Will Mike Ashley ever be satisfied?

If you were to go ahead and ask Roman Abramovich what would satisfy him in football terms, he would say the Champions League trophy. Similarly, if you asked the Glazer family what they would need to be satisfied in club football, they would probably admit that they would like to see the club help them to amass an even greater profit capable of wiping out their personal debts and adding to their private fortunes. This is perhaps not as laudable as Abramovich’s aim but is nevertheless understandable.

Compare these two to Mike Ashley and it appears that nothing could possibly satisfy a man who seems to want everything, but has no idea he is going to get it, leading him to be inevitably and perpetually unsatisfied with any manager whom he chooses to appoint on an apparent whim. The football rumors suggest Alan Pardew will be next, and you have to wonder how long he will last.

Although this might be acceptable if his lack of satisfaction didn’t affect the very hopes and dreams of thousands of passionate fans, his actions have also massively held the club back from achieving its full potential, which has almost certainly only served to increase his sense of frustration at the lack of success he has seen at the club since he took over .

Should Ashley ever wish to enjoy success at Newcastle United, then perhaps he should take a page out of the Arsenal board’s book and stand back and put full faith in a manager, even when things are not going to plan, rather than follow the Real Madrid model of constant interference, which has more than often failed to produce the trophies that have been so badly desired. They’ll be a few Premier League bets placed on Newcastle going down this season.

However, with Ashley still appearing to lack the good grace to step back from the club and let the professionals run it properly, the next Newcastle manager may already be doomed before they have even started.

FIFA reform? You’re ‘aving a laugh

Imagine holding a position that allows you to decide the future of the most popular game in the world, albeit one that you are really not too bothered about if you’re being honest, as long as it still brings in the cash and the punters. Add to this the fact that you’re able to be wined and dined by the world’s most powerful people and yes, you’ve guessed it, you are living the life of a FIFA executive member. Whilst this is clearly an overly simplified description of the role and attitude of FIFA executive members, it does hopefully portray a sense of just how much the odds are stacked against FIFA reform.

With England the favorites for a long time on odds comparison sites to win their bid, the FA were clearly enraged that they were bitten after deciding that they wanted to jump into a pool of sharks when they chose to bid for the right to host the 2018 World Cup and have now launched a staunch attack on the organisation that they have attempted to woo in recent times.

However, with the FA forced to admit that they cannot leave FIFA, they have already withdrawn their only negotiating weapon in the battle to force through reform, with any threat not to bid again for the right to host the World Cup likely to be laughed off by FIFA.

Despite all this, the fact remains that FIFA know they have seen their reputation severely damaged by the bidding process and the media reports that have surrounded it, something that they know has impacted upon their credibility across the globe. If they are to attempt to recover this credibility, they may have to start thinking about possibly reforming, or at least altering, their cherished positions as kingmakers, which begs the question as to whether they actually care about their reputation.

Unhappy Anfield return for Houiller

The fans were chanting the name of Gerard Houiller long into a cold winter’s night at Anfield, but the fact it was the Liverpool supporters rather than the Villa faithful speaks volumes about the visiting side’s performance.

Liverpool, without key trio Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Fernando Torres, strolled a 3-0 win that lifted them back into the top half of the table and left Villa floundering in 16th place.

It was an unhappy return to Anfield for Houllier, who managed the club for six years between 1998 and 2004 and remains popular with the reds support.

It wasn’t just the defeat but the manner of it that will worry the Frenchman though. A weakened Liverpool side barely had to break a sweat from the moment they took the lead in the 14th minute. Villa’s lack of fight was alarming to say the least.

This was the Midlands club’s fourth defeat in a row, and with only one win in their last ten league games they are now just two points off the drop zone and the Premier League tips even hint they could be relegated.

After several seasons sat comfortably in the top six Villa fans had hope this would be the year they finally put up a sustained challenge for the champions league places. But Martin O’Neill’s shock resignation a week before the new season left their plans in disarray and Houiller’s arrival has signalled a period of transition, even if the Premier League betting predictions suggested they’d do well.

Just four wins all year though is not the return chairman Randy Lerner will have wanted when he brought the former Lyon boss to the club in September and if they are not careful they could be sucked into a relegation battle.

Champions League Review

With a bit of a break in the Champions League schedule, I thought it would be good to take a look at how the English sides are fairing in this years competition. With just 2 games left in the group stages all 4 of our teams are well placed to make it through to the knockout stages, but just how far can they go?

Chelsea – The Blues sit top of their group with 4 wins out of 4 so far, and are 1 of only 3 teams to have already qualified for the knockout stages. They have looked ruthless in attack and solid in defence in all 4 games so far, scoring 12 and only conceding 2 goals. Having already been to Zilina & Moscow; two long, cold and potentially difficult away ties, Chelsea have come this far unscathed and I wouldn’t put it past them to finish the group stages with maximum points. I really believe this could be the year that they go all the way, and what an achievement that would be for Ancelloti and his troops; a feat that ‘The Special One’ – Jose Mourinho couldn’t manage.

Manchester United – United go in to the last 2 group games needing just a point to ensure qualification to the knockout phase. Sitting pretty with a 3 point gap at the top of their group United are yet to concede a goal in this years competition, but with only 5 goals in 4 games, their strike force without the injured Wayne Rooney could well be their downfall this year. United have been surprisingly unconvincing at home so far; with a disappointing stalemate against neighbours Rangers and a lacklustre 1-0 victory at home against Bursaspor to date. Despite the emergence of Javier Hernandez Alex Ferguson doesn’t have the strength in depth in his squad this year to compete in the latter stages of the competition in my opinion and I think a disappointing exit in the early knockout stages is likely.

Arsenal – This years top scorers in the competition with 15 goals; The Gunners are joint top of Group H with Shakhtar Donetsk on 9 points and look healthily placed to qualify. Looking dominant as ever at home qualification to the knockout phase looks assured, with their final home game coming against whipping boys Partizan Belgrade. However it’s away from home where Arsenal look slightly suspect, as their 2-1 defeat in the Ukraine last time out illustrated. With players such as Walcott & Van Persie now back from injury, Arsenal could be a force to be reckoned with in this year’s competition. They are more than capable of beating anyone at home, but it’s away from The Emirates where they sometimes struggle and what could possibly stop them from going all the way.

Tottenham Hotspur – The surprise package in this year’s competition comes in the form of Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham, who currently sit top of their group; which includes reigning champions Inter Milan. A resounding 3-1 win at home against Inter has really signalled Spurs intentions that they aren’t here just to make up numbers – they want to see how far they can go in the competition! Undoubtedly the highlight of the competition for Spurs though is the form of Gareth Bale, who has really stepped up his game on the biggest stage in club football. After seeing 2 very credible performances away from home and a thumping 4-1 home victory over Dutch champions FC Twente, Spurs are looking good for qualification from a very tough group. Just how far can they go in the competition though? Your guess is as good as mine!

You can check out the latest Champions League Shirts here, which one of the teams will be lifting the trophy come May though? We shall see!

Spurs star sees shock on the cards

Gareth Bale claims Tottenham can cause a real shock and beat the Champions League holders Inter Milan at White Hart Lane.

The two teams were involved in a classic European game at the San Siro the last time out, with Bale getting a stunning hat-trick as ten-man Spurs came from 4-0 down to go down battling 4-3 to Rafa Benitez’s side.

Inter sit top of Group A but Spurs are hot on their tails and are looking to draw level on points with the Italian club by getting a victory at White Hart Lane, something the Champions League specials suggest could happen.

Their draw in Bremen and home win over Twente showed Spurs are acclimatising well in their first Champions League campaign and they could claim a famous win tonight .

Bale admits that the Italian giants have “world-class players” who can do real damage to Spurs if they fail to raise their game in front of a passionate home support.

But he believes Redknapp’s side have the qualities to step up to the challenge and give Inter a real game.

“In recent years we’ve made White Hart Lane a difficult place for teams to come to and we don’t want that to be any different against Inter,” he told the club’s website.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

“We’ll go into it with a lot of confidence from the game in Milan. We want to give it a go. They are the European champions, we want to test ourselves against the best and it doesn’t come much bigger than this.”

Anyone who has placed a Champions League bet on Spurs progressing to the next round will be hoping they can clock up a win tonight.

Spurs fans have been given a real boost as Rafael van der Vaart and Tom Huddlestone, who were both doubts for the game, have trained with the side and could be in contention for the crucial Champions League encounter.

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Bale, Europe’s new golden boy

After his magical hat-trick in the San Siro it was inevitable that Gareth Bale was going to start being linked with Europe’s elite. The Spurs winger announced himself on the European stage with one of the most thrilling and impressive quick fire hat-tricks in the competition’s history.

The Welshman very nearly single handily salvaged a point for his side after Inter had dominated the game for so long, leading 4-0 going into the 52nd minute before Bale scored a lovely solo effort. The goal looked nothing more than a consolation with the match entering time added on before Bale scored a carbon copy of his first, earning the match ball straight after with another deadly finish. The champions hung on, but Spurs will have the chance for revenge when they play host to the Italian giants next week. Anyone who has bet on Champions League group stages will know the game is crucial for their hopes.

Bale has been an ever present in the Spurs first team this season and has flourished in his role as winger. His form and amount of games has prompted Harry Redknapp to give the 21-year-old a few days off, with the order to go and get a tan before Spurs’ tough upcoming fixtures. They’ll want the winger fit and raring to go when Spurs face the daunting trip to Old Trafford this weekend to face Manchester United before the Inter game.

The Champions League specials suggest Spurs can progress and they currently lie in the all important second qualifying place in Group A, thanks to a victory over Twente, a draw against Werder Bremen and their narrow loss to Inter.

Rooney’s Future In Doubt As Man Utd Drop More Points

Over the weekend many would have thought that the biggest news story surrounding Man Utd would be the 2-2 draw at home to West Brom on Saturday, which saw Man Utd again lose a two goal lead to get their fifth draw of the league season. However the biggest story of the weekend was the news than Wayne Rooney is refusing to sign a new contract with the club and could leave as early as January.

Wayne Rooney has been in the newspapers for all the wrong reasons over the past couple of months with his form appearing to suffer for it. His performances in Man Utd shirts have been a shadow of what we have come to expect. The club have left him out of important matches appearing to want to protect the player but it appears as if there has been more to it with rumours that Rooneys relationship with manager Sir Alex Ferguson has deteriorated, possibly beyond repair.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

The stories surrounding Rooneys refusal to sign a new contract are varied with some stating that the club simple won’t meet his wage demands with others seeming to point directly to his relationship with his manager. 

Unsurprisingly there will be a number of clubs interested in signing Rooney with Chelsea, Man City, Barcelona and Real Madrid all clubs linked with possible moves. Man City are thought to be the early favourites being able to meet the transfer fee and salary demands. Whether he will be seen in the new Man Utd shirt next season remains to be seen.

The speculation surrounding Rooney is the last thing Man Utd need. The club are not too far behind in the league at the moment but need to start wining games if they are to realistically compete for the title this season and with their top striker possibly looking towards the exit door it doesn’t exactly inspire the other players in the team who looked to Rooney last year to drive the team forward.

There are sure to be a number of developments over the coming weeks with this story but if it proves to be true, and Rooney is heading for the exit door, then this will intensify the need for Man Utd to invest considerably in their squad. Man Utd already look weak in some positions and depend on players that are coming to the end of their careers. These players need to be replaced with top quality players and if Rooney goes, potentially relatively cheaply, it will be near on impossible to replace everyone with players of a similar standard.

Written by Colin Hill, a sports writer who blogs about football shirts.

Rooney move to City not unthinkable

There was a time that anyone suggesting Manchester United’s best player would choose a move to Manchester City would be considered delusional. That time has passed. The fierce neighbours are operating in different worlds they have grown accustomed to over the last 40 years and as rumours of Wayne Rooney’s proposed switch across the city gain momentum, they gain credence.????

The selection of City over United is perhaps the easy bit for Rooney. He has endured a disastrous six months on and off the pitch and might feel a move will revitalise his career more than Sir Alex Ferguson can.

The riches of Eastlands are attractive for a man settled in Manchester who would not be alone in thinking United and City are going in opposite directions in both footballing and financial terms. Old Trafford does not hold the allure it once did, as Cristiano Ronaldo’s desperation to move to Real Madrid proved and City are proving adept at attracting star players .

Football betting pundits note how coping with the rancour a cross-city move would generate would be the hard bit for Rooney, as he would become a hate figure in his home town. However, just Ronaldo’s move last year provides inspiration, there are other precedents that might reassure the unsettled England star.

Rooney can look at Carlos Tevez, who has flourished since swapping Manchester red for blue. The adulation of his new supporters compensates for the bile directed at him from his former followers. In this regard Rooney can look at himself, as he might consider things can hardly get worse than are for him at Goodison Park. He has never let the abuse Everton fans reserve for him affect him.

Ferguson rarely loses out in personal battles with players – he generally keeps the ones he wants and sends packing the ones who outstay their welcome – but that hold is weakening. As strange as it may seem, if football betting prices are to back anyone to test his resolve, it is City.

Chelsea cope with injury crisis

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti will be forced to patch his squad together this week, with a mid-week trip to Moscow being followed by another away match against Wolves at the weekend.?????????????? ????????????? ????????

Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba will miss both games and the duo were also absent from the side that drew with Villa at the weekend. Salomon Kalou, Daniel Sturridge and Alex, were also notable by their absence on Saturday, as Chelsea failed to break down their opponents brave defence. It wasn’t a bad result, after all some people make Aston Villa betting tips to reach fourth this season.

John Terry played in the Villa game but didn’t look 100 per cent after returning from the back injury that forced him to miss England’s goalless draw against Montenegro. The injury isn’t serious but it will have to be managed by the physios at the club. Terry could do with being rested for the Spartak match, but given the number of players who are out of action, the captain may be forced to play. Michael Essien will be rested but should return to action for the Wolves game in a match the Betfair Football predictions suggest they will win.

With Kalou missing for Chelsea, Ancelotti handed Gael Kakuta his full Premiership debut but will be a bit disappointed with how the Frenchman performed. The young winger showed glimpses of quality but failed when it came to his final ball and will be hoping to be given another chance despite his poor performance.

The injuries forced Ancelotti to name four substitutes – Jeffery Bruma, Fabio Borini, Jacob Mellis and Josh McEachran – who had never started a league match in their careers. McEachran came off the bench against Villa and showed some nice touches. The midfielder is one of the most exciting players to emerge from the Chelsea youth set-up in recent years and will be hoping to break into the first team squad on a regular basis.

Despite the injuries, Chelsea should have enough quality to pick up wins in their upcoming fixtures. Aside from their back to back Champions League matches against Spartak, Chelsea face winnable league games against Wolves and then Blackburn. After those games comes the usually tough match against Liverpool. On current form, it should be walkover for the Londoners. ?

Hargreaves could still be vital for United??

It seems a long time since Owen Hargreaves was considered for a starting shirt for Manchester United, but that could actually be a reality in the coming weeks – and a player of his ability could be crucial as United look to regain the Premier League title from Chelsea.reteks.ru

The England international has not started a game for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side since September 2008 due to chronic knee problems and only played three minutes last season. He suffered more problems during the summer but his doctor claims he is ready to make a long-awaited return.

A player with the defensive mindedness in midfield like Hargreaves has could be a blessing for United, as they have already slipped five points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea due to lost leads.

Against Fulham, Everton and Bolton Ferguson’s men have ended up drawing the game when they had been ahead. That equates to six points lost, and those points could prove crucial come the end of the season, the football odds suggest United could struggle to make up the ground.

Hargreaves provides some real defensive cover in midfield, something the likes of Scholes and Anderson do not and Michael Carrick strives to but unfortunately cannot deliver . If Hargreaves, now 29, can truly overcome his injury nightmare then he could be a real benefit to Ferguson as they look to overtake Chelsea.

Dr Richard Steadman, who is the player’s doctor, told the BBC: “Owen should play some part on Saturday.

“Our physical therapist, Luke O’Brien, has been working very closely with United’s coaches on his rehab.”

The weekend Premier League betting suggests United should beat West Brom, so it will be a good game for him to make his comeback.

A rather more puzzling injury situation seems to revolve around Wayne Rooney. The striker has been left out of games by Ferguson due to an ankle injury, but the player himself claims he has been injury-free all season.

It will be interesting to see if the conflict between Rooney and his manager rumbles on, and if this, or the striker’s private life problems, affects United’s Premier League title ambitions over the rest of the season.