92 clubs favourite players – Fulham – Aaron Hughes

Fulham have not had the greatest start to the season but that does not mean they have a poor squad and I expect them to get better and Martin Jol to guide them to safety.

They have experienced players that have played at the highest level and a lot of talent in their squad including Dimitar Berbatov, Adel Taarabt, John Arne Riise and Scott Parker. But even though I do like these players and think they are brilliant footballers, the player I have decided to choose is central defender Aaron Hughes.
Aaron Hughes
This may seem like a strange choice at first but personally I do not think there has been a more consistent player in the Premier League. Over the years he has not grabbed any headlines but he has also not made many mistakes which a lot of the top defenders strive for. The 33 year old has had a good career and it has got even better since joining Fulham and having one of the most underrated central defender partnerships with Brede Hangeland. They are one of the main reasons why some believe they overachieved and under Roy Hodgson got to the final of the Europa League. Hughes helped the club have a great home record and even though in recent years it has not been the greatest they are usually very consistent at Craven Cottage and even the bigger teams struggled to get results there.

It is not surprising to me that when he is not in the starting 11 Fulham look shaky at the back and it was a similar story when he was younger at Newcastle United. While at Newcastle he played all across the back four and occasionally in midfield. He also played in a Uefa Cup semi final but unfortunately for him and the team they ran into Didier Drogba who was on top form and unstoppable. I was very surprised when they sold him because Newcastle are famous for having some pretty bad defenders that make a lot of mistakes and he was always the one that put in good performances. But for whatever reason he left the club and joined Aston Villa and it didn’t quite work out for him there but he was first choice in his first season at the club.

I do feel sorry for him on the international stage because Northern Ireland have never looked like qualifying for a tournament and even though he has over 50 caps he would have maybe hoped for more. However he has been involved in some historic wins for his country and will obviously be proud to have played so many times for his country.

In his career he has not scored many goals and only got seven club goals in his career and they include goals against Manchester United, Everton, West Ham United, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday, Norwich City and Dnipro. Maybe for a centre half that went forward for a lot of corners he should have scored more however this is not what he will be remembered for and unfortunately for him he has never got the recognition his talents have deserved.

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Player of the day- Steven Gerrard plus My hatred for ITV!

England have won Group D after beating Ukraine while France couldn’t get the win they needed as they lost against Sweden however they still qualified.

France decided to play a few of their fringe players with Hatem Ben Arfa and Yann M’Vila who have hardly kicked a ball this tournament getting a start and Laurent Blanc’s gamble did not pay off. For me the big mistake was leaving out Yohan Cabaye who had been in superb form so far and is someone who I consider to be undroppable at both club and international level. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sebastian Larsson scored the goals and they sent their fans home happy. France will now face Spain in the quarter finals.

The England game wasn’t the most exciting and their fans will take confidence from the result however their performance still wasn’t great going forward even with the returning Wayne Rooney in the starting 11. The first half showed England struggle to break down teams that aren’t the best at defending and when they did take the lead early in the second half, it was largely down to a mistake from the Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov. However, it is worth saying that the cross from Steven Gerrard was fantastic and Wayne Rooney had to be in the right position to header home. It wasn’t the most exciting game but England were very lucky when the ball seemed to cross the line before John Terry managed to clear. How the fifth official missed it I will never know and it just shows that they actually are pointless and do nothing. Also, it looked as though the ball hit John Terry’s hand later in the half but that also wasn’t given.

Man of the match- Steven Gerrard- It wasn’t the greatest performance from England but their captain showed his worth by supplying the cross for the goal and putting in a number of other threatening crosses. He linked up well with both Rooney and Danny Welbeck at times and that will be important against better teams. Plus, his partnership with Scott Parker is getting better and better by the game as they know where the other is on the pitch and if they should go forward or sit back and protect the back four. It is refreshing to see Gerrard playing well after all the years of seeing him struggle alongside Frank Lampard. He has easily been England’s stand out player this tournament already and he is finally showing his true ability at international level and is a fantastic example to everyone when he is on the pitch.

Gerrard is closing in on his 100th cap for England

Finally, I would just like to say I really hate coverage of the England games, especially on ITV as the commentators aren’t impartial at all and try to claim that England are the best thing in world football. They are not and they think every player is brilliant. They don’t even care that much about the opposition and will not even give them that much credit. They hardly talked about Ukraine when their shot crossed the line, instead they focused on how well John Terry did to get back into the right position but who cares about that, he didn’t stop the goal and if the fifth official was awake or we used goal line technology then it would have been a goal so why praise him? Then instead of saying that would have changed the match, they talked about the Germany game at the World Cup. Football doesn’t revolve around England and it is no wonder England fans are always naive and think they can win big tournaments. I support England but I hate the way ITV portrays the players and it really makes me hate watching the national team and that is without even mentioning Adrian Chiles.

Who will Youssouf Mulumbu sign for?

Youssouf Mulumbu has been linked with many clubs this summer and it seems as though his time at West Brom is coming to an end.

Mulumbu has played over 100 games for West Brom

The midfielder has been impressive since joining the Baggies and has helped them cement their place in the Premier League over the last couple of seasons with his battling displays. He is a very combative midfielder that likes to put in a tackle, but he can also play a bit as well, Mulumbu chips in with the odd goal and can make good late runs into the box to support the strikers. The 25 year old has been at West Brom since 2009 and was very influential in getting them promoted back to the Premier League when they finished runners up to Newcastle United. If he does leave this summer he will no doubt be fondly remembered by the fans mostly because of his 100% commitment to the club while on the pitch but also because he scored the winner in a game against Aston Villa, which was their first victory over them since 1985.

Mulumbu has claimed he has spoken to a number of clubs already but who will want him and is he good enough to make it into the starting 11 of one of the top teams? In my opinion, he may be able to do it as he has shown enough progress already in the Premier League and the fact he is only 25, he will get better. The first team I believe he could be good for is Arsenal as they always seem to be missing a strong central midfielder and have never been able to replace Patrick Vieira. They do currently have Alex Song but he is not a proper holding midfielder and likes to get forward a lot, he has been described before as the most attacking holding midfielder in the world. If they can bring in Mulumbu it would allow Song to get forward more and he showed time and time again this season that he can provide killer passes and set up a lot of goals.

London rivals Tottenham Hotspur have also been linked with him but I do not see this as likely as Arsenal because they already have Scott Parker and Luka Modric to play in the centre of their midfield so he would find it tough to become a first team regular. However, Modric is linked with a move away and if he goes they will need to replace him and both Modric and Mulumbu only get about the same number of goals a season so they would not lose anything in that respect.

Finally, Newcastle United could be interested in him as they have already lost one central midfielder this summer in Danny Guthrie and will need a new one. He may not get a first team slot straight away but he will still rack up the appearances as the season goes on. Another reason why I think he could fit in at Newcastle is that he is what they are now looking for in the transfer market. Someone that is quite cheap and if they do well, their price tag will rise and with Mulumbu only being 25 he could be at the club for a few years and then leave for a lot more than they signed him for. There are already a lot of reports saying he is in talks with Newcastle so this one seems the most likely at the minute.

Scott Parker finally has the chance to succeed

Scott Parker proved again against Liverpool what a vital player he is to Tottenham Hotspur, when all the flair players underperformed, he stepped up and made sure he did his job brilliantly. Gareth Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor most notably had off days while Niko Kranjcar and Luka Modric could not get involved high enough up the pitch to cause the Liverpool defence any problems.

At the age of 31, Parker just keeps getting better and better it would seem however he has played like this throughout his whole career, but he is finally getting the recognition that he deserves because he is playing for a big club. Plain and simple, he just wants to win the ball back for his team and will keep chasing and tackling until he achieves his target, he does not allow the opposition a moments rest and it is little wonder he is a fans favourite at every club he has been apart from possibly Chelsea. But I think Chelsea missed out here because they most certainly did not give him enough playing time and he deserved more of a chance to succeed at a big club earlier in his career.

But for some reason his career has not really kicked off until quite recently as he was constantly overlooked by England who persisted in playing Gerrard and Lampard in the middle of midfield when clearly this wasn’t working. He should have won more international caps than he has but now hopefully his time has come and he will grab it with both hands.

Even in his early days at Charlton Athletic you could see he was going to be a fantastic asset to any team even though he was probably more attacking back then and has now adapted his game to focus more on being a holding midfielder. He can easily play both roles and he does still occasionally try and get into the box to score a few goals.

He singlehandedly kept West Ham in the Premier League one year and then stayed on for another even though the club were facing another relegation battle which tells me that he has a lot of heart and doesn’t mind rolling up his sleeves when the going gets tough. It must be difficult playing in a very average team when you are being linked to better teams who are competing in Europe but he did and was the best player in the league because of it. It isn’t very often you see a player that has just suffered relegation being praised and given awards from fellow professionals and pundits.

Finally his time has come to be a success because in his career he has suffered many let downs, not getting a real chance at Chelsea, getting sold by Newcastle when it looked like the club had finally got it right and were challenging for European places. Then signing for West Ham who seemed to have a bit of money and a few good players coming in so there was plenty of potential there which the club as a whole failed to live up to. So he has one final chance to make it work at Tottenham and he is doing everything possible to achieve this and his performance against Liverpool shows he is going to fight to win trophies before the end of his career.

Next England captain

John Terry has been stripped of the England captaincy and Rio Ferdinand has said he does not want to be captain so who is Fabio Capello going to choose to lead England out in Euro 2012. I actually agree with the FA for once and do believe Terry should not be captain and in my opinion should never have been given the armband anyway especially after the Wayne Bridge saga. But I am not going to talk about my dislike of John Terry but look at who could possibly be a good captain.

First on the list is Steven Gerrard as he is the current captain of Liverpool and everyone can see he is a modern day captain fantastic. He has all the right attributes and has enough big game experience to be a good captain at international level but the problem England is whether he will be 100% fit for the finals as he has been dogged by injuries all season. He is a very inspirational player as he showed in the Champions League final against AC Milan a few years ago when he took the game by the scruff of the neck and eventually won the game for Liverpool. Although this was a few years ago, he does still have this ability as he showed in the Premier League after stepping off the bench against Newcastle to turn the game around.

Another candidate for the role is arguably the only world class player left in the squad and that is Ashley Cole. He has been the best left back in the world for a number of years and with plenty of experience, I don’t see why he can’t be captain. However, it may not be a popular decision as he isn’t the most likeable person and also there aren’t many captains that are fullbacks. But Paolo Maldini and Cafu seemed to be quite influential from their positions, so maybe he would do a similar job.

Wayne Rooney has the potential to be an England captain one day but in my opinion not now as he is still a loose cannon and that is the reason why he is missing the first two games so therefore it would be pointless giving him the role now.

Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker has also been getting a few mentions but will he actually be first choice. I believe he should be but Capello does make some strange decisions and nobody wants to see Gerrard pushed out to the left wing again so surely there is only other central position available unless he does plays with five in the midfield. Is a very good captain and shows the right drive and determination to succeed therefore I wouldn’t be disappointed if he got the armband.

For some reason people have been saying Joe Hart but that would be a terrible decision as he is only young and inexperienced at international level. He is a fantastic goalkeeper and will be for a very long time so why put extra pressure on him when it is not necessary.

So, I think Steven Gerrard should be given the role as he ticks all the right boxes and has led Liverpool out many times in big games and he remains calm and composed. I think he should have been captain for years by now but maybe now is his time to finally shine as the England skipper.