Hold The Back Page: 08/01/2011
Saturday 08 January 2011
It's a big weekend for...
One fifth of Premier League managers
There's no top-flight football this weekend, but four of the nation's 20 elite coaches could see themselves removed from duty should they be further undermined by poor results in the FA Cup.
Avram Grant is most at risk; as if conceding the first three top-flight goals of Leon Best's career was not enough, a home tie with Barnsley carries the dread balance of presumed progress and competent opposition. Carlo Ancelotti faces Ipswich Town at home, with defeat untenable, while Gérard Houllier travels to Sheffield United knowing that an exit might indeed finish him. The worst draw is Roy Hodgson's: he takes his Liverpool side to the place they enjoy losing the least, to face a side desperate to atone for the defeat to Leeds United last year. It might not end prettily, for Roy or for any of them.
And a testing moment to be...
While Premier League owners and executives agonise over how to measure progress, Australian cricket chiefs have a similar task; as they ask themselves whether a defeat by an innings and 83 runs is a meaningful improvement from a defeat by an innings and 157 runs. Had Australia won at the SCG and tied the series, Michael Clarke might have been asked to continue as captain. But they didn't, and Clarke's one definitive decision, to bat on winning the toss, handed England the momentum they needed to march to their third smash of the series. Not the perfect start, then. But the waves of demand for regime change might be such that Clarke has to stay; can the board possibly resist?
Plus the stories you may have missed
Russian hockey team ejected
Winning gold at the World Junior Hockey Championships was too much for Team Russia this week, as they were asked to leave a flight from Buffalo to Atlanta for something euphemised as "unruliness".
An unlikely drugs mule
If British Customs officials were insufficiently surprised when they found a painting of Emmanuel Adebayor sent to Tottenham, of all places, they were shocked to find £3,000 worth of cannabis inside it.
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