Stuart Pearce took charge of England for the first time in their 2-3 loss at home to Holland. The former England star is expected to return to his role as coach of the Under 21’s, while Harry Redknapp, the bookies, the media and the fans favorite will take over sooner rather than later. They should be careful what they wish for in wanting Redknapp as manager. He showed in Spurs embarrassing loss to Arsenal and capitulation to Man United that in the really big games he is tactically inept. England under Redknapp will play an expressive and expansive game and beat most mid-level opposition, but when it comes to beating the really big teams when it matters most (World Cup quarter finals and semifinals) Redknapp’s England will be outthought, outplayed, and outclassed.
Liverpool overcame Championship opposition to win the Carling Cup and go some way to justifying the vast amounts of money Kenny Dalglish has spent in the last year. Liverpool’s win is reminiscent of Spurs’ 2008 victory over Chelsea in the same competition. It was a sign that they could compete with the big boys in one off cup games, but could not sustain the level of performances over an entire league campaign. It took Tottenham a further two years to secure a Champions League place and it may be a similar length of time before Liverpool are serious challengers to the top four or five.
It looks like five teams – Wigan, Bolton, Wolves, Blackburn and QPR – are fighting it out to avoid relegation from the EPL. The CL race is now two from four with Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle fighting it out for the final two places. The English and Italian titles will go down to the wire with Man United against Man City and Milan against Juventus too close to call in both races. The Spanish, German and Scottish titles have been decided even at this early stage with Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Celtic the runaway leaders.
The third round of Asian World Cup qualifying wrapped up this week with ten teams advancing to the next phase of qualifying. Iran, Iraq, Australia, Uzbekistan and South Korea topped their respective groups with Japan, Oman, Qatar, Jordan and Lebanon qualifying as runners up. The success of Lebanon was the highlight of the stage and was even more impressive in that they qualified at the expense of traditional powers Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.