Friday, January 29, 2010

Ferdinand's appeal comes back to haunt him

Rio Ferdinand has been handed a four-match ban from the FA after failing to win his appeal against a violent conduct charge. The lengthy ban is a combination of a punishment for this violent conduct and the result of launching an appeal viewed by the FA as having no chance of being successful.

The violent conduct charge is understandable and conventional; he was found guilty of striking Craig Fagan during Manchester United’s clash against Hull. Steve Bennett, the referee at the time, did not have a clear view of the incident and so failed to take action during the game. However, he has since stated that Ferdinand would have been sent off if match officials had observed the incident. The charge for launching a frivolous appeal, described in an FA statement as worthy of "an additional one-match ban upon the statutory three-match ban awarded for violent conduct" is slightly more obscure.

It is thought that the club were aware of the risk of launching an appeal against the charge, with officials advised that it could be viewed as a waste of time by the top dogs at the FA but it does leave clubs and players in something of a quandary. Where is the line between a legitimate appeal and a frivolous one? Where can the FA draw the line between their own opinion on a particular incident and that of those involved?

Ferdinand will now miss this weekend’s crucial Premier League clash against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium and he will also have to be ruled out of matches against Portsmouth, Aston Villa, and Everton in a stretch that could represent a crucial period in United's quest to retain their Premier League crown - the sports betting odds suggest they have a reasonable chance of finishing as champions.

However, Ferdinand should be back for the Carling Cup final against Aston Villa.

United are seen as a good Carling Cup bet by many pundits as they are favourites to lift the trophy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sir Alex: I can't leave Rooney out

Wayne Rooney is the main man who can fire Manchester United to glory in the Premier League title race, according to his manager.

Sir Alex Ferguson saw his forward score all four goals in United's 4-0 win over Hull at the weekend to take his tally for the season to 19.

That victory saw United move to the top of Premier League as their rivals were all involved in FA Cup action, so the Red Devils currently sit two points ahead of Arsenal and Chelsea.

However, Chelsea have two games in hand on their Premier League title rival while Arsenal have one.

Rooney is now on course to beat his record haul of 23 goals in one season for United and Ferguson said after the Hull game the 24-year-old's goals were a "highlight" for him.

"He has been wanting to develop himself as a scorer and there were some terrific finishes today," said the Scotsman.

"He has always been a main player for us, from the moment he came to the club. He never gets left out."

Ferguson was recently dealt a blow as utility player John O'Shea has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

The Irish defender will be out with a leg problem and is due to miss vital games as an injury-hit United battle for glory both in the Premier League and the Champions League.

Indeed, United's stricken back line could have a negative impact on their Premier League title odds.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kaeding can handle the pressure

You would think it was an easy job - watch the ball, kick the ball in the right direction and make sure it goes through those posts about 40 yards away from you.

You would think it was an even easier job if you were rated as one of the best, if not the best, kicker in the NFL, but what a bad day it proved for Nate Kaeding in the AFC Divisional playoff clash with the New York Jets.

In his six seasons in the league, Kaeding had established himself as the most accurate kicker around, never hitting less than 80 per cent of his field goals and only twice missing an extra point in 305 attempts.

So what occurred at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday was so far out of character it has to be put on one side and forgotten about despite its importance to a franchise that was looking for a 12th straight win and hoping to be one more good performance away from the Super Bowl.

But unlike Nick Folk over in Dallas, don't expect the Chargers to go out and fire Kaeding on the back of one bad day at the office. Coach Norv Turner said he should not feel like the whole defeat was on his shoulders.

Two key interceptions at the wrong time, and a set of stupid penalties helped the Jets defy the half-time betting odds and mount a comeback.

However, because the failings of a kicker are all the easier to see Kaeding will probably head into 2010/11 hearing it from the fans.

But he knows what is coming and is the type of character who can overcome a little negativity, telling the Chargers website: "The other side of it definitely beats this side of it but like I said if you play this game and you can only accept when things go well, then you're in the wrong business.

"Especially in my position because you're going to miss some and unfortunately some days like this will come and my really bad days have been untimely ones. It's tough to deal with but you have got to deal with it, it's part of the deal."

Kaeding now has to focus on getting his head straight for the 2010/11 season.

Meanwhile, the NLF betting markets make the Jets rank outsiders to win this year's Super Bowl.

Adams shock stuns reeling Bears

The 2010 offseason was always going to be tough for the Chicago Bears in the wake of their failure to make the playoffs this season, but things got a whole lot harder last weekend with the sad death of defensive end Gaines Adams.

Adams was only 26 when he passed away because of a cardiac arrest, caused by an enlarged heart.

Although he only played ten times for the Bears after a trade over from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the side were counting on an improvement in his play next season to solve their problems in the front four. These troubles could be compounded by the loss of free agent Adewale Ogunleye.

Adams was picked fourth in the 2007 NFL draft and led all rookies with six sacks in his opening season, but he struggled to have the same impact in the two seasons after that and cost the Bears only a middling second round pick midway through the season.

The news of Adams' death came at the end of a week in which the Bears had missed out on two of their main targets for the roles as coordinator on both sides of the ball.

First came the news that Jeremy Bates had decided to follow Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll to Seattle and become his offensive coordinator - Bates had been the number one target for the Bears because of his work with Jay Cutler when the pair were both in Denver.

There was another rejection when Perry Fewell, who had been in the running for the head coaching vacancy in Buffalo, opted for a defensive coordinator's role with the New York Giants.

It's likely that next season's NFL betting will reflect the problems the Bears are now facing.

Now coach Lovie Smith, a set of players lacking true star potential, and fans in need of a long run into the playoffs will have to hope the franchise's luck returns soon or it could be a long season in 2010 for the Windy City's finest.

However, it is unlikely American Football betting experts will be tipping the Bears to go on to great things in 2010/11.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

United rue missed opportunity

Manchester United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak has declared his side knows what they need to do to win the Premier League this season and are disappointed only to have managed a draw against Birmingham City.

The Polish goalkeeper lined up in the United first team at St Andrews in a game he said was "the coldest of my life", with an own goal by Blues defender Scott Danns required to draw the match after Cameron Jerome had put the home side ahead before half-time.

United were left to rue the fact that Darren Fletcher was sent off by referee Mark Clattenburg, but Kuszczak told MUTV the side consider the result as two points lost after they dominated large periods of the match. United are now one point behind Premier League leaders Chelsea having played one game more. However, it would be unwise to rule out United as potential Premier League champions just yet.

He said Birmingham were "lucky to get the goal" but then worked hard and defended well to make it difficult for United to get back into the match.

It was a shame not to keep a clean sheet and the side were not satisfied with the result, he added.

"We know what we have to do to keep up our challenge for the title and we want to win every match, no matter who we play. If we lose some points we are disappointed," said Kuszczak.

United are currently having to do without key defender Nemanja Vidic in their Premier League title bid as the Serbian has tweaked a nerve in his leg, he missed the last two games and will be out for the next match against Burnley.

Saturday, January 2, 2010