Keane once again has returned for a Manchester United fixture that follows right an Irish game, a game for which he was MIA. It’s no big deal, really, although it ought to be pointed out. However, the Irish should and must have the influential midfielder for the game against France in the World Cup qualifier.
The player and club manager, neither known for his shyness when expressing an opinion, seem not to be so outspoken when it comes to the topic of international duty. The truth is, the club comes first. Ferguson should simply state that his captain is being rested for more important games in the FA Cup and the Champions League. Irish fans can handle it. They know their football, and they understand management.
Keane was on FA Cup duty at the weekend when United beat Everton 2-0. It was a comfortable enough win for United, allowing Ferguson to take out Keane in the 81st minute, thus resting him for the big CL clash against AC Milan today at Old Trafford.
It seems United are at full strength, while Milan suffered a blow when Andriy Shevchenko fractured his cheekbone in a 1-0 over Cagliari in Serie A.
United are also lucky to have Roy Carroll available after he was hit on the head with a missile during that FA Cup game with Everton. It looked bad for Carroll as he lay on the ground, coiled up and holding his head. A coin and a cell phone were found nearby. Maybe the dope who threw the cell might call looking for it back.
Carroll recovered got to his feet finished the game and seems set to play today against AC. Things are looking good these days for the Northern Irishman as he continues to keep out U.S. keeper Tim Howard.
However, missing from the United lineup and the bench was John O’Shea. After getting back into the side and playing for his country in that Portugal friendly, O’Shea is once again in the stands. It will be of enormous interest to see if the big Irish defender is back on the squad for today’s game.
Irish interest at United though is doing just fine as it was Liam Miller who replaced Roy Keane. But for the Irish at Charlton Athletic it was sl_n in the cup. Dean Kiely and Matthew Holland were on the end of a hard-luck story when Dion Dublin scored a 90th-minute winner for Leicester at The Valley.
Charlton lacked fighting spirit on the day, as their manager, Alan Curbishley, concluded. “We were caught cold,” he said. “They were quicker, sharper and more aggressive. They matched up with us, changed their shape and individually I don’t think they lost the battle.
“We only had a few who held their end up today; we are hugely disappointed. We looked lackluster and second best.”
Leicester were full of fire throughout the game and wanted it so badly that Keith Gillespie was still going at it with Charlton full back Hermann Hreidarsson. Curbishley commented that he wished his entire team were in a similar mood. But the day truly belonged to Leicester forward Dion Dublin, who headed home the winner in the dying seconds.
His celebration said it all as to how much he and his team wanted to reach the quarterfinals of the cup.
Dublin’s manager, Craig Levein, describes his 35-year-old veteran as a wholehearted player with a positive influence on the team. Indeed, Levein’s comments were very much the opposite to Curbishley’s.
Developing a winning mentality is something Leicester have tried to instill in the club since the departure of Martin O’Neill. The positive thinking is working finally and the Foxes are back in the cup while knocking on the door for a Premiership return.
It’s a superior mentality that once intimidated any club that traveled to Highbury to play against the unbeatable Gunners. But you can’t win forever — as Arsenal begin to slip more often. This time it was Sheffield United who brought Arsenal back to earth, equalizing from the spot in the 90th minute. Arsenal lost the plot in the 35th minute when Dennis Bergkamp was sent off.
Brentford was the fairytale story in the cup over the weekend. After going two goals down against Premier side Southampton, the underdogs managed to level matters in rapid fashion. Southampton’s Henri Camara tapped in within 5 minutes of the starting whistle and did it again in the 36th. It looked curtains for the team two leagues below the Premiership, but they plugged away after getting one back in a matter of 4 minutes.
At 2-1 going into the half, Brentford had something to build on after a dismal start. In the 58th minute Sam Sodje leveled the score and it was anybody’s game for over 30 minutes.
There’s a long way to go for struggling Southampton and a shock exit from the cup seems not so shocking anymore as they are now on the road to Brentford. Jose Mourinho insisted he was still proud of his team even though they lost 1-0 in the cup to Newcastle. However, the cocky manager may have to admit he is not so proud of his team selection on the day. Fair enough that Mourinho was obviously thinking of Barcelona this week, but a crumbling Chelsea team made their way back to Stamford Bridge before hiking over to Spain.
Against Newcastle Lampard, Gudjohnsen and Duff were rested, but Mourhino decided to bring all three on at halftime. Not leaving any subs available backfired when Wayne Bridge was carted off by stretcher with a suspected broken ankle. Then, in the 90th minute, Chelsea goalkeeper Carol Cudicini received his marching orders with a red card.
Mourinho will have to swallow his pride on this one and review his comments of winning trebles and even quadruples. The quadruple comment was made even after losing in the FA Cup. Easy on the predictions, Mr. Mourinho, and remember, you gave yourself four years to win and dominate the EPL, never mind winning everything. As for winning all four trophies in England, “No way, Jose.”
However, the biggest disappointment in the cup was Robbie Keane not starting for Spurs, who tied 1-1 with Nottingham Forest.