Monday, 5 September 2011

Sports News Round-Up

The past weekend was home to the mildly irritating sideshow of international football. It was also home to several defining matches, which will shape the future UK football for years to come. Or so we would be led to believe! In reality, we don't know anything that hasn't already been discussed to death. England are a better side than most - certainly better than Bulgaria - but will continue to fall short when the real tests roll around. Scotland and the Republic of Ireland are not quite tournament standard, and will only make up numbers should they sneak in through the back door. Northern Ireland will not challenge for any more than respectability.

The only real interesting story is of possible progress for Wales. While Gary Speed's first win as manager is hardly reason to uncork the champagne too prematurely, it should be seen as a welcome step forward. With the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale to build a new generation around, they could yet be dark horses for qualification at future tournaments. Is Gary Speed the man to harness their talent? Or is he the latest in a long line of heat-over-head appointments, full of "passion" but low on tactical intelligence? I will be following his progress very closely, while of course accepting that anything other than a tonking at Wembley will be cause for muted satisfaction.

With the dust settling on the transfer window, Arsene Wenger will have reason to believe the worst of the storm has passed. Despite Jack Wilshere being ruled out for the next 3 months, Arteta and Benayoun represent good business in the market, as well as a raising of the squad's average age by about a decade. Realistically though, can these two really fill the gap left by Fabregas and Nasri. My prediction that Arsenal will struggle to reach Europe cannot be altered by such a drop in midfield quality.

One club that are up the creek without a paddle are Everton. Arteta has been their main source of creativity for the best part of a decade, and with Yakubu and Beckford following him out the door, the reliance on Tim Cahill for goals will only increase. I hate to say this, as I think David Moyes is a fantastic manger and a sure-fire candidate to replace Sir Alex at Old Trafford, but I can only see a bitter relegation ahead for Everton. Hopefully Blackburn's below-par managerial situation will keep the Toffees bobbing their heads above water for now.

Speaking of below-par managerial situations, (well, chairman situations anyway..) Newcastle's latest deadline day of inactivity has left Alan Pardew hoping to turn Leon Best and Demba Ba into a world-beating combo of dynamic goalscoring quality.... good luck Alan! In all seriousness, I fail to see where any serious worries about relegation will come from on Tyneside. Mike Ashley is a fine businessman. He will do enough to keep Newcastle in the division. If anyone is hoping for any serious ambitions beyond that though, they'd best go support another team for a couple of years...

That's all till next week, where I will have real football to talk about! I'm saving my words on Andy Murray's US Open campaign until after it crashes and burns at the quarter/semi-final stage...

No comments:

Post a Comment