Latest Soccer News on Players, Teams & Scandals
Speculation keeps mounting over the future of Roberto Mancini at Manchester City. After a bizarre series of events over the past week which saw Mancini soundly criticize officials before disappearing for several days, rumors are flying around the Etihad Stadium.
It was revealed this week that Mancini had received several approaches from top European clubs last season before committing to a five-year deal with Manchester City. However, despite being only two points behind league-leading arch rivals Manchester United, City’s poor European Champions League form has raised speculation as to the security of the manager’s position.
Further progress in the Champions League seems merely wishful thinking after the latest setback last Wednesday, a 2 – 2 draw at home to Ajax. City now sit firmly at the bottom of their group of death. It’s hard to see them getting any more points, either, as their remaining two fixtures are away to the highly organized Dortmund and at home to Real Madrid, whose defeat of City earlier in the group stage sparked the Spanish side’s recent return to form.
Mancini’s outburst and disappearance may be a storm in a teacup, but it casts an unsettling atmosphere over the entire club. The resilience of Manchester City will be tested time after time this season, and the last thing they need is the distraction caused by so much speculation over their manager’s future.
After the weekend’s results, the Premier League is taking on a familiar look.
Manchester United came back from two goals down against Aston Villa to record one of their trademark come-from-behind victories. The Villans pressed United all the way, providing a much sterner test for the Red Devils than did Arsenal the previous week. United looked very ordinary in the first half; it was Sir Alex Ferguson’s half-time substitution of Hernandez for Young that turned the match around. The Mexican striker netted twice – and only missed out on a hat-trick as his shot ricocheted off Vlaar for an own goal. The “Little Pea” rarely starts these days, but has now scored seven goals in his last five games.
The victory at the weekend was the eighth already this season in which United trailed and came back to win. It’s no wonder that pundits are now beginning to tip them for the title this season. Such determination and will power goes a long way to cementing a League-winning season, and it is hard to see who will catch them at this stage, especially as Chelsea’s form is dipping at exactly the wrong moment for them.
What a week it’s been for President Obama. We’re referring, of course, to the great run of his favorite soccer team, West Ham. An exceptional victory on Sunday away at Newcastle saw The Hammers move into sixth place, a remarkable feat for a newly-promoted side.
Few soccer clubs can boast as rich a heritage as Glasgow Celtic. The Catholic half of the Glasgow “Old Firm” turned 125 years old last Tuesday. They celebrated this in glorious manner by beating Barcelona the next day in the Champions League. Yes, the weather was typically Scottish, with bitterly cold rain lashing the pitch, but this should take nothing away from a performance that will go down in history as second only to their 1967 European Cup triumph.
We’ve seen the way that Barcelona can finally be beaten. Keeping your defensive shape, conceding width for compactness in the center of defense, and great heart can achieve the seemingly impossible and stop the Barcelona goal-scoring machine. Freezing rain also helps.
Just when things in Italy start looking interesting, with Juventus actually losing a game recently, up pop the league leaders to record an emphatic six-goal thrashing of poor Pescara. With Inter stumbling badly at Atalanta, Juve open up a four-point gap at the top again. Likewise in Germany and Spain, league-leading Bayern eased to victory over fading Frankfurt and Barcelona bounced back from European humiliation to win 4 – 2 at Mallorca to maintain their three-point lead over Atletico Madrid.
The furor over racism at English soccer grounds refuses to go away. In the past week, Chelsea has taken action to ban a fan accused of making racially-insulting gestures during games. Such action is to be commended, but surely more needs to be done to stamp out this scourge.
One response has come from the Society of Black Lawyers which has launched a new campaign to end racism in English soccer. Disgusted at the “slap on the wrist” approach taken by English FA officials following high-profile incidents involving Chelsea’s John Terry and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, the Society has called for the firing of players found guilty of racial abuse.
The Society is also calling for bans of six to nine months on such players and the creation of black players’ and officials’ associations. In addition, referees should be given the power to send off players for racial abuse and call off matches where crowd disturbance threatens players’ safety, it suggests.
Torpedo Moscow’s logo has been banned by that city’s police. Scarves, flags and other items with the logo have been withdrawn from sale and fans prevented from entering the stadium with items displaying the logo.
The ban stems from allegations that the logo, dating from 1930, shows a symbol used by the Nazi party in the background. Speculations mounts that the move is, in fact, aimed at curbing the high and growing level of violence at Torpedo Moscow home games, which culminated in a cup match being abandoned in September due to crowd trouble. Torpedo was disqualified from that competition as a result, but crowd violence has not abated.
Welsh legend Ivor Powell died last week aged 96. The tough-tackling midfielder had an illustrious career, playing for numerous clubs and representing Wales eight times at international level. He set a then-record transfer fee for a halfback of £17,500 in 1948. His coaching career began in 1951 and ended only in 2010, at the age of 93. Powell entered the Guinness Book of World Records for this remarkable feat of longevity.
Author Bio: Don Phan is a huge soccer fan and loves World Cup and UEFA soccer. He’s a marketing analyst at Fanatics Inc. and a sports blogger on the side. His company offers officially licensed soccer apparel for many domestic and international teams and players.