Friday, December 31, 2010


I'll be back January 10.

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Five things we learned from watching the Premier League this week

Liverpool's Roy Hodgson must go now and Gérard Houllier's Aston Villa side are not too good to go down.

The Mill +

Thursday's Rumours


England: Wednesday's Premier League Reports

Chelsea 1 - 0 Bolton
David Hytner at Stamford Bridge
Paul Hayward at Stamford Bridge

Wigan 2 - 2 Arsenal
Richard Jolly at DW Stadium
Paul Wilson at DW Stadium

Liverpool 0 - 1 Wolves
Tim Rich at Anfield

Grant Wahl: From Princeton to Pretoria, a year of fútbol across the world

The final days of 2010 are upon us, so it's natural to look back on the year in sports -- or, in my case, the year of soccer. It was a memorable year if you're a fútbol fan, and it was for me too. Here are some of my stories behind the stories, my memories of chasing the game in 2010:

Quotes of the Year

This year has seen Diego Maradona lead Argentina to the World Cup, Ian Holloway make his debut in the Premier League and Rafael Benitez reinvent himself as a poet.

ESPNsoccernet puts together a selection of some of the year's finest quotes.

"Messi can do some amazing things, but anything he can do Joe can do as well, if not better. I really fancy Joe for the [player of the year] award this season" - Steven Gerrard misplaces his confidence in new Liverpool signing Joe Cole (August)

"I'm not suited to Bolton or Blackburn. I would be more suited to Inter or Real Madrid. It wouldn't be a problem to me to go and manage those clubs because I would win the double or the league every time" - Sam Allardyce talks up his abilities three months before his dismissal at Blackburn (September)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Carlo Garganese's Calcio Debate: 10 Reasons Why Rafa Benitez Was A Failure At Inter

With Rafa Benitez now gone from San Siro, Carlo Garganese dissects the reasons for his failure at Inter...

Spain: Guillem's Gold Stars

2010 was another vintage year in La Liga - and for the Spanish national team - and our resident expert Guillem Balague has whittled down the contenders and handed out his annual awards.

Football Review 2010

As the ice sets on another year of drama in the football calendar's team of journalists recount all that has passed to dish out the gongs that really matter. 2010 was the year that the 'Special One' stole the coaching plaudits, Chelsea reclaimed their crown as English football's top dogs, England slumped depressingly in South Africa and Manchester City made light of these austere times to splash the cash. It was also the year in which super-injunctions became the must-have fashion accessory for any Premier League star worth his salt, while two declarations of dying love in Manchester dominated the column inches.

England: Wednesday's Premier League Previews

Chelsea vs. Bolton

Wigan vs. Arsenal

Liverpool vs. Wolves

The Mill +

Wednesday's Rumours


Manchester City move for Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko

Manchester City are in talks with Wolfsburg over the transfer of Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko.

Reports in Germany have suggested that the Premier League outfit are now on the verge of signing the 24-year-old forward for a record Bundesliga fee.

England: Tuesday's Premier League Review & Reports

Manchester United regained top spot in the Premier League on Tuesday but there were no celebrations from Alex Ferguson after his team gave up another late goal in a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City. Earlier Mario Balotelli hit a hat-trick, including two penalties, to help Manchester City beat Aston Villa 4-0 and briefly occupy top spot. Spurs struggled to break down Newcastle until Aaron Lennon struck after 57 minutes but the Londoners were reduced to 10 men for the second successive game when Younes Kabul was sent off for a head butt eight minutes later. However, just as in their Boxing Day win at Villa Park, Spurs still went for it and got their reward when Gareth Bale scored their second nine minutes from time with another trademark run and low shot. Chris Baird had not scored a goal for almost four years but got two in the first 11 minutes for Fulham against Stoke to earn some breathing space for under-fire manager Mark Hughes as his team secured their first away league win for 16 months.


Birmingham City 1 - 1 Manchester United
Kevin McCarra at St. Andrew's

Tottenham 2 - 0 Newcastle
Dominic Fifield at White Hart Lane

Manchester City 4 - 0 Aston Villa
Daniel Taylor at Eastlands

Norman Hubbard: Premier League Top Performers

Some Premier League playes have started as they mean to carry on. Top of their particular class at the half-way stage of the season are:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tim Vickery in South America

When he was first making his name with Santos, former Manchester City striker Robinho often spoke of his big ambition to be elected Fifa World Player of the Year.

True, he was seeking to place himself in a tradition of some of his illustrious compatriots, but even so I always found it a depressing declaration. For what it is worth, my view is that far too much attention is given to these individual awards.

In some collective sports the star can make the team. But football is so fluid that it can only happen the other way round - the great player emerges when the collective balance of the side is correct. The team makes the star - and 2010 provides us with some compelling evidence...

2010's Five Best Moments in U.S. Soccer

It's been a big year for American men's soccer. The national team surprised most everyone by winning its group -- with England, Algeria and Slovenia -- at the World Cup in South Africa. It also had a legitimate shot to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 1930, when a mere 13 countries participated. Although Landon Donovan & Co. fell just short against Ghana in a tough loss, it did little to damper the enthusiasm for the sport that gripped the U.S. during the tournament. Meanwhile, MLS took another big step forward, thanks to high-profile player signings and an exciting playoffs.

Here are our five favorite moments from a memorable 2010:

England: Tuesday's Premier League Preview & Predictions

Birmingham host Manchester United, Manchester City go to Villa, Stoke face Fulham, Sunderland welcome Blackpool, Tottenham host Newcastle, West Brom welcome Blackburn and Everton go to West Ham.


Lawro's Predictions

Americans In The UK: Boxing Day Freeze Out

Clint Dempsey, Fulham

Vs. West Ham United, 1-3, (54 minutes)

Dempsey started but was curiously removed after just 54 minutes. The removal of Dempsey sparked chants of “You don’t know what you’re doing” from the supporters, in reference to manager Mark Hughes. The 3-1 loss dropped Fulham into the relegation zone and Hughes’ job is seriously in jeopardy.

Next Match: Tuesday, away to Stoke, and Saturday, away to Tottenham.

The Rest

The Mill

Tuesday's Rumours

England: Monday's Premier League Reports & Analyses

3 - 1

Kevin McCarra at Emirates Stadium
Phil McNulty at Emirates Stadium
Richard Williams at Emirates Stadium
David Hytner at Emirates Stadium

Player Ratings

Cassano, Ronaldinho head for Milan training camp

Italy forward Cassano, whose move from Sampdoria will be made official when the January transfer window opens, was cheered by fans at Milan's main airport when he turned up in a Rossoneri tracksuit.

Norman Hubbard: Premier League Underperformers

As the season approaches the mid-way point, there are plenty of players with reasons to hope the second half goes rather better than the first. With "could do better" by their names in their managers' mid-term reports are:

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday Night Football

Arsenal vs. Chelsea

3pm EST

Emirates Stadium, London
U.S. TV:

Preview I
Preview II

Alan Smith:
Return of Cesc does not solve problems

Phil Thompson:
Arsenal will come up short again

Soccer Star Landon Donovan Wants His Soon To Be Ex-Wife To Cut The Check

Citing “irreconcilable differences,” Donovan is seeking spousal support from Kajlich, who appears on CBS’ Rules of Engagement. He is also requesting she pay his attorney’s fees.

Martin Rogers: Controversial Benitez shows up in Liverpool

The bizarre saga of Rafa Benitez and Inter Milan is soccer’s most compelling current soap opera, and the most outrageous plot twist of all could be yet to come.

Benitez was fired by Inter on Wednesday after a series of disputes came to a head last weekend, when he criticized owner Massimo Moratti in a public rant. Inter sent Benitez a message on Monday to inform him his actions were a breach of contract.

While the storm of acrimony swirled, Benitez took the extraordinary step of uprooting himself from Milan and returning to his former home in Liverpool. Benitez was fired as Liverpool boss at the end of last season, and there is no coincidence about the timing or location of the place he sought sanctuary from the controversy brewing in Italy.

The Mill +

Monday's Rumours


Michael Essien receives a hero's welcome on his return to his hometown in Ghana

When Michael Essien was growing up, he was told that only “street boys” played football. In Ghana — a country that places huge value on education — the barefoot games, on scraggy, rock-strewn pitches in his hometown were seen as a distraction from the serious business of studying.

Freddie Ljungberg poised to sign for Celtic

The former Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg is due in Glasgow tonight to hold talks about a possible contract at Celtic. The 33-year-old has been without a club since leaving the Major League Soccer side Chicago Fire in October. Celtic officials have been keen to play down the notion that Ljungberg will be on trial, although he is expected to train with the first-team squad this week.

Inter, the Leonardo era has begun

The Brazilian has replaced Benitez, becoming the 15th coach of the Moratti era: he has signed a contract until June 30, 2012. On December 29 he will preside over his first practice as the head coach of Inter. Moratti: "His arrival is a slap in the face to AC Milan? I would regret it if it were perceived in that way"

Barcelona announce US trip

Barca's summer schedule is:

21 and 22 July: Audi Cup matches (Munich)

25 July: Friendly (Split)

30 July: Manchester United v Barcelona (Washington DC)

3 August: AC Milan v Barcelona (Miami)

6 August: America (Mexico) v Barcelona (Dallas)

England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports & Analyses

Manchester United remain in charge at the summit after seeing off Sunderland, with Manchester City on their heels following victory away to Newcastle, while Wolves' home defeat to Wigan saw them fall to the foot of the table.

West Ham came from behind to beat Fulham as the Cottagers slipped into the drop zone, Tottenham won away to Aston Villa with just 10 men, new Blackburn boss Steve Kean watched his side come unstuck at home to Stoke and Bolton overcame West Brom at the Reebok Stadium.


Aston Villa 1 - 2 Tottenham
Kevin Palmer at Villa Park

Newcastle 1 - 3 Manchester City
Louise Taylor at St. James' Park

Manchester United 2 - 0 Sunderland
Daniel Taylor at Old Trafford

Five Things We Learned

The Fifth Official

Players and managers hate Christmas, but we, the salivating footy public, love it. While we fill ourselves to the stitching with turkey, roast potatoes and, for the freaks among you, sprouts, all washed down with a concoction of wine, beer and port, the Premier League's finest have to put their chiselled limbs through the trauma of four games in ten days.