Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Kenny Dalglish may not be a long-term solution as Liverpool manager but his appointment will give hope to disgruntled fans and provide a fillip to the club’s underperforming players.
The Liverpool hero has been thrust back into the limelight after 10 years out of management and will lead the club out at Old Trafford for an FA Cup clash against Manchester United on Sunday after replacing Roy Hodgson at the helm.
Hodgson’s position at the club had become untenable as results began badly and never picked up with the likes of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Stoke City, Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool all inflicting embarrassing defeats.
The fans had turned from silent sceptics to voicing loud concerns from the terraces while some high-profile players looked poor imitations of the ones who took Liverpool to within a whisker of the Premier League title less than two years ago.
The Liverpool owners’ decision to use this weekend’s break for the FA Cup as a chance to sit back and ponder the club’s future under Roy Hodgson is a rare patient act in the hasty world of soccer but it might not end up doing the manager any favours.
The Anfield club, just four points clear of the Premier League relegation zone, face rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford in the third round of the Cup on Sunday after another week of speculation and supporter unrest surrounding Hodgson’s future.
When Alex Ferguson declares he is happy with his squad for the season remainder, it is time for Manchester United’s Premier League title rivals to start worrying.
The busy Christmas and New Year period is often important in the Premier League, as fringe players are called upon to help negotiate a sea of fixtures which put managers under increasing pressure.
Harry Redknapp does not need a right-sided midfield player and, with the depth of talent regularly available on his bench, he hardly needs to bolster his squad with a three-month loan signing.
Yet he, and several other Premier League managers, are trying to secure the services of 35-year-old David Beckham.
The January transfer window is up and running with Serie A appearing to be ahead of other leagues for early deals.
Sampdoria forward Antonio Cassano has joined AC Milan, meaning Ronaldinho is all set to leave, and Genoa’s Italy defender Andrea Ranocchia has headed to Inter Milan.
When New England Sports Ventures finally bought Liverpool in October new owner John W Henry did not have to wait long to understand the enormity of the challenge he faces to turn around the fortunes of England’s most successful club.
Just days after the deal was clinched and a wave of optimism swept through Anfield, Liverpool’s inadequacies on the pitch were laid bare in a 2-0 defeat at Merseyside rivals Everton.
Italian soccer on the pitch has a largely undeserved image of being boring, with 1-0 wins and catenaccio supposedly the norm.
Off the pitch Serie A is surely the craziest league in Europe with match-fixing scandals, coaches being sacked the day before the season, and players and managers switching between rivals like they were picking teams in the school playground.
World, European and Italian champions Inter Milan have been stunned by coach Rafael Benitez’s attack on their lack of ambition.
The Spaniard, after just six months in charge, has called for signings in the January transfer window or else he will speak to his agent about his future.
Mother Nature has handed Manchester City the perfect chance to spend Christmas on top of the Premier League and with a decent fixture list over the next month their title prospects should start being taken seriously.
City have been underwhelming at times this season and the future of leading striker Carlos Tevez remains in doubt but with all their rivals grounded by heavy snow, Roberto Mancini’s millionaires will go top if they beat Everton on Monday.
Holders Inter Milan will face Bayern Munich, the team they beat to clinch the trophy last season, in the Champions League last 16 with a repeat of the 2006 final also due after Barcelona were drawn to meet Arsenal.
Bayern might actually be favourites given Inter’s struggles so far this term while Barca and Lionel Messi destroyed Arsenal in the quarter-finals second leg last season despite the two sides’ similar style of play.