July 30 - Minus ten mil
Aston Villa have announced a big loss of more than £10m for the past financial year.
Villa were able to show a healthy £7.3m profit before player trading was taken into account.
But an "exceptionally high" £5.6m loss on disposal of players coupled with a £12.2m reduction in the playing assets wiped out the profit.
The loss blights what chairman Doug Ellis described as the best season on the field for many years.
New manager David O'Leary instigated a big clear-out on his appointment at Villa Park, offloading some big-earning players.
Among those given free transfers were Bosko Balaban, signed for £5.8m, and Turkish defender Alpay who was signed for £5.6m.
It was undoubtedly our best playing season for many years
Villa chairman Doug Ellis
Villa also gave free transfers to Mark Kinsella, Mustapha Hadji, Steve Staunton and Dion Dublin, while Oyvind Leonhardsen, Hassan Kachloul and Ronny Johnsen were released.
Under O'Leary Villa overcame a slow start to the 2003-04 campaign to secure sixth place in the Premiership, just missing out on a Uefa Cup spot.
They also reached the semi-finals of the Carling Cup.
Chairman Ellis said: "I think it is fair to say that in finishing sixth we ended the season on a high note.
"In addition, we also reached the semi-final of the Carling Cup; the reserve team won their league; our Under-19s won their league and we reached the final of the FA Youth Cup for the second time in three seasons.
"Across the board it was undoubtedly our best playing season for many years."
Despite a rise in operating costs, including salaries, of 3.1% Villa have managed to reduce the size of their wage bill, which now represents 60.5% of turnover compared to 71.1% in 2003.
July 30 - Moving in on the enemy
Jack Petchy has put further pressure on Doug Ellis by upping his stake in Aston Villa to 19 per cent.
Petchy's company, Trefick, acquired 40,000 shares yesterday at an average price of £2.95, a deal that emphasised his position as the second-largest shareholder in the club.
The surprise transaction, which was announced an hour before the stock exchanged closed for the day, gives credence to the view that Villa is significantly undervalued as a company and, therefore, ripe for takeover.
Ellis, the 80-year-old chairman, owns 33 per cent of the club and has seen the share price nearly treble since the all-time low of July 2002. However, although his stake is worth around £10 million, Ellis has never seemed so vulnerable.
In March, he was forced to reject a provisional proposal by Ray Ranson, a former Birmingham City player, to purchase a controlling interest in the club, while he is believed to have rebuffed other offers.
Petchy, a property developer and a former Watford Football Club chairman, has never made his intentions clear concerning Villa. A takeover attempt is, at this stage, unlikely.
Initially, when he was purchasing shares in 2002, the price was so low that his transactions were deemed to be the understandable acts of a bargain hunter.
However, while the share price is still relatively cheap, and is less than half of the 1997 floatation price, stock in the company is seen as less attractive.
Neither Petchy nor Ellis were last night available for comment but it is clear that the deal will cause much discussion among Villa supporters, some of whom are anxious for regime change.
Petchy has made his purchases slowly and has, without fuss, and seemingly without ulterior motives, proceeded to a position of power at Villa Park.
If he eventually acquires 30 per cent of the company, he will be obliged to make a formal bid for a controlling interest, although it would be a surprise if he invests that much money in the club.
Ellis has stated, probably for effect, that he would not consider relinquishing his control of the club for a price that would value Villa at £100 million but an offer of half that amount would probably encourage the chairman to stage serious talks.
After being up for most of the trading day, the shares ended the session unchanged at £2.95.
On the playing side, Juan Pablo Angel has been cleared to return to pre-season training next Monday, easing fears that he will miss the opening three matches of Aston Villa's season because of a knee injury.
Angel, who scored 23 goals for Villa last season, played just 45 minutes of the club's tour of Scandinavia this month and David O'Leary, the manager, had ruled him out for the opening match of the season away to Southampton.
However, O'Leary was able to report better news as he prepares for Villa's match away to Walsall tomorrow night.
"Angel went to see the surgeon," O'Leary said. "The surgeon has given him an injection and told him to rest for three days. He will be able to train from Monday onwards again.
"We will not see him for the Derby game, but he can at least go back into training from Monday."
July 30 - Match fixing is b*******!
Aston Villa's Swedish international Marcus Allback has dismissed fresh allegations that Sweden and Denmark fixed their 2-2 draw in the group stages of Euro 2004 in order to progress into the quarter-finals at the expense of Italy.
Allback and Villa captain Olof Mellberg were both in the Swedish team that night in Porto, while club-mates Martin Laursen and Thomas Sorensen and Birmingham City winger Jesper Gronkjaer were in the Danish side.
Denmark scored first and led 2-1 with two minutes remaining but the match ended 2-2, which was the only result that could take both the Scandinavian sides through and dump Italy out of the competition despite their 2-1 victory over Bulgaria.
"Anyone who saw the game should be in no doubt that the outcome was genuine," said Allback last night.
The Italians complained bitterly at the time, with federation president Franco Carraro alleging that the game was definitely fixed.
But despite Gianluigi Buffon, the Juventus goalkeeper and Carraro allowing their hearts to rule their heads in their accusations of skulduggery, Uefa insisted there would be no investigation into the result, effectively ignoring the suspicions that were voiced throughout Europe.
It is true both sides may have eased off in the final minutes - their task was done and they had the next round to consider.
Denmark should have won the game comfortably but were denied by a combination of bad finishing and good goalkeeping from Andreas Isaksson.
However, the Swedish magazine Offside has now added fuel to the debate.
The magazine, on sale throughout Sweden today, has published alleged conversations between rival players during and after the controversial game, reportedly picked up from different camera angles and microphones.
The results are intriguing with one Swedish player reported as saying to a Danish opponent in the warm-up: "Shall we play 2-2?"
Another Swedish player is also alleged to have said to his Danish opponent, late in the game when his side were losing: "Come on, for hell's sake, let one in now."
The Dane, according to the evidence put forward by Offside, replied: "Yes, well bloody attack then, attack."
Allback's own credibility is not helped by being pictured in a bear-hug with Sorensen, the Danish goalkeeper, after the final whistle.
"Let me down, let me down. This is embarrassing," yelled Allback to Sorensen, according to Offside.
And the Villa striker is - according to the magazine - supposed to have made several probing runs, only to be ignored when it came to the final pass.
But last night Allback was adamant that nothing untoward had taken place and the striker explained his embrace with Sorensen.
"I am sick and tired of all these accusations," he said. "As far as the incident with Thomas Sorensen is concerned, we are good friends and clubmates and were simply celebrating the fact that we had both made it through to the next phase.
"What I said at the time, quite frankly I can't remember, but the whole suggestion of any wrongdoing is completely ridiculous."
The 2-2 draw on June 22 meant Sweden, Denmark and Italy all finished level on five points in Group C, but the Scandinavian sides progressed because they had scored more goals.
But - and even the magazine concedes this - there was much evidence to suggest neither side was party to any match-rigging.
Commentators watching the match observed how ferocious was the tackling and pointedly remarked about several incidents that smacked of enemies at war, rather than conspirators plotting the downfall of the Italians.
Offside even suggests the onfield duels demonstrated the desire for victory among both sets of players.
Neither the Danes, nor the Swedes, went on to win the tournament. Sweden went out to the Netherlands in the quarter-final on penalties, while Denmark lost their next game - 3-0 to the Czech Republic.
July 28 - Mediocre finish
Aston Villa finished off their pre-season tour of Sweden with a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Orgryte in Gothenburg.
David O'Leary's men looked tired at times after four games in seven days.
Villa made a slow start and Thomas Sorensen did well to get down to a low drive in the sixth minute before Mark Delaney cleared off the line as Sorensen appeared to lose a cross in the sunshine.
Thomas Hitzlsperger dragged a low left-footed drive just wide as Villa responded but it was the hosts who were creating the better chances.
Nolberto Solano almost broke the deadlock with a curling right-foot free kick but the 25-yard effort flew just past the post.
Pete Whittingham fired over the bar and in the final minute Luke Moore headed straight at the goalkeeper after a surging run down the right from Steven Davis.
July 28 - Cole: I'm a new man
Carlton Cole insists he feels like a new man at Villa - and is keen to quickly repay manager David O'Leary's faith in him.
The England under-21 international has spoken of his desperation to prove to himself he is good enough for the top flight.
Cole spent the best part of last season injured while on loan at Charlton.
But now he is 'flying' with a goal a game in Villa's three tour games so far.
The 20-year-old loanee will attempt to continue that impressive strike rate at Orgryte tonight with even more pressure on his shoulders because of Juan Pablo Angel's absence.
Cole said: "I didn't really start a lot of games last year. I didn't get off to a good start and was then injured for most of the season.
"I came back from injury and then got injured again.
"I had a hip injury, a neck injury and then an ankle injury.
"Charlton thought they could get more out of me, obviously that's why they were kicking up such a fuss about me signing for Aston Villa.
"So my season was a bit stop-start.
"Now I'm 100 per cent. I've been doing a lot of training over the summer. I went back to Chelsea for a week and now I'm in good shape.
"I'm definitely determined to make an impression. I need to prove to myself, not just to other people that I can score goals at the highest level."
July 24 - Yet another comfy win
Aston Villa secured a 3-0 friendly win over Swedish side Jonkoping Sodra IF on Saturday.
David O'Leary's side broke the deadlock on 10 minutes when Liam Ridgewell headed in a Thomas Hitzlsperger corner.
Ridgewell thought he had added a second for the midlanders seven minutes later but the goal was disallowed for a push.
Within seconds Marcus Allback had doubled Villa's lead, finishing well after latching on to Gareth Barry's lofted pass.
Villa had another goal ruled out on 34 minutes, this time for offside as Barry rounded off a good move.
O'Leary made eight changes at half-time, giving a debut to £3million signing Martin Laursen in defence.
It was another new arrival, loan signing Carlton Cole, who added the third with 20 minutes to go.
Source: Sporting Life
July 23 - That steamroller again
Luke Moore rejoiced in his first senior hat-trick - then set his sights on challenging Villa's hitmen this season.
Moore rattled in a quickfire 13-minute treble as Villa notched 13 goals in two hopelessly one-sided friendlies.
But they still had to endure a red-faced dressing room at half-time after two howlers left them trailing 2-1 at the break.
Moore was a bright spark to lift the gloom and afterwards the teenager said: "It's good experience for me and I hope to be more involved this year. The first one was a bit lucky but I needed that to get off the mark.
"I just want to impress the manager and show him I can do a job, whether it's coming off the bench or starting."
O'Leary was delighted with a second solid work-out in 24 hours. "It was a tougher team. We were tired from the night before and we trained them harder.
"But I thought they had a great attitude and we did some really good things."
KUNGSBACKA BI 2 VILLA 7
BY BILL HOWELL belts. The players are very tired and we'll try to get them even more tired.
"I wasn't too worried about the result. To be fair, with the two goals we didn't do much wrong. So we kept on playing and it was all about taking our chances - we took them in the end.
"We've got a long way to go yet. They're great young lads to work with but they're in the squad because of our numbers."
Five late goals inside 18 minutes spared Villa's blushes at a time when faces were being buried in hands.
Wayne Henderson's first piece of tour action - and he was wearing 13 - was an almighty gaffe that should have put Villa 3-1 down as, three minutes into the second half, the substitute keeper dropped the ball at the feet of Mikael Boman who spooned over from six yards.
But Villa then went for the jugular. Gareth Barry was thwarted by a super save after a rare break from Darius Vassell but the England striker soon got Villa back on track, setting up Carlton Cole for a simple finish to make it 2-2.
Sub Stefan Moore then sent a diving header into the net from Lee Hendrie's cross.
Luke then grabbed the spotlight- smashing home a clinical low drive inside the post from the edge of the area, quickly doubling his tally by turning in Barry's shot at the far post, then smashing home from close range.
Hendrie's injury-time penalty, after a trip on Stefan Moore, completed the rout.
Earlier Villa had to wait until the 18th minute before breaking the deadlock, Mark Delaney pulling the ball back for Gareth Barry to sidefoot into an empty net.
Villa were soon embarrassed when the home side scored two in three minutes through Carl-Johan Enered, after a defensive mix-up, and a Kristian Johansson penalty after a Jlloyd Samuel handball.
VILLA (4-4-2): Postma (Henderson, h/t); Delaney (Davis,62), Drobny, Ridgewell, Samuel; Hendrie, McCann, Whittingham, Barry; Cole (S Moore,62), Vassell (*L Moore,62). Not used: Hitzlsperger. Scorers: Villa: Barry (18), Cole (56), S Moore (72), L Moore (75),(84), (88), Hendrie (90+pen). Jnkping: Enered (23), Johansson (26pen)
July 23 - He's a keeper
Aston Villa are ready to pursue a loan deal for Vaclav Drobny after the Strasbourg defender impressed on trial.
The Czech Republic international was taken on Villa's pre-season tour of Sweden by David O'Leary and has caught the eye of the manager.
Drobny's trial arrangement concludes next Wednesday but O'Leary is now keen to explore the possibility of a season-long loan agreement with Strasbourg.
O'Leary admits he is looking to bring the centre half to Villa Park for the 2004/05 campaign and is waiting to speak to Drobny's French club.
"I haven't tried to extend Drobny's loan yet but I'd love to," said O'Leary.
"I don't know how long we can keep him but it's very hard to do anything in games like this because we're trying to get a feel of what players are about.
"He's good on the ball and he looks a comfortable player but he's got to defend as well in England.
"We can only bring him in on loan and we'd love to keep him involved.
"I think the way it stands at the moment is that we've got him for the Swedish tour and there's an option to take him on loan."
Source: Sky Sports
July 21 - Villa kicks some Swedish behind!
Carlton Cole scored a debut goal - and missed a penalty - as Aston Villa kicked off their tour of Sweden with a 6-0 win over Kungshams IF.
Peter Whittingham opened the scoring for Villa after 12 minutes when he slotted home from a Cole cut-back.
Gavin McCann's header from Gareth Barry's cross doubled the lead 12 minutes later before Cole grabbed his deserved debut goal on 32 minutes as he powered home a header from Thomas Hitzlsperger's right-wing corner.
Villa were dominant and they went further ahead in the 39th minute when Cole's deflected cross was converted by Lee Hendrie.
The visitors were awarded a penalty on the stroke of half-time when Barry was felled, but the keeper saved Cole's well-struck shot.
Villa made a slower start to the second half but Hendrie scored his second on 56 minutes with an angled volley from Whittingham's left-wing cross.
They had taken their foot off the pedal but still managed to grab goal number six when Hitzlsperger pounced after the keeper failed to hold a low left-foot drive.
July 21 - Ansell may come back - without Ellis
Former Aston Villa boardroom boss Mark Ansell has his sights set on a Villa Park comeback - but not until Doug Ellis steps down.
The former Villa deputy chief executive revealed he would consider a return to the Midlands' biggest club "under the right circumstances."
But he ruled out working with the Villa chairman again after leaving in November last year amid reports of a rift with Ellis.
Lifelong fan Ansell's public declaration of continued loyalty to the Villa cause will alert would-be predators eyeing Villa Park with potential takeover bids in mind.
Ansell is widely regarded for helping to establish one of the Premiership's most stable financial empires - against a background of growing discontent amongst many supporters at octogenarian Ellis's continuing refusal to stand down.
The former Deloitte and Touche accountant said: "I am a lifelong Villa fan - I was a youth player there. I shall be there on Saturday afternoons next season.
"I would like to go back to Villa Park but the opportunity would have to be right and it would have to be on the right terms."
Ansell said he had sought to "accelerate the change of ownership" at Villa Park to help prepare the club for the post Ellis era. But he declined to publicly criticise the Villa chairman.
He attacked the financial "madness" afflicting the game.
Ansell, 52, also revealed he would be stepping down as chief executive at Marketing Birmingham within a month - but said the decision was nothing to do with his recent drink-drive conviction.
"My position is an interim one in any case. I will fulfil that role and we will appoint a new Chief Executive in the not too distant future. I am going to have a break - I have not had a holiday for three or four years. I will come back fighting with my batteries recharged."
July 20 - Edwards a done deal
Rob Edwards has shaken off fears over an ankle injury to complete a £150,000 move to Wolves from Aston Villa.
Wales international Edwards has signed a three-year contract with the Molineux club two weeks after the deal - which could rise to £225,000 - was agreed.
A medical revealed the right ankle problem, but the 21-year-old has now been given the all-clear.
Wolves boss Dave Jones said: "I'm pleased to get him, especially after the medicals he has had to pass."
Edwards was not called on by David O'Leary last season and spent loan spells at Crystal Palace and Derby.
July 20 - Villa thiefs!
Aston Villa were today accused of ripping off fans who buy the team's new shirt.
The club's shops are charging £39.99 for the 2004/05 adult design, compared with £25 at the Sports Soccer chain of stores and £30 at JJB.
Angry supporter Steve Bailey accused Villa bosses of "blatantly ripping off" fans, but the Premiership club strongly refuted the charge.
"I wanted to buy the replica shirt from the club so all the proceeds would go to the club rather than other shops," Steve said.
"I was disgusted to find the Villa shop was charging around £40. Obviously, I bought the £25 top, which means less money has gone to the club.
"When will the club learn that overcharging the club's own fans loses the club money?"
Villa merchandising manager John Greenfield insisted fans buying the top through the club's stores were not being short-changed.
"Our recommended retail price has been held for the past seven to eight years, but we have no way of knowing what price these chains are being charged by the supplier," he said.
"Sports Soccer and JJB use their prices as an incentive to draw people into their shops.
"Birmingham City and West Brom will be in exactly the same position when they launch their new shirts."
Mr Greenfield said season ticket holders buying the shirt through the club were offered a 10 per cent reduction, and all buyers were given free boot bags and wallets.
Anyone entering the club's shops was eligible for a free draw to win a car, he added.
July 20 - Bladdy Berson
Aston Villa manager David O'Leary has vented his frustration at the length of time it is taking to bring Nantes' in-demand midfielder Mathieu Berson to the club.
Villa confirmed their interest in the former France Under-21 international last month, but, as yet, the two parties have not concurred on a deal following two failed bids.
O'Leary believes the midfielder is of the right age to make the switch to The Premiership and that the Midlands club can develop him into an even better player.
The former Leeds manager is hopeful a deal can be brokered in the short-term future, as Nantes may opt to sell him now rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer.
"He's young, he's cheap and someone who we can turn into a better player," said O'Leary to Sky Sports News.
"He offers good value considering our pay structure as well.
"But it's been dragging on for ages.
"I am all for getting him in now."
Source: Sky Sports
July 17 - No worries, sez Langham
Aston Villa chief executive Bruce Langham last night moved to reassure supporters that new loan signing Carlton Cole will definitely remain at the club - despite the escalating row between Chelsea and Charlton over the striker.
Charlton now want action from the Premier League after Chelsea loaned Cole to Villa when they felt he was contracted to them for next season.
Cole spent last term at the Valley and was supposed to stay another season as part of the deal which took Scott Parker to Stamford Bridge in January.
The Addicks' chief executive Peter Varney said: "We were given a categorical assurance on July 6 by Chelsea that Carlton Cole would not be loaned to another Premiership club following his decision not to return to Charlton.
"We were therefore very disappointed and angry to learn from the media that he had joined Villa on loan on Monday. We have a very clear and specific contract with Chelsea in relation to the transfer of Scott Parker and associated loan arrangements."
But Langham stressed last night that Cole was definitely a Villa player and any disagreement over the player was for Chelsea and Charlton to resolve between themselves. He said: "We have done our business in a proper manner to take Carlton on loan for the whole of next season.
"The Premier League have confirmed his registration with us and any disagreement is between Charlton and Chelsea."
There is no suggestion Charlton will try to take Cole back to the Valley because he doesn't want to return, but the London club want compensation from Chelsea or another player on loan.
July 17 - Angel: it was O'Leary
Juan Pablo Angel admits Aston Villa manager David O'Leary was a prime factor in his decision to sign a new contract.
The Colombian international penned a deal to tie him to Villa Park until 2008 on Friday after lengthy negotiations between the two parties.
Angel had no qualms in committing his future to the Midlands side and revealed O'Leary was a motivating force in his decision.
The striker has repeatedly praised the Villa boss for rescuing his career at the club after he was only a peripheral figure under previous manager Graham Taylor.
Allied to other players signing new deals at Villa Park, Angel is confident of a bright future at the club after inking his extension.
"I think everybody knows how important David O'Leary has been for me at Aston Villa," Angel told the club's official website.
"I did well two seasons ago but then I had a very bad year and looked like I was going to leave the club.
"But then the manager came in and from this time last year, it has been very different for me.
"He played a big part in me wanting to stay at Aston Villa. He showed faith in my ability and I think we are now moving in the right direction.
"Olof Mellberg and Gareth Barry have also signed new contracts recently and that tells me that we are planning for the future.
"The manager is looking to bring in new players and we are all looking forward to the new season. He turned things around for us last season and we must now look to qualify for Europe this time."
Source: Sky Sports
July 16 - Angel speculation over
Juan Pablo Angel has today pledged his future to Aston Villa by signing a new four-year contract.
Negotiations which started with Angel towards the end of last season have finally been concluded, and the Colombia international has tied himself to the club until 2008.
Speculation had recently linked Angel with a move away from Villa Park this summer, but last season's 23-goal leading scorer has quashed the rumours by putting pen to paper on a fresh deal.
Now Angel has his sights set on improving on his tally, and firing Villa into Europe as he said: 'This is a very special day for me.
'I'm very happy about it and I'm really looking forward to the next four years of my career here.
'It's a relief to agree the deal. Now I can just concentrate on work and I don't have to talk about a move to somewhere else.
'I'm really happy to be here and I will now try to repay the club and the supporters for all the faith they've put in me.
'Olof and Gareth have also recently signed new deals and it shows the club is moving in the right direction. Obviously it's up to us to be at our best, to perform well through the season.
'Now I've got a lot of things to do here. There's plenty more to come from me hopefully and I'm just looking forward to getting myself as fit as I can and starting the season on a high.
'I'm just going to take one game at a time. I just want to be fit and hopefully get through the season without any problems.
'I will try to score as many goals as I can. I won't set any number, but I just want to work hard to try to reach a better target than I reached last year.'
Talking to the club's official website, www.avfc.premiumtv.co.uk, Angel added: 'It's our biggest aim to get the club into Europe, with the help of the manager, the supporters, the board and everyone.
'We need to get it right from the beginning, because last year we didn't start properly and I think that's what cost us the possibility of getting into Europe.'
Villa chairman Doug Ellis was understandably delighted to have tied Angel to the club until 2008, and confident the player will continue the form which led to the new contract offer.
'This is great news for everybody at Villa Park the fans, the board, the staff and the players,' said Ellis.
'Juan is an important player and we're delighted to have agreed a new deal. Juan played a key role in our revival last season and we're confident he can carry that sensational form into the new season.'
Angel found a new lease of life last season following the arrival of David O'Leary as manager.
The 28-year-old had previously failed to live up to his £9.5million price tag, scoring just 20 goals in two-and-a-half seasons following his arrival from River Plate in January 2001.
Angel, in particular, suffered at the hands of former boss Graham Taylor in the 2002-03 campaign as he was in and out of the side, resulting in a dramatic slump in form and there were suggestions he would quit the club.
But O'Leary managed to get the best out of the forward, with his goals leading to Villa finishing sixth in the Premiership and only missing out on a place in this season's UEFA Cup on goal difference to Newcastle.
With renewed confidence, Angel has followed in the footsteps of Darius Vassell, Gareth Barry and Olof Mellberg who have all agreed new deals in the last 12 months.
July 16 - Ranson: I give up
Ranson, who made his fortune in player leasing deals, had hoped to oust Doug Ellis from the Villa board in partnership with former QPR chairman Richard Thompson.
But, following Thompson's decision to pull out last month, Ranson has confirmed he will not continue in statement released to the Stock Exchange on Friday.
The statement said: "Ray Ranson announces that, following consideration of a number of options concerning a possible offer for Aston Villa PLC ('Aston Villa'), he now has no current intention to make or act in concert with any other party to make an offer for Aston Villa and will instead pursue a number of other opportunities, in the sports industry, available to him."
Thompson withdrew his support apparently due to frustration that he and Ranson had failed to secure a meeting with Villa chairman Doug Ellis.
Ranson, the former Birmingham defender who is now a wealthy businessman, considered pressing ahead even though the pair had seen an offer of around £32million rejected.
Ellis was believed to have been looking for close to £60million because of the development potential of land around Villa Park.
Source: Sporting Life
July 16 - Jaim gonna try Bolton instead
Israel defender Tal Ben Haim is having a trial with Bolton after a similar outing at Aston Villa.
Haim, 22, captained Maccabi Tel Aviv last season but is anxious to play in the Barclays Premiership.
Bolton manager Sam Allardyce is debating whether to give Haim a run-out in a friendly against Radcliffe Borough on Saturday.
Source: Sporting Life
July 15 - I'm with Villa!
Carlton Cole's agent has confirmed he will play for Aston Villa next season and will not be returning to Charlton.
Charlton chief executive Peter Varney had cast doubt on Cole's loan move because they expected him to stay on as part of Scott Parker's move to Chelsea.
But Jonathan Barnett said: "Although Carlton enjoyed last season, he never had any intention of returning to Charlton for this season."
He revealed Charlton only had first option if Cole wanted to go back.
Barnett said: "Our understanding was that the original agreement in place between Charlton Athletic and Chelsea merely allowed Charlton the first option on the player should Chelsea wish to loan him out again in season 2004/5.
"This option would be subject to Carlton agreeing to once again return to The Valley.
"Although Carlton enjoyed last season with the club and appreciated the efforts of everyone in making him feel welcome there, he never had any intention of returning to Charlton for this season.
"Therefore, there has been and will be no agreement between Carlton Cole and Charlton Athletic.
"Carlton has signed for Aston Villa for this season and is now concentrating all his energies on helping David O'Leary's side over the next nine months, a challenge he is very much looking forward to."
Earlier Varney told Charlton's official website: "The announcement by Aston Villa and Chelsea that they've agreed a year's loan is premature."
Varney added: "I am aware our supporters are expecting to see Carlton Cole to return to the club on loan for 2004/5.
"I do not wish to make any further comment at this time."
Carlton Cole has revealed how his desire to get out of London following recent false allegations against him helped clinch his season-long loan move to Aston Villa from Chelsea.
Cole and Newcastle's Titus Bramble were arrested by the Metropolitan Police over the alleged sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, London in September last year.
Although Cole's name was not revealed at the time, it quickly became common knowledge on the internet and was eventually made public as the girl sold her story.
But the players were never charged and the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case after a four-month police inquiry because of a lack of evidence.
The traumatic experience has clearly affected, the 20-year-old striker, who was on loan from Chelsea at Charlton at the time and, speaking yesterday, he explained why he jumped at the chance to get out of the capital and join David O'Leary's squad.
"What happened last year really left me down," said Cole. "It was hard for me to take in but I was innocent and I was always confident I would get out of the situation without going to jail or anything like that.
"It was a disappointing part of my life but it has made me more wise and aware of the bad things around you that can turn your life upside down.
"You can get fake friends around you in football and I think it is a good thing for me to come up here and just concentrate solely on football.
"When you are in London, you have a lot of people after you and, especially as a young player, it is hard to grow up without people trying to convince you to do things.
"I was advised to get out of London and start afresh, really. I had a spell at Wolves before, so I am no stranger to the Midlands."
Cole, who scored five goals in 22 appearances for Charlton last season, will compete with Juan Pablo Angel, Darius Vassell, Marcus Allbck and the Moore brothers - Stefan and Luke - to start up front next term.
All are expected to travel to Sweden on tour with the club next week as Angel has finally returned to training after knee surgery.
Last season's 23-goal top scorer, who has been given Dion Dublin's old No 9 shirt, joined in pre-season training yesterday with England striker Vassell.
Both had been given extra time off following their summer exertions, but assistant manager Roy Aitken expects the pair to be fit for the club's opening Barclay-card Premiership fixture against Southampton on August 14. Aitken said: "Juan and Darius are now back in training, which is great news.
"In different ways, they've both had a hectic summer and we're glad to welcome them back to Bodymoor Heath."
July 15 - He's ours, says Charlton
Charlton have asked the Premier League to intervene in their dispute with Chelsea over the loan of Carlton Cole.
The Addicks expected the striker to return for a second season under the terms agreed for Scott Parker's transfer to Chelsea back in January.
But Aston Villa announced on Monday they had secured Cole on loan.
Charlton chief executive Peter Varney said: "This should be resolved between the clubs. It is regrettable we are now forced to involve the Premier League."
Charlton have also sought legal advice to confirm the conditions of the contract they signed with Chelsea.
"We were given a categorical assurance on 6 July by Peter Kenyon that Carlton Cole would not be loaned to another Premiership club following his decision not to return to Charlton," Varney added.
"We were therefore very disappointed and angry to learn from the media and the Aston Villa and Chelsea websites that he had joined Villa on loan.
"We have a very clear and specific contract with Chelsea in relation to the transfer of Scott Parker and associated loan arrangements."
Cole's agent Jonathan Barnett has claimed that Charlton only had first option on the player if Cole wanted to return to The Valley.
Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon defended his club's role.
He said: "We are disappointed with the comments from Charlton about this matter.
"We are confident that Chelsea has conducted itself properly in all aspects of the transaction.
"The matter will be resolved between the two clubs and the Premier League."
July 15 - Edwards move cancelled
Fitness concerns means Wales defender Rob Edwards' move from Aston Villa to Wolves has stalled.
A medical examination at Molineux revealed concerns over an ankle injury sustained by the 21-year-old full-back last season.
Wolves plan to consult a specialist, with the transfer on hold until a detailed report on the player's fitness is received.
"It's only right we get it checked out," said Wolves boss Dave Jones.
"We've sent him off to have a proper investigation with one of the country's top specialists and then, hopefully, he'll be given the all-clear so we can complete the signing.
"He can be a big player for this club and we're keen for all this to be sorted out and everything to get back on track."
Edwards, who was not called on by David O'Leary last season and spent loan spells at Crystal Palace and Derby, was set to sign a three-year contract at Molineux.
The clubs had agreed an initial fee of £150,000 for Edwards, who has made eight appearances for Villa.
July 13 - Charlton: We'll see!
Charlton Athletic has branded Aston Villa's announcement of Carlton Cole's signing 'premature' after the Midlands club revealed they had bagged the striker for next season.
It was thought Cole would stay with Charlton for another season on loan, after The Addicks secured his services for another term as part of Scott Parker's deal to Chelsea.
Charlton chief execute Varney understands the club's fans were hoping to see Cole parade his skills at The Valley next season, however that will no longer happen.
The Addicks are unhappy to be losing out on the Chelsea striker, as the promising hit-man was expected to help appease fans following Parker's big-money move to Stamford Bridge.
"I am aware that our supporters are expecting to see Carlton Cole to return to the club on loan for 2004/5," explained Varney to the club's official website.
"The announcement by Aston Villa and Chelsea that they have agreed a year's loan is premature and I do not wish to make any further comments at this time."
Source: Sky Sports
July 13 - Solano again
Villa's Nolberto Solano scored a spectacular free-kick as hosts Peru fought back from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw with Colombia in Group A of the Copa America.
But it was not enough to prevent Colombia claiming the top spot in the group.
Both teams had already qualified for the quarter-finals going into the game, but victory for either side would put them top.
Solano could have snatched a winner with a long-range effort that flashed wide.
July 12 - Cole arrives
Aston Villa have completed the signing of highly-rated Chelsea striker Carlton Cole in a season-long loan deal.
The 20-year-old, who helped Charlton finish seventh in the Premiership in a loan spell last season, starts training with his Villa team-mates on Monday.
"Cole is widely regarded as one of the brightest young prospects in the country," Villa chief executive Bruce Langham told the club's website.
"We have been negotiating with Chelsea for a number of weeks."
Cole was taken on as a Chelsea trainee three years ago and hinted he wanted to return to Stamford Bridge and fight for his place.
Charlton boss Alan Curbishley was keen to keep him at The Valley for the next campaign and it was understood the England Under-21 international would stay as part of Scott Parker's transfer to Chelsea.
But Aston Villa swooped to make Cole their second summer signing following the arrival of defender Martin Laursen.
"It's fair to say there was a lot of interest in Cole," added Langham.
"But David O'Leary identified Carlton as one of his summer targets at the end of last season."
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho believes Cole has a part to play in the future at Stamford Bridge.
"I think it is good for him. I have worked with him for a week and was impressed," said Mourinho.
"I have no doubt that one day he will be a Chelsea player."
July 11 - Crouch happy to leave
Southampton new-boy Peter Crouch has fired a parting shot at former boss David O'Leary following his move from Aston Villa.
The gangly striker, who joined The Saints in a £2 million deal, insists he is delighted to have left Villa Park because he was given the cold shoulder by O'Leary.
Crouch claims he ultimately opted to move on because he was determined to secure regular first-team action, but feels he was nOt given a fair chance to prove himself at Villa.
"I could have stayed put for the remaining two years of my contract and picked up my money without doing a lot," he stated.
"Maybe I would have been on the subs' bench and got the occasional game. But that is not in my make-up. I am far more ambitious than that.
"There wasn't much contact between me and O'Leary to be honest.
"We didn't have a great relationship, and didn't speak that often.
"I just sensed he would only play me when he had to, but if the chance came along to get someone else in ahead of me he would.
"I was in the squad, and travelled with the first team but that was as far as it went.
"I didn't have the same relationship with O'Leary that the other Villa players had, and I guessed that if an offer came in he would not hesitate to take it.
"Now I am just glad I can start afresh because I feel the best is still to come."
Source: Sky Sports
July 10 - Solano shines
Aston Villa's Nolberto Solano scored one goal and laid on another as Peru beat Venezuela 3-1 in a Copa America Group A match in Lima.
Jefferson Farfan put the hosts ahead when he lobbed Venezuela goalkeeper Gilberto Angeluccie in the 34th minute.
Solano made it 2-0 in the 62nd minute with a fine shot from the edge of the box.
Venezuela were reduced to 10 men four minutes later when Miguel Mea was red-carded for a high tackle on Roberto Palacios.
Solano's free-kick was headed in by Santiago Acasiete in the 72nd minute to seal the victory.
Massimo Margiotta hit a consolation goal for Venezuela in the 74th minute before Solano was substituted 10 minutes from time and left the field to loud applause from the fans.
Peru's celebrations were cut short when skipper Claudio Pizarro was sent off three minutes from time after a second yellow card.
Colombia became the first team to secure a place in the quarter-finals with a 1-0 win over Bolivia in Group A.
Substitute Edixon Perea's last-minute header gave the defending champions their second consecutive victory in the tournament.
Just when a goalless draw looked a certainty, Perea - who had came off the bench 10 minutes earlier - headed in a cross by Jairo Patino.
Colombia controlled most of the match and Tressor Moreno had a couple of chances but the Bolivian defence held out until injury time.
Colombia head Group A with six points after two games, Peru have four, Bolivia one, and Venezuela zero - the top two teams in each group and the best two third-placed teams qualify for the last eight.
July 9 - Crouch is off
Peter Crouch has completed his £2m move from Aston Villa to Southampton.
The 23-year-old former QPR and Portsmouth forward signed a four-year deal after completing a medical.
"I'm thrilled at joining Southampton. I am looking forward to testing myself against the likes of Kevin Phillips and James Beattie," said Crouch.
"I felt I needed a fresh start. I don't see this as a step down because I am moving to a club that is going in the right direction," Crouch added.
"Paul Sturrock and Rupert Lowe are extremely ambitious for the club and I was very impressed with what they had to say," Crouch added.
It does not mean he is a replacement for James Beattie.
Saints chairman Rupert Lowe, said: "He is a unique player who scored a prolific amount of goals for Portsmouth and QPR.
Lowe said the 6ft 7ins striker had excellent touch for a big man.
But the signing is likely to increase speculation regarding the future of James Beattie, who has been linked with Newcastle.
However Lowe denied that Crouch's arrival signalled Beattie's departure.
Crouch's still young and he wasn't Pompey's player of the year for nothing
"It does not mean he is a replacement for James Beattie. He will be cover for James and there to put pressure on him to keep performing," added Lowe.
Former Villa boss Graham Taylor brought Crouch from Pompey for £5m in March 2002.
But the lanky player failed to make an impact under Taylor's successor David O'Leary.
Bolton and Norwich, with whom the 23-year-old spent most of last season on loan, were also believed to be chasing Crouch's signature.
July 9 - Edwards is off
Wolves have agreed a fee to bring Aston Villa defender Rob Edwards to the club - with the Championship side paying an initial fee of around £125,000 for the 21-year-old.
Dave Jones is keen to take Wolves straight back into the Premiership after relegation last season, and believes Edwards could be a useful acquisition.
The Wales international was loaned out to Derby County last season, with Villa boss David O'Leary choosing other defensive options.
A statement on the club's official website, and confirmed that the total amount for the player could rise to £225,000.
[Edwards] will join Wanderers on a three-year contract, subject to a medical, which is likely to take place on Monday, and personal terms, read the statement.
Wolves and Villa have agreed an initial fee of £150,000 which could rise to a maximum of £225,000.
Source: Sky Sports
July 9 : Delaney: only Villa in my mind
Mark Delaney has spelt out his determination to remain with Aston Villa and fight for his first team place.
The Welsh international was frustrated at the end of last season when he failed to regain his spot after recovering from a broken foot.
Ecuador international Ulises de la Cruz held onto the right-back berth after being successfully converted from a wing-back to fill the gap left by Delaney.
But former Cardiff player Delaney - who has interested Middlesbrough - insisted that he has never had any intention of looking to leave the midlands club.
He said: "I never said I wanted to leave the club.
"I love Villa, the area and the supporters have always been fantastic with me in the five years or so that I've been here.
"All I said, in answer to a question at a press conference when with Wales about me being out of the side, was that I needed to know where I stood at Villa.
"No one wants to be sitting on the bench. Any player will tell you that - but that's all in the past.
"We [myself and David O'Leary] had a quiet word this week although it was nothing out of the ordinary or anything like that.
"Now all I want to do is get my head down with Villa because this promises to be an exciting season."
Delaney added: "I don't feel I've got anything to prove to anyone.
"Last year went tremendously well for me before that awful injury at Fulham when my season simply ended.
"I've got some catching up to do and I want to help Villa win things. We came close to getting into Europe last season."
Source: Sporting Life
July 3 - Everyone but O'Leary!
Dion Dublin has revealed how he was overwhelmed with good luck messages from everyone except David O'Leary after he left Villa Park.
Leicester striker Dublin, who was released by O'Leary at the end of the Villains' 2003-04 Premiership season, said he had even received a letter from chairman Doug Ellis which thanked him for his services to the club.
But after spending nearly six years at Villa Park, Dublin received no message from O'Leary.
"I wasn't offered a new contract at Villa and there was a tinge of sadness about that because I'd had good times there and built up relationships," said Dublin.
"The last day there was sad but I've had lots of letters and even one from the chairman which was very, very nice.
"The manager hasn't sent me one, no, but that's not a problem - perhaps it's in the post."
July 3 - Czech prospect on tour
Aston Villa will take Czech Republic central defender Vaclav Drobny on trial, with a view to signing him from French side Strasbourg.
Drobny will join Villa on their four-match pre-season tour of Sweden.
The former Czech Under-21 captain made his full debut against Japan in April but was unable to force his way into their Euro 2004 squad.
The 23-year-old, who is 6ft 3in, moved to Strasbourg in 2002 and played 25 games for them last season.
July 3 - A kick in the teeth
Olof Mellberg has opened his heart and vowed that he and teammate Darius Vassell will bounce back after their Euro 2004 spot-kick nightmares.
But he knows that the misses will be remembered by fans of both countries for ever.
The Villa skipper's penalty miss for Sweden led to their
quarter-final demise to Holland, while Vassell's failed attempt cost England against Portugal.
Mellberg has urged Vassell to take a leaf out of compatriot Zlatan Ibrahimovic's book. The young Ajax striker skied an earlier penalty in the shoot-out with Holland and simply shrugged his shoulders.
Speaking from his home in Sweden, Mellberg told the Mail: "It happens so many times nowadays. In every champion-ship now there are at least a few games that are decided in that way and you'll always have people missing.
"I don't know what people have said in England but hopefully they won't make a major thing of it and will look back at the whole tournament and the misses that took place in the game. "I know they were very disappointed with the referee Urs Meier on the Sol Campbell goal, but from Darius's point of view he has more time to make amends than I do! "He's a good young player with an old head on his shoulders. He'll just get on with it next season. He'll know what it is all about. "Ibrahimovich is also young and missed a penalty. He forgot about it and carried on. So will Darius."
Both Mellberg and Vassell - along with Marcus Allback and Danish duo Martin Laursen and Thomas Sorensen - have been given until July 19 to report back to pre-season training where they will meet up with Villa on their tour of Sweden.
He added: "People will always want to focus on the penalty misses but they shouldn't. They should focus on the whole tournament. "I know it's a big thing because it was the last kick of the tournament. Of course it's a big thing in that sense, but we missed a lot of chances to win the Holland game and I think more about those.
"I had a big chance at the end of the game when I headed over the bar from a corner, and personally I still think more of that miss because it wasn't as if the penalty was a huge mistake. It just happened. It was just a huge disappointment. "Van der Sar made a good save and my kick wasn't good enough. But when you miss chances in the game, that feels more disappointing from a footballing point of view than a penalty miss - but I know that people will remember the penalty for ever. It's just that I don't see it that way. "If I had made mistakes in open play it would have been harder to take but I didn't."
Mellberg insists he would step up to take another spot-kick if asked.
He said: "You have no choice. If you are asked to take a penalty you just do it --that's the way it is. And yes, if someone asked me again I would."
Mellberg spoke of his pride at leading out Sweden in all four matches.
He said: "It was nice to be captain, especially because we had a good championship. We weren't really dealing with high expectations back home. We did well to get out of a tough group which included Italy. "We got better and better as a team as the tournament went on, and our performance against Holland was our best yet. That made it even more disappointing that it was all over when we were on top."