Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Has Alex Ferguson lost his edge?

Photo
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said in the run-up to his team’s 1-0 defeat by Manchester City that playing for a draw in the derby with so much at stake would be inviting trouble and he did exactly that with a cagey and defensive 4-5-1 formation lacking any sort of guile, creativity and bite.

If it was a last-gasp attempt by the wily and trophy-laden 70-year old Scot to outfox his Italian counterpart Roberto Mancini, it backfired spectacularly as United were second best throughout the contest and were lucky not to have lost by a bigger margin.

Still refusing to accept that his team are in the driving seat to win the title after overhauling an eight-point deficit to go top on goal difference with two games left, Mancini appears to have unnerved Ferguson with his pre-game rhetoric just as he emphatically won their tactical battle on the pitch.

For all their class and brilliance, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs looked every bit their age against a robust and relentless City midfield, marshalled by Yaya Toure who trampled United’s veterans with imposing ease.

Fielding the ineffective Park Ji-Sung as an additional ball-winner alongside Michael Carrick left Wayne Rooney a lonesome figure up front, with Nani reduced to chasing shadows after the supply routes were cut off.

City v United is fitting climax to Premier League title race

Photo

Three weeks ago it seemed the Manchester derby would be little more than a dead rubber after City’s 1-0 defeat at Arsenal left champions United eight points clear at the top, in a commanding position to clinch their 20th league title and their fifth in the last six seasons.

But a rollercoaster Premier League title race produced yet another twist after United’s 1-0 loss at lowly Wigan, followed by a rip-roaring 4-4 home draw with Everton in which they threw away a two-goal lead late in the game, let City back into the title race after they had squandered a seven-point lead over United with their own dip in form.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Predictions League could do with Mancini’s passion

Photo

The Premier League run-in is becoming so exciting that even stylish Italians like the usually calm Roberto Mancini are getting hot under the collar and wrestling opposition managers for the ball.

Our Premier League predictions competition needs a panel member to show similar passion or else Paul Radford will have wrapped up the title in a matter of weeks.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

So much for long-term projects at Manchester City

Photo

Manchester City's chief executive Garry Cook has made an impassioned defence of the reasons for Mark Hughes' sacking.

The feeling persists, however, that Hughes was harshly treated by the club.

Cook states that he and the club's owners gave Hughes all the resources that he needed to achieve the target of 70 points for the season. The one resource Hughes did not get was time. Had just two of the almost freakish seven successive draws been turned into victories, City would have been in an extremely strong position in the race for a top-four spot.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Who is most likely to follow Hiddink at Chelsea?

Photo

Interim Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink is adamant that he will be leaving at the end of the season to concentrate on the Russia job.

Chelsea fans who had been hoping the Dutchman would decide to stay must now start contemplating a fourth manager in two years.

  •