Monday, 31 March 2008

That Was The Weekend

A couple of quick points from the weekend...
  • United were excellent against Villa, but their profligacy will cost them dearly in the CL. O'Neill needs to recruit heavily in the summer, and not on players of the ilk of Harewood
  • It's the beginning of a tough period for Avram Grant. Being booed after a 1-0 victory shows the fans are getting restless. It won't get any easier on the run-in. My money is on Grant moving back upstairs in the summer
  • Liverpool seem destined to cling onto 4th spot. Much has been made of Moyes' ambition, but there are no realistic, higher profile jobs in the offing. Could you see him being offer the Chelsea job, for example?
  • Sunderland are going to do it, aren't they? Despite buying over-priced, shit players, Keane has proved to be a good manager and an endearingly honest (if hypocritical) one at that. More please!
  • Newcastle win in style away from home... it was only Spurs, but still, Keegan is buying himself some time. If they can finish the season strongly, the feel-good factor will be back. Now all he needs is massive transfer budget....
  • Man City's woes have been expertly picked apart here before I had the chance. Suffice to say, the report card reads 'Must do better'. A top 10 finish would be a improvement but he has spent big. Sven, play attacking football.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Premier League Predictions

My predictions record is shall we say… patchy. But here goes anyway folks, have a good weekend.

Birmingham v Man. City: Oh lordy… Man City’s tendency to play like a bunch of ageing and very frightened cats when away from their home stadium is set to continue here. Birmingham need points, Sven is busy booking holidays for the summer and more transfer steals with all that sweat shop money too. Despite a shite home record I’ll go for a home win, 2-1.
Bolton v Arsenal: So often the scourge of Arsene Wenger I thought earlier in the week that the Arse would slip up here and lose further ground on the top two. On mature reflection, Bolton are pants, Arsenal aren’t. 0-2.
Derby v Fulham: Paul Jewell back to footballing matters at last… pity his team are gonna get a spanking. Ba-dum-tish! 1-3
Portsmouth v Wigan: Routine home win. 2-0
Reading v Blackburn: Blackburn have a bit of confidence back and David Bentley will be well up for this (he better be, he’s in my Fantasy League team). Reading on the other hand have eeked out a few results over the last month or so. Hard to call so move over on that fence Lawro… 1-1
Sunderland v West Ham: Keano v Curbs. Aggression v Slippers and Pipe. Nosworthy v Pantsil. Doesn’t really inspire does it? Anyway what with West Ham in nowhereland until the end of the year and Sunderland needing a win this should be a home win. A dreary one nil home win.
Man. United v Aston Villa: Awful, awful games to watch every year. United will hammer Villa like the dogs they are. 3-0 for a second week in a row at home I’d say.
Chelsea v Middlesbrough: Hmmmm… Boro do have a habit of getting points against the big four but then they usually get them at home and mainly because every player who heads to the Riverside just wants to get out of there as quickly as possible, forgetting defensive duties in the meantime. No joy for Gareth’s barbarian hordes this week though. Home win, 3… no.. 4-1.
Tottenham v Newcastle: I can see a Spurs off day here. They’ll still win though due to Newcastle’s… how should I put this… freakishly shit players. 2-0.
Liverpool v Everton: Wellity, wellity, wellity… Pool in meltdown at the boardroom, Mascherano facing an FA charge and Gerrard in wretched form over the last week. No Cahill for Everton though and Yakubu nor Johnson setting the world alight. I can see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel for ‘Pool here and it’s the shape of two goals from Fernando Torres. And one from Babel too maybe. 3-1.


Thursday, 27 March 2008

ODF 27 Mar 08 Podcast Online

Hi All,
Our latest podcast is online now.

We discuss:

Results & Fixtures - GSS, the other Prem games and weekend and Champions League preview

Pub Talk - The News of the Week. You guessed it - Paul Jewell features, also Rap Idol, John Terry and much more

Featured section - We hate Garth Crooks, bit of a no brainer this.....

Comments and Stuff

We hope you enjoy the show.

Download it or Subscribe to the Feed

Mark & JJ

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Rio All At Sea-o

Rio Ferdinand is the England Captain for tonight's game against France. Taking time out from his busy schedule of helping United win the league and organising Rap Idol, he will lead England out for a 1-0 loss tonight.
Old Rio wouldn't be many people's choice for captain (as discussed recently here) but Capello has little option here. Gerrard is lacking as captain (witness last Sunday's mess at OT) and people have argued that it takes his focus away.
John Terry, as well as being odious and hardly someone you'd like to lead your country has been in poor form (esp. vs Spurs) and has an annoying habit of haranguing referees. Rooney is too young, volatile and foul-mouthed. Of the other guaranteed starters, no one would make a case for Ashley or Joe Cole and in the rest of the positions there is too much uncertainty as to who will play constantly. Gareth Barry may be a good choice but is he a long term starter?
Hargreaves too would seem to be good, but he is not playing for United and his injury problems will probably ensure he won't be starting enough games for England. No one knows who will be playing at RB, RM, GK or up front with Rooney, and none of the candidates offer a compelling case, so Capello is stuck with Rio or Stevie G. God help him.

You may have noticed some video advertising on the blog recently, we hope you don't mind too much and we promise to invest any earnings on a new microphone for the podcast. They are generally targeted at people in the UK, so no need (apart from curiosity...) to click them if you live outside that area.
We will have a new promotion at the end of the week for Irish readers/listeners, we'll keep you posted on that. Anything we've earned from advertising has gone on costs associated with the website and podcast, so thanks for your continued support.

This advertising is a direct result of being shortlisted at the Irish Blog Awards 2008 Best Sports and Recreation Blog


Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Yes boss, no boss, three bags full boss...

Respect, respect, respect; the theme that has filled countless pages, blogs and pub conversations in the last few days. I don’t want to go on too much about Sunday’s sending off or Cashley’s idiocy last week against Spurs, as Mark and I will discuss is it over cans and our not overly expensive microphone during the podcast tomorrow night. But…

The thing I’d like to address is the performance of referees whenever their ‘bosses’ come down on them. Be it the head of a referees’ association; an FA flunky; Sepp ‘put on those hotpants and dance, dance, dance ladies’ Blatter; or even a high ranking manager; as soon as a referee gets his reputation questioned you can be sure we’re in for ridiculous decision making quicker than you can say ‘Eh that’s his third yellow card Graham’.

One thing comes to mind when talking about dissent. Wayne Rooney. In fact that should reading Wayne ‘fucking, c**t, f**king, c**ting c**t, motherf**ker, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**t, c**ting, c**t’ Rooney, such is his general tourette-esque performance towards referees and linesmen on a weekly basis. The other thing (and yes I’m using ‘thing’ intentionally) which comes to mind is one John Terry; yer man with that nasty habit of grabbing cards and protesting long and hard about every bloody decision that goes against his team.

Now, not that I’m saying refs are racist (some of my best friends are referees ahem…) but had Javier Mascherano been from the Midlands rather than the land of the Malvinas I think he may have stayed on against Man United. If Fernando Torres had've been Rooney, he wouldn’t have been booked for dissent either, having been kicked three times by Man United defenders. It works the other way as well, as England players are allowed to give out cards too.

Steven Gerrard demanding a red card for Tony Hibbert earlier in the season and getting just what he wanted springs to mind. You can be sure, after that particular piece of weak-willed nonsense by Mark Clattenburg, that he’ll book the next player who decides to give him advice on the colour coding of his cards. Unless of course he’s a prominent member of Fabio Capello’s squad or Paul Scholes. The foreigners however, are easy targets.

Aside from bashing this pro-English stance (and in fairness it’s not the players’ fault that their every whim is dealt with by the men in black and they have come to expect it), you do have to feel some sympathy with these refs. After all, we’ve all worked in offices where we’ve been told to pull up our socks and work faster, better, longer and not to spend five hours of the day on the foosball table upstairs (maybe the last one was just me).

Referees are essentially normal workers and like normal workers they occasionally let their standards slip only for their boss to tell them to shape up or move down to the Blue Square Premier League instead. Indeed, what gets me about Bennett’s decision is more the reaction to it than anything else.

Were it not that particular week, Mascherano would most likely have got a stern warning rather than a card, indeed the situation wouldn’t have arisen had Torres not received a yellow card that only a few days before would never have happened. Yet, the world and his mother are talking about the Argentinean like he’s a crazed lunatic not just a victim of timing. Wake up.

In all likelihood any guff from Everton players this Sunday at Anfield will be punished heavily to prove all referees aren't against the red half of the city. And so the circle of footballing madness will continue until this ‘dissent’ theme is knocked off the back pages by something else.

I hate to sound like Andy Gray, but it’s about consistency and we all know that players will say things much worse to Bennett towards the end of the season and merely be waved away. Why? Because he’s not under any pressure to do anything else. It just makes the whole thing annoying, but then this type of human error is what makes life annoying. Sometimes it will go for you (especially if you use Alex Ferguson’s wonderful ‘transparent Moggi system’ to virtually handpick referees at times) and sometimes it will go against you.

After all, if it wasn’t for moments like this then you wouldn’t have those wonderful sessions of shouting at the TV in the pub and ordering a double whiskey to get over the shock of a refereeing howler. Let’s face it, Mascherano wasn’t going to shake Pool out of a woefully inept performance on Sunday both pre and post sending off (Rafa’s record against the big sides continues to be a source of viable criticism against the Spaniard… Gareth Southgate has got more points from the other three of the ‘big four’ this season). Though had they been able to pick up a draw it would have at least brought United back towards Chelsea and brought some real momentum into a race between the two.

As it is, it’s still another talking point in the so far hugely entertaining end to the season. In a world gone mad even Rio Ferdinand becoming England captain seems strangely logical. As the old saying goes at Okeydokefootball, anything that might make John Terry cry is a good thing. Forza Rio!

Later, JJ

Fry The Planet

[Please support ODF by playing this video if you are in the UK.]

April 1st 2008 is Energy Wasting Day!

If you're wondering how you can take part, watch Dan Power turn up the heat as he tries to max out his carbon emissions on Energy Wasting Day.

His 4x4 is roaring, his lights are blazing, and his undercrackers might be minging but at least they're toastie warm. Burn baby, burn!

You wanna join him on his mission to fry planet earth? Then watch the vid and do your bit to promote climate change on April 1st.

As Dan the man says...'Polar Bears? Who cares?'

Thursday, 20 March 2008

ODF 20 Mar Podcast Online

Hi All,

Our latest podcast is online now.

We discuss:
Results from the Premier League and we preview the weekend Prem games and the midweek International friendlies.

Pub Talk - All the news - Petulance x3, The Beatles, AFC Liverpool, Trap attack, David James, Ice Cream & Underpants

Featured Section - Acts of Footballing Cuntishness - betrayal, shafting, etc.

Comments from the Blog

Hope you enjoy the show,
Mark & JJ

Download it or Subscribe to the feed

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

The sack race (I can't believe I used that expression)

With three of the four sides in action tonight featuring teams who have undergone a change at the helm during the season I thought it’d be a good time to weigh up whether or not shipping out the dead wood (or in Chelsea’s case their most successful manager of all time) and bringing in fresh ideas (or in Bolton’s case, ideas that got West Brom relegated a few seasons back) worked or failed spectacularly.

Of all the changes that have taken place, only one can really stand out as a success thus far. Yes, there’s an argument for Avram Grant here, but considering his resources and record against the big teams, it’s not much of an argument. Juande Ramos too has a fine squad to deal with but his achievements have been greater than Grant’s in my opinion.

He has taken a team who previously excelled at choking (Jenas and Keane I’m looking at you) and brought them silverware, while shedding a massive inferiority complex at the same time with the carling cup win and the victory in the semi finals against Arsenal.

Elsewhere, there are several disaster stories to speak of. Gary Megson promised much in his early days after the departure of Little Sam but Bolton appear to be sliding towards relegation and his decision to rest so many players for the second leg of the UEFA Cup last 16 match was a disgrace to football never mind Bolton. Few will shed tears if his team goes down.

There will be plenty of tears should Newcastle go down, but not from myself or any other sane person but certainly with Kevin Keegan in the house, high emotion is sure to abound. Okay, they won’t go down but are they really better off now than when Fat Sam came in? The only true advantage I can see is that when Keegan is removed midway through next season (and if form even resembling the present run of results happens early next year he will certainly be on the way back to the Soccer Circus) is that Newcastle fans, having finally been given everything they wanted, will learn from their mistakes and not deify their manager only to be hugely disappointed once again. But wait, what’s that coming over the hill? It’s Alan Shearer. It’s Alan Shearerrrrrrr!

I think the struggle will continue for Newcastle whoever is in charge as their squad needs a huge turnaround. Alex McLeish however, has shown that working with average players, making them play to their strengths and giving room to genuine talent like McFadden and Larsson can pay rich dividends. Were it not for the fact that McLeish is a big friend of Andy Gray I’d be genuinely happy for the man who was ran out of Rangers is an awful fashion by their chairman.

And what of the other managerial turnarounds? Steve Bruce, Paul Jewell and Roy Hodgson all have difficult tasks ahead of them but will get time to turn things around next year (Hodgson will if he wants to), in the Championship or Premier League, wherever they end up.

So, all in all, most average teams (Brum, Wigan… godawful Derby and Fulham) have stayed pretty average teams after a change of management, out of sorts title contenders (Chelsea) have stayed out of sorts for brief periods of time and lunatic asylums have become bigger homes for the crazy minded (Newcastle). Say what you will but only one managerial change has changed a club in a hugely positive way, so take a bow Mr Ramos, we can only hope that you don’t listen to Damien Comoli during the summer and Spurs ascent may continue to greater heights.

Later, JJ

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

A Great Season

I feel like a Premier League PR man after last weekend's intriguing results which threw up so many enticing end of season uncertainties.

At the top of the table, things could hardly be tighter with a 3 way battle for the title. Chelsea have taken advantage of United and Arsenal faltering in recent weeks and can go level with Arsenal should they beat Spurs with their game in hand tomorrow. Arsenal have wobbled in the last few games but un-Super Sunday gives them a chance to deal a blow to Chelsea while United are surely favourites to be on top on Sunday evening, playing both Bolton and Liverpool at home. Also, throw the Champions League quarter-finals (and possibly the big 3 in the semis) into the mix and we have a fantastic war of attrition from now till May... Fatigue will play a big part in it, like last season when United fell over the line first and Chelsea ran out of steam at the end.

The battle for fourth seems to have swung Liverpool's way after Everton's defeat to Fulham, but it is not over yet. Liverpool's run-in includes games against United, Everton, Arsenal, Man City & Spurs - with the Champions League a distraction, don't rule out many dropped points.

At the other end of the table, a measly 8 points separate 12th to 19th place in one of the best relegation battles in memory. I would like the current bottom 3 to go down (Bolton, Fulham & Derby) but I think there will be a lot of twists yet, and the last day of the season will be crucial.

So, even though the same teams are challenging for the title, this season has so far been fascinating. Spurs came from nowhere to win the League Cup, we'll have a non-big four winner of the FA Cup and the Champions League is shaping up beautifully. And then we have a short break and straight into the European Championships.

This is what it is all about....


Friday, 14 March 2008

ODF 14 Mar Podcast Online

Hi All,

Our latest podcast is online now.

We discuss:
Results from the FA Cup, Premier League, Champions league & UEFA Cup (phew) and we preview the games over the coming week

Pub Talk - All the news - Lampard, Bradley Wright-Philips, Gillet, Lehmann, Roger Johnson, Defections and more

Featured Section - we discuss the players who were supposed to be the next big thing, containing many 'wing wonders' and a few 'fox in the box's....

Comments from the Blog

Hope you enjoy the show,
Mark & JJ

Download it or Subscribe to the feed

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Lampard Is Good!

Oh-Oh Frank Lampard, Oh-Oh.

Ah, old Frankie boy, a member of our hate section (and rightly so) but maybe, just maybe, we've all been giving him a hard time over the past few years for his performances on the pitch.

First, remember all those years ago when he was a fresh faced young (chubby) footballer meandering around the West ham midfield? He was pretty good then. His £11m transfer to Chelsea in 2001 put him further in the media spotlight but his good performances and great breaks into the box endeared him to the fans and even to me.

His performances since then have gone from strength to strength, scoring 20 goals a season from midfield, creating numerous goals and leading Chelsea to trophies.

So we all know why we hate him (buffoonery, pompousness, deluded) but, in light of his 4 goals against Derby, can we not just say "he's not bad, that Lampard, fella"?

Is it because he is so bad for England that people claim he's shit? That he nearly won European Footballer of the Year? That his father is Frank Snr, his uncle Harry Redknapp, his cousin Jamie Redknapp? That Stevie G is a media darling? That Frankie makes unfortunate comments to the media? That he gets paid too much money?
yes, to all those things but I say to one and all - lay off Frank. He may be a utter tool, but he's a good footballer.


P.S. Podcast is back tonight folks, and apologies for our failings in the past few weeks, which were unavoidable, it will be online tomorrow morning....

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Guinness Piss Take

A piss-take of the horrendously expensive Guinness ad.
Created for St. Patrick's day, a gritty British take on the Guinness Tipping Point ads... the Tipping Pot

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

The End is Nigh... enjoy it

Emerson Boyce not only has one humdinger of a name but he’s also become another one of those key cogs that made the Premier League, and indeed the end of this season as a whole, turn into the best we’ve witnessed in years. His steadfast defence, along with the rest of the Wigan side on Sunday means that Arsenal and United will now continue their scrap for the title for the next two months and that can’t be a bad thing.

Even though I generally hate the pair of them, like everyone else I want to be entertained by a title race and Liverpool’s annual late season surge to halt the mighty Everton just don’t cut it for me. I hope Chelsea piss their next few games and get involved too. The more the merrier.

Elsewhere, fuck romance in the FA Cup, it’s not romance it’s just old fashioned big clubs being shocked by smaller sides who outplay them or just plain well get lucky. It’s happened for generations; even back when TV companies didn’t need to rely on saccharine ideas to sell the competition, instead they just had simple entertaining football to edify the masses.

It is indeed entertaining so why be greedy and ask for magic and all that rubbish. BBC hang your head in shame. When Mick McCarthy is the most coherent voice on your panel of experts there is something very, very wrong.

Now the end of season barrage of football continues with the Champions League tonight and due to the fact that the tie is nearly dead, and papers need to sell, several tabloid hacks have concerned themselves with reports that Xabi Alonso is to leave Liverpool. Reason? Because he stayed away from Milan to be with his missus while she’s having a baby. Okay, Benitez seemed a tad peeved but hardly enough to throw the Spaniard, at last in good form after 18 months of injuries and misplaced passes, out of the club.

Maybe Alonso will go in the summer but it won’t be because he stayed to watch his nipper being born, how many times is this used as an excuse by footballers throughout the season? Plenty if memory serves correct. But rumours this morning that Alonso would be booted out of Anfield for such ‘insolence’ still covered plenty of the red tops’ back pages. Proof positive that even in a week when there’s plenty on the pitch to keep you entertained, these guys still look for a non story to fill a few more pages.

I can’t see Liverpool not scoring tonight, what with Inter missing both first choice centre backs and Torres playing with such confidence. The chances of Inter scoring four are remote but not impossible. They have a strong frontline and are certainly not “crap” as Eamonn Dunphy said during one of his increasingly regular rants after the first leg. Prediction – 2-1.

What does seem clear in the Champions league, and is something that Mark pointed out last week, is that an English side or Barcelona are commonly accepted as the eventual winners of this year’s competition. Not many would bet against that but it’s interesting that the English sides left in the Uefa Cup – Bolton, Spurs and Everton – all head into their second legs needing some special performances to get through.

It has been the case for some time that English sides without regular experience in Europe tend to struggle when they come up against any decent side who can keep the ball. In the Champions League, Liverpool and Chelsea have enough practice in bludgeoning defences and draining decent football from a match in order to beat classier opposition, but this trick still eludes sides like the three mentioned (though Spurs are heading in the right direction).

As these teams, though maybe not Bolton, get more experience in the coming seasons in Europe, be it Champions League or more Uefa Cup action, it may well be that another age of English dominance in Europe is upon us. Once Spurs and Everton’s players learn how to win, or grind out draws, in places like Florence or Eindhoven they will be dangerous opposition to anyone in Europe.

Whether it’s a good thing or not, European competitions may soon be a playground for English sides, with the odd rude interruption of past superpowers and proud clubs that could once compete on the same financial level as their English counterparts.
Later, JJ

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Only Barca Stand In Way

So, 3 of the English clubs are through to the Champions League Quarter Finals, and Liverpool will surely follow next week once they put in any sort of a good performance against Inter in the San Siro.

So will we have an English winner? The last 16 ties through up a number of illuminating facts.

Manchester United: Every year they seem to have the squad to win it, but fall down in some department. They laboured to a 1-0 win over Lyon, but while I don't believe they will win it, a final berth is the least they should be aiming for. They have a massive squad and have no excuses.

Arsenal: a great performance against Milan has Arsenal firing on all cylinders once again. As they proved 2 years ago, they can be dangerous against the best in Europe, and had Lehmann not foolishly got himself sent off against Barcelona, they may already have a CL in the bag. Question remain about their squad depth.

Chelsea: as expected, the Greeks were put to the sword. Had Mourinho still been in charge, I would fancy Chelsea as a winner. Avram Grant's performance against big teams has been poor in the League so far. However, as Liverpool and Milan have proven, league performance matters little in big games.

However the CL draw for the quarter finals pans out, it seems destined that there will be an English club in the final. Fenerbahce, Schalke and Roma should hold no fears for any elite club. Roma can have their days but overall their team seems lacking in real class.
So, the only team left standing in the way is Barcelona and their attacking quadrant of Messi (injured for 6 weeks), Henry (poor this season), Ronaldinho (rubbish) and Eto'o, who seems as good as ever. They have big names all over the pitch, such as Puyol, Xavi and Iniesta but they have proved very brittle in the league so far. And, lets face it, Liverpool can beat them 9 times out of 10....

So while England will be sitting at home watching the Euro Championships, they will have the consolation of being European Champions, albeit in the wrong competition,


Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Champions League Preview

AC Milan vs Arsenal (Agg 0-0)

Arsenal go into this game with some injury worries, notably upfront, but I think a good bet is for Arsenal to get a score draw here, with Adebayor to make up for his injury time, open goal miss.
Gallas and Toure need to be on form to keep it tight at the back. Wenger and beautiful football? Not this time. 4-5-1 with increasing counter attacks as the game wears on. Arsenal's tempo and speed could hurt Milan's aging legs.
prediction: 1-1

Barcelona Vs Celtic (Agg 3-2)

Well, it's really all over bar the shouting for Celtic. They have done brilliantly to get this far but even a terrible Barca performance should see them through. Hell, even Henry looked good against them 2 weeks ago.
Prediction 2-0

Man Utd Vs Lyon (Agg 1-1)

As I said on the podcast, this looks like a routine 2-0 win for United. They should beware Benzema & Ben Arfa on the counter but there is a big difference in class between the 2 sides (which was strangely not evident in the first leg). Also, a great chance for Ronaldo and Tevez to prove themselves in a big game
Prediction 2-0

Sevilla v Fenerbahce (Agg 2-3)
Has the makings of a rip-roaring European tie. Sevilla are dodgy in defense and good in attack, and you'd have to imagine the Turks will need to score at some point. End to end stuff.
Prediction 2-1

Enjoy the night,

Bizarro team of the season….

Considering the fact that the PFA tend to ballot their members in November over who should get player of the season, I don’t feel too much guilt the idea of giving out a preliminary bizarro team of the season. The bizarro concept comes originally from Superman, became a brilliant idea on Seinfeld and is far more fun than picking a team of the season so far.
In bizarro world people say goodbye when they greet someone and hello when they leave; so you can pretty much guess I’m going for the side that will be so far away from the team of the season that it’ll be a surprise if they’re still professional footballers come June, never mind winning accolades and shiny new contracts.

1. Steven Bywater: Derby are an awful side but they were never helped by a truly brutal keeper. Will be remembered with the same awe and respect as that Swindon keeper I can’t remember from a decade ago. So, not remembered then. Brutal.

2. Stephen Carr: Grumpy, out of form, overrated for a good five years now and no longer playing for Ireland. Not a good man in a scrap these days Keggy.

3. John Arne Riise: A truly poor season thus far for the Norwegian who used up all his decent goals this year in the pre-season friendlies. Not the worst left back in the league, but certainly the one who has underperformed more than any other.

4. Martin Taylor: The Brum defender will be the subject of plenty of ‘where are they now’ articles in the coming years. He was a journey man up until this season and will go back to that soon enough you’d have to think.

5. Darren Leacock. For this headband alone. Eric Young would turn in his grave were he actually dead and not merely on ebay.

6. Joey Barton (captain): The fulcrum of the side, Barton would hold this motley crew together were it not for a few court dates getting in the way of team bonding. He will never win any awards voted for by other players, the general public or in fact any popularity contest whatsoever. Newcastle of course will make sure he never wins an actual trophy as well

7. Stilian Petrov: One of the few blemishes within Villa’s frankly annoying rise up the table. Generally, he looks like a timid music prodigy thrown into a game being played at a home for young offenders.

8. Steve Sidwell: Money grabbing ginge. Hello West Ham next season then. “I just wanted regular football… and eh, the signing on fee as well obviously.”

9. Anthony Stokes: Partyboy himself. Banned from a local nightclub to ensure he stayed a good boy, he’s been stuck on the left wing for most of the season looking fierce bitter altogether. Accusations of pampered Irish stars aren’t just in our heads people.

10. Diomansy Kamara: One of Lawrie Sanchez’s luxury buys in the summer has done nothing for his new side and is greeted with moans of derision whenever introduced at Craven Cottage. A Championship striker for a Championship club, so next season at Fulham will suit him just fine.

11. Antonio Valencia: Continually lauded by Paul Jewell, this fella obviously has talent but doesn’t seem to fancy showing it off at Wigan. Though, yeah trying to show class at Wigan is a tad difficult. Just look at Steve Bruce’s shirts.
Later, JJ