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The week ahead

It’s an important week ahead in the footballing world. Kind of. Well we’re gonna try and make it sound like it’s important anyway.

International Week:

Fabio Capello took his first training session as England manager today. While the media feverishly tried to figure out who will captain England against Switzerland, a rare honest moment from a Premiership footballer came when Steven Gerrard admitted the players were nervous about meeting Capello.
The fact that Beckham was left out indicates the Italian will not be succumbing to popular or media opinion. While it seems cruel to deny Beckham the 100th cap, the simple fact is – it’s not.
We’ve said our piece about Beckham:


Back to Capello though, it is nice to think that the players will be doubling, trebling their efforts to actually merit a place on the team. Capello’s decision to leave out the likes of Defoe, Carrick, Robinson et al means players are actually being genuine when they say that they don’t believe their places are guaranteed.
The likes of Terry and Lampard will be kicking themselves that they are ruled out of Wednesday’s friendly. The type of friendly that was being described as meaningless a few months back is now as important as any game they’ve played recently….

Ireland’s search for a new manager goes on. And on. And on. Richard Dunne criticised the FAI’s four-month search for a new successor last night, saying the new manager should have been appointed ages ago. And so say all of us.
Dunne, deservedly named Ireland’s Eircom player of the year, also seemed to give a subtle edorsement for the appointment of Terry Venables, saying the Irish squad would prefer a manager who spoke English as his first language.
Venables is thought to be in contention alongside seven-time Serie A winner and former Italy manager Giovanni Trappatoni.

Does anyone else find Craig Burley a little bit smug? Burley held a press conference alongside assistants Terry Butcher and Stephen Pressley today despite Scotland’s week off with no friendly organised. Scotland are still on a high and no doubt dying for qualification to start for the 2010 World Cup despite an admittedly tricky group.

The weekend Premiership action sees several huge games to mull over:
Saturday: Relegation clashes include Saturday’s games Middlesbrough V Fulham and Sunderland V Wigan. Not the prettiest on paper but huge games for all four concerned regardless.
Sunday: Manchester Utd V Man City. The Manchester derby will commemorate those who died in the Munich disaster fifty years ago. While Man City appealed to change the minute’s silence to a minute’s applause in fear of any idiots who wanted to disrupt it, that appeal was dismissed, rightly, by Utd and it should go ahead without incident. On the pitch Man Utd will have even greater incentive to win, City though are in danger of losing their good position and enter the game in poor form. While Utd should win, it makes a change to believe City can get something out of an Old Trafford encounter.

A huge game at Stamford Bridge the same afternoon sees Chelsea entertain Liverpool. Defeat for Benitez’ men will leave them embarrassingly far off the pace, while defeat for Chelsea will edge the title race closer to being a two-horse type of thing. Expect a draw.

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