Having been involved in the English game for a few months now, national coach Fabio Capello has echoed the cries of two his predecessors, Steve McClaren and Sven Goran Eriksson, by demanding that the Premier League instigate a winter break. Capello says he can’t believe the demands made on England’s elite players and that some sort of rest period is needed for the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney to recharge their batteries. Those wonderful guardians of the game at the Premier League, who have for so long argued against such a plan, now say they are thinking of instigating a break from 2011. Can it be that, at last, the boys at Soho Square are genuinely concerned about the fate of the England team? Well, no as it happens. The Premier League wants to use the break to stage a series of mid season overseas tournaments which will involve England’s top players. It is, apparently, about expanding the brand and the hope from the PL is that this plan will replace the much ridiculed 39th international round. Whether it does or doesn’t it’s clear that in footballs corridors of power it’s making money that counts even to the detriment of the national team. Shameful really.
If you thought that Rangers v Falkirk (1230 on Saturday) was the first match up of the new season in Scotland, then you’d be wrong. There’s a fantastic encounter currently being played out by the Scottish Referees Association and the SPL. As it stands, the refs might not officiate over the weekend as they have yet to agree a new pay deal. The men in black have been offered £600 per game but are holding out for £800. The only problem is, having seen the standard of Scottish officiating over the past few years, if they don’t turn up on Saturday there’s a real chance that no-one will miss them and that the games will be rather better as a result.
You’d think that a club like Chelsea would have options in every position as the new season approaches. But when it comes to front men, it seems not. Didier Drogba is injured, Andriy Shevchenko is recovering from groin surgery and Salomon Kalou is in China playing for the Ivory Coast at the Olympic Games. Which leaves new manager Luiz Felipe Scolari with…..wait for it now…….Nicolas Anelka. And how many league goals did the moody French star score last season after his £15 million move from Bolton? One. Must give Scolari a nice, warm feeling all over!
Anyone else bored senseless by the Barry to Liverpool and Ronaldo to Madrid sagas? Yup, thought so.