Weekly football conversation since 2009, with Graham Sibley, Jan Bilton and Terry Duffelen. Listen on Acast, Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or your podcatcher of choice.

Weekend Boxset: Carrick's at the wheel



With work permits, existing contracts and all manner of other red tape in the way, it could be some time before Ralf Rangnick gets the keys to Old Trafford. So while we wait for him to become interim manager we have Michael Carrick as caretaker manager.

Seven great matches to take you from Friday to Sunday. It’s the Sound of Football Weekend Boxset.



All times are GMT


Friday

Ligue 1: Lens v Angers
20.00 on BT Sport 3
Timing is everything in football. In February 2019, former Nottingham Forest manager Philippe Montainer was relieved of his duties as Lens head coach after a disappointing run of results had seen his side drop from the automatic promotion places in Ligue 2. He was replaced by reserve team coach Franck Haise who only had two games in charge before the first lockdown hit. He won both those games, which was enough to lift his side back to second place and promotion with the season truncated at that point. While some may argue the validity of their promotion, Lens have certainly showed they can hold their own in the top flight, finishing seventh last season and are currently in fourth place. I say currently fourth because it’s anyone’s guess where they will end up. No team blows hot and cold more than Lens: already they’ve beaten sides like Lille and Marseille but just last week they were beaten 4-0 by a Brest side sat just above the relegation zone. Lens’ firepower for this game will be depleted with the absense Arnaud Kalimeundo who picked a late red in that defeat to Brest. The 19 year old has scored seven times for his club and France U21 since the start of October. If Lens are the unpredictable surprise package of the season, Angers have become reassuringly predictable in as far as they can almost always be counted on to score. A good habit that has helped them rise to sixth in the table. Their 0-0 with Marseille is the only match in which they haven’t scored so far this season and the only time they’ve failed to register a goal in their past 17 games. GS


Saturday

FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 qualification UEFA group D: England v Austria
12.30 on ITV
With Leah Williamson joining Steph Houghton on the side-lines, Sarina Wiegman has handed the captain’s armband to Chelsea’s Millie Bright for this international break. Some have seen it as a surprise choice given that were those first two names fit, she probably wouldn’t start, and also there are more experienced players in the squad such as Jill Scott and Ellen White - who is set to win her 100th cap here. While this game should be the most challenging test for The Lionesses so far in qualification, it’s certainly a game they should win. In the pecking order of women’s international football in Europe, Austria have been in the lower reaches of Pot 2 for some time and, should they qualify, it will be their first World Cup. Their only appearance in a major tournament so far has been the 2017 Euros in which they surpassed all expectations by topping their group ahead of France and going on to reach the semi-finals, losing to Denmark on penalties. Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger will be the only representative from the WSL in the Austrian line up with club team mate and international captain Viktoria Schnaderback missing through injury. GS

Bundesliga: Bayern v Arminia Bielefeld
17.30 on Sky Sports Football
Normally we wouldn’t trouble boxset readers with this one, but Bayern’s shock defeat last week, to relegation-threatened Augsburg, has given us pause. Could Bielefeld cause another upset? Before you reply with an emphatic "no" consider the shenanigans going down at the club in recent weeks. Bayern’s sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic blamed the unvaccinated members of the squad for coach Julian Nagelsmann’s recent bout of COVID. Bayern’s five unvaccinated players are, or were, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Mickael Cuisance and Joshua Kimmich. The latter being the most controversial in view of his charitable efforts for COVID relief. Kimmich was already in isolation last week before being diagnosed with COVID this week. So the champions go into this game and the next against Dortmund without one of their best players. This is all on top of the much-criticised/praised decision by the club to follow state law and not pay sick pay to unvaccinated players with the disease. The Bavarians got a hard-fought Champions League win in Kyiv on Tuesday but with an unsettled dressing room and key players missing, it may be worth keeping an eye on this game. TD

Serie A: Venezia v Inter
19.45 on BT Sport 1
At the start of this month, in this organ, I described how the top two were in danger of running out of sight of the chasing pack. Since then Inter have taken points off both Milan and Napoli to shrink the gap to just four points. Simone Inzaghi’s side are the form team in Serie A and followed Napoli’s first defeat of the season with securing a place in the knockout stage of the Champions League this week with a comfortable 2-0 win over Shaktar, Edin Dzeko scoring both goals. All of which shapes up for this to be another straightforward win for Inter, but newly promoted Venezia are no pushovers, as Roma and Bologna have discovered in recent weeks. The winning goals in each of those games came from summer signing David Okereke. Known as "Dozie" to his friends, the Nigerian striker joined on a "season long loan with option to buy" basis from Club Brugge but has experience of Italian football having joined Spezia as a teenager. GS


Sunday

Scottish Premiership: Livingston v Rangers
12.00 on Sky Sports Football
Lunchtime Sunday takes us north of the border for what promises to be quite the match. Hosts Livingston, while sitting in the bottom half of the Premiership table, are on something of a run, unbeaten now in their last five. There’s a couple of wins in there against teams they need to beat (Ross County and St Johnstone), but also a draw away to Celtic making the Lions the only team to take points off the Hoops since late September. All that being said, their achilles heel lies in their poor disciplinary record, which may be an issue when they find themselves frustrated by a higher performing side. For Rangers, today is all about the league debut of new manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst. A year in China aside, the four in his native Netherlands coaching Feyenoord yielded five pieces of silverware, including the Eredivisie in 2016/17. Add to this an impressive playing career with some of Europe’s top clubs (plus Rangers) and this looks like a shrewd appointment. He might have tripped up last week in the cup, but I think he’s got enough pedigree to fill Gerrard’s shoes. He’s also Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau back home, which will go down well with the locals. JB

Premier League: Chelsea v Manchester United
16.30 on Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
If he wasn’t a (dirty) Mag, I’d almost feel sorry for Michael Carrick ahead of what, no doubt will be, a painful afternoon for Manchester United Football Club. In case you’re wondering, I’m using the club’s full title as every single former Manchester United Football Club player is doing it, in every sentence, every time. Their demise has been well documented by many more skilled commentators over the years, but for me, Manchester United Football Club’s issue is that it still thinks that it’s in the midst of the Fergie era. Similar, indeed, to any jingoistic gammon you might stop in the street who bangs on about Dunkirk and has a picture of a Spitfire over his mantlepiece. Fergie haunts Manchester United Football Club and, as he’s on the board, affects every decision they make. Meanwhile, their rivals have been busy bringing in progressive, young coaches, with an eye on the future. Today sees those two worlds collide. Manchester United Football Club’s Champions League win over Villareal may be seen as the start of the new manager ‘bounce’ for some, but Chelsea’s ruthless demolition of Juventus is an ominous omen of what awaits them on Sunday. There will be blood. JB

La Liga: Real Madrid v Sevilla
20.00 on Premier Sports 2 and LaLigaTV
Sevilla could have gone top of the table, last week, had they managed to hang on after Ivan Rakitic had seemingly snatched a late winner in the second minute of injury time against Alaves. But in the 97th minute, up popped Joselu to convert a penalty and share the points. That aside, things are going well for Julen Lopetegui’s side: a victory over 10 men Betis in the derby is keeping the fans happy and Sevilla are definite title contenders. Their 2-0 win over Wolfsburg also keeps them in the hunt for the next round of the Champions League. So it’s all set up for a cracking encounter with the current league leaders, Real Madrid. Uncertainty surrounds the future prospects of Los Blancos after their recent Super League shenanigans exposed their financial frailty. But today, they are in decent shape under Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian coach will be missing Eden Hazard (again) and readers will be shocked, I say shocked, to learn that Gareth Bale came back from international duty injured (again). A hastily arranged loan spell back in England is on the cards for that guy, I think. TD


Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry, Graham and Jan

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