Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Short and sweet today with little news on Monday and plenty of action to look forward to this week.
Manchester United will look to stretch their Premier League lead against Newcastle United on Tuesday, though will their Wembley antics distract them? ‘A hole lot of trouble for United’ read one headline.
The week’s big game, big being an understatement, is Real Madrid v Barcelona in the Spanish King’s Cup final. Jose Mourinho, silent before last Saturday’s ‘clasico’ which prompted a walkout by media in protest, has a tactical dilemma. Play with caution and risk the wrath of former club great Alfredo Di Stefano or attack and risk a hammering from Barcelona’s slick forwards.
What would you suggest the Portuguese coach does?
A recap of the past few days looks at Villarreal’s push for Champions League football next season in La Liga after Monday’s 1-0 win over Real Zaragoza, and the usually dogged Stoke City’s five, yes five, goal FA Cup semi-final win on Sunday against Bolton Wanderers who are enjoying a great season in the Premier League.
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.
Newcastle United fans have put up with a lot over the years but selling “naming rights” for James’ Park might be the final straw for some fans.
At 10pm on Tuesday the club announced that Chris Hughton would be made full-time manager and that owner Mike Ashley would no longer be selling and instead would inject 20 million pounds this week.
On the face of it, replacing world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo with an injury-prone forward whose side just got relegated does not seem like a great bit of business.
The British media is certain that Michael Owen, a free agent after leaving Newcastle United, is on the verge of joining Manchester United if he passes a stringent medical.
Alan Shearer has a big decision on his hands after his eight-game stint in charge of Newcastle United ended in relegation from the Premier League on Sunday.
Most fans of the club will be desperate for Shearer, the club’s record goalscorer, to be handed the job of rebuilding the team as they prepare for life outside the top flight.
England’s most popular soap operas thrive on a weekly recipe of misery, doom and gloom that is gobbled up by television viewers seeking some relief from their own trials and tribulations.
In that sense, the final weekend of the Premier League season is quite similar.
With Manchester United already polishing the trophy again after sealing a third consecutive title last week, neutral television viewers are salivating at the prospect of watching the suffering of fans of Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Hull City and Sunderland as their clubs desperately scarp for top flight survival.
Newcastle’s interim boss and Geordie hero Alan Shearer opened St. James’ Park on Tuesday and his Premier League side trained in front of 7,500 fans.
It could prove to be a masterstroke. As the sun shone down and school kids on half-term flocked to the stadium, it had the city buzzing again just two days after the disappointing loss to Chelsea.
Well, at least we now know it wasn’t an April Fool’s Day joke… Alan Shearer has been confirmed as Newcastle manager for the final eight matches of the season.
He faces a Herculean task in keeping Newcastle up and with no managerial experience to his name the odds must be against him.
It sounds like an April Fool’s joke but apparently it’s true: Alan Shearer looks set to be confirmed as caretaker manager of Newcastle United until the end of the season.
Now, Newcastle could certainly do with a touch of inspiration as they bid to preserve the top flight status they have held since winning promotion back to the top tier in 1993.