Posts Tagged ‘Shearer’

World Cup Roundup


So suggesting a bet on Holland in the final meant the bet of the day running total ended 0.77 units down, which isn’t awful considering two-thirds of the group stage were missed. In better punditry many of the pre-tournament tips came off. Of the more impressive ideas, I suggested Germany to reach the semi-finals @ 12/5, Argentina to get nine points in their group @ 12/5, Uruguay and Mexico to go through in group A @ 13/1 and Uruguay as an each way bet @ 66/1.

I wrote that England could well suffer a second round knock-out, while tipping Holland @ 9/1 almost came off. The goalscorer tips were a touch unlucky too with each way suggestions Klose (33/1) and Suarez (100/1) just missing out on the top four.  Enough gloating (there were plenty of dud tips too after all) and time for a few highlights and lowlights.


Best Game: England vs Germany had controversy, some great football, good goals and it dispelled the hype surrounding so many of England’s stars.

Worst Game: Most of the ones in the first week.

Best Goal: Tshabalala’s in the opening match was great for the moment and Van Bronckhorst in the semi-final was great for the pureness of the strike but I think Villa’s first against Honduras tops both.

Worst Miss: Yakubu vs South Korea. Dear oh dear.

Most Dramatic 5 Minutes: Spain vs Paraguay gave it a good try, with three penalties in the space of a few minutes, but you can’t beat the end of extra-time in the Uruguay vs Ghana match. Goalmouth scramble, handball on the line and red card, missed penalty with a semi-final place up for grabs, undignified celebrations by the man sent off and then a penalty shoot-out shortly after. Wow.

Best Pundit: Clarence Seedorf. There weren’t many to choose from but he was insightful and refreshing. Some good features too.

Hero: Paul the psychic octopus.

Villain: Take your pick from Suarez, the Jabulani ball or the French team going on strike. Oh and James Corden too.

Best XI Of The Tournament: Casillas; Lahm, Puyol, Lugano, Coentrao; Schweinsteiger, Xavi, Sneijder; Mueller, Forlan, Villa.

Worst XI Of The Tournament: Green; Otamendi, Terry, Cannavaro, Evra; Melo, Kaka, Ribery; Anelka, Rooney, Torres.



World Cup!


World Cup! World Cup! World Cup! World Cup! World Cup! World Cup! World Cup! Are you excited? I am!

Shake it.


Watch him.


Definitely not on cocaine...


The Divine Ponytail no longer.

Listen to the mental Dutch commentary!

Remind me where the ball hit him...

Oh yeah, here
That haircut!
I love how indignant the panel are.

Your sister is a...

To think that’s just the last 20 years.

End of Season Reviews – Newcastle, Portsmouth, Stoke, Sunderland




Where they finished: 18th

Season in five words: Joke club gets just desserts.

Successful season? Hmm, absolutely not. I almost don’t know where to start. Let’s do it in bullet points (imagine a Benny Hill style montage). Best outfield player sold (Milner). Keegan resigns, again. Who should replace him? I know let’s get Joe Kinnear! Barton in trouble with something or other. Kinnear does ok. Ashley wants to sell. Ashley doesn’t want to sell. Ashley downs pints. Best player sold (Given). Kinnear has heart trouble. Slide down the table. Shearer returns! Eight games to save them. Only wins one. Newcastle are relegated. That’s just the brief story. In reality, this is a club which has been mismanaged for years, both on and off the pitch. At some point it would catch up with them, the irony being that this was a year when a particularly low points total was needed to stay up.

Defining moment: Keegan resigning, again. There have been so many errors over the season, but had he stayed you feel things may have been a lot more stable. Bottom half, but not relegated.

Player of the year: Nicky Butt has been solid in an otherwise poor midfield. Bassong has impressed in defence and will be targeted by other clubs.

Goal of the season: I literally spent about 15 minutes trying to find some kind of good Newcastle goal this season but had no luck. Any suggestions are more than welcome. This by Duff is the best I could do.

Flop of the season: Coloccini has the unique ability to drag down those around him. Can you think of a single thing Xisco did?

Highlight: Shearer returning was a false dawn in the end but at the time it was quite an amazing story.

Summer homework: Complete the sale by Mike Ashley, sign up Shearer permanently. Get rid of all the deadwood on large contracts and sign young, hungry, pacey players who can get them up at the first attempt. Keep hold of Taylor and Bassong.





Where they finished: 14th

Season in five words: Harry leaves, Tony rubbish, safe.

Successful season? Not really. They came into the season as FA winners, top half finishers and with a talented squad. The debt accumulated to achieve this however could not be maintained and Muntari, Defoe and Diarra were all sold during the season for big money. Harry Redknapp left for Spurs and Adams was promoted in his place. The Arsenal legend couldn’t seem to get the rub of the green and coupled with some curious tactical decisions went on quite a long winless run. He was replaced by Paul Hart who guided Pompey to safety without too much stress in the end.

Defining moment: Redknapp leaving for a second time, he won’t be back again.

Player of the year: Glen Johnson was excellent at right back all season. He needs to cut out the positional lapses but that wil come once he is playing for a big club again.

Goal of the season: Glen Johnson’s left foot volley from around 30 yards. Brilliant stuff.

Flop of the season: Tony Adams? It’s hard to see his managerial career recovering after his spell at Fratton Park. David James and Sol Campbell have started to look their age.

Highlight: In terms of occasion, hosting AC Milan in the UEFA Cup and holding them to a 2-2 draw shows just how much they’ve come in the last few years.

Summer homework: Reduce the average age of the squad. Buy some young, pacey players. Keep Johnson and Crouch. A lot depends on whether the rumoured takeover will happen.





Where they finished: 12th

Season in five words: Not pretty but very effective.

Successful season? Yes. Amongst the favourites to go down at the start of the year, Stoke were never in any real danger of going down. Their home form at the Britannia Stadium was excellent and they picked up plenty of impressive results there to be safe with games to spare.

Defining moment: Signing James Beattie in the January transfer window. Six goals in nine games followed and by the end of that run Stoke were safe.

Player of the year: Abdoulaye Faye was a beast at the back, leading the defence whilst also popping up to score some vital goals. Special mention to Rory Delap and his bullet throws and Jame Beattie for his run of goals.

Goal of the season: Fuller against Villa early in the season.

Flop of the season: Dave Kitson, who quickly went back to Reading.

Highlight: There were many impressive home wins this season but the victory over Arsenal was the most satisfying. When you make Wenger angry and talk about physical, anti football, you know you’ve had a good win.

Summer homework: Sign some more squad players and perhaps some creativity in midfield. A striker to push Fuller and Beattie wouldn’t go amiss.




Where they finished: 16th

Season in five words: Keane’s shadow still looms large.

Successful season? So-so. The aim at the start was to stay up, but given the manager (Keane) and the money he spent, initial expectations were perhaps a little higher. Keane resigned in December citing that he was fed up (and also a run of five defeats in six) but not before he has wasted much of the budget given. Niall Quinn appointed Ricky Sbragia, who started well but then didn’t really have the personality to impose himself (especially after Royston). They stayed up, just, and Newcastle and Boro went down. In that sense it was a great season!

Defining moment: Keane resigning in December. It left them without a figurehead and a proper manager for the rest of the season.

Player of the year: Danny Collins was good at the back. Jones appeared to play well once he returned from injury.

Goal of the season: Kieran Richardson scored one of the few great free kicks this season against Newcastle.

Flop of the season: Cisse scored quite a few but did little else. Lots of other signings didn’t really have great years either (Malbranque, Tainio, Ben Haim etc).

Highlight: Newcastle going down.

Summer homework: Part of it is already done in the sense they’ve appointed a good manager to replace Keane. Getting Steve Bruce to join is quite a coup for Sunderland and he should prove better than Keane in working with a similar size transfer budget. Basically more quality is needed. Lots of honest pros but Sunderland need that spark to ensure they avoid another scrap next season.




The Six Pointer – Lucky Hull, Rubbish Goals & more…


That was the season that was.

1. So Newcastle went down with barely a whimper. Can’t say it’s undeserved either, they’ve been a joke club for years both on and off the pitch. For all the talk of Shearer geeing them up, the lack of fight and determination in the closing stages against Villa was astonishing. I’m sure they were aware of the Hull score at all times and yet there seemed to be no discernible attempt to throw everyone forward in the last few minutes. Of course it’s easier said than done to score a goal but given the situation what exactly was there too lose? It certainly didn’t feel like they had three strikers on the pitch even though that was the case for much of the game. The second half produced a total of zero shots on target. Newcastle aren’t good enough to play patient possession football in the hop of carving out an opening against a well organised outfit like Villa. But that they tried and it resulted in a damp squib of an ending and a relegation which may have much longer term consequences than they realise. Shearer must take some of the blame too. Even though it was a dire situation when he arrived, he failed to produce the inspiration that was necessary. Untried managers that are club legends often talk about heart, desire and determination to make up for the lack of tactical nous they may possess. Shearer delivered on neither but in his defence I doubt anyone could shake up the sorry collection of overpaid players he had at his disposal. I suspect he will stay and his first mess will be dealing with the 15 players on more than £50,000 a week (15!) with no relegation clauses. Getting a squad full of players who want to play for Newcastle will go a long way to determining the length of the Toon Army’s stay in the Championship.




2. Hull got very, very lucky. They are not good enough to be in the Premier League and the run of one win in 25 or whatever it was would have sent them down any other year. It was somewhat ironic to see Phil Brown leading the singsong after their defeat to Man Utd as it was his fault they dropped like a stone in the first place. The half time teamtalk on the pitch at Man City signalled the start of their awful run and went against the age old adage that a good manager never criticises his players in public. Some squad improvement may seem them reach the heights they showed at the start of this season but I suspect the reality will be another season of struggle next year. They will start amongst the favourites to go down next year.


What an idiot.


3. Has there ever been a more ‘meh’ top scorer than Nicolas Anelka? Given only one Premier League season has seen less overall goals, it was no surprise to see a top scorer with less than 20 for the first time in ten seasons. This was very much the year of tight defences and half the teams in the top flight couldn’t manage more than forty goals (compared with just five last year). Congrats then to Fulham who used their 39 to very good effect with a seventh place finish. 

4. Of the four teams in danger of relegation yesterday, all lost. You could have got 25-1 on that happening. The two teams (Fulham and Spurs) with Europa League qualification to play for also lost. 

5. Arsenal really are in a league of their own at the moment. Eleven points behind third place Chelsea but nine ahead of fifth place Everton. No team is further isolated but as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think the Gunners are far off a proper challenge next season. A good defensive midfielder would go a long way but a big centre back is a priority. If I were Wenger I’d also be tempted to look at another goalkeeper, to at least push Almunia if not replace him. Van Persie’s two goals against Stoke made him a twenty goal a season striker for the first time and although there were defeats when it mattered, a 21 unbeaten run in the league offered a glimpse of the potential within the rest of the squad. The final step up will be improvement against the top three but with a good off season, there is reason to be optimistic at the Emirates.

That's only ten less the Ade last year...

That's only ten less the Ade last year...


6. It makes sense that the goal of the season should consist of the ten individual goals of the month but the resulting collection is pretty poor this season. Lots of hit and hopes which blend into each other – anyone can catch a ball sweetly from 35 yards.

GOAL 1: Ricardo Fuller, STOKE CITY v Aston Villa (23 August)

GOAL 2: Geovanni, Arsenal v HULL CITY (27 September)

GOAL 3: David Bentley, Arsenal v TOTTENHAM (29 October)

GOAL 4: Glen Johnson, PORTSMOUTH v Hull City (22 November)

GOAL 5: Robin van Persie, ARSENAL v Liverpool (21 December)

GOAL 6: Paul Konchesky, West Ham v FULHAM (18 January)

GOAL 7: Ryan Giggs, West Ham v MAN UTD (8 February)

GOAL 8: Carlton Cole, Wigan v WEST HAM (4 March)

GOAL 9: Fernando Torres (first goal), LIVERPOOL v Blackburn (11 April)

GOAL 10: Tuncay, MIDDLESBROUGH v Aston Villa (16 May)

Of the those ten goals only three or four could be described as having elements of good skill. For my money I liked Cole’s goal as a team effort and Fuller’s was nice turn and shoot. To be honest though for me it’s between either Glen Johnson’s left foot volley from distance or Torres’ chest and volley from a tight angle. Judge for yourself here.



The Six Pointer – Shearer’s Magic Boots, Relegation Tears & more…


That was the long weekend that was.


1. Rafa is still absolutely adamant that Man Utd will slip up twice on the run in to let Liverpool sneak in and win the title. Looking at their final four games of  Man City (h), Wigan (a), Arsenal (h) and Hull (a) there is certainly some potential for dropped points but I don’t see them losing twice  or drawing three times which is essentially what Benitez needs to happen. Even if they lost to Arsenal, it’s difficult to envisage a scenario where they don’t get the required seven points they need for the title. The run of three games in six days will be a tough ask but with the Champions League out of the way after this week until the end of the season, there should be enough within the squad to cope. Of course Liverpool can’t concede while it’s still mathematically possible to win the title but I suspect that it will remain false hope. They should win their three remaining games (West Ham [a], West Brom [a], Spurs [h]) but United haven’t won the Premier League ten times in sixteen years without knowing how to close things out.

It'll take more than a sneaky handshake to mug the title off me Rafa.

It'll take more than a sneaky handshake to mug the title off me Rafa.


2. All of the bottom eight lost this weekend meaning it is as you were in the battle to avoid relegation but with just three games left. Stoke, Portsmouth and Blackburn all had varying degrees of poor performance but such is the inability of the clubs below to win that it would be most surprising if they were dragged back into it. West Brom are six behind with nine to play so will go down officially next week leaving the at risk north-east foursome to battle it out. 


3. Middlesbrough face a trip to St James Park next weekend in what could be a winner stays up scenario. What price a 0-0 draw that does neither of them any favours? Boro have scored nine measly goals away from the Riverside this season yet face a Newcastle side that have scored once since Shearer’s return. I remember the images of when he returned, with his boots on the dashboard as he drove to the training ground. Clearly he’s been unable to teach any of his old dogs up front new tricks. I saw a terrible film over the weekend called Like Mike, in which a kid finds a pair of Michael Jordan’s old trainers and gains the ability to play basketball like him. It’s only worth watching for the cameos by NBA stars like Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. Anyway, I digress but it got me thinking about how maybe some Newcastle’s strikers need to steal those boots on the dashboard. As the joke goes, the only way Shearer will be on Match of the Day next season is if he returns as a pundit, as it sure doesn’t look like Newcastle are staying up.

Those boots are made for talking. But not walking.

Those boots are made for talking. But not walking.


4. That is unless Hull continue to make things interesting. I know I talk about the north east four, but if anything Sunderland having a four point advantage over Newcastle means they have to screw up twice in the remaining three games to be caught. This perhaps leaves Hull as the only catchable team. You can talk about 40 points being the safety mark all you want but I think that this is a season where it will be exceptionally low. Now is the time for threatened teams to be scrapping for points not losing every week. Given the bottom four in the form table are the four aforementioned teams (Boro ‘lead’ with four points from six games, Sunderland have three, Hull and Newcastle two) you could see a scenario where 35 points keeps you up. Boro or Newcastle would need just a win, draw and defeat from their last three games to achieve that but even that seems beyond them right now. 


5. The remaining point of interest is the battle for UEFA Europa Cup qualification with West Ham, Man City, Fulham and Spurs separated by a point. Of those four I think the teams managed by Zola and Hodgson deserve it most but the teams managed by Hughes and Redknapp have the squads to cope best. Given that the latter two managers didn’t give two shits about it this season, I don’t see why they should be rewarded with a place next season. Both Zola and Hodgson have done wonders with small squads and even smaller budgets and I would be delighted if either of them got the spot. I worry for Fulham getting it simply as I could see an Ipswich syndrome where they overachieve but then don’t have the players to compete on two fronts and face a relegation struggle the next season. All four teams face quite tricky run ins (all play top six teams twice except Man City) so it will be interesting to see who comes through.


6. A word for the end of the Championship season too. Wolves and Birmingham come back up and will no doubt go straight back down if they stick with their current managers Mick McCarthy and Alex McLeish. Of the playoff bunch, Burnley or Reading look the most likely to survive in the top flight from what I’ve caught this season. Meanwhile, at the bottom Norwich, Southampton and Charlton all went down into League 1. All were in the Premier League as recently as four seasons ago. Something to note for the threatened clubs this time round. 

Alan Smith prepares his relegation tears, yet again.

Alan Smith prepares his relegation tears, yet again.



The Six Pointer – Playing to Strengths, Magpies Strife & more…


That was the weekend that was.


1. With three quarters of the big four involved in FA Cup semi final action this weekend, it left the focus on the relegation battle in the Premier League. Stoke had a huge victory against Blackburn which has pretty much ensures their survival. They may not play pretty football and they may not be liked, but they are effective and their home form is as good as any team in the league. Only Man City, Man Utd and Liverpool have gained more points at their home grounds. 39 points should be enough to stay up given the number of teams below them and the number of points they’re ahead of Middlesbrough. I’m sure they’ll get something in their next four games too, just to make sure they don’t go to the Emirates on the last day needing a result to stay up.

Delap power + manager in a baseball cap = Survival

Delap power + manager in a baseball cap = Survival


2. Newcastle were rubbish against Spurs, though Obafemi Martins did look lively. Shearer is right in that they have to win the home games against Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Fulham. Those nine points would take them to 39 and their superior goal difference to some of those around them could yet prove handy. The one problem they face is there is little semblance of any form at the club, have only won four home games this season and they have to overtake two other teams to get out of the drop zone. I would think Hull, Boro, Blackburn and Sunderland would be potential targets but the latter two both still have games/free passes against West Brom. It’s going to be very, very tight and the game next week against Portsmouth could essentially be the game which decides their fate.


3. Aston Villa have won just five home games all year, more than only Hull, Newcastle and Blackburn. They face a big battle to avoid coming sixth.

Not exactly a case of home comforts.

Not exactly a case of home comforts.


4. Arsenal (a), Man Utd (h), Newcastle (a), Aston Villa (h), West Ham (a). From where will Middlesbrough get the points to stay up?


5. The FA Cup produced two very dull games. Arsenal will be very disappointed to have be knocked out given their recent lack of trophies, but they have no one to blame but themselves. Well no one to blame but Wenger and Fabianski. The team selection was very baffling, with Song, Arshavin and Nasri left on the bench in favour of Diaby and Denilson. This resulted in not only was their best defensive midfielder not playing but also their two most creative threats. I could understand Wenger thinking he needed to counteract the size of Chelsea’s midfield but Diaby and Denilson were very poor. Song has been one of Arsenal’s best players in recent weeks and would have offered a vital defensive shield as well as perhaps closing down Lampard before he hit his two long ball assists. Arshavin meanwhile was fully rested, playing against his national team manager and perhaps the only player who would have offered a surprise factor. Ultimately you have to play your best team in semi final against Chelsea and to be saving Song and Arshavin for tomorrow night’s game against Liverpool seemed a bit short sighted. Third place (and thus automatic CL qualification) is still attainable but it’s unlikely. Ultimately, sometimes it’s better not to worry about the opposition and play to your own strengths instead. Chelsea did exactly this and Drogba’s outmuscling of the last defender for the winner was a perfect example of why they are in the FA Cup final and Arsenal are not.


6. If you thought Saturday’s game was dull, yesterday’s second semi between Everton and Man Utd was even worse. I had the misfortune of deciding to live blog it and I was rewarded with 120 minutes of no action bar a penalty that should have been given for Jagielka’s challenge on Welbeck. The shootout was notable for a terrible penalty from Berbatov and Jagielka ironically converting the winning kick. I think Fergie will be disappointed that the quintuple dream is over but in reality it was never likely to happen. He has bigger fish to fry and will be more concerned with three points against Pompey on Wednesday, as demonstrated with his team selection. Seeing as it went all the way to extra time he will be glad only Vidic and Rio played from his first choice XI. As for David Moyes , he deserves his day out in the sun. His Everton side are hard working but with enough skill to do well against the big sides. They may just end up beating Chelsea on May 30th.

How not to take a spotkick

How not to take a spotkick.



The Six Pointer: Europe-Wide Edition – Manc-heda Strikes Again, Fat Sam’s Samba Football & more…


That was the weekend that was.


1. The title race – Liverpool make mincemeat of Blackburn in the early kick off beating them 4-0. This is surely the only time we will see Fat Sam let Samba inspire his side’s attacking prowess… oh yeah, and Chris Samba won’t be playing up front for them again. Poor puns aside, Blackburn were awful. Liverpool didn’t even need to call on Gerrard who rested on the bench, and the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster saw Anfield basked in sunshine. Fernando Torres scored two, including an awesome first from a route one Carragher pass.

Are you SERIOUS?

Are you SERIOUS?

So, the focus then turned to Man Utd and Chelsea for the 3pm kick offs. To the detriment of my fantasy football team (and chances of catching the Football Guy), Fergie decided to start with Cristiano on the bench and risked playing G Nevs again, who is about as useful as a crack addict with a bum fluff moustache. Scholes opened for United with a rare header but the inevitable Sunderland goal came through Kenwyne Jones. On came C-Ron to save United’s blushes but instead it was another substitute that did the business… yes him, the Italian that looks about 25 and disturbingly models himself on Cristiano – none other than Kiko Manc-eda. This one wasn’t as scintillating as his winner last week against Villa but it was the tonic that Fergie’s faltering side needed.

Meanwhile, at the Bridge Chelsea eased into a 4 goal lead against Bolton, with the inevitable Lampard goal (which Sportboy T failed miserably to jinx, much to the joy of the Football Guy) and Snoop Drog double. Hiddink then proceeded to understandably substitute the aforementioned duo, saving them for Liverpool’s trip to the Bridge on Tuesday. However, this seemed simply to send out the message to the rest of the Chelsea team that the match was over. Bolton, who seem to have turned into something of a goal machine in the second half of this season, duly took up the challenge and proceeded to score three in eight minutes, leaving a nervy finish in front of the Chelsea faithful.

"I said C-Ron and a mobile phone, not five blondes!"

"I said C-Ron and a mobile phone, not five blondes!"


2. The race for fourth place – A tale of two halves and a lucky red card escape for the Gunners. Having decided to watch this one on Arab TV in a sweaty pub full of yobs, I hoped we would see a confident performance, even if the Arsenal defence was depleted. What I got was an awful first 50 minutes in which I had to bear with Mido scoring (and very nearly two at that). To make matters worse, Gibbs should have been sent off as he brought down Valencia as the last man. Instead he got away with it and the penny dropped with Wenger that changes needed to be made. On came Adebayor and Van Persie allowing Cesc to drop into a much more effective deeper role. Arshavin’s persistence paid off as Walcott was played in for the equaliser. The Gunners played some sweet stuff, topped off by a goal from my beloved Arshavin and a sexy finish from Song. That left Aston Villa and Everton to fight it out on the Sunday to see which team could give Arsenal a run for their Champions League money.

Villa played out a thriller against United last week and didn’t fail to deliver against Everton at Villa Park. Although Martin O’Neill’s side allowed Everton to steam into a 3-1 lead, a James Milner peach of a free kick and a dodgy penalty decision against Joleon Lescott allowed Villa to snatch a point that keeps them ahead of Everton but eight behind Arsenal. Despite the Gunners’ remaining matches against Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool, I think the fourth spot has now been sealed. Villa have a slightly easier run in than Everton but it should be an interesting battle. Kudos must go to David Moyes who has assembled a good side packed with battlers, creators and goal scorers. Fellaini seems to be excelling in his advanced role behind a rejuvenated Jo.


3. Spirits raised in the North-East… slightly.

After Southgate called it a must-win game, Boro’s 3-1 defeat of Hull will certainly give them some belief that they can avoid relegation. Unfortunately for them, they remain in the zone, two points off Sunderland and behind Newcastle on goal difference.

As for the Magpies, a 1-1 draw against Stoke must constitute a well-earned and highly valued point for Shearer. It must have been the training bikes on the pitch at half time. Or perhaps it was the ability to withstand Rory Delap’s launches into the box, enabling Newcastle’s own Geordie brute, Andy Carroll, to steal the point. It will still be the home games that decide whether Big Al manages to stick a big two fingers at all the doubters out there. Please Al, anything to see you finish your BBC career… please.

Big Al gets to grips with the job of keeping New'astle up

Big Al gets to grips with the job of keeping Newcastle up


4. La Liga watch – Messi is shit.

Ok, we all pretty much knew that Barca would win the league, but their 2-0 win against Recreativo at the Nou Camp only brings that day closer. Messi even managed to miss a penalty… rubbish isn’t he.

On a sad but good note for the Gunners, Marcos Senna had to come off injured in Villarreal’s 2-0 defeat at home to Malaga and will now miss the quarter final, second leg at the Emirates on Wednesday (unless this is a cruel deception by Villarreal’s website). Senna was awesome in the first leg both defensively and offensively. That is probably an injury too far for Los Submarinos Amarillos.


5. Bundesliga watch – all up for grabs now.

The German league definitely has the most exciting title race of any league in Europe at the moment with four teams competing. Wolfsburg, who destroyed Bayern Munich last week, stay on top with a win away at Borussia Monchegladbach. Klinsmann’s men managed to pick themselves up from their spanking at Barcelona by beating Frankfurt 4-0 at the Allianz Arena. Martin Jol’s Hamburg suffered a last minute defeat away at Stuttgart, putting them in third place behind Bayern on goal difference. The standings are now: Wolfsburg, 54 points; Bayern Munich, 51 points; Hamburg, 51 points; Hertha Berlin, 49 points and Stuttgart, 48 points. Now that is what I call an open race. Let’s just hope the inevitable Bayern win doesn’t materialise.


6. Serie A – Forget the title race but look out for Genoa.

Inter managed to draw 2-2 at home to Palermo depsite leading 2-0 but luckily for them, Juve were beaten 3-2 by the ever-more-impressive Genoa side that now finds itself two points clear of Fiorentina in the fourth Champions League spot. Milan notched up another win 1-0 at Chievo thanks to Seedorf and could now overtake Juve in second (just two points behind). If the rumours are to be believed, that won’t prevent Carlo Ancelotti ending up at Chelsea. Any takers on Frank Rijkaard ending up at the San Siro? Lazio smacked up Roma in the derby of the eternal city with the usual flurry of red cards being shown. Roma’s hopes of Champions League football next season now look over as they lie in sixth place, eight points behind. I don’t think Spaletti will be round for much longer. Shame really…I quite liked Roma under the baldy one.



Shearer to Manage Newcastle


Until the end of the season. All I can say is ‘finally!’


It's time

It's time.

I’m amazed he’s taken it now as so often he’s gone on about how it’s not the right time for him to take over. So much so that we wrote a blog post/rant about it back in early December. I guess with Kinnear not being able to come back it was essentially now or never. If he rejected the chance to takeover for a umpteenth time (going by number of managers at St James Park since he retired) he would never have taken it.

As irritating as I find him, I’ll give him credit for accepting it at a time when Newcastle are a mess (no change then) and firmly routed in the bottom three. It will take a great deal of motivational power to get them out of trouble but if anyone can make the Geordies feel good again it’s him. That said, if he keeps them up he basically has a job for as long as he wants. Surely the expectations at St James Park must be so low now, hence there would no real pressure next season.

The final eight Newcastle games this season (Chelsea, Stoke, Spurs, Portsmouth, Liverpool, Boro, Fulham, Aston Villa) will be very interesting. What price victory over Hiddink in his first game?



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