Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Did Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Mick McCarthy damage the integrity of the Premier League or did he make a valid, pragmatic choice to help keep his side safe by playing a virtual reserve team that lost 3-0 at Manchester United on Tuesday?
Most Wolves fans felt cheated when they saw that the team he fielded at Old Trafford showed 10 outfield changes from the side that beat Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday with only goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann keeping his place.
They paid 42 pounds for a ticket as well as making the long trip from Wolverhampton to Manchester on a freezing night and most did not appreciate what they perceived to be a totally defeatist act by the manager.
The message the fans got was: “We’ve no real chance of beating United, so I’m keeping the first choice players for the important game with Burnley at the weekend — one we CAN win.”
Arsene Wenger is known as the The Professor but the halftime ear-bashing he inflicted on his Arsenal team at Anfield on Sunday had more in keeping with the “hairdryer” technique often used by his great rival Alex Ferguson.
It was out of character for the Frenchman but it certainly had the desired effect as his team overturned a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 with a much-improved second half performance.
But why was he so animated?
Perhaps the reason was because he realised that Arsenal may never have a better opportunity to break the Manchester United/Chelsea domination of the Premier League.
Both of the top two appear vulnerable at the moment and Arsenal, despite losing to both of them already this season, are the best-equipped to muscle in on the title race.
Earlier this season Wenger stated that the Premier League could be won with a relatively low points total this season. Judging by recent results he looks like being proved right.
Chelsea are suddenly leaking goals at an alarming rate, United’s defeat at home to Aston Villa illustrated just how much they are missing the departed Cristiano Ronaldo, Liverpool are going backwards and Manchester City are yet to maximise the huge amount of money spent on their team.
With a couple of good signings in January, Wenger and Arsenal may have plenty to shout about in 2010.
MONDAY UPDATE: A truly appalling week for the panel. Admittedly, it was hard to predict Manchester United losing 1-0 at home to Aston Villa and Chelsea’s 3-3 home draw with Everton but nevertheless it was dreadful.
Some serious soul searching must go on in the coming weeks whilst eating our mincepies and finding yet another pair of socks when opening our Christmas presents.
Everton hope to complete the signing of Landon Donovan on loan from Major League Soccer’s L.A Galaxy, a move which has generated plenty of excitement among North American soccer fans.
The move makes a lot of sense for Everton manager David Moyes – it gives him no-risk attacking cover, particularly useful while Nigerian Yakubu Aiyegbeni is away throughout January at the African Nations Cup. What is less obvious is why a short term loan spell is a good move for Donovan.
MONDAY UPDATE: So how did you do? Here at Reuters we had our usual collection of baffling predictions and near misses along with a surprisingly high amount of lucky stabs in the dark.
It was a good job I made Man City v Chelsea the double pointer as two “experts” correctly plumped for the 2-1 City win. I fear an amount of copying also took place with Arsenal v Stoke as seven panel memebers were right to guess 2-0.
It used to be said that rugby was a sport for all shapes and sizes yet the modern professional game is so dominated by massive, athletic gym monkeys that diminutive wingers such as Shane Williams are as rare as England tries.
Jimmy Bullard’s re-enactment of Hull City manager Phil Brown lecturing his players on the field has been widely praised — even by Brown himself.
Bullard sat his team mates down and wagged his finger after scoring the equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City, where Brown had dished out his unsual telling off at halftime in a 5-1 defeat last term.
Monday update: You would think 14 games into the season we would have learnt who was likely to beat who in the Premier League. Sadly not. I did OK for a change but only Martyn Herman really covered himself in glory with two five pointers for Villa 1-1 Spurs and Manchester City collecting yet another draw against Hull City.
But I wouldn’t celebrate like Jimmy Bullard just yet, Martyn, you’re still third bottom.
After our (rather unsuccessful) attempts to convince you of Raymond Domenech’s appealing qualities, our thoughts turn to that much-maligned manager from Madrid, Rafa Benitez.
Liverpool went out of the Champions League on Tuesday night despite a 1-0 win over Debrecen, as Lyon failed to bite in Fiorentina.
Nicolas Anelka’s arrival at Chelsea in January last year hardly had the fans buzzing amid all the big-money signings since Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich transformed the fortunes of the west London club.
The peripatetic France striker seemed like a stop-gap and few expected him to be part of Chelsea’s long-term future.