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This time of year was traditionally the launch pad for many a successful season as teams could potentially play four games in 10 days as fans begin to pay attention to the league table.
Going into the new year, we’re seeing games postponed for COVID-19 outbreaks and talk about halting the season for a while.
Sometimes MLS not following the FIFA calendar is a good thing!
Carney Leaves Lillywhites Red-faced
Leeds United are embroiled in a sticky situation after fans jumped on a Tweet from the club to abuse former England midfielder Karen Carney.
Carney served as a pundit for Amazon Prime’s Premier League coverage in the UK this week, discussing the trend of promoted teams who start off well and then run out of gas towards the end of the season. She added to that point by stating that Leeds won the EFL Championship last season due to their form coming out of the shutdown from March until June.
Both the club and fans took this reasoning as the club’s promotion was only due to the pandemic, with the 144-cap Lioness’ quote being cut short to suit that view.
Carney is right. Leeds led by one point when the season stopped in early March. United came out of the break hot, going 7-1-1 while West Brom went 3-2-4 to jump to a ten-point gap by the end of the season. Leeds won the league because West Bromwich Albion didn’t handle coming out of the break well.
Similarly, my own Luton Town, and Barnsley, were dead and buried before the break. Both teams put in some of the best form in the league when the season resumed as teams like Hull tanked.
I’m not complaining that my team benefited from it, Leeds fans shouldn’t either.
A Messi Night
Budweiser may taste like diluted pee but you can’t beat them for marketing, and the way they’ve jumped on Leo Messi breaking Pele’s record of 643 goals for one club.
Santos later came out claiming that Pele’s record should be recognized as 1,091 to include friendlies and unofficial games. I’ve scored over 1,000 goals on FIFA so I think that should probably count too.
Also, well played Peter Crouch!
It’s For The Dogs
Bashley FC in England recently had a dog stop their game to give its opinion of the game before being shown a red card by the referee.
Bolivia had its own pet-intervention as a very good equipment manager ran on to the field to stop Nacional de Potosi’s 3-0 loss to The Strongest before being carried off.
There was even a happy ending as Raul Castro from The Strongest adopted the dog.
The Ticketmaster Returns
Coaches had a mixed Christmas, as PSG sacked Thomas Tuchel on Christmas Eve while Schalke appointed Christian Gross.
If you’re not familiar with the Swiss coach, he was given a job by Spurs in 1997. For his introductory press conference, he pulls out his train ticket from Heathrow airport, rambling on about dreams and success. He lasted 10 months as Tottenham flirted with relegation, highlighted by a 6-1 loss at home to Chelsea.
After being fired by Egyptian club Zamalek, Gross was called a ‘specialist in failure’. With Schalke last recording a win on January 17, he might want to keep that Deutsche Bahn ticket close by.
Call Me Maybe
Heading into half time at Besiktas’ Vodafone Arena, Sivasspor were disappointed to find themselves down a goal when the ball appeared to go out for a throw-in in the build up, which the officials failed to spot.
They soon found themselves down to ten men as captain Hakan Arslan grabbed a phone off the bench to try and show the referee as he walked off the pitch, before throwing the phone at the ground and kicking everything in his path.
Referees aren’t fans of outside interference. That’s why scoreboards stop at 45 and 90, rather than show stoppage time. It’s also why Concacaf doesn’t do scoreboard replays in the Gold Cup and Champions League. The referee cannot go back half an hour in the game clock to take the goal away, so the idea of pointing out the error almost asks for a make-up call.
Anyway, rather than trying to pull the score back in the second half with a full team, the ten remaining players lost 3-0.
Stick to the Day Job
Luc Eymael secured a job that didn’t even last a day with South African side Chippa United.
Eymael had previously been fired by Young Africans in Tanzania after allegations that he labeled fans as ‘illiterate monkeys and dogs’. The Belgian, who had managed 13 other clubs on the continent over the last decade denies the claims.
The South African Football Association went as far as to write to the government asking them to deny a work permit. Chippa rescinded its offer and gave Dan Malasela a fourth turn in the dugout – the Chilli Boys’ 28th managerial appointment in nine years.
Friday, January 1:
11:30am – Everton v West Ham (EPL) – NBCSN
2:00pm – Manchester Utd v Aston Villa (EPL) – NBCSN
Saturday, January 2:
6:30am – Rangers v Celtic (SPFL) – ESPN+
8:30am – Eintracht Frankfurt vs Bayer Leverkusen (Bundesliga) – ESPN+
9:15am – Real Betis v Sevilla (La Liga) – beIN SPORTS
1:30pm – Stuttgart v RB Leipzig (Bundesliga) – ESPN+
6:30pm – Boca Juniors v River Plate (Primera Division) – Fanatiz
Sunday, January 3:
5:30am – Inter Milan v Crotone (Serie A) – ESPN+
8:00am – Atalanta v Sassuolo (Serie A) – ESPN+
10:30am – Chelsea v Manchester City (EPL) – NBCSN
1:45pm – Juventus v Udinese (Serie A) – ESPN+
Monday, January 4:
2:00pm – Southampton v Liverpool (EPL) – NBCSN
Tuesday, January 5:
1:45pm – Tottenham v Brentford (Carabao Cup) – ESPN+
6:30pm – River Plate v Palmeiras (Copa Libertadores) – beIN SPORTS
Wednesday, January 6:
8:00am – Sampdoria v Inter Milan (Serie A) – ESPN+
11:00am – Napoli v Spezia (Serie A) – ESPN+
1:45pm – Manchester Utd v Manchester City (Carabao Cup) – ESPN+
1:45pm – AC Milan v Juventus (Serie A) – ESPN2
4:15pm – Boca Juniors v Santos (Copa Libertadores) – beIN SPORTS
Friday, January 8:
1:30pm – Borussia Monchengladbach v Bayern Munich (Bundesliga) – ESPN+
Saturday, January 9:
6:00am – Luton Town v Reading (FA Cup) – ESPN+
8:30am – Union Berlin v Wolfsburg (Bundesliga) – ESPN+
11:30am – RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga) – ESPN+
1:45pm – AC Milan v Torino (Serie A) – ESPN+
7:00pm – Tigres v Leon (Liga MX) – ESPN Deportes
Sunday, January 10:
5:30am – Roma v Inter Milan (Serie A) – ESPN+
7:30am – Chelsea v Morecambe (FA Cup) – ESPN+
9:45am – Ajax v PSV Eindhoven (Eredivisie) – ESPN+
11:00am – Marine v Tottenham (FA Cup) – ESPN+
1:45pm – Juventus v Sassuolo (Serie A) – ESPN+