Today’s top football news:
1. The biggest story this morning is the drama that unfolded yesterday at the top of the table. Manchester United lost their best defender (of this season) and were a goal down at half-time before storming to a 4-1 win, Liverpool clinically stuffed a lacklustre Arsenal side 4-1 and Chelsea snatched victory from the jaws of a 8-point lead and managed to stay in the title race with 7 games to go.
Jose Mourinho has admitted that his side would have lost the title if they had drawn at Watford, and I wholly agree. As things stand, Kalou’s goal gave Chelsea a lifeline, and the race is still on (especially with Vidic injured for Manchester United).
2. Steve McClaren says that he’ll refuse to walk away in face of all this abuse. That’s standard, but he deserves some respect for how he motivated his players at half-time against Andorra:
“When I got the players together at half-time I impressed on them that if things went wrong it would be me who took the stick.
I told them I can handle it, so they could go out, forget the atmosphere in the stadium and do their best to win.”
3. Respect to Eggert Magnusson for saying the truth (although he is an idiot for saying this despite knowing that the backlash for it will be severe):
Magnusson, talking to KUMB.com:
“I don’t like the discussions [about ticket prices] in the papers. Some politicians are trying to make themselves popular.
The average salary of a West Ham supporter who comes to the games is second highest in the league – it’s just below Chelsea, at around £60,000 per year.
It’s not something we’ve looked into thoroughly but I see no reason to reduce [ticket prices].”
4. With 6 games to go, Sunderland have powered to a convincing 2nd place in the Championship, beating playoff rivals in a bid to secure automatic promotion to the Premiership. Right now only Derby (3 points ahead) and Birmingham (2 points behind but with 2 games in hand) stand in their way of winning the Championship alright, and that’s something that Sunderland and Roy Keane must be looking at right now.
Sunderland have relatively easier games to play now, although after beating Cardiff last night (away) they play the Wolves at home (who just got stuffed 6-0 by Southampton) and then Southampton away. With QPR, Colchester and Luton coming after those two, you have to think that if Sunderland secure 6 out of 6 by Monday, 9th April, they are in the Premiership.
The only problem is that those two big games are on the 7th and the 9th. If anyone can do it though, it’s Roy Keane.
5. David Bentley interview over at Times Online. That site is fast becoming one of my fav sites for getting news, good writers and quality coverage. The bias is there, but thankfully the sensationalism is not.
Bentley talks about his life at Arsenal, coming through the England youth ranks and the current England squad (he’d bring Beckham back, so now you know why I like him 🙂 ).
6. David James tells the inside story on gambling in football – and its not all sensationalist cloak-and-dagger stuff that the media would have you believe.
7. Andorran defender Toni Lima talks about how easy it is to wind up Wayne Rooney and what he’s like on the football pitch. Choice quotes (Lima was talking to Marca):
“All the time he was saying to us: ‘Fuck you!’ in English. had a bit of clash at the beginning and I told him they weren’t able to beat Israel and here they were, drawing with us.
He’s a bit of a bull. You needle him, and he’ll be out of the game.
We played to our strengths, and as he falls so easily into the trap, there’s tension
He seems to me a great striker but I think he should learn to concentrate more on the game and not get lost in arguments.
Rooney doesn’t speak Spanish, but he must have understood something because he went a bit wild. I knew he and Gerrard had spent summers in Ibiza, so I asked him if he’d like to come and play football there, because I was the man who did the signings.”
8. Giggs says he shunned the limelight to focus on his career. With 450+ Prem appearances to his credit and a career that has spanned 17 years, you can’t complain about his methods.
“My drive has never really been about the buzz of winning. I’m driven by the fear of losing. The winning buzz fades quickly.
When you’re there it’s like ‘OK, great, but what now?’ You go on holiday and by the time you return it’s all forgotten. Those empty summers where I’ve sat on the beach thinking about missed opportunities are horrible. They are what stick in my mind, more so than the wins.”
How frackin’ true.