by Steven S
The easiest place to start this week would be the completely surreal scenes at the Eithad stadium last Sunday, although it is hard to say anything new that has not been covered over the past week. The Saturday Review would just like to offer its congratulations to a worthy champion, that gave the erratic season just gone a fitting end. A big thanks is also reserved for Joey Barton who has given football fans across the country a valuable third option to despise alongside Suarez and Terry.
Crouch in! Johnson out! Another goal in! England out! Yes that’s right, like the hungry football jackals we are, the Euro squad was announced on Wednesday by the ever so cuddly Hodgson. Now his selection is officially out there (despite most of it leaking online the night before) everyone can go to town and tear the squad apart.
Questions are being asked about the inclusion of players like Downing and Milner, alongside the collective sigh from England fans as Gerrard, Lampard and of course John Terry was also included in the squad. The Rio v Terry saga had been bubbling along in the media over the previous weeks based on the proposed talks between the manager and the two defenders. It is a bold brave call from Roy and one that he has to get right to keep the media, and thus the fans, onside.
As we know Rio is the man to miss out on yet another European Championship and at the age of 33 fighting ever increasing back injuries, it will no doubt mark the end of his international career. Gary Neville also came on board the coaching staff on a four year contract, which will make his criticism on Sky a very tricky path to walk. Perhaps it was that analysis of the England team a few Mondays back that got him the gig.
Whilst writing as a pundit for The Telegraph during the 2010 World Cup, Hodgson gave his thoughts on how he might pick a squad for a tournament given the chance. A mistake he did not want to repeat from his time as Switzerland manager was doubling up the positions in the squad; all 23 men will not be used during the four weeks so he would look toward a core of 18, complimented by 5 ‘tourists’ or ‘good lads’ who would prove more useful off the pitch than on it. If Roy has remained true to that recent philosophy, it gives fans plenty to chew over during the friendly games which will quickly show his preferred team core and how they may perform.
Back to Liverpool once again or more accurately Boston, as the Fenway Group took advantage of the big England announcement to relieve King Ken of his duties hoping to bury it at the end of a big news day. The Anfield legend had continued to fiercely defend his season and a half back in charge of the team until the very end of the season and whether or not you agree you have to admire his defiance.
The scramble begins to bring in a new man which we can imagine we happen quite quickly, given the even shorter time available this year to spend time with a squad broken up by the Euro’s. Roberto Martinez heads the queue having already been approached by the owners with Wigan owner Dave Wheelan not standing in his way. Wigan’s end of season turnaround has seen Robbie’s stock rise dramatically, although also possibly seen as a cheaper alternative than some others. In many ways he fits the bill; young with a great image, a football philosophy and ready to take on a job with a smaller budget.
American owners are certainly in sacking mode at the moment, as the first post season casualty from the top flight was Alex McLeish, much to the relief of the Villa faithful. Ole Gunnar Solskjær is now locked in talks with Randy Lerner, having come into the picture from absolutely nowhere. Last season he led Norwegian side Molde FK to a first ever league title in their centenary year, in a country where Rosenberg once won the title thirteen years in a row. He has of course coached in England and knows the game over here very well, so this could prove to be a very astute move by Lerner. Whether he succeeds or not, Fergie will no doubt be happy to have a replacement for Steve Bruce and a guaranteed six points every season.
As the build up continues for this evening’s grand finale to the season between Bayern and Chelsea, Fabio Capello has displayed impeccable timing to throw his hat into the ring for the job. Not too long ago he let it be known he would like a job in the Prem, quite surprisingly after his battering from the press, now apparently telling Chelsea’s top brass that he would like the job. England failure notwithstanding, the Italian is one of the most impressive club managers around and may be keen to show people in this country exactly what he can do. His son, Pierfilippo, downplayed the link insisting he was close to joining Chinese club Guangzhou, before being pipped to the post by Marcello Lippi.
Steve Kean had the FMA sweating this week as recorded footage of the manager drunk in a bar with supporters on Blackburn’s pre-season 2011/12 tour, appeared online. Sam Allardyce was singled out in particular, saying “I worked my balls off for him, and then he had a go at me, so f**k him.” Going on to say Big Sam was sacked by the Venky’s for being a “f**king crook”. Allardyce was quick to take the matter into the legal arena and if West Ham stay in the Championship, there will be two big showdowns next season. That is if Big Sam survives if the Hammers do not win promotion.
Bolton of course were the last team to fall out of the division, following the bedlam that descended on the QPR game, which also impacted on the two teams as they battled for survival. The silence from a referee was as complete as ever following Chris Foy’s disastrous decision to allow Jonathan Walters to head the Bolton goalkeeper into the goal. No one gets relegated because of a single bad decision but that had to really stick in Owen Coyle’s throat. The biggest winner may be Kevin Davies who yesterday agreed a new one year contract at the Reebok, where he could’ve been moved on in the Premiership had they survived. Something tells us that Big KD will have a whale of a time getting into some Championship defenders.
Grant Holt has taken a long hard road to the Premiership, playing for Rochdale, Barrow and Shrewsbury Town amongst others. At 31 his time at the top is pretty short yet we didn’t see a transfer request being handed in yesterday. Norwich have rejected the request but now the market has been made aware, there could be offers from larger clubs to follow. Paul Lambert is being put in the frame for the Villa and ‘Pool roles, so the eagles may begin to swarm round Carrow Road.
Eden Hazard meanwhile continues to flirt with the media, flashing his pretty little Belgian eyelashes toward Manchester revealing his decision will be due soon, whilst Yaya Toure continues to flirt with Spain and the hope of ‘new challenges’ according to his agent. Fresh from his double winning exploits with Dortmund in Germany, Shinji Kagawa told his he has talked with Fergie about a possible move, continuing the recent exodus of German players to the Premiership. The Vertonghen deal that was edging closer to Tottenham with his presence at their last league game of the season seeming to point to only one thing is now in doubt. Ajax want more than Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is prepared to pay and now AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani has chipped in to turn the head of the Dutchman, as the Milan side are on the lookout to replace the legendary Nesta. Surprise rumour of the week is Drogba’s agent apparently given permission by the striker to enter negotiations with Barcelona, coming out of the left field. Michael Owen was also released from Man Utd, still managing to score a respectable 17 goals in 52 appearances so a mid table team like Everton, Sunderland or even Villa and Wigan could be an option. Ibrahimovic to Man City has been spun about for the latter part of the week, as City continue on their quest to buy every striker in world football.
And that my fellow tech heads, is that for another week. The domestic season may be over but the news keeps on-a-coming, so we’ll be back next Saturday to look back on the CL Final tonight, stacks of transfer rumours and to laugh at Joey Barton.