Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
After Newcastle United chalked up their biggest home win over local rivals Sunderland for more than half a century in October, crushing their biggest rivals 5-1, the first question manager Chris Hughton was asked was whether he thought the victory had made his job safe.
Such is the quicksand that the north-east club has been built on in recent years that even a result that once would have warmed their fans through the coldest of north-east winters proved only a short-term reprieve for an honest, straightforward, likeable and successful manager.
Earlier that week the club had issued a statement supporting Hughton following widespread speculation about his future in the wake of a 4-0 home defeat by Arsenal in the League Cup.
When they followed the Sunderland success by beating a full-strength Arsenal at the Emirates – with an earlier win at Everton and a 6-0 thrashing of Aston Villa also in the bag – one might have thought that Hughton had proved his credentials for a club desperate for some continuity.
Since July’s World Cup final, which attracted an official attendance of 84 490, the crowds at Johannesburg’s Soccer City have been getting bigger and bigger.
On Saturday the attendance record was beaten again when South Africa hosted its League Cup final at the venue.
So it will be Qatar and not the United States who host the 2022 World Cup finals – a decision from FIFA’s executive committee that left many fans in the U.S. angry, dismayed and a little confused.
The machinations of FIFA decision making are far from transparent as U.S Soccer chief Sunil Gulati implicitly acknowledged when he said that the vote wasn’t just about the merits of the bid: “It’s politics, it’s friendships and relationships, it’s alliances, it’s tactics.”
We’ll be following all the presentations and the vote itself as FIFA’s executive committee decides on the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Spain/Portugal, Russia, England and Netherlands/Belgium are the four rival bids for 2018, while Australia, South Korea, Qatar, United States and Japan battle it out for 2022, with the vote to come on Thursday.
The chill winds of corruption allegations swirling once again around FIFA’s Zurich HQ have got world soccer’s bosses busy battening down the hatches in the forlorn hope that, if ignored, they will all just blow away.
But if they were to peep out of the windows of their ivory tower overlooking the Swiss financial centre they might see that, in the eyes of much of the world, it is their credibility that is blown and that the process of selecting the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals has been seriously tainted.
1. Lionel Messi is a more effective “big game player” than Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese may be the world’s most expensive player but Argentina forward Messi has got the better of the man whom he succeeded as World Player of the Year on their last four meetings.
So Wayne Rooney says he would only have left Manchester United to go abroad. Could the fact that foreign suitors seemed shy to express any interest have anything to do with his sudden U-turn to stay at the Premier League club?
Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho was right in his prediction that Rooney would stay after all. He told United to ”give me call” if the striker’s departure was on the cards but never went further than that.
It’s one of the most farcical scenes I’ve ever seen in soccer. Real Madrid duo Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos taking ages to take kicks in the 4-0 win at Ajax and getting second yellow cards for timewasting and hence being sent off.
Deliberate? They face automatic one-match suspensions in the final group game against Auxerre, which is a dead match for Real with the Spanish club already assured of first place in Group G and qualification for the last 16.
So that was MLS Cup again.
Call me a typical English soccer-snob but I still find the very idea of the game to be just wrong and ultimately self-defeating for the North American league.
Most league’s internationally have the best team in the country crowned champions but the top team in MLS, the L.A Galaxy, weren’t even on show at MLS Cup. Neither were the second best team, Real Salt Lake or the third and fourth best teams New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew.
A lack of fit players, lack of effective training, lack of buys, lack of hunger, lack of Jose Mourinho.
The possible reasons for Inter Milan’s troubles, which leave coach Rafael Benitez clinging to his job, are widespread and not all his fault but the treble winners have to do something to reverse their steady decline.