Paul LeGuen managed Rangers for 31 games at the start of the 2006-07 season. He was fired for a poor run of results which included a loss to lower league opposition in the League Cup. One of his successors, Ally McCoist, a Rangers legend as a player has seen his team eliminated from the Champions League, the Europa Cup, the League Cup (by lower league opposition) and the Scottish Cup at home to Dundee United. In early November McCoist’s team were overwhelming favorites to win their fourth title in a row when they opened up a 15 point lead over bitter rivals Celtic. A collapse in Rangers form preceded by a serious injury to Steven Naismith has seen Rangers surrender their lead to Celtic. However, despite being eliminated from four competitions and overseeing a historic collapse in league form McCoist has avoided serious criticism. Last year Neil Lennon won the Scottish Cup and lost the league by one point and was a missed penalty by Georgios Samaras at Ibrox from winning the title, but was castigated by the Scottish press. Why the discrepancy between the treatment of the two managers?
Liverpool drew at home to Spurs, their eight such result at Anfield this season. The Reds were many pundits’ preseason favorites for the title. The ex-Liverpool players in the media were fawning all over themselves at the idea that their idol, Kenny Dalglish would lead Liverpool back to the top of the league. Dalglish had made some quality signings and with a full preseason to prepare for the campaign they thought it was a given that Liverpool and Dalglish would be successful. King Kenny’s team currently lie in 7th place, they were sixth last year and are only one point better off than in 2010-11. This despite the fact, that Dalglish has spent over $100 million on players since he took over from the sacked, Roy Hodgson. Liverpool can rise to the occasion and play well against their big rivals as they did in eliminating Man City ’08 from the Carling Cup and Man United from the FA Cup. But will a League Cup win and no Champions League football next year satisfy Liverpool’s owners and fans?
Man United played well in the first half against the Blues and were unlucky to trail by a goal at half-time. Five minutes into the second half they had conceded a further two goals and it seemed like their title hopes were slipping away in the west end of London. Cue the interception of United’s favorite referee, Howard Webb. Two debatable penalty calls later and suddenly United were back in the game. They completed their comeback when a floated Ryan Giggs cross was headed home by an unmarked Javier Hernandez. United held on for the point with a little help from their much maligned keeper David de Gea who pulled off a stunning save to deny Juan Mata an undeserved winner. United under Alex Ferguson have always played well when trailing and rarely give up the chase. Yes, they dropped two points to fall behind rivals Man City ’08 but maybe the point earned at Stamford Bridge will provide United with the momentum to retain their title.
The African Cup of Nations has not received the coverage it deserves, but the semi-finals will be worth watching this week. On Wednesday Zambia face Ghana while Mali face the Ivory Coast for a place in Sunday’s final in Libreville. The dream final would be Ghana versus Ivory Coast, two powers of African football in a repeat of the 1992 final. It was the last time the Ivory Coast won the cup while Ghana’s last win was 30 years ago.