Who will be the next Republic of Ireland manager?

Giovanni Trapattoni has left Republic of Ireland after getting beat 1-0 away to Austria leaving them in fourth place.

Trapattoni has been very successful throughout his career both as a player and a manager but it has seemed for a while now that he should go but he obviously felt that he could still turn it around and qualify for the World Cup in Brazil. He won 26 of his 64 games in charge and did get them to Euro 2012 and even though they did not perform that well it was still a decent achievement getting them to the tournament.

The squad is filled with some good players and they should have possibly done better in this qualifying phase, however one criticism aimed at Trapattoni is that he stuck with the same players for far too long. Defensively their best player by a long way is Seamus Coleman and he has started this season fantastically and the new man coming in needs to make sure he is on the pitch as often as possible. Midfield at this moment in time looking at the last squad is a little weak, they have a lot of players that are good but nothing more like Glenn Whelan. Up front they still are relying on Robbie Keane who they need to find a replacement soon because he is 33 and the MLS isn’t the most competitive.

Martin O’Neill is the favourite to take over and initially I was surprised because he is Northern Irish and he may not enjoy international management. Apart from his time at Sunderland he has mostly been successful and would get the best out of most of the players. He may be looking for a new job right now and if he can’t find a club job that he wants then this job could be perfect for him.

Another surprising name linked with the job early on is Mick McCarthy. He has already had the job once and even though he was successful he did have a few problems, for example his much publicised fall out with Roy Keane before the 2002 World Cup. He had a similar win percentage as Trapattoni as manager of Ireland, winning 29 of his 68 games so would he be the man they are looking for? Plus he probably wants to achieve promotion from the Championship again, this time with Ipswich Town although they haven’t got off to a brilliant start so he may be tempted away.

Third favourite for the position is Brian McDermott, another manager that has just recently been appointed by his club Leeds United so that may make it difficult for Ireland to tempt him away. He has only been in charge for 12 games but has only lost three of those so he definitely does have the ability after a largely successful spell at Reading. I personally do not think he will go for the Ireland job but if they did manage to convince him then I do think he would be a success.

Others linked with the job are Roy Keane, Stuart Pearce and Chris Hughton.

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A Liverpool legend – Jamie Carragher

Jamie Carragher has announced that he will retire from football at the end of the season and hopefully he will stay involved in the sport.
Jamie Carragher
For me, he has been one of the best defenders in the Premier League in the history of the league especially when he started playing centre back. He will go down in Liverpool history and there is no doubting that everyone will remember him after this season. He may not have got the headlines over the years like some of him teammates such as Steven Gerrard, but he has been just as important and proof of that is the fact that he has played over 700 times for the club. He is a one club man which is very rare these days and it just shows that there is still loyalty in football.

At the start of his career Carragher was very versatile and played in a number of positions. He was originally seen as either a full back or defensive midfielder. He was a valuable member of the team but under Gerard Houllier this slightly harmed his chances because he struggled to hold down a regular position and in his early days one of his worst games in his career was against Manchester United when he scored two own goals in a 3-2 loss. However, in the 2000-01 season he had one of the best ever by winning three trophies including the FA Cup, League Cup and the UEFA Cup. During this year he played 58 times which is remarkable. He followed this up with another two seasons of playing over 50 times. After this though his career stalled but this was down to injuries more than anything else and unfortunately this hampered his England chances as he missed the 2002 World Cup.

In my opinion Rafael Benitez needs to be given a lot of credit because he moved him alongside Sami Hyypia in the centre of Liverpool’s defence and even more trophies followed including the Champions League in what has to go down as one of the greatest finals ever. During this game even though Liverpool conceded three goals he came out of it with a lot of credit as he produced two fantastic blocks in the game to keep Liverpool in the game. After this he went on to break the European appearances record after playing in his 90th game in 2007 against Chelsea.

Six years in a row he played over 50 games in all competitions but towards the end of this spell many critics had started to slate Carragher for his lack of pace. But, he was never the quickest and I always felt this was a little harsh. This season he has only played 12 league games but played very well against Arsenal and was given man of the match.

His international career never took off and he only played 38 times and I always felt that he was better than John Terry and he would have been a better choice as they both play in a similar way, and love making last ditch tackles and blocks.

Who is better Ashley Cole or Leighton Baines?

The left back spot for England has been one of those positions that in the last 10 years nobody has questioned who should play there.

But in recent months in particular that has changed with the form of Leighton Baines who has arguably been the best left back in the country for a number of seasons now. However, the problem is he is behind Ashley Cole who even though he is now 32 is still one of the best and most consistent fullbacks in world football. This is the first time that Cole has faced serious competition since he became an England regular. There have been other players that have been included in England squads that can play in the position but to most people they weren’t good enough to replace Cole. By this I mean players like Wayne Bridge, Stephen Warnock, Nicky Shorey and more recently Kieran Gibbs. Two of these players, Bridge and Warnock now play in the Championship and unfortunately their careers have gone downhill very fast. Finally Leighton Baines is getting the credit he deserves and there is a very good chance he could become the top English left back.

I am certainly not writing off Ashley Cole but I think that after he has won hiss 100th cap he may struggle to pick up many more caps from the starting line up after his recent outbursts against the FA. However, Roy Hodgson may not care about this and keep him as first choice at least until after the next World Cup. Not that this would be a bad thing as he is still a fantastic player both going forward and defensively. He may not get many goals or assists but he always makes himself available and lets the player in front of him cut inside and this has no doubt let Eden Hazard and Juan Mata be more creative in the middle of the pitch. Nobody would be annoyed or be against Cole being England’s left back for a few more years yet.

Cole has 99 caps for England

Cole has 99 caps for England

However, if a change was to be made I don’t think anyone would be against Leighton Baines becoming England’s left back for the rest of qualifying and the next World Cup. The 28 year old has 13 caps so far and already has more goals than his rival for the position and if Hodgson wanted a different option for taking set pieces then Baines would be perfect to have on the pitch. This season he has six goals in 27 games and has been arguably one of the best players in the Premier League even though he may not get as many plaudits as he deserves. If he could replicate his partnership with someone at international level like he does at club level wit Steven Pienaar then it will be very profitable for England. His goal against West Brom just proved how clever he is and his composure on the ball is fantastic. Plus, he can also take penalties and everyone in the world knows how bad England are at them.

Baines scored against Moldova

Baines scored against Moldova


So who would you choose?

Player of the day- Steven Gerrard plus My hatred for ITV!

England have won Group D after beating Ukraine while France couldn’t get the win they needed as they lost against Sweden however they still qualified.

France decided to play a few of their fringe players with Hatem Ben Arfa and Yann M’Vila who have hardly kicked a ball this tournament getting a start and Laurent Blanc’s gamble did not pay off. For me the big mistake was leaving out Yohan Cabaye who had been in superb form so far and is someone who I consider to be undroppable at both club and international level. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sebastian Larsson scored the goals and they sent their fans home happy. France will now face Spain in the quarter finals.

The England game wasn’t the most exciting and their fans will take confidence from the result however their performance still wasn’t great going forward even with the returning Wayne Rooney in the starting 11. The first half showed England struggle to break down teams that aren’t the best at defending and when they did take the lead early in the second half, it was largely down to a mistake from the Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov. However, it is worth saying that the cross from Steven Gerrard was fantastic and Wayne Rooney had to be in the right position to header home. It wasn’t the most exciting game but England were very lucky when the ball seemed to cross the line before John Terry managed to clear. How the fifth official missed it I will never know and it just shows that they actually are pointless and do nothing. Also, it looked as though the ball hit John Terry’s hand later in the half but that also wasn’t given.

Man of the match- Steven Gerrard- It wasn’t the greatest performance from England but their captain showed his worth by supplying the cross for the goal and putting in a number of other threatening crosses. He linked up well with both Rooney and Danny Welbeck at times and that will be important against better teams. Plus, his partnership with Scott Parker is getting better and better by the game as they know where the other is on the pitch and if they should go forward or sit back and protect the back four. It is refreshing to see Gerrard playing well after all the years of seeing him struggle alongside Frank Lampard. He has easily been England’s stand out player this tournament already and he is finally showing his true ability at international level and is a fantastic example to everyone when he is on the pitch.

Gerrard is closing in on his 100th cap for England

Finally, I would just like to say I really hate coverage of the England games, especially on ITV as the commentators aren’t impartial at all and try to claim that England are the best thing in world football. They are not and they think every player is brilliant. They don’t even care that much about the opposition and will not even give them that much credit. They hardly talked about Ukraine when their shot crossed the line, instead they focused on how well John Terry did to get back into the right position but who cares about that, he didn’t stop the goal and if the fifth official was awake or we used goal line technology then it would have been a goal so why praise him? Then instead of saying that would have changed the match, they talked about the Germany game at the World Cup. Football doesn’t revolve around England and it is no wonder England fans are always naive and think they can win big tournaments. I support England but I hate the way ITV portrays the players and it really makes me hate watching the national team and that is without even mentioning Adrian Chiles.

Who will Rob Green sign for?

Robert Green looks set to leave West Ham United this summer after they failed to agree a new contract.

Rob Green played over 200 games for both Norwich City and West Ham

The Hammers have moved quickly to sign a new goalkeeper and it seems as though they will sign Jussi Jaaskelainen as their number one next season. Green is currently away with the England squad as back up to Joe Hart which does show that he is still a very good goalkeeper and at the age of 32 has a lot of years left. In his last five seasons he has played over 40 games which also shows he is not very injury prone and will be able to play most games for his new club. The former Norwich City stopper had helped West Ham return to the Premier League with a string of fine saves against Blackpool in the playoff final and this made everyone think that he would stay at the club and sign a new contract but he must have set his sight higher and believe West Ham could be in a relegation battle this season and wanted better.

There have been rumours he could move abroad in particular Malaga but I personally do not think he will because even if he plays well he may get ignored by the England manager as Joe Cole has found this season. However, he could make the move abroad and not really care because he knows it is very unlikely he will add to his 12 England caps if Joe Hart stays fit, or if he does it will only be in friendlies or unimportant games.

So where in England will he end up? This could seriously backfire on him though as a lot of the Premier League teams already have their number ones set and if he joins a team that has just been promoted to the Premier League then you have to wonder why he left West Ham. I could see Reading being interested in him as Adam Federici is very good in the Championship but he has very limited experience in the Premier League so he would give them that but I don’t see it happening and I think Brian McDermott will keep Federici as his number one.

Firstly, I believe he would be a very good signing for Sunderland as they have at times look a little shaky at the back and a more experienced keeper could help them in that department. Simon Mignolet is a very good goalkeeper but he is only 23 and does make the odd mistake and also with Craig Gordon looking like he is going to leave they at least need two goalkeepers battling for the shirt.

QPR could also be interested in Green’s services as yet again they have had problems in that position and Paddy Kenny hasn’t quite lived up to expectations in the Premier League and if Mark Hughes wants a replacement for him then Green should be his first option. Plus, wages shouldn’t be a problem and they can offer him a good enough wage to join the club.

The options for Green are now limited which is why it is so surprising to me that he has left West Ham and personally I think they will have an ok season next year and not even be near a relegation battle. This could be his last chance on playing in the Premier League so the keeper that started the 2010 World Cup needs to make sure he chooses the right team.

Will Lucio join the Premier League this season?

Inter Milan defender Lucio’s agent has claimed that he will be leaving the Italian team this summer and is looking for a new adventure in Europe.

Lucio has played 105 times for Brazil

The Brazilian international has had a fantastic career so far winning many trophies including the Bundesliga three times, Serie A once and the Champions League as well as many cup competitions. He has also played over 100 times for his national team Brazil and helped them to win the World Cup in 2002 which just shows he can perform on the biggest of stages. He first came to Europe to play for Bayer Leverkusen and instantly adapted to German football, not only defending well but also adding goals from defence with his power in the opposition in the box as well as his forward runs in open play. For Bayer Leverkusen he played and scored in the 2002 Champions League final but unfortunately they went on to lose to Real Madrid 2-1. After scoring 18 times for the club, he joined Bayern Munich and went onto even greater success, while he was in the team they were very successful in their own country and even though they couldn’t replicate that form in Europe he was still considered one of the best defenders in Europe.

Even though he was getting older his services were in great demand and he joined Inter Milan and in his first season won the treble in Italy. Inter won the Coppa Italia, Serie A and Champions League against his former club Bayern Munich. He barely missed a game throughout the season and now at the age of 34 he could still make the difference to a lot of teams in Europe. So who could he join in England?

The first team I think he could do a good job is at the current champions Manchester City. When Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott were injured last season  they struggled with Stefan Savic and Kolo Toure not looking up to the challenge and costing their team on multiple occasions. I think Lucio would just add extra experience and make a difference particularly in the Champions League because the current team have a lot of world beaters, but how many have actually won the Champions League or World Cup?

Manchester rivals United, should also be looking at him as Sir Alex Ferguson knows they need to improve their team this summer and although I was quite impressed with Jonny Evans this season, I think Lucio is a lot better than him still. Plus Ferguson doesn’t mind bringing in experience as we have seen in the past with players like Laurent Blanc. With Nemanja Vidic struggling with injuries this season he may not be able to get back to his high standards when he returns and with Rio Ferdinand also getting older he will not be able to play as many games next season. Yes they do have Phil Jones and Chris Smalling but they have been used in different positions throughout this season and that little bit of extra experience may have got them over the line this season and secured the title for them.

Finally, Arsenal always need a centre back. Laurent Koscielny has had a very good season in my opinion but he does still make mistakes and Thomas Vermaelen has struggled with injuries at times this year. Lucio is also a lot better than Per Mertesacker and the Brazilian would fit into Arsenal’s style of play a lot better as he is one of the best ball playing centre backs of the last 10 years.

He may not be as quick as he used to be but he still has a lot of very useful attributes and would add something to the very best teams in the Premier League so I think if any of these teams get a chance they should definitely sign him up.

Close to the end for Shay Given?

Shay Given has been one of the best goalkeepers in Premier League history but now it seems that he is acknowledging the fact that he is about to be overtaken by younger players. In recent interviews he has been showering Tim Krul and Joe Hart with praise which could suggest that he knows his time may be coming to an end or is he just pleased that his former clubs are succeeding especially in the position he played.

He is still a fans favourite at Newcastle and was given a warm reception by the fans when his current club Aston Villa played there recently. But maybe now with Tim Krul emerging as one of the best performers this season the Toon fans will have a new goalkeeping idol. Krul has played a big part in Newcastle’s season pulling off some fantastic saves at vital times, keeping his side in the lead or at least in the game. Rightly so he is getting praised by Given but I think Villa fans should be getting worried as he has started talking to the media more and working with the media and could therefore be looking to end his career soon which I believe would be premature as he is still an outstanding goalkeeper and has a lot to offer the Premier League. Yes, Krul may have had a better season than him so far but that’s not to say he is having a bad season and is still as consistent as ever.

With the European Championships coming up soon, Given will be hopeful for a successful tournament as this may well be his last opportunity to play at a major international tournament. He was number 1 for Ireland at the 2002 World Cup where they performed admirably and were unlucky to get knocked out. He has also captained the side on many occasions and this is a reason why he has been talking about Joe Hart being the England captain for the tournament. The Manchester City goalkeeper would obviously love to play as many games for England as Given has for Ireland and if he does, he should definitely be considered for the role but in my opinion it is too early in his career.

I really like Shay Given and I hope he is going to continue his career for another few years at least and follow the example of Brad Friedel and hopefully play until he is 40. He comes across very well and one day should be a very good goalkeeping coach if he chooses to take that route after he retires but he may be more interested in a career in the media as his recent interviews have suggested. If you ever need a goalkeeper analysed surely there is nobody better than the most consistent player in the Premier League, he never makes a mistake and was at the time harshly frozen by Roberto Mancini at Manchester City but as this season has proven maybe Shay Given is starting to slip down the league table of goalkeepers. However, Aston Villa can count themselves very lucky that he is their player.

Is Stuart Pearce the right man for England?

Stuart Pearce has been put in temporary charge of England but could he possibly be the man to lead the nation fulltime? He has been working in international football for a number of years now, albeit with the under 21s but this experience could be invaluable as everybody knows being an international manager is very different to being a club manager. Dealing with players is a big part of being a club manager but on the international stage you see them for two weeks then they disappear for a couple of months. Therefore you don’t get to see the players day in and day out, so that is why I believe some managers do not take to international management as well as others. Using Capello as an example, he has a phenomenal record as a club manager possibly because of his reputation as a disciplinarian but he couldn’t exactly stamp his authority on players because after they left they could go back to doing whatever they wanted.

So back to Pearce, who actually had his first role in management back in 1996 when he was caretaker at Nottingham Forest but that was only until the end of the season and there was nothing he could have done to have saved them from relegation although he did win manager of the month while he was in charge. This was very early in his career and this was shown by the fact that when he left Forest, he carried on his playing career with Newcastle United, West Ham United and Manchester City.

He got his next chance in club management at City and it started brightly with them almost qualifying for the Europa League but a missed penalty in the last minute cost them a place. Pearce was prepared to make a few bold decisions which included taking off an outfield player for a goalkeeper so David James could play upfront which was very strange to see but at least it shows that he doesn’t mind taking a risk when he needs to. At City it was the first time he was linked with the England job but was obviously not chosen because he lacked experience. City began to struggle and were involved in relegation battles which eventually led to Pearce being sacked in 2007.

Pearce was handed the under 21 job on a permanent basis and they have performed admirably reaching the semi final in 2007 losing out in an epic penalty shootout against Holland and getting to the final in 2009 but being destroyed by Germany 4-0. However, this German side was brilliant and many of the players actually played in the World Cup against the first team in South Africa and we all know how that ended. However in 2011, the team failed to even get out of their group, although they did secure a very good draw against eventual winners Spain.

So should the man once known as Psycho be the next permanent manager of England? Of course he has the passion and the determination to succeed but sometimes you need more than that and his record so far does not suggest he will win a major tournament. However, if he was to be appointed, England would be copying Germany, with them hiring Joachim Low the former assistant to Jurgen Klinsmann and this has worked out very well for them. So who knows maybe he will bring back the passion and desire to succeed for the national team because at times it has looked like the players are not motivated to play for their country so at least under Pearce there would be no fear of that.

Finally Capello does something good for England

The news that Fabio Capello has left England is probably one of the best bits of news England fans have had for years especially after the disaster of the last World Cup. He decided to stand by John Terry and what an awful decision that was, I don’t think he realised the seriousness of the situation. How many chances was he going to give Terry, he has had the captaincy taken off him once so surely he should never have given him it back.

But let’s not focus on the reason why he left but what he did while he was in charge. When he first took charge there was an air of optimism among the supporters as he came with a very good reputation and had won a lot of trophies as a club manager. However, on the other side of this most would have preferred an English manager and Capello didn’t help the situation by not even learning the language properly, once claiming that he only needed 100 words of English to tell his players what to do which surely shows that he did not even put his all into the job. When you get a big job in a new country the first thing you have to do is learn the language and connect with the fans.

He made a strange start to his managerial career at England by deciding to choose a different captain in his first few games. Why do this? Surely it would have been better and more decisive to name a captain and stick to it but no Capello wasn’t decisive so why did he do it? Was it to show that he was the boss and nobody can cross him, well it didn’t work and his players got away with a lot during his time and he at times didn’t know what to do at all.

In his first qualifying campaign, it was quite impressive by England winning all their games apart from a defeat away to Ukraine, including a 4-1 win away to Croatia with Theo Walcott scoring a hatrick. But this is when it all started going wrong when England played a pre World Cup game against Japan and only won because of two own goals which was an embarrassment because of how bad they played. Then we all know things got worse with a 1-1 draw against the United States after a mistake from Robert Green who Capello had chosen as number one for the tournament. I think he made another mistake here because he should have kept faith with Green or played David James in all the games, it just showed that he knew he made a mistake but then blamed the ball for the error saying it was impossible to control. A 0-0 draw against Algeria is one of the worst results in England’s history. The Germany game was a disgrace, yes Frank Lampard’s ‘goal’ should have been given but England deserved to go out and the 4-4-2 formation was not working yet, Capello didn’t change and playing Steven Gerrard on the left wing angered everyone.

He should have gone after the tournament but he stayed and in fairness to him, England have qualified for Euro 2012 although the group wasn’t the hardest. And he also led England to a 1-0 win over Spain but it was very lucky and England didn’t deserve the win.

So, Capello was getting paid £6 million a year and he has basically left us in the same position as when he was appointed, so he could be seen as the worst England manager in recent years. At least Steve McClaren was a cheap option. He had a win record of 66.67% but this isn’t saying a lot as in qualifying England played some terrible teams and not even fully professional teams so therefore it isn’t a fair reflection.

Let’s just get Harry Redknapp in and forget about these last few years. And let’s hope that John Terry does not get on that plane to the Euros.

David Beckham signs new contract for LA Galaxy

David Beckham has signed a new two year contract at LA Galaxy ending speculation  that he could be joining a European club.

Beckham has played 81 games for the American side scoring 12 goals and providing 28 assists. He went to America to raise the profile of the game over there and it is debatable whether his arrival has had an impact however one thing that has changed is that now players coming to the end of their careers are now looking for one last big pay cheque by going over there. The most notable being Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane but both of these have returned on loan to Premier League clubs, Henry rejoining Arsenal and Keane joining Aston Villa.

Also what is worth noting is that LA Galaxy have given Beckham permission to play for Great Britain in the Olympics if he is selected by Stuart Pearce as one of the three over age players. This must have clinched the deal for the former Manchester United midfielder as he had reportedly turned down a move to PSG because of family reasons which would suggest that Victoria and the rest of the family are very happy in LA.

However, the only negative he will see is that surely now he is staying with Galaxy he has almost certainly ruled out any chance of being selected for Euro 2012 but I have a suspicion that with all the work he put in to get the Olympics in London in 2012 he would prefer to be playing for Great Britain as Stuart Pearce has already said anyone going to the Euros won’t be selected.

Even though he is playing in a league that is well below the level he could still play at, he has made a good choice as he is trying to do good in the game by getting more people in America involved in the sport instead of it being behind American Football, Basketball, Baseball and possibly even Hockey. Only a small minority play soccer in American and if they could get more players involved they would produce some of the best players in the world just because of the sheer size of the country.

Back to the former England captain, it would have been good to have seen him back playing in the Premier League before he retired but that seems unlikely now. He did say he wouldn’t play for another club in England apart from Manchester United and he must have been thinking after watching Paul Scholes return and some bets (yes actual money) being placed on Phil Neville to return from Everton, that Sir Alex Ferguson may be tempted to pick up the phone and give him one final chance at Old Trafford.

It would not be surprising to have to call him Sir David Beckham in years to come as his services to football, charity and getting the Olympics to London have been nothing short of outstanding. He has always been a model professional and always wore the shirt of whichever team he was playing for with pride.

Finally can anyone remember a better moment in the last 20 years for England when he scored that penalty against Argentina in the 2002 World Cup? Because I can’t and for this moment alone he should be remembered as a fantastic player and captain for England.