Yet another week in the Premier League that left us with a lot to ponder heading into the upcoming international break. Liverpool are now level with Arsenal at the top, Sunderland remain rooted to the bottom but without doubt the shock of the weekend came at White Hart Lane. The league’s biggest spenders Tottenham and their star-studded line up were expected to dispose of West Ham with relative ease, but as we know, football isn’t played on paper.
The Hammers hadn’t scored a league goal away from home all season and still hadn’t won since the opening day. They didn’t just throw the form book out the window, they shredded it up. Goals from Winston Reid, Ricardo Vaz Te, and Ravel Morrison gave them their first win at White Hart Lane since 1999. Morrison had been tipped to break into the Manchester United first team at one stage but personal problems held him back and he is beginning to show his potential now. He is certainly one to watch.
Another week goes by in the Premier League and yet again we are left with many talking points that will be discussed to death between football fans until the next round of fixtures throws up some more controversies.
Without doubt the biggest talking point of the weekend was Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat at home to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. This was the reigning champions’ second league defeat in a row and it was the last thing David Moyes needed as he continues his struggling start to life at Old Trafford.
Perhaps it’s too early to be asking this, but is David Moyes the right man for the job? Three defeats in six league games so far doesn’t make pretty reading for United fans who have been spoiled with success in recent years. The results are leaving fans a little anxious, but it’s the benevolent defending and ponderous attacking that will be most worrying at this stage.
The former Everton boss’s comments after the game about his sides chances in the Champions League have whipped up a storm too. Two vital away games coming up against Shakhtar and Sunderland have become must-not-lose games more than anything for the reigning champions.
3 at the back. Can Liverpool make it work?
“If I look at what we have done in these two years, sure. It’s not my duty, it’s the federation’s, but I wish to remind you since we started this, we have changed 15 players and we have played like the great teams in Europe” – The words of Giovanni Trapattoni after the 2-1 defeat to Sweden at the Aviva Stadium which left Ireland’s bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in tatters. The boos at the end of the game spoke volumes. These were the words of a delusional man whose time is up, as they probably were 12 months ago too.
It isn’t the results that are the main source of frustration with the manager. It seems to be a massive cliché at this stage, but it’s the soul destroying football and baffling managerial decisions that are main gripe, and has been for some time. Different names but the same frustration. Inferior players being picked out of position ahead of superior players of that position. Robbie Brady was left on the bench for Simon Cox to get some field time, while Keith Andrews continuously kept James McCarthy out of the side during Trap’s reign. Only this time the manager hasn’t got the buffer of qualification to keep the critics off his back.
With only days remaining to the League of Ireland 2013 season, Alan Finn, Kevin Galvin, and Robert O’Reardon, continue their three-part preview. In this piece, they look at Drogheda United, who finished last season in an incredibly-impressive second place, Dundalk, who almost went bust in the middle of last season but are now back with a good squad and new manager Stephen Kenny, Limerick FC, who boast by far the most impressive stadium in the league and will provide many talking points, and Shamrock Rovers, who’ve again made their off-season marquee signings and will be hoping for a much improved season after last season’s awful display.
Last season was a fairy tale for Drogheda United. At the start of the year, they were tipped as relegation candidates, by the end of October they were runners up in the League, EA Sports Cup title holders and secured a place in next season’s Europa League. Mick Cooke goes into the season having retained the bulk of his squad and has made a few additions to his squad, most notably the highly rated Paul O’Conor from UCD. Should he click with influential captain Eric Foley, the Drogs midfield will be a joy to watch next year. I think Drogheda will enjoy another impressive League campaign and I can see them winning one Cup competition again.
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After narrowly missing out on a Setanta Cup place on the last day of last season, the aim for Aaron Callaghan’s side will surely be to go one better this season. Like the previous two seasons at Dalymount Park, a lack of finances has frustrated whoever the manager has been as they attempted to attract players to the club. But, what has been different from the previous two seasons is that there hasn’t been a mass exodus of players and the former Crusaders manager will have the majority of last season’s squad to work with.
There have been some departures, however. Last season’s excellent centre back partnership have decided to move on to new pastures with Evan McMillan heading west to join champions Sligo Rovers and Kevin Feely heading across the Irish sea to join Charlton Athletic.
Stephen Paisley has been brought in to replace them and strikers Chris Lyons and Darragh Hanaphy have been recruited to help ease the goal scoring burden which was a main problem for the Gypsies last season. If they carry their 100% pre season record into the new season then you wouldn’t bet against Aaron Callaghan and his boys breaking into the top four this season.
Spain. They’re pretty darn good at football, no? Almost to the point that ‘Spain’ and ‘football’ have become synonymous, perhaps. Perhaps not, but they’re still very good at kicking balls in nice ways. So good that six of the recently elected members to the FIFA World XI hail from the country. Iker Casillas, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Ramos, Andrés Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, and Xavi Hernandez are the six, and all of them, as well as the remaining five players who make up the World XI, play in Spain’s La Liga.
Vicente Del Bosque, another Spaniard, took the accolade of Manager of the Year after guiding the national team to their third successive international championship after easily discarding of Italy in the final of Euro 2012. And doesn’t he have an incredible pool of players to choose from? That’s not to say that he has an easy job; that’s obviously not the case at all. But if there’s anybody in world football who’s spoiled for choice, it’s Vicente Del Bosque.
Del Bosque is a manager who generally likes to stick to players still playing in Spain. David Silva was the lone starter in a Spanish shirt in their Euro 2012 final vs Italy who didn’t play for a Spanish club. Fernando Torres and Juan Mata were introduced later on in the match, and they too play in England. The rest of the players who featured for the team are all still playing in their native land, and Spain could easily field an incredibly strong side 100% compiled of La Liga stars.
Over 700 hundred appearances, 2 European Trophies, multiple domestic honours, dozens of international caps. The term ‘Liverpool legend’ is usually bandied around a lot in regards to certain players but if that phrase was in the dictionary the words ‘Jamie’ and ‘Carragher’ would be the definition. Never before has Liverpool Football Club produced a player who has played with such passion for the shirt as ‘Carra’ has and when the announcement came earlier today that he was hanging up his boots many reds died a little inside.
Dortmund, Istanbul, Wembley, the derby victories, the multiple trips to Cardiff. Whatever ground Liverpool Football Club has been making history in over the past 17 years, Jamie Carragher has been right in the thick of the action. Whether it was making last ditch tackles while having cramp burning through his legs in the Ataturk or coming on as a substitute vs Cardiff in 2012 at Wembley. You can be sure that he was giving his all making sure the trophy cabinet at Anfield was giving a home to another piece of silverware.