The Offside Treble – Aston Villa bite the bullet, Chelsea silent and TV money is flowing

This week Jen discusses the axe finally falling on Paul Lambert at Aston Villa, the TV deal that’s got everyone talking and the question which left Jose Mourinho speechless…

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No Surprises

Only a fortnight after Aston Villa’s chief executive Tom Fox (still a great name) pledged his support to manager Paul Lambert, it has been announced he’s been sacked.

Speaking to BBC Sport a couple of weeks ago, Fox bemoaned the culture of hasty managerial sackings in football as a “false narrative”. But yes, you’re right, bears poop in woods and the support of a club’s chief often means very little.

As it was reported last week, several players in Europe’s top five leagues had scored as many goals as Villa this season, the club had slipped into the relegation zone and backing or no backing, Lambert’s dismissal became an inevitability.

It’s a funny one all this sacking. On one hand, a club clearly wants results but on the other, where does the buck stop? Is it all down to the manager, his ability to make good value signings and get the best out of his players? Or is it down to available cash? There seems to be a sort of conveyor belt of managers at the bottom of the table: one flailing club sacks its manager to immediately hire another recently-sacked boss. You can’t help but suspect, for example, it’s not going to end well for Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace. Do we need some fresh blood?

Mad World

A record deal was made this week with the rights to Premier League games for a further three seasons from 2016-17 awarded to Sky and BT Sport for a cool £5.136billion. Representing an increase of 70 per cent on the current deal (worth £3bn), this hefty wedge means Sky are paying on average £10.8m per game, while BT are snaffling up a BARGAIN at £7.6m per game.

Bidnis man and one-time Tottenham Hotspurs owner Alan Sugar referred to the deal as “the prune juice effect” as in, the money pumped into the clubs via this deal “goes in one end and out the other”, ie to the players and their agents. Former Arsenal striker John Hartson obviously agrees, saying he believes we are close to players earning £1m per week.

As a fan of football (and, you know, civilisation) I have to say, to me this is a grotesque sum of money. It can’t be right that we live in a world where you could earn £1m per week for kicking a ball while we complain that headmasters and doctors earn more money than the Prime Minister and where the use of food banks reportedly increased by over 50 per cent in the UK last year alone. Something’s got to give.

Real Talk

And Jose Mourinho makes my top three stories again this week, after walking out on an interview with Match Of The Day following Chelsea’s narrow victory over Everton on Wednesday. A fracas broke out after Toffees’ Gareth Barry was sent off and Branislav Ivanovic appeared to rough up James McCarthy but he was not disciplined and his team went on to score the winning goal.

When quizzed about it by Jonathan Pearce for MOTD, Mourinho skirted around the issue, claiming not to have a view on the “melee” that ensued – despite being a man who usually has lots of opinions. Eventually, when pressed on whether or not he would actually ever put his hands up and say of his misbehaving players, “Yeah, I’ll take action if they’ve done something wrong”. Mourinho simply said: “Sorry, see you tomorrow.” And wandered off. Yet usually he has so much to say. But, who knows, maybe he ate some dodgy prawns at lunch?

Read more from Jen Offord here!

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