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Monday, 27 February 2012

Recapping the last week from the Premier League (February 18-26)

It's been another fascinating ten days from the Premier League and European competitions as well as some movement on the English manager front. These are just a few of my thoughts from the last week and a bit as we have a slow week of internationals in front of us before the League gets back into gear next weekend.

Stuart Pearce managing England in the short term: Now this is going to come off as a rant, so I will apologise for that immediately... Some may agree, others may not, but this is my personal view on the whole matter.

First things first, I am absolutely shocked that England would even come close to considering Stuart Pearce to lead the nation to the Euro 2012 tournament in Poland/Ukraine as I just don't believe he has the necessary experience to deal with the players that he will have at his disposal for this event.

I actually can't believe he has managed to position himself so well considering his managerial success at club level has been modest at best and poor if you really delve into it... Yes he displayed 'passion' (there's that word again when it comes to potential England managers) as a player, but that is surely not going to be enough to actually get the best out of his players when they are tactically not set up in the correct manner.

Some will ask who is better placed to do a job at this moment- I don't know if bringing in someone like Alan Curbishly with Pearce as his number 2 wouldn't be an upgrade on what England could be going in with this Summer.

Rooney Rule should be brought in to English Football immediately: The Rooney Rule from the NFL was given a lukewarm reaction from many, but I think England could really set the tone by starting to open the door to black coaches and potential managers.

Now I don't think there is a non-white manager that can do a better job than Harry Redknapp or Roy Hodgson (if I was picking the manager, those two would be on my shortlist), but I think it's about time that non-white coaches are given an opportunity in the England set up.

For example, Paul Ince has as strong a managerial CV as Stuart Pearce, has an iconic moment from his time playing for England (bandaged up in Rome after the 0-0 draw with Italy to qualify for the World Cup 1998), and surely could benefit from being given such an opportunity as has been awarded to Pearce and David Platt in the past.

While Ince would not be considered for the managerial role at this moment, this will give him the experience of working within the camp that seems to have pushed Pearce's prospects forward and would at least get clubs thinking that non-white managers are capable of doing the big jobs in English football.

It is a sad state that we have ONE black manager in the English top flight in 2012, and Terry Connor is only in that position because almost every other candidate seemed to have turned the job down.

The NFL seems to have moved on from their archaic views on the potential of black Quarter Backs as well as Head Coaches, but it took the formation of the 'Rooney Rule' to open the doors on the latter of those and I think English Football would similarly benefit.

Pivotal moment of the season?: Ryan Giggs saved Manchester United from losing a potentially big two points as he scored in the 92nd minute, earning a big three points for the Red Devils and keeping them just a couple of points from the summit of the Premier League.

That could be the pivotal moment of the season as United once again displayed to the rest of the League that they are not going to give up their title without a fight and it eases some of the pressure that two lost points would have provided.

IF Giggs had not scored, United would have been 4 points behind City... City would then be playing Bolton at home on Saturday next week and would likely have had a 7 point lead over United ahead of the latter's trip to White Hart Lane to take on a wounded Tottenham Hotspur team.

The win at Carrow Road also means a point at Tottenham will not be a bad result and keeps United well and truly in the hunt for a 5th League title in the last 6 seasons.

On another matter, how fitting was it for Ryan Giggs to score on his 900th appearance for Manchester United- it is a remarkable achievement to play so long for one club, especially considering United have been on top for pretty much the entire period he has been at Old Trafford.

Congratulations Giggsy, and here's to many more times seeing you tear teams apart... again!

Regardless of the stature of the competition, the Carling Cup can be a big catalyst for success: I know the first thing to do when Liverpool win a competition is to downplay the significance, but the Carling Cup should not be ignored as meaningless as we have seen it can make, or break, the success of teams.

Arsenal provided a great example just a year ago as their entire season crumbled following their defeat in the Final of the Carling Cup to Birmingham City, with the Gunners quickly losing their chances to win anything that season as they fell out of the FA Cup, Champions League and the Premier League in quick succession.

Manchester United and Chelsea fans will also be aware of what this competition can do for teams- United's recent success came about following a Carling Cup win in 2006, the same season they were last knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage.

That success saw United reclaim the Premier League title the season after, the first time since 2003, and also led to Champions League success in 2008 as well as further titles in England.

Jose Mourinho's first trophy at Chelsea was also this competition before winning back to back League titles, so the Carling Cup is not one to be ignored lightly.

Only time will tell if this is going to be the case for Liverpool, although I still think they have a bit to find to challenge for the Premier League title, the one competition their fans will truly want to win.

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