On a week of international fixtures we saw a couple of sackings, some disciplinary action, a lot of bad weather and the retirement of one of Englands best strikers.
Monday saw the first disciplinary action announced as UEFA said they were going to take action over the racist abuse directed at Tottenham players from Inter fans during their recent Europa League match. No action has been taken so far but they have scheduled for the case to be sorted out on April 19th.
A lower level of discipline is likely to be dished out at West Brom where once again it was Mr. Odemwingie being controversial. Having taken to twitter to attack his employees, it was announced by the club that the problem was being dealt with internally.
The other item of note was Rio Ferdinand’s withdrawal from the national team. Having been recalled by Roy Hodgson it was expected that he would play a big role in the countries two qualifying matches but he pulled out stating that he had a pre-planed training regime that he would not be able to follow with England. Steven Caulker was called up as his replacement.
The big news on Tuesday was that Michael Owen announced that he is to retire from professional football at the end of the season (obviously he hasn’t ruled out a return to Newcastle). Owen burst onto the scene as a teenager scoring on his debut for Liverpool but he really came to the attention of everyone with his wonder goal against Argentina at France ’98. From there he went on to make 89 appearances for his country, scoring 40 goals to put him 5th in the list of all time England goalscorers. His club career has seen him score 222 goals in 480 matches to date but injuries have denied him what may have been an even better record during his career.
The next piece of news was another disciplinary one but this time a lack of punishment was the news. Callum McManaman managed to escape punishment from the FA after his poor challenge on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara. The FA stated that they were unable to give retrospective punishment for the incident as one or more of the officials had seen it during the match. Haidara avoided serious injury but there have been many calls for the FA to change their system to help protect players in the future.
The first sacking of the week also came on Tuesday when Blackburn decided to dismiss Michael Appleton after just 67 days in charge, although this still didn’t make him the shortest lasting manager for Rovers this season (that honour goes to Henning Berg who lasted 57 days). The fact that Blackburn have had more managers than away wins this season shows that something is clearly wrong with the way the owners are running the club and has had a lot of people questioning whether they are fit to be in charge.
On the pitch there was action in Leagues 1 & 2. League 1 saw wins for Bury, Oldham, Crewe and Swindon. The results moved Swindon into the second automatic promotion spot while their opponents Yeovil dropped out of the playoff places on goal difference. Bury moved off the foot of the table and Oldham moved out of the relegation zone. League 2 had a surprising set of results as four of the bottom five teams won, with the other side not playing. These results moved Accrington and Barnet out of the bottom 2 places.
Wednesday was a quiet day but the only notable thing was the sacking of Gary Smith by Stevenage. having been second in the league after 16 matches the side went on a run of four wins in 18 matches and found themselves sitting 15th in the league. The chairman decided that the run was bad enough to get rid of Smith and captain Mark Roberts is managing the side until they find a new manager. Former boss Graham Westley is favourite to return the club for a 3rd spell.
On Thursday, the FA announced that Greg Dyke, the former BBC Director General, was to become the new Chairman of the association. He is set to take over from David Bernstein on July 13th.
Thursday also saw the first of the international matches as Brazil took on Italy in a high tempo friendly. The hosts of the 2014 World Cup took a 2-0 lead in the first half but the Italians turned it around to earn a draw.
On Friday it was announced that West Ham were confirmed as the new tenants of the Olympic Stadium and will be moving in for the 2016/17 season. Leyton Orient are still considering a legal case stating that they weren’t offered the option of a possible ground share that would have appealed to them.
Friday also brought the first block of World Cup qualifiers. England did exactly what was expected of them with a very comfortable 8-0 win in San Marino, Ireland took a good point away from Sweden and Wales came from behind to beat Scotland for a second time in the group. the shock of the round of games was Finland taking a point off of the current world cup holders Spain in Gijon. Northern Ireland’s match against Russia was called off due to heavy snow.
The snow also affected Saturday’s matches in the football league as well as Northern Ireland v Russia being postponed again. Almost half of the matches in the football league were called off but there was still a decent amount of action for fans to enjoy. In League 1 Swindon drew 0-0 with Notts County which allowed Bournemouth to go level with them after beating Bury 4-1 but Swindon remained in the automatic promotion place on goal difference. Yeovil moved back into the playoff places after drawing 3-3 away to Carlisle thanks to the fact that Tranmere weren’t playing until Sunday. Portsmouth managed to move off the foot of the table with a 2-0 win over Coventry, while Hartlepool now prop up the league after a 0-0 draw with Walsall. There was no major movement in the League 2 table with only six matches surviving the weather. Barnet and Cheltenham drew 0-0, Fleetwood beat Dagenham 2-1, Gillingham beat Accrington 1-0, Northampton beat Oxford 1-0, Torquay beat York 2-1 and Wimbledon won 2-0 against Morecambe.
Sunday saw the 3rd sacking in a week that saw LMA chief executive Richard Bevan call the culture of sackings an ‘arrogant embarrassment’. Paul Sturrock was sacked by Southend with a new manager to be named on Monday. Sturrock will however still lead the Southend side at Wembley for their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final tie against Crewe, although why he’d want to when he’s been sacked I’m not sure. Sturrock was the 34th manager to be sacked this season.
On the pitch Tranmere beat Stevenage 3-1 in the only football league game of the day to move themselves back into the playoff places and continue Stevenage’s poor run. Wrexham took non-league silverware as they overcame Grimsby to take the FA Trophy, winning 4-1 on penalties after the sides ended 1-1 after normal and extra time.
The Football League Awards were also presented with Player of the Season going to Watford’s Matej Vydra in the Championship, Matt Ritchie of Bournemouth in League 1 and Port Vale’s Tom Pope in League 2. Phil Parkinson took the Outstanding Managerial Achievement Award for leading his Bradford side to the Capital One Cup Final.
We’ll be hoping for a warmer week coming up with not so many casualties of the managerial merry go round and plenty of exciting action on the field. And maybe a bit more fun from Peter Odemwingie if we’re lucky.