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Liverpool crossing uncharted territory
FOX Soccer's lead analyst reflects on the latest news in and around English soccer.
It’s been another big week of football, and the season is really getting tense. Sadly, it seems not a week goes by as of late that we don’t have some sad news. That’s why I want to start with a few words about Giorgio Chinaglia, who passed away Sunday unexpectedly at only 65.
This is a particularly hard loss. Giorgio was a true pioneer and one of the greats in soccer history. He was a genuinely good guy — a happy-go-lucky character who lived life to the fullest. He was just a very genuine man and will be very dearly missed. I think I speak for all of us here at FOX Soccer in offering our condolences to his family and friends.
The football continues, of course, and it was a mixed week for me. My old team got a big win, but my former manager got a rough result.
Liverpool reaches new low
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Newcastle were superb in their victory over Liverpool. I was particularly pleased with the manner in which they won. This was a big psychological win for them and manager Alan Pardew. I think this result signals they have the belief to see this season out and secure a place in Europe.
They looked very good defensively and held up their shape well. The Magpies clearly did a very good job at containing Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Andy Carroll. Up top, Pappis Cisse deserves a lot of praise. He is looking like a very astute buy right now, and his form has taken a lot of pressure off Demba Ba. You look at the value of players in the Premiership, Cisse looks a complete steal. It was a smart move by Pardew and I think Cisse was wise to make the move to play alongside Ba. Both men clearly got good advice.
However, my old manager, Kenny Dalglish, will be hugely disappointed. He’s now lost six of the last seven league games. While he’ll point out that they’re in the FA Cup semifinals and have won the Carling Cup, the fact is they need to start winning games. And fast.
There’s a lot of tension at the club right now and I think part of it is because of the expectations on Kenny. He needs help from his backroom staff more than ever at this point. Steve Clarke and Kevin Keen have big reputations and they have to get the problems right off the field so they can start winning on it.
The fact is winning Cups isn’t enough for this team. When you think of Liverpool, you think of them winning titles and playing in Europe. I’m afraid that time is gone now. Simply put, this club requires more patience, rebuilding and more money. Kenny is going to have to make some smart buys this summer. But in the near term, he has to get some wins to end the season in a strong way.
QPR here to stay
QPR are showing just how tough this relegation battle really is. They follow up a big win at Liverpool with a bad loss to Sunderland. Then this weekend, QPR earns a good result against Arsenal. They are going to be riding up and down and I think it will be tense.
Of the four or five teams in that battle, I do think QPR have the best chance to stay. Mark Hughes is a good manager and I think they have the most depth and the mentality to get the job done. Hughes is quality, and he brought in some quality players like Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora. I see them being both able to grind out while playing a little football as well.
The toughest thing for them is winning at home. If they can see those important home games out, QPR will have the best chance to remain in the Premier League.
Déjà vu all over again
It’s amazing, isn’t it? City has seen teams scoring wonder goals on them, like the one Peter Crouch laid out at Britannia Stadium. Then they have to recover against a Sunderland team that has frankly hit their heights under Martin O’Neill. With all that friction in their locker room, it comes to no surprise that Roberto Mancini walks out and tells the world he doesn’t know what the problem is with City.
There’s a problem. Whether it’s the mind games or the pressure that is getting to City, the players need to stop being selfish and address these final games as solid unit. They have enough time — it’s not like they have two games to play — but cannot start righting the ship until they decide to pull together and play as a club.
Mancini has to address this as soon as possible before its too late. If he doesn’t, you can bet United will exploit this to their advantage. As it is, their rivals will be testing them all the way to the bitter end.
We have the Champions League quarterfinals this weekend, so I hope you join us Tuesday and Wednesday for that. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @warrenbarton2 and ask us questions @FOXSoccer. Thanks as always for reading, and once again, our best wishes to the friends and family of Giorgio Chinaglia on this very sad weekend.
Former England international Warren Barton is the lead analyst for FOX Soccer Match Day, Goals on Sunday, and UEFA Champions League coverage.
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