The managerial carousel has swung around again. Walter Smith has taken on the Scotland job vacated by the spectacularly unsuccessful, Berti Vogts. Harry Redknapp, who walked out on Portsmouth two weeks ago, claiming he needed a break from football, has taken over from Steve Wigley at bitter south-coast rivals, Southampton. The post at St. Mary’s has proved to be a poisoned chalice this year – Redknapp becomes the Saints fourth manager of 2004. Finally, former England manager, Glenn Hoddle, is back, this time at Molineaux. Hoddle has been given the task of taking Wolves back into the Premiership on a six-month contract.
• The draw for the next phase of the Asian 2006 World Cup qualifying tournament has been made. Group A consists of South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Uzbekistan while Group B features North Korea, Japan, Iran and Bahrain. The top two finishers from each qualify for Germany directly, whereas the two third-placed teams play off and then face a further match against an opponent from a different continent.
• World Soccer Magazine has named Jose Mourinho as Manager of the Year ahead of European champion Otto Rehhagel and Arsenal’s, Arsene Wenger. The player’s award went to Barcelona’s Brazilian striker, Ronaldinho.
• In Germany, Bayern Munich drew 2-2 at home with Stuttgart to top the Bundesliga going into the winter break. Closest rivals, Schalke 04, equal on points but behind on goal difference, conceded a late equaliser against Freiburg to stay in second.
• Goalkeeper, Tetsuya Enomoto was the hero of newly-crowned J-League champions, Yokohama Marinos, saving two penalties against the Urawa Red Diamonds. The Japanese League was formed in the mid-90s and will be contested by 18, rather than the current 14 teams from next season.
A bomb scare last Sunday night caused Real Madrid’s game with Real Sociadade to be abandoned three minutes before the final whistle, the score tied at 1 – 1. Over 70,000 fans were rapidly evacuated but an extensive search of the Bernabeu Stadium failed to turn up any explosives.