Earlier this week, Randy Lerner, the American owner of Premier League side Aston Villa, announced his intention to sell the club. Lerner took over in 2006, with his ownership at first looked on as positive for the claret-and-blue. Under manager Martin O’Neill, the club even challenged for England’s final spot in the Champions League.
But when O’Neill left the club just days before the start of the 2010-2011 season, it soon became clear that the club was in a bit of a mess. The manager had signed players on high wages to long-term contracts, and most of those players, it transpired, were not of Premier League quality.
Lerner cracked down. With Paul Lambert in charge, the club has focused on inexpensive players, bringing in talent from the lower divisions in England as well as young players from northern Europe. But the strategy hasn’t worked. Since O’Neill left, the Villa have been in a relegation battle, failing to finish above 15th for the last three seasons.
It’s time to sell. Villa fans understand, and appreciate, this fact. But they would also appreciate a quick sale. The Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust, an organization created to advance the views of the clubs’ fans at both the national and club level, have directed a statement to Lerner.
The AVST make clear that they appreciate the respect the Villa owner showed to the club’s heritage in his time in charge. But they also have a clear wish: “We would ask that the sale is completed as quickly as possible in order that the new owner can put his team in place, and make the required changes to ensure that Aston Villa become a competitive force on the field again.”
Any soccer fan knows that the offseason is essential in determining the team’s upcoming season. From the amount of money available for transfers to the manager that will lead the club to the amount of time that new teammates will be able to spend training with the side before the season starts, it all hinges on a well-planned off-season. No wonder Villa fans are asking for the future of their club to be resolved quickly.
Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.
Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.
And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.
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Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.
“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”
It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).
“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.
“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”
Feel good hit of the Spring.
Year Two of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City could feature another big goalkeeper purchase.
Claudio Bravo hasn’t panned out in sky blue, and Joe Hart doesn’t look likely to be coming back. Wily Caballero is getting the lion’s share of the minutes right now, playing every minute aside from a trio of FA Cup matches since February.
[ MORE: Podolski scores screamer in German finale ]
$43 million is the fee noted by Abola when it comes to the latest target for Guardiola, a neck-tattooed Brazilian by the name of Ederson.
The Benfica backstop, 23, has 20 clean sheets in 32 appearances this season. He signed a new six-year deal in late January, but money may talk here.
The highlight of Wednesday’s international friendly docket was Lukas Podolski‘s final match for Germany, and the former Arsenal man did not disappoint his crowd.
But first, Canada plays its first match since unveiling new coach Octavio Zambrano.
[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]
Scotland 1-1 Canada
Zambrano saw plenty to like from his new side, as Canada went ahead early with a goal from former Scottish youth Fraser Aird. Toronto-born, the ex-Rangers and current Falkirk man got his first Canadian goal against the team he represented at U-17 and U-19 levels.
Norwich City’s Steven Naismith redirected Tom Cairney‘s shot to make it 1-1 before the break, but Scotland never found its way back into Canada’s net.
Germany 1-0 England
Lukas Podolski scored his 49th international goal in his final cap for Germany, and it was spectacular.
Joe Hart didn’t stand a chance.
The match saw big stops from both ‘keepers, as Hart thwarted Leroy Sane on a second half break after Marc-Andre Ter Stegen defied Dele Alli in the opening 45.
Podolski subbed off in the 84th minute to wild applause, but it must sting slightly to know you finished an illustrious career one goal short of a nice, round 50. We guess he’ll have to rest on his millions and millions of earnings and loads of on-field honors.
Vietnam 1-1 Chinese Taipei
Philippines 0-0 Malaysia
Cyprus 3-1 Kazakhstan
Yemen 0-1 Palestine
Cambodia 2-3 India
James McClean is a colorful personality who doesn’t shy away from strong opinions — he once called Jurgen Klopp “a bit of an idiot” — and the West Brom man is using the big stage of World Cup qualifying to proudly honor a deceased ex-teammate.
McClean has long before friends with Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who shockingly died hours after leading his side to a league win this weekend. Given his age (27), few saw it coming even after McBride admitted to feeling ill after the match.
[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]
McBride and McClean played together at Derry, and the latter was excused from Republic of Ireland training to attend funeral services this week.
He’s still expected to play a role in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales on Friday, and McClean will don the No. 5 of McBride. Irish defender Richard Keogh usually wears the number and agreed to the change.