Celtic went to Madrid and lost convincingly to Atletico. They returned to the dark side of Glasgow and lost even more convincingly. Arsenal fans thought they had turned the corner with that lucky win over Swansea. Borussia Dortmund’s Ivan Perisic did his best Danny Rose impersonation and curtailed their return to form. Blackburn then beat them on Saturday in what could have been the first relegation six pointer of the season.
Rangers laughed at Celtic on Thursday night. They laughed even more in coming back to win 4-2 in Sunday’s battle of Glasgow. Celtic fans may have the last laugh though, when Rangers assets are sold to pay Queen Elizabeth’s tax man. Irony FC!
Steve Kean and Steve Bruce entered the weekend as two managers under pressure to get results. Sunderland caused a mini upset by beating Stoke City, but Blackburn shocked Arsenal and Arsene Wenger with their 4-3 victory at Ewood Park. The pressure has now shifted back to Wenger while Kenny Dalglish is coming under increased scrutiny after his side’s ill-disciplined performance at Spurs.
The Liverpool fans on the forums and the call in shows have resolutely defended Dalglish as they should one of their own. They tried to apportion blame for the loss on referee Mike Jones, he of awarding a beach ball a goal at Sunderland last year. Liverpool were overrun from the kick-off and there was nothing to suggest the 11 players on the field would have held on even without the two sendings off. The referee was not at fault for the loss. Charlie Adam’s second offense could have been a straight red card. If I believe in the idea of karma then he receiving his marching orders would be it. Adam should have been sent off for Blackpool at White Hart Lane in May for a horror tackle on Gareth Bale. Luis Suarez goal was offside and Skertel’s tackle on Bale was reckless, if not malicious. Suarez might receive a trial by video for his elbow to the face of Scott Parker. Liverpool had better hope he doesn’t because that will mean Andy Carroll leading the line for three games.
And speaking of teams’ lavishly spending money. Roberto Mancini has an unlimited budget at Man City ‘08. He can buy any player in the world, can pay them what they want and has collected players like some fans collect Panini stickers. Two draws against Napoli and Fulham have suddenly raised question marks in Mancini’s mind about the strength and depth of his squad. This a week after some were pronouncing City as the pretenders to Barcelona’s throne. Does anyone at City live in the real world anymore?
Jose Mourinho went the opposite way with Real Madrid and decided to rest some players for Sunday’s trip to Levante. With Cristiano Ronaldo sitting on the bench Madrid had yet another player, Sami Khedira sent off and the 10 men were duly punished in what was a stunning loss. With Barcelona overpowering Osasuna 8-0 to move above Real on goal difference the pressure is back on the Special One.
Since the dawn of the Sky English Premier League the pundits on British television have mocked the Scottish Premier League as a two team competition. The EPL has already turned into a two team race. Spain is the same while Germany is not far off. The top teams are consolidating their wealth and power and a European Super League is on the horizon. Money is talking right now and it will be positively screaming in a couple of years when the UEFA Financial Fair Play rules come into effect.
Ashley Cole was racially abused in Sofia two weeks ago when playing for England against Bulgaria. The behavior of the fans was despicable and no player in this day and age should be abused for his color or creed. The Bulgarian fans would have been justified in booing Cole for the fact that he is a NED. His horrendous tackle on Javier Hernandez for Chelsea against Man United is the latest example of why Cole is one of the most despised players in the game. The fact he had his apologist John Terry remonstrating with the referee made the whole incident even more nauseating.
Robbie Keane was on the mark to help the LA Galaxy beat the Vancouver Whitecaps in front of 22,959 fans in California. Keane has taken to MLS like he was playing for Ireland against the likes of Malta and Cyprus. So far so good for the Irishman. The move has been good for him and MLS and good too for Spurs. However, the game of the weekend in MLS was Portland’s 3-0 trouncing of the New England Revolution. The atmosphere in the stadium was excellent and the partisan crowd of 20,323 spurred the Timbers on to victory.