August Players and Managers of the month

The first awards of the seasons have been announced and they are the player and manager of the month awards in the Football League.

First, let’s look at League 2 and the winner of the manager of the month award went to Martin Allen who has had a fantastic start to life as manager of Gillingham. The club are sitting top of the table after five games with 13 points and if they can continue this sort of form they will comfortably win promotion back to League 1 although it is early days yet and anything could happen. Allen finished the last season very well keeping Barnet in the Football League so it is no surprise at a club with a bigger budget he is surpassing expectations slightly. Player of the month for League 2 has went to Oxford United captain Jake Wright and the defender has been in impressive form so far this year helping Oxford start the season very well winning their first three games and only conceding one goal. Unfortunately for them their form has dipped slightly but I believe they will be in the promotion shake up come the end of the season.

In League 1 the awards went to a player and the manager of Tranmere Rovers as they also started the season very quickly and have surprised a lot of teams already. Ronnie Moore is in his third spell at the club as manager and are still unbeaten in League 1. They have already scored 11 goals and only conceded 2 so their goal difference is already very healthy (some of these have came in September but it is still worth noting). They were seen as outsiders for the playoffs this year because they don’t have as big a budget as some teams but that hasn’t stopped them so far and they may be a shoe in for the playoffs if not more. Andy Robinson won the player of the month award after scoring a hatrick against Carlisle United. The 32 year old has been named in the team of the year in League 1 twice before so he is no stranger to the division and will need to continue to be as influential in the coming months if they want to get out the league.

The Championship awards followed the same pattern as the league before as both the awards went to player and manager of the same club. Blackpool were the beneficiaries of the awards and Ian Holloway is looking to guide his team back to the Premier League. He is still doing a magnificent job in my opinion as they had no right to get promoted in the first place and after losing so many players has still managed to challenge at the very top of the league. Holloway is an entertaining man on the sidelines and his team are very attacking on the pitch so they are a perfect combination and he seems to get the best out of every player. One of these is Thomas Ince who was linked with moves away in the summer and it is no surprise after his performances in August. In the first three games the young winger scored four goals and got four assists so there doesn’t need to be any explanation why he won it really.

Where did it all go wrong for David Bentley?

England beat Moldova 5-0 last night with James Milner playing on the right wing but things could have been so different had David Bentley lived up to his tag of David Beckham’s replacement.

The former Arsenal youngster was tipped for greatness and his attributes were similar to the former England captain with him only needing a yard to put in a cross and not relying on pace or trickery to beat his marker. But where did it all go wrong and why is he now playing in Russia for FC Rostov instead of in the England squad? He has picked up seven caps for his country and did have the talent to be a success but maybe it was his transfer to Tottenham Hotspur that slowed his career and may have effectively finished his international career.

At Blackburn Rovers he was one of their best players and even scored a hatrick for them against Manchester United which not many people have managed to do. In the 2005-06 season he helped the club finish sixth and qualify for the UEFA Cup as it was called at the time. This just shows how far both player and club have fallen away. Bentley followed this up with two more very impressive seasons, playing 97 times, scoring 15 goals and contributing 26 assists for his side and this obviously lead to speculation that he would be leaving the club and there were even rumours that he could be joining Manchester United and in the summer of 2008 he would leave the club for Tottenham Hotspur.

Just looking at the stats of his time at the North London club you can see the problem he only played 42 times in the league in his four years at the club which makes you wonder what the problem was with him because they also splashed out £15 million for him and with his experience and quality in the Premier League it wasn’t seen as a gamble. Although they may have overpaid but that is expected because at the time he was in and around the England squad so his price tag was always going to be high. Other than a few brief moments of quality, in particular his volley against Arsenal in the 4-4 draw and a couple of other goals there isn’t much to say about his time at Spurs, he just didn’t really get the chance and after his first season where he played 35 times he was always behind Aaron Lennon in the pecking order for both club and country.

He has had two loan moves in the last two seasons but neither of them have been particularly impressive, with him spending a lot of time on the substitutes bench at Birmingham City and after agreeing a season long loan move to West Ham United he got injured after only five games and returned to his parent club.

Bentley was always a player I thought highly of, especially at Blackburn where he was a constant threat but there must be a reason why it hasn’t worked out for him since and I hope he can recapture some of his form and come back to England after his spell in Russia and at least be a decent Premier League player.

A prayer for Fabrice Muamba

Bill Shankly once said ‘Football isn’t a matter of life and death, it is more important than that’ but right now football should mean nothing to any person after seeing what happened to Fabrice Muamba.

On the pitch we saw players demoralised, the tears were flowing from both sets of players and both sets of supporters with many of them including Rafael Van Der Vaart saying a quiet prayer. Everyone was very respectful and Howard Webb deserves some praise as he did not interfere with anything and didn’t even want to blow his whistle in case it distracted the medical team that were working on the young Bolton midfielder. Webb quietly spoke to all the players and both managers and made the obvious decision to abandon the game.

They were heartbreaking scenes even though anyone watching the TV coverage like myself did not see the actual moment when it happened. Afterwards, Kevin Keegan was clearly traumatised by the whole event as he was choked up and struggled to do his punditry work for ESPN. Just hearing people talk about the incident made people fear the worse and remember similar incidents over the years such as Marc Vivien Foe.

Football does not matter today and this will overshadow other players’ accomplishments today but who cares that Rickie Lambert scored a hatrick for Southampton or that Swansea beat Fulham comfortably, these events are massively insignificant. Just like if you are a Newcastle fan and are gutted that Sunderland are now close to getting to Wembley in the FA Cup, it literally does not matter what is going on anywhere else in the world of football, everyone should be thinking of the health of Muamba and not stupid petty rivalries.

The reaction of every footballer on Twitter has been very good as they have forgotten their allegiances and are just praying for Muamba like we all should be tonight.

Some people will argue there are more important things in this world and that people die every day all around the world but what they have to realise is that this young lad, he is only 23, was doing something he loved and was involved in the oldest cup competition in the world and would not have expected anything like this in a stadium full of people. He is a model professional and I will be hoping and praying that he pulls through even if he never kicks a football again I will be very happy and delighted because he always seemed like a good person and a good role model for young people. He has never really been in the papers for his personal life and when I wake up tomorrow I will be hoping that the football families’ prayers are answered and Fabrice Muamba is healthy and can enjoy more time with his family.

Finally Capello does something good for England

The news that Fabio Capello has left England is probably one of the best bits of news England fans have had for years especially after the disaster of the last World Cup. He decided to stand by John Terry and what an awful decision that was, I don’t think he realised the seriousness of the situation. How many chances was he going to give Terry, he has had the captaincy taken off him once so surely he should never have given him it back.

But let’s not focus on the reason why he left but what he did while he was in charge. When he first took charge there was an air of optimism among the supporters as he came with a very good reputation and had won a lot of trophies as a club manager. However, on the other side of this most would have preferred an English manager and Capello didn’t help the situation by not even learning the language properly, once claiming that he only needed 100 words of English to tell his players what to do which surely shows that he did not even put his all into the job. When you get a big job in a new country the first thing you have to do is learn the language and connect with the fans.

He made a strange start to his managerial career at England by deciding to choose a different captain in his first few games. Why do this? Surely it would have been better and more decisive to name a captain and stick to it but no Capello wasn’t decisive so why did he do it? Was it to show that he was the boss and nobody can cross him, well it didn’t work and his players got away with a lot during his time and he at times didn’t know what to do at all.

In his first qualifying campaign, it was quite impressive by England winning all their games apart from a defeat away to Ukraine, including a 4-1 win away to Croatia with Theo Walcott scoring a hatrick. But this is when it all started going wrong when England played a pre World Cup game against Japan and only won because of two own goals which was an embarrassment because of how bad they played. Then we all know things got worse with a 1-1 draw against the United States after a mistake from Robert Green who Capello had chosen as number one for the tournament. I think he made another mistake here because he should have kept faith with Green or played David James in all the games, it just showed that he knew he made a mistake but then blamed the ball for the error saying it was impossible to control. A 0-0 draw against Algeria is one of the worst results in England’s history. The Germany game was a disgrace, yes Frank Lampard’s ‘goal’ should have been given but England deserved to go out and the 4-4-2 formation was not working yet, Capello didn’t change and playing Steven Gerrard on the left wing angered everyone.

He should have gone after the tournament but he stayed and in fairness to him, England have qualified for Euro 2012 although the group wasn’t the hardest. And he also led England to a 1-0 win over Spain but it was very lucky and England didn’t deserve the win.

So, Capello was getting paid £6 million a year and he has basically left us in the same position as when he was appointed, so he could be seen as the worst England manager in recent years. At least Steve McClaren was a cheap option. He had a win record of 66.67% but this isn’t saying a lot as in qualifying England played some terrible teams and not even fully professional teams so therefore it isn’t a fair reflection.

Let’s just get Harry Redknapp in and forget about these last few years. And let’s hope that John Terry does not get on that plane to the Euros.