The FA Cup is back on the radar and so are the cup shocks. New managers appointed and newish managers under pressure. Lots to talk about again in the world of football.
The third round of the oldest footballing cup competition in the world got under way at the beginning of January. This is the round when the ‘giants’ from the Premier League and the Championship join the minnows who have got through the earlier rounds. And it was good to see a number of cup shocks with lower-league clubs overcoming the bigger teams: While they are a Championship side, the second tier of football in England, it was still a shock when Nottingham Forest easily beat Manchester City, at City, 3-0; League One side Hartlepool beat Stoke 2-0 and the mighty Chelsea were held at home by Southend United, another League One side.
In other cup news, this time from across the other side of the world in a competition based on the English FA Cup, Gamba Osaka won the Emperor’s Cup 1-0, beating Kashiwa. The win means they will now be able to defend their Asian Champions League title this season.
Continuing with the cup theme, Derby, led by former Derby manager Brian Clough’s son, Nigel Clough, shocked Manchester United at Pride Park in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi final. Kris Commons’ strike was enough to see the Rams defeat the current Club World Cup holders, European Champions and Premier League title holders. Also, it was a good start in the other semi-final for Cup holders Tottenham as they beat Burnley 4-1.
As we’ve already mentioned, Manchester City were defeated at home in the FA Cup by relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest. That’s bad news perhaps for Mark Hughes, who is now 13/8 to lose his job – the favourite for the chop in the Premier League. City have only won one game in the last eleven in the league, a dreadful run of form. He’ll be hoping for some good buys and some good byes, he’s keen to offload Elano and Jo amongst others, in the January transfer window to save his job. Man City fans are already talking about Kevin Keegan coming back if Hughes goes. Now, is that good or bad?
Bad for Atletico Madrid who were swept aside by a rampant, but understrength, Barcelona at home in the Copa del Rey. A hat-trick by Messi saw the Catalan side beat Atletico 3-1. The side from Madrid will be hoping for revenge in the second leg, but it’s hard to see them coming back. A bad night for los colchoneros, the mattress makers.
Liverpool captain, Steve Gerrard, is charged with assault after a brawl in a nightclub. The Reds captain was out celebrating his club’s 5-1 hammering of Newcastle when he allegedly was involved in an assault on a DJ. If he’s found guilty, it will be very bad for his image, and even if he is not guilty this news may be bad news for the club, causing a distraction during a critical time at the beginning of the year as they push for a nineteenth title.