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This is the archive for May 2007

The end of Liverpool's dream

I actually managed to watch the Champions League Final last night, so that made me happy. Sadly, Liverpool lost. I'm not a Liverpool supporter, but was backing the English team. I'm not going to do a match report though, as it's far too depressing. Liverpool were dominant throughout the game, but lost thanks in part to a very fortunate free kick which rebounded off Inzaghi's shoulder.

But rather than dwell on Liverpool's loss, I'd prefer to follow my other footballing obsession: old players. In this case, AC Milan's Paulo Maldini, who at the age of 74 has managed to cap a brilliant career with yet another European honour. Did I say 74? Sorry, it just feels like he's been around that long. He is, in fact, 39, which while far more spritely, is still fairly ancient for a professional footballer.

To reach his age and still be able to defend against much younger, world class forwards is a tremendous achievement. That said, Liverpool's manager, Rafael Benitez, probably missed a trick by not playing a more pacey striker against the aging centre back. While Dirk Kuyt is a very capable player, he lacks the kind of pace to trouble Maldini. Bringing on Bellamy would have solved that problem.

Alas, it's all too late now. And apart from a few lower league playoffs, that's the end of the season. For the next couple of months, it'll just be a case of watching the transfer market, and the inevitable soap opera which surrounds soccer.

Manager loses his job... maybe

In the last few days, two interesting things and have happened in the world of soccer, and then seemingly, 'unhappened'. Firstly, Leroy Rosenior was appointed as the new manager of relegated League Two side, Torquay. Then apparently, ten minutes later, he was unemployed. At least, that's what he says. The club's Managing Director Debbie Hancox assured the media that Rosenior hadn't lost his job.

So what the hell is going on? Well, it appears that immediately after being presented as manager, Rosenior was informed that the club was being taken over, and the new owners would choose the manager. However, there is a chance they'll want to keep Rosenior, but this doesn't seem likely. If his departure is confirmed, it will enter the record books as the shortest ever tenure of an English club. So it won't a complete waste of time, then.

The second 'unhappening' occurred thousands of miles away in Rio De Janeiro on Sunday, where Brazilian legend Romario bagged his 1,000th goal, equalling the record set by Pele. Sadly, his achievement isn't recognised by soccer's governing body, FIFA, because it includes goals in youth games and friendlies. It is, however, recognised by me, and I think it's worth extra praise considering the man is 41 years of age.

FA Cup Final Cures Insomnia

The FA cup reached its climax over the weekend, but unfortunately, circumstances conspired to prevent me from watching it. On a happier note, it seems the game was duller than dishwater, so I was probably better off anyway. With the score standing at 0-0, it took a single goal from the prolific Didier Drogba in extra time to prevent the game going to penalties.

Seeing as how Man United’s manager Alex Ferguson had said before the final that he was dreading the prospect of penalties, he must have been happy to see the game finished with a goal from open play. Indeed, being such a great loser, he surely congratulated the opposition on their win, declaring the better team had won, right? Wrong, of course. When the final whistle was blown, Ferguson immediately proceeded to tell the world his team had been robbed of the cup, thanks to a penalty which should have been awarded, but wasn’t.

Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho was doing his best to look smug, despite the fact that Chelsea’s season was something of a disappointment. Earlier this year, Chelsea were once again in a position to win the Premiership, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Champions League. But once again, they’ve failed to live up to these unrealistic expectations, only managing to capture the two domestic cup competitions. For any other team, this would be regarded as a worthy achievement, but for the mega-rich London club, it seems like a consolation prize.

Anyway, that’s pretty much the end of the season for English clubs; there’s just a few play-offs left, and the small matter of the Champions League final. Hopefully, they’ll be a little more exciting.