Alan Pardew was not a popular appointment in Geordieland, but he is slowly winning over the fans of the Northeast club. Newcastle are unbeaten so far this season and against the teams they were expected to compete against at the foot of the table. The Geordies will not stay in the top four and will slowly slide back into the pack, but their long suffering fans are enjoying the start to the season and may just accept Pardew as one of their own.
Their bitter rivals down the road are enduring at best a mediocre start to the EPL campaign. Sunderland lost at promoted Norwich City to heap more pressure on their overrated manager, Steve Bruce. It is now a two horse race between Bruce and Steve Kean to see who will be the first manager sacked this season. My money is on Bruce.
Two signs that football in general and Scottish football in particular has lost its soul. Scott Allan is a 19-year-old Scotland Under 21 midfielder who plays for Dundee United in the SPL. He has played 272 first team minutes for United, but has now demanded to be one of the top three earners at Tannadice. Islam Feruz is a 16-year-old phenom who plays for Celtic. The club sponsored his visa, signed him, developed him, housed his family and gave him and them a great start in life. He has now fulfilled his ‘life dream’ to sign for Chelsea ’03 for more money than he would ever have received at Parkhead. The two players will be lost to the Scottish game and one can only hope that the advice they received from their respective agents doesn’t come back to haunt them.
Ally McCoist was heralded last Sunday for the manner with which his Rangers side dispatched of Celtic in the first Glasgow derby of the season. Big Sally was brought down to earth with a crashing bang 48 hours later when his defending champions were dumped unceremoniously out of the League Cup by Falkirk. Rangers were 0-2 down and came back to tie it in injury time, but Mark Millar thumped home a free kick to dump Rangers out of the cup. It is the third cup they have been eliminated from in McCoists’s first months in charge. He is lucky he beat Celtic when he did or his managerial career would be over before it even got started.
It went unnoticed by most in the soccer media, but Tottenham Hotspur received planning permission to begin developing their new state of the art 60,000 seat stadium. The facility will be built close to the current site of White Hart Lane and will provide Spurs with the revenue to compete with the Sky Four. Spurs will join Arsenal in being financially secure, living within its means and in compliance with the soon to be introduced Financial Fair Play rules.
If Carlos Tevez refused to come on as a substitute in Man City ‘08’s Champions League loss at Bayern Munich then he deserves to be criticized and transferred. He has conveniently become the story which has provided Roberto Mancini with a nice little smokescreen. Had Tevez not refused to play, Mancini would have had to explain his tactics in Munich, his decision to play two forwards at a respected and powerful European team, his team’s defending at set plays, its lack of game management in the first couple of minutes of the half and his decision to send on a defensive midfield instead of a forward when trailing 0-2. Tevez is the story right now, but Mancini should come under a lot more scrutiny.
The United States women beat Canada 3-0 in their latest post World Cup exhibition game. It was a decent performance by the US, but the team is still in need of some fresh blood. Judinging by some recent college games shown on television there is a dearth of real talent at the high end of the college ranks. It might be another 12 years before the US wins the World Cup again.