Liverpool prefer Champions League to the Premiership

At the moment it seems as though Benitez is looking for another win in the Champions League rather than winning the Premiership. Now I love winning the Champions League and the way that we are so often close to doing it, but it would be really cool to be a bit closer to winning the league. Following the summer with Torres, Babel etc., Pennant looking in good form, some of the older guys making a committment to the team, e.g. Finnan, Carragher and Gerrard it has been frustrating to see us play weaker teams (Portsmouth, Birmingham etc.) with a weaker line up, and therefore drop points. Now I think the league title is still well open, Arsenal are only so far ahead because of the result against Derby, but we have already played them and are four points behind them. I think the Man United v Chelsea match is key, it could be, ineffect, the end of the season for one of those two teams tonight.
Hopefully Benitez will grasp the importance of a league title and start picking the stronger team.

Sporting play in football

Sporting play in football seems to happen less and less these days, which makes it all the more pleasing to hear how Nottingham Forest were given a ‘free goal’ in their replayed Carling Cup tie with Leicester City. The original second-round game between the two sides was abandoned with Forest leading 1-0 at half-time after City’s Clive Clarke suffered heart failure. Sportingly, City allowed Forest keeper Paul Smith to score straight from the kick-off to replicate the scoreline.

Leicester City chairman Milan Mandaric said: “This will not hurt football, I’m proud of the players and happy we did it.” He added: “The idea came from the whole club – we all like to win games but morality and fairness is also important. “It was a difficult situation, but it was the right thing to do.”

Leicester boss Gary Megson said: “I had a chat with Forest manager Colin Calderwood 20 minutes before the kick-off to explain what we had in mind but it was kept very quiet until just before the start.” Calderwood added: “Leicester felt it was the correct thing to do and I must admit it took us back a little bit to start with. But it was an honourable gesture and I would like to think that football in general has come out of the game as the winner. I think the crowd took it in the spirit it was intended.”

And even more funny – the Forest keeper now holds the record for the quickest goal scored in the Carling Cup!

Weekend of sport: England win in football, cricket and rugby

Today at 5:00pm we had three of our national teams playing sport – football, rugby and cricket – and we won all our matches. It has to be said some more convincingly than others – the cricket was a good seven wicket win over India, the football was a nice polished 3-0 win over Israel, and a fairly poor win in the rugby 28-10 over the USA (who don’t really play rugby).
In honour of this sporting evening we even managed to get out the barbeque again.

Buy World Cup medal on ebay

The 1950 World Cup in Brazil ended with Uruguay’s shock defeat of Brazil in the final. Now, one of the Uruguayans is selling his World Cup winners medal on eBay. I guess it is probably one of their grandchildren as most of the players are dead. But whoever’s medal it is, bidding is currently at the miniscule price of £82. Only £82 for part of World Cup history! There can’t be that many World Cup winner medals. I would be well up for bidding on this, but I know Hannah, my wife, would say no. But if you can here’s the link …

France beaten in Rugby World Cup

Just got back from shopping, and after putting the food away, I’ve been blogging while watching France v Argentina in the Rugby World Cup, what a fantastic game, especially as France were beaten! I saw the last twenty minutes and it was end-to-end, action, a real advert for the game of rugby. Let’s just hope that this continues throughout the world cup, and that even without Johnny Wilkinson we can make some progress.

The physical pressures on footballers

Chaswe Nsofwa, a former Zambia international, Spanish international Antonio Puerta and Anton Reid, a youth team player in England, have all died in the past two weeks from heart problems. Clive Clarke, the Leicester City defender, collapsed this week, during half-time in a match with Nottingham Forest, with a serious heart problem and is still in hospital.

The question most fans are asking is how this can happen to professional athletes, apparently at the peak of fitness. There have been immediate calls for better and more regular heart screening for players (see comments from Fifa’s chief medical officer, Professor Jiri Dvorak in The Telegraph, for example). It’s raised questions about whether football, and sport in general, is doing enough to monitor the health of its players. Or are these three terrible premature deaths that mirror many more that get little to no attention in the international media.
Or are our demands too high, do we force them to play too many games, at such a frantic pace. It’s a point that was also made in The Times by Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the PFA. Is it time to make a drastic cut in the number of games we ask our top players to play?

Kasper Schmeichel aged 6

This video shows something that is a bit of a rarity at the moment: Kasper Schmeichel conceding a goal. But here he is Peter’s little boy aged six conceding a sloppy goal in the Old Trafford tunnel. City fans will love the sight of him decked out in his Man United kit! Steve Bruce’s son Alex, currently playing at Ipswich, is the man who beats him at his near post.

Rooney fractures foot!

Manchester United are going to struggle, they only got a draw against Reading, and Rooney is facing a spell on the sidelines after suffering a hairline fracture of his left foot. United are going to be gutted as Tevez and Saha aren’t properly match fit so they could be short of goal power. However, I am sure they will find a way of knocking them in, with Ronaldo and Giggs still in form but it is nice that out of ‘the big four’ they were the ones to stumble.

The season has begun

Yes, oh yes, the Premiership has begun. Fortunately Liverpool managed a 2-1 win over Aston Villa at Villa Park, a considerably better result than in previous seasons. The surprise games had to be Sunderland winning 1-0 over Spurs – Roy Keane has made some good signings, if they can stay fairly injury free then they are in with a good chance of doing what Reading did last year; Newcastle 3-1 winners over Bolton, while it wasn’t necessarily surprising that Newcastle won I didn’t expect it to be that clear; and lastly West Ham start the season with a poor 0-2 against Manchester City, on that form they are likely to be relegated.
Looking forward to watching the others in their matches tomorrow.

Should Heinze be allowed to become a Liverpool player?

The Heinze situation seems to be continuing. He is taking his dispute with Manchester United to a Premier League arbitration panel next week regarding his wish to leave the club. He wants to join Liverpool and claims he has a letter from United which would allow him to leave if a club offered £6.8m. However, United insist they made it clear Heinze would not be permitted to join one of their title rivals and still has two years left on his contract.

Is this fair? In any other job, Heinze would be allowed to hand his notice in. Heinze has vowed to “carry on like a professional” and is continuing pre-season training with Manchester United. Previously United chief executive David Gill said “He is a contracted player for two years and unless we receive an offer which is acceptable to us as a club, he will remain with us,” he said. Gill says that before Liverpool revealed their interest, he verbally informed Heinze’s agent that United would not be prepared to sell him to any of their three major domestic rivals. That conversation is thought to have been recorded, and if so, could feasibly be used as evidence if the matter ended up in court.

Alex Ferguson has suggested that it is a case of an agent unsettling a player saying “I think that if we could take away the agent’s role in this I don’t think an awful lot is wrong with Gabi’s position at the club,” said Ferguson. “We’ve looked after Gabi very well. He had his cruciate knee operation and we looked after him. We let him do his rehabilitation in Spain, which he wanted and I think he’s delighted at how we’ve treated him. We’ve conducted ourselves in a way that suited Gabi perfectly.”

I think this, alongside the Tevez affair, highlights the problems in football. It would seem that football isn’t a free market and the Bosman ruling was only the start of opening up the market for players to work in. Do you think that it’s unfair that Heinze’s move to Anfield is facing such opposition or is it fair enough that Manchester United don’t want to lose a talented player to a rival?

Vote in this poll:

What if all footballers were as nice as Lee Cook?

It has been reported that new Fulham signing Lee Cook has donated his £250,000 signing-on fee to former club QPR. Boyhood Rangers fan Cook knew QPR were struggling for cash and thought they had been paid under the odds by Fulham for his services. He said: “The club were saying that not enough money had been paid for me. I said, ‘I’ll give you 10 per cent of the sale’. It was totally my decision — there was no pressure from anyone. The transfer had been agreed but I love Rangers and I don’t want to see them hard up.”

This is a player making his first move to the top-flight with no guarantee that he won’t be back in the Championship within a year. It would be nice to see some more of the hefty cheques from contract re-negotiations and signing-on fees at Premiership level filtered down the leagues. Is this a matter for each player’s conscience or should our top-flight multi-millionaires be forced by the FA to share a percentage of their signing-on fees with cash-strapped lower league teams?

… and even more doping

And there is even more issues for the tour de france. Rasmussen after weeks of courting controversy over missed drug tests has been sacked by his Rabobank team. I think this is a good thing, he is playing the rules – missing two tests with one organisation and two with another meaning that he technically hasn’t crossed the three test rule, even though he has.

The main worry now is where does the tour go from here. Will it ever manage to regain enough credibility to be a decent event?