Friday, November 04, 2011

Sir Alex Ferguson: Best Buys & Top Flops

Best Buys

Top Flops

England: Premier League Previews & Predictions

The Premier League returns after a busy midweek of European action, and Manchester City have the opportunity to build on a 3-0 victory against Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League when they travel to the capital to face Queens Park Rangers. City are currently five points clear and go to Loftus Road on the back of five consecutive league wins, although QPR recently disposed of Chelsea on their home patch and will be fired up for the challenge. Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool all have home matches that they will expect to take maximum points from, while Chelsea face lowly Blackburn. Tottenham, along with City and Liverpool, are the in-form side in the top flight and they lock horns with London rivals Fulham on Sunday as Wolves play Wigan earlier in the afternoon.


Team News

Premier League Spotlight

Paul Merson's Predictions

Lawro's Predictions

Italy: Serie A Weekend Preview

Claudio Ranieri has denied his Inter Milan side give more in the Champions League than they do in Serie A. Inter head into Sunday's game at Genoa on the back of a morale-boosting European win, beating Lille 2-1 for their third straight triumph in Group B. Juventus take on Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo unbeaten in Serie A this season. AC Milan were rocked this week by the news that Antonio Cassano has a heart problem. Cassano will undergo surgery after being admitted to Milan's Policlinico hospital on Saturday night, just hours after his team's 3-2 win at Roma, having developed problems with his vision, speech and movement. Without the striker, Milan host Catania on Sunday. Second-placed Udinese have won all of their games at the Stadio Friuli this season and that's where they will take on Siena.


Spain: La Liga Weekend Preview + Phil Ball's Quiniela

Real Madrid will be looking to maintain their near-perfect form when they turn their attention from the Champions League to the La Liga, where they host Osasuna. The Sunday evening game sees Barcelona, one point behind Real, travel to Athletic Bilbao.



Gremio fans let Ronaldinho know that they consider him a traitor

Ronaldinho began his career with hometown club Gremio before leaving for a decade in Europe that brought him worldwide fame and success. And when he decided to return to Brazil after his time in Europe, he chose not to obey the pleas of Gremio fans and instead signed with wealthier Flamengo. This did not sit well with Gremio supporters.

MLS Cup: The Final Four

LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City and Houston Dynamo will compete on Sunday for a place in MLS Cup final.

MLS: Thursday's Conference Semi-Final Reports

1 - 0
Philadelphia (agg. 3-1)


Los Angeles
2 - 1
New York (agg. 3-1)

Report I
Report II

Next year...

UEFA Europa League: Thursday's Review & Reports

PSV Eindhoven and Legia Warsaw secured qualification from Group C of the Europa League. PSV came from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 against Hapoel Tel Aviv in a thrilling game in Eindhoven, which led to the Israeli side's elimination. Warsaw made the knockout stages after beating Rapid Bucharest 3-1 in a fiery encounter in Poland in which both sides finished with 10 men. Atlético Bilbao also qualified for the knockout stages, edging Salzburg 1-0. The Basque club's unbeaten streak extended to nine games in all competitions under the former Argentina and Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa. Paris Saint-German moved into second place in the group with a 1-0 win over Slovan Bratislava, as the French club's £36m signing Javier Pastore proved his worth by scoring with a 63rd-minute volley. Bratislava were eliminated. FC Twente guaranteed progression to the knockout stages after the substitute Leroy Fer's 82nd-minute strike gave them a 3-2 win over the Danish side Odense BK. Fulham also closed in on qualification as goals from Damien Duff, Steve Sidwell and an Andrew Johnson brace earned a 4-1 win over Wisla Krakow at Craven Cottage.


Fulham 4 - 1 Wisla Krakow
Jamie Jackson at Craven Cottage

Birmingham City 2 - 2 Club Brugge
Stuart James at St. Andrew's

Rubin Kazan 1 - 0 Tottenham

Brek Shea to train with Arsenal

Highly-rated FC Dallas winger Brek Shea will spend a month training with Arsenal in a bid to earn experience of the European game.

Odds on him ending up in here...?

25 Years of Ferguson: The Selection

For a manager granted the not especially complimentary nickname 'Tinkerbell' by fans impatient of his use of squad rotation, there is a happy wealth of options from which to select Sir Alex Ferguson's greatest ever XI. One thing for certain is that he probably wouldn't agree with this selection. 4-4-2 will be the formation, as it has been, with certain nuances, the default for his tenure.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Mick McCarthy Is Funny

Balotelli going down in flames... as huge effigy is unveiled of star for Bonfire Night

Mario Balotelli has been in sizzling form leading up to Fireworks Night.

And it appears he is going to steal the show on Saturday judging by this huge tribute to the Manchester City star.

Because a 30ft effigy of the striker has been unveiled that will be torched at a huge celebration in Kent.

Wayne...last year...

Stuart James: Will Beckham Get His Hollywood Ending?

Former England captain says he has completed his US mission off the field but that he is still missing one thing: a trophy.

David Beckham targets MLS Cup as his LA Galaxy adventure nears an end.

MLS: Thursday's Conference Semi-Final Previews

Houston vs. Philadelphia


Los Angeles vs. New York

UEFA Europa League Preview: Last 32 in Sight for Spurs, Stoke

Tottenham and Stoke City will be out to continue their unbeaten runs in the Europa League on Thursday, while Paris-Saint Germain need a win.


Wisla Krakow go to Craven Cottage...

Tottenham - The Top Team in London?

It left me wondering whether this may end up being the first season in a long time when Tottenham can genuinely hope to finish as London's top club. It's actually 16 seasons since Spurs finished a campaign as the highest placed club in London, but 1994-95 was hardly a vintage year for any of the capital's teams. In fact, Spurs fans probably took more pleasure from seeing their old boy Nayim scored a last-minute winner for Real Zaragoza with a shot from the half-way line against Arsenal in the Cup Winner's Cup final than they did from finishing seventh in the Premier League. The only other occasion when neither Arsenal nor Chelsea has been London's top side at the end of a Premier League season was when Queens Park Rangers finished fifth in 1992-93. For the last seven years it's been Chelsea; for the eight before that it was Arsenal.

Key games in Sir Alex Ferguson's 25 years at Old Trafford: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (United win 6-5 on pens)

In the build-up to Sir Alex Ferguson's 25th anniversary at Old Trafford, here is the third of our series of archive match reports from the key games which have defined his extraordinary career at Manchester United.

: Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Competition: Champions League (final).
Venue: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow. Att: 69,552
Result: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (AET) (United win 6-5 on penalties)
Manchester United: Van der Sar; Brown (Anderson 120), Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Hargreaves, Scholes (Giggs 87), Carrick, Ronaldo; Tevez, Rooney (Nani 101).
Subs: Kuszczak (g), O'Shea, Fletcher, Silvestre.
Chelsea: Cech; Essien, Carvalho, Terry, A Cole; Makelele (Belletti 120); Ballack, Lampard; J Cole (Anelka 99), Drogba, Malouda (Kalou 92).
Subs: Cudicini (g), Shevchenko, Mikel, Alex.
Referee: L Michel (Slovakia).

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Review, Reports, Best & Worst of the Round + Tables

Manchester City and Manchester United both recorded successive victories in the UEFA Champions League courtesy of their back-to-back victories over Villarreal and Otelul Galati. City are now second in their group as they climbed above Napoli - who lost 3-2 at leaders Bayern Munich. United find themselves top of their group as Benfica missed the chance to seal qualification as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Basel at the Estadio da Luz. Inter Milan are all but guaranteed top-spot in Group B after they claimed a 2-1 win over Lille at the Giuseppe Meazza. Trabzonspor and CSKA Moscow remain level on points in second and third, after they played out a goalless draw in Turkey. In Group D, Real Madrid sealed their passage into the next phase after they claimed a 2-0 win in Lyon. Ajax are now clear in second place after a 4-0 thumping of Dinamo Zagreb in Amsterdam.


Villarreal 0 - 3 Manchester City
Sid Lowe at Stadio El Madrigal
Daniel Taylor at Stadio El Madrigal

Manchester United 2 - 0 Otelul Galati
Paul Wilson at Old Trafford
Will Tidey at Old Trafford

Bayern Munich 3 - 2 Napoli

Inter Milan 2 - 1 Lille

Lyon 0 - 2 Real Madrid

Best & Worst of the Round


MLS: Wednesday's Conference Semi-Final Reports

Sporting Kansas City
2 - 0
Colorado (Agg. 4-0)


2 - 0
Real Salt Lake (Agg. 2-3)


Keller's stellar career is over...

Jonathan Wilson: Questions being asked of Villas-Boas' tactical approach at Chelsea

There was one doubt about Andre Villas-Boas when he arrived at Chelsea in the summer. Astonishing as Porto was last season -- it won a treble of Europa League, Portuguese Cup and Portuguese League (in which it dropped only four points) -- it never really faced a test. Sporting is at a low ebb and Benfica looks much stronger this season, while in Europe it faced no side from England, Germany, Italy or France. Of teams from the top five leagues in Europe, Porto met only Sevilla and Villarreal.

Although they finished fifth and fourth in La Liga, both were out of sorts when they met Porto. Sevilla had failed to win any of its previous five games, and even then lost only on away goals; while Villarreal looked exhausted and had begun a slump from which it is yet to recover. That's not Villas-Boas' fault, but it is a gap in his credentials.

That doubt has since become a real concern.

Jon Carter: Rewind to 1990

At the start of 1990, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson (long before he was made a Knight of the Realm) was in trouble and his side were struggling at the wrong end of the Division One table. A run of eight games without a win saw the once-great Red Devils staring relegation in the face. The accepted story is that Ferguson would have been sacked if they had been knocked out of the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest on January 7. The game proved to be a reprieve from those calling for his head, but the time remains by his own admission his 'darkest period' as a manager.

Two held over Ameobi racism

Sammy Ameobi, who plays for Newcastle alongside older brother Shola, was called a "n****r'' by a follower with the username @JonnnnyPhipps after the footballer tweeted a photo of a black pair of boots.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

MLS: Tuesday's Conference Semi-Final Previews

Sporting KC vs. Colorado

Seattle vs. Real Salt Lake

McCarthy's Musings

UEFA Champions League: Wednesday's Preview

Manchester United take in their first home date since being humiliated 6-1 by arch-rivals City and will want to put on a show against Otelul Galati. FC Basel gave Sir Alex Ferguson's side a fright at the Theatre of Dreams on 27th September and the Red Devils will be keen for the Swiss outfit to produce a similar display when they travel to Portugal to take on Group C leaders Benfica. Manchester City have taken four points from their three fixtures so far, but that return is only good enough for third place in Group A. They could, however, clamber into the top two should they see off Villarreal on Wednesday and Napoli drop points on the road. Inter Milan may be enduring a tough time in Serie A, but they sit top of Group B and can strengthen their grip on that position with victory over reigning French champions Lille. Should Real Madrid emerge victorious in an away date at Lyon, they will join Primera Liga rivals Barcelona in booking their place in the knockout stages with two games to spare.


Heart Surgery: Harry Redknapp and Antonio Cassano



The View From Italy: Mario Balotelli: A World All His Own

Mario Balotelli is, and always has been, a reflection of his surroundings. Born in Palermo on the Italian island of Sicily in 1990, his Ghanaian immigrant parents moved north to Brescia almost immediately. Struggling with health issues and stuck in cramped living conditions, the Italian social services recommended Mario was fostered and aged just three he became a Balotelli after being informally adopted by Francesco and Silvio.

Manchester United Commercial

I can't see these three following Eric Cantona and Vinny Jones into the world of cinema...

Neymar to join Real Madrid for £53m

understands Neymar is set to rank among football's top earners as he has agreed a summer transfer from Santos to Real Madrid in principle.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Review & Reports

Chelsea and Arsenal both had to settle for a point on Matchday Four, meaning they still have work to do to reach the knockout stage of this season's UEFA Champions League. Chelsea are only three points clear of third-placed Valencia with two games to go after the Spaniards saw off Bayer Leverkusen 3-1. Borussia Dortmund picked up their first victory in Group F as they saw off notoriously poor travellers Olympiakos 1-0 to clamber above the Greek outfit into third place. Barcelona find themselves in the enviable position of being able to take their foot off the gas with two games to spare after they saw off Viktoria Plzen 4-0 to book their place in the knockout stage. AC Milan have joined Group H rivals Barca in the next stage despite being surprisingly held in Belarus by BATE Borisov. This season's surprise package Apoel edged a step closer to the knockout stages with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Porto. Zenit St Petersburg are favourites to join Apoel in extending their continental adventure following a narrow win over Shakhtar Donetsk.


Genk 1 - 1 Chelsea
Dominic Fifield at Cristal Arena

Arsenal 0 - 0 Marseille
Richard Williams at the Emirates Stadium
Henry Winter at the Emirates Stadium
Kevin McCarra at the Emirates Stadium
Five Things We Learned

Plzen 0 - 4 Barcelona

Valencia 3 - 1 Bayer Leverkusen

BATE Borisov 1 - 1 AC Milan

Chelsea should apologise for 'deplorable' Anton Ferdinand chants, say anti-racism campaigners

A group of Chelsea's 1,100 travelling supporters repeatedly sung "Anton Ferdinand: you know what you are" in a misguided attempt to show support for John Terry. Terry has been accused of racially abusing Ferdinand during his side's 1-0 defeat at Loftus Road last month, with both the FA and Met Police launching formal investigations into the allegations.

Pure class...

Key games in Sir Alex Ferguson's 25 years at Old Trafford: Manchester United 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday

In the build-up to Sir Alex Ferguson's 25th anniversary at Old Trafford, here is the second of our series of archive match reports from the key games which have defined his extraordinary career at Manchester United.

Date: Saturday, April 10, 1993
Competition: Premiership.
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester. Att: 40,102
Result: Manchester United 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Manchester United: Schmeichel; Parker, Pallister, Bruce, Irwin; Sharpe, Ince, McClair, Giggs; Cantona, Hughes.
Sheffield Wednesday: Woods; Nilsson, Anderson, Palmer, King; Sheridan, Worthington, Wilson, Watson; Waddle, Jemson.
Referee: Mike Peck

Uli Hess in Germany

There is a saying in Germany that the standings after Matchday 11, or almost exactly one third of the season, will give you a good idea of who will be fighting for - or against - what, for the rest of the campaign. This rule of thumb didn't really apply a year ago when Frankfurt appeared upwardly mobile after 11 games, while Stuttgart were in the relegation zone, but as quite a few observers have noted, the 2010-11 season was an aberration and now things appear to be back to normal.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Sid Lowe in Spain


At the final whistle in Osasuna, you could have been forgiven for shedding a tear – not just for Levante but for Spanish football too.

UEFA Champions League: Tuesday's Previews + Tables

Several top sides will be hoping to take one step closer to the UEFA Champions League knockout stages by notching wins on Tuesday night.

In Group G, Shakhtar Donetsk will be hoping to repeat their quarter-final run last season by beating the reigning Russian champions, Zenit St Petersburg, who, on the other hand, are looking to build over their win over Porto in their last European fixture. Elsewhere in Group G, Porto will look to beat APOEL in Nicosia in order to nab top spot in the group.

Genk's home from above...

In Group F, Arsenal will hope to continue their undefeated run in the group stages by beating Marseille at the Emirates Stadium, would would mark a historic first victory over French opposition in their relatively new stadium. In Group H, both AC Milan and Barcelona are expected to ease to victories in spite of playing away, as they face BATE Borisov and Viktoria Plzen respectively.

Last, but not least, it promises to be a tough battle between La Liga's Valencia and Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen. Valencia come into this match off a 2-1 defeat to the Germans, and will be desperate for all three points to keep their European dreams alive. Bayer Leverkusen, on the other hand, will be keen to keep pace with Group E leaders Chelsea, who themselves will be looking for a pick-me-up win against lowly Genk.

England: Monday Night Football Reports, Analyses & Premier League Table

QPR defender Anton Ferdinand and Newcastle United striker Sammy Amoebi receive racist abuse via Twitter

This morning, Ferdinand retweeted messages of support - but also a shocking racist jibe directed at him that appears to be from a Chelsea fan, saying: "RT this you f****** B**** C***, 1 England captain"

Steve Davis on MLS

Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from four weekend playoff matches:

Americans Abroad

Gatt set for big stage, Dempsey matches McBride

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Marco Reus's brilliance is a mixed blessing for Borussia Mönchengladbach, who fear losing him to Bayern Munich.

Paolo Bandini in Italy

Antonio Conte has changed the mentality at undefeated Juve, and their win at Inter in the Derby D'Italia was 'worth double'.

Antonio Cassano shows improvement after suspected 'stroke'

The club denied reports that the 29-year-old player, who was taken ill on the flight back from the 3-2 win at Roma on Saturday, had suffered a stroke. "AC Milan inform that the news in circulation containing a hypothetical diagnosis on Antonio Cassano's state of health cannot be considered true as it does not come from an accredited medical source," Milan said in a statement.

Brighton fans demand FA gets tough on homophobia

Racist and homophobic chanting is outlawed under ground regulations, but Brighton fans claim the city’s large gay community has made the club a target for attacks.

Jonathan Wilson in Eastern Europe

The incident in which George Galamaz was left deaf in an ear after a punch by a pitch invader has tarnished Romanian football.

The Trawler: Foxes Hunt Keegan

Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.

Phil Ball in Spain

Two summers ago, my son Harry asked me if he and some mates from school could enter the Donosti Cup - a prestigious international football tournament held here in San Sebastián every July. The parents would stump up the entry fee, but only on the condition that I be the coach. At first I said no, because I couldn't see myself finding the time to get them ready and to take it seriously, but in the end I was persuaded to take on the Mourinho mantle. My son, and another kid who now plays for the Real Sociedad 'Juvenil' side, were the only two club players, but the rest were a bunch of ne'er-do-wells whose only real experience of football was the school playground. It was going to be tough, because in the Donosti Cup you can not only come across similar ragged-arsed opponents but also youth sides from professional clubs around the world, sent to the tournament as an annual work-out. Chelsea and Tottenham have occasionally sent teams, Valencia and Villarreal send sides almost every year, and South American and African clubs are well represented, along with the USA.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Romanian Idiot Invades Pitch, Hits Player, Gets Ass Kicked

Key games in Sir Alex Ferguson's 25 years at Old Trafford: Barcelona 1-2 Manchester United

In the build-up to Sir Alex Ferguson's 25th anniversary at Old Trafford, here is the first of our series of archive match reports from the key games which have defined his extraordinary career at Manchester United.

Date: Wednesday, May 15, 1991
Game: European Cup Winners Cup final.
Venue: De Kuip Stadium, Rotterdam. Att: 45,000
Result: Barcelona 1-2 Manchester United
Manchester United: Sealey; Irwin, Blackmore, Bruce, Phelan, Pallister, Robson, Ince, McClair, Hughes, Sharpe. Barcelona: Busquets; Nando, Alexanco (Pinilla 72), Koeman, Ferrer, Bakero, Goicoechea, Eusebio, Salinas, Laudrup, Beguiristain. Referee: B Karlsson (Sweden).

Steven Gerrard leaves Liverpool hospital with a leg in plaster

Fears were growing that Steven Gerrard faces another lengthy injury absence after an infected ankle forced him to visit a Liverpool hospital on Sunday.

The midfielder was seen leaving hospital on crutches with his right leg in plaster up to the knee. He had fluid drained from the ankle and Liverpool hope the procedure will allow Gerrard a speedy recovery. The extent of the lay-off should be known in the next 48 hours.

El-Hadji Diouf signs for Doncaster Rovers

Senegal international striker El-Hadji Diouf has joined Doncaster Rovers on a three-month deal, subject to clearance.

The 30-year-old, who was released by Blackburn in the summer, has joined the Championship club after talks with boss Dean Saunders.

The two-time African Footballer of the Year previously played for Liverpool, Bolton, Sunderland and Rangers.

England: Premier League Weekend Review, Reports, Analyses & Team of the Week

Both Manchester clubs secured hard-fought wins to stay at the top, while Robin van Persie produced another heroic performance to help Arsenal overcome Chelsea in an eventful weekend in the Premier League. United looked to move on from their thrashing at the hands of City last weekend by beating Everton on Merseyside, while Roberto Mancini's leaders overcame a dogged Wolves side on home turf. Elsewhere, Tottenham enjoyed a classy victory at home to QPR and Liverpool closed within a point of the top four with a win at West Brom. Norwich and Blackburn took a point apiece in a dramatic draw at Carrow Road, while Sunderland and Aston Villa were also forced to share the spoils. Wigan plummeted to bottom of the table after suffering defeat to Fulham at home, while Swansea piled more woe on struggling Bolton with an emphatic Liberty Stadium success.

Everton 0 - 1 Manchester United

Chelsea 3 - 5 Arsenal

West Bromwich Albion 0 - 2 Liverpool

Tottenham 3 - 1 Queens Park Rangers

Italy: Serie A Weekend Review

It was an exciting weekend in Serie A as Juventus beat rivals Inter to establish themselves as leaders of Serie A.

Milan saw off a disappointing Roma side at the Olimpico to continue their climb towards the Serie A summit.

Lazio too emerged victorious against one of the promising sides in Serie A this season with a resounding 3-0 victory at Cagliari.

Miroslav Klose’s impressive start to the campaign doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon as he scored his 6th goal of the season.


Spain: La Liga Weekend Review

Real Madrid went to the top of the BBVA Primera Liga table this weekend in Spain after a 1-0 win away to Real Sociedad. Gonzalo Higuain's ninth minute goal, his tenth of the season, was enough to give Jose Mourinho's side a narrow win against a rival that defended deep, but lacked the ability to trouble the Real Madrid defense more than once in the entire 90 minutes.

Madrid went top of the table as a result of Levante's 2-0 defeat away to Osasuna. The side that had started the round of games top of the league slipped to their first defeat of the campaign after first half goals from Alvaro Cejudo and Nino.

Levante also drop behind FC Barcelona after Barcelona's 5-0 thrashing of Mallorca in the Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday night.

Raphael Marquez Remains a Jackass

Monday MLS Breakdown: Playoff pressure exposes lack of composure during wild weekend

Players and officials cracked under the strain of the first leg conference semifinal ties, but some teams still managed to thrive.