Day: December 7, 2011

City & United Fall From The Champions League

Anyone taking a bet at the start of the season would not have been able to predict how this would all end up. Manchester City and Manchester United kissed goodbye to the Champions League this season, and there were few mitigating factors that they could cite as a defence. Manchester United can point to their injury list and Manchester City can invoke their inexperience, but ultimately both clubs have resources that dwarf almost all others in Europe. Perhaps the group stages have, in recent years, become too one-sided, and this has led to a feeling that English clubs can sleepwalk through to the last sixteen of the competition. Whatever the ultimate conclusions that are reached from the post-match discussion – which is already reaching the point of becoming deafening – what cannot be ignored is that both Manchester City and Manchester United both deserved their exit from Europe tonight. Manchester United were outplayed in Basel this evening. For all the pressure that they applied after having conceded an early goal in Switzerland, they were unable to create a great deal of note and calling them unlucky after a Basel player thumped the ball against his own crossbar from seven yards out would be stretching the bounds of credibility a little too far. The late consolation goal from Phil Jones, after Basel had doubled their lead with a goal that...

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Light At The End Of The Tunnel For Kettering?

Whilst the eyes of most of the football world were focussed upon the likes of Stamford Bridge and the Nou Camp last night, an altogether more prosaic battle was playing out at Nene Park in Irthlingborough. The Blue Square Premier has had something of a flustered look about its lower reaches all season, with newly-relegated Lincoln City and Stockport County both finding life below the Football League tougher than they might have expected, but for existence-threatening financial difficulties, Kettering Town and Darlington beat all others hands down. Following a 7-0 defeat at York City on Saturday afternoon, supporters of Kettering Town have had something of an air of unsurprising fatalism about them, with much of the talk amongst them being on the subject of what will happen when – rather than if – the club folds. Hit by a double-whammy of having to release players because they were unable to pay them and a transfer embargo which left them unable to bring in any replacements, the club could only take a squad of thirteen to York at the weekend, and there were only thirteen representing them again last night. Yet last night those that remain managed to pull upon their reserves of tenacity and pulled off a highly creditable goalless draw – not, perhaps, a result of great practical use to a team up to its neck in a...

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