The world is watching. A huge weekend for…
Another difficult week for Chelsea’s manager, and you would be forgiven for thinking that he now lives on borrowed time. Reports are that his players are still in touch with their former manager and have had disagreements with management about their tactics in games.
One thing is clear – Chelsea’s results simply aren’t good enough. They currently sit fifth, a position they have not ended as low as since 2002. In the last decade Mr Abramovich has simply not accepted such underperformance. Whilst a sacking would be still seen as kneejerk, does the price of failure to qualify for the Champions League outweigh the reported £5million payoff AVB would receive.
This week provides the relative respite of the FA Cup, and Chelsea have lost just one if their last 29 matches in the competition. But with Drogba and Kalou still tired, and Torres continuing to under perform, is anything respite right now?
On the 17th December Stoke sat in 8th position in the league, two points behind Liverpool and just seven off the top four. Fast forward two months to the day and they are 13th, just nine points off the bottom three. Stoke will not go down because of their start to the season, but Tony Pulis will be a worried man.
In many ways this weekend Stoke are in a no-win situation, facing a League Two side away from home. They are expected to win, but the opportunity for banana skin is apparent, especially with a European tie against Valencia on Thursday. Lose and the worries simply increase.
In many ways Leicester should be going into their game away at Premier League Norwich with nothing to lose. But Leicester are not that sort of club at the moment. Nigel Pearson was appointed on 15th November, after Sven Goran Eriksson had left the club 12th in the Championship, three points off the playoffs. The reason Eriksson was sacked because after the money spent in the summer, the owners felt that the club should be gaining promotion.
Pearson added to his squad by signing three players for a total of £3million in January. They currently sit 12th, nine points off the playoff places. It has certainly not been the upturn of form that Leicester fans anticipated.
In such circumstances, no game can be filed under ‘nothing to lose’.
Since sacking Simon Grayson on the first of the month, Leeds won away at nine-man Bristol City before consecutive defeats to Brighton and Coventry. Not exactly what fans had in mind, and it seems that potential new manager Lee Clark has a job to do to steady the ship.
And yet, despite some awful results this season, Leeds are just six points off the playoffs.
What the club needs is stability. That and a home game against Doncaster Rovers. Only Coventry have won less away games this season.
Ranieri had a definite honeymoon period upon being appointed Inter Milan boss on 22nd September last year, and from 10th December onwards won eight consecutive games, thrusting themselves back into the limelight. Ranieri, very much seen as a temporary measure, has surprised many.
Since then, however, Inter have taken one point from four Serie A games, gone out of the Coppa Italia, lost 4-0 to Roma and last weekend lost at home to Novara. Novara had taken just two away points in ten games before Saturday.
With a certain Italian manager recently relieving himself of employment, all eyes on Friday night will turn to the San Siro. There was certainly a convincing home win there on Wednesday.