Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
If eyebrows were raised when Aston Villa decided to spend up to 24 million pounds on striker Darren Bent then former manager Martin O’Neill’s forehead must have been pinned to his living room ceiling when the news broke on Tuesday.
The absurdity of the switch lies not in the inflated figure or Bent’s abilities on the pitch and in front of goal, but in the timing of Villa chairman Randy Lerner choosing to dig deep into his pockets.
O’Neill walked out of the Midlands club just days before the start of the season after being told transfer funds were scarce and the £18 million to be raised from the sale of James Milner to Manchester City would not be reinvested in the squad.
Just six months later, however, Villa have splashed a mammoth fee on a player who has been permanently on the fringes of the England squad while a further six million was spent last week in French midfielder Jean Makoun.
After months of speculation, Liverpool have confirmed that coach Rafael Benitez has left the club.
Disagreements with the owners and a poor season for the Reds have led to the decision to part company by mutual consent. Do you think it was inevitable?
Bookmakers cut Aston Villa’s odds on winning the Premier League title from 50-1 to 40-1 on Wednesday following their gritty 1-0 victory at Portsmouth the previous night. It will not provoke a rush of punters parting with their hard-earned cash but with the wily Martin O’Neill at the helm and confidence soaring, there is no question Villa are now serious players in the title race.
What’s more, there appears to be genuine good will among fans of other clubs for Villa’s attempt to break the boring top-four stranglehold of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and
Arsenal. The reasons for that are plentiful.