SUNDERLAND BANK ON DI CANIO FOR SURVIVAL
Sunderland have appointed Paolo Di Canio as their new manager on a two-and-a-half year deal, replacing the outgoing Martin O’Neill, who was sacked on Saturday evening with just seven games remaining in the Premier League season.
The Black Cats lie only one point away from the relegation places, and this decision has clearly been taken with the desperate need to stay up in mind.
Amid uncertainty in some quarters due to Di Canio’s lack of managerial experience and infamously right-wing political views, chairman Ellis Short defended his decision to appoint him, saying: “I think that the chances of [staying up] are greatly increased with Paolo joining us.”
Time will tell whether Di Canio can deliver Sunderland’s safety. With his first two games being away to Chelsea and fierce rivals Newcastle, where they have not won for 13 years, Di Canio has been thrown firmly into the deep end.
DESPERATE QPR IN MUST-WIN DERBY
Ahead of tonight’s game away at Fulham, time is fast running out for Harry Redknapp in his quest to save Queen’s Park Rangers from impending relegation.
After seeing Wigan leap out of the relegation zone and Aston Villa lose yesterday, QPR remain seven points adrift of safety, and will need to pick up points on the road as well as at Loftus Road if they are to miraculously escape.
Redknapp has targeted an improbable five wins from their last seven matches after a frustrating defeat at Villa Park in their last game, and with Everton, Liverpool and Arsenal still to play, it looks as if Redknapp’s men must get a result tonight.
GOALS GUARANTEED IN EYE-CATCHING CUP REPLAY
Manchester United have travelled to Chelsea twice this season already, winning 3-2 in the Premier League and losing 5-4 in the Capital One Cup.
That, coupled with the fact that these two teams played out an absorbing 2-2 draw in the original FA Cup tie at Old Trafford, seems to promise that this will be an open affair to say the least.
The replay comes at an awkward time, especially for Chelsea, with tonight’s clash the second of four games played within 8 days for the Blues, while United, with a week’s rest after the game, have no immediate distractions.
ON THE CONTINENT
Burak Yilmaz could be leaving Galatasaray to go to a top European club this summer, with a host of big names reportedly interested in the Champions League’s seven-goal hotshot.
Juventus coach Antonio Conte has said his side harbour ‘no fear’ of Bayern Munich ahead of their Champions League tie tomorrow at the Allianz-Arena. Bayern continued their imperious form at the weekend in the Bundesliga, demolishing Hamburg SV 9-2.
Tonight sees two important games in La Liga as Betis and Getafe scrap for the last remaining European places whilst Athletic Bilbao and Granada both still have work to do to secure their top-flight places.
There is a near-full programme of games in the Football League today, with Cardiff seeking to enhance their promotion prospects with victory at home to Blackburn, which would see them go 11 points clear of third-placed Watford. At the foot of the table, Wolves continue their quest to salvage survival from their shambles of a season away at Midlands rivals Birmingham City.
Brendan Rodgers is eager for Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard to sign a new deal, which would most likely keep him at the club until the end of his career.
David Moyes has hinted that his Everton tenure could come to an end if the Goodison Park club failed to achieve their target of playing European football next season. Moyes has been at Everton for 11 years, but said: “The only thing I am interested in is managing winning teams that are regularly in Europe.”