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Miller: Top ten Prem workhorses

FC United
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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Your verdict: Return of a villain?

Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe has insisted that Glenn Hoddle remains a contender to succeed Gordon Strachan as manager.

Saints fans have made their opposition to Hoddle returning plain after he walked out on the club in March 2001 to take the manager's job at Tottenham and then lured away their star defender Dean Richards.

But Lowe claims he has made unpopular decisions before and feels if he can forgive Hoddle for quitting, so should supporters.

  • Email newsdesk@soccernet.com with your thoughts.

  • Rupert Lowe has impressed me - to date - with his business acumen and marketing skills. He has been able to provide his Board, and Southampton's fans, with a team more than capable of maintaining its place in the Premiership; a healthy business future when several teams in the top division are in serious financial trouble; a super new stadium that ranks among the best; and a generally "feel good" atmosphere for the players and fans to enjoy.

    I can't believe that he would risk all of that by even considering re-hiring Hoddle as Gordon Strachan's replacement. He must surely appreciate the depth of the Saints' fans' contempt for the man? If he doesn't, then he is not nearly as smart as I, and many other Southampton supporters, supposed him to be. It really is a case of 'anyone but Hoddle.'

    One can only hope that the speculation surrounding Hoddle's return to the south coast is nothing more than media muck-spreading. If not, then Lowe and Hoddle together will almost certainly drop Southampton once again into relegation despair, and have the team's betrayed and angry fans leaving St. Mary's in droves...
    Harry Seddon

    Glenn Hoddle had a decent record at the helm of Southampton. However, it will be a complete disservice to the club to bring him back. He never looked back as he selfishly went about to fulfil his own goals and dreams. Granted it was too good of an opportunity to pass at Spurs, since he was pretty much seen as the second coming of the messiah. But that is not the acceptable behaviour of any manager.

    A manager has to show his loyalty and respect to a club, fulfilling not only his contract but also the faith placed on him by the supporters. I would be extremely disappointed to see him let back into the game that easily. Especially since he has yet to prove himself, and since Southampton have actually done better without him.

    What next? If talks of Eriksson leaving continue, should the FA approach Hoddle?
    Ven Shanmugam

    What the hell is Lowe thinking about? Strachan has turned Southampton into a great team with his man management skills - something Hoddle has none of.

    To bring Hoddle back would turn the fans against the team and the players would soon be disjointed again under his stewardship. Hoddle walked out once, what will stop him from doing it again?
    John Bream


  • Also, Real Madrid want Thierry Henry or Ruud van Nistelrooy...

    I firmly believe Thierry Henry will become a Real Madrid player in the summer. Madrid have already revealed that he will be their top summer target and the lure of consistent, meaningful Champions League participation will be too great for him to resist.

    Also, becoming the latest Galactico in their already star-studded team will also be an irresistible carrot. It seems to me that you haven't really made it till you join Madrid. The signs are already there, it's inevitable.
    Iain Dobson

    Is Real Madrid serious? Why go after Henry? He's said he won't leave Arsenal anytime soon. He is the crown jewel of the Premiership at the moment.

    Has Madrid forgotten who their current line-up consists of? They possess two of the finest strikers in the world with team icons Raul and Ronaldo. Where would Henry or Ruud play? One of these three would be unhappy.

    Needless to say, they are completely ignoring their need for a central defender or defensive midfielder. I cannot fathom why Henry would be a target.
    Jamaal

    Surely it's about time FIFA stepped in and outlawed clubs like Real Madrid and Manchester United nobbling players from other clubs by announcing publicly that they are targets.

    At least there's a certain poetic justice in Real Madrid 'targeting' van Nistelrooy, since MU have adopted this tactic ever since I can remember (and I saw my first game in 1958!).
    David Connick

    Real Madrid wants Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistlerooy. So? Who doesn't?

    This bit of feelie-feelie to see what's what will be done in gentlemanly fashion and kept well away from the news media. All that's left for us is guessing based on no information at all. So! Where's the fun in that?
    Jim Prunier

    Why is Real Madrid so bent on another striker? I cannot understand why they do not value Ronaldo. Without him, they would be in great trouble as is. And he is still very young and free from injury thus far this year.

    They will be very sorry to lose him. If they were wise they would sure up their defence as they cannot hold on to a lead.
    PE


  • Also, Manchester United's defence, or lack of...

    Two knee injuries, a broken ankle, and an unfortunate habit of slipping whenever he's the last defender (which always results in a goal) doesn't make Wes Brown anything other than the unluckiest man in football. And yes, yes he came back from injury and isn't that fantastic and wow doesn't he have heart - just as long as his slip-ups cost some other team points and not United.

    Let him play out his damaged career somewhere else, because as long as he's in the heart of United's defence, they can kiss the Premiership (don't even mention the Champion's league) goodbye.
    Bruce Whelan

    I have been quite critical of Ferguson for a long time now although he has won so many titles and trophies for the club. The reason is simple; he lacks vision and tactical knowledge, he is so stubborn and opinionated that even his closest advisers will be reluctant to speak out. Most crucially, he has too much faith in his home-grown talents such as Brown and O'Shea.

    He should have raided the transfer market when Ferdinand was suspended. Quite simply he should have brought in a world class defender to replace Ferdinand as it was planned. I was in a state of shock when the press were reporting that Brown will be an adequate substitute for Ferdinand. It was a joke and Wenger must have been laughing !

    Phelan is a joke that should be removed from the coaching staff as he cannot spot the obvious when it is in front of his nose. He has been calling for patience when the defence was leaking goals everywhere. Soccer is a game which cannot tolerate patience when you are in the hunt for the championship. If we are in 10th position in the league one can talk about patience but not when you are ManU chasing the Treble !

    Magnier has more than 28% of the club now, and while it may disturb some fans actually this may be a blessing in disguise with Ferguson finally getting the boot and ManU getting a qualified team of tactical staff to shape the team like that of Arsenal and Real.

    If Ferguson stays, he should get his No.2 in quickly to manage the tactical side of the team, and also make sure no players of Brown's calibre are left in the team to further embarrass the loyal fans who pay their wages. Lastly, Forlan should be kicked out of the squad as soon as possible. There has been too many jokers involved with this club lately, and we are not amused.
    Kelvin Chu

    Why not sign Eddie Pope from the Metro Stars? He would be ideal an defender and has a perfect understanding with Tim Howard.
    Philippe Fontanelli

    Oh, so Ryan Giggs and Sir Alex are worried about the defensive frailties of the team! Even any dim witted spectator knew long ago that Man U had to buy another dependable centre half to survive the suspension of Rio. Sir Alex did well to buy Saha and then went into his horse wars with the Irish tycoons. The failure of Man U to replace Rio in January effectively handed over the title to Arsenal; and it is sad enough.

    The wins over Soton and Everton were unconvincing and a team which concedes 8 goals in three matches against average or worse teams CANNOT BE CHAMPIONS.

    I have no doubt that Man U will be taken out of the FA Cup by Man City at the weekend, unless something dramatic happens. And I can see Chelsea overtaking the team a few days from now. In any case what will happen when Man U meets Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal? 6 - 0 defeats in the offing?

    Then of course Porto, with Deco, must be relishing the possibility of going further in Europe at the expense of Man U. Supporters had better get prepared for another trophyless season. That to me seems the reality.
    Adolf

    I agree with Ryan. Since Rio started his suspension, United's defence has been atrocious. Why is Alex Ferguson not seeing this?

    It will only be a matter of time before every team in the Premier League latches on to Utd's defensive frailties and I am concerned that they be in for more hidings in the future if this is not rectified as a matter of urgency.
    Ganief

    I sincerely hope that the Boro fans got a really good laugh at Old Trafford on Wednesday. Scoring the winner to make it 2-3. Hopefully they managed to verbally abuse most of the Man Utd players, letting them taste their own medicine.
    Rolf


  • Also, David Batty dumped by Leeds...

    Things have gone from worse to totally ludicrous at Leeds United. Why should Leeds players show any loyalty to the administration and coaching staff?

    Regardless, I strongly believe that every veteran player should at least be granted a final match. A match to go out in "style" and thank the loyal supporters and football community for their support. David has been robbed of any hope of this by Leeds.

    What a complete lack of professionalism. Bullocks!
    J. Stephen Hartsfield

    I agree with Gordon Taylor. To make a public announcement like that about a player (especially one like David Batty whose modus operandi has always been fierce and dedicated commitment to Leeds), is absolutely outrageous.

    I had the greatest regard for Eddie Gray as an exquisitely skilled played. However, I also believe that Eddie Gray has much to learn about people skills before he can ever hope to do well as a manager of a professional football team.
    James Gilchrist

    This is the third manager to say Batty wont play a part in Leeds First Team Football TV PR EG. At least Batty knows exactly what the situation is now ,and should get on with life, maybe be sold to Huddersfield Town who could make good use of him.

    Don't get me wrong, Batty has been a great player but must realise that his time at the top is well and truly over. As for Gordan Taylor's comments, well the less said the better.
    Les Eaton

    You quoted Taylor "'Why should any of the players show any loyalty to Leeds United if this is the way they are going to be treated in return?'"

    I agree wholeheartedly. Batty was shut out during Venable's tenure, and I have a strong feeling Gray was behind that. He is the driving spirit of the club. He is one of the few players, in my opinion, actually care if Leeds is around next season.

    The Leeds board has consistently blamed the players for their poor showing in recent years, just as it fires manager after manager. Look at what O'Leary is doing at Villa. Villa is a much improved club over last year. And Venables has great ability as well. He was constantly undermined by Ridsdale's huge ego and club debt to match.

    Peter Reid was a mistake. All Leeds have done in the past two years is accelerate it's plummet to oblivion with carefully mislaid plans. I used to be a staunch Leeds supporter. What a waste! My heart has moved to Anfield - where football is football, and budget is budget. Not the other way around.
    Patrick


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