35m But Carroll Fails To Make The Cut!
Liverpool paid £35m for Andy Carroll, but he fails to make the list for Young Player of the Year award. PFA Player of Year contenders (with the thoughts of PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor): CHARLIE ADAM (Blackpool) "Charlie has been an overwhelming success in helping Blackpool gain promotion last season, and subsequently lighting up the Premier League with their exciting brand of football during the current campaign. Ian Holloway has built a team around him and, in addition to his brilliance from dead-ball situations, the quality of his passing and his unerring accuracy are there for all to see. It's no wonder the likes of Liverpool and Villa wanted to sign him." GARETH BALE (Tottenham) "It took Gareth some time after he came to Tottenham from Southampton - in fact he had some adverse publicity - but suddenly he has blossomed. He has come through and more than fulfilled everyone's expectations and I think he looks real value for money at just £5million. The impact he has made, the goals he has got, he has been quite outstanding." SAMIR NASRI (Arsenal) "His skills under pressure are quite fantastic. He has done ever so well and will be looking to blossom again. He is now one of the top players in an Arsenal team which has been a major contender for honours." SCOTT PARKER (West Ham) "You would have to say, without doubt, Scott has been West Ham's outstanding player and if they stay in the Premier League, you would have to say he would have been very much responsible for that. Things looked quite hopeless at times for West Ham but he managed to keep them going." CARLOS TEVEZ (Manchester City) "Carlos made a controversial move from Manchester United to City - in fact, controversy has probably dogged him since he came to the country. He has come through in spite of that. He did well for United and now he has moved on and has been a real talisman for City in their attempts to break through into the top level of teams in this country. He has maintained that level of consistency and leadership and his workrate is phenomenal for such a good goalscorer." RAFAEL VAN DER VAART (Tottenham) "Another shrewd buy by Harry Redknapp. He has been bedevilled a little bit by injuries but he is top class and some of the quality of his goals have been a real delight to see. With some of the prices that are paid, I don't think Harry will have any regrets with what he paid for him." NEMANJA VIDIC (Manchester United) "He has been a success story. It took him a while to settle in but now he is acknowledged as one of the world's best defenders. When they are fit, Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are as good a pair of central defenders as you could expect to come across in the whole world. It is not often defenders get so highly rated with regard to our nominations but he certainly deserves to be up there." PFA Young Player of Year contenders (with the thoughts of PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor): GARETH BALE (Tottenham) "His ability to take on defenders on the flank and turn them inside out has been quite frightening. It's so exciting to watch. Everything has come together this season in a magnificent way." SEAMUS COLEMAN (Everton) "He got first-team opportunities with Blackpool in their promotion campaign last year and that obviously did him the world of good. He has continued to fulfil his promise with Everton this season." JOE HART (Manchester City) "There have been a few problems but the manager has kept faith in him and the England manager has kept faith in him. I think he is justifying that faith." JAVIER HERNANDEZ (Manchester United) "The way he has adapted to the English game is quite exceptional, and it says a lot for his character and ability that he has been able to come over here and showcase everything that is good about Mexican football." NANI (Manchester United) "I have seen him take some terrible punishment this year from defenders and he has shown great bravery in getting up and getting on with it. He has great skill and he has had the opportunity to show that more consistently for Manchester United." SAMIR NASRI (Arsenal) "When Arsenal are at their best they are like Barcelona, and Nasri is a key to their stylish passing game. Yet another player nurtured patiently by Arsene Wenger, the Frenchman has really come to the fore this season." JACK WILSHERE (Arsenal) "He's not the biggest or the tallest but he has a real zest for the game, and is certainly not afraid to make a tackle. His control, his left foot, his perception and vision are exceptional. The world of football is really at his feet." "Magpies In Europe" is available NOW! It features match reports and individual features from Toon fans on the 60 'away' trips Newcastle have made in Europe. Sports Journalist Richie Everson: "At last a book that the fabulous Newcastle United fans can relate to. It's informative, all the facts and figures are there, plus the 120 match reports from all the fixtures ... but it is the articles by the supporters that amazed me. "I went to many of those games, and this is the only book I can honestly say 'hits the nail on the head'! "Yes we know the results and the scorers, but some of the facts in this book had me so wrapped up in it I couldn't put it down. "Was Benny Arentoft cup-tied when he played in the final? Big Wyn and his battle with John McGrath; McFaul scoring a penalty when the crowd had gone home; the trouble in Palermo; it is all amazing stuff. "I would honestly give this book 10 out of 10." MAGPIES IN EUROPE From Antwerp to Zurich Price: £9.99 (including post) The book is available NOW! Please include your address in a letter and send a cheque (or postal order) for £9.99 payable to Mr K Fletcher, to: 'MAGPIES IN EUROPE', K Fletcher, 5 Dunelm, Sacriston, Co Durham DH7 6NU. Or contact: Kevnumad@fsmail.net Aston Villa FC - Villa Park Directions & Car Parking The ground can be seen from the M6, if you are coming from the North side of Birmingham. Leave the M6 at Junction 6 and take the slip road sign posted Birmingham (NE). Turn right at the island (the fourth exit), the ground is well signposted from here. However to be on the safe side, turn right at the second set of traffic lights (there is the King Edward VII pub on the corner) on to Aston Hall Road. This road will take you down to the ground. Mostly street parking (don't be surprised though if you are approached by kids wanting to 'mind your car'), although this is not as plentiful as it once was due to a local residents only parking scheme now in place in the streets around the Witton roundabout area. By Train Take the short train journey from Birmingham New Street (around 10-15 minutes) to either Aston or Witton station. Witton station is nearer to the away end and is only a few minutes walk from the ground. Turn left out of the station exit and continue down to a roundabout. Turn left at the roundabout into Witton Lane and the entrance to the away section is down this road on the first corner of the ground that you reach. Aston station is a ten minute walk away from the ground. Extra trains are laid on to the ground on matchdays. Where To Drink There are a number of pubs in the vicinity of Villa Park, but most of them on match days are either members only or have bouncers on the door. However, Dave Cooper recommends the following for away fans; 'The Witton Arms (formerly the Cap and Gown), is not a bad pub, to which half the pub is given to away fans (there is even a separate entrance for visiting fans). It is only two minutes walk from the away entrance, right on Witton Island, however it does charge £2 per person to gain entry' If you arrive a bit earlier then you may wish to visit the historic Barton Arms, located about a 15 minute walk away on High Street Aston (A34). This Grade II listed building, is one of Birmingham's finest pubs, with superb Victorian decor, serving Oakham ales and Thai food is also on offer. It is a regular entry in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. Darren Williams a visiting Manchester City fan adds; 'We have always park at an entertainment complex called StarCity. It is just off Junction 6 of the M6, going towards Villa Park. Huge free car park, plus plenty of food and drink outlets. It is then about a mile and half walk to the ground'. Please note that alcohol is not available in the away end. Away Fans After many seasons of being housed at one end of the ground, away supporters are now located on one side of the Doug Ellis Stand, towards the North end, where up to 3,000 fans can be accommodated. This was at the request of Manager Martin O'Neill who wanted Villa fans to be present behind both goals. One bi-product of this move has been that the general atmosphere inside the stadium has been boosted somewhat. Away fans are allocated both the upper and lower tiers of the stand. The concourse at the back of the upper tier is particularly tight and easily becomes crowded, whereas there is more space behind the lower section. There is a fair selection of food available and it is the first football ground that I have visited that offers meat products that are Halal. There are a selection of pies (all £3.30), Burgers (£2.60), Fish & Chips (£3.50), Southern Fried Chicken and Chips (£3.50), Vegetable Samosas (£2) and Chips & Curry Sauce (£2.50). There are wide screen televisions on the concourse, showing past encounters between the teams before kick off. There is also betting facilities available in the form of a Ladbrokes outlet. Entrance to the stand is gained by entering your match ticket into an electronic reader. A visit to Villa Park is normally an enjoyable experience, with the stewards normally taking a relaxed and friendly attitude. One concern though, is that there is very little separating the home and away fans and this could lead to crowd problems in the future.
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