The cost of the drop

WITH SOME worrying messages coming out of both Newcastle United and Aston Villa, two of the clubs most likely to suffer relegation from the Premier League, the cost of dropping out of English football’s top flight is becoming ever more apparent. According to the game’s think tank, Football Benchmark, relegation has never been more costly than it will be in 2015-16. In KPMG’s new release, “A different paradigm”, the major disruptors of falling through the trapdoor are looked at in some detail. The paper comes as Newcastle United’s owner, Mike Ashley, revealed that his club has no money left in … Continue reading The cost of the drop

Newcastle and Villa – will they bask in the sun again?

IF THERE’S two clubs that feel they should belong to a higher echelon, it is Newcastle United and Aston Villa. Sadly, apart from the odd exceptional performance, they are names that belong to the past – the challenge for both clubs is how they can retain a pivotal role in the future of English football. Their part in history is without question, but the polarisation of the modern game, to a large degree, also reflects the near-centralised focus of the nation and the renewed gap between north and south – in terms of incomes, commerce, media attention and culture. Talk … Continue reading Newcastle and Villa – will they bask in the sun again?

March to the arch: Villa, till death us do part

“I’m Villa till I die,” said the short, round man from Aston. “Bloody hate Blues, hate Baggies. Villa for me, through and through.” There he stood, on Witton station, Villa sweat shirt over Villa shirt. Villa tattooed on his knuckles. “I’m ******* happy. I’ve just bought a cup final ticket and I’m chuffed.” He wasn’t the first Villa fan I came across that morning. Hundreds of them queued for tickets for the May 30 final. “I was at Wembley in 2000 and we should have done better against those jammy bastards Chelsea,” said a woman from Perry Barr. “30 years … Continue reading March to the arch: Villa, till death us do part

Midlands derby the pick of the ties – Benteke v Berahino

It would be easy to say that Manchester United v Arsenal is the tie of the sixth round of the FA Cup, but in terms of rivalries, the Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion could take some beating this weekend. It’s a Brummie derby that has so much riding on it. Two new managers – Tim Sherwood has just taken over at Villa Park and Tony Pulis joined the Baggies in January. Reputations are there to be made and the FA Cup can be a wonderful distraction from the trials and tribulations of Premier League survival. To make the game … Continue reading Midlands derby the pick of the ties – Benteke v Berahino

John Neal’s reign underlined the value of patience

John Neal came across as a decent man. Honest, earnest and an old-fashioned, no-nonsense football person. But in the modern era, Neal would never have got the chance to change Chelsea’s fortunes. Two lack lustre campaigns and he would have been out of the Stamford Bridge revolving door. But in his third season in charge at Chelsea, he created a team that ended a dismal period for the club playing an exciting brand of football that revived an ailing giant. Neal, cigarette perpetually screwed into his craggy features, led Chelsea to promotion from the old second division and back into … Continue reading John Neal’s reign underlined the value of patience

When will the Midlands really challenge for honours?

This week’s loosely tagged “Brummie” derby, West Bromwich Albion v Aston Villa, created more interest than usual, largely thanks to comments made in the press by Villa manager Lambert. He claimed Villa is a bigger club than Albion, a viewpoint that was bound to inflame Baggies’ fans who have invariably lived in the shadow of their claret and blue friends. Lambert is right. Villa are a bigger club than Albion, but the future currently looks a little brighter at the Hawthorns than it does at Villa Park. Lambert should count his lucky stars that he is still in a job … Continue reading When will the Midlands really challenge for honours?