Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gerrard backs Redknapp

The FA should look no further than Harry Redknapp when it starts the process of finding a successor to Fabio Capello, Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard has suggested.

Italian coach Capello will step down from one of the biggest positions in world football after Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine when his contract expires.

The former Real Madrid coach has overseen an unbeaten Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, with three uninspiring draws - two against Montenegro - the only blemish to an otherwise trouble-free route to next summer's showpiece finals. People looking at the Betfair betting will be wondering how the side will get on.

Now talk has inevitably lead to who will replace the 65-year-old and Anfield hero Gerrard is hoping the FA looks to these shores.

Redknapp leads the betting as the obvious candidate to replace Capello and can count on Gerrard for his vote when the selection progress begins. Fans of Euro 2012 betting will know the Spurs man is among the favourites.

"There are very good English managers out there," Gerrard told Sky Sports News.

"Harry Redknapp's name crops up a lot and he's done an unbelievable job. I don't think he gets the credit he deserves for what he's done at Tottenham.

"There's also maybe two or three other candidates along with Harry."

He added: "I don't see why we should have to look abroad if the English managers are good enough to do it, which I believe they are.

"But, for me, it's always the case of picking the best manager that can bring success for the country."

England will be joined at Euro 2012 by co-hosts Poland and Ukraine as well as holders Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Denmark, France, Greece, Russia and best runners-up Sweden, while the play-offs will involve Turkey, the Republic of Ireland, Estonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Portugal and the Czech Republic.

Monday, October 17, 2011

England need to look at bright side of Rooney ban


I don’t think anyone can argue that Wayne Rooney acted foolishly when he was sent off for England against Montenegro.

But eyebrows were certainly raised when he was given a three-game ban, ruling him out of the first three live football  games of Euro 2012 – the entire group stage. It appears UEFA wanted to make an example of Rooney and England – who aren’t exactly flavour of the month in international football circles at present.

It has left Fabio Capello with a quandary as he now has to re-work a system previously built around the Man United forward and try and come up with a viable solution using the replacements available.

But who is there?

Well Ashley Young and Darren Bent play well alongside Rooney, with the pair finally realising their potential and transferred their club form to the international stage.

Young is versatile enough to switch to Rooney’s position, allowing room for another forward, like his United team-mate Danny Welbeck.

He has progressed significantly over the past 12 months, with his successful loan stint at Sunderland and bright start to the season at Old Trafford.

However, for me, the man who could be England’s saviour is Daniel Sturridge. The 22-year-old hit eight goals in 12 appearances on-loan at Bolton last season and many wondered whether he would return to the Reebok, given the number of senior strikers at Stamford Bridge.

However, Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas resisted the Trotters attempts to lure the striker back up north and his loyalty has been repaid. Sturridge has now hit four goals in his last four games, revealing at the weekend that he has a spot at Euro 2012 in his sights.

For me he has that extra spark and unpredictability that makes him the ideal replacement for Rooney - He can drop deep if necessarily and can create goals as well as score them, just like Rooney. He is even an outside tip in the Top Scorer Betting .

He obviously isn’t as accomplished the former Everton man – yet. But it needs to be pointed out that Rooney hasn’t scored at a major tournament since Euro 2004, so his absence isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Sometimes in football opportunities are presented through unfortunate circumstance, an injury, a suspension, a manager’s impulse decision.

The emergence of Sturridge – who is expected to make his England debut next month – could make Rooney’s indiscretion in Podgorica a blessing in disguise.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Liverpool’s TV plans given quick rebuff


It was always a risk for Liverpool to stick their head above the parapet and suggest Premier League clubs should negotiate their own TV rights.

The proposal – like the deal currently used in Spain – would allow Liverpool to try and cash in on their worldwide appeal, rather than coming as part of a complete 20-club package that we have at present.

Well, I suspect the idea will now disappear as quickly as it arrives if the initial reaction is anything to go by. Manchester United (who stand the most to gain from such a deal), Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City have all distanced themselves from the idea.

Wigan – one of the clubs who stand the most to lose – are understandably against the plan, with chairman Dave Whelan labelling it ‘diabolical’.

The thing is though; Liverpool may not actually gain as much as they think if they negotiated their own rights. After all, TV companies would love to divide the Premier League up to try and save cash, rather than pay 
for one package, and so that would drive prices down.

You also only have to look at La Liga for evidence of how damaging individual TV rights could be – Barcelona and Real Madrid are now streets ahead of the rest, with many sides in Spain on the brink of administration. 

Part of the Premier League’s appeal is the idea that no one can regularly predict the football scores and that anyone can beat anyone – that won’t happen if the financial disparities are allowed to expand still further.

Liverpool’s owners are just trying every avenue possible in order to raise more funds to build a new stadium and therefore improve their premier league odds. I can understand that, but on this occasion I think they have badly mis-judged the mood. And, as has already been pointed out in the media, for a club whose most famous manager preached socialist ‘for the people’ principles, this stance is as capitalist as you can get.