Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Nerves are totally understandable at the end of the season with so much at stake.
Even seasoned campaigners get afflicted by the jitter bug, with Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan losing the lead twice in a 2-2 draw at Chievo on Sunday with a fourth straight scudetto almost theirs.
Inter let a 12-point lead slip last term and tumbled over the line on the final day while fans will always remember their incredible collapse in 2002, which included a 2-2 draw with Chievo…
Spanish leaders Barcelona were even worse on Sunday, seeing their title party ruined by Villarreal’s two late goals in a 3-3 draw at the Nou Camp.
In Spain, you often hear players and coaches talking about “the sort of match that decides title races”. More often that not they’re talking about the tricky away game against awkward opposition rather than a high profile match against direct rivals.
Manchester United’s 2-0 win away to Middlesbrough on Saturday was just that sort of game, and just the sort of performance that will leave their rivals utterly deflated.
I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m not as excited as I should be given it’s the Champions League semi-final first legs this week.
Both ties should be making my mouth water. Manchester United v Arsenal is always a decent game in the Premier League and with Alex Ferguson’s men still wearily battling for the domestic title, Arsene Wenger’s boys have the perfect opportunity to spring a surprise.
Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs was voted Player of the Year for the first time by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) on Sunday.
Giggs has only made 12 Premier League starts this season, scoring a single goal, so I guess we really have to look at this award as recognition for his long years of service at United, for whom he’s made just shy of 800 appearances.
Roy Keane is back, with a new gig as manager of Ipswich Town.
Whatever else the appointment will do, this seems a surefire way for Ipswich to reacquaint themselves with the spotlight. Keane generates a huge amount of interest in Britain and considering he’s already engineered one successful promotion campaign, with Sunderland, it could be a good move from a purely footballing point of view as well (assuming he has some money to spend).
Ipswich, of course, have had a few very high profile managers. The list includes Alf Ramsey and (for a brief spell) Jackie Milburn, as well as Robson, and that’s just the footballing royalty.
4-4 is the sort of scoreline that delights neutrals, TV companies and marketing executives but it‘s not one that Liverpool fans will remember with any fondness.
A point from Tuesday night’s draw with Arsenal at Anfield was enough to take Liverpool top of the Premier League table on goal difference from Manchester United, but seeing as Alex Ferguson’s side have two games in hand it’s hard to see the title ending up anywhere but at Old Trafford.
There are lots of poignant pieces out there commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
Steve Wilson’s blog on the BBC is very moving. I too had a school friend who was luckily pulled out of the Leppings Lane end.
Serie A clubs are understandably upset about English sides scooping up youngsters such as Federico Macheda from their academies.
Lazio President Claudio Lotito cried foul after the 17-year-old, a product of the Rome club’s youth system, scored a stunning winner for Manchester United against Aston Villa in his Premier League debut on Sunday.
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.
Most Manchester United fans had no idea who Federico Macheda was before the Italian netted a stunning stoppage-time winner against Aston Villa on Sunday.
The 17-year-old’s goal could ultimately be the one that sealed the Premier League title for United.