Pete Sixsmith gets his teeth into the rumour mill and fixture list planners and risks more Villa wrath with some mischievous managerial suggestions. He also halls a German team (on our pre-season tour) with an unlikely slogan …
Fixtures are out on Friday, so no doubt we will get Swansea away on a Tuesday night and Norwich away on New Year’s Day. Not that the original list is much to go by. After Sky and ESPN get their mitts on it, we will be looking at Saturday evenings, Sunday mornings and Monday nights.
In the meantime, we have lots and lots of conjecture about who’s coming and who’s going. According to this morning’s rumour mill, Darron Gibson and Wes Brown are about to sign – although Brown may opt for Blackburn or Bolton – and John O’Shea is reluctant to move from Old Trafford.
Ji Dong-Won, Seb Larson and Kieran Westwood are waiting for their contracts to run out before they sign for us and David Ngog will “put pen to paper” (love that phrase) when he returns from his two weeks at Butlins, Minehead.
Players leaving are Nyron, George McCartney and Matt Kilgallon, if we can find anyone to pay their wages, while there are kites being flown with respect to Craig Gordon and Steed Malbranque being “offloaded”.
In addition to this, there is the pursuit of Craig Gardner and Roger Johnson from hapless Birmingham City, Charles N’Zogbia from Wigan and Peter Crouch from Spurs. It also seems that at least two of these are “interesting” Newcastle United, who seem intent on signing anyone from Ligue 1 who is available.
On top of that, one of this morning’s red tops suggests that we are looking to sell Asamoah Gyan for a large amount of money. Happily, Niall Quinn has rubbished the report. We shall see.
Far be it from me to go on winding up our friends at Aston Villa, but it just gets more entertaining by the day. McCleish has now been offered an interview by Randy Lerner so, if he impresses and is appointed, the postie who delivers to Villa Park will be have his work cut out retuning season tickets.
Maybe they could approach Alan Shearer, who has turned down the Cardiff City job. Good news for Cardiff and creosote manufacturers, bad news for Match Of The Day viewers.
One piece of very good news that probably slipped under your radar was the promotion of SV Waldhof Mannheim (“Working Class Football Since 1907”) from Oberliga Baden-Wurtemberg to Regionaliga Sud.
Why the interest in a relatively obscure German club? Well, Pete Horan and I had an excellent day in Mannheim on the opening day of their season. We were staying in Heidelberg prior to the game at Hoffenheim and took a tram to Mannheim to watch their game against Astoria Waldorff.
The city was a modern one, with a fabulous food market which included e-coli free bean sprouts and Turkish Coffee which we drank carefully. The stadium was a decent one and had been used by TSG Hoffenheim in their climb up the leagues. As they ascended, SVW descended to the depths of the German system. Their licence to play in the professional leagues was rescinded and they relied on amateur players, most under the age of 23.
Their season started with a narrow 1-0 win and they spent much of the year tracking Nottingen, who looked certs to claim the one promotion place. However, a sensational end to the season by the Mannheim boys saw them win their last six games while Nottingen wobbled.
The final game of a very long season took place last Saturday and it saw our lads storm to a 6-0 home win over Illetisen while the Nottingen nightmare continued as they lost 3-0 at home to Villingen. The ultras, choreographed by a splendid youth worker we met outside the stadium, would have had a grand evening, probably celebrating in the rather fine Chinese restaurant adjacent to the stadium.
That Mannheim slogan – “Working Class Football Since 1907” – was a sentiment that appealed to Pete and me. We were looking forward to a return trip to Germany this year, but the visit to Bielefeld and Hannover take place when I am still at work, while the Monchengladbach game is on the Saturday reserved for a special celebration.
By the time we return from Germany, The Brucester will probably have a brand new team in situ. Alex McCleish may have been usurped by Alan Shearer and Randy Lerner might have sold the club to a consortium led by Ken Bates and Darren Bent. And whatever happens, Working Class Football will be celebrating it’s 104th anniversary in Mannheim but, nothing being too good for the working classes, at a higher level.