Toffees Solidify

Everton is ready to commit to American international goalkeeper Tim Howard, as he was purchased from ManU, where Howard surely would have played a minor role, and will be minding the net in Goodison park. The sale, valued at roughly 3 million pounds, is a huge move that I feel Everton had to make, as he provides some stability in the area. This surely means the services of number two man Richard Wright will not be required. English championship, Richard? The Toffees also hang on to full back Nuno Valente for another year by taking up the option on his contract. The usefulness of this remains to be seen, as he is right now beset by injury, and, at 32 years of age, will have to prove his mettle in order to remain in the first team.

Bayer Leverkusen 3 Blackburn Rovers 2

Shabani Nonda gave the Rovers a lifeline in the away leg of their UEFA cup elimination round by scoring a late goal to leave Leverkusen with only a 1-goal advantage. With the next match at Ewood Park, that late goal could be the difference maker that could propel the Rovers to the next stage of the UEFA cup. Blackburn was missing several key players, with defender
Andre Ooijer and midfielder Robbie Savage both out with broken legs, and Morten Gamst Pedersen out with a more minor injury. Even with the 3-2 defeat, hope should be abound in Ewood park for Blackburn to advance and maybe make a solid run for the cup.

Rijkaard to leave Barca?

This year at the helm of Barcelona FC will reportedly be the last for the Dutch boss. Speculation is that the in-fighting in the Barca clubhouse, including a Samuel Eto'o-Ronaldinho feud, convinced Frank Rijkaard that it was time to leave Nou Camp. Many Barcelona players, notably the midfielder Xavi, have urged Rijkaard to stay on as head coach.

"He's the sort of coach you can rely on..the door's always open..." says Xavi.

Barca have been dominant in La Liga in recent years, winning two league titles and last year beating Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League final.

There has been speculation on Rijkaard's successor, with names like team Netherlands coach Marco van Basten.

Champions' League...
....starts up again next week! Try pulling me away from the TV.

-Christopher J. Brigham