In many ways it wasn’t a vintage display from Liverpool, as they eased to victory over Hull at Anfield on New Year’s Day.
By try telling that to Reds manager Brendan Rodgers, after he was raving about his sides ‘bouncebackability’ following a disappointing festive campaign which saw them lose two on the bounce to Manchester City and Liverpool.
Rodgers even went as far as saying his sides 2-0 win over Hull City was their best victory in 2013-14.
“I said to the players afterwards that I thought that was our best win of the season,” Rodgers said. “In a lot of games we’ve been vibrant with great energy, scored goals and performed well, as well as won. But on the back of the games that we’ve had over this period – and to play with a lot of the same players against a team that won their last Barclays Premier League game 6-0 – we knew we were going to have to tough it out today and dig in.”
(MORE: Liverpool 2-0 Hull City – Agger and Suarez tame the Tigers)
Liverpool certainly dug in, and could’ve won more comfortably had they finished off the numerous chances they created. Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho amongst others were guilty of missing gilt-edge chances, as the Reds could’ve run away with it. As it was their seventh-straight win at Anfield was pleasing for many different reasons, as Rodgers hailed a complete team performance, despite another Luis Suarez’s masterclass.
“We might not have always been at our best, but we got two great goals, had other opportunities and actually restricted Hull to no shots on target,” Rodgers said. “Luis Suarez’s quality is unquestionable. It’s probably unfair that our team doesn’t get the credit. Everyone talks about Luis, and we all know he’s a world class player, but even when he was out of the team we only lost one game. Today was a great team performance and what we’re building here is based around that. I’m very, very pleased with today because it was a great victory for us.”
Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)
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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.
That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.
One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.
[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]
Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.
Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.
Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:
Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.
I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.
Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.
I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.
I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.