Well obviously today is Christmas Day so like us all the footballers, reporters etc are having a nice relaxing day off so nothing has or will happen. Merry Christmas.
Tuesday 26th December 06
Before our match against Liverpool today Hughes promised that we would bounce back from our unfortunate 6-2 thumping from Arsenal which did not tell the full story. The performance was not that bad just we got caught at the end and Hughes was quick to point this out and praise the players for their positive approach which Hughes said they would carry into today's match Click Here for Full Article and too right they did and did not disappoint.
Hughes had urged our home supporters to lay off Craig Bellamy when he made his first visit to us following his Liverpool departure and has spoke of his respect and what an excellent player he thinks he is which we already know and is the reason he chose to buy him in the first place; I'm sure people were sceptical of signing him despite his reputation but Hughes was able to calm him. People talk about us being in the lower half of the table as if it was because he had left and we needed him but Hughes is right in the fact that we are just missing some of our better key players due to injury. Besides Benni is doing great and has probably scored more than Bellamy did at this stage last year so once we have them people back especially Ryan Nelsen I think we will leak fewer goals and gain more points.
Our goal hero Benni McCarthy was quick to pounce and get us a 1-0 win which is our first victory over them in ten years Click Here for Full Article. It was quite a smooth bit of play the way that Tugay with his fantastic skill and vision spotted Gamst down the left wing where he set him through to cross for McCarthy to coolly slot home in the centre of the field. I don't know what our lads practice in training but it looked so cool and calm like something from the training ground. The result could have been a different story had it not been for our mighty Brad Friedel who always stands tall and steady in goal and pulled off endless fantastic saves, well done big guy.
Recent weeks have seen us being linked with James Beattie after it had been reported that he had fell down the Everton pecking order due to falling out with boss David Moyes. This had linked us to them but Moyes has been quick to put stop to this and demand he is going nowhere. I myself do not want him here anyway as although he can be really good, he can also be lazy and can be poor on a bad day. I'm not saying that should he join us he will be poor as it could be a different story. There are just other players I would rather we get.
Wednesday 27th December 06
Yesterday was a fine result for us and Hughes was quick to praise everyone in the team for the parts they played, especial Tugay and Brad Friedel Click Here for Full Article. I think we all played quite well and did well to keep Liverpool out as they could have easily turned the game had it not been for Friedel. Tugay was fantastic and deserved his man of the match award; it is amazing what he can do at his age. We need to focus now on our next game on Saturday home to Middlesbrough which I think we can win but they can be a tricky team as they can be unpredictable. The team work well together as Hughes acknowledges they did yesterday as everybody has to do their part and it is now important that we get something from Middlesbrough as we need to start getting back to back wins as the odd win will not be good enough to keep us away from trouble.
Lucas Neill has spoke after the match about what a relief it was to get the victory following low moral at the hands of Arsenal. Still being 0-0 at half time gave belief that they could achieve something and once they gained the lead they were determined to keep it. I guess as the captain he has to speak out despite looking more likely he will head off to Liverpool anyway. At least he is still focused on us for now though which is good to see. Winning against Liverpool surely didn't do his potential move any harm I'm sure.
We are again being linked with a move for Teddy Sheringham. Imagine that having Tugay supply Mr Tedderick as I call him, they are both cool and calm and can still hack it. I know Teddy is an old boy now but he can still score goals and do a bit of magic. I would have him even as a bit part player who will come on second half and poach a few vital goals.
Morten Gamst Pederson is said to be unhappy at playing for a team so close to relegation and is thought to be linked to Tottenham Click Here for Full Article who he said last year when they wanted him that they are not much of a better team. I know they are higher in the table than us but that can all change as although they do challenge for Europe quite regularly they are not achieving anything and the fans live off past glory. If you go there Gamst then I don't think much will progress in your career. Fight with us and we could soon see our fortunes change and I think we can become a bigger club again.
I felt sorry for Brad Friedel Saturday as no one wants to be conceding six goals, especially if they are a world class keeper. I think we are very fortunate to have him as our number one and Hughes believes that his match winning display was down to professional pride following Saturday's embarrassment as he had never conceded so many. Hughes thinks he is one of the greatest goalies that he played with amongst the quality of Peter Schmeichel and he was without question fantastic Click Here for Full Article.
Thursday 28th December 06
Hughes has been praising Tugay following the most recent of his outstanding performances and feels he is good enough to play for Barcelona Click Here for Full Article. Obviously age is not on his side being 36 but he still has fuel in the tank and hopefully his legs can still carry him for a few more years as he would like. When Hughes was asked did he wish that Tugay was ten years younger Hughes responded by saying no as is he was then he would be playing for Barcelona and not us. I think Tugay is a different class and we are lucky to have him playing for us. Hopefully he will play as good against Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Our daddy chairman Mr John Williams has dismissed reports that we are going to be moving for James Beattie come January. He said that he is someone else`s player and that we will not be testing them with a bid and also as we all know now David Moyes has no intention of selling him supposedly. Not to worry as I did not want him anyway and there are plenty more decent players about that will hopefully come to us come January and again we will have key players back from injury to fill the void.
We have been long-term admirers of former Strasbourg winger Salim Arrache along with Manchester City but any plans we might have had to try lure him to us will have to be scrapped as he is on the verge of joining his home town Marseille on a free transfer where he is currently residing as he recovers from a knee injury.
Friday 29th December 06
Things are starting to get interesting now with transfer speculation as we are only days away from it all kicking off. One thing that is still no clearer is the situation with Lucas Neill as no one is giving anything away. Andriy Nesmachniy has had his trial with us now and it appears to have been quite successful. Whether he will come on board or not depends on what happens with Neill. There is still the possibility that we could do a swap deal with Liverpool for Stephen Warnock but should we do this I doubt a deal for Nesmachniy would go through. Tottenham are also interested in him so we had better move quickly and at the price of £1.2m and vast experience I think we should go for it. We will also be handing a trial to Olympiakos Cypriot striker Yannis Okkas who was scheduled to trial with us during the Christmas build up but Hughes but it back as we were busy boys so he will come next week. Do we need another striker though? When Jason Roberts comes back I think we will be fine and Benni is doing a fine job and Nonda is starting to find the net which I think will continue now!
I was well chuffed with the recent win over the Mighty Reds and Friedel just like all the other players I guess does not want all the hard work to come undone. If we continue to play like we have been doing then I believe we will keep getting the right results. Robbie Savage has this same view and is right that we need to keep performing like we have and get back to back victories as the occasional win will not be good enough to keep us away from trouble and also we are better than that.
Friedel is set to be able to play on Saturday Click Here for Full Article following his dead leg on Boxing Day which is a bonus. Dead legs are not nice but you get over them and as he is a keeper it is not so bad as he is not constantly running. I hope it does not hinder him though and slow him down when trying to make important saves across goal. If it was to affect his goal kicking then the defenders could do this for him and he could stick to short passes. Although Friedel will be available Francis Jeffers will still be sidelined with his groin tear. He will resume training next week which is a plus but we do not want to rush him as could make it worse. But as Hughes says though, it will be one more back with the group. May we soon be welcoming back Nelsen and Roberts.
Both our home and away kits have been changed two years running with the home changing four years in a row. It is said to be done in consultation with fans choosing what they want the kit to be like etc. I will not go into details about the 2007/2008 as you will soon find out all about it but it looks to me as though fans have split opinions about this. I mean to pay £40 odd each year is not cheap especially if you purchase a season ticket or try budget your money to try and go as many games as you can. I personally think that it is wrong even though the club do rely partly on merchandise income. Then again no one makes you buy the new shirt and you see many people in the terraces and streets wearing the old shirts; but people tend to want the latest kit just like people do with the latest fashion trends.
Tomorrows match against Middlesbrough will again see ticket prices slashed to £15 adults and £5 for all others which is a bargain. Hughes has got right behind this scheme and believes we are one of the better clubs for making games more affordable. It is a good idea as it will draw a lot more people so they will not loose out by dropping the price as the extra people that come will more than bring in extra revenue. Also with a bigger crowd there is a better atmosphere and with everyone getting behind our lads it is like a twelfth player and can make all the difference to our team's game. Come on boys we can win it tomorrow.
Scottish youngster James McCarthy who is new on the scene has created quite a stir. He is only sixteen and playing for Hamilton Academicals yet is attracting interest not only from us but also Manchester United, Liverpool, Bolton Wanderers, Barcelona, Deportivo La Coruna. That is quite impressive and as he is so young whoever gets him will only have to pay a compensation package of say £100,000. I wonder how he feels about all this attention. No doubt he is excited but think about all the pressure that will be on the lad should he join one of the giants and did not live up to expectation; it could ruin the lad. Good luck anyway and if we were to get him which I doubt with so much interest he would be another one for the future.
Saturday 30th December 06
Hughes has pinpointed the next two games as vital games that could shape our season. Before today's match we had won three out of the last four in all competitions and after winning today`s he is halfway there with winning the two and now that is four out of five wins. I fancy a win against Wigan as well as their form is starting to dip of late and we beat them on the first day of October and could beat them on the first day of January as well.
Remember last year when we played Middlesbrough at home and we beat them 3-2? Robbie Savage was sent off in that game receiving the first and only red so far of his career. Obviously this was a sad moment for him but we went on to win and Savage has now said he wanted the same result even if it meant him once again getting sent off. Well thankfully he was not sent off and we managed to keep all our men on the pitch. Secondly we won again by a one goal margin winning 2-1 Click Here for Full Article and Nonda was on the score sheet again with our buddy Benni. This has lifted us seven points away from relegation and we also have a game in hand; we are one win away from entering the top half of the table and if we were to play our game in hand against Watford now and win it which I believe we would, it would put us up into ninth place. Savage said we have got to start looking up and up is where we are now heading.
Mark Hughes appears to be happy with the performance today. He said that it was not pretty but we got stuck in and did the job. It makes a change to how we have been playing though as we have played some nice football but that does not always get you the results. Hughes was pleased with the fitness levels of everyone and going back to the Nonda goal, after seeing it I think it was a beauty of a volley and that takes his total to four goals in December. It looks as though he is starting to show us what he is made of and proving what I knew all along that he is a good player and worthy of a stay.
Robbie Savage has today agreed a one year extension to his contract that will keep him with us until 2009 which he will sign next week. I like Savage and he has a good influence on the game. He has been playing well this season and I'm with Hughes in thinking that he is possibly playing his best football for us. Keep up the good work and continue to be an inspiration for us on and off the pitch.
A player that we are recently being linked with is Robert Earnshaw of Norwich who is doing very well there in deed. Quite a few teams have been linked with him and it is thought that no approach has been made yet but Hughes said that should players be available then he will go for them. Apparently Norwich will sell at the right price but Earnshaw has repeatedly said that he wants to remain at Norwich for the rest of the season. We will see about that. I like his commitment but should the club want to cash in then what can he do? Come Monday start watching this space and see what kind of transfer speculation crops up.
Sunday 31st December 06
Nonda and McCarthy have proved to be quite a success for us and Hughes has put this down to the reason for our surge away from the bottom of the table winning four of our last five matches and hopefully come tomorrow it can be five from six. I think Hughes might be right there as although it took Nonda a while to start knocking in the goals, you can not knock his work rate as he has tirelessly battled for the team and it is good that the goals are now following. As for McCarthy it will be interesting to see how many goals he has scored come the end of the season. If we keep going the way that we are he is bound to be amongst the top scorers and I definitely tip him to easily score more than Craig Bellamy did for us last term. Keep an eye on Nonda as well. I'm not sure he will score more than Bellamy as well but if he keeps getting the occasional goal he may surprise us!