SportsNet - March 2013
Let’s hope Conor Sammon isn’t a Twitter fan. We should also hope he doesn’t listen to radio, read newspapers or listen to the voices of every second person on the street. Such is the depth of the belief that Wes Hoolahan should start against Austria in Ireland’s pivotal group C game on Tuesday night at Landsdowne Road, that a man making his competitive international debut, has been given an inadvertent kicking.
What irks people is what Sammon embodies. A long ball game after all the potential of Stockholm is what is believed will be reverted to. Not the glimpses of possession football we were treated to at times and could potentially, properly indulge in if James McCarthy and Hoolahan were to line out together. No what Tuesday night will now embody is long, aimless balls in line with the upper tiers of the West and East stands at Lansdowne Road towards an inadequate target man.
It’s a strange one. Having been dismissed from his role as Southend manager, Paul Sturrock has been given the opportunity to return on April 7th to lead his old team out at Wembley for the final of the Johnstone’s paint trophy against Crewe Alexandra. Quite how the logistics of the day or the moment will work in tandem with newly appointed manager, Phil Brown, is difficult to tell.
Phil Brown has been appointed after Chairman Ron Martin ran out of patience with Sturrock’s attempts to sustain a strong push for promotion. Sturrock leaves with the Essex side six points adrift of the play off places in League Two.
Martin has brought in Phil Brown for his first managerial job since being sacked by Preston North End in December 2011. Brown’s star has waned somewhat since gaining Hull promotion to the Premier League in 2008. But Brown wasted no time today in meeting up with his new charges, attending training ahead of a busy Easter schedule whereby The Shrimpers will visit Carling Cup finalists Braford City on Good Friday and will entertain close rivals Fleetwood Town on Easter Monday, who lie one place and three points ahead of Southend.
Every once in a while in the qualifying for the World Cup and European Championships, there comes a time where there are key games in deciding each group. For the current qualifying games, pivotal matches from across Friday to Tuesday which can decide group winners and play-off chasers include Bosnia v Greece, France v Spain, Sweden v Ireland, Israel v Portugal (believe it or not, particularly after the 3-3 draw), Hungary v Romania, and finally Montenegro v England. Usually the winners of such matches, the really “big” games, progress through to major tournaments. The last time fans can remember such a feeling for a big qualifying game, Croatia came and rained all over the ‘Wally with the Brolly’ and his boys’ parade. A loss tomorrow could send the Three Lions into the snake pit of the play offs – a pit which is looking more poisonous at every glance.
Montenegro's star-man Stevan Jovetic has dropped hints about his wish to play in the Premier League, further igniting the desires of Premier-League's "big boys" Arsenal and Man City.
Currently playing for Fiorentina, the skilled striker has forced 23 goals in his last 12 games, this recent run of form more than anything has pushed him to the top of Wenger and Mancini's summer wish list. Short from actually asking to move to England, the Serie-A star could not do much more to let the Premier League know he's interested in a transfer.
Jovetic has a £25 million buy-out clause, and in a recent interview said: “It sure is nice when you are interesting big clubs like Arsenal and Manchester City.
“It feels good because the English game currently has probably the strongest league in the world.
“I’m very comfortable in Italy but the Premier League is at the top of the football world – and perhaps the best.
Coventry City have become the latest English League club to hit a financial brick wall as their plight has reached a critical point.
Founder members of the Premier League back in 1992, the Sky Blues were renowned for their ability to defy the odds and remain at football’s top table for so many years without experiencing the dreaded drop. But after a 34 year stint, Coventry finally fell into the Football League in 2001.
In line with the trend encountered by many other clubs to have dropped out of the Premier League, the financial implications of relegation are monumental . Without the preposterous amounts of Sky TV money to prop up the club’s runaway outgoings, the outcome can be catastrophic.
Despite parachute payments and cost-cutting exercises since their demotion at the turn of the century, City have regularly flirted with administration. From 2001 to 2004, as the club teetered on the brink of collapse, a fire sale of players and a reduction of the stratospheric wage bill reduced debt and averted the need for High Court intervention.