SportsNet - March 2013
The retractable roof was closed for last night’s World Cup qualifier between Sweden and the Republic of Ireland at the Friends Arena in Stockholm. But it was the tightness of both rearguards that ultimately dictated the outcome of a pivotal game. Two defensively austere sides fairly shared the points in a match neither team particularly deserved to win. What did occur though for Giovanni Trapattoni’s side was a corner turned. Or so we are satisfied to say.
Anything less then a victory against Austria on Tuesday night and this disciplined performance will be quickly deemed an irrelevant footnote on the Italian’s reign. While confidence will be rightly generated, the real fear is where opportunities are going to come from.
Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson currently has a near-full squad to choose from. However, he has learned from previous experience that you cannot afford to sit on your laurels in this game, as somebody will come along and overtake you!
In years gone by, Sir Alex has made the mistake of identifying players whom Manchester United were going to try and sign, but since Abramovich arrived, all that has changed. Any mention of a transfer deal and Chelsea would jump in and gazump the deal with more cash. That happened with Robben, Mikel, Essien and countless others. Since that time, Manchester City has also started to do the same thing. So, Sir Alex tends to do deals beforehand, like the Wilfried Zaha deal with Crystal Palace. It is a pre-contract deal and is binding on both parties. It stops the financial cheats like Chelsea, City, and PSG etcetera from gazumping deals that have taken months to set up.
Although Manchester United were acrimoniously knocked out of the Champions League, the Red Devils are still in the hunt for a possible domestic double this season.
However, as one obviously knows, we are entering the business end of the campaign and fans are already starting to think about, if not look forward, to the next term.
Hence, here are three United players to look out for in the 2013/14 season.
After a slow start to the season, Danny Welbeck has established himself as one of the most consistent and hardworking players in the United squad.
Possessing an enormous work ethic, silky ball control and massive versatility, Welbeck has been used and trusted by Ferguson in many big games this term. Furthermore, the 22-yaer-old's enthralling displays against Real Madrid over the two legs of the Champions League tie surely indicated the talent and potential contained by the youngster.
According to the Metro, London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur are set to indulge in a bidding war for England starlet Luke Shaw.
The 17-year-old is a product of Southampton’s famed youth academy and has heavily impressed in his 23 appearances for the club so far this season.
Via Caught Offside:
"Tottenham and Chelsea are preparing for a summer bidding war for Southampton’s Luke Shaw according to The Metro.
The youngster’s progress is being monitored by the clubs’ scout after he has put in a number of impressive performances for the club in his debut season.
Southampton know they face a battle to keep the youngster, especially if they suffer relegation from the Premier League."
Both Spurs and Chelsea are on the look-out for possible additions to their left-back slot.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to trade a first-round pick for cornerback Darrelle Revis. The deal would make the Bucs a dangerous team defensively in 2013.
Revis seems destined to dealt by the New York Jets and Tampa appears his most likely destination. NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal cites a report from Sports Illustrated's Peter King, stating the Buccaneers are willing to trade their first-round pick for the star cover man.
He is certainly worth that to Tampa Bay's defense. Revis can turn a solid group into a unit that will frighten opponents in the new season.
In 2012, the Buccaneers were the stingiest run defense in the NFL. They yielded a mere 82.5 yards per game on the ground.
Yet the defense still ranked 23rd in points and 29th in yards surrendered. The chief problem was a pass defense that ranked bottom of the league.