Angry Fans

OUR football correspondent LIAM MACKEY is back in top form and full of energy.

He casts his eye over your comments and gives his own critical analysis of the goings on throughout the world of football. You may agree with him or then again you may not. This week Letter to Houllier; Money and football’s big clubs go hand in hand; I want some of what Ancelotti’s on; Don’t be fooled by Cole’s late goal this was a dismal performance; Should be we be surprised by Bowyer’s antics; Were City’s transfer people in charge of AIB by any chance Lescott, Santa Cruz, Wright-Phillips, Robinho, Given; Steven Ireland to sue Man City for breach of contract.

The Letter of the Week goes to Mad4City,Munster. Get in touch with your postal address and our magnificent prize will be winging its way to you.

DEAR Gerard Houllier, please could you leave our club alone. Since your arrival you have done more harm than good. Even with all and sundry speaking about the great youth we have at Villa, we cannot rely just on the youngsters, they need some support and back up. So far we have lost all but three games under your leadership and you have ensured that we will be a selling club in January. Not to mention how much of a muppet you acted in Anfield, when we were destroyed by their reserves. You have two choices in my eyes, either a) pack your bags and walk away, or b) get your fork out and start eating humble pie. Time to apologise to Mr Dunne, Ireland and convince Ashley Young that you are not going to wreck the club. I await your response,

Cork Villain, by email

* OUR SHOUT: One question: is that Mr Ireland or Ireland the nation he’s supposed to apologise to? I mean, I know he's a Frenchman and everything, but...

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AH, there you are, Mackey, As you know, we at Mammon Towers have long held a soft spot for the lower orders. Sure they stench a bit and tend to blather on about things like tradition - as if it had anything to do with them - but we do suffer them, nonetheless. Father, for example, once almost kept on a groundskeeper who was a working class sort. It was the saddest day of my life when he had to jail him for stealing spring onion (unwashed, right out of the ground!). Of course, he blamed the bunny wunnies but that sort always will, won't they? Typically deceitful, I'll say.

Sadly, such ingratitude continues unabated. Where, for instance, are the resounding hoorahs for all of our hard work in turning the top footballing league into the non-stop, TV spectacular it is today? It wasn't easy wresting control of the so called, "people's game" from butchers, jumped-up tradesmen and an endless variety of gabardine-clad oiks to make it the money-spinning, billionaire's willy- measuring contest that we know and love today, you know! To listen to some you'd think filthy lucre hadn't always been central to the game.

Were Sunderland not known as 'The Bank of England Club' during their glory days? Were 1970's Liverpool not bankrolled by Littlewood's Pools? Have they forgotten Everton were once nicknamed 'The Mersey Millionaires'? Or that Manchester United were the game's first "financially doped" PLC? Is it any coincidence that Yorkshire football has declined along with the coal mines and steel mills? How about the delightful Chelsea and their charming Russian benefactor? Behold, if you will, the revolution at Manchester City as you remember that the 'Marble Halls of Highbury' were so named without a hint of irony!

So, only a fool would argue that money and most of football's greatest names have not gone hand-in-hand throughout the history of the game. It's when those fools, amongst the Great Unwashed, begin to insist that we don't always know best and can't be forever trusted with the greater good of the game, that my dander rises! I'll wager a guinea to a filly that they'll all be up in arms about our plans to revitalise the FA Cup next, too! You see, having done away with those tediously, endless replays, with football's journeyman clubs, that so bothered our mega-glamorous, European league contenders (G14 founders, you know!) we are now proposing to move the FA Cup Final to an evening kick off - possibly in midweek. I ask you, would the famed exploits of Meredith, Busby, Trautmann, Matthews, Ricky Villa and the Crazy Gang be any less exuberantly regaled had they been performed on say, a wet Tuesday in April rather than some supposed end-of-season showpiece game in the May sunshine? I assure you they would not - and more importantly, the TV boys and their sponsors will agree with me! He who pays the piper calls the tune, you see! Even when the tune sounds uncannily like The Last Post... Now, back to work before I release the hounds!

Mad4City,Munster, by email

* OUR SHOUT: Whatever a jib is, sir, I like the cut of yours. Have our prestigious first Letter Of The Week prize of the new year. Assuming, of course, that the postal workers haven’t gone on strike for more food vouchers or an extra ration of turf or whatever the hell it is the lower orders are agitating about these days. Tally ho!

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I'LL have some of what Carlo Ancelotti is on if he imagines Chelsea are still in contention for the title race. They're barely in contention for the fourth Champions League place. What a dramatic collapse with only ten points gained from a possible 30. I think they will be lucky to finish behind United at the end of the season.

Red Devil, Limerick by email

* OUR SHOUT: Ah, I don’t think there’s much doubt they’ll finish behind United, Mr Devil, if you get my drift. Still, it’s a season of two halves, so have a red card for going in too early.

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WE shouldn't be fooled by Joe Cole's last minute goal at Anfield. This was another really dismal performance overseen by a manager who cannot inspire the dressing room but has done his very best to irritate the supporters as well. Hodgson is never going to turn it around for Liverpool and, knowing that, no one of calibre is going to sign for him. The board should recognise this, cut their losses, act now and consolidate for the rest of the season. If they don't crowds are going to start dropping 25,000. Football clubs may not have noticed yet but supporters don't have money to waste.

Limerick Red, by email

* OUR SHOUT: Always nice to hear from Big Sam.

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WAS anyone surprised at that nasty piece of skullduggery by Lee Bowyer against Arsenal? No me neither. Reformed character? Who dreamt up that piece of fantasy spin? Max Clifford?

Steve Lynch, Dublin, by email

* OUR SHOUT: There was a time when fantasy spin was something the Brazilians did with a ball. Try telling that to the young people nowadays and they won’t believe you.

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LET'S see - Dzeko in so that Adebayor can be offloaded; Bellamy already gone on loan; Given desparate for a new club; Bridge, Santa Cruz and Wright-Phillips looking to leave. Robinho gone to Italy. Lescott unseen. Were the people running the transfer system at Manchester City last year also, by any chance, in charge of investment policy at AIB. They seem to have all the right qualifications!

Anthony O'Callaghan, West Cork

* OUR SHOUT: But also, of course, much more money.

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HI Liam, Stevie Ireland... the man who, having been on the field for a whole six minutes, couldn't track back and mark the 37-year-old, Paul Scholes, in the 92nd minute of play of a Manchester derby is, reportedly, about to sue Manchester City for breach of contract. City say he broke a confidentiality clause by slagging the club in the Press and he says (surprise, surprise) he's owed more money. Whatever about the ins and outs of this particular case, one has to be gobsmacked at the breathtaking sense of entitlement of the underachieving, modern-day footballer. City (with respect to Cobh) started him out in his enviable career (although he's publicly moaned about having to ply his trade too), made him an international standard player, stood by him during the grannygate affair, paid him handsomely whilst he was both doing his job and "getting his head straight", then finally lost patience, bought in better and sold him on to make a good living at a well-run, respected club, last summer. And now he's suing them? And for money? Like money's the one thing he should be worried about after he's fallen out with Villa now and is being linked with every lower- to-mid table club around. As Cloughie said, "you can make a good living as a failure in this game!".

City Fan by email

* OUR SHOUT: One wish for the New Year: we find ourselves talking about what Stephen Ireland does on the pitch rather than off it. A long-shot, I know, but hope springs eternal.

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CAN things in the Premier League get any more surreal than the suggestion that Ronaldinho is going to move to Blackburn for €115,000? Surely he just needs to have a word with his mate Robinho about Lancashire?

Patrick Keating, Limerick by email

* Have you heard the one about Kaka and Manchester though?

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