Liverpool's trip to Old Trafford on Sunday was supposed to be the fixture where the Reds put behind them their inconsistent form throughout the early stages of the campaign and showed they were beginning to make progress on their long ascent back up to the higher echelons of the Premier League.
Instead Rodgers men came out looking like an eighth placed side very much overpowered by their opponents, top of the table Manchester United, with the Anfield side putting in a poor display in the first-half as even the most senior of players, such as Luis Suarez and captain Steven Gerrard, showed their hosts far too much respect.
A well-taken goal from Robin Van Persie, marginally ahead of his opponent Suarez in the top scorer rankings prior to the game, gave United the lead, whilst a needless free-kick given away by Martin Skrtel on the edge of the area ten minutes after the restart gave Nemanja Vidic the opportunity to head past Pepe Reina to double the advantage.
Collective grumbles were to be heard across England as the FIFPro World XI was announced at the FIFA Ballon d’Or awards in Zurich on Monday night, with players from La Liga monopolizing all eleven places.
The fact that no players from the Barclays Premier League, argued by many as the best league in the world, made the cut has caused a level of bemusement amongst fans of the English game, especially considering the year saw some of the most iconic moments in the history of the English football, with none more memorable than Sergio Aguero tapping home for Manchester City to snatch the league title from city based rivals United in the dying moments of the final game of the season.
Other leagues have reason to feel aggrieved too. The Italian Serie A has not been represented in the world eleven since 2010, whilst players from Germany’s Bundesliga and France’s Ligue 1 have never been represented in the World XI since the original vote by professional footballers across the globe in 2005, with representatives from leagues in Spain, England and, to a lesser extent, Italy largely dominating the list.
With Sepp Blatter’s attempts to take the FIFA World Cup to all corners of the globe coming under serious scrutiny in recent years, UEFA’s announcement that the European Championships in 2020 could take place in up to thirteen host countries raised a few eyebrows.
The announcements last year that the 2018 World Cup would be held in Russia and the 2022 competition in Qatar caused bemusement amongst many football fans, with Russia seeing off bids from established football nations in England and Spain whilst Qatar have no infrastructure in place to host such a large scale events, whilst unbearable summer temperatures were also questioned.
Russia have gone some way towards dispelling any doubt over their ability to host the competition. Group stage games will be held in set areas which limits the amount of travelling supporters have to do across the country whilst a football league growing in popularity provides the country with a host of top-class venues.
Never before has a new manager been so hated by the supporters of a club, but having ousted a highly popular club legend, Rafael Benitez can hardly be surprised that the Stamford Bridge faithful greeted him with a chorus of boos in Sunday’s clash with Manchester City.
But it’s not just Chelsea supporter’s opinion that the 52-year-old usurped the managerial hot seat from the Italian that finds him held in such poor regard, the fact the Spaniard was always quick to speak negatively about the west Londoners plastic flags and lack of history also adds to the disgruntlement amongst Blues supporters.
So can Benitez do anything to win over the Chelsea supporters? The two things that come to mind immediately are organising a Chelsea defence that was leaking goals prior to his arrival and getting the best out of the under performing £50 million striker Fernando Torres, who served his best years under Benitez during their time at Liverpool.
Chelsea Transfer News: Fernando Torres' Chelsea Future Hangs In The Balance As Falcao Speculation Continues
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo chose not to play with a recognized striker as his side stuttered to a three goal defeat at the hands of Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday.
The Italian decided to leave main striker Fernando Torres on the bench after a poor run of form, stating that he didn’t want Juventus’ defenders to have a “point of reference” when trying to handle Chelsea’s attacking efforts.
Di Matteo may have been telling the truth, but Torres’ omission from the starting line-up in Turin will have many speculating about the forwards future at Stamford Bridge just two years after his £50 million transfer from Liverpool.
Should the Chelsea manager be allowed to keep his job, which seems increasingly dependent on the Blues progressing to the last sixteen of the Champions League, then it is highly likely Di Matteo will be in the market for a striker come January.
Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao seems to be the target which will be most favored by Di Matteo, though his move will rely on Roman Abramovich being as generous with transfer funds as he was in the summer.