SportsNet - February 2013
Whilst the performance may have left a little to be desired, the result is what matters. Of course, that adage applies to all competitive sport, but in the case of last night`s FA Cup 5th round match between Manchester United and Reading, it mattered to both teams for different reasons.
Reading wanted a result to bolster their form in the league. They were certainties for the drop at one time, but a run of good results has meant that they could manage to escape relegation if they can continue that form. Unfortunately, last night, despite a valiant effort, they came up short. It merely underlines the fact that there is a limit to what you can do with just hard work and good organisation. In the end, it is class and that exceptional skill that the top players possess, that makes the difference. For United, the moment that Van Persie walked onto the pitch, the game changed. He did not score, but his movement caused all sorts of panic in the Reading defence. It was this which subsequently led to their downfall as United scored two second half goals to clinch the tie.
The Champions League round of 16 knockout match between Arsenal and Bayern Munich, which already promised to be an enthralling encounter, has taken on extra significance given recent events in London.
Gunners manager Arsene Wenger, who has been no stranger to speculation regarding his future over the last few years, suddenly finds himself at the heart of the storm gathering over the Emirates Stadium.
Since taking over in 1996, the Frenchman has earned himself one of the most enviable reputations in European football. His record of success up to 2005 was superb with three Premier League titles and four FA Cup victories chalked up with a team oozing in grace and style. Indeed, it was this ability to thrill and entertain that cemented Wenger’s footballing legacy more than the trophy haul itself.
But since the FA Cup triumph in 2005, Arsenal have gone empty-handed as the likes of the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea have left them behind domestically, and despite an appearance in the 2006 Champions League final, they have repeatedly flattered to deceive on a yearly basis in the continent’s top club competition.
Paolo Di Canio’s resignation as Manager of League One side Swindon Town gives that little jolt of surprise on hearing first. But realistically, there was more than an air of inevitability about it. The sale of winger Matt Ritchie to Bournemouth is what kick started it all.
Ritchie was a prominent figure in Swindon’s push for a second straight promotion under Di Canio. His sale to one of their main league rivals was a business decision. According to club officials, the £500,000 Stg was essential in Swindon avoiding falling into administration. However in Di Canio’s eyes it was more sinister and ultimately a betrayal of confidence.
Di Canio’s frustration at losing Ritchie was compounded when his efforts to sign three players in the transfer window was blocked by the football league due to the financial uncertainty surrounding the club.
Di Canio made it clear of his discontent and apparently advised of his resignation last week, only to be temporarily talked around on being impressed by the clubs prospective new owners before the weekend. However with nothing formally having taken placed by today, patience on his side was exhausted.
New England Patriots Commentary: Veteran Charles Woodson Would Be The Perfect Addition To Bill Belichick's Nickel Defense
Recently released veteran Charles Woodson would be the perfect addition to the New England Patriots Nickel defense. Head coach Bill Belichick is the ideal multiple-front defensive play caller to take advantage of Woodson's versatility.
The highly decorated defensive back is still a stellar performer at the age of 36. He would fill various roles in the Patriots hybrid, nickel schemes. One of Belichick's favourite fronts is a "Big Nickel" package.
This involves two linebackers and five defensive backs. One of those defensive backs is a hybrid player, expected to combine the attributes of a nickelback, safety and linebacker. Few players perform that combination as well as Woodson.
During his time with the Green Bay Packers, Woodson has been a dangerous weapon in defensive coordinator Dom Capers' zone-blitz schemes. Woodson has played all over the formation and been particularly useful in the slot.
Belichick currently lacks a versatile slot defender. Kyle Arrington lost his job as a starting corner and struggled to cope with the demands of playing in the slot. Woodson meanwhile, can blitz, and cover wideouts, tight ends and running backs.