Eriksson sacking not indicative of foreign ownership

Sven-Goran Eriksson looks set to be relieved of his position as manager of Manchester City at the end of the season.

The Swede has stabilised a club that was floundering under the guidance of Stuart Pearce and, with the help of a cash injection from former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra, helped secure a place in the Premier League top ten.

But with the new owner looking for a more impressive return for his money, it appears that Eriksson will start next season unemployed.

And while the decision to show the former England manager the door is deplorable, the notion that management instability is caused by foreign owners is ill-founded.

Although Roman Abrhamovich had no hestitation in firing the charismatic Jose Mourinho, Randy Lerner has been incredibly patient with Aston Villa’s creeping progress.

While George Gillette and Tom Hicks have aired Liverpool’s dirty laundry in public, the Glazer family have given Sir Alex Ferguson a new lease of life at Manchester United.

It easy to forget that some English owners were incredibly quick to use the boot, Cheshire’s ‘Deadly’ Doug Ellis is known for his hiring and firing and the pre-Thaksin Manchester City board had 16 managers in 22 years.

While everyone agrees that managers should be given more time at the helm, everyone should admit that it is not a question of foreign ownership.

Ferguson’s negative tactics hit United double hopes

On the eve of Manchester United’s crucial Champions League semi-final second leg clash with Barcelona, Sir Alex Ferguson must be hoping that his side can rescue him from an incredibly sticky situation.

Prior to the Red Devils game with the Spanish giants at the Nou Camp, talk of the double was rife with the league title apparently sewn-up and United tipped to crush the out-of-form Catalans.

But since last Wednesday, Sir Alex has git his tactics badly wrong on two occasions, making a previously unthinkable trophyless season look increasing possible.

In fairness to Sir Alex, United have always played defensively on their European travels. Against Roma they were out passed and out thought for much of the encounter but managed to score two away goals on the break.

In the Nou Camp United played the same way but with Ronaldo in such lethal form a more attacking approach could have netted the Mancunians a much needed away goal, especially after their penalty miss.

Fast-forward to Saturday and Sir Alex faced his second mammoth test of the week against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues had not lost a home Premier League for four years but a draw would have probably put the title firmly beyond their reach.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s clash with Barcelona, Ferguson left Scholes and Evra out of the squad and started with both Ronaldo and Tevez on the bench, perhaps hoping to scrape a point without having to use the heavy artillery.

The team selection only served to hand the advantage to Chelsea, who controlled the game from start to finish to secure a comfortable 2-1 victory.

United can get back on track with a victory tomorrow but if Barcelona score the first goal it really could be squeaky bum time for the Reds.

And although they are still hot-favourites to claim the Premier League for the second consecutive season any slip ups against West Ham, who they have failed to beat in three attempts, or Wigan and the title could be on its way back to the Bridge.

If they fail to scoop the double this season there can be no criticism of the officiating, no bemoaning of injury trouble and no complaints about fixture congestion.

Sir Alex can blame no-one but himself.

Man Utd late show ends title race

A resilient display by Blackburn Rovers against Manchester United at Ewood Park last night was almost enough to ensure that this season’s thrilling title race went right down to the wire.

Carlos Tevez’s late headed goal cancelled out Roque Santa Cruz’s opener and handed United an important point ahead of Saturday’s clash with Chelsea.

And the importance of the draw was not lost on United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Our second-half performance was phenomenal. Our tenacity was fantastic and we played like champions,” he said. “The attitude and character was fantastic. I’m really proud of them.”

The Red Devils face their London rivals at Stamford Bridge knowing that even a defeat will not see Chelsea take top spot.

With the Blues inferior goal difference, United effectively have an extra point and with their last two games against West Ham and Wigan Athletic it seems unlikely that they will be caught.

Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool will all have to raise their game next season.

Mowbray the difference in West Brom Premier League charge

West Brom have come on leaps and bounds since Tony Mowbray took the helm back in October 2006.

Under the guidance of Gary Megson and Bryan Robson the side produced number spirited and dogged performances in the top-flight and the Championship.

But since Mowbray made his move from the north of the border the Baggies have been in a league of their own.

The former Middlesbrough and Celtic player swept into the Hawthorns and introduced an exciting, attacking brand of football which has not belied their second-tier status.

Today an important 2-1 reverse against Norwich put them clear at the top of the Championship and a win against struggling Southampton in their next fixture will seal their return to the Premier League.

Pundits and fans alike have long claimed that the only to build a winning side in the lower leagues is to bring in physical footballers and play as direct as possible.

But this season West Brom have produced a stylish – and winning – brand of the beautiful game.

Every fan of sexy football will have the fingers crossed, hoping that the Baggies make it back to the top flight next season.

(Picture – BBC Sport)

Too little too late for Olympic protestors

Citizens of some of the world’s biggest cities have been out in the streets over the past few days in protest of the China’s Olympics.

There has been global outrage as the Beijing parade marches on to its final destination but are all of the protestors genuine?

It cannot be denied that China has one of the worst human rights records on the planet but where were the protestors back in 2001 when Beijing was chosen as the host city?

The world’s leading governments saw an opportunity to gain investment in one of the up and coming superpowers and couldn’t resist.

When the decision was made I can’t remember people taking to the streets by the hundreds.

The real nub of the issue is that too many people get behind a cause because they believe it is the right thing to do, not because they actually believe in the cause itself.

And that makes a mockery of the whole notion of protest itself.