Premier League Round-Up

Sunday, 27 September 2009

It was a weekend of goals galore in the Premier League with 37 goals scored in the 10 ties, a great weekend for strikers, but a poor weekend for defences. There was also the shock of Chelsea falling to their first defeat in 24 matches since March and a run of eight straight victories brought to an end.

Wigan was Chelsea Achilles heel, as they gained their first win over a big team at the 35th time of asking. The Latics ran out 3-1 winners through goals from Titus Bramble, Hugo Rodallega and Paul Scharner, ending Carlo Ancelotti’s dream start as Chelsea manager. All eyes will be on them now to bounce back from this defeat, and not end up like Phil Scolari last season. The Blues had keeper Petr Cech sent-off in the game, and will be without him for the game against Liverpool next weekend.

Clinical finishing was central to the action at Anfield as Liverpool hammered Hull 6-1 with an in form Fernando Torres scoring a hat-trick. Steven Gerrard was on the scoresheet, along with two late goals from Ryan Babel. As I’ve mentioned before in a previous post Liverpool have now begun winning games they drew last season, and have made up for their two defeats at the start of the season. Their main aim now will be keeping Fernando Torres fit, goals not only win you games, they win you trophies.

Another team on fire is Spurs, bouncing back from back to back defeats against Manchester United and Chelsea with a 5-0 victory over Burnley. A mid-week hat-trick from Peter Crouch in the Carling Cup didn’t secure his place in the squad, instead Harry Redknapp opted for the partnership of Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane. Keane went one better than Crouch scoring four goals, Jermain Jenas scored the Londoners 5th, continuing Burnley’s travel sickness. They’ve now been beaten 2-0, 3-0, 4-0 and 5-0, and have not yet scored on the road. Their home form will be key to their survival.
Manchester United have moved into top-spot in the Premier League for the first time this season after a 2-0 win over Stoke. United now make it seven wins in-a-row in all competitions. Dimitar Berbatov and John O’Shea provided the goals, but it was substitute Ryan Giggs who was the star man and breathed a new life into the Red Devils. Arsenals were 1-0 winners over London rivals Fulham, and have only one man to thank. Not goal scorer Robin Van Persie, but third choice goalkeeper Vito Mannone. The Italian made eight saves in the game to keep Fulham at bay, he is proving to be a class act, and Manuel Almunia will have competition when he returns from injury.
Elsewhere, Portsmouth fell to their seventh straight defeat at the hands of Everton, Louis Saha scored the only goal of the game. Also, Bolton beat Birmingham 2-1, and Aston Villa were beaten 2-1 by Blackburn. Sunday saw the return of Mick McCarthy to the Stadium of Light, but he won’t want to be returning too soon, after his Wolves side were beaten 5-2. Sunderland now lie 8th in the table on 12 points, while Wolves are in 16th.

Tonight saw Manchester City take on West Ham, and Carlos Tevez and Craig Bellamy taking on their former club. Tevez provided two goals for City, along with Martin Petrov. City were impressive, and bounced back from last weekend’s defeat at Old Trafford, to move back into 5th place.

It’s been an explosive start to the season, and is certainly living up to all the expectations. Let’s hope it stays that way.


Forgotten heroes: Ian Harte.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

He has made 64 international appearances for Ireland, played in a Champions League semi-final for Leeds United but now Ian Harte can be seen slogging it out in League One with Carlisle United.
Harte made 213 appearances in his 11 years at Leeds, before moving on to Levante in Spain where injuries plagued him and only playing 56 games in 3 years.
A dead ball specialist, Harte is left-footed free kick and penalty taker, and certainly takes the opportunity of a shot on goal where possible. I'm very surprised there aren't more clips on youtube, but this one will suffice.
After returning from Spain, the Irishman went on to play for Sunderland under Roy Keane and Blackpool, while also having unsuccessful trials with Wolves, Sheffield United and Charlton before joining Carlisle United at the start this summer.
He has since signed a contract extension of two years which will see him stay with the club until 2011. He's made his regular return to football now with the League one side and has played 9 games already this season, scoring 3 goals.


Around the world of football.

Daily Mail: Phil Brown has two games to save his job....Let's hope he loses both, and we see the back of him, the tan and the singing.
Also reported in the Daily Mail is that Roberto Mancini is being lined up to be the next manager of Notts County, yes League Two Notts County, I wonder if he thinks they're Juventus? Ian 'Charlie' McParland's job is under-threat, and is also under-review after only 10 games. I Don't think this story will materialise.
The Guardian: UEFA are investigating a match-fixing scandle right across Europe involving no less than 40 clubs, the main focus is on Eastern European teams. No major European clubs are thought to be involved.
The Draw for the Carling Cup Fourth Round has been made, the big tie has to be Arsenal vs Liverpool. You can check out the rest of the draw on the BBC website, along with Carlo Ancelotti's retirment plans.
Chelsea are also making the news today after they've received the details to their transfer ban. They will now have 21 days to make an appeal. The Telegraph.
Also some articles worth reading are from Dara O'Briain, vote for who you think will be the first Premier League manager to get sacked on EPL Talk, and finally, download this weeks twofootedtackle podcast. All the details can be found right here.


Trap extends his regins.

Friday, 25 September 2009

It's great to hear that Giovanni Trapattoni has decided to sign a new contract with Ireland which will take him right through to the end of the Euro 2012 qualifiers, but at the same time it's a completly bizarre deal.

Ireland have not yet qualified for next years World Cup which was Trapattoni's original brief when he took over two years ago, so why offer him a new contract now?

Well, first of all the FAI are not actually paying his contract, billionaire Denis O'Brien is, he was the one who originally agreed to pay the Italian's contract when he was recruited, and he is now part-funding this extension also.

Secondly, O'Brien's money is endless, so if he wants to waste it then he can, but I don't think he will be wasting it. Trap has done a fantastic job since taking over, despite people not agreeing with some of he selections, and his continued stand-off with Andy Reid, but the main point is we have yet to qualify for the World Cup next summer.

Why not wait until after qualification? Then table a new off, or are we afraid that if we don't qualify he'll walk and we will be once again left in disarray?
A point in Dublin next month would be enough to secure automatic qualification for world champions Italy, while it would also guarantee Ireland the play-off spot if Bulgaria fail to win in Cyprus. While qualification is certainly within our grasp, it will most likely be through the play-off situation.

If we did gain a victory against Italy at Croke Park, it would send us into our final fixture knowing that a win over Montenegro would book our passage to the finals, provided Cyprus deny the Italians a victory.
I am more than confident of Trapattoni's management, and think we should be qualify for Africa. €2million says we don't?


What I've been doing, and where things are going.

As you may have noticed there's been less and less of me posting on here lately, and if I am it's links to other sites that I've been posting on.

The main aim of that is to get my name out there, and have as much people as possible reading my work. So, here is just a round-up of where things are at the moment.

This blog, Touchline Views, which is of course on the twofootedtackle blog network has been a great base for promoting my writing, as well my views on all things football, from League One to Liegue 1.

Back Page Football is a new football website, which has some fantastic writers, and covers all the bases of the beautiful game. Over there I write a weekly column called Home Views, which focuses on all the issues in Irish football. I've been doing that for over a month now, and it's something I enjoy, because I'm not an Irish footballing buff by any means, but I've been learning as I go along.
Finally, we come to soccerlens, where this week I wrote a column on Sol Campbell's departure from Notts County, called - 'Campbell finds out League Two is not the Costa del Sol', I'm hoping, if I have time to write maybe not a weekly column on there, but certainly every two weeks depending on how each week takes me.
If you do happen to stumble across my blog at anytime, please feel free to drop me a comment, or an email at - Follow me on twitter - @speedyian Also, if you're looking for someone to do a guest post on football anytime I'd be more than happy to do so.
Hopefully in maybe a month or two I will do another post like this to see how things are panning out, but for now, happy reading!


Tractor Boys stuck in a rut, but Keane ploughs on.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Recently in his column for the Irish Daily Star Eamon Dunphy stated that: 'When Roy Keane was appointed as Ipswich Town manager, he promised that he’d take them out of the Championship. The Corkman is on track to do just that but, unfortunately for the club, they’re looking at dropping into League One rather than going up to the Premier League.’

And I have to agree with him. Keane has now equalled Ipswich's worst start to a season in 45 years. The last time Ipswich failed to win any of their eight league games back at the start of 1964 season, boss Jackie Milburn was sacked.

This weekend the Tractor Boys face high-flying Newcastle who are currently 2nd in the Championship, while Ipswich lie at the opposite end of the spectrum in 23rd place, having only collected 4 points from 8 games.

Ipswich who were early season favourites for promotion, and were certainly one of the teams I earmarked this season, but they have yet to kick start their season. Roy Keane's management style seems to be having a negative effect on the club which is why Sky Bet are now offering odds of 1/3 on Keane leaving before the end of the season.
The Corkman has made a habit of walking out on clubs when they need him the most having done it on Sunderland, Manchester United and Ireland. Dunphy also states this in his column:

‘Clearly, Keane doesn’t have the personality to be in charge and I really think that this will be his last job in management.

It’s too early to write his own epitaph at Ipswich but Keane does have a reputation for walking when the heat comes on.'

Keane's ironfisted management clearly does not work, and I think if Ipswich want to move forward then he has to go, or else he needs to walk, and soon.

Tomorrow is a very special day for both Newcastle and Ipswich, as the naming of a stand at Portman Road will be named after club legend Bobby Robson. Maybe this will be the occasion that will turn Ipswich's season around.


Pat's left without a Saviour

Monday, 21 September 2009

It is a Monday and that could only mean one thing, my latest column over on Back Page Football is now available for your viewing pleasure.

You can check the column out - right here. This week I discuss Jeff Kenna's departure from St. Patrick's Athletic after just eight months in charge.

And as always I'd love to hear your comments, so please leave them either here or over on Back Page Football.


Premier League Round-Up

This weekend in the Premier League was jam packed with mouth watering ties much like last weekend, and again it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Arsenal put the disappointment of losing to both Manchester clubs behind them by beating Roberto Martinez’s Wigan 4-0. Two goals from defender Thomas Vermaelen (above) and one each from Eduardo and Cesc Fabregas secured a much needed victory. Vermaelen, has been outstanding for Arsenal, and is now the clubs top scorer with four goals in his debut season, and fantastic return from a centre back. He may have been Wenger’s only buy this summer, but he’s certainly proving to be a very canny purchase.

Another week, another loss for sorry Portsmouth as they remain rooted to the foot of the Premier League table following at 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa. The south coast club have now fell to their sixth consecutive defeat, rendering their start to the season the worst in the top flight since Leicester 26 years ago. Villa however, have now won four games on the trot, their best start to a season in a decade. Goals from James Milner and Gabby Agbonlahor secure the win for Martin O’Neill.

A last gasp penalty for Bolton secured them a point against Stoke, saving them from yet another defeat. It was certainly a lacklustre performance from Bolton, so they will certainly be the happier side; however, it was arguably their worst performance under Gary Megson. Stoke took the lead through a goal from Dave Kitson, his third in four games. But when Sam Ricketts was tripped on the edge of the box, the referee immediately pointed to the stop, which Matt Taylor duly converted. It doesn’t bode well for Bolton, but Stoke don’t look to be suffering from second season syndrome thus far.

All three of the promoted sides managed to win this weekend and gain three vital points. Burnley beat Sunderland 3-1, with David Nugent coming off the bench to score two goals for the Clarets, also on the scoresheet was Graham Alexander, while Darren Bent scored yet again for Sunderland. Elsewhere, Birmingham managed 1-0 win over Hull, while Wolves beat Fulham 2-1.

Two goals from Fernando Torres gave Liverpool a hard earned victory against West Ham. They now seem to have corrected last season’s problem of drawing too many matches, but their next objective should be to tighten their leaky defence having conceded 9 goals in six games. The final score in this game was Liverpool 3-2 West Ham; Dirk Kyut was also on the scoresheet for Liverpool, while Alessandro Diamanti and Carlton Cole goals weren’t enough for the Hammers.

Liverpool’s rivals Everton finally kick-started their season this weekend. A 4-0 victory mid-week in the Europa League gave the Toffees the boost they needed as they beat Blackburn 3-0. A Louis Saha brace, and a goal from Joseph Yobo was what it took to secure their second win of the season. Blackburn look to be out at sea, and with some big games to come they need to start notching up the points.

Chelsea made it six wins out of six on Sunday by beating London rivals Tottenham 3-0. They have now made a new club record of 12 consecutive wins, are unbeaten at home since November 2008. Spurs however failed to bounce back from last week’s 3-1 defeat against Manchester United, there is no shame to losing to both Chelsea and Manchester United, but it does show Harry Redknapp’s side aren’t title contenders. Goals from Ashley Cole, Michael Ballack and Didier Drogba keep Carlo Ancelotti’s side top of the pile.

It was billed as the biggest Manchester derby of all time, and boy, it didn’t disappoint. It was a seven goal thriller at Old Trafford that ended in a Manchester United victory, but Manchester City showed they have got what it takes to keep in check with the big boys.

They were very unlucky not get at least a point out of the game having fought tooth and nail from the off. Manchester United took the lead after just two minutes through a Wayne Rooney goal, but the sides were level going into half-time, Gareth Barry scoring the equaliser for City, United regained the lead four minutes into the second half, Darren Fletcher heading in a Ryan Giggs cross. That advantage was short lived with Craig Bellamy striking for City just 3 minutes later, himself and Fletcher were on the scoresheet for their respective sides in the 80th and 90th minute, but it was Michael Owen who came off the bench to score in the sixth minute of added time giving Manchester United bragging rights after the first derby of the season.

It was by no means a flawless performance from either side, but it did make for compulsive viewing, City certainly showed they have the tenacity to crack the top 4, and if they keep performing like this they could well do so.

Very hard to believe we are only six games into the season, but there are certain patterns emerging already. There is Chelsea winning six on the trot, Pompey losing six on the trot, the top 4 seems to be growing into the big 6, while the rest remain in between.

As always we have a week to gather our thoughts, before we do it all over again next weekend.


Bellamy's feet and fists do the talking.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

He may have scored two goals for Manchester City in today's derby, but Craig Bellamy could be in hot water after he was pictured punching a fan in the face. The fiery Welshman was one of City's best players both in the win against Arsenal last weekend, and today's defeat.
Manager Mark Hughes has defended his players actions - "I did not see it but the guy should not have been on the pitch". "That is not acceptable."
Golfclubs aside, Bellamy has been a real grafter for City and will be a big loss if he does get suspended, adding to City's long list of absent players.
LATEST - FA and Police confirm they will look into the matter. For more details see here.


Aren't Sky Sports lovely?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

There is a story today on the Sky Sports website stating Manchester United goalkeeper was deafened by the noise in the Inonu Stadium last night in the game against Besiktas.
It certainly looks like they troubled themselves to find a suitable picture to put with the story, above you can see that Foster looks like he is unblocking his ears. Talk about the pot calling the kettle a very dark colour.
Don't you just love the journalism of Sky Sports, the site that brought us this picture.


Eduardo watch out tonight.

Possibly one of the worst tackles I've ever seen. The tackler's name is Axel Witsel, and he's current serving an 8 match domestic ban, which means he can play in the Champions League against Arsenal tonight, if selected.

That's not a tackle, that's assault in my opinion, it was clearly a deliberate stamp on the player.


Champions League Group Stage Preview 2009/10

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

I've certainly been very busy this week over on Back Page Football, my preview to the group stages of this seasons Champions League is available over there now.
You can check it out right here


The Flip side of crossing the water - Back Page Football

Monday, 14 September 2009

You can now check out my latest column on Irish football over on Back Page Football.
This week I talk about Shane Supple's departure from the game, and how football isn't always about fame and fortune.
The article can be found right here


Premier League Weekend Review

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Welcome to Manchester, or in Arsenal’s case Good Riddance to Manchester. The Gunners won’t want to be seeing Manchester again too soon after two successive defeats to both United and City, showing that their opening day 6-1 victory over Everton was a one hit wonder.

Manchester City passed their first test of the season by beating Arsenal, but they did it in controversial circumstances. Emmanuel Adebayor got his name on the scoresheet once again, but decided because it was against his former club he’d go and celebrate in front of them. He’ll now face an FA charge for his stupidity. It certainly took away from the main attraction of the game, but does not deny the fact Manchester City is a force to be reckoned with. City has been buying success, while Arsenal has sold it.

The Gunners have dominated both games against the Manchester clubs, but have lacked that killer punch. City’s other goals came from an Almunia own goal, Craig Bellamy, and Shaun Wright-Phillips, while Robin Van Persie and Tomas Rosicky struck for Arsenal.
Good win for City, certainly promises to be a great battle when the two sides from Manchester come head-to-head next Sunday.

Carlo Ancelotti and Chelsea made it 5 wins out of 5 as they left it late to beat Stoke. A Florent Malouda goal in the 93rd minute secured all 3 points for the London side wrapping up a 2-1 victory, but Stoke proved that anyone who comes to the Britannia has to be up for a game. I think Stoke can feel very hard done by, but there’s no shame to losing to Chelsea.

Wigan ended their run of three league games without a win by beating West Ham at the DW Stadium. Hugo Rodallega’s goal was enough for Roberto Martinez’s side, leaving West Ham without a victory since the opening day of the season. Blackburn secured their first win of the season, and also managed to find the back of the net in a 3-1 win over Wolves. Going into the game Rovers had scored only once but El-Hadji Diouf, Jason Roberts and David Dunn put an end to that.

Things continue to look very bleak down on the south coast as Portsmouth fell to their fifth Premier League defeat in a row and remain bottom of the table without a single point to their name. Bolton were the visitors to Fratton Park and had yet to win a game, but that’s all changed now as they secured a vital 3 points. I’m sure Pompey will be unhappy not to have got a point out of the game, but when you are playing with Championship players in your side(with the exception of David James) you’re only heading one way and that of course is down to the Championship.

Sunderland continue their strong start to the season with a 4-1 victory over Hull. Darren Bent had his scoring boots on once again, as he scored twice; Andy Reid, debutant and former Hull player Michael Turner were also on the scoresheet for the Black Cats, while Zayatte scored for Hull.

A Yossi Benayoun hat-trick, along with a goal from Dirk Kuyt saw Liverpool beat Burnley 4-0 at Anfield. While last year’s promoted sides of Hull and Stoke left Anfield unbeaten, Rafa Benitez’s side are making sure they secure 3 points and not dropping 2 points. Michael Shields who was released from a Bulgarian prison last week was in attendance to see his club record a comprehensive victory.

Arsenal’s rivals Tottenham, and City’s rivals United faced-off in Sir Alex Ferguson’s 750th game in charge of the Red Devils. After 52 seconds United were 1-0 down, with a great acrobatic goal from Jermaine Defoe. As always United fought back, and were ahead at half-time with goals from a Ryan Giggs free-kick, and Anderson. United were reduced to 10men after Paul Scholes was sent-off for a second bookable offence, but that didn’t slow them down as Wayne Rooney made sure the victory was safe with a great goal in the 78th minute. Spurs’ winning start over, but I don’t think they should be too disheartened, next up for them is Chelsea away, while United face City.

Today saw the very first Birmingham derby of the season, as Aston Villa faced their rivals at St. Andrews. Martin O’Neill’s side left it late as Gabriel Agbonlahor scored six minutes from time to move Villa up to 6th in the table.

In the other clash of the day, Fulham took on Everton. Both sides haven’t had a great start to the season, but it got worse for Everton who led the game at half-time thanks to a Tim Cahill goal, as Fulham scored twice in the last 30minutes to secure a deserved victory. The Cottagers have now given their season the kick-start it needed, Everton however; look to be stuck in a rut.
What a way to end the international break, some fantastic games along with crucial victories.
Let’s do it all over again next weekend!
(Pic via Zimbio)


Footballers really are clueless

Saturday, 12 September 2009

What the hell was Adebayor thinking? He'd certainly give Usain Bolt a run for his money with that sprint, pity he had to take the shine off City's 4-2 win, but they did pass their first real test. Adebayor was lucky to escape punishment for his stamp on former team-mate Robin Van Persie, but he deserved his yellow card for this celebration, it was just a moment of stupidity. Still, it doesn't take away the fact that he's scored in every game for City this season. Next up, Manchester United.


Brits Abroad: Fowlerwatch - Part 2

The penalty area prowler Robbie Fowler is rolling back the years in Australia as he takes the A-League by storm. The ex-Liverpool striker has now made it 4 goals in 6 games after his fantastic goal this weekend, leading North Queensland Fury to their first win of the season.

Fowler seems to be doing what Beckham did for the MLS, and raising the profile of the A-League in Australia. Fans have even been turning up to games wearing Liverpool jersey's in honour of Fowler.I'm sure this isn't the last we've heard for him this season.

If you want to see Fowler's goal - click here

(Pic via zimbio)


Top Four or Big Six? Today will decide.

As many managers have been saying after this season there is no longer a Top 4, instead it’s been replaced with the Big Six because there are six teams who seem to be credible challengers or pretenders to Top 4 if you like.

Those teams are Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool. While the Top 4 of Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal has not been broken since Everton did so in 2004 this looks to be the year it will be broken again.

It started off with Arsenal earmarked as one of the favourites to drop out of the Top 4, but four games in I'm prepared to say that my prediction of Liverpool to win the title now looks unlikely.

I think they now look to be the club that will drop out of the Top 4. Their season has yet to start, their defence is a disaster, and Xabi Alonso is sorely missed. Liverpool has played four, lost two, won two. Those two defeats represent the whole of last season’s after only four games. Last season Liverpool were criticised for the amount of games they drew, while this time round they are being berated by people like me for losing two games.

Today they face Burnley at Anfield, who have already beaten Everton and Manchester United. They are certainly no pushovers and could prove to be a formidable opponent for Liverpool. I'd love to see Burnley nick a point.

Manchester City look dead certs to sheikh up the Top 4, and what better way to do so that by beating Arsenal today. Being a Manchester United fan I should hate Citeh, but I don't. I think what they are doing is fantastic, they have us running scared, and Fergie is clearly rattled with his comment: 'They are a small club, with a small mentality'.

Beaten by United two weekends ago, Arsenal won't like losing to both Manchester clubs, so they will be looking for a win today. Man City have won their opening three games, and have yet to concede a goal, while the Gunners have yet to keep a clean sheet. Arsenal should prove to be a delightful appetiser before the main course that is the Manchester derby next Sunday. A City win is all I can see.

What a difference a year makes. At the start of last season Tottenham were struggling above the relegation zone before Harry Redknapp took over, and now look where they are. They've had their best start to a season since 1960 winning their opening four games, and lie joint top with Chelsea on 12 points. Having already beaten Liverpool, Spurs toughest test comes today when Manchester United come to White Hart Lane.

I think Spurs momentum should lead them to another victory today even if they are missing Luca Modric. Manchester United hasn’t made the smoothest of starts to the season, and were only lucky to beat Arsenal two weeks ago. I like Spurs a lot, and think they are credible contenders, maybe not for the title but certainly to break the Top 4.

Finally we reach Chelsea who face Stoke at the fortress that is the Britannia Stadium. Carlo Ancelotti has fitted right in at Chelsea and has guided them to 4 wins out of 4. Stoke have enjoyed a strong start to the season and lie 5th on 7 points. No team wins easy at the Britannia, and that is something Chelsea will find out today. I think it will be a Chelsea win, but they should not underestimate Stoke, who, if they are lucky could get a point out of the game.

So, they're you have it. The Top 4 have departed, and now we have a Big 6. The question is can they keep up the pace? We will all be a little clearer after today’s round of fixtures.


Leeds United - On the up.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Last season Leeds United had an average home attendance of 23,813 which is amazing for a League One side, especially when you compare it to Premier League clubs like Blackburn, Bolton, Portsmouth and Wigan all of which attracted lower average home attendances last season.

Relegated from the Premier League in 2004, and again three years later from the Championship, Leeds for the first time in over 2 years look to be ready and raring to go to make a return to the second tier of English football.

This season they’ve started as they finished last term. In the final 15 games of last season Leeds produced 11wins, three draws, and only one defeat. They looked to have the momentum of an all but promoted club, finishing 4th in League One, a position higher than the previous season. , then came along the sucker punch of defeat in the play-off semi finals to Millwall. However, this looks like the season Leeds finally bounce back.

A 2-0 victory over Stockport last weekend saw Leeds notch up their 14th straight league win at home, and continues their 100% start to the season with eight wins from eight in all competitions. Simon Grayson and his side have now surpassed Leeds legend Don Revie’s great teams of 1969 and 1973 with their impressive record. For the first time in years Leeds have managed to stabilise themselves. After financial ruin, relegation and various managerial changes, they look to be favourites to gain automatic promotion this season.

These days their squad is built on a shoestring budget with their latest signings coming from clubs such as Northampton Town, Cheltenham, Leicester and Sheffield United mainly on free-transfers, a far cry from the days of signing Rio Ferdinand for a still club transfer record fee of £18million. They are also producing some very promising academy players, the most recent, Fabien Delph who moved to Aston Villa this summer for £6million. Johnny Howson, Ben Parker and Tom Elliott are some of the up and coming players also progressing through the ranks that in the past produced players like Alan Smith, James Milner and Paul Robinson.

It may not be as glamorous as their Champions League semi-final experience against Valencia back in 2001, but after a harsh dose of reality of lower league football, Leeds look set to be on the way back up. They along with former Premier League club Charlton are setting the pace so far this season in League One, and having held onto Jermaine Beckford this could well be the season Leeds finally makes a well deserved return to the Championship.

All I can say is it’s about bloody time!


Kakha Kaladze Italy's Saviour.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Now one own goal is unlucky, but two is just careless. Kakha Kaladze who plays his football in Italy for AC Milan gifted Italy two goals in their World Cup Qualifying game against Georgia.

Conspiracy anyone?


Home Views on Back Page Football

Monday, 7 September 2009

My weekly column on all matters in Irish football is now available for your viewing pleasure over on Back Page Football.



What is Platini thinking?

Friday, 4 September 2009

Simple. Say what you see. Be as witty as you like, so go ahead, dive right in there and leave a comment.


Hull get their BIG NAME signing

Thursday, 3 September 2009

One would say Phil Brown has finally got the big name signing he was looking for in the form of Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink whose name is 23 letters long. The dutch man joins Hull City as a free agent having been released by Celtic at the end of his contract in July 2009.

Hesselink boast an impressive scoring record of 34 goals in 78 appearances for Celtic. An interesting stat to note, in the 2008-09 season Celtic did not lose any games in which he scored in, lets hope he can start firing them in for Hull also.

The 30-year-old has signed a 2 year deal at the KC Stadium and should be a perfect partner for loanee Jozy Altidore upfront.


Brits Abroad - Jermaine Pennant

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Many eyebrows were raised when Jermaine Pennant signed for Real Zaragoza back in July, but it could prove to be a very smart move from the Englishman. This weekend he made his La Liga debut for Zaragoza against Tenerife. Pennant played 71 minutes in Zaragoza's 1-0 win before being subsituted. I've always rated Pennant highly since his Arsenal days, and wish him all the best in Spain. He's got bags of potential and no doubt we will be hearing more from him very soon.


Face-off - Craig Bellamy vs Johnny Heitinga

One is a footballer by day, but pratices his golf swing by night. The other is Johnny Heitinga. When I saw Heitinga unveiled at Everton yesterday I immediately said this on twitter:

to which @SweMeatballs78 replied:

Maybe I'm onto something here, but, then again I think Jermain Pennant and Kieran Richardson look alike. Anyway, we wish Heitinga all the best at Everton, lets hope he doesn't go around with golfclubs like Bellamy.


Is this how Paul Hart's teamtalk goes?

TV gold once again from Jeff Stelling.


Arrivederci Spalletti, Ciao Ranieri.

Today marked the end of an era for AS Roma when manager Luciano Spalletti handed in his resignation after four years in charge, with former Chelsea, and Juventus boss Claudio Ranieri lined up as his replacement.

Ranieri who started his playing career back in 1973 with Roma will have his work cut out if he is to guide the club to any success this season. Spalletti resigned after a poor start to the season, which saw Roma suffering back to back defeats at the hands of Genoa and Juventus.

I think there is a certain air of inevitability about Spalletti’s departure, with the club steeped in financial difficulty, and the loss of key players such as Alberto Aquilani the end was nigh for the 50th year-old.

The Giallorossi did however enjoy much success under Spalletti winning two Coppa Italia titles (2007, 2008) and an Italian Super Cup (2008), as well as finishing runners-up three times to winners Inter Milan. In the 2007-08 season Roma led Serie A until the final 30minutes were touted as Inter’s main title rivals last season. However, they only managed a dismal 6th place recording their worst finish since Spalletti took charge in 2005.

This summer has been a torrid time in the capital with many new investors linked with the takeover of the club, because of this Spalletti was left with an empty purse in preparation for the new season.

I was deeply saddened to hear the news of Spalletti’s departure, but he won’t be out of work for long, a coach of his ability deserves to be back in the game almost instantly. Having been linked with Juventus and Milan who changed their coaches this summer, Spalletti declined to stay at Roma. Who knows, he might just go to the latter just yet.

The former Udinese boss boasts an impressive record with Roma:

Played: 154

Won: 83

Drawn: 40

Lost: 31

Only 31 defeats in 154 games shows what a top quality manager Spalletti is. He is a genuinely nice guy, a great reader of the game and an expert tactician. So, as Ranieri takes over at Stadio Olimpico, his job will be very simple. Start winning, and fast.

I would like to wish Luciano Spalletti the very best, and lets be having him back in Calcio as soon as possible.


Home Views - Back Page Football

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

As you know I wrote a column for Back Page Football a while back. Well, I am pleased to say that I will be writing a weekly column over on the BPF site, on Irish football, called Home Views.

You can check out my very first column on Irish football called - What next for Irish football?


Touchline Views

This is a football blog by Ian Walsh, covering all aspects of the game - from the Premier League and La Liga to the slightly mental football stories we all love.

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