A nightmare season for Liverpool was capped off by the eventual departure of manager Rafa Benitez last week.
Opinion remains divided on the success of the Spaniard’s tenure at Anfield. With many critics pointing to his mistakes in the transfer market and strange tactical decisions as key reasons for Liverpool’s demise this season.
While it is true Rafa made some errors, particularly in the past 12 months, they were far outweighed by his earlier achievements – most notably his Champions League win in 2005 – as well as the failures at board-room level where owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett have dealt in broken promises, burdening the club with debt and crushing the morale of a large and loyal fan base.
Everton full-back Leighton Baines was one of the unlucky seven England players to miss the cut on Tuesday.
The left-back was axed from Fabio Capello’s final 23-man squad for the World Cup finals and you can’t help thinking he talked his way out of the traveling party.
Baines, who looked to be in pole position to deputies for Ashley Cole, has not made the cut despite starting in the recent win over Mexico.
Baines was handed a starting role at Wembley in the 3-1 win and although his performance was below par it was his comments afterward which had many people and obviously Capello asking whether he could cut the mustard at international level.
Baines, speaking after the win over Mexico, said: “Everyone wants to be a part of England, to come away and play, but I have always found it really hard, even when I was teenager, being away from home.I have always struggled with it, that’s quite tough.
The final whistle had barely been blown at Wembley when the pundits started tipping Blackpool for relegation next season.
Unsurprisingly, the football betting odds make them favourites for drop, mainly due to the tiny budget boss Ian Holloway will have to work with.
But are we being a little hasty in writing off the Seasiders’ Premier League hopes? After all, no one tipped them to be anywhere near the play-offs this season, so can’t they spring a surprise next year?
The irony must not be lost on Avram Grant that missed penalties once again proved crucial in his fortunes in a major cup final.
The Portsmouth manager was in charge of Chelsea two years ago when John Terry’s slip and penalty miss in the Moscow rain cost the Londoners the Champions League.
Now, with Chelsea the opposition, he had a new nightmare from 18 yards as Kevin Prince Boeteng’s sloppy spot-kick was easily saved by Petr Cech, becoming only the third ever keeper to save a penalty in a FA Cup final after Dave Beasant in 1988 and Mark Crossley in 1991.
It has been quite a season for Spurs. Their eventful ride into the top four means they have the chance to play European Cup football for the first time since 1961.
Harry Redknapp has been talking about bringing in that “one special player” to brave Europe’s elite competition in a Spurs shirt, while the supporters are dreaming of a new glorious era and building a realistic title challenge.
Now far be it from me to rain on their parade and dampen expectations, but the fans need to keep their ambitions in check as plenty of banana skins lay ahead. The online odds suggest they will struggle to mount a title challenge again next season, and securing fourth could be just as tough as it was this time around.
For starters, their fourth place finish only guarantees them a spot in the qualifying rounds which, thanks to a recent reshuffle by UEFA, are now tougher to negotiate than in previous years. Spurs will have to be at their best at a very early stage in the season in order to progress.
Secondly, even if they make the group stages the players will have to adapt to coping with the extra games. Clubs like Spurs and Villa, who don’t have large squads like Man United or Chelsea, have spoken in the past about the difficulty of coping with the extra games Europe brings.
Although Spurs are likely to enjoy their ride in the Champions League more than the Europa League, they still have to pick up results in domestic fixtures as well. Too great a focus on Europe could see them slide down the league.
Thirdly, although the prize money on offer in the Champions League is significant, it will only bring long-term benefits to the club if they regularly appear in the competition and they progress far in it. A short ride in the group stage will not help the balance sheet, especially if they have heavily invested in players over the summer.
I don’t want to be a doom-monger in aftermath of Spurs fantastic achievement, the breaking of the big four is worth celebrating. But by doing so is only the beginning, with the hard work still ahead. The second Spurs sit back and admire their efforts is the moment they fall back down among the chasing pack.
Meanwhile, midfielder Tom Huddlestone will be looking to cap his season with a place a trip to the 2010 Football World Cup. He has been named in Fabio Capello’s provisional 30-man squad.
The Championship play-off final, with a place in the Premier League for the winner, is widely considered to be the richest game in English football, with the boost to the triumphant side’s finances through TV deals and increased revenue estimated to be around £60 million.
However, with the advent of the Champions League a whole new set of riches is on offer for clubs at the top of the Premier League. For many years it was restricted to the same four teams, Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.
International rivalry, patriotism, passion, individual and team skill, screaming fans, national camaraderie, worldwide fame and exposure, intense action, and high drama. What are we talking about? Futbol’s World Cup!http://infolio-rg.ru
Why is The World Cup an unparalleled sporting event? Here are three indisputable reasons.
Rivalry. The intense passion of the fans is such that at futbol games opposing team fans are separated from each other. If you haven’t experienced a futbol game firsthand, then you haven’t beheld the potent emotion, the palpable fervor, the fiery depth of loyalty and resolute devotion the fans hold for their teams. The atmosphere is electric and charged with ferocious dedication.
Bayern Munich face one of their biggest games in recent history this week when they tackle Lyon in the Champions League semi-final second leg.
Carrying a 1-0 lead from the first game, reaching the final would be a personal triumph for their manager Louis Van Gaal after his career looked to have stalled a few years ago.
After a trophy laded spell with Ajax and then Barcelona in the 1990s Van Gaal took charge of the Dutch national team and infamously failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup.
Unsuccessful second spells at Ajax and Barca followed before an 11th place finish with minnows AZ Alkmaar in 2007 seemingly put Van Gall on the road to mediocrity.
It probably isn’t the best time to say it, but in the aftermath of Man City’s last gasp derby defeat to bitter rivals United, it became clear that City are a club on the rapid rise.
So often a fixture that proved to be a minor irritant rather than a formidable challenge, City’s very expensive revolution has forced United to take them seriously this year.
Fergie showed that by naming his strongest line up, including veterans Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Edwin Van Der Sar.
The English press got what they secretly wanted at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday – a Wayne Rooney injury scare.
The sight of the England striker hobbling off at the end United’s Champions League quarter final defeat to Bayern Munich was all that was needed for the front pages to be cleared and filled with attention seeking, copy selling, England World Cup scare stories.
It is like 2006 all over again.
The only saving grave on this occasion was that the injury does not look as bad as the one sustained at Stamford Bridge four years ago.