May 16th, 2011
Weekend Results: Cannon & Ballers
A confusing weekend for the Manchester newspapers, who, for the first time in some thirty-five years, had a bit of a conflict as to which club’s achievements they should be featuring on their front page. We particularly enjoyed the Manchester Evening News, which evaded the problem completely by sticking the Great Manchester Run on the front of their esteemed organ, and dealing with other relevant matters elsewhere.
In lieu of the fact that we don’t have an esteemed organ, we simply avoided dealing with it by leading with this picture of Mario Gomez, who is seen here receiving an award on behalf of team-mate Thomas Muller, presumably for his esteemed organ.
Sorry. Crude but totally necessary.
The FA Cup
When we said ‘celebratory strip‘, this isn’t quite what we had in mind, Joey Hart. Sigh. Image: Getty Images/Daylife
A huge congratulations to Manchester City, who lifted their first trophy for thirty-five years at Wembley on Saturday, just a few days after securing Champions League football next season. The Blues beat Stoke City 1-0 in what turned out to be a relatively one-sided affair; Stoke showing none of the cunning and guile that got them to the final in the first place and appeared overwhelmed by the occasion.
Regardless, City didn’t take the initiative until the second half, when Yaya Toure struck and shoved his team into an exciting new era of football. The only question now is, how will they cope with it?
Note how Michael Carrick has a secure hold on Wayne? That’s no accident, Fergie knew there’d be cameras and took appropriate precautions. Clever, no? Images: Getty Images/Zimbio
Never ones to allow their rivals a long awaited moment in the sun, Manchester United came from a goal down at Blackburn Rovers to take a record breaking nineteenth title and effectively deify manager Alex Ferguson into the bargain. Blackburn took an early lead after Brett Emerton capitalised on United’s stand-in goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak shaky start, and kept up the pressure for some time afterwards. Were United going to fluff it at the final hurdle?
Would you have bet against them, having seen what they’re capable of this season? Nah, we didn’t bother either, and sure enough, Javi Hernandez was (just about) tripped in the penalty area by Paul Robinson and Wayne Rooney converted the penalty. Apparently realising that a point was good news for both sides, the game then descended into a training ground passing exercise for the remaining fifteen minutes and the title was United’s once again.
Elsewhere, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all fluffed their lines in the jostle for the limelight; Arsenal once again putting on a shoddy display to lose 2-1 to Aston Villa and concede second place to Chelsea, who drew 2-2 against Newcastle. A quick congrats to Darren Bent, who did his selection prospects no harm whatsoever with two brilliant goals in front of England manager, Fabio Capello.
Spurs beat Liverpool 2-0, took fifth and maybe the mixed blessing of a Europa League spot. We wonder whether consolidation in the league next season might be the focus of both these teams, rather than an utterly confusing cup competition that Kickette doesn’t even bother to cover. We shall see.
Finally, West Ham’s utterly crap season came to a shuddering (yet somehow fitting) end. Two goals to the good with half an hour to go, the Hammers were cruising until Wigan staged a sensational come back and ended up winning the game 3-2. West Ham are out of the EPL and Avram Grant is out of a job. Again.
Carles Puyol can barely contain his hysteria as he lifts the league trophy. Images: Getty Images/Daylife
This was Barcelona’s first home game since they won the title, so the game itself was rendered utterly unimportant, everyone focussing on the opportunity to parade about in front of their fans with the trophy instead. Pep Guardiola played what was essentially a second string side and Deportivo La Coruna would have been pleased to pick up an unexpected point from the 0-0 draw, mired as they are in the relegation battle.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s season is far from over though; having watched his side capitulate to the Catalans on several occasions, he has set about proving the only point he has left. Cris scored another two goals in Madrid’s 3-1 win against Villarreal, securing three points for his club but perhaps more importantly (for him), equalling the La Liga top-flight single season scoring record with thirty-eight. He says he’s ‘not obsessed with goals’. Hmm. Like we’re not obsessed with nail varnish.
At the bottom, Real Zaragoza held on to top flight football for another week with a 1-0 over Espanyol. They will need to beat Levante next weekend and hope that Deportivo fluff their lines against Valencia. Nail biting stuff indeed.
Napoli’s Juan Camilo Zuniga, whose careful avoidance of celebratory manpiles, surreptitious shirt removal and brooding in the corner has earned him the reward of a mention on Kickette. Wooh! Images: AP Photo/Daylife, Getty Images/Daylife
Congratulations to Napoli, whose point against Inter Milan secured third place and automatic qualification for the Champions League. Cue scenes of mass, pale blue hysteria, baby brandishing and skin exposure which we will bring you in full later on (if we remember). Udinese beat Chievo 2-0 in their race for a fourth place finish, but are keeping their powder dry as results need to go their way next week. Are we the only ones wondering whether the European Leagues are becoming a kind of qualifying competition for the Champions League and not an honour in their own right?
We’re just saying.
Bad news for Sampdoria fans, whose side lost 2-1 to Palermo and in doing so confirmed their relegation to Serie B along with Brescia and Bari. Congratulations to Lecce, whose 2-0 win over Bari confirmed Serie A football for them next year.
Champions Borussia Dortmund were in no mood to do Eintract Frankfurt a favour this weekend; their 3-1 victory over the side confirmed their relegation and threw coach Christoph Daum’s future into doubt. Bayern Munich claimed third place with a 2-1 win over Stuttgart, Schalke lost again (they will be grateful that the season is almost over, their form of late easily lending itself to the term ‘in freefall’), while Borussia Monchengladbach finally dropped points at Hamburg. This means they go into some sort of play-off for a top flight spot, the details of which we can’t
be bothered to list here. Please enjoy them here, instead.
Er, are we the only one’s who object to this hideous Marseille strip? Take it off, Loic Remy. Go on. Image: Reuters/Daylife
With two weeks left to go in Ligue 1, there is still plenty left to fight for. Unless you’re a fan of Arles-Avignon, of course, in which case you waved goodbye to Ligue 1 football some considerable time ago and therefore yesterday’s 1-0 win over Toulouse was nothing but a very late consolation. Nevermind, it did break a twenty-three match winless run, which must have prompted some good cheer. Ahem.
Top of the table Lille have a game in hand against Sochaux on Wednesday, with victory all the more important since second place Marseille only drew against Lorient. Lille are currently three points clear. Lyon’s 4-0 drubbing against Auxerre last Wednesday has made a win in tonight’s game against Brest even more important, but Brest’s perilous position just above the relegation spots should ensure they come out fighting. One to watch, we think.
Celebrating? Commiserating? Totally confused? Whatever your Facebook status is this morning, share it with us, too.