Fabio Capello stood by John Terry during the Wayne Bridge affair. He has also stood by him throughout the Anton Ferdinand racism incident. Why was he so defensive of Terry when others were not? Is it because Terry is the real power behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge and has the ear of Chelsea ’03 owner Roman Abramovich? With Andre Villas-Boas under increasing pressure after Chelsea ‘03’s latest loss is it a coincidence that Capello resigned from the England job? Read into it what you may, but it might be worth a small bet on Capello being the next manager down the Kings Road, or with Russia.
Luis Suarez may have issued an apology via his club’s web site, but it may be a matter of too little, too late for him and his manager Kenny Dalglish. The actions and comments of both in the Evra racism and handshake dispute have dragged the name of Liverpool Football Club through the mud. Liverpool are a global brand, an institution that transcend football, but thanks to the behavior of Suarez and the enabling of Dalglish, the club’s image may be irrevocably tarnished. The belated and long overdue apology of Suarez may have drawn a line under the dispute with Man United; however, Liverpool’s American owners may still decide that as good a player as Suarez is, he might not be worth retaining. There are a number of clubs in Russia that would gladly sign Suarez, where he would be revered as a hero.
Kenny Dalglish is a lucky manager. The Suarez affair has taken all attention away from the fact that Liverpool lost at Old Trafford. So rather than answering questions about his team selection or tactics, the Scot was dealing with the Suarez issue. Liverpool contained United in the first half, but over the course of 90 minutes were outplayed and indeed outclassed. Why did Dalglish leave Craig Bellamy on the bench and start the consistently ineffective Stewart Downing? Dalglish praised Andy Carroll for his all round play against Spurs, yet he left him out against United. Why? The loss against United left Liverpool in seventh place, four points and an inferior goal difference behind Arsenal in the fourth and final Champions League spot. The Carling Cup Final against Cardiff City grows in importance by the day.
February 6 was the 54th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster. Twenty-three people including eight Manchester United players died that fateful day when their plane crashed while trying to take off. Ten years later at Wembley Stadium, the club’s footballing recovery, if not its psychological one, was complete when the late, great Matt Busby led his club to victory in the European Cup Final against Benfica of Portugal. The Zambia national team suffered a similar tragedy in 1993 when 18 of its players died in a plane crash that claimed the lives of 12 others on their way to a World Cup qualifier against Senegal. And like United, Zambia finally fulfilled a long time ambition when winning the African Cup of Nations by defeating the Ivory Coast on penalties. It is fitting that in the week that we continue to mourn the Busby Babes, Zambia honored its fallen stars by winning the African Cup of Nations.