Like most people this has come as a massive surprise, I went to the gym around 2 o’clock nothing on the TV screens then, I get home make some lunch have a look on twitter, and the place had gone crazy with MON resigned tweets…. didn’t see that one coming.

From recent Interviews you could tell he wasn’t 100% happy with the situation at Villa, but never expected him to quit, so many scenario’s come into my mind, is it the pending transfer of James Milner, surely not cause for £30m you can go buy a couple of players to replace him, I don’t think that would make him quit, maybe Lerner had told him he wasn’t getting all the Milner money to spend, maybe they factored a deal by bring a player from City that O’Neill just didn’t want, surely again not enough to make you leave a very successful job.

The other factor playing in my head is his wife, from the statements made by both the club and manager, it all sounds very amicable.

“I wish them all the best for the future. I will obviously be assisting the club in the immediate short-term with regard to the handover of my duties.”

This doesn’t seem like the words of a pissed off manager not able to stay at the club anymore, this sounds like someone that just can’t take charge of the team anymore, maybe his Wife has became ill again, it was the reason that he left Celtic all those years ago, I of course hope this is not the reason, but personal family reasons could be the cause of his departure.

It’s a sad day for both club and manager, and the fans are the ones that lose out ultimately, now the question is, who will take his place.

The bookies have Martin Jol as favourite at 5/2 if Fulham couldn’t get him to leave his Ajax role, I don’t see what Randy Lerner could do to persuade him, especially if money was the reason Martin left.

All the usual candidates are there, Curbishley, Eriksson, Bilic, Klinsmann, I doubt it would be any of them, however Klinsmann would not be a bad shout, with Jurgen’s connections in English football and over in the States, he could be interested in taking the Midlands job.

Next we’re given the option of picking managers who are already with clubs which I would be very surprised if they left a role after all the summer pre-season work, to start it all again, Steve McLaren, Allardyce, Lambert, Martinez, Holloway and Bruce will not be leaving their jobs at this stage of the season, to join a club about to lose their best player.

Aston Villa’s next manager will be someone not in a job right now, who can come straight in, no compensation needed, just a straight replacement, Gareth Southgate you say, maybe, but for Villa’s sake I hope not, is Glenn Hoddle a better or worse appointment than Southgate, I’ll leave that one up to you to decide.

A name that I thought of and I can see top of the bookies list is the man who took the USA to the Last 16 of the World Cup, Bob Bradley, they link is there surely Lerner an American with an American in charge, Bradley is a good coach, his son would also be a good replacement to Milner. With no English football experience it would be a bit of a gamble however the kind of gamble that could pay off, from what I saw at the World Cup Bradley looks a very good man manager, his team came from behind against England, Slovenia and Ghana, and played to the death against Algeria and progressed, playing some good football at time, he can also play 4-4-2 so will suit the Premier League fine.

 Bradley would be my choice for the next Manager, we will have to wait and see how this one plays out.

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Two of the big guns played today and with mixed results, the big winner today was the Korea’s a great result against Greece, followed by Argentina’s slim 1 -0 victory over Nigeria, in a game that could have been 4-0 or 1-1, then England stepped up and failed to deliver the result their thousands of fans beleived was due to them, drawing 1-1 with the United States

SOUTH KOREA 2 GREECE 0

SOUTH KOREA: 18 Jung Sung-Ryong - 12 Lee Young-Pyo, 4 Cho Yong-Hyung, 14 Lee Jung-Soo, 22 Cha Du-Ri - 19 Yeom Ki-Hun, 17 Lee Chung-Yong, 8 Kim Jung-Woo, 16 Ki Sung-Yong, 7 Park Ji-Sung – 10 Park Cho Young
Subs - 5 Kim Nam-Il on for Ki Sung-Yueng (74mins), 11 Lee Seung-Yeoul on for Park Chu-Young (87mins), 13 Kim Jae-Sung on for Lee Chung-Yong (90+mins)

GREECE: 12 Tzorvas – 2 Seitaridis, 8 Papadopoulos, 6 Tziolis, 15 Torosidis – 11 Vyntra, 21 Katsouranis, 10 Karagounis – 7 Samaras, 9 Charisteas, 17 Gekas
Subs – 4 Patsatzoglou on for Karagounis (46mins), 14 Salpingidis on for Samaras (59mins), 20 Kapetanos on for Charisteas (61mins)

Goals - Lee Jung-Soo 7′ (1-0), Park Ji-Sung 52′ (2-0)

MY THOUGHTS:

An entertaining game to start the day, the impressive Koreans started very brightly, Ki whipped in a good free-kick after 7 minutes that missed everyone apart from the centre back Lee he appeared unmarked at the back post to make it 1-0, then the very busy Park Ji-Sung stole the ball in midfield and ran through to place the ball past Tzorvas and the Koreans held on after a bit of Greek pressure near the end, a great start to their tournament.

The centre backs for Korea Cho and Lee did very well against all the high balls the Greeks threw at them, Right Back Cha was tireless in running down the right flank troubled Torosidis all game until he was replaced, the Koreans controlled the midfield the trio of Park, Ki and Kim ran the show, Ki never lost the ball once, and Park was the spark of class the team needed, Bolton’s Lee was quiet on the wing, one player that was fantastic was Park Cho-Young he worked the Greek centre backs all game was superb in the air, the myth that Koreans are small is gone Ki, Yeom, Kim and Park are all 6 feet tall, and Park played even taller winning nearly every ball in the air.

Really enjoyed the Koreans style of football, nice one touch passing, pace and really just doing the simple things well, ineresting to see how they match up against the Nigerians.

The Greek team will need to step up increidbly fast if they want to progress in this tournament 16 years ago they left USA ’94 without scoring a goal, and you could see it happening again, tough games against Argentina and Nigeria could prove extremly tough, the tactics just didn’t work, 2 big men on the wings and not a lot of pace in midfield, Samaras and Charisteas were awful the game plan seemed to be long balls up to the front men, but I can’t remember them winning one ball, Gekas was a non entity, and Karagounis didn’t show the creativity he is known for.

The only life they showed is when Salpingidis and Patsatzoglou came on and they showed more creatvity down the left and maybe left a little bit of hope for Rehaggel for the next match, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was 3 or 4 changes for their next match, god knows they need it.

ARGENTINA 1 NIGERIA 0

ARGENTINA: 22 Romero – 17 Gutierrez, 2 Demichelis, 13 Samuel, 6 Heinze – 14 Mascherano, 8 Veron, 7 Di Maria – 11 Tevez, 10 Messi, 9 Higuain
Subs – 20 M.Rodriguez on for Veron (74mins), 19 D.Milito on for Higuain (79mins), 4 Burdisso on for Di Maria (85mins)

NIGERIA: 1 Enyeama – 17 Odiah, 2 Yobo, 6 Shittu, 3 Taiwo – 20 Etuhu, 15 Haruna, 14 Kaita, 19 Obasi – 19 Obinna, 8 Yakubu
Subs – 9 Martins on for Obinna (52mins), 11 Odemwingie on for Obasi (60mins), 12 Uche on for Taiwo (75mins)

Goals - Heinze 6′ (1-0)

MY THOUGHTS:

Not the scoreline the Argentines would have hoped for but 3 points is 3 points, this game could easily have been 3 or 4 nil, but as long as the game went on the Nigerians looked just as likely to pull out a equaliser, for Argentina there was some good performances but also signs they are not as strong as the fans would hope, Messi looked in the mood, picking up the ball in space and attacking the Nigerian defence, only 2 great saves from Enyeama stopped him opening his World Cup account, in this form though his time will come.

Mascherano and Veron were superb, controlling the game, breaking up everything that Nigeria tried to create, Veron showing his passing abilities are still at their peak, Di Maria did well when he got the ball but wasn’t used enough, just didn’t seem to get involved enough, Tevez and Messi linked up really well, and created quite a few chances for Higuain who surely on another day he would have put them away.

For as well as Argentinas attacking players played the defence seemed suspect, Gutierrez looks vulnerable his positioning needs to improve, Samuel and Demichelis could be troubled by attackers with pace and purpose, and Romero is yet to be tested.

Nigeria’s best player by far was Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, pulled out about 4 fantastic saves, 2 top notch saves from Lionel Messi, in the first half Nigeria struggled to get going the inexperience of Haruna and Kaita got overrun with Argentinas 4-3-3 and the front 2 of Yakubu and Obinna were isolated, Lagerback made a great decision in the second half bringing on Peter Odemwingie and it changed Nigeria’s play completely adding pace and composure to the attack, after his performance I’m sure he will start the next game, sub Uche had a great chance to equalise but just went over the bar.

Nigeria need to start their next game better if they are going to make the second round, they have the tools to win, it’s just whether they put it together or not.

ENGLAND 1 UNITED STATES 1

ENGLAND: 12 Green – 2 Johnson, 6 Terry, 20 King, 3 A.Cole – 7 Lennon, 8 Lampard, 4 Gerrard – 21 Heskey, 10 Rooney
Subs - 17 Wright-Phillips on for Milner (31mins), 18 Carragher on for King (46mins),  9 Crouch on for Heskey (79mins)

UNITED STATES: 1 Howard – 6 Cherundolo, 5 Onyewu, 15 DeMerit, 3 Bocanegra – 8 Dempsey, 4 Bradley, 13 Clark, 10 Donovan – 20 Findley, 17 Altidore
Subs – 14 Edso Buddle on for Findley (77mins), 11 Holden on for Altidore (86mins)

GoalsGerrard 3′ (1-0 ENG), Dempsey 41′ (1-1 USA)

MY THOUGHTS:

The big game of the day, the two top teams in Group C battling out for the advantage in the group, England of course the favourites couldn’t have started out any better a great move between Rooney, Heskey into the captain Gerrard and he finished calmly past Howard, everyone including myself expected England to charge on after a great start, wasn’t the case though England stood back and let the US come onto them, Milner got caught out on the right a few times by Cherundolo and after receiveng an early yellow, Capello had no choice but to remove him, then the massive moment that changed the game Dempsey hit a speculative shot looked easy for Green to collect but somehow the ball spilled off Green’s arm and into the net.

Gerrard really steppd up for England, playing with the captain’s armband, charging forward at all times Gerrard’s good play seemed to keep Lampard quiet not his best game, surprisingly Emile Heskey was one of the other best players in the game, holding up the ball very well, had a couple of chances that he could have scored but over all he was pretty good, Lennon and Johnson were good down the right, both troubling the American team with their pace, and provided quite a few crosses that could have easily have counted.

Overall I am against all the negativity headed towards the England team, they created quite a few chances if I was an England fan, you’ve got to think on other day it could have been 3 or 4 and if they create the same against Algeria or Slovenia they will have no problems, Green’s place is looking shakey now, and King’s injury will see Upson come in, and maybe also the inclusion of Gareth Barry this might change the side too much, will be interesting come Friday.

The USA played very well at times, started off looking very nervous and the goal would not have helped their nerves, Clark fell asleep for the goal, however he and Bradley managed to play better throughout the game in the middle, Donovan was their best player playing some great balls in the box and creating some chances too, I was surprised that Robbie Findley started up front with Altidore, Buddle was the striker in form but Findley picked for his incredible pace, and at times he troubled the back line and nearly got inbehind a few times.

Cherundolo had a great first half, terrorising Milner till he got booked and had to come off, Wright-Phillips kept him busier in the 2nd half and pinned him back, Jozy Altidore had 2 great chances to score, one from a Donovan cross where he should have done better, only managing to glance a header past the post, then he beat Carragher for pace and only a great save from Rob Green which tipped the ball off the post kept the scores level.

A great point for the US they will fancy themselves to go on and win at least 1 of the other 2 games, and show more attacking prowess, however they will remeber the night they took a point of one of the favourites in Rustenberg.

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So with only 2 games left in this year’s Premier League title race, I thought it would be an appropriate time to pick my 11 players for the Team of the Year, I already know it’s going to cause some discussion, which of course can only be a good thing.

Goalkeeper

Joe Hart

In-between the posts there can only be 1 man, played an outstanding role in his teams excellent and surprising season, on loan from Manchester City JOE HART has had a fantastic season, leading to most England fans to call for him to be the #1 in England’s World Cup campaign, Joe has been superb all season, excellent shot-stopping, reflex saves, very rarely showing any weakness, it will be a very interesting summer, Birmingham may have lost their chance to have him next season by not letting him return to City after Given’s injury.

Honourable Mentions: Shay Given, Heruelho Gomes, Brad Freidel, and Thomas Sorensen.

Left Back

Ashley Cole

This was a very tough choice, two players fighting for the title, one had a fantastic start of the season the other has made superb towards the end of the campaign, Ashley Cole and Patrice Evra have been fantastic for their clubs this year, Cole seeming to find his attacking instincts again charging forward but also showing a defensive presence also, Evra has recently been praised from Sir Alex himself applauding the Frenchman’s quality, very consistent this season but has excelled in recent games, the place in this team could easily go to either player however only one can be picked and I am going to choose Chelsea’s man ASHLEY COLE only an ankle injury has stopped his progress this season, I think Chelsea would be Champions already had he been fit.

Centre Backs

Thomas Vermaelen

So many players to choose from in this category, luckily I get to pick 2 from a long list. My first choice is THOMAS VERMAELEN the relatively unknown Belgian came to England with lots of question marks over the price-tag, his size, experience, this was all dismissed within the first few weeks of the season scoring goals, superb defending, after 2 months you wondered how Arsenal had ever competed without this man, his season has been slowed with Injuries however his performances have been enough to earn this spot.

Richard Dunne

Alongside him I have went for a experience player who swapped one Champions League chasing team for another, when he was pretty much made surplus to requirements at Eastland’s and snapped up by Martin O’Neill, RICHARD DUNNE has shown the Man City were wrong to let him go, and Aston Villa have been reaping the benefits, creating a strong partnership with James Collins they been the basis of Villas excellent season, unlucky not to be going to the World Cup, Dunne is maybe not as fast as he used to be, however still shows he is one of the better Centre Backs playing in this country.

Honourable Mentions: Roger Johnson, Scott Danns, Michael Dawson

Left Midfield

Florent Malouda

One player has stood out recently in this position and it has really made me happy, as a follower of French football FLORENT MALOUDA was a player I had seen do great things for Lyon in Ligue 1 and when he signed for Chelsea, I was bigging him up about his ability then unfortunately his first couple of seasons can only be described as Average at best, this season however he has finally shown the ability I knew he had, scoring and supply goals he has been a mainstay in Ancelotti’s team, terrorising defences for most of the season, I am very happy to see Florent perform well.

Central Midfield

James Milner

2 player with contrasting season, the first one has had his break out season, everyone knew of his abilities however this season JAMES MILNER has been superb, playing in a number of positions, left and right, but his play through the middle has been fantastic, one of the reasons for Villa’s great season, calls for James to be part of England’s squad increase every week maybe only his versatility will stop him gaining a starting berth.

Frank Lampard

Beside him I have put one of the most consistent Central Midfielders in the game, I am not always blown away by his ability but you cannot argue with 20 Premier League goals FRANK LAMPARD again has made his way onto the scorer’s table and for a midfielder his goal scoring is 2nd to none, there are many Premier League strikers that would be happy to match his goal tally, although he doesn’t wear the armband, Frank is a captain for this team, and leads the charge for goals most games, I’m actually glad he can’t recreate this form for England.

Right Midfield

Antonio Valencia

When Ronaldo left Old Trafford everyone knew his boots would be really hard to fill however ANTONIO VALENCIA has in my opinion done a fantastic job in not filling his boots but stamping his own footprints on United’s team, fantastic pace and the ability to deliver a great ball into the box, Man U’s strikers and midfielders have capitalised on his strong points, people will look at his at times poor touch, or that he goes missing at times, however with Fergie as his coach Antonio will only improve, and if this seasons successes have anything to go by it is a scary prospect to think of an improved Valencia.

Honourable Mention: Aaron Lennon

Centre Forwards

Carlos Tevez

My Centre Forward pairing played together last year, and both of them I think would agree have had much better seasons apart, CARLOS TEVEZ has played out of his skin for Manchester City scoring so many important goals, and his work rate and passion for the game is infectious, although City paid an obscene amount for Carlos, I think he has been worth every penny for the club, big goals against Man United and Chelsea, and I think he can improve as well, maybe some big signings could complement Carlos very well.

WAYNE ROONEY will be in everyone’s team of the year, with Ronaldo gone, the boy wonder has stepped up and become a World Class player, he has always been very talented I always think he lacked consistency, now he is everything his team needs him to be, added a scoring touch with his head, more composure he has lead his team very well, a couple of niggling injuries will keep him out for the grandstand finish and maybe lose the Golden Boot, however Rooney definitely has had the Midas touch this year.

Manager of the Year

A Couple of names up for this award, Roy Hodgson was one, but most of his miracles have been in the Europa League, Martin O’Neill and Harry Redknapp for their pursuit of a Champions League place. And Alex McLeish for his wonderful season with Birmingham City

Carlo Ancelotti

However I am going to give this award to CARLO ANCELOTTI no one was quite sure what to expect from the Italian, no big signings like Mourinho and Scolari however he has guided Chelsea to top of the table, the most goals ever scored in the Premiership, brought the best out of Malouda and Anelka, had to deal with a lot on and off the field problems, an African Nations cup with some important players missing, and he has done this quite quietly, People may say he already has a strong team, however Grant and Scolari had the same team and couldn’t bring the best out in them, and I think Carlo has done a fantastic job.

Right Back

So you may have noticed that there is a position missing from the list, the Right Back, I just couldn’t decide who to pick, no one for me has excelled in this position, so I am going to leave it up to a vote. So please vote for who you think has been the best Right Back this year and I will add him to the team. (Poll can be found on the main page)

If you agree or more likely disagree with any of these choice, please let me know.

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