September's Sporting ShockersPosted on: 09 September 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
Have you been away on holiday for a week? Don’t worry\; you haven’t missed too much, just a week like no other in the sporting world.
The summer without a home nation at Euro 2008 and no football or rugby on the box to keep us entertained was eased with Spain’s outstanding performance to win the European Championships in June as well as Rafael Nadal’s titanic Wimbledon title in July.
In August we were hooked by Olympic fever and Team GB’s sensational display in Beijing and for a minute, nobody even missed the football.
But all that changed last week when new Manchester City owners made a dramatic entrance to the Premier League, Newcastle United and West Ham lost their managers and two big name deals were concluded with just minutes remaining in the transfer window.
To add to the drama of last week, the British world of sport were left stunned by Andy Murray’s jaw-dropping performance to beat Nadal in the US Open semi-finals, Amir Khan’s first round knockout defeat in the boxing ring and Lewis Hamilton’s demotion from his first place finish in Monza.
We recap September’s shockers and invite you to tell us which story surprised you the most.
City Take A Sheikh
The Premier League transfer deadline day has never seen such a news rush. News emerged that a hugely wealthy Arab group based in Abu Dhabi were close to sealing a takeover to buy Manchester City.
If that wasn’t enough, the blue side of Manchester were stunned with the arrival of Brazilian superstar Robinho arriving for a British transfer record of £32.5m from Real Madrid right under the noses of Chelsea.
The Arab firm then claimed German striker Mario Gomez, Valencia’s David Villa and even city neighbours’ Cristiano Ronaldo were targets for the new owners.
And with United struggling to agree a fee with Tottenham for wantaway striker Dimitar Berbatov, City even tried to pinch the Bulgarian ahead of their rivals – only for the player to snub a move to Eastlands.
In the closing hours, the Red Devils finally concluded their move for Berbatov for £30.75m.
Newcastle’s decision to sell young talent James Milner to Aston Villa for £12m on the eve of transfer deadline day left many Magpie supporters bemused by the business decisions at St James’ Park.
However, it wasn’t just the fans who were wondering what was going on in the North East. Manager Kevin Keegan aired his frustrations on deadline day and after two days locked in crunch talks with the Toon hierarchy, decided to walk away from his beloved Newcastle for the third time.
With a huge fans revolt against club chairman Mike Ashley and director of football Dennis Wise, there was even talk of a quick fire return for King Kev but even that seemed a bit too far fetched, even for Newcastle’s standards.
Elsewhere, West Ham boss Alan Curbishley handed in his resignation at Upton Park on Wednesday despite his team sitting in fifth place in the table after two games.
The Hammers number one was apparently growing increasingly frustrated over his lack of control in the transfer market and chose to walk out after a turbulent two-year spell in charge.
Former Chelsea and Italy star Gianfranco Zola is the strong favourite to take up the reigns after Croatia manager Slaven Billic ruled himself out of the running.
Irish Upset Champions Wasps
Guinness Premiership champions London Wasps started the defence of their crown with an error-strewn display at a wet Twickenham against London Irish.
Irish took an early lead through new signing Chris Hala'Ufia. Peter Hewat converted and added two penalties to give Irish a 13-0 half-time lead and they went further ahead when Richard Thorpe crossed the whitewash.
Wasps got on the board with a converted Tom Rees try, but Hewat added two more penalties and Eoin Reddan's converted try could not save the champions from an opening day 26-14 defeat.
England Scrape Passed Minnows
Qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa got underway across Europe on Saturday and a few of the world’s most established nations were left red-faced.
England had to thank Joe Cole for two second half goals to overcome rookies Andorra in Barcelona whilst Scotland fell to an opening day defeat at the hands of Macedonia in Skopje.
Wales left it late to take three points off Azerbaijan in Cardiff, Northern Ireland were beaten in Slovakia but the Republic of Ireland managed a 2-1 win in Germany against Georgia.
Elsewhere in Europe, the biggest surprise came at Euro 2008 joint-hosts Austria. The Austrians beat European heavyweights France 3-1 in Vienna to leave Les Blues playing catch up from day one.
Romania were also on the end of a shock scoreline, going down 3-0 at home to minnows Lithuania.
Khan Knocked Out
Bolton’s Olympic silver medallist from 2004 Amir Khanwas looking for his 19th straight win after turning professional as he looked to step up his bid for a world title.
Still only 21, his dreams were shattered inside 60 seconds by Colombia's Breidis Prescott in his WBO intercontinental lightweight title defence on Saturday night.
Khan was put down for the first time after just 30 seconds when hit by two lefts in quick succession. He managed to regain his feet but was clearly struggling.
He resumed after an eight count but Prescott unleashed another flurry and Khan hit the deck once more before being counted out after just 54 seconds.
Hamilton’s Horror Show
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was stripped of a dramatic victory in the Belgian Grand Prix after stewards handed him a 25-second post-race penalty on Sunday.
The Englishman was demoted to third place behind Ferrari's Felipe Massa and BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld.
He was accused of gaining an advantage by cutting the Spa circuit's Bus Stop chicane in a late-race battle with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
The demotion meant Hamilton's lead over Massa in the title chase cut to two points but McLaren do intent to appeal against the decision.
Murray’s Major Shock For Rafa
Britain's Andy Murray completed a sensational victory over world number one Rafael Nadal to reach his first Grand Slam final at the US Open on Sunday night.
The Scot left play in the late hours of Saturday night, leading Nadal by two sets before rain interrupted play. But Murray returned less than 24 hours later to complete a 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 victory over the Spaniard.
The 21-year-old went on to face defending champion Roger Federer in Monday night’s final, aiming to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam singles title since Fred Perry won the US Open in 1936, but his hopes were dashed with a straight set defeat.
Have You Say
What surprised you the most? Were you watching any of the stories unfold?
Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below. Alternatively, share your thoughts with other members in the 50connect forums.
By Mark O'Haire
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