Football focus

news: Football focus

Former Germany coach Rudi Voller has taken over club side AS Roma following the resignation, due to personal reasons, of ex-manager Prandelli. Voller, who played for the Italians between 1987 and 1992, scoring 45 times in 142 games, has been given a one-year contract.

Newcastle has sacked Sir Bobby Robson following a poor start to the new season. The veteran coach’s five-year spell at St. James Park did not produce any silverware and Robson now looks likely to join Trevor Brooking’s restructured FA. Following intense speculation on who would be the next manager, it has now been announced that Graeme Souness is to be Sir Bobby’s successor.

Following months of rumours, Wayne Rooney has finally joined Manchester United. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson is sure he has secured the greatest player since George Best. His judgement has made Rooney the world’s most expensive teenage footballer with a total of 40 million euros eventually changing hands. Everton are looking to fill the gap with Porto’s South African striker Benni McCarthy and the Portuguese champions have already pre-empted any such move by signing 23-year old Brazilian international Luis Fabiano for 13 million euros.

Rooney was not the only notable signing before the transfer window closed last week. Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimovic joined Juventus from Ajax Amsterdam for 16 million euros and Argentinian Olympic hero Javier Saviola has left Barcelona to replace Morientes at Monaco.

Arsenal, who are hoping to extend their record unbeaten run to 50, still have a long way to go if they are to establish a new world best mark. Ivory Coast team ASEC Abidjan remained unbeaten over 108 matches between 1989 and 1994. Next best are Steau Bucharest on 104 and Esperance Tunis on 85. Celtic hold the British record on 62, set back in 1915 – 17 and even Benfica did not taste defeat in 56 games between 1976 and 78.


Last weekend saw the first round of qualifying matches for the next World Cup, with all and sundry in action. England provided one of the few upsets going 2-0 up against Austria in Vienna before being stunned by a superbly taken free kick halfway through the second half. Goalkeeper ‘Calamity’ James then allowed a tame shot to squirm under his body to provide the 2-2 final score line. Ireland beat Cyprus 3-0 and Northern Ireland lost by the same score against Poland, with Wales drawing 1-1 in Azerbaijan. France could only draw 0-0 at home against Israel and European champions Greece, who have still not received their winning bonuses, were undone by Albania, who are also coached by a German, 2-1. Portugal enjoyed a comfortable victory in Latvia, Ronaldo scoring the first and providing the cross for Pauleta’s second only minutes later.