Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Well this is the last post for 2010, it's been a great year for me starting up this blog. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided finally decided to put all these thoughts I had on the game onto paper, or in this case cyberspace. The initial intent of Football Saves All was to bring up issues or match's in the game that intrigued me and then start a conversation about them. I have to stay this ended up being more successful then I could possibly imagine.

As we head into 2011, I hope to improve the look of the blog and maybe even publish a magazine on the beautiful game (closer to 2012 in truth). I also intend to keep up the same style of writing and coverage!

Thank you for reading and for following! Have a safe and happy new year!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Alright here's another list!

So I know it's pretty cliche to put together year end lists, but I though I'd put some together. Please note these lists are completely subjective based on my ideas on how the game should be played, you are free to rip them all you like, personally I believe that what these lists are meant to do!

So with further a do I present my first ever top 5 year end list: Top 5 exciting club teams of the year!

Note: I have really only watched European and North American based clubs in 2010, I watched a bit of Brazilian league but not enough to form a proper opinion. Also note this list isn't for the BEST team, but the most exciting/entertaining on the pitch!

5) Palermo (Serie A)

Javier Pastore

Out of all the teams currently playing in Europe who can say the line this club boasts is not one of the most interesting and exciting in Europe? This team has always been on the fore front of signing promising young talent on the cheap and building them up to their potential. 2010 was no different, as players like Simon Kjær, Fábio Simplício, Edinson Cavani, Abel Hernández, Josip Iličić and Javier Pastore made or began to make their name at the Sicilian club. Although the first three were sold during the summer they helped the club to a Europa League birth. During first half of the 2010-11 season Pastore has stepped up to become one of the most sought after talents in world football with his outstanding control a pinpoint passing. While Iličić has provided some amazing performances and goals in the same period. If Palermo can hang on to these players, the ladder only leads to the top spots in the Serie A.

4) Blackpool (Premier League)
Seasiders manager Ian Holloway
Everyone like to root for the underdog, and in 2010 there is no bigger underdog than the team from England south coast. The seasiders are one of if not the smallest club to enter the top flight since the inception of the Premier League in 1992. Under the management of the charismatic Ian Holloway, the club took the Championship by storm in the early half of 2010, finishing in the final playoff spot in the race for promotion. Their improbable playof run culminated in their trip to Wembley and a shock 3-2 win over Cardiff City in the playoff final to make it up. The thing that makes this club fun to watch is their attacking style of play, Holloway has not compromised this so far in the Premier League scoring a big win at Liverpool. The key man on the squad is Scottish international Charlie Adam who has been the teams playmaker, however you have to look at the squad as a whole to really appreciate what they are doing. Blackpool struggled to sign players due to the lack of funds at the club, they played the first month of the season away from home as Bloomfield Road had to be renovated to accommodate PL standards and where picked by most pundits to finish dead last in the league....currently they are 8th and just outside a spot in Europe.

3) Lille (Ligue 1)
Gervinho of Lille
Les Dogues have slowly been building and bring up so exciting young talent in France that are now starting to show their worth. The attacking trio of Eden Hazard, Moussa Sow and Gervinho spearhead the northern French club who are sitting first in Ligue 1. I've mention Hazard on a few occasions on this blog as I believe he has what it takes to become a superstar in this game. Gervinho also has this ability and showed flashes of what he could do at this years' World Cup. As for Sow, he's finally getting his shot to be the the number 9 on a game in game out basis. He's repaid manager Rudi Gracia's faith by currently leading France in goals with 14. The excitement for this team doesn't just lay with the offence, playmaker Yohan Cabaye provided both the creativity and strong defensive covering a box to box midfielder requires. At the back the pairing of France International Adil Rami and Aurélian Chedjou has helped the club to one of the best defensive records in France.

2) Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League)
Gareth Bale- A Brazilian right backs worst night mare
Dirty Harry has done it again, he's taken a club who was bottom of the table when you found them and turned them in Champions League club who can beat Inter Milan at home. Though not the finished article yet this side can on dazzling displays of attacking football which at times is sorely lacking in England. It's been fun watching the development of Gareth Bale blossom into a top level player capable of jaw dropping performance like the ones against Inter this this years Champions League group stages. He still has to show some consistency in his game but at 21 he's only going to get better and grow as a footballer.

1) Barcelona (La Liga)

Unfair at times....just unfair

Champions of Spain....again. I know I haven't shocked the world with my number 1 but really who's going to deny the greatness of this club? It's not just Messi, or Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Puyol, Dani Alves, Valdes, Pedro, Bojan, Guardiola or the ball boy who can dribble better than anyone on the TFC roster. It's the philosophy of play and the willingness to stick to the principle no matter who you play. Barca try and play attactive football all the time, it is demanded from the top senior level, right down to the youngest youth player. When you watch this club play it feels like your watching an art form in motion, I know my words are romanticising the team but it really does. The argument has been raised about if this generation of Barca players are the greatest club team of all time? I'm not sure if that is a valid argument as you really can't compare teams from different generations, but I've personally never seen a better club side, and this comes from a die hard United supporter who loves the 98/99 squad that won the treble. This is the best club side in the world...period.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The DeRo Dilemma...and why he needs to go.

Toronto FC's Dwayne De Rosario, left, trains with Celtic FC in Lennoxtown, Scotland on Dec. 28, 2010. To the right is Swedish midfielder Freddie Ljungberg, also on trial.

Over the last few days long suffering Toronto FC supporters have been watching an evolving soap opera of events take place at the club between management and its best player Dwayne DeRosario. And just like a soap there is a third party to complete the sordid triangle in legendary Scottish club Celtic. All jokes aside this trial...or training or tryout whatever DeRo's camp is calling it is starting to become an unwelcome distraction of a club that is trying to sort itself out for the upcoming MLS season.

The facts are this, DeRosario has gone to Scotland to "workout" with Celtic for a week in Scotland to keep himself fit..... in his terms. TFC first came out on Monday denying that DeRo was even in Scotland, then had to admit he was there when pictures surfaced of him in Celtic training gear in Lennoxtown. Now the club has come out stating that they knew he wanted to go but had no permission from the club to go train. Then there is Celtic who seemed to be convinced that a) The player and agent had permission from the club and b) that he was on trial with the possibility of a short term lease, or even a permanent switch.

On the surface the issue is whither or not permission to train with Celtic was given by MLSE to DeRo, right now things do not look good for the TFC captain as both the club and the league appear to be in the dark about the whole thing if you read their statements. However if you scratch below the surface the issues between club and player are coming to a head.

Last seasons cheque writing goal celebration  by DeRo put him in the dog house for the first time since his arrival in early 2009. It was clear money was an issue for the captain who felt he should be receiving DP level money considering he was by far the club's best player. Although he may have been right in asking for a raise, the way in which he went about it was "unacceptable" in the eyes of club President Tom Anselmi and put the club in a difficult position, say nothing and you are seen as condoning the behavior, say too much too strongly and best player demands a move out.

This latest move by DeRosario once again puts the club in the same position with an added dilemma, "should we let him go?"

On this question you will get many different reactions some for, many against but what supporters and management have to weigh is " What's more important? star power and drawing power? or building a strong nucleus for the club?"

Right now DeRosario is in the middle of a 4 year deal with a roughly $400,000 a year salary. That made him the 3rd highest paid player on the squad behind Julian DeGuzman and the now departed Mista. If you take that $400,000 hit off the salary cap, TFC could bring in a lot of good pieces that could make this club a contender in the MLS very quickly and very cheaply. However the down side is the loss of quality, there can be no doubt that he is the most gifted player on the squad, who can go on massive goal scoring runs. But how many times last year was it asked, who else is going to score the goals? Who will provide the wide play? Who can stop the other teams best player? Sending DeRo and his massive contact to Scotland could begin to answer some of these questions.

Here's what Dwayne needs to understand, with his current contact and the club's current salary cap situation he CANNOT get a raise his salary is at the max for a non DP. As for the oft wondered option of making him a DP the answer is probably a no as well. The league likes to have clubs reserve those spots for international talent coming from overseas; plus the only "life long MLS'er" who has made that jump is Landon Donovan for political reasons more than anything. So unless DeRosario can find a way to live with his contact he could be seeing the door sooner rather than later.

At 32 he has only a hand full of real options available to him, one is to try and make a last ditch effort to catch on with a club in Europe (which he's trying to do now, no matter how much he denies it) Try and force a trade to another MLS club, but seeing how the re-entry went not a lot of teams are looking to pick up big ticket contacts right now. The third is to stay put.

Whatever he decides to do this latest move by the Canadian international is one of serious disrespect to both the club management no matter what you think of them, and to the supporters who will not take this one lying down.

Mike N

Sunday, December 19, 2010

CWNT unbeaten in 10 as they win Brazilian Tournnament

The Women's national team made it a national record 10 unbeaten as they drew with 3rd ranked Brazil in Sao Paulo 2-2 to capture the Torneio Internacional Cidade de Sao Paolo tournament on goal differential. This caps on of the most successful years for the senior Women's side who end 2010 with a overall record of  13 wins 3 draws and 2 losses. This tournament title is also the third this year for the women program who have made incredible strides under head coach Carolina Morace.

"We're very confident right now, I think Carolina and the coaching staff, have worked so hard with us and we've really developed under them, and I think the results are starting to show" said Christine Sinclair who's rocket left footer off the far post tied the game up at 2-2, after Josee Belanger opened scoring in the 43rd minute with a header from a Melissa Tancredi cross.

Brazil's two goals came from current world player of the year Marta, the first from a brilliant run past two Canadian defenders in the 55th minute to tie it at 1-1. Then she gave Brazil a temporary lead in the 72nd on a penalty when Marie-Eve Nault had been judged to handle the ball in the box. Nault was sent off with her second yellow, and Canada played the rest of the match down a player.

Sinclair who was recently named Canadian Women's player of the year by the CSA for the 6th year running, took the ball on the right flank and curled a hard shot on goal in the 82nd that angled in off the far post. It was defiantly the talking point of the match.

"Melissa Tancredi laid it off to me I think, and it just came back perfectly and set it up nicely for a one-time shot.," said Sinclair

I've added a video of the match highlights here. Please note the commentary is in Portuguese, if anyone wants to translate some of what's being said add to the comments.


Friday, December 17, 2010

The road to Wembley really begins!...Champions League round of 16 match ups.

I'll have thoughts on these match ups a bit later, but the draw shook down pretty much the way I though it would, especially for Arsenal and Spurs. Real Madrid are out for revenge against Lyon for last years dismissal at this stage, and finally we have a rematch of last years final between Bayern Munich and Inter Milan. Great match up, however both sides are a shadow of the sides that played in the final in May.

Here's the results of the draw....discuss amongst yourselves!

Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk

AC Milan v Tottenham Hotspur

Valencia v Schalke

Inter Milan v Bayern Munich

Lyon v Real Madrid

Arsenal v Barcelona

Marseille v Manchester United

FC Copenhagen v Chelsea

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Quick thoughts on today's Champions' league draw

The Champions' League starts in earnest today with the drawing of match ups for the round of 16 which starts in February. The potential exists for some seriously sexy match ups like another Manchester United v AC Milan showdown or Barcelona v Inter Milan...tell me you wouldn't watch that!

Who's playing who?

See this is the thing about Champions League I love, the potential for amazing match ups in the knock out stages. If I could just take off the intellectual football fan hat off for a moment and put on the simple fan hat, the knock out stages of this tournament excite me more than the World Cup. Mainly because there is the potential for titanic games between the best club sides in the world, which boasts the best players in the world. It also doesn't hurt that it's every year, and FIFA is not involved as well. I've heard arguments from platforms like the Footy Show, Match of the day and others that the group stage of the tournament takes some of the luster out of the match ups, or that the amount of money that floats around kills the vibe. Although I agree that the group stage can drag at times, I do believe this is the best footballing tournament in the world today.

Friday will prove me right with some excellent match ups. It also gives us an insight into some of the lesser known leagues like the Danish Superliga in which champions Copenhagen will enter the knock stages for the first time. It will be an up hill climb for the club whoever they draw, but as last year taught us with Bordeaux, anything could happen.

The draw I'm most interested in seeing is Arsenal's. In theory they could draw Barca or Real Madrid (Would take a day off work to watch that one) which could be instant classics. This is a squad most people thought along with Barcelona to have been drawn into an easy group, and it looked that way through the first three group games. However the wheels fell off a bit and it took a late fury of goals on match day 6 to qualify in second place. Now they face a real test against Europe's finest, will this force some serious spending by Arsene Wenger in January?

Also pre tournament favorites Real Madrid could come out with a slightly easier draw, or they could draw the already mentioned Arsenal or a stingy Marseille side who could provide some problems for Jose Mourinho's side. Remember he was brought in to get them past this stage in which they have fallen in 4 straight years. His goals were straight forward, retake the league from Barcelona, and win Champions league (European Cup) for a record 10th time. The pressure is on Mouriho and Ronaldo, but I would fancy them to make a deep run.

So much to talk about, but honestly let's see who draws who and then the fun can really begin.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Football trend #143: The Mid Season Fallout

Carlos Tevez
Tevez, should he stay or should he go?

Manchester City supporters were feeling pretty good about themselves Saturday afternoon, the squad had just hammered West Ham 3-1 and looked very good doing it. Fans were finally seeing the free flowing, silky beautiful football they had been craving since the Abu Dhabi group took over the club and promised the world. Roberto Manchini's team were, albeit temporally, joint top of the table with Arsenal and finally gaining the respect of their cross town rivals United. It seemed City fans were getting an early Christmas present.

That was until about 6 pm, when Carlos Tevez decided he didn't like Manchester anymore.

The sensational news their club captain and top goal scorer had handed in a written transfer request stunned not only City fans, but the footballing fraternity in general. The fact that Tevez wasn't happy at City wasn't a huge shock. You could point to a number of actions by the Argentinian striker that showed his discontent. From repeated trips back home to Argentina during the middle of the season to see his kids, to locker room and on the field blow ups with other players and Manchini. To his requests during this off season to be transferred away from England in order to be closer to home, it was clear number 32's time at the club was going to come to an end sooner rather than later. However no one though this soon, and this abruptly.

In his own statement released Monday Tevez went out of his way to make us understand that his motives were not money based like some other striker in Manchester who tried to pull something similar. Though it is worth mentioning that City claim Tevez's handler Kia Joorabchian has been angling for an improved contact over the past year.

He stated that his relationships with "certain  executives" and management have "broken down beyond repair" and that family reasons, not money or more playing time were behind his request. Many are speculating what might be going on behind the scenes at Eastlands but Dan Roan of BBC Sport sees it as a  "developing power struggle between Joorabchian and City's board, especially chief executive Garry Cook". Whatever the case may be Tevez is not the first, nor will he be that last player who suffers from the mid season fallout bug.

Cassano's days on Sampdoria seem numbered.

Several players currently are either holding out from their clubs, or are being held out by their owners due to a mid season fallout. The biggest example currently is in Italy where Italian international striker Antonio Cassano is being "frozen out" of his club team Sampdoria for falling out with owner Riccardo Garrone. This situation is a bit different though as Cassano refused to attend a function with Garrone and later called the owner what loosely can be translated in English "an old piece of sh*t". Needless to say Cassano despite all his wonderful talent has not seen anything close to game action since, and is thought by many Italian football pundits to be living on borrowed time at the Genoa club.

Zlatan Ibrahimović is a two time member of this club, first falling out with the afore mentioned Roberto Manchini at Inter Milan before being sold to Barcelona in exchange for Samuel Eto'o (Who's no saint himself). Then admitting this summer that he and Barca manager Pep Guardiola hadn't spoken in 8 months and that he felt Guardiola wasn't good enough to manage him. That mid season fallout last season lead to his loan/will become permanent move to AC Milan in August.

Dishonorable mentions go to: Robinino (Another Man City disaster), Emmanuel Adebayor (Potentially a City disaster), Joleon Lescott, Wayne Rooney, Ronaldo (Not the current one) and the countless others who have run rampant with the Bosman ruling.

As players gain more money and agents become bigger players in the business end of the game, these "fallouts" or grievances will continue to grow in the game. I do not believe this Tevez affair is all about money, if it was I believe this wouldn't be playing in the press as freely as it has. Family has a lot of say in this, his two daughters live in Argentina and he wants to be closer to them. However I also believe that he might be losing the passion to play the game at the highest level. In the past Carlos has railed against the business of the game, saying it can ruin a players desire to keep on playing. By no means do I think Tevez will up and retire, but I do think he is getting sick and tired of all the football politics around him, especially around his agent Kia Joorabchian who also owns his economic rights in regards to his footballing income.

For Tevez's sake I hope he knows what he's getting himself into.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

This Boy's Special: Eden Hazard

I'm excited as this is a new feature that I hope to make a regular part of the site so please let me know what you think through comments or at This week our feature young star is Eden Hazard of French side Lille and the Belgian national side.
The most exciting part of watching football is finding that new or raw talent and watching that player develop into a world class player. Lille's Eden Hazard as all the tools to be one of the world's most exciting players, and at 19 he's only poised to become better.

At 16 Hazard made the jump from the Belgian pro league to join Ligue 1 side Lille on the back of some impressive performances and trials at the club. Lille scouts pointed out his blinding pace and dribbling skills, they were especially impressed with vision which was far more advanced than other players at that age. It didn't take him long to join the first team in matches, as he made his debut later that year as a substitute against Nancy. Although he only made three more appearances in that 07-08 year, he helped the youth side took a high finish in the French youth league. Hazard has been a first team regular even since. His early displays were so good that he was called up to the Belgian national senior squad at the tender age of 17. He since has been handed 17 caps and is now regarded as a automatic selection for the team.

Hazard combines several key elements that take a footballer from being of average ability and potential to the elite level. First as he's used mainly as a winger so pace is a key. He's known through out Ligue 1 for his blistering pace and ability to pick out a perfect ball. Many football pundits, supporters, and rival managers alike have dubbed Eden the “New Cristiano Ronaldo” for his impressive dribbling skills and nose for goal. However what impresses the majority of the people who watch him is football IQ. He rarely makes a bad decision with the ball, granted he needs to track back a bit more, but he always makes the right decision when it comes to distribution to his teammates. He has made Lille striker Moussa Sow a much better player, so much so he has displaced veteran Pierre Alan Frau as the the number 9 at Lille. Sow also leads Ligue 1 with 13 goals, many of them set up by Hazard's play.

Last season he was named Ligue 1 young player of the year for the 2nd consecutive season. The new season sees Lille at the top of the league before the Christmas break, mainly on the back of his strong performances. This of course leads to all sorts of transfer rumours, especially as we close in on the January transfer window. French football legend Zinedine Zidane was made it clear on a few occasions that he has dropped Hazard's name at Real Madrid. Zizou mentioned to Canal + a few weeks ago that “It is possible he'll come to Madrid. What he's doing to Lille is exceptional.” Although Hazard is linked to a few high profile clubs his best move may be to stay put and help guide Lille to the French title, and automatic Champions' League qualification.

Whatever his decision, Eden Hazard is on the way to football stardom. When Zidane is calling the player the next great superstar, it's time to stand up and take notice.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How far can Spurs really go?

With tonight's entertaining 3-3 draw against Holland's FC Twente, Tottenham Hotspur took top spot in their Champions League group. They avoid a potential round of 16 match up with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United. While no knock stage tie is a given some would really like Spurs chances on advancing to Europe's elite 8....but what are realistic chances that Spurs make it that far?

Of course a lot depends on who they draw next Friday. As week speak only the French champions Marseille and Italian legends AC Milan have qualified as group runners up in the reverse table. when looking at the other clubs that could potentially be drawn against Tottenham you quickly develop the sense that good things could soon be in store for the North London club, provided they can carry over their European form to February when the knock out stages begin.

Under Harry Redknapp the club has been transformed from a nearly there club to a solid outfit that can hang with the best in Europe, if you don't believe me ask defending European champs Inter Milan after their two matches with them in the early group stages. The team combine both pace on the wings with a ever improving back line. The club as been especially lifted by the displays of the recently added Rafael Van Der Vaart and the maturing world class talent of Gareth Bale. It's crazy to think that just as little as a year and a half ago Bale with on the transfer block, and Van Der Vaart couldn't get a game at Real Madrid. Now both player have become crucial to Spurs as they travel uncharted waters. Also you have to consider by the time the knock out stages starts the club should be getting healthy again, and barring any major set back, could have a full squad to pick from. However the question around Spurs has really never been the talent, but more the mental make up of the team, Can this team handle both a grueling Premier League schedule and the high pressure demands of the Champions League?

So far the answer is yes, but the knock out stage is a different beast.

If Spurs run into a experienced club, like a Milan or...wait for it....possibly Arsenal. The mistakes that may not have been magnified as much in the group stage become world wide fodder for the press in an instant. The experienced campaigners know how to handle it, it's why you seem them in the final 8 or semis year after year. In the past this type of scrutiny has buried inexperienced teams Ex: Roma in 07 against Manchester United at Old Trafford or Stugttart v Barcelona last year. I feel Spurs can avoid being completely blown of out the water in the round of 16, but they will have to be more tactically sound then they were in the first 15 minutes against Inter at the San Siro or tonight against Twente. I watched that game against Inter in Milan and for that entire first half Spurs looked completely out of their depth. They no answer for Eto'o as he carved up the back four, and tactically they were outmatched. Granted they were saved blushes by the first of two outstanding performances by Gareth Bale that took the world by storm, however there must be some concern about how more astute clubs could pick this team apart especially down the middle of the park.

With all that said the thing that gives me hope for Spurs is their drive and determination. When I watch them in Europe I see a team that's looking to prove that they belong in this tournament. Which is a bit odd as at times they lack this drive in their domestic games (aside from the North London derby with Arsenal). It reminds me of Bordeaux last year, a club that were going all out in Europe but lacked something domestically. Spurs will want to avoid Bordeaux's mistake of solely focusing on Champions League as although they made the quarter finals, they failed to qualify for the tournament this year with a disappointing French league campaign.

Along with the drive, Spurs need their defence to step up, especially with Younes Kaboul out. William Gallas will need to lead this defensive core as he has the experience of big European matches. If they can play like they did against Inter at White Hart lane Spurs are in with a shout, if not them they could be in trouble. Also the unsung right back Alan Hutton will have to shut down what ever winger is coming down that left hand side of the pitch. It will be crucial that the defence play well in the first leg as Spurs will want to win the first leg in order to control their own destiny in the second.

As my World Cup form showed this summer predictions are pretty useless in football, but if Tottenham get a favorable draw for the knock outs this team could be playing European football well into the spring.

Mike N

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chris Hughton's firing a massive error in judgement at Newcastle

"It makes no sense. Here is a guy who has done an unbelievable job"
Newcastle defender Sol Campbell

"Chris Hughton has brought dignity, stability and a respectable Premier League placing to Newcastle United - so it should be no surprise that his reward from owner Mike Ashley is the sack" - Phil McNulty's blog

So after some time off I'm back reflecting on an issue that will become more prevalent as the silly season of January comes, of course that is the glut of football managers in Europe that will be fired from their clubs. We've already seen a few managers go in the Italian Serie A and now the Premier League has its first.

It seems not that long ago that Newcastle United were in complete crisis mode. At the end of the 08/09 season the club were relegated from the top flight to the championship, the Alan Shearer experiment failed and owner Mike Ashley turned to a fairly unknown Chris Hughton to steer the club through its first campaign outside the Premiership in 16 years. I remember that summer because most people had written the club off and truly thought they may not make the journey straight back to the top flight. Many predictions, including mine, had the club finishing mid table in the championship and maybe enduring an extended stay in the 2nd tier.

Little was expected from Hughton who was the bookie's favorite to get the sack first, but all he did was stroll though the championship season and get the club promoted with a record breaking season. He helped develop a great young striking talent in Andy Carroll, revive the career of Shola Ameobi and once the EPL season started in August he lead the club to a decent start. However even with high profile wins over Arsenal, Aston Villa and derby rivals Sunderland there were always whispers that Hughton's job was never quite safe. There was a feeling amongst Newcastle hierarchy that they needed a more experienced manager. Although Hughton has been in coaching for almost 15 years he never was a full time manager of a club until he got the call at Newcastle.

So when the news dropped that he had been sacked today by the few people were really shocked. What might have surprised us as observers and, by the sound of it the teams was the timing. This weekends 3-1 loss to fellow promoted side West Brom was arguably their worst performance of the season, however I never got the sense the club was in danger of falling into the relegation battle. The team played a solid, disciplined game, maybe not flashy or high octane but it got results. Which this club needs considering the last few years in this clubs history with manager upheavals, poor over priced signings and poor on pitch performances.

Also aside from Andy Carroll's off the field activities, the players seemed to be pulling for each other and for their manager. The fist real rumblings about Hughton's job came in mid October just before the club played in the Tyne-Wear derby against heated rival Sunderland. With the club sitting mid table it seemed out of left field that Mike Ashley would want to fire a popular manager, the players responded by thrashing the Black Cats that Sunday 5-1. At that point his job looked safe....Well as safe a football managers job can be.

This is not the first rash decision Newcastle ownership has made, but this could be the most costly. The team currently sits 12th in the table, but with only 4 points separating them from the drop zone, it seemed a level headed approached was needed instead of a change in leadership just before the busy holiday fixture list. Can a big name manager come in a gain the respect of the players in time to keep the club out of a relegation scrap? My question to Ashley and the rest of the Newcastle board is why even go down that road? The season is long and clubs go through bad patches, just ask Chelsea, but a panic move just before Christmas could inflame the situation and cause a wide spread crisis.

The board released a statement today saying  "The board would like to place on record their thanks to Chris for his considerable efforts during the club's transition from Championship to Premier League club, but later added they were looking for someone "with more managerial experience". The last time they went down this road it got them relegated, we could be watching history repeating itself on Tyneside.

Mike N