, but I think this season will be different, and the 49ers are in excellent shape to go one better and win it all. I believe their overall record will be 12 – 4. This will see them in excellent shape to pull it off, and I think they are the prime candidate to be the Super bowl representative for the NFC.

I am not going to work my way through all the teams this week, though I will try to reflect on all teams at least once throughout the season. Each week, following this article, I will focus on one team per division, so one NFC, and one AFC team. I will also rate the team of the week out of 10 per performance and also grade A-F for an underperforming team, or a team I feel should have performed better for the matchup.
A couple of teams to keep your eyes on, who I feel will surprise a lot of people.

From the NFC, Philadelphia Eagles.
While a lot of people I’ve spoken to, don’t like the background of the QB Michael Vick, while I don’t agree with it either, you can’t argue that he is the best QB the Eagles have for now.
Though TE James Casey, will be a definite upgrade, and LB Trent Cole will be a huge part of their defensive prowess. Also upgraded is their Head Coach which saw Andy Reid let go, and later he signed to the Chiefs (KC). The Eagles have an innovative new Head Coach in Chip Kelly, and his offensive schemes will suit the Eagles O line better than before. Their D left a lot to be desired and with the hot temper of CB Cary Williams, this is something which at times might need some patience, and although they won’t get at best past the Wild Card, next season they could be in prime position to make inroads into the post season glories. Their 2013 Draft Class hit all the key areas and in the coming years, Eagles could shock the world and lift the Vince Lombardi trophy by 2017. Yes it will take a while, and The Eagles need to stick with Chip Kelly to achieve this, but all things are positive for the Eagle nation. By mid-2015 some of the draft class of 2013 should be integrated within the team, and the change will benefit all parties. 2013 record 8-8.

From within the AFC, The Pittsburgh Steelers will be looking to rebound after last season’s .500 season at 8-8. They have all the pieces needed to make this happen, but it won’t be by much. They will certainly be looking forward to celebrating a winning season but it will only likely see a swing of 1 game from last year, to go 9-7. This won’t be enough for a play-off berth, but it is putting them back in the right direction. Roethlisberger will be a bigger part than ever and with Jerricho Cotchery at WR, in the final year of his 2 year deal signed in 2012, will look to make a bigger impact then he did last time out. Having only started in 2 games, he did appear in most of the 16 games, he will be in better shape to average more than 12.1 yards per reception, which was his lowest since 2005, on a team which was a perennial loser. On the flip side, his career high in carries came in 2007 when he totalled 1,130 yards at an average of 13.8 per reception. A figure, more like 500 yards at an average of 12 per reception should be considered a good season for Jerricho. He will be looked at as a veteran to help the younger members of the roster, and hopefully, will see them back amongst the top teams in the next few years. To repeat, 2013 record = 9-7. That will not be enough to make the playoffs, but will be a good stepping stone.

To quickly mention my usual blog, in which I follow Aston Villa, there will be no release there on the 10th, but normal service should resume on the 17th due to the next game being held on the 14th.
Thank you for reading, and expect the next instalment of the NFL season on the 15th September 2013.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Oh, Referee !

So, as promised a quick recap of the midweek visit to Stamford Bridge, Outside of contentious (non) refereeing decisions , Chelsea got off to a 1-0 lead early on, with an unlucky Own Goal from new signing, Antonio Luna, whom could do nothing to prevent it. It was an early insight into how the rest of the night would pan out, though at the time, nobody suspected it.
Parity was restored when Benteke excellently dispatched a pass into the near post with essentially the last kick of the first half. Excellent, could the team rally in the second and get a perfect 6 points from 6 to open the season’s first week with?

As it turned out, no.
First, the referee decided not to send off a Chelsea defender, Branislav Ivanovich, for an elbow to the Villa goal scorer, Benteke. Apparently a yellow sufficed. Fair enough, at this point. Villa did still create chances, and later, a free kick was awarded to Chelsea, and the man that, arguably should have received a red card, was there to head home the cross. Anger ensued, although after some more missed chances, and some great goalkeeping from Cech in the Chelsea goal, a ball was crossed in to the centre of the box, and there to head home the cross, no wait, there to clear the ball, with the use of an arm was perennial hate figure John Terry. No penalty. Sheesh give us a break !

It finished with a 2-1 loss, although on another night, would have certainly seen a share of the spoils.
Before I get into another contentious issue, regarding the schedule, and the weekend’s home match against Liverpool, in what had seen Villa victorious in only 2 of the past 20 meetings, the first Home game of the new season, with a new sense of optimism around, I will take the time to reflect on my last article, where I mentioned women’s football, and I realise Hope Powell isn’t all there is to the game, and that shouldn’t discredit the work that other people involved with the game do. Hopefully, in 5 years’ time, women’s football will be on the up and maybe, a highlight show for the Women’s Premier League. This would be an amazing step up for sporting Equality.

So, on we go to the home fixture, which promised much, but didn’t really deliver in the end. Both sides started brightly , but it took a moment of sloppy defending and clinical finishing from Liverpool to open the scoring, of which came in the middle of a dominant spell of possession which saw Liverpool keep the ball for what seemed like 20 minutes, and thinking about it, it probably was. Liverpool showed exactly why they could be an outside bet of a championship this time, with stellar recruiting and excellent signings. The best of which was Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who last time he visited Villa Park, he conceded 6 in an abysmal appearance for his old club, Sunderland (the place where my mother was born) . No such repeat performance, who definitely kept his side in the lead with a string of quality saves to deny Villa’s endeavour. It finished with a 1-0 loss to Villa, who for large portions certainly looked like a team that had played three times in 7 days. Again, like the Chelsea game though, Villa need to convert the chances they get, but I’m sure with time, they will.

The peculiar thing about this seasons fixture list, is now, Villa won’t be at home, or indeed, in any kind of league action until Mid-September, when Newcastle visit.  It will seem quite strange, that everybody else will be playing, but I guess after the torrid start, with tomorrow’s League cup game to deal with also, bringing the total of 4 games in 10 days, the rest is well deserved. Except, it will also have an international break, where players fly around the world to represent their country and some of them might just have a kick or two. And if we’re all lucky, they might just kick the ball a few times too.
I guess with no league game to report on next week’s blog will either be not done, or discussing my thoughts on Ben Affleck as Batman, or Miley Cyrus’ controversy. 
Either way, keep your eyes peeled.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Is there any hope left in football ?

Hope, can mean anything to any one supporter, but for this article I’ll discuss hope as it stands as a word. Any flame of delight to shout about, when your teams losing 17-0 at home to Barnet (No disrespect intended) or when your team constantly goes 2-0 up to lose 3-2 .

I will start off with today’s news that Hope Powell; the England Ladies head coach has been sacked with immediate effect. At times it was a very promising era for women’s football, and her achievements in helping England get to the latter stages of tournaments, it definitely improved the coverage of the game in England. It was amazing to see the coverage of Women’s Olympic football, and it was definitely something the women’s game needed, though the men’s game, not so much.

I am sad to see the end of hope Powell's reign as England women's football manager. It has been good to see the spotlight on a sport which gets over looked especially one in women’s football. It has come from a long way of people saying, “Oh there was nothing on Television so I watched the women’s football Cup final”.  It was definitely a game which needed the presence of the Olympic Games to promote and show the world how glorious it could be.

 I do wonder, though, that in the high stakes game of trying to guess who the first managerial casualty of the season will be, how many of you thought this would be the first one? If you say you did, I’d call you a liar. Then I’d ask for proof, and when presented with the proof, I would then dis credit that proof, such as what is often done on Pawn Stars. At least football is back, and so begins week after week of asinine predictions, and stubborn on-lookers believing their team to be the best in the world, despite being in the 4th tier of football.

On a different note, I can find hope in that Aston Villa will silence a lot of people this season, and shouldn't be anywhere near the relegation zone. As a Holte Ender, the noise will be loud and proud for the majority of the season, and we can definitely feel more secure in retaining the services of the Belgian Beast. Phew. Keep up to date with my in season thoughts about the club that I, and so many others Love, Aston Villa.

Here is a taster, a reflection on the opening weekend of the Barclay’s Premier League match Away to Arsenal at the Emirates. The match finished 3-1 in favour of Villa, and whilst I fancied a sneaky 3 points, I definitely didn't really expect such a clinical victory. Happy Days, unbeaten going into a home clash against Liverpool, but wait!
Firstly, they have to play Away to Chelsea, as on the original date of the fixture, Chelsea are due to play for the Super Cup so let’s play this week. Superb.
More on this game will be featured in my forward to the Liverpool fixture which will be released Week commencing August 26th.

To sign off for this week, I will mention that with Alan Pardew’s recent comment that the Transfer window should be closed come opening Weekend. I agree, it would stop these sagas of will Wayne Rooney leave Manchester United, will Luis Suarez stay at Liverpool, or where will Christian Benteke play for the 2013/14 season ? Well, The Benteke saga was answered, when he withdrew his Transfer Request, and signed a new contract to stay exactly where he was, and The Holte End will have at least 18 goals to look forward to from him alone. To answer the statement, Yes, it should close when the season starts, as there are 2 months between seasons to get things done, to buy players, to sell players, to do whatever they need to do, and maybe if they miss a player, they can use Hawkeye to review their stupidity.

Thankyou for reading and I will see you at the same time, same place next week.