Catch Seventy7

Sports news and views, and other stuff in life…

Roberto Mancini and Rafa Benitez locked in a battle for survival only one can win

Two years ago, Benitez’s tactical superiority directly led to Roberto Mancini’s departure from Inter Milan. Now working on these shores, the Italian has the opportunity to settle a score — as it is quickly becoming evident the two talented managers are fighting for just one job-saving Champions League spot…

Battleground: The first meeting between the two was explosive an explosive appetiser. Now fans look set to be treated to an enthralling saga

Roberto Mancini: Roman gladiator or Renaissance man?

English fans are yet to discover whether the new Manchester City manager is more of the former or the latter. Robinho might be doing his best to test the waters, but so far the scarf-wearing Italian has been a picture of placidity since arriving at Eastlands.

But if the 45-year-old does have a combative side, it might be Rafa Benitez, rather than the mercurial Brazilian, who should be sweating about his future.

It was the Spaniard’s Liverpool side, after all, that knocked Mancini’s Inter out of the Champions League in first knockout round that year.

In the first leg of their tie, Fernando Torres tortured Materrazzi in front of the Anfield faithful, eventually engineering the defender’s sending off and enabling the Reds to grab a late 2-0 win (Kuyt and Gerrard) that the Spanish striker added to in the Guiseppe Meazza to earn a comfortable 3-0 aggregate success.

That defeat, especially the manner of it, effectively spelt the end of Mancini’s rain at the Nerazzurri, despite having successfully steered the club to three Serie A titles (one handed to them in the aftermath of the Calciopoli scandal) in his four years in charge.

Such success (which also included two Coppa Italia triumphs) meant little when what chairman Massimo Moratti craved above all was Champions League success.

Using an emotional outburst from Mancini in the aftermath of the Liverpool defeat (where he announced his intention to resign at the end of the season, before retracting it a day later) as a reason for dismissal, at the end of the season Moratti engineered Mancini’s exit and oversaw the arrival of Jose Mourinho—a man with experience of winning the European game’s biggest prize (with Porto in 2004). Continue reading

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January 29, 2010 Posted by | Sport, World Football | , , , , | Leave a comment

Arsenal’s Theo Walcott struggling to keep pace with Spurs’ Aaron Lennon in sprint for World Cup glory

He went to the World Cup as a fresh-faced 17-year-old in 2006, and after a stellar evening in Zagreb was expected to be the main man for England in South Africa this summer. But injuries, and a failure to develop as expected, have seen Theo Walcott lose his international place to a club rival who has no intention of giving it back…

Brothers in arms: But Walcott and Lennon might find come June they are fighting for just one spot on the plane to South Africa

Eighteen games, three goals, eight assists.

Eight games, one goal, one assist.

That’s the difference in statistics in the Premier League this season between the impressive Aaron Lennon and his fellow England winger, Theo Walcott.

While Lennon has drawn plaudits for his performances for Tottenham Hotspur this season, 20-year-old Walcott has struggled for both form and fitness for London rivals Arsenal — to such an extent that he is in real danger of losing his once-secure England place.

The Arsenal man may have provided one of the most memorable moments of England’s successful World Cup qualification with his hat-trick against Croatia in Zagreb, but it is Lennon who — after starring in the return fixture with Slaven Bilic’s men that finally secured England’s World Cup berth — is starting to look the front-runner for the right-wing position in Fabio Capello’s side. Continue reading

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Sport, World Football | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Was Tom Hicks Jr.’s resignation from Liverpool FC part of a deliberate plan?

It’s an insult that will doubtless find its way into footballing lore. But events after Tom Hicks Jr.’s regrettable email outburst might suggest that the whole saga was more carefully managed than many have considered…

On the ball: But Tom Hicks Jr. was left to carry the can for his expletive-strewn error

The recent resignation of Tom Hicks Jr. is just the latest in a long line of controversies between Liverpool’s American owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, and the fans they have failed so spectacularly to connect with since buying the club in 2007.

But it might be the most interesting.

Hicks Jr.’s resignation was confirmed this week after the public leaking of a now-infamous email he sent where he encouraged a concerned Reds fan, Stephen Horner, to “blow me, f***face. Go to hell. I’m sick of you.”

After the tirade was publicly leaked, Hicks Jr.’s resignation was quickly proffered, despite the suspicion that he could have held onto his job if a whole-hearted apology — which came anyway — was quickly released:

“I am very sorry for my harmful words. To the fans and club, please accept my sincerest apologies,” Hicks Jr. said. Continue reading

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Sport, World Football | , | 2 Comments

Ten predictions for the next ten years in English football…

Financial meltdown, a Welsh invasion and gay footballers are all on the agenda as CatchSeventy7 takes a look at what might happen to English football during the next ten years…

England expects: Fans are hoping David Beckham can (almost single-handedly) land the 2018 World Cup

The Noughties was a good decade for English football — indeed, some would say it was a great one.

The Premier League established itself as the most popular and lucrative competition on the planet, attracting star players and increasing the quality of football on display to an ever growing audience.

The next decade — is it the Teenies, the Tennies, or something else? — has the potential to be equally groundbreaking, with England likely to host a World Cup and many respected officials in the sport widely predicting the emergence of a European Super League.

Below I will take a brief look at just ten changes I believe will come into effect by the time 2019 draws to a close:

Continue reading

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Sport, World Football | , , , | Leave a comment