Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

United’s problems will not go away

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Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson rued what he called an unfortunate 3-2 defeat by Tottenham, United’s first to the North London side at Old Trafford since 1989, but the truth is that you can only ride your luck for so long.

Fortuitous wins against Southampton, Fulham, Galatasaray in their Champions League opener and especially at Liverpool, coupled with the opening day defeat at Everton, should have warned Ferguson that United’s relatively good start to the season belied their obvious weaknesses so effectively exposed by Spurs.

It is not the first time that starting with both veterans Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs backfired. While the former is still able to supply long crossfield passes with stunningly consistent accuracy, the latter appears to be running through sand in what could be the final season of a glittering and trophy-laden career.

For all his class and brilliance down the years, Giggs will turn 39 in two months’ time and being substituted at halftime to make way for Wayne Rooney was a timely reminder that having shrugged off the issue for quite some time, the Welshman nowadays looks every bit his age.

Expanded Euro 2016 could be a blessing, not a curse

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During a so far excellent Euro 2012, there have been rumblings of discontent over the expansion of the tournament to 24 teams in four years’ time.

The big football nations of Europe will in all likelihood dread playing an extra game en route to the latter stages of what will be a month-long Euro 2016, if they don’t get knocked out by one of what will be a pack of success-hungry underdogs. 

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Bolton stump everyone in another dire predictions week

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Are Bolton Wanderers so bad that not one of our Reuters Soccer Blog predictions panel thought they would win at Birmingham City?

Ye of little faith. Manager Gary Megson may not be very popular with the Bolton fans but his side will always fight. A 2-1 win at a promoted club wasn't all that shocking.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

The sort of result that wins titles: Middlesbrough 0 United 2

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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.

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