Sizzling stories make up for icy weather in England

2012-02-11 00:00

IT may be colder than freezing in England at this time of year, but the football is nothing short of sizzling. Everywhere you look, there are intriguing narratives playing themselves out at their own pace.

The battle of Manchester intensifies each week as United and City slug it out it out for top honours. That, it appears, is a story that could only reach its final chapter on the last day of the season. This week also saw the FA see to it that England will have to appoint a new manager in a European Championship year, which is never ideal. The tournament starts in June and whoever replaces Fabio Capello will not have had a lot of time with his squad. And that is precisely why the next coach will be English and why Harry Redknapp is the favourite to lead the Three Lions in Poland and the Ukraine.

Redknapp has done wonders at Spurs, transforming the north Londoners from mid-table puzzlers, to Champions League participants and now, depending on how generous you’re willing to be, title contenders. More than that, Redknapp knows the players involved in the England set-up and has done for years. He has their respect and has proven to everybody involved in football that he is superb tactically. If he wants the job, it’s his, but there is the small matter of the legacy that he has started to build for himself at Spurs. Will it be worth giving up for a position where he’ll be lucky to take charge of six matches a year? International football isn’t the priority anymore, and this will make Redknapp’s decision a difficult one. This particular story is paused for now, because for the next month England’s go-to-guy Stuart Pearce will take charge, giving Redknapp an extra month with Spurs and the time he needs to make the biggest decision of his career.

It is unfortunate that racism has been such a prominent theme in so many of English football’s recent storylines. In a way, racism was responsible for Capello’s exit. And another of our racially-driven narratives will hopefully be put to bed today when Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra shake hands like big children and squash months of ridiculous reports and stories. But don’t expect the fans to have gotten that memo. Suarez is in for a tough time at Old Trafford today. But hopefully, after today, racist feuds on the football pitch will be a thing of the past.

There is one story that never seems to end, and that is the story of Ryan Giggs. The Welshman penned a fresh deal that will keep him at United for another year. It is a career at the club that will reach its 22nd year next season, and surely his last, though we say that every year. It is a quite phenomenal achievement and in a frantic footballing world, it is refreshing to know that, above all else, professionalism and dedication are the things that turn great footballers into legends.

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