The surprise of this week came on Monday 11 March when Brian McDermott left his post as Reading manager. Despite the clubs recent slump in form, McDermott won January’s ‘Manager of the Month’ award and led the club to four successive victories in 2013.
There are many managers that have been linked with the job and my personal favourite would be Roberto Di Matteo. He’s been out of the game since leaving Stamford Bridge and he’d be a great candidate to attempt to keep Reading up. Other possibilities may be Mark Hughes, Nigel Adkins or even Paolo Di Canio. I don’t believe that Adkins is the man to keep them up as he’d be better taking over a team at the end of a season where he could purchase some more players.
Paolo could be a great move for the club, although, with his well-known ‘radical’ personality, he may prove to just be too big a risk! Hughes wouldn’t be a bad signing although I can’t see him taking charge at the Madejski Stadium as I’m sure he’ll be eyeing up other possible jobs.
Top Three Games of the Weekend
Liverpool 3 Tottenham 2
This was to prove a telling tale of who is better- Suarez or Bale? The latter failed to make a telling impact on this much anticipated tie between two clubs eyeing a European spot.
The former opened the scoring with a superbly taken goal. In fact, it was one of the goals of the season. Coutinho, who looks to be a promising acquisition, passed the ball to full-back Jose Enrique. He then played an inch-perfect pass into the path of the on-running Luis Suarez who poked home through the smallest of openings.
With the advantage in their favour, they spurned a couple of chances before Spurs centre-back Jan Vertonghen headed in a wonderful in-swinging cross from Gareth Bale, only his second assist of the season, to level on the stroke of half-time.
Eight minutes after the interval, Vertonghen then put Spurs’ noses in front after he sorted his feet out well to score on the half-volley.
Liverpool were never going to go down without a fight and, shooting towards the passionate Kop End, Downing took advantage of Tottenham’s misunderstanding. Kyle Walker’s short back-pass was met my goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, only for his clearance to hit Downing. The Englishmen then calmly slotted the ball into the net, despite Spurs’ best efforts to clear.
Then, eight minutes from time, the game turned on its head. Jermain Defoe’s attempted over-head clearance caught his toes and instead fell into his own box, leaving the defence with no other option than to foul their man. Captain Stevie G was left with the small task of converting from the penalty spot to grab a much needed three points. Spurs showed that they need to cancel out a few defensive errors which penultimately cost them this match.
I have no doubt that AVB will be disappointed but there are some positives to take away from that, for sure.
Queens Park Rangers 3 Sunderland 1
This was an important win for Harry Redknapp’s side who are in desperate need of points in order to avoid relegation. After his recent success at former club Southampton, Rangers went into this game with some confidence. Home games are crucial for any team and, when you’re fighting for every point, they are even more so important. However, they had to do this after falling 1-0 behind.
It was Steven Fletcher who guided in Adam Johnson’s drilled cross to give the away side, who aren’t cruising in the league either, a welcomed cushion.
Loic Remy scored his third goal for QPR to level the score line. It then took two magnificent goals to hand Rangers the three points. Andros Townsend, on-loan from Redknapp’s former employers Tottenham, scored a venomous wonder-goal from all of 22 yards. Then Jenas, also on-loan from Spurs, scored an equally good goal, this time from just outside the box, as he rifled home a scorcher past the helpless Mignolet.
Black Cats boss Martin O’Neil has been struggling this season and, in my eyes, they’re a better team than what they are currently showing. They should be battling in the top-half of the table and not sitting in fourteenth, looking over their shoulders. Work needs to be done at the Stadium of Light, or he could well face the boot.
Newcastle 2 Stoke 1
Sunday’s earlier fixture saw Alan Pardew’sToons, who are flying high in UEFA’s Europa League, face Stoke City who aren’t, of late, doing too well.
However, it was the visitors who took the lead after a goalless first-half. Jon Walters was fouled as Cheick Tiote came unnecessarily charging in in the penalty box. It was Walters who calmly dispatched the penalty on sixty seven minutes. It took a matter of five minutes for the home side to draw level. Newcastle were awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the area and, with a short-run up, was converted into the top corner by French-man Yohan Cabaye.
Stoke then went missing for the remainder of the match, and in the final minutes, their defence completely switched off. Papiss Demba Cisse was played through, and he was left with the task to swivel and smash home to earn the three points for the home outfit.
Toons manager Alan Pardew said on the victory: “It’s difficult to quantify [how important it is]. It was a tight game. Stoke were excellent. Every question we asked they had an answer for. We were a bit tired in our minds in the first half, not sharp in our thinking.
“We changed from the bench. Marveaux pops up with an eye-of-the-needle pass for Papiss to win it for us. It’s a massive win. We go home in a much different situation than we would have been if it hadn’t gone in.”
My Team of the Week