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Cleveland Browns to Buy Villa?

The hot new rumor in the football world is that Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner is attempting to buy Aston Villa.

There are uncanny similarities between the Birmingham squad and the Browns. A Lerner would be taking over for the most reviled owner of a sports team since Art Modell. Again. Doug Ellis is loathed in England. The fan base is long suffering (and moan even longer about it). The purse strings have always been held tight and that has prevented the ‘big’ team ever competing with the usual front runners. Brum might be England’s ‘second city’, but it is gritty and blue collar–much like Cleveland. No one wants to be in the city, let alone play there. Lerner can begin to change all that–at least as far as the football goes.

The Manchester fans might have went ballistic when Malcolm Glazer sprung for their beloved Red Devils, but the Villians should welcome Lerner with open arms. He has loads of dosh and is a hands-off owner. Preferring to let people who know what they’re doing run the show.

This could be the perfect solution for every one. Aston Villa will be rescued from tyranny, and Lerner will be allowed to spend some of his billions without being hindered by a salary cap. They’d immediately be a better bet to win a championship sooner than his Browns back home. All of a sudden, the high profile managers that turn their noses up at Villa (maybe Martin O’Neill?) might be interested.

Steve Bruce and Birmingham City should be very worried. Aston Villa would be the dominant team in the Midlands.

If Lerner can pull this off, I’ll buy a Villa shirt tomorrow. That’s already 30 or 40 extra quid in the coffers and one more supporter. Well, at least a half-hearted one. Ipswich will always be my team. In fact, what is Lerner thinking? Ipswich is a much more deserving spot for his largesse. What is his number? I hope I’m not too late.

Pretty Lousy for a Friday

I had to look at the calendar to make sure it wasn’t the 13th. Nothing is going right today in my world or the football world.

Darren Bent, who was much more intelligent while playing for Ipswich, apparently came close to cutting his arm off trying to make a sandwich. He’s going to miss several weeks for Charlton. Football 365 has compiled a list of quirky injuries. I’m desperately looking for something to brighten the day and those helped.

One of my favorite gaffers, Mick McCarthy is taking over at Wolves. Welcome back to the Championship. That means Wolverhampton Wanderers has to now be added to the list of teams sure to be promoted before Ipswich Town. Oddly enough, Ipswich was recently looking for a manager themselves. McCarthy would have been perfect and would have proven Ipswich really wanted back in the top flight. Instead they pop for Jim Magilton, career coaching record (0-0). We will be mired in the Championship until I’m old. Older.

Alan Curbishley has said he’s not interested in filling what has to be the least attractive post in the Premiership–coaching at Villa. Aston Villa, with the worst chairman in the history of sport in Doug Ellis, has just sacked the worthless David O’Leary, only to find he might well have been the only person on the planet that wanted the job. You can forget any of the big names going there to die. Glenn Hoddle maybe. He’s about as worthless, so there may be some kind of weird balance in that move.

In one bright spot, Damien Duff appears headed for Newcastle. He was one of the few Chelski players I sort of liked. However, they seem to be clearing the way to sign Arsenal’s Ashley Cole. A move that can only be looked at with dread by the rest of the Premiership (and all mankind). I rather like seeing them dump loads of money on worthless pieces and parts, but it hurts when they get it right occasionally. Shipping Del Horno to Valencia opens it up for Cole, and they’re the one team in the league willing to overpay for him now.

Ruud Van Nistlerooy is supposed to return to training with ManU Monday despite all efforts to get rid of him. Unlike their northern rivals, Liverpool, who tend to dump quality players for next to nothing, United have a bit of business sense, and are waiting until they get a reasonable offer. Poor Christiano won’t get a wink of sleep all weekend now.

Or he could–if he tried to watch the second legs of the Intertoto Cup which resumes tomorrow. In what is easily the most worthless and unnecessary Cup competition in Europe. I might even opt for an MLS match over one of those. No. It’s not quite that bad.

Comings and Goings

Bruce Arena was quickly snatched up by the Red Bulls as the new joke coach of a joke team in a joke league. After his dismal running of an overrated American squad in the World Cup, I guess he had to take what he could get. He publicly complained right after the Cup that the American players had to go abroad to hone their skills in order to become competitive. He was absolutely correct there. The first thing he’d gotten right in a month. The advice didn’t apply to him, apparently. Sorry Bruce, Europe has all the bog standard coaches it needs at the moment–good luck in Jersey.

I’ve been looking over the transfer lists, but there really hasn’t been much to raise the eyebrows over yet. I don’t really think Chelsea has improved over last year despite dropping even more dosh. Ballack, Shevchenko, Mikel–so what? They’re going to be focused on the Champions League this year, since that’s the coveted bit of silverware they haven’t won. The race might be tighter in the Premier League. They just might end up with nothing. There’s always hope.

The Premiership challenge has to come from the usual suspects, though. There’s no new teams sneaking into the upper echelon yet. I think Arsenal are slipping a bit rather than gaining. Their defense is getting worse by the day. Cambell is gone. Senderos is out. Cole wants to leave. The new stadium isn’t going to be hosting the same quality that has been on the pitch at Highbury the last few years. The Invincibles, they aren’t. Chelsea probably won’t dip far enough for the Gunners to be a factor.

ManU need a few signings–and no, Ole Gunnar isn’t one. He’ll never be quite the same after his destroyed knee. They’re in the process of getting rid of Ruud, but dead set on keeping prissy Crissy Ronaldo (on the same team as his best mate in the world, Wayne Rooney). When they need help, and they do especially in the midfield, they’ve always gone out and got it. They’re still the biggest team in the game. As long as the Glasers keep up that tradition, they should add enough talent to push that London team.

Liverpool might be the strongest of the lot. They trimmed some dead weight. Bruno Cheyrou, the next Zidane, wasn’t and never will be. Morientes, Hamann, Cisse, were all superfluous parts. Adding Gabriel Paletta may help in the back. I’ve never cared for Craig Bellamy (Norwich bloke that he was), but Liverpool might be the perfect spot for him–if there is one. They want a few more signings, but the purse strings seem to be tightening. If they can wrestle away one of the relegated Italians or two–they could be right there at the end.

I always have a soft spot for Tottenham. Especially with Martin Jol coaching now. I always support them, but they only win when I’m not watching. They haven’t really bulked up any over last year, but the pack may come to them. I’ll do my part. I refuse to watch a live Spurs match until October (unless they’re playing Chelski). I’ll give them until then. Can’t say fairer than that.

An Open Invitation to Disillusioned Seria A Fans

The Italian verdicts are in–pending the inevitable appeal. They may not have been the draconian slams that the offense may have deserved. After all, how dare the bastards ruin one of the few good things in the world for their own greedy little ends. If I were King, I’d have their heads. Actually, I’d have many many heads, so it’s probably just as well I stay in my current position.

None of the rumors I heard concerning the possible penalties the clubs faced were worse than what actually came down. So, I’m not hugely disappointed. I half suspected it would be much lighter. There was even talk at one point of granting all involved an amnesty. There is a massive amount of money at stake, and that’s what everything comes down to in the end. It would have been a remarkable result if the Italians gave the crime a fitting sentence. They ended up slapping a little harder than I expected them to anyway. Sorry Inter fans (I’m one)–disbanding AC was never going to happen.

But for all you out there too disgusted to support the crooked Serie A, I offer redemption. There exists a fine little team in the East of England, in the idyllic setting of Constable country, off the North Sea coast. They play beautiful football. Stressing defense and passing. Well, that is seemingly what they often look to be doing. Sometimes you have to squint to see it. Good, solid, blue collar, hard-working, non-cheating… Everything you could ask for in a football team. They are Ipswich Town.

There is no match fixing there. The results speak for themselves. They couldn’t even afford to pay Darren Bent, Marcus Bent, Richard Wright, Kieron Dyer, Matt Holland, Herman Hriedersson. The sad list is endless. No thought could ever be given to attempting to buy a single ref. They don’t even offer me a pint to say nice things about them. The games don’t always end happily, but they are always legit.

So now’s your chance to get on the wagon. Don’t leave it too late. Once we get a bit of Champions League silverware, and all that–you’ll just be accused of being a frontrunner then. Soon as I’m King.

Whatever you do, take my advice (and Elvis Costello’s). Don’t go to Chelsea.

The Great Intertoto Cup Tomorrow

Newcastle will kick things off tomorrow night at St James’ Park against Lillestrom in the Intertoto Cup. They do it without Michael Owen, obviously. Alan Shearer is no more. And the diminutive Scott Parker now wears the captain’s arm band. I like Glenn Roeder, but I think Toon are going to find it tough going this year. They’ll be solid mid-table, but they’ll need some signings if they’re going to keep up with the tier of teams just below Chelsea (Arsenal, ManU, Liverpool).

The Italian verdicts are supoposed to be in about now. They wanted to wait until the financial markets closed for the weekend. That should tell you something. Juve, Fiorentina, Lazio are all to be relegated to Serie B and AC Milan are booted from the Champions League. Now all we need is some public beheadings of the guilty refs and team management, and we’ll call things square.