Being a Newcastle fan, I may as well start this week's round-up with something on Joey Barton. The past week has seen his increasingly bizarre Twitter usage take a turn for the controversial. Long story short - he hates the Newcastle United board, and hasn't been afraid to let this be known over the Internet. This led to Mike Ashley making him available on a free transfer, before releasing a statement through the club claiming they would not be making any further comment on these turn of events. Cue Alan Pardew's press conference claiming that he had 'not closed the door' on Joey Barton's Newcastle career. With Pardew looking increasingly like the powerless fall-guy in this saga, let's not forget that he still has over 4 years on his contract. Whatever happens from now on, Pardew stands to be much more wealthy than hen he first walked into St James' Park.
As for Barton himself:
"Has sport in this country, stooped so low as to quote, my nonsensical social media ramblings. They will probably quote this sh*t! How sad???"
I for one am quite happy to stoop that low!
How To Get Into The England Squad In One Easy Step:
Sign for Manchester United, that's how. Phil Jones made a highly-publicised £20m move from Blackburn over the summer, and has been rewarded with a first call-up to Fabio Capello's senior squad. Supposedly the Italian and his backroom staff were extremely impressed with Jones' performances at the Under 21 European Championships recently. Maybe I'm being overly cynical, but I can't help but suspect Jones would have been overlooked slightly longer had he remained at Blackburn. After all, big club equals better players on paper? Maybe one day an England manager will stop trying to shoehorn all the top clubs' players into their squad, and realise that it is a team blend that will bring success. Surely out of all the players in the country there is a combination capable of taking on the best. It might not include some of the star names, but is every member of the current dominant Spain set-up a star player?
There was great success for British clubs last night in the Europa League. Stoke completed a 2-0 aggregate win over Hadjuk Split with a stoppage time winner. For a first foray into European competition in my lifetime, that's fairly impressive. Even if it's just the Europa League. Fulham did a similarly comfortable job, beating RNK Split 2-0. Andrew Johnson and Danny Murphy were the scorers, and who knows, maybe Martin Jol will finally win some silverware with an English club? Ha, maybe not...
Another crazy managerial merry-go-round is Hearts. Paulo Sergio began his battle to last until after Christmas in charge with a 4-1 win over Paksi.
Speaking of new SPL managers, I wonder how long before Ally McCoist is under real pressure. With a so-so start in the league, and an early elimination from the Champions League, he needs a few wins to give himself some sort of honeymoon period in the Ibrox job. More experienced managers than him have succumbed to bad starts and eventual dispension of their services, and he will want to avoid a similar fate to John Barnes at Celtic. Just because he worked under Walter Smith will not automatically make him a managerial genius. Let's reconvene at Christmas and see what the table says.
In the wake of England's memorable Trent Bridge victory over India, the plaudits are rolling in, with the likes of Andrew Flintoff and Shane Warne comparing the current side to the legendary Australian line-up, and England's own '05 Ashes line-up. I would say that English cricket is easily in its best condition in my lifetime, particularly in Tests. They have patient innings-builders in Cook, Strauss and Trott. They have Ian Bell, who just oozes class at the crease without being reckless. If quick runs are needed, Morgan, Pietersen and Prior (who is also in a rich vein of form behind the stumps) will not disappoint. Even the likes of Swann, Bresnan and Broad have made England's batting line-up one to be feared. Broad in particular is showing genuine all-rounder capabilites. Add those three bowlers to Anderson, Tremlett and Finn, and England's armour has few chinks in it. It will take a major shift in momentum for them not to end the summer at Number One.
And finally, Rory McIlroy is in the news again. He is rejoining the US PGA Tour. He says his game is better suited to American conditions. With tennis' World Number 1 Caroline Wosniacki waiting to take him in her arms, he has declined to confirm whether he meant his golf game, or his love game....