Posts Tagged Manchester derby

Over the Weekend: Di Canio Sacked, Man. United Trounced, Vettula 1 & More


Following Sunderland’s 3-0 loss at West Brom in a Premier League match on Saturday, a match former player as at a fornight ago Stephane Sessegnon scored the first, travelling fans of the Black Cats sang to Paolo Di Canio he was getting sacked in the morning. How wrong they were… he got sacked in the evening, but no matter as they got their wish anyway.

But after only 13 matches? Appropriately if you’re the superstitious type and expectedly if you’re the analytic mind having watched the Italian sell a number of players, bring in 14 players, openly criticise his team individually and collectively on a number of occasions and, rather dramatically, communicate with the fans with his exaggerated goal celebrations or aggrieved gestures culminating with the aggrieved gestures to fans who sang his imminent exit to him.

Di Canio at the Hawthorns (BBC)

Di Canio’s exit splits opinion though. Why allow him change the team so if he won’t be given time to make them gel? However, one point from five matches this season and three wins from 13 matches since being appointed late last season is more than enough to get him sacked (although the official statement from the club says they ‘parted ways’).

Most of all, the Italian shot himself in the foot time and again by continuously criticising his team, subtly exempting self from blame over the dire situation at the club by so doing. Even Jose Mourinho would be amazed by Di Canio’s drama, but the Portuguese has his own crate of eggs to watch over.

Having left Juan Mata out of the squad and David Luiz for ‘form reasons’, Chelsea got a 2-0 win at home to local rivals Fulham with goals from Oscar who’s keeping Mata out of the team and, for his first ever since joining the Premier League, John Mikel Obi. The Nigerian’s goal completely wiping off the gloom that was previously on Roman Abramovic’s face all afternoon.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Simon Mignolet’s stock rose further after making seven saves yet his Liverpool team still managed to lose 1-0 at home to Southampton and drop from top to fifth with 10 points, Merseyside rivals Everton came from behind to get a thrilling 3-2 win at West Ham United through a Leighton Baines brace of freekicks and Romelu Lukaku’s first for the club.

Loïc Remy scored twice and missed a late chance as Newcastle United lost 3-2 at home to Hull City (Tigers), Christian Benteke went off injured (to send fantasy league managers wailing) in Aston Villa’s lone goal win at Norwich City while Swansea City is now ninth with seven points behind Manchester United on goal difference thanks to a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.

More fantasy league managers and indeed every red devil began wailing when news that Robin van Persie got injured just before the derby filtered out, a precursor for the terrible Sunday afternoon they were to endure as Sergio Agüero scored twice to help Man. City to a crushing 4-1 win, sending the blue side of Manchester up to third with 10 points ahead of Chelsea on goal difference.

Unusually, the north London clubs hold the league’s top spot, with Tottenham Hotspur second with 12 points courtesy of a 93rd minute earned 1-0 win at Cardiff City while Arsenal töp the league ahead öf their löcal rivals ön göal difference föllöwing a 3-1 win at höme to Stöke City thanks tö göals from Aarön Ramsey, Per Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna, all directly and otherwise assisted by Mesut Özil.

Gooners ahead of Özil's home debut [Arsenal.com]

Özil’s former club Real Madrid were unable to hand Gareth Bale his home debut after the Welsh, just like former Southampton teammate Theo Walcott, got injured just before the match against local rivals Getafe, a match comfortably won 4-1 nonetheless with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a brace to go past Hugo Sanchez on the all time Madrid scoring list.

Barcelona however remain top of the league with a perfect record after five matches ahead of Atletico and Real Madrid on goal difference and by two points respectively following a 4-0 thrashing of Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, with Lionel Messi not scoring in his 250th appearance and Pedro Rodriguez getting a hattrick instead.

Napoli also maintained its perfect start in Italy, getting historic 2-1 win at AC Milan in a match Mario Balotelli failed to score a penalty for the first time in his career, before scoring from open play only to get himself sent off after full time for dissent. ”Why always me?”

Napoli however dropped to second behind AS Roma on goal difference after the Giallorossi won a fiery derby di capitale 2-0 ‘at home’ to 10-man SS Lazio on Sunday. Champions Juventus remained fifth, two points behind the leading duo, despite a 2-1 win over Hellas Verona.

Inter Milan rose to third with 10 points, ahead of Juventus and Fiorentina on goal difference, after easing to a 7-0 demolition of newly promoted Sassuolo while Giuseppe Rossi continued his scoring streak after two years without a goal (or decent run of games even) in Fiorentina’s 2-0 win at Atalanta.

In France, the billionaire clash between PSG and AS Monaco ended in a 1-1 draw with Radamel Falcao cancelling out Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s early opener for the Parisians, keeping Monaco top of Ligue 1 with 14 points ahead of PSG and St. Etienne with 12 points while Olympique Marseille have 11 points in fourth place ahead of Nice and Rennes on goal difference following a goalless draw against newly promoted Bastia – Sebastien Squillaci’s club.

Bayern Munich went level on 16 points with Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen a point behind in third courtesy of a 4-0 crushing of Ruhr side Schalke 04, with Dortmund ending a frustrating week with a 1-1 draw at Bavarian side Nürnberg having lost at Napoli in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

In the CAF Champions League, defending champions Al Ahly of Egypt secured top spot and a semi-final berth from Group A following a goalless draw at Orlando Pirates, a result convenient enough to send Pirates through in second spot ahead of Zamalek that demolished AC Leopards 4-1 hours earlier in Egypt on Sunday.

Al Ahly will now face Coton Sport of Cameroun that finished second in Group B even before their 2-1 loss at group winner Esperance, with the Tunisian side now set to face Pirates in the other semi-final holding on the first weekend of October with the return fixtures a fortnight later.

Nigerian league title holders Kano Pillars meanwhile edged closer to competing for the Champions League next season and retaining the Nigerian league title after a 2-0 win over Warri Wolves in Kaduna.

With five matches left in the season, Pillars lead with 57 points and lie two points ahead of Bayelsa United that beat Enyimba by a lone goal and send the Aba Elephants down to fourth with 52 points, two points behind El-Kanemi Warriors that got a lone goal win over Gombe United.

In other matches, Kwara United remained fifth despite a 1-0 loss at Dolphins, Shooting Stars remain in the relegation zone despite a 2-1 win at home to Rangers with Wikki Tourists now level on 42 points with the Ibadan side after a 3-0 win over Nembe City, sending Nembe bottom of the league behind Shooting and Wikki on goal difference.

Finally, to the top of Formula 1 where Sebastien Vettel put in another devastating performance to win the Singapore Grand Prix and widen the gap between him and Fernando Alonso, who finished second in the race, to 60 points with six races left in the season.

Though Vettel, reigning back to back to back champion, had opened a significant lead before the safety car was deployed, the German driver went Johnny Blaze on his rivals in the final 30 laps after the safety car went off, finishing the race half a minute ahead of his nearest rival Alonso with Kimi Räikkönen taking the last podium place ahead of the Mercedes’ of Nico Rosberg and former world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Only way Alonso can overhaul Vettel now is to win the remaining six races and watch Vettel fail to finish in a podium position once. Hamilton, who is a handful of points from being four races behind Vettel on the championship table… it’s ridiculous bringing up these permutations even as Vettel looks odds on to win a fourth successive drivers championship.

With that, it’s a wrap here. Plenty to look forward to thid week including Nicklas Bendtner’s first match for Arsenal in two years when the Gunners face West Brom in the Capital One Cup, and Luis Suarez’s likely return from a 10-match ban in Liverpool’s match against Manchester United in the same competition.

On this day in history, Nintendo is founded in 1889, Bisexuality Day is observed in the United States, Juan Martin Del Potro celebrates his 25th birthday, Saudi Arabia their national day and the Week for the Poor begins at St. Dominic’s Church today.

Be charitable as you have a pleasant week wherever you are. Cheers.

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During the Week: About Cup Hosts Ahead of a Loaded Football Weekend


For a tournament a good nine years from starting, football’s 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar has generated a courier load of discussion all inspired by the dilemma of whether one of the world’s biggest sporting events should hold in the unusual winter period from January rather than the usual summer schedule from June.

The logic behind a winter World Cup is that temperatures above 50 degrees, which could be attained during a Qatari summer and would pose a danger to human health during the mundial, would be avoided by shifting the tournament to the Qatari winter.

Now, while a whole lot of a certain continent’s people probably aren’t bothered about under what weather the football would be played, Australia are not only bothered… the folks from down under are considering to seek about $43m in compensation having lost in the votes for the hosting rights to Qatar after spending some £25m on its bid.

According to a statement from Football Federation Australia’s chief Frank Lowy, “… with increasing speculation about a change that will impact on us as one of the bidding nations, and because our competition will be affected, we have made our position public.” adding that “just and fair compensation” be given to the nations that “invested many millions, and national prestige, in bidding for a summer event”.

The Qataris meanwhile, via the 2022 Supreme Committee, are saying there really is no need for the World Cup to be moved from summer and all should keep calm and observe as they go about “creating comfortable conditions for public areas, walkways, training pitches and stadia both during and after the World Cup, (which) means being able to play and watch football matches in summer throughout the country.”

The committee stated further that “cooling technology has existed at Jassim bin Hamad (Al Sadd) Stadium since 2008. This June, the stadium (in Doha) hosted a FIFA World Cup qualifier in cool and comfortable conditions. We are now in the process of developing and perfecting sustainable cooling technologies to ensure that our Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup stadia, training grounds and fan zones offer the optimal temperature for players and fans to enjoy the games.”

Putting aside potentially awesome cooling technologies along with alleged ‘politics’ and ‘pressure’ involved in awarding Qatar the hosting rights, the FFA’s position on the matter strays offside in my view based on the suggested compensation which leads to a few other subfactors.

£25m is a lot of money to spend on a bidding process, and lose, but that would require FIFA to be paying the nations that lose out in every bidding process from now on, which amounts to a lot of money considering that three other nations (Japan, South Korea and the United States) would also have to be compensated.

But I’m even thinking qualifying for the World Cup itself should serve as good enough compensation to be honest. For the 2010 World Cup for instance, countries that failed to qualify from the group stages received $8m for their participation, while those that fell in the second round and quarter final stages received $9m and $14m respectively from FIFA/LOC.

While it’s no where near the $30m FFA spent on their failed bid, I reckon that by 2022, prize money for the above stages would be much higher than what obtains at present. Not to mention that for the World Cup winner, which was $30m when Spain broke Dutch hearts in 2010.

The Spanish and Dutch FAs meanwhile have submitted five cities to UEFA to be considered as a host city for the 2020 European Championship which will be ingeniously hosted by different cities across the continent in a bid to make the tournament a truly continental championship.

Spain, who submitted the cities of Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Valencia for consideration and the Netherlands who submitted Amsterdam, are among 32 nations that have submitted at least a city for consideration to host at least one match of the championship to UEFA whose president, Michel Platini stated at a meeting of European associations in Croatia that he would make a decision of running for FIFA presidency during or after next year’s World Cup.

Some of the other nations and their cities include the British nations who submitted London, Glasgow, Cardiff and Dublin for consideration, Italy with Rome and Milan, Portugal with Porto and Lisbon, Ukraine with Kyiv and Donetsk, Russia with St. Petersburg rather than Moscow (refreshingly in fact) and France very oddly with Lyon rather than Paris.

In the end, the UEFA Executive Committee will in September 2014 select 13 cities to host the 2020 Euros, which will be the 60th anniversary edition, with the package for chosen cities either being the standard package of hosting three group matches and a knockout round match or the showpiece package of hosting a semi-final match and the final.

Other nations and their cities include Germany with Munich, Israel with Jerusalem (aye!), Croatia with Zagreb, Finnish capital Helsinki, Prague in Czech Republic, Poland with Warsaw and Chorzow, Belarus with Minsk, Kazakhstan with Astana, Belgium with Brussels, Turkey with favoured city to be given the showpiece package Istanbul and from the nation where some of the world’s finest chocolate, wristwatches and bank accounts are found… Basel.

For the week, Switzerland also serves as the nation from which one of the world’s finest football clubs is found (little bit exaggeration yeah, but Kagawa-a-care none) after FC Basel came from behind to defeat reigning Europa League champions Chelsea in their opening match of this season’s UEFA Champions League.

Oscar had put the Blues ahead in Stamford Bridge just before half time before second half goals from Mohamed Selah and Marco Streller handed Basel a first win on English soil while also inflicting a first home defeat in 29 European matches on Chelsea on the heels of a lone goal loss at Everton last weekend.

Elsewhere, Lionel Messi became the second leading Champions League scorer of all time courtesy of a hattrick in Barcelona’s 4-0 thumping of Ajax on Wednesday, a day after Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated his new contract – that makes him the highest paid footballer – with a hattrick of his own in Real Madrid’s 6-1 drubbing of Galatasaray at Istanbul.

In other results, Aaron Ramsey continued his good form in Arsenal’s 2-1 win at Olympiqur Marseille, Borussia Dortmund had their manager and goalkeeper sent off in a dramatic 2-1 loss at Napoli, PSG humbled Olympiacos 4-1 in Greece, the Manchester clubs got wins over Bayer Leverkusen and Vitoria Plzen while Bayern Munich began their title defence with a 3-0 win over CSKA Moscow.

In the Europa League group stage which began on Thursday, Adil Rami got sent off after just nine minutes in Valencia’s 3-0 home loss to European debutantes Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur got same score in the win at home to Tromsø, Wigan Athletic commendably drew goalless at Zulte-Waregem and Kevin Gameiro scored with 13 minutes left in Sevilla’s 2-1 win at Estoril.

In some other matches, Sevilla’s neighbours Real Betis drew goalless with Olympique Lyon, Giuseppe Rossi’s resurgence continued as he scored his fourth in as many matches in Fiorentina’s 3-0 win over Pacos de Ferreira, PSV Eindhoven fell to a shock 2-0 home loss to Ludogorets Razgrad, Rubin Kazan won 5-2 at Maribor, Bordeaux lost 3-0 at Frankfurt and SS Lazio got a lone goal win at home to Legia Warsaw courtesy of a Hernanes goal.

The Roman side will now prepare to face second placed city rivals AS Roma in the Rome derby on Sunday in one of several high profile matches to be played across European leagues this weekend. League leaders Napoli travel to Milan to face AC Milan later on Sunday in another Serie A match.

In France, the big spending clubs face off in the capital when Ligue 1 leaders AS Monaco pay third placed PSG a visit on Sunday, Bayern Munich visit Schalke 04 in a Bundesliga match and champions Manchester United will be guests of Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday.

Finally in Nigeria, Enyimba followed up Sunday’s Federations Cup win with a 2-0 win over Wikki Tourists on Wednesday to go second on the league table with 52 points, two points behind league leaders and defending champions Kano Pillars that lost by a lone goal at Nembe City of Bayelsa.

Bayelsa United meanwhile dropped to third behind Enyimba on goal difference following a 2-1 loss at Nasarawa United, El-Kanemi Warriors remain fourth, three points behind Pillars following a 1-0 loss at Sunshine Stars while Kwara United replaced Warri Wolves in fifth place thanks to a 2-0 win over Gombe United in Ilorin coupled with Wolves’ goalless draw with Lobi Stars.

Wolves will visit leaders Kano Pillars on Saturday, Shooting Stars host Rangers in Ibadan, Dolphins and Kwara United meet in Port Harcourt, El-Kanemi host Gombe United in Maiduguri and Enyimba visit Bayelsa United in this weekend’s top match in matchday 33 of the Nigerian Professional Football League.

That’s the bit from here today. On this (yester)day in history, revered secondary school King’s College Lagos was founded in 1909.

Then on this day in 1937, JRR Tolkien’s ”The Hobbit” is published, in 1995 the Hindu milk miracle – in which statues of the Hindu god Ganesh began drinking milk when spoonfuls were placed near their mouths – occured. And in 2004, construction of Burj Khalifa (formerly called Burj Dubai), which is now the world’s tallest building since its completion and opening in 2010, began.

The Burj Khalifa cost $1.5billion to construct, is made up of 163 floors (the most in a building since New York’s World Trade Centre with 110 floors) and stands at 2,722ft tall from ground to tip though the top floor is only at a height of 1,918ft. Both heights however set other new records.

Today also marks the birthday of (my favourite) author Stephen King, comedian Bill Murray, rapper Wale and blogger Kemmiiii. Many happy returns to them and all others born today. And a good man, Robert Onyia, was buried last night. May he and others departed rest in peace, amen!

Have a pleasant weekend!

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During the Week: 40’s the New 30, Reckless Joey and More


In some cases where one is determined (or desperate) to get a romantic relationship started (or keep an already existing one going) with that one older person, “age is nothing but a number” gets uttered. For Taribo West however, age became an unwanted topic.

The former Nigerian international, among a few (like Mario Balotelli and Zlatan Ibrahimovic) to have played for both Milan clubs, was commented on (whatever for) by a former Partizan Belgrade President. And indeed Zarko Zecevic was enthusing about erstwhile Pastor Taribo’s time at Belgrade, stating that West played well during his stint there.

Problem is, Zecevic indicated in his compliment that West was a good dozen years older than he claimed to be when he joined the club in 2002, saying the former defender was actually 40 years old rather than the 28 he claimed to be. Meaning Taribo will be 51 years old now rather than 39 as found when you ask Google or check his wikipedia page.

Apart from (perhaps) inadvertently and innocently staining what was intended to be complimetary remarks, Zecevic by so saying has given the suspicion on the eligibility of a number of Nigeria’s historic Atlanta 96 winning team another attempt at resurrection.

Taribo has debunked the comments by Zecevic, saying “I have my record in the professional League with Obanta United since the 1990’s and all along, I have been keeping with my true age.” while also pondering why it is now such matter has been raised, almost a decade after he left the club.

Age falsification has been a menace in Nigerian sports, so much it has become banter among football lovers in the country, especially when the male and female junior national football teams participate in international competitions.

For some time, another source of banter, via his tweets, has been English midfielder Joey Barton who is on loan at Olympique Marseille from Queens Park Rangers and has tweeted certain (un)popular opinions about the end of his tumultuous time at Newcastle United, matters involving him at QPR, players called up or otherwise to the English national team and, among others, Justin Bieber.

However, his tweet in which he referred to Thiago Silva – of archrivals Paris Saint Germain – as an overweight ladyboy has landed the very opinionated Barton in some trouble, with PSG threatening to take legal action against the player and his club while the French Football Federation ethics committee will now look into the matter with a view to suspending Barton from competitive matches for the comments.

Barton and l’OM have since released a statement, apologising to PSG (which would be a rather humbling experience for l’OM) and to the Brazilian defender for the comments made soon after PSG’s dramatic 2-2 draw at home to Barcelona in a UEFA Champions League first leg quarterfinal match.

Despite starting the match on Tuesday night in rampaging manner and being denied a goal by the post, PSG fell behind some minutes to half time when a delightful Dani Alves pass over the defence found none other than Lionel Messi.

The drama came in a Messi-less second half when PSG equalised midway through the second half via a Zlatan rebound with Zlatan clearly offside. Xavi would then put Barça back in front from the penalty spot with a minute left in normal time, only for Victor Valdes to (amusingly) fail in keeping out a rather tame Blaise Matuidi shot four minutes into stoppage time.

Tuesday night’s other encounter saw David Alaba* score the competition’s second fastest goal ever – at 25.02 seconds – as Bayern Munich once again put up an efficient performance in a comfortable 2-0 win over Juventus at the Allianz Arena.

Real Madrid put up an even more precisive display on Wednesday
night in easing to a 3-0 win over Galatasaray at the Bernabeu, while elsewhere in Spain, Borussia Dortmund showed just how a team can be wasteful in front of goal in its goalless draw at Malaga.

Swiss side FC Basel showed a bit of Real Madrid and Dortmund on Thursday night in a Europa League quarterfinal clash at Tottenham Hotspur, racing to a 2-0 lead and missing further chances as Spurs fought back to claim a costly 2-2 draw.

Andre Villas-Boas had described his players as being “superior” compared to the Basel side ahead of that match, yet it was Basel that looked the likelier of both sides to win on the night. A bad night was made worse for AVB and Spurs when star player Gareth Bale was stretchered off in the closing stages with an ankle injury.

AVB previously had stated (after beating Inter Milan 3-0 in the first leg at the round of 16 stage) that the club didn’t need to prove it could play well without the Welsh winger in the team. Now with Bale out for two weeks and the return leg at Basel sandwiched between matches against Everton and Chelsea as they battle to finish in the Premier League’s top four coming up, AVB will hope his earlier assertion hasn’t met with Karma.

Chelsea and Arsenal will be out to take advantage of any Spurs slip-up at Goodison Park on Sunday, with Chelsea; fresh off a Juan Mata inspired, Fernando Torres-scoring 3-1 win over Rubin Kazan, hosting Sunderland on Sunday as well in Paolo di Canio’s first match as the visitors’ manager, while Arsenal visit West Brom on Saturday where a win will put the Gunners in the top four for 24 hours at least.

Newcastle United, that lost 3-1 at Benfica in the Europa League after taking the lead in Lisbon, welcome Fulham to St. James’ while Europa League chasing Liverpool host West Ham United. But the biggest match comes up on Monday night when both Manchester clubs clash at Old Trafford.

A win for United will put the Red Devils one match from a 20th league title but City, bolstered by Yaya Toure signing a four-year contract extension on Thursday, will be out to put the celebrations on hold for a little longer.

Elsewhere this weekend, Bayern Munich will clinch a 23rd Bundesliga title with a win against Eintracht Frankfurt, regardless of other results, while in Italy, Spain and France, Juventus, Barcelona and PSG still have a little way to go before clinching their respective domestic league titles.

Juventus face a relatively easy (on paper) match at home to Pescara in the Serie A on Saturday while Barcelona host Real Mallorca also on Saturday, with PSG facing a tricky trip to Rennes on Saturday too.

Away from the top, the Rome derby between Lazio and Roma on Monday night should make for interesting viewing, with both sides chasing a top five finish which guarantees at least a spot in next season’s Europa League. Another is Wigan Athletic’s trip to Loftus Road to face QPR in a relegation battle.

In Africa, Nigerian champions Kano Pillars take a healthy 4-1 lead to their first round second leg CAF Champions League match at Leopards on Saturday, with Rangers hosting Vital’O on Sunday in Enugu following a goalless first leg.

Naze Millionaires Heartland take a slender 2-1 lead to their second leg CAF Confederations Cup first round tie at US Bitam while Lobi Stars held a 3-1 lead against Muculmana in their first round match. Unfortunately, the Makurdi based side got crushed 7-1 in Mozambique on Friday night.

The Rome derby is the match I’m most looking forward to this ‘weekend’. Whichever match is your choice, hope you enjoy it, as well as the rest of your weekend. Cheers.

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