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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Real Madrid, Sunderland and Gary Speed

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In this week’s review section, we feature a look back at the footballing life of former Welsh manager Gary Speed after his tragic death at the weekend. In addition to this sad story we feature a good week for Real Madrid and a bad one for one Premier League manager. You can listen to these and other stories on our weekly podcast and can find explanations of key vocabulary in bold below, or highlighted in blue.


The footballing world was saddened at the death of Wales manager Gary Speed at the young age of 42. Speed had only been in charge of the Welsh side since December 2010 but his impact on the team was immediate and in the last five matches Speed’s team won four which saw them rise to 50th in the FIFA rankings – their highest position for many years. Speed also played 85 times for his country, captaining the side on 44 occasions, while he was also the first player to play over 500 games in the Premier League. Speed started his career at Leeds, where he won a league title, before moving on to Everton, Newcastle and Bolton and then finally Sheffield United where he started out as a manager. The reaction from fans and players throughout the game since his death demonstrates the respect that the game had for Speed. Very sad news indeed.


It has been a good week for the current leaders of La Liga in Spain as Real Madrid saw their lead stretch to six points over their arch-rivals Barcelona after Los Blancos beat Madrid rivals Atletico 4-1 and Barca lost to lowly Getafe 1-0. Barcelona have since reduced the gap to three points but Madrid still have a game in hand. In a league where the top two are so dominant this points difference could be crucial come the end of the season.


A bad week for Sunderland who lost at home to fellow strugglers Wigan which saw the Black Cats fall into 17th place – just two places outside the relegation zone. Boss Steve Bruce was fired later on in the week – the first sacking of a Premier League manager this season – after the poor start to the season. Bruce had spent large sums of money on a host of new players in the pre-season without any real return and had been a dead man walking for some time, particularly when he lost the support of the fans who had been calling for his head. Some tough times ahead for Sunderland.


stretch to: to extend to, to increase

lowly: in a low league position

a game in hand: played a game fewer

strugglers: teams not doing well

Black Cats nickname of Sunderland

had been calling for his head: demanding his resignation

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1 comment
  • Gary Speed’s death was unexpected it is a sad news for the world of football. He is a great loss for the Wales team.. hope they’ll find new manager as good as him..

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