The Republic of Ireland failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup after being eliminated by France in a playoff. The infamous Thierry Henry handball incident put paid to Irish hopes in Paris in 2009. Two weeks ago at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin a phantom handball led to Armenia’s keeper being sent off and Ireland winning 2-1. The win saw Ireland make the play-offs where they drew Estonia. FAI President, John Delaney was not as outspoken this time when the decision went in his side’s favor. At the draw for the play-offs Delaney could not contain his joy when Ireland were drawn to play Estonia. Be careful what you wish for John because football has a nasty way of coming back to bite you when you least expect it.
The Euro 2012 tournament in Poland/Ukraine is shaping up to be a very competitive and promising event. The list of qualifiers reads like a who’s who of European football including former champions Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Holland, Russia and Spain which have all qualified. England will be there too.
Alex Ferguson displayed the same dismissive attitude towards City in Sunday’s Manchester derby and it backfired on him. He left Nemanja Vidic, Phil Jones, Javier Hernandez and big game player Ji-Sung Park out of the starting lineup. In 25 years at Old Trafford Fergie has not made many mistakes, but he did in his approach to the Liverpool and City games. Fergie’s tactics failed miserably as they did in the Champions League Final against Barcelona. Is there a pattern developing here?
Man City ‘08 certainly deserved their win over United, if not the extent of their victory. City are now favorites for the title, but their 6-1 rout of their neighbors is a one off result similar to United’s hammering of Arsenal earlier this season and England’s 5-1 victory over Germany in Munich in 2001 not to mention City’s own 5-1 over United in 1989. These results happen from time to time, but are not a real reflection of the quality of the losing team. United will be back and City are a long way from being crowned champions. The result is a great one for City fans who have endured a long period of time in United’s shadow. However, the 6-1 win will be a hollow victory if City do not win the title.
Last April the Celtic fans showed their support for embattled manager Neil Lennon by standing and cheering his name in the 18th minute of a game at Kilmarnock. The same ground was nearly the scene of Lennon’s departure from his beloved Celtic. Kilmarnock raced into a 3-0 lead and until the 73rd minute seemed set to end Lennon’s managerial reign. A superb free kick from Anthony Stokes sparked Celtic into life. Stokes would add a second before Charlie Mulgrew scored a dramatic equalizer to send the Celtic support into raptures. Lennon’s reign at Celtic Park is still a tenuous one at best despite a draw at Rennes in the Europa Cup and a nervy 2-1 home win against Aberdeen. However, if his team shows the same desire and application in the coming month he might just turn things around.
It is only a matter of time before the foreign owners of EPL clubs demand a say in how the league is run and will call into question some of the game’s traditions such as promotion and relegation. None of the foreign owners are true fans of the clubs they own and have only invested in English football for the money they can make from their respective clubs. The Premier League has long since sold its soul to the devil and the new breed of owner cares nothing for the history, tradition and sense of fair play of English football’s pyramid system. Foreign owners are cultivating a silent revolution in English football and the game might never be the same again.
John Terry has been allegedly a naughty boy again for something racist he may have said to Queen’s Park Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand in Sunday’s West London derby. If the Chelsea ’03 and England captain is charged by the FA they should call Tottenham captain, Ledley King in too and have him ask Terry what is it he allegedly said to King before being sent off against Spurs at White Hart Lane in 2010.