Almost five years on, the fall-out from Ireland’s humiliation in Nicosia seems to go on. That galling 5-2 hammering at the hands of Cyprus signaled the end of the international road for three of the starters that night. Clinton Morrison has only appeared once in a 40-man provisional squad since, whilst sliding down the divisions in England, currently scoring occasionally at League One Sheffield Wednesday. Andy O’Brien was callously dropped by then-manager Steve Staunton, but submitted his international retirement when called up by caretaker Don Given in early 2008. The final member of the alternative three amigos is goalkeeper Paddy Kenny. His situation is unique compared the aforementioned duo, in that many observers feel Kenny has a chance of representing his adopted country again. Starting with this evening’s vital Euro 2012 qualifier at home to Macedonia.
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Valentine’s Day 2011 saw an announcement anticipated but met with sorrow around the football world and mourned with open grief in his native Brazil. Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima stated at a hastily arranged press conference in Sao Paolo that he was retiring from the sport. The 34-year-old was clearly distraught and broke down several times as he explained the reason he can no play longer the game so dear to him.
I’ve lost the struggle against my body
This was a grim statement and fuel for the cynics that hilariously christened him “Fat Ronaldo”, so he would not be confused with the Portuguese impostor. On hearing the news, I expected a raft of tributes, obituaries and gushing appraisals of a career that touched the lives of millions. Unfortunately this was not the case. View full article »
The two totems of Sky Sports football coverage have left the building. While Andy Gray had his £1.7 million per-annum contract terminated by Sky, partner-in-crime Richard Keys resigned from his post as the station’s main anchor. It seemed like a case of leaving before he was pushed. As he spent his afternoon trying to salvage his sullied reputation on Talksport, it is rumoured his bosses at Sky were discussing his fate. His position had become untenable. But not for the reasons Keys suspects. Not just because his buddy is no longer there to banter with him.
Back in the 1990s, it was fair to say we on the west of Europe had something of a love affair with Il Calico. Serie A was the most glamorous league in the world. Our appetite for Italian football was satisfied by Network Two’s highlights show of a Tuesday evening, supplemented by Channel Four’s live match coverage Sunday afternoon. There was also James Richardson’s Saturday morning show, as he spent the best part of an hour flicking through the pink Italian newspapers, sipping his espresso and enlightening us with the events in Italian football over the past week. With Setanta now showing Serie A games once again, it gives us the opportunity to rekindle our love for the Italian game. It has been an interesting start to the season, with AC Milan leading the way 17 rounds in. View full article »
This year’s Carling Cup third round threw up a more than its fair share of surprises. Liverpool lost to League Two Northampton Town on penalties in front of the Kop, neighbours Everton suffered a slightly-less humiliating exit away to Brentford and Chelsea’s mix of second and third-string lost at home to Newcastle’s reserves. Another mild shock occurred at White Hart Lane, when Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger picked a relatively experienced side. 11 of the 14 players involved for the Gunners are full internationals. Quite the contrast from previous Wenger League Cup sides. Has his youth policy previously enforced in the competition paid dividends over the years? Football Digest looks at a few hits and misses over the years. View full article »
There really is nowhere to hide for poor, helpless Scunthorpe. Vultures the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, predators are lying in the overgrowth, waiting to pounce on Scunny’s crown jewels. With giants Glasgow Celtic from the north of the isle snapping up star striker Gary Hooper for a £2.4 million fee, the Iron now face the prospect of losing highly-rated physio/manager Nigel Adkins to Southampton of the sunny south coast. The Saints linger in the relegation zone a division below, but in terms of career moves, it could be a case of one step back, two steps forward for the affable Adkins. View full article »
For man who prides himself on doing his job with the minimum of fuss, the first two months of Roy Hodgson’s reign as Liverpool manager have been a flurry of activity. Whilst the blame for the boardroom wrangling cannot be laid at the door of the affable Hodgson, he seems to be unusually flustered in his dealings. Between juggling reserve goalkeepers, pawning £17 million midfielders out on loan and indulging the new saviour of Anfield, the 62-year old is sowing the seeds that he hopes will harvest a successful tenure in the biggest job of his life. It’s clear he’s going to do it his way.
Shamrock Rovers 4-1 Bray Wanderers
To be withdrawn before half-time is usually the ultimate humiliation for a footballer. He is not given the opportunity to defend his lame display of the past 45 minutes in the confines of the dressing room. The manager lets the world know what he makes of the player in question’s contribution. Even if the change is tactical, it is still a source of major embarrassment. At Tallaght Stadium on Friday night, we saw an exception to the rule. Shamrock Rovers’ Gary Twigg was withdrawn in first-half injury-time to a standing ovation from all sides of the ground, after a masterful centre-forward’s display that left Bray Wanderers begging for mercy. View full article »
An accusation one could not level at the NPower Championship, is that it is predictable. Whilst last season’s top two, in Newcastle and West Brom, were streets ahead of the field, the reminder of the division was a topsy-turvy mix of teams doing the opposite of what was expected of them. Blackpool, considered relegation certainties, were promoted via the play-offs. At the other end of the scale, Roy Keane’s Ipswich Town, to give them their proper title, failed to win any of their first 14 games, coming a lowly 15th. This was after we were subjected to a summer of countless synopsis’ of the Tractor’ Boys prospects claiming Keane knows “what it takes to get teams out of this league”. He almost did, but not into the league expected. Even with all the potential pitfalls, Middlesbrough seem to stand above the rest in my eyes in the race to the Promised Land. View full article »
So that’s it for another four years. And after a month of infighting, dancing, tears of joy and sorrow, the time has come to choose my team of the tournament. Too often, these types of teams are picked in a lop-sided manner (I’m looking at you Gareth Crooks), with pundits filling the side with attacking players and forgetting that defending in a rather important component of the game. Others attempt to pick obscure players in an attempt to seem more observant than their peers, usually ignoring the fact that their selections have not been very good. Anyway, this is my choice for the best eleven from South Africa 2010, lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation: View full article »