What do FA Cup winners Portsmouth in 2008, Carling Cup winners Spurs in 2008 and Carling Cup winners Birmingham City in 2011 have in common? They won trophies while having mediocre league seasons and the cup success papered over the cracks in their respective teams. Portsmouth and Birmingham were eventually relegated and are now playing in the Championship. Spurs hardly won a game after their triumph over Chelsea, at Wembley, leading Juande Ramos to be fired when he could only inspire them to the infamous “two points in eight games” the following season. Are Liverpool following in their footsteps as they slip towards another poor league campaign? The League Cup and possibly the FA Cup may deflect attention away from their league woes, but real football analysts know something is wrong at Anfield Road. How is this for a damning statistic, Liverpool are now closer to the relegation battle than the title race. Will winning the FA Cup to add to the Carling Cup be enough to buy Kenny Dalglish another season?
Gareth Bale is going through a season and performances that are similar to the early years of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United. Bale is playing like he believes his own hype. He has become a selfish player who feels he can score at will and play with a freedom that is more important than his role within the Tottenham Hotspur system. In time Ronaldo matured and began to play with the best interests of his team in mind and became the second best player in the world. Bale is a long way off such a lofty status, but if he learns from Ronaldo’s progress he might just become a truly world class player.
Claudio Rainieri was fired as manager of Internazionale, a little later than predicted by Extra Time. Which one of Andre Villas-Boas or Fabio Capello will take over at the San Siro? Capello fits in better with the history of the club, but AVB might be the better strategic and long term appointment. That would leave Capello free to take over at Stamford Bridge and be a mentor to the real manager of Chelsea-03, John Terry.
The more things change the more things stay the same. Spurs went to Stamford Bridge and failed to beat Chelsea-03. An away team was denied a blatant penalty at Old Trafford against Man United. Two Celtic players were sent off at Ibrox against Rangers. An Italian team played ‘catenaccio’ to stifle Barcelona in the Champions League.