ALMOST from the day he walked out on Aston Villa, Martin O'Neill has been itching to return as a manager.
He's impressive, no doubt about that, and by the way his eyes peer unblinkingly behind his disciplinarian's specs there's clearly a boss in there, efficient as a million-dollar timepiece.
If Sunderland, his boyhood favourites, could appoint a man as a guarantee against relegation, they've found him.
But there's no way he'll come cheap, not only as the gaffer but, as Villa discovered, a buyer of high-class players.
At 59, he is desperate to create a legend in England. And I think he will.
SEB LARSSON is one of the most decent and honest footballers I have met. So what on earth was he doing acting out an acrobatic leap at Wolves?
The penalty was missed, Sunderland were beaten and you might say justice was done.
But that misses the point. In his case, the loss was more than three points, it was a chunk of his integrity, too.
THE awards season is upon us with no Briton in the global contest for the best players.
I don't think there's one who would make the top 10 at the moment, maybe Wayne Rooney on the fringe.
That the three in line for FIFA's Ballon d'Or ? Xavi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi ? all play in La Liga puts the claim that our Premier League is the best under close scrutiny.
I suspect the most attractive football is played in Spain but the most competitive here.
My award for the funniest fans, though, goes to Bulgaria's who voted their Prime Minister as Footballer of the Year.
He's 52 and plays occasionally for a third division club. Ed Balls for England, I say.
SENSATIONAL news that Darren Bent has touched the ball an average of 24.6 times a match this season.
Have Villa sent Bent to Coventry? Has he been auditioning for the Invisible Man?
Playing striker for Villa at the moment must be a bit like the percussionist in an orchestra who waits impatiently for his single bong on the big bass drum.
I don't want to add to Alex McLeish's current burdens but the statistic must be a worry to him, and his midfield as well.
WATCHING both halves of Manchester sink, it struck me how sensible it is of David Beckham to decide he never wishes to be a manager.
So much easier, after all, to remain a poster boy for half-a-dozen years, then go into something easier like becoming king or even making Victoria smile.
I noticed something about Becks the other day.
Whereas previously he has used the word "different" as in "I think different," this time it was "I think differently" which suggests he's been having English lessons as well as vocal coaching.
Perhaps his ultimate aim then is to be a kind of ambassador for everything from tight underpants to leading a World Cup bid ? to out-Coe the great Lord Coe.
OWNERSHIP of footballers as in the case of Carlos Tevez was outlawed by the Premier League but is still allowed in many nations in UEFA.
The Tevez affair cost West Ham around ?30million, so I would be expected to hate the system ? and I do.
Now it seems UEFA will allow clubs to discount what is called 'third party' ownership when their new Financial Fair Play rules come into force the season after next.
Under these, clubs must break even or face a ban from the Champions League.
If we're not careful the day will come when bits of a player will be owned by all sorts of people, rather as racehorses can be.
The Premier League must fight it.
MAYBE I am going a bit dopey here but I believe Spurs are going to be Man City's chief challenger for the title.
There can be no better news for English football than two clubs emerging to contest the championship of a competition that was far too predictable at the top.
Spurs often play more like Man U than Man U are at the moment and I really do feel they have a chance.
When you remember how well Spurs did in the Champions League last season compared with City this, then you can guess that Harry Redknapp's team will stay the full course ? oh, yes, injuries permitting.