Sunday, May 31, 2009

Portsmouth's next boss

Now that Portsmouth have been bought by Dr. Sulaiman Al Fahim, a billionaire businessman from Abu Dhabi, there is no shortage of managers being linked with the vacant post.

The first candidate is current interim boss Paul Hart. The players responded to him and he led us away from the relegation zone. However the results weren't spectacular and the team seemed unable to score, it was however an improvement over Tony Adams. So far both Kanu & Distin have said that they would like him to stay on. I think that the most likely scenario is that Paul Hart will return to being in charge of the youth players as Dr. Sulaiman Al Fahim has an interest in developing the academy.

The second candidate is former Lazio, England, Man City, & Mexico boss Sven-Goran Eriksson. Eriksson has been a solid club manager and in my opinion was unlucky to be dumped out of Manchester City at the end of last season. That said he is currently looking for work since being fired by Mexico after it started to look like El Tri could miss the World Cup.

The third candidate is current Croatian boss Slaven Bilić. Bilić is young and came to managerial fame by leading Croatia to Euro 2008 at the expense of England. That said I was unimpressed by his choice of playing Niko Kranjcar as a striker to accommodate Luka Modric in the midfield during the Euros. It is always a risk to appoint a manager without any club experience. Hopefully, if he gets the job, he will be like Mark Hughes or Gianfranco Zola who both made successful club management debuts in the Premier League.

I was surprised to see that a fourth candidate might be Harry Redknapp! This move would be a disaster. Harry quit us and moved to Southampton and then we brought him back. I thought it was a bad idea and it took a long time to get used to the idea of him being our manager again. Then Harry quit us again for Spurs, if we brought him back again it would make a mockery of all of us as fans. If Pompey are foolish enough to offer him the job I hope that he has enough sense not to come back.

A fifth candidate has now emerged, the former Fiorentina & Inter Milan boss Roberto Mancini. He has wealth of club experience and trophies to his name. He was sacked by Inter after winning a third straight Serie A title because of his failure to win the Champions League. I think that he would be an excellent hire.

I imagine that Portsmouth will announce who will be charge sometime in the next few weeks and I have no idea who it will be but I would guess that it would be either Mancini, Eriksson or Bilić. Though as we have seen with Harry moving to Spurs and Bruce moving to Sunderland it really could be anyone.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Confederations Cup Pool

Well looking at the poll results it seems that no agreed with my pick of New Zealand to advance along with Spain and most people went with Iraq. The Iraq - New Zealand match will be the key match in the group. Which brings me to the title of this post Confederations Cup Pool, it is an opportunity to battle wits and see who can predict the outcome of the matches.

Not too long ago I was introduced to SuperBru by a friend. SuperBru is a South African pool manager that runs pools for Super XIV Rugby, The Indian Premier League (Cricket), F1, and football, namely the Confederations Cup. I have started a pool there and you invited to join. Here is the information:

Pool code: votepale
Pool name: PompeyCanuck′s Pool

If you don't know much about the Confederations Cup you can read my preview, that way you should know what I know or at least what I think.

Unfortunately there are no prizes other than to say "I kicked Pompey's ass" or "at least I am as smart as I pretend to be" so I hope that I will see you there,

Cheers & Good Luck

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thoughts on the Champions League Final

United came out flying for the first 8 minutes and Barcelona looked a little lost, for the next 82 minutes Barcelona were in absolute total control.

I think that Park was definitely the man of the match for United - he was the only player in white that was putting in any effort. If he was a step quicker (or had longer legs) and could jump higher (or was taller) he would have had two goals, which leads me to believe that Crouch would have scored twice...

I don't have a man of the match for Barcelona - It was a victory for teamwork everyone worked hard and made good passes, without a doubt a great display from the best team in the world.

What I didn't like, 3 dives When Ronaldo leapt at Pique to draw a yellow from Pique, When Iniesta collapsed at the top of box to draw a free kick, it was disgraceful and when Puyol dove when Ronaldo got the ball.

I was surprised that throughout the match United kept attacking Puyol, in the lead up to the match there was a lot of talk about whether or not Sylvinho could deal with the pace but he was never tested.

I thought that Evra was playing too central and Barcelona kept having plenty of space on the right. Though I did think that Ferguson made the right move in bringing on Tevez at half time and moving Rooney to the right to have a go at Sylvinho, unfortunately these moves ended up not having an impact on Barcelona's domination.

United passing was poor, but Barcelona fiercely attacked loose balls, by the second half they had stopped being 50/50s and started being Barcelona possessions.

I think that Ferguson should have taken Ronaldo off after his aerial challenge with Puyol in the 62 min, his head was out of the game. After the Messi's goal Rooney seemed to stop running all together it was a disappointing lack of effort. United seemed to not have any stomach for the comeback.

Barcelona dominated the match so thoroughly that I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear about some food poisoning scandal etc to try to explain why United looked so slow out there.

I also have to mention that the dummy by Henry in the 50somethingth minute was one of the best that I have ever seen.

And as Kristian Jack pointed out in his blog if you were a football fan you watched the match with a smile on your face as Barcelona put on a wonderful display of the beautiful game.

Champions League Final

Are you ready for some football!?

Today is the biggest club match in the World. Luckily for football fans we have arguably the two best teams in the World competing in the final, the English Champions Manchester United and the Spanish Champions Barcelona. Both teams have players suspended for the final, with United missing midfielder Fletcher and Barcelona without both of their regular full backs Alves & Abidal. It is certain to be a great game. If you would like to read more about the build up to the final then I suggest you check out The Canadian Stretford End where Sam has done a lot more research into this final than I have. If you are looking for more then why don't you head over to the BBC live text which has been running since I woke up this morning. There are also a lot of articles that you can find links to from The Score's Footy Blog.

My prediction is for a 3-2 Barcelona Victory, Sam at the Canadian Stretford End predicted 3-0 for United. What are your predictions?

Monday, May 25, 2009

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying - The Road to South Africa 2010

With the World Cup now only 380 days away it is time to look at the qualifying situation in CONCACAF. For those of you who don't know CONCACAF is the North America, Central America, and Caribbean qualifying zone. At present the United States are leading the group with 7 points from three matches. The only real anomaly is Mexico who are currently sitting in fourth place with 3 points from 3 matches. Their next match will be their first without Swedish Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, who I think it is fair to say enjoyed a less than stellar reign as Mexico boss. With Mexico currently sitting in a play-off place they will look to catch Costa Rica & Honduras who are sitting above them with 6 & 4 points respectively. There are also two teams on two points: El Salvador who are a bit of an upset to make it this far, and FIFA Vice President Jack Warner's Trinidad & Tobago. I did my best to try to forget that Jack Warner was associated with T & T when I was predicting the matches. Unfortunately for fans of the Soca Warriors and El Salvador I see them remaining the bottom two teams. I also think that Mexico will rediscover their form under new leadership and I have them winning the group, followed by Honduras, and the United States. That puts Costa Rica in the playoff against Ecuador and I think that the South Americans will take the playoff and go to South Africa.

In case you wanted to laugh how wrong I was 9 months ago when I predicted what would happen I had Mexico, Canada (oops), & the USA advancing with Cuba (oops again) in the playoff spot ahead of Costa Rica & El Salvador. Next up in the Qualifying Preview Tour is Africa.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Confederations Cup Preview

The Confederations Cup gets underway in 3 weeks and there are few interesting things about this tournament. Obviously the looming match up of Italy and Brazil in the group being one of the matches to watch. The story that I am most interested in however is who will advance along with Spain from Group A, in fact I have even added a poll to see what you think.

The groups in this tournament are quite lopsided in Group A we have the European Champions Spain, the Asian Champions Iraq, the Oceanic Champions New Zealand (Australia is now considered an Asian Country if you were wondering what happened to them) and the Hosts South Africa. In Group B we find the World Champions Italy, the North American & Caribbean Champions USA, the South American Champions Brazil, and the African Champions Egypt.

I have no doubt that Spain will be top of Group A. The question is which team will join them? It could really be any of the three. South Africa has been very poor of late, if you haven't been following, they lost out of the World Cup Qualifying (which doubled as African Cup of Nations Qualifying which is why they were participating) and thus will miss the African Cup of Nations in Angola. This is a huge blow as it means that the Confederation Cup are their only competitive matches until the World Cup. In a similar position is New Zealand they have already won the Oceania World Cup qualifying and await a playoff opponent from Asia in October. It has been a long time since New Zealand has played some strong opponents and making it out of this group will give them a lot of confidence going into their playoff match up. Iraq were unlucky to not advance to the final round of the World Cup qualifying. They will be focused on this tournament as a chance to brighten spirits back home, much the same way that their victory in Asia did.

I have been thinking about this for some time, and I keep switching between Iraq and New Zealand as the team to advance with Spain, conveniently for us football fans they meet in the final group game that is likely to decide who progresses to the next stage. But seeing as how I should pick someone I will stick with my gut and go with New Zealand.

Group B is also a bit difficult to figure out as Brazil and Egypt haven't been too consistent of late. To illustrate this point Brazil drew 0-0 with Bolivia in World Cup Qualifying. What is that you say it was the Altitude? Nope it must have been the attitude as the match was in Brazil! Egypt seems to have two different teams, the team that dominates in the African Cup of Nations and the team that doesn't get results anywhere else. Sadly for fans of the Pharaohs this will be another disappointing tournament as I think that Egypt will be the whipping boy of Group B and return to Cairo with 0 points. The way I see it unfolding for the rest of the teams is a draw between Italy and the US, Brazil beating the Americans, and Brazil and Italy battling to a draw. This means that Italy and Brazil advance to the semis.

In the Semis I have Spain playing Italy in another great match up, I see the Spaniards advancing to the final. The other semi pits New Zealand against Brazil, this is the end of the road for New Zealand (if New Zealand pull off a shock here it would likely be the end of the road for Dunga) setting up a great Spain - Brazil final.

In the final I think that Spain will win and cement themselves as the favourites to win next summer at the World Cup.

Friday, May 22, 2009

South America World Cup Qualifying - The Road to South Africa 2010

With 384 days to go until the World Cup kicks off, and only a few weeks before the next round of Qualifying matches it is high time for an update. In South America there are only 6 matches left, meaning that two thirds of the campaign is already behind us. Which ever 'Guay' you slice it there is some exciting football ahead. South American teams qualify through one table which operates like a ten team league. The top four teams qualify for South Africa and the fifth team enters a playoff against the fourth place CONCACAF side. Paraguay are leading group at the moment with Brazil, Chile, and Argentina occupying the rest of the automatic places. Uruguay currently have the playoff place. If you are interested the complete table can be found here. There are a lot of interesting matches remaining such as Argentina - Brazil or any team at Bolivia. Brazil have quite a difficult run in compared to some of the other teams. That said I see the current top four remaining the top four after the last match, with a few teams changing places. The real battle will be for fifth place with Ecuador, Uruguay, & Colombia. Anything could happen, looking at the fixtures it is easy to see what the outcome could be, but the reason that we watch the games is because that rarely occurs. My latest prediction sees Ecuador winning a decisive home match against Uruguay on October 10, that is enough to secure the playoff spot. To summarize I have Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, & Chile advancing to the World Cup with Ecuador in a playoff against a CONCACAF opponent that they will beat. When I made my first predictions nine months ago I had Argentina, Brazil, Chile, & Colombia advancing with Paraguay in the playoff. I thought that Colombia was playing well, but the wheels have fallen off for them, and I thought that Paraguay would slow down, but they have kept up the pace. I am looking forward to seeing how this plays out. For the next update we are heading North to look at CONCACAF and find out who Ecuador's playoff opponents will be.