I hope you’ve caught up with Fever Pitch: Rise of the Premier League.

It’s on the BBC and was great to be part of what is footballing history - and I’m pretty certain I’m the first geezer they interview. You see I was there when the old First Division became the Premier League and Sky completely revolutionised the game.

We did an advert for it. All the big names and characters pictured in the gym and getting changed into brand new kits - I was with Chelsea at the time, this was 1992 - getting ready for the new Premier League.

Thing is they filmed it on a Sunday morning, the morning after a game - and most of us were hungover. I certainly was. That’s what we did back then so, yes, I arrived at the studios the worse for wear.

I put on a brave face and got on with it - I’m an actor darling after all! Trouble is I forgot my boots so had to borrow some.

They didn’t fit, but it didn't matter, I wasn’t playing - but what was a problem is they were Reeboks. I was sponsored by Nike. I lost that contract soon after!

But that’s history and I’ve moved on. Nevertheless, it was great to see some of the old footage and old characters of the game back then - we’re talking almost 30 years ago now. 

And some of the managers interviewed and shown on the programmes got me thinking. Who would I like to be playing for now?

Looking back, I’d say Sir Alex would have been great for me. Okay, Man United were an exceptional team - they still are, of course - but Sir Alex played the game hard. He was a renowned hard man in the changing room - right up my street - and that’s why he invested so much in players like Roy Keane, Paul Ince and Paul Scholes, even Eric Cantona. That shows you what he felt about football - you needed players with b*llocks.

Yes, he wanted flare - Giggs, Beckham, Ronaldo to name the best - but you had to have mettle and Keano, Incey, Scholesey and Sir Eric had that, and some.

Two managers that stand out for me at the moment - and you might be surprised at one of the choices - are Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds and Dean Smith at Aston Villa.

Bielsa intrigues me. He has a fantastic footballing brain, is a renowned tactician, and will be one of the great Leeds managers, mark my words. His football is fast and furious, but with a tough-as-teak mentality, too.

This Leeds team play hard but fair and I’d have loved to play alongside Kalvin Phillips, especially. What a player - and how much has he improved under Bielsa? The gaffer has transformed him into one of the first names on the England team sheet. Superb.

And I like Dean Smith too. I’ve watched them a lot and thought him and John Terry worked well as a team. JT has now moved on and I’m looking forward to him becoming a manager in his own right - he’ll do okay - but I’m also delighted to see how Dean has progressed Villa again this season.

Looking back at their game against Chelsea, I reckon they gave the Blues more trouble than any other team this season - look at how many chances they created? They opened Chelsea up big-time. Their goalkeeper Mendy was man of the match in my opinion.

In Douglas Luiz and John McGinn the Villa have a right good engine room with two players happy to get stuck in, but who can both play. Again, that’s me all over. Get involved and have some - and some more! - but play football when you can. That’s the ideal mix and both Marcelo Bielsa and Dean Smith have that.

Vinnie Jones’ Ryder Cup Tips

Europe to win the Ryder Cup - BET NOW

So that’s the managers sorted, with the exception of one - Padraig Harrington.

Okay, he’s captain - captain of Europe’s Ryder Cup team - but I’m taking him to get one over his US counterpart Steve Stricker in the delayed 2020 staging of golf’s most famous team competition.

 

 

 

It all starts on Friday at Whistling Straits and, I’ll be honest, when I saw the make-up of the American team I thought the Stars & Stripes absolute certainties to regain the legendary trophy now back on home soil. But then I looked at our team.

Sure, I’d have loved to have seen Justin Rose in, but Paddy Harrington really had no choice when it came to his wildcards and I reckon Shane Lowry will be one of the stars of the team. He’s also tough-as-teak and what a rookie to have given he’s an Open champion.

With the world’s best player Jon Rahm in our team, plus the experience of Rory, Tommy, Tyrrell, Casey, Westwood, Garcia, Fitzpatrick and, of course, Poulter, the Europeans will not be phased by the hometown support. Then there’s Wiesberger, who’s at the top of his game just now, and Hovland - and he looks a future world number one to me. 

It’s a strong team - and team is absolutely the right word. Unlike the Yanks.

Yes, they are great players - outstanding even - but over the years have played more like individuals in the Ryder Cup - and that’s even before we discuss DeChambeau and Koepka! Put it this way, they’ll not be paired together - and that’s hardly ideal.

Come on Europe.

Finally, back to football - and make sure you check out all my Premier League predictions below.

Can’t wait to see Chelsea and Man City lock horns. I’m going with the Blues to show once again they’re serious contenders this year - they’ll be Premier League favourites come Saturday afternoon if they beat Pep’s boys in the lunchtime kickoff.

Have a great week people and see you next week - for a very special Vinnie Jones: By The Balls column. The subject? The one and only Paul Gascoigne - the man this column is probably named after!

Take care.

Vinnie

 

Vinnie’s best bets

Premier League

Saturday

Chelsea v Manchester City CHELSEA WIN

Manchester United v Aston Villa MAN UTD WIN

Everton v Norwich EVERTON WIN

Leeds v West Ham United DRAW

Leicester v Burnley LEICESTER WIN

Watford v Newcastle United WATFORD WIN

Brentford v Liverpool LIVERPOOL WIN

Sunday

Southampton v Wolverhampton Wanderers SOUTHAMPTON WIN

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur ARSENAL WIN

Monday

Crystal Palace v Brighton & Hove Albion PALACE WIN

Ryder Cup

Europe to beat the USA