Reuters Soccer Blog

Gerrard boost for Liverpool, but can they shrug off ‘FIFA virus’?

April 3, 2009

In Spain, the sports papers refer to the exodus of players during international weeks as the ‘FIFA virus’ and it will be interesting to see if Spanish Liverpool can cope with its effects this weekend.

Liverpool display authority of old to reopen title race

March 22, 2009

Liverpool reopened the Premier League title race with a 5-0 win over Aston Villa that must have thrilled Anfield, while leaving fans wondering why they haven’t seen similar displays all season.

Champions League draw — your views

March 20, 2009

So, here we go again. For the fifth successive season, Liverpool will face Chelsea in the Champions League.

A Super League is a non-starter

March 18, 2009

Comments by UEFA officials that the body’s president Michel Platini is “dead set” against a European Super League must come as a huge relief to a vast majority of Europe’s clubs.

Nothing’s gonna stop United … just look at the fixture list

March 17, 2009

My colleague Patrick Johnston has been wondering aloud about the effect a 4-1 defeat by Liverpool is going to have on Manchester United. He’s in good company, because Guus Hiddink also believes the door is open a little bit.

Ibrahimovic – Europe’s biggest enigma

March 16, 2009

During a typical football discussion at a Milan pub recently, a friend made a comment which really stayed with me.

Even Mourinho can’t halt Serie A decline as England dominates

March 12, 2009

The sight of Serie A sides flopping in the Champions League has become a familiar one and although the three teams eliminated this week were a little unlucky, a mental block against English opposition is developing.

FA Cup — life in the old pot yet

March 10, 2009

Speaking as someone who once sat in a brick-built outhouse at the bottom of the garden for five years writing a book about the FA Cup, I have rather a soft spot for the old pot.And so, it seems, after all these years, do Arsene Wenger, Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and many other managers, some of whom have not always treated the competition with the respect I still think it deserves.It seems almost every year at about this time, the same stories are run about how the FA Cup has lost its magic and the competition is now a mere end-of pier show compared to the Champions League and Premier League.The doomsayers point to dwindling attendances at grounds and dipping TV viewing figures to prove the FA Cup is not what it was.Last season the jump-on-a-bandwagon team proclaimed the cup “was back” because of all the upsets along the way that meant that just one Premier League team — Portsmouth — reached the semi-finals. Portsmouth v Cardiff was an “old-fashioned” final, a throwback to the 1920s and 1930s.This season the same voices are proclaiming the cup is dead again because Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton are all in the last four with Arsenal set to join them, although Hull City are still involved, and can still of course win it for the first time in their history.But the critics can’t have it both ways. Some years there are upsets, some years there aren’t — and irrespective of the outcome, an FA Cup match does have a different atmosphere, a different tempo and a different level of excitement to a league match, even if both teams are in the same division and regularly play each other.I was at Fulham v Manchester United on Saturday and saw a magical performance from Michael Carrick, Carlos Tevez and their team mates as United crushed the home side 4-0.Despite modern improvements there is still a timeless feel about watching matches at Craven Cottage next to the River Thames, just as there is still a timeless feel about the FA Cup.Sometimes it ebbs, sometimes it flows. I still believe that for most fans, nurtured on just a little history who still appreciate the romance of the game, you can’t miss it for a moment.PHOTO: Everton’s Marouane Fellaini (R) challenges Middlesbrough’s Justin Hoyte during their FA Cup quarter-final at Goodison Park, March 8, 2009. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Premier League deja vu creeping in again

March 6, 2009

As Dimitar Berbatov sluggishly rolled in Manchester United’s winner at Newcastle United on Wednesday it suddenly occurred to me that the Premier League season that threatened a different story is heading for a very familiar ending.