Aquilani shines in Reds romp

Francesco Guardi – Cappriccio mit venezianischen Motiven
“Midfielder Alberto Aquilani finally found a performance to justify his £17 million price tag, capping a masterful display with his first Liverpool goal in the 4-1 win over Portsmouth at Anfield. The summer signing, brought in after Xabi Alonso’s sale to Real Madrid, has struggled to adapt to life in England but was at the heart of everything in only his fifth Premier League start.” (ESPN)

Gerrard to escape FA punishment
“The FA have confirmed they will take no action against Steven Gerrard following his clash with Portsmouth’s Michael Brown during Liverpool’s victory at Anfield on Monday night. The Liverpool captain appeared to elbow Brown in the back of the head in the 73rd minute of their 4-1 win, with Rafael Benitez substituting Gerrard immediately after the incident.” (ESPN)

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard faces fresh video row after Michael Brown clash
“With a quarter of the match to go Gerrard and Brown chased a ball towards the penalty area but, as the Portsmouth midfielder tried to hold off his Liverpool counterpart, Gerrard seemed to hit his opponent with his forearm. Referee Stuart Attwell was only a few yards from the incident but took no action against the Liverpool captain.” (Telegraph)

Manchester United angry as Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard escapes FA probe
“Steven Gerrard has escaped disciplinary action over for the use of his forearm against Portsmouth’s Michael Brown in Liverpool’s 4-1 win yesterday. The decision has incensed Manchester United and led to allegations that the Football Association has employed double standards. Had he been found guilty of violent conduct, Gerrard would have been banned from Liverpool’s trip to Old Trafford on Sunday. The collision with Gerrard knocked Brown to the floor.” (Guardian)


Fitness the key for Brazillian success

“Following the international friendlies, I wrote last time that the week’s big winner was Argentina coach Diego Maradona. Seven days later, perhaps his Brazilian counterpart can crack the biggest smile. As Andre Kfouri wrote in the sports daily Lance!: ‘Dunga must have loved the elimination of Real Madrid and Milan from the Champions League. The Spanish giant, because Kaka will have a lighter fixture list in the build up to the World Cup. And the Italian giant because the pressure to recall Ronaldinho will diminish. And the national team coach will be cheering for Chelsea to knock out Internazionale – a rest for Julio Cesar, Lucio and Maicon, more work for Drogba’.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)

German football’s image problem

“German football fans have enjoyed a largely positive press for the past 20 years thanks to a number of well co-ordinated campaigns. Among other things, these have helped to retain standing areas, affordable tickets and a reasonable number of Saturday afternoon kick-offs. And it’s thanks to the concerted efforts of fan groups that the atmosphere in stadiums makes for a loud and boisterous match day. Although some people might find the idea of a “conductor” with a megaphone at the front of the terrace leading the chants as a little less than spontaneous, it’s certainly preferable to a mute support restricted to either cheering goals or moaning.” (WSC)

Manchester United 1948-1992: The Busby Dynasty

“We have a little break from the usual this morning, with a downloadable, four-part audio cassette produced by the BBC in the early 1990s, just before the death of Sir Matt Busby, which tells the story of Manchester United Football Club through the prism of the involvement of the man that took a run of the mill First Division club and made them the champions of Europe and one of the biggest club sides in the world. Written and narrated by the late Bryan Butler, the BBC radio commentator, it features commentary snippets from many of United’s great matches of the post-war era, as well as interviews with the likes of Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, George Best and Harry Gregg.” (twohundredpercent)

English football’s huge debts vindicate Michel Platini’s plans

“The timing could hardly have been more acute for the release by UEFA of a report into the financial excesses of Europe’s top clubs, just as Portsmouth were placed, insolvent, into the knacker’s yard of administration. UEFA’s report, ‘The European Club Footballing Landscape,’ a mammoth comparison of 654 clubs in the top divisions across Europe, showed that more money is coming in than ever before, but almost half of clubs overall, 47 per cent, still made losses in 2008. European football, the richest club sport in the world, lost €578million (£513m) in total.” (World Soccer)

Chelsea Leans on Turnbull as Mourinho Returns

“It would be the cruelest of defeats for Chelsea fans if the Blues, a team built at great expense to win the Champions League, were to be eliminated by the man previously tasked with capturing European glory for the club. Jose Mourinho, the former Chelsea manager, will return to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday with that same goal as the boss of Inter Milan, which holds a 2-1 lead in the two-game elimination series. The current Chelsea manager, Carlo Ancelotti, will try to do what Mourinho, Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Guus Hiddink could not do.” (NYT)