The 2011 Europa Cup Final will be held in Dublin, Ireland. It is safe to say the residents of the Fair City breathed a collective sigh of relief when Glasgow Rangers was eliminated from the tournament by Dutch side, PSV Eindhoven. Rangers’ fans have left a trail of destruction at various cities throughout Europe for the past forty years including Manchester in the aftermath of the 2008 UEFA Cup Final. Thousands of Rangers fans descending on Dublin would have been a political and security nightmare. The city and football’s reputation is now safe……..Cesar Luis Menotti, the former Argentina manager is in hospital and recovering after an operation to remove a cancerous growth. The 1978 World Cup in Argentina was the first one I can vividly recall and Menotti’s team in their resplendent blue and white shirts was the team of the tournament. He dropped a then unknown Diego Maradona from his squad, but his all conquering team led by Mario Kempes still won the cup beating Holland in the final. The ticker tape celebration of every Argentine goal with a chain smoking Menotti impassively looking on will continue to live long in the memory………..
David Langan, a gallivanting right back for Oxford United in the 1980’s has been granted another testimonial by his former club. Langan, 54 has fallen on hard times despite a previous testimonial from the Football Association of Ireland and hand outs from the Professional Footballers Association. It is a reminder to today’s millionaire players that there was a time when players earned no more than an average middle class salary. Today’s players should not feel sorry for the likes of Langan. They should however thank their lucky stars for a Belgian player, Jean-Marc Bosman. The rest as they say is history……….It was another normal weekend in the English Premier League. Manchester United played poorly and won. Arsenal dropped two points because of a goalkeeper error. Spurs outplayed a team, but did not win. Manchester City lost against a top four rival. Chelsea ground out a win. Sunderland failed to win a big game. Newcastle lost. The more things change, the more they stay the same………..
Round Six of Rangers versus Celtic was won by the team from Ibrox. Walter Smith won his twentieth trophy as manager when his team beat Celtic 2-1 in the CIS League Final. Celtic were the bookies favorites to win the cup, but as usually happens when the two giants of Scottish football meet, the form book went out the window. Rangers played better, were more organized and wanted the win more. Round Seven, next month, will go a long way to determining who wins this year’s title. Celtic will need to regroup and refocus if they are to reclaim the championship from their bitter rivals……..Juan Agudelo, the 18-year-old NY/NJ Red Bulls forward scored a 70th minute winner for his team against Seattle Sounders this weekend. Agudelo represents the next generation of MLS player. He has grown up with the league, been able to watch soccer on television, and more importantly has forgone a college scholarship to be a professional player. As more players like Agudelo commit to MLS, the league’s future success will be assured.