EPL Daily 11.13: Boss under fire; Anichebe’s dilemma; Buying your own soccer team

Steve McLaren’s future is in the balance with the homestretch of Euro qualifying rapidly approaching and a largely controversial friendly with Austria awaiting this Friday. The under-fire English boss has called it a good tune-up before Croatia as well as another game for the summoned Beckham and Ashley Cole who haven’t played too much recently for club or country. Those calling for McLaren’s firing and even staunch supporters are debating the quality of this friendly…Look at the simplicity of it, the friendly is primarily a way for the English national team – coaching staff included – to take their mind off the fact that Russia – with a win over Isreal this coming Saturday – could effectively knock out England and its’ expected return to Euro competition.

Everton young’un Victor Anichebe has a Guiseppe Rossi choice to make. The 19-year old striker was born in Lagos, Nigeria but moved to England at the age of one. It seems though that 18 years in England and a strong arguement from Stuart Pearce was still not enough to persuade Anichebe to commit to England. Instead, he was called up for Nigeria to take on Australia in an international friendly. He has been called up before – but never saw time. The quest for playing time will hit no snags this time as Nigeria coach Berti Vogts plans to start the Toffee duo of Yakubu and Anichebe this Saturday night.

All those hoping to one day own a piece of their own soccer team – your hopes might come into fruition with MyFootballClub – a collection of 20,000 members paid 35 pounds each to provide themselves with enough cash to take over Ebbsfleet United – a Conference squad looking for a financial injection. Read on here.

Anton Ferdinand…………….and a bar fight?

Upset Galore: Euro 2008 eff-ups and a big Mexican letdown

Complete Standings

Russia 2, England 1 

England’s Euro 2008 fate is now firmly out of their control. McLaren’s squad need help from other teams now to secure a spot in next summer’s tournament. Russia looked on the up and up with Roman Pavluchenko scoring the goals that Alexandr Kerzakhov wanted to. The La Liga striker called for an upset and they got it, without much of a contest. Rooney scored early, but it was the Russians who set the tone – putting 10 on frame and scoring a double salvo at the 70 minute mark to dent England’s qualification chances. The English FA is still saying they back McLaren but you can bet that if they don’t book a ticket to Austria/Switzerland this summer, he’ll be gone…and Mourinho in???? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The match wasn’t without its controversy as the penalty call was questionable but shit happens, and although the PK swayed the momentum and equalized the game, England had their fair share of chances. Is this another example of Guus Hiddink’s mastery or are the Russians starting to put together the pieces to consistently compete with the best?

Georgia 2, Scotland 0

If this was last year, I probably wouldn’t call this an upset – but with Scotland’s form as of late, this should have been a Scotland win. The Scots dominated the game – possession, shots, all things statistical-ish but it wasn’t to be. A goal from 17-year old Levan McHedlidze (Scottish-Georgian maybe?) in the 16th minute put the Scots in the hole from the get-go. That was enough to throw them off their game as the three M’s (Miller, McFadden, and Maloney) were effectively dealt with by Georgia’s backline.  A six game win streak allows Italy to move ahead of them as the Italians have one game in tow. All it takes is one let down and this might have been it for the Scots.

Liechtenstein 3, Iceland 0

What?!!? I understand that Iceland is somewhat small and that half of Leichtenstein’s population was at the game, but a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of perennial door-mats? No one expected this – especially with Eidur Gudjohnsen in the mix and the Reading boys – Gunnarsson and Ingimarsson in the heart of the line-up. It was Mario Frick and Thomas Beck who led the team – Frick with the early 27th minute goal and Beck with the blow of a brace in the waning moments. Not that Iceland was in contention anyway…but Liechtenstein has had one of their best showings ever in Euro Qualifying registering two wins (Latvia, Iceland).

Guatemala 3, Mexico 2
International Friendly

Yea, it was a young squad with crap-loads of potential but El Tri overcame an early 5th minute Guatamalan goal to score two and go up before giving way to Marvin Avila and a resounding second half brace. At that point in the game, things were getting out of hand. The head ref had already ejected two players from each team as well as Guatemala’s coach and assistant. Would you be surprised if I said one of those ejected was Carlos Ruiz? I doubt it. For Mexico, gone was one of the goalscorers and upcoming stars Cesar Villaluz and Gonzalo Pineda. It was only Guatemala’s 4th win in 29 attempts against Mexico and along with the recent tie to Nigeria, Hugo Sanchez can’t be too happy about the “depth” of his national team pool so far.

EPL Daily 10.17: Goodbye Sammy Lee; Terry out; Brad Guzan targeted by Gunners?

Less than a year after taking over at Bolton, Sammy Lee has parted ways with the Wanderers after just 9 EPL games in charge. Pretty easy to see why – when you have Nicolas Anelka, Kevin Nolan, Gary Speed, El-Hadji Diouf at your disposal and somehow ALL are underperforming at the moment, it is time to move on. Mutual consent is the word on the street and no word on the replacement as of yet. Bolton – in European contention last season at this time – sits right above league whipping boys Derby. Did anybody else think Lee’s appointment was a bit of a hasty one to begin with? He has a superb knowledge of the game, but can’t man-manage worth crap. It could be that he was faced with big egos like Anelka and Diouf from the get-go, but almost every EPL manager has to deal with that. Wonder where he’ll end up next.

John Terry is out against Russia for England’s second-to-last Euro 2008 Qualifier. Wayne Rooney has stated that not qualifying for Euro 2008 would be devastating and Terry’s injury certainly doesn’t help, but injury problems have plagued England as of late and yet they have still come up with results. A win versus Russia potentially guarantees a qualification and without Terry – Sol Campbell comes in. Don’t mean to jinx anybody, but England has been looking good and were without Terry against Estonia. Therefore, if the offense is firing – Campbell is more than capable of shoring up an ailing defense.

Apparently, Chiva USA’s Brad Guzan is being scouted by Arsenal and it looks like he is at the top of their keeper shortlist with a goalkeeper at 30 and 38 years old. Lehmann is ready to go and Almunia has been decent lately, but Guzan – 23 years old – would be well-suited for a career in the EPL and as many have seen, although he has been improving, Guzan has only begun to scratch the surface of his potential. At 6’4″, 215 lbs., Guzan possesses the size to be a goalkeeper but it’s his ‘wise beyond the years’ knowledge of the game that is extremely appealing to EPL scouts. An American in goal at Arsenal? That would cover three of the Big Four – Friedel at Liverpool, Howard at Man Utd, and Guzan?? What do you think of him? Does Guzan have the tools to make it across-the-pond? Other news from the Emirates is that the Gunners have launched a $20 million bid for the apparently unsettled Olympique Lyonnais striker Hatem Ben Arfa (Karim Benzema stealing all your thunder)?