When I came to work in West Brom just over five years ago the Baggies were one of my all time worst teams. This was partly due to being a Villa fan. but I think mainly down to following Sheffield United on an away trip back in the mid 90s which started with the coach arriving way to early and having to kill a few hours as a 15 year old around The Hawthorns (really not pleasant at the time), and ended with a 3-0 drubbing for my second best team. Bad day out.
However, since a big part of my life has arrived in West Brom I have developed a real respect and, sorry Villa fans, an affection for West Bromwich Albion. They are a club that work hard, put back into the community, and really lift the local area when they are doing well. I think in my first year here they got relegated but then came straight back up and it was great to be around the town when they got promoted.
But waking up this morning to the news that they’ve gone and sacked Steve Clarke is a bit of a shock. I mean, come on West Brom, if you’re expecting to be a top-half team year after year then I think you’re a bit deluded. Clarke has done a great job for you, you’re stable and had some great results and performances. I know it worked great for Southampton dumping Nigel Adkins last year, the man who had got them promoted twice, but I must say it seems really cruel. I just wish footballers got sacked after having 4 poor performances.
Anyway, I still want you Baggies to stay up but I’ll think it quite deserved if you do continue to struggle. And I hope the board feel guilty for making a nice, hard working man unemployed this Christmas.
It’s been a strange Saturday for football, no Premier League or Championship and loads of postponements. So I thought I’d have a little prediction at how the Premier League is going to finish. Being an unfortunate Villa fan the season is a bit more ‘interesting’ than recent years. I think from 10th to 18th is going to be really tight. Here are my predictions….any other thoughts?
- Manchester United 92pts
- Manchester City 79pts
- Chelsea 76pts
- Arsenal 73pts
- Tottenham Hotspurs 69pts
- Everton 62pts
- Liverpool 59pts
- West Bromwich Albion 53pts
- Swansea 48pts
- Southampton 43pts
- Norwich 43pts
- West Ham United 41pts
- Fulham 40pts
- Sunderland 39pts
- Newcastle United 39pts
- Stoke City 38pts
- Aston Villa 38pts
- Wigan Athletic 37pts
- Queens Park Rangers 34pts
- Reading 25pts
Yesterday me and Anya started on a bit of an adventure together. The only shame is that Rada is not with us to enjoy it. But it is great to get some precious time with Anya.
We left Montenegro in the morning. We got over the Montenegrin border with no problem having a laugh and a friendly greeting with the border guard as he was from the same village as Rada’s family. Half a mile later and the Croatian border were not so friendly. The border police didn’t take kindly to my not understanding the Croatian for ‘car registration documents’ and sent me off to empty the boot and one of the suitcases for Customs – first time that has happened to me – I was a bit nervous because I forgot to declare our bottle of Amaro Montenegro liquor but he didn’t find it. Phew.
100km later and we were stood in a traffic jam for 45 minutes while a land mine up the road was disposed of. Never fear, we had The Last Battle on audio book to keep us company. Alas, environmentally conscious I had turned the engine off but kept the lights on and the CD player going. Not an ounce of power came from the battery once the explosive ahead had been cleared.
I was just getting my trusty reflective triangle out to warn traffic behind that some egit was stuck in the middle of the road, and was about to don my high visibility vest, when a vehicle recovery van stopped by. He didn’t have any jump leads but he pushed me to a layby with the help of a passing policeman and woman and then called his mate from the last town to come with the jump leads. While we were waiting he was telling me how he hated Montenegrins because they burnt his house down during the war for no reason. I obviously sympathised but felt a bit uncomfortable – so I quickly changed the subject to the successes and failures of Croatia footballers who’d played for Aston Villa.
Once the car was up and running again I tried to give them some money then tried to give them the Amaro Montenegro but they refused both and wished me well. Anya and I arrived at the hotel just south of Split while it was still light, had a great walk up the beach and then stopped for a pizza and beer (Anya had cola). A great day….looking forward to the rest of the trip home but wouldn’t complain if it was a little smoother.
I really love Martin O’Neill. He is such an impressive man. Ok, as a player he captained Northern Ireland at a time when they were arguably the best nation in Britain beating Spain at their home World Cup in 1982. He won the European Cup with Nottingham Forest.
As a manager he took Wycombe Wanderers from a non-league team to the third tierof English football. He won two League Cups with the humble Leicester City and got them into Europe, he got Celtic to the final of the UEFA Cup, and he got Villa to 6th place in the Premier League 3 times in a row in a time when a lot of other teams had a lot more money.
I love it that he quit football for a while to look after his wife who was seriously sick.
And I love the fact that he doesn’t take any trouble from anyone. He left Villa when they started trying to screw him around and now he’s dumped a courting West Ham United because they thought they could use a media leak to get him in quick. An entertaining man of principle, very admirable. I hope he gets a huge club next so that he can win the big trophies he deserves.
Just a quick update and some fantastic news at the end.
We’re settling in well. Last night I went to the first church meeting since we arrived where there was discussion on Sunday’s preaches and a great time of prayer. I am so happy to be here it feels so right!
After the meeting I went with the two Norwegian students who have started at the church – Sondre & Jonas – back to their place where they made a worthy attempt at Montenegrin stuffed peppers! Not quite up to local standards but not bad for a first go! They have only been here a few weeks but are throwing themselves into things with energy and enthusiasm. They are working hard at learning Montenegrian and I am really chuffed that we’ll be sharing our time with them here.
We were joined for dinner by a young man who had fled with his mother to Germany during the conflict of the early 1990s. He is back reunited with his father now but has built a life for himself in Germany and was really missing that. There are no jobs for him here and very little prospects so he is looking to return to Germany, It is tragic to see what long lasting impact the consequences of war has on families. Nevertheless, it was great to meet him and spend time with him.
You must be wondering what the fantastic news is – well it is certainly an answer to prayer. Jonas, the Norwegian student, is a massive Aston Villa fan! I feel so fortunate to have found a kindred spirit 🙂
What sad news. Martin O’Neill resigned from Aston Villa FC this afternoon.
He is an absolute legend. He has such great integrity, strength of character and is entertaining to boot. Villa have lost their greatest asset. I do feel that all those who inanely criticised him last season should hang their heads in shame that they were not more encouraging.
I am very worried about the future. To be honest I would have been absolutely delighted had we finished 6th once again this season, all the other clubs are so strong. Alas, we are now in turmoil and I would be satisfied if we were top ten come May.
Best wishes to you Martin, I will always be a fan.
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In other news, an interpreting agency were so desperate today they actually asked me if I would go and interpret Bosnian-English at an NHS appointment. I ROFLed, LOLed and LMAOed all at once.
It’s the turn of the Premier League today. Just a few more days till kick off after a great weekend of Football League action.
Anything could happen but here are my predictions:
- Chelsea (Champions)
- Manchester United
- Manchester City
- Tottenham Hotspur
- Aston Villa
- West Ham United
- Blackburn Rovers
- Wigan Athletic
- Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Stoke City
- Birmingham City
- Bolton Wanderers
- Hull City (Relegated)
- Burnley (Relegated)
- Portsmouth (Relegated)
What do you reckon? I do love a good bit of debate and disagreement. On the other hand, I love flattery and encouragement so feel free to say that I have got it spot on and am a genius pundit.