So how well can Ireland do? Its hard to judge how the Irish will fare seeing as international tournament football has been so rare for so long. But have no doubt, these are experienced Premier League players who are more than capable of springing a surprise. Trapattoni faces home country Italy once again, and in 2009 qualifying Ireland drew home and away with the Azzuri, including a sensational game in which Ireland scored what they thought to be a winner in the 87th minute, only to concede a 90th minute equaliser. Ireland also play Spain again for the first time comptetivly since the 2002 World Cup final in which penalties were needed to separate the teams, while neutrals will be hoping for a better game between Croatia and Ireland, both seeking to cause an upset and seize second spot, managed to serve up in the 0-0 friendly in August. The draw was tough on Ireland, but anything is possible when it comes to this country, and even if group stages is a hurdle too high, you can bet the fans will enjoy themselves anyhow. (more…)
The title race is back on (sort of but not really), Liverpool’s season may yet prove to be successful and Pele comes out with another cracker…
Coming at you live from the toilet, it’s the Football Banter podcast! We look at the big results from the Easter weekend, talk about our disappointment at the season’s anti-climax and notice an uncanny similarity between John Fashanu and Alexandra Burke….
Since sacking manager Mick McCarthy and installing his number 2 (no, not that number 2 – although it is debatable whether McCarthy’s excrement may have done a better job than Terry Connor) Wolves have gone into free fall and now sit ominously at the foot of the table.
The truth is Wolves deserve to be relegated. Had Steve Morgan and Jez Moxey shown a little bit more faith in the man that guided them into the Premier League and then to safety last season, then maybe, just maybe things would be different. Maybe football fans around the UK wouldn’t have to face the prospect of listening to big Mick’s punditry work at Euro 2012 in a few months time. That’s right, no doubt everyone’s go to football channel ITV will snap up the silky tones of the Yorkshireman and sit him alongside the likes of football super brain Andy Townsend. What a combination.
And it was his own team-mate that did it!
This week we discuss our favourite goals of the week, ask if Mario Balotelli is too much of a liability for a team chasing the premier league title and find out about Alan Carr’s dad…
Plus who will be England’s 4 strikers at Euro 2012?
Much like they did in the Champions League, yesterday Manchester City threw the towel in at the Etihad and handed the title to neighbours Manchester United.
City drew 3-3 with Sunderland after being 3-1 down. The comeback was commendable but it wasn’t enough to prevent another Premier League title heading to Old Trafford come the end of the season. City simple don’t have the mentality required to hold off a challenge from United, the likes of Balotelli, Tevez, Nasri aren’t the players you need in a tight situation. When the going gets tough, they’re nowhere to be seen.
Roberto Mancini will now be feeling the pressure with City failing to return any silverware this season despite massive investment from the Manchester City owners. Questions will be asked whether Mancini is the man for the job, particularly when the likes of Fabio Capello are currently out of work.
With all their millions, the one thing City needed this season was the one thing they couldn’t buy. Bottle.
It’s a headline that I’m completely uncomfortable with, I’ll admit that straight away but it’s a question that’s going to keep on cropping up over the next 8 weeks each time the Norwich City striker hits the back of the net.
Holt is in form, no-one can deny that. A quick look at the Premier League’s top scorers table shows Holt in second place with 11 goals, only Wayne Rooney who will miss the first 2 games of Euro 2012 in front of him. The other attacking contenders consist of Danny Wellbeck, Daniel Sturridge, Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch. Wellbeck has had a good season but hasn’t exactly scored at will, Sturridge is alarmingly out of form, Defoe struggles to get a game for Spurs and Crouch is completely one dimensional. Suddenly Grant Holt looks like a viable alternative, or does he?
Fans are often heard saying that managers should pick players on form but that can’t always be the case – David Nugent and Michael Ricketts spring to mind, 2 players that were in good enough form to earn themselves an England cap yet simply weren’t good enough to play for England. Is Grant Holt another in this mould?
Fortunately for England, there are others in the team that can contribute goals – Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott and Ashley Young are all dangerous players and their inclusion in the squad is likely to leave the England manager, whoever that may be picking only 4 out-and-out strikers for the squad, hoping that goals will come from other areas of the pitch.
At 30, Holt isn’t exactly the up and coming young firebrand that England seem to be lacking but he just may be able to do a job. Wellbeck, Sturridge and Defoe are all very similar in style and offer little for a manager needing to switch tactics in the last 15 of a game – this could be the factor that sees Holt and not Defoe getting on the plane in June.
And there we were thinking that Mario Balotelli had been a bit quiet lately. Nope, when Inter Milan were announcing their new caretaker manager following the sacking of Claudio Ranieri, who should walk in?
It’s that time of the week again! This week on the Football Banter podcast we ask if Roberto Mancini will be sacked if Manchester City fail to win a trophy this season, could Grant Holt really make England’s Euro 2012 squad? We take a look at Liverpool’s poor form and review all of the weeks football action.