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Congratulations - 27/08/2004

Woody - he'll be missed
   Jonathan Woodgate
   Aston Villa
   Newcastle United

No one can begrudge Woody for wanting to further his career at Real Madrid. He arrived at this club with a bit of baggage but I can only say that he'll be as badly missed off the pitch as he will be on it. He's also handled the move very professionally and as a result if he should come back and visit us he'll be welcomed back at any time. Whilst he never had the best of luck with injuries during his time here, when he's fit there's no doubt that he's an exceptional defender. Real Madrid know how good he is...that's why he's now in Spain! In the games preceeding his injury against Chelsea he was nothing short of outstanding, there's no doubt he'd have starred in the Euro's if he'd had the chance to play. So congratulations Woody,and all I can add is that you deserve your opportunity.

Another lad who I've known for some time has also had some good news this week, Neil Cox - who I knew from my time at Bolton - has just signed a contract extension down at Watford which may take him up to retirement age. He's looked after himself well and the new contract is a reward to his professionalism - well done Coxy!

I'm just about to board the flight to Birmingham for tomorrow's game at Villa - where I expect to take my place on the bench. It's going to be a tough game as they'll be a bit sore after their loss to Charlton. As for us, it goes without saying that we didn't expect to have only two points from the opening three games. You look back at the Boro game which we could easily have won 3-1, and wonder that if we'd had the rub of the green we'd be up near the top of the table. But that's football, and all we can do is keep plugging away. It's not been mentioned much in the media, but we had a poor start last season - three points in six games I think - but we recovered relatively quickly...let's hope we can do so again.

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