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Scolari pays price for Premier League impatience


From our main soccer site:

If John Terry had remained upright for half a second more on a soggy Moscow night in May then Avram Grant would probably still be battling for honours on all fronts as Chelsea manager.

As it was, the England centre-half went flying and sent his penalty wide, minutes later Manchester United were crowned European champions and Chelsea’s wait to get their name on the trophy went on.

Grant was immediately sent packing.

His replacement, Luiz Felipe Scolari, was sacked on Monday after seven months as the impatience, some might call it breathtaking arrogance, of the modern game’s big clubs returned to the spotlight.

There is only one Champions League trophy and one domestic league for these mighty businesses to chase but when they are not secured, and sometimes even when they are, the reaction is often to rip it all up and start again with a new man. (more…)

Liverpool hopes rest entirely on Torres


We all have those items that we simply cannot afford to lose, your wallet, phone, house keys, mp3 player etc, but for Rafa Benitez he will have to find space in his thoughts, if not on the bedside table, for his priceless Spanish striker Fernando Torres.

Bentitez’s willingness to allow Robbie Keane to return to Tottenham after only a few dismal months rather than stick with the Irishman, a proven goalscorer in the Premier league, leaves Liverpool desperately short of striking options, should Torres lose form or fitness in the title run in.

Liverpool keep it interesting, but United are sitting pretty


Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Chelsea will at least keep the Premier League interesting for the time being but it probably said more about the decline of this Chelsea team than it did about Liverpool chances of actually beating United in the title race.

Before Torres snuck in to head Liverpool back to within two points of United and Ashley Cole gifted the Spaniard a second goal, it was a case of same-old same-old for Rafa Benitez’s men.

Liverpool need a lot more crazy


Liverpool are short of goals, short of composure, short, perhaps, of a bit of luck but crazy is in plentiful supply.

Here’s how Benitez described the 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic that left Liverpool two points behind Manchester United, who have a game in hand:

Vlog on the pitch – Should United be worried about AIG decision?

Insurance giant AIG will not renew its shirt sponsorship of Manchester United.

The American company also said in an email sent to Reuters that it was “in active discussions” with the club regarding the current four-year $100 million deal, which runs until next May.

Owen Wyatt is joined by football consultant Alex Fynn to discuss the implications of AIG’s decision. How worried should football be about sponsorship problems and the credit crunch?

Was Ferguson right all along about Chelsea?


Chelsea gear up for an easy-looking FA Cup tie at home to Ipswich Town this weekend knowing the match will be anything but given their recent form.

The crushing 3-0 defeat to rivals Manchester United recently was just one of a string of lacklustre performances and while their struggles may come as a shock to many, United boss Alex Ferguson saw this coming some time ago.

Kaka and Man City seems an unnatural fit


In a world suffering from such a serious economic downturn, one that is causing millions of ordinary people financial hardship, there is almost something obscene about the amount of money Manchester City are reportedly hoping to spend on acquiring Kaka from AC Milan.

There are many definitions of obscenity in the dictionary but the one that best describes Manchester City’s pursuit of the Brazilian midfielder is simply “beyond all reason”.

Scolari is actually the calm in the Chelsea storm


The immediate future of Chelsea, and their Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari is about as clear as the fog that almost led to the postponement of their FA Cup replay at Southend United on Wednesday.

Although many insiders believe there is little real prospect of the World Cup winning coach leaving Stamford Bridge despite fans’ disgruntlement, there is plenty that needs to be put right if Chelsea are to end the season basking in the sunlight.

Ronaldo takes World Player award, Messi waits for next year


Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo was named FIFA World Player of the Year on Monday night, adding the award to the Ballon d’Or he picked up from France Football and the FIFPro World Player of the Year title voted for by his fellow professionals.

It was an inevitable choice after the season he had for United in 2007-08 but I’m pretty confident that next year the award will be going to the man who finished second this time. Lionel Messi is playing ridiculously well at the moment, just streets ahead of anyone else in Spain, and I don’t think too many people would disagree that on current form he is the world’s best player.

Vlog on the pitch – what do you make of Rafa’s mind games?

Rafa Benitez was on the attack ahead of Liverpool’s game against Stoke City but then decided to leave Robbie Keane and Fernando Torres on the bench.

The game ended in a goalless draw and on Sunday Manchester United put three past Chelsea to close the gap at the top.