Whatever the new year holds for Manchester City, Liverpool will have a large part to play in the Mancini family fortunes during January.
Not only does manager Roberto pit his wits against Kenny Dalglish three times in four weeks – first in the Premier League, then in a two-leg Carling Cup semi-final – but now his 19-year-old son Andrea may have a chance to make a name for himself at Anfield. He is on loan from City at Oldham Athletic, who qualified in midweek for a glamorous FA Cup third-round tie against Liverpool by beating Southend United.
Now in his second month at the club, he has so far made only two brief appearances as a substitute, unlike fellow City loanee Luca Scapuzzi, who has started several games including the victory over Southend. But the pair did not impress when they underwent the Oldham ritual of new signings singing to their team-mates, opting for the Italian national anthem before the recent draw at Bournemouth, where their vocal performance was described by the Australian midfielder James Wesolowski as "shocking".
Mancini Jnr has been released by two of his father's former clubs, Bologna and Internazionale, and is now part of City's elite development squad, as is his older brother.
Filippo Mancini, 21, played one Italian Cup game for Inter and was in the news last month when it was revealed at the height of the Carlos Tevez affair that he also declined to come on as a substitute, in a youth game against – them again – Liverpool. Despite the embarrassment caused to his father, who was said to be furious, the club were unable to impose any punishment as he was an unpaid, non-contract player.
Scowcroft raises his game
Always good to hear of a former Premier League player putting something back, so step forward James Scowcroft, the former Ipswich and Leicester striker whose 17-year professional career ended when he was released last year by Leyton Orient.
Still on the books of Bury Town in Suffolk, he has not played all season because of injury but is hoping to return in the new year with his local village team, Stanton, to try to regain fitness. He is a friend of the club, having helped to raise £13,000 for the families of four workmen, including two Stanton members, who were killed in an industrial accident in Great Yarmouth.
Community is relocated
After indications that Wembley would stage next season's Community Shield the day after the Olympics football final there, it has now been decided to move it, with Villa Park the strong favourite to be the new venue on 12 August.
The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff previously staged the match while Wembley was being rebuilt but it has the Olympic bronze medal match two days beforehand, while the strong possibility of either Manchester City or United being involved is thought to count against either of their grounds.
With a number of Olympic events still going on that day, plus the closing ceremony, London is hardly suited to a game that attracts 85,000. So it would be ironic if Villa won the FA Cup. The Olympic football is the most widespread of all sports next August, with group matches in Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Cardiff, Coventry and Wembley.
Parker to pick up award
Voting for the England team's player of the year is under way at www.theFA.com, with competition expected to be rather stiffer than in the annus horribilis of 2010.
With most contenders having ruled themselves out last year by their efforts at the World Cup, Adam Johnson was able to claim third place after starting only two games. Ashley Cole was the winner, as one of the few comparative successes in South Africa, as Owen Hargreaves had been in winning the award after the 2006 World Cup.
This time Scott Parker, Ashley Young and Joe Hart would appear to be among the leading runners and riders, Stewart Downing also having done well, though often as a substitute.Reuse content