Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

David Healy: England expects another final fling

It was another successful week for English clubs in the Champions League. Out of the four teams only Liverpool didn’t win, but I would imagine they would have settled for a draw against Atletico Madrid in Spain before kick-off.

Manchester United were cruising against Celtic, but for me the most impressive performance in Europe came from Arsenal. Going to Turkey is never easy and I know that Fenerbahce have a great record at home, but the Gunners went there and absolutely hammered them.

Arsene Wenger’s men won 5-2 and they were missing some key players! It was an outstanding performance and again Theo Walcott was in excellent form.

Not for the first time Wenger has played a blinder, the way he has treated Walcott, who is now showing the quality everyone thought he possessed.

On the same night at Old Trafford, it was comfortable for United against Celtic.

The Bhoys were unfortunate to have so many key players out injured, but even with all their players fit it would have been difficult for them with the form United are in.

Last season it was Cristiano Ronaldo who was taking defences apart.

Now he is in indifferent form and Wayne Rooney has taken over the mantle.

He’s playing superbly. His goal against Celtic was one that players score when they are supremely confident.

Gordon Strachan said after the match that United are the best club side in the world at the moment.

He may not be too far off the mark, although Chelsea might disagree with that.

They just keep on winning. Last Saturday, they played Middlesbrough off the park to win 5-0 and on Wednesday night they won ugly, beating Roma 1-0.

It’s hard to see anyone getting a result against them these days, though Liverpool will fancy their chances of doing something at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

That will be an intriguing game. Chelsea haven’t lost at home for something like 100 years, so it is hard to look past them. I’d be surprised if Liverpool didn’t play a 4-5-1 formation and aim to score on the counter-attack. They have the players to do it, but like before Wednesday night they would take a draw. Talking about draws, every other team in the Champions League will want to avoid the English clubs in the last 16.

Even big name sides like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus would fear taking on any of the Premiership outfits.

Yes, they are all top quality sides, but the more I see of the Champions League, the more I feel that English clubs will dominate again. We are only halfway through the group stages, but already I would happily predict that there will be another all-English final in Rome next May, if the Premiership sides avoid each other later on in the competition.

Chelsea and United would be favourites to play it again after their Moscow decider, but don’t rule out Liverpool making it once more or Arsenal, especially if they can keep playing like they did in Turkey.

I’m angry that my Northern Ireland comments were taken out of context

You may be aware that my post match comments in a television interview after Northern Ireland’s 4-0 win over San Marino earlier this month were taken out of context.

I’d just scored for my country and was very happy, especially as it was my first Northern Ireland goal for a few games.

I said: “I am pleased to score, the famine, the drought, whatever people would call it is over, and am so pleased to be on the scoreboard.”

That was that. Or so I thought.

Those innocuous post-match comments about scoring for Northern Ireland were maliciously hi-jacked and posted on You Tube and other websites inferring that I was in some way, making reference to a song known as the ‘Famine Song'. which has been sung by a section of the Rangers support at Old Firm games.

I don’t mind admitting to all the Belfast Telegraph readers that I was shocked and angry that my comments were twisted in such a way.

They have been taken so completely out of context it would be laughable if it wasn't so offensive!

I’m sure any real football fan will see that there is absolutely no connection between my football related comments and this song.

I’m so disappointed and upset that anyone could even try and make this link. And when told about this I was I was totally bemused.

On a better note I was pleased to get a decent reception from the Fulham fans last weekend when I came off the bench for Sunderland to play at Craven Cottage.

Pre-match the Fulham manager Roy Hodgson had said some positive things about me in the press and I really appreciated that.

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The Tyne/Wear derby between Sunderland and Newcastle takes place tomorrow and I can’t wait to experience the atmosphere.

I’ve been around the game for quite some time and wherever I have been people, who have played in the north east, have spoken about the passion for football in the area.

Everything they said was right.

When you are driving through Sunderland or Newcastle you see hundreds of people wearing football tops.

Football means everything to the people here and this derby is the subject of virtually every discussion.

Newcastle have had a tough time recently, but I’m sure they will be really pumped up, as we will be, for the game.

I just hope come Saturday night that it will be the Sunderland fans who are celebrating a famous victory.

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I was surprised to hear that Linfield lost their fourth game in a row earlier this week.

Obviously Linfield fans aren’t happy with the current situation.

The thing about Linfield supporters is that they will let you know it.

There have been a few boos and jeers after recent games which I’m sure will have disappointed the Linfield players, but they will know that playing for the biggest club in the country there is no hiding place.

Linfield know they must improve.

No one will be aware of that better than the manager David Jeffrey (pictured).

I’ve been disappointed that there have been a few suggestions about big Davy’s position as manager.

What utter nonsense.

He’s the best manager in Ireland.

Take a look at his record.

He transformed Linfield and took them to doubles, trebles and the Grand Slam.

I actually think it is disrespectful for people to have a go at Jeffrey at present, given what he has achieved for the club.

I have no doubt that big Davy will turn things around and sooner rather than later the Blues will be back scoring goals and winning games.

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