Referees receive a lot of criticism for how they officiate games and Howard Webb has had his fair share in the past year. However, Webb deserves tremendous credit for his handling of the Spurs-Bolton game. As Muamba lay stricken on the ground at White Hart Lane and paramedics fought to save the player, Webb dealt with the situation professionally. He was calmness personified and did the right thing in abandoning the game. Credit must also go to the Spurs fans for their support for Muamba and the round of applause that followed the announcement of the game being called off.
David Moyes, Everton’s manager has deservedly received constant praise for the manner in which he has led the club in his 10 years at Goodison Park. The Everton fans are among the most loyal in English football and have rarely questioned their Scottish manager. However, his team selection and subsequent 0-3 defeat at Anfield against Liverpool in the Merseyside derby left many second guessing Moyes. The manager had prioritized the FA Cup game at home to Sunderland, a call that did not go down well with Everton fans especially after being hammered by their rivals in red. Sunderland frustrated the Toffees and earned a reply at the Stadium of Light. If Everton and Moyes do not advance to the semi-final to play coincidentally, Liverpool the decision to field a weakened team in the league game may come back to haunt him.
Chelsea-03 have had a mini resurgence since firing their manager Andre Villas-Boas. Why the turn around? The simple answer is to blame everything that went before the appointment of Roberto DiMatteo on AVB. It is quite obvious that there was a clash of personalities on the training ground and in the dressing room. Villas-Boas should receive some of the blame, but the majority of it should go to the players who have been cheating for most of the season. They are a disgrace to their profession and if there is such a thing as football karma they will be eliminated by Benfica in the Champions League, Spurs or Bolton in the FA Cup and miss out on a European place for next season by finishing behind Arsenal, Spurs and Newcastle. There would be nothing more galling than to see the smug John Terry walking up the steps at Wembley to lift the FA Cup, or worse still at the Allianz Arena to lift the Champions League trophy.
Why is the UEFA Champions League seeded in qualifying, seeded in the league stage and manipulated in the draw for the last 16, but is not seeded for the quarter-finals and beyond? It makes no sense. UEFA left itself open for Barcelona playing Real Madrid in the draw, but thankfully it did not happen. The competition should be seeded all the way through the final, or not all. Had the draw been seeded according to UEFA’s own coefficient (in brackets) it would have produced a semi-final draw of Barcelona (1) or Apoel (109) versus AC Milan (6) or Bayern Munich (8) and Real Madrid (3) or Marseille (27) versus Chelsea (5) or Benfica (17).
Week two of MLS was another good one for the league with some great games, good coverage and excellent attendances and atmospheres to match. The NBC coverage of Philadelphia versus Colorado was top class and created a very favorable impression of the league, the quality of play and the atmosphere in the stadium. The only question for executives is why they used Robbie Earle as an analyst when he has no MLS experience? Does soccer on American television really require an English accent on staff to sell it to the nation? There has to be at least one former MLS player with a media background who can come across as articulate, knowledgeable and would do as good a job as Earle.