F.A. Cup

Manchester United – Scholes to return for England?

Could Paul Scholes really return for England?

When he came out of retirement soccersweep asked if Paul Scholes could ever be picked for England again and answered resoundingly in the negative. It seemed such a fanciful idea at the time as to be ridiculous. But did you see his performance at the weekend?

Scholes not only looked like he had never been out of the Manchester United team but as if he had found a way of reversing the effects of ageing. Central to everything good about Manchester United he made his team look, at times, masterful once more. So why did Manchester United lose? Probably because the Ginger Prince was substituted with 20 minutes remaining. Until that point Liverpool simply couldn’t get the ball off United. That change however, allowed Liverpool back into a game that they eventually won. But Paul Scholes himself came through the game in a blaze of glory and emphatically extinguished any doubts about the wisdom of his return. On this form, and with fitness clearly improving, he must surely be asked by Fabio Capello to return to the England fold for one last hurrah. Euro 2012 is, after all, only 4 months away.

Are Liverpool any good?

Liverpool were largely outplayed on their own patch against Manchester United but ultimately took their second Manc scalp of the week in the cups. What is it that they say about only the best teams being able to play badly and win? Liverpool continue to confound but fans of the club won’t be complaining too vehemently at the moment.

Who will win the cup?

Most wouldn’t have looked further than Manchester for a winner this season but with both Manchester City and Manchester United now out, it’s a bit of a free for all. If the big boys draw eachother in the quarter finals, I fancy Stoke City to repeat the miracle and get to the final for a second year running.

Time for technology?

You might argue that if Chelsea hadn’t scored from a ridiculous penalty decision earlier in the game, they would have attacked more and scored anyway. But this won’t assuage the QPR fans who must feel absolutely sick about the outcome of their FA Cup tie at Loftus Road on Saturday. I have always been against the idea of TV technology assisting referees because I worry that it may destroy a game which is so compelling precisely because of the controversy. But, with ever better TV coverage showing mistakes in ever more gaping detail, it might just be time for a change, because the biggest clubs seem to get an unfair proportion of the decisions.

Any big signings before the end of the window?

Arsenal’s own Arsene Wenger talked in the summer about the football bubble bursting. By that he meant that, for years, clubs have been overspending and that this unsustainability was soon coming home to roost. Whilst Darlington, Portsmouth and too many other lesser clubs struggle to survive there has been a massive reduction, at the top end, in money spent during this winter window.  Wenger’s lack of enthusiasm for entering the marketplace on behalf of Arsenal has been vilified by Arsenal fans and questioned from outside the club, but perhaps he is smarter than the rest. Perhaps he is simply safeguarding the future of his club in a sport that is about to enter particularly tough times.

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