Thursday, December 09, 2010
Alan Pardew walks into Newcastle United with his personal rating plunging off a cliff and an atmosphere of simmering unrest swirling around St James' Park.
Pardew will have got the hint that the welcome mat is unlikely to be thrust out before him on Tyneside after collecting less that 2% of more than 1,000 votes cast in local newspaper poll to find out who Newcastle fans wanted as their new manager.
United are so embarrassed by the nature of the songs Ferguson has decided to take the matter into his own hands to back the man he used to regard as a sworn enemy.
Having restored stability to a club many believed to be in freefall and taken them back to the Premier League, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley decided to sack Chris Hughton with the club sitting comfortably in mid-table after 16 games. Hughton is not the first manager to have been on the wrong end of a harsh dismissal, though. ESPNsoccernet selects a First XI.
The 43-year-old was given an eight-week sentence, suspended for a year after he admitted driving while more than four times over the legal limit.
Arsenal survived a nervous night at Emirates Stadium to defeat Partizan Belgrade and book a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, but already-qualified Chelsea suffered their first defeat of the campaign at Marseille. Elsewhere, Roma reached the knockout stages after a draw with CFR Cluj, while Bayern Munich made light work of Basel, and Spartak Moscow came from behind to defeat MSK Zilina in a match affected by crowd trouble. A Karim Benzema-inspired Real Madrid cruised to victory over Auxerre, and Ajax recorded a rare away win at AC Milan.
Arsenal 3 - 1 Partizen Belgrade
Kevin McCarra at Emirates Stadium
Phil McNulty at Emirates Stadium
Richard Williams' Analysis
Marseille 1 - 0 Chelsea
Dominic Fifield at Stade Vélodrome
MSK Zilina 1 - 2 Spartak Moscow
Crowd trouble mars Spartak win
Final Champions League Group Stage Tables
The 2010 tournament, meanwhile, came too soon for emerging talents like Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll, who provided early-season evidence of their abilities. Others would have been there but for injuries that seem to have suited their respective employers. Michael Essien has been the sole source of dynamism in the centre of the Chelsea midfield while Nani is providing consistent invention on Manchester United's right flank.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Sir Alex Ferguson believes the lower clubs are condensing the Premier League into a much tighter competition.
Arsenal vs. Partizen Belgrade
Jon Carter's Preview
Phil Munshull on Shakhtar Donetsk
Jonathan Wilson on Shakhtar Donetsk
Dominic Fifield on Drogba's return to Marseille
There's an old Italian song, which people born before the '80s will recall with ease, whose first sentence goes "If you're nice, they'll stone you". However difficult it may be to label someone as nice simply based on his exchanges with the media, those lyrics may well apply to Rafael Benitez.
Manchester United 1 - 1 Valencia
Daniel Taylor at Old Trafford
FC Twente 3 - 3 Tottenham
David Hytner at De Grolsch Veste
Champions League Tables
Serie A fixtures this weekend are expected to go ahead after talks to avert a players' strike were described as ''positive'' by the league's president, Maurizio Beretta. The row centres around a collective bargaining contract between the Italian Players' Association (AIC) and Serie A, which expired in the summer.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Manchester United and Tottenham will have their sights firmly set on the top spots in their groups in European action on Tuesday night. Rangers will visit Bursaspor in a dead rubber tie having already been eliminated from the competition last time out. Inter Milan will be keen on clinching pole position in Group A from Spurs when they make the trip to eliminated Werder Bremen.
Dominic Raynor previews Manchester United vs. Valencia
Walter Smith bids adieu to the Champions League
A couple of weeks ago I was doing the translating when Dan Roan interviewed former Fifa president Joao Havelange at the Soccerex conference in Rio de Janeiro.
Still entirely lucid well into his 90s, the Brazilian was asked what needed to change in Fifa. "Nothing," he replied. "It's perfect. It's not because of one fact in 50 years [a reference to the recent corruption scandals] that we have to change."
It is impossible to agree.
The facts would appear to be not one but many. Hiding behind its status as a not-for-profit organisation, Fifa's lack of transparency is surely unsustainable.
The Germany goalkeeper could soon be snapped up by the Bavarian giants after frustrating Louis van Gaal's team this week.
Schalke's Manuel Neuer shows Bayern Munich his true worth.
With his side now 10 points behind Milan, Inter's manager could be gone by Christmas unless he wins the Club World Cup.
Rafael Benítez 'walking with a pistol at his temple' after Inter lose again.
So Mike Ashley has now seen off five managers in just under three years as the owner of Newcastle United. Perhaps he is in a race with Milan Mandaric, who went through six managers in his three-and-a-half years at Leicester City. These people are a disgrace to football.
If you thought building 12 open-air, air-conditioned stadiums was hard, try shipping them abroad when you're done. And then try to explain why one of your top architects is called Albert Speer.
Yesterday Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, based on a bid with some wild ambitions. This is meant to be a carbon-neutral event, in the middle of a scorching desert, spread across 12 separate stadiums. But here's the kicker: A major contributor to the building plans is the son of Adolf Hitler's chief builder, Albert Speer.
Tip of the hat to SSN's staff architect Kenny Lacerda for this one...
Liverpool 3 - 0 Aston Villa
Phil McNulty at Anfield
Richard Jolly at Anfield
Paul Wilson at Anfield
I've been waiting three years for the Basque derby between Real Sociedad and Athletic de Bilbao to be played again. The last time was in Anoeta in San Sebastian, and Athletic won 2-0 with a brace by Andoni Iraola, a player who should really have ended up at Real Sociedad but who decided as a young man to travel west, to the bright lights of Bilbao.
Monday, December 06, 2010
Who: Liverpool vs. Aston Villa
When: 3pm EST
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
U.S. TV: ESPN2
Houllier and Roy Hodgson will put a win above all other priorities
The Italian Players’ Association and Serie A officials have been summoned for emergency talks to try to avert a strike called for this weekend.
Hernan Crespo scored twice to help Parma put some breathing space between themselves and the drop zone as they beat Udinese 2-1. Fiorentina beat Cagliari 1-0 to move up to 12th, with Adrian Mutu grabbing the only goal of the game. In Sunday's game, Juventus cemented themselves in third place with a hard-fought 3-1 win at Catania.
Lazio 3 - 1 Inter Milan
Martin Lipton's Weekend Review
Arsenal 2 -1 Fulham
David Hytner at Emirates Stadium
Chelsea 1 - 1 Everton
Dominic Fifield at Stamford Bridge
Kevin Palmer at Stamford Bridge
Birmingham City 1 - 1 Tottenham
Joe Lovejoy at St. Andrew's
Premier League Chalkboard Analysis
Tottenham and Inter Milan progress to the knockout stages, while FC Twente will play in the Europa League as Werder Bremen cannot topple them because of a poorer head-to-head record against the Dutch. Spurs need to match or better Inter's result to top the group.
FC Twente v Tottenham
Werder Bremen v Inter Milan