Brendan Rodgers out, one of these seven talented managers in at Anfield?

first_img 7 7 5. Marcelo Bielsa (Free agent) – The Argentinian tactician did some excellent work with Chile, Athletic Bilbao and Marseille in recent seasons, but quit his job with the French side in August after conflicts with the management. He’s a perfectionist and gets his teams to work hard in pursuit of glory. 7 2. Carlo Ancelotti (Free agent) – One of the most decorated managers in the history of the game, Ancelotti is currently available. Controversially sacked at the end of last season by Real Madrid, he helped them claim their tenth European Cup/Champions League title in 2014. Elsewhere, he won the Champions League twice with AC Milan, the Premier League and FA Cup double with Chelsea and the Serie A and Ligue 1 titles with AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain respectively. 7 A disappointing 1-1 draw with Norwich City has cranked up the pressure on Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers.Fans are beginning to call for the Northern Irishman’s head as the Reds struggle for form in the Premier League, despite his tactical tinkering.Jurgen Klopp is a man many of the Anfield faithful want to see in the hot seat should Rodgers find himself dethroned in the coming weeks, but who else could the Reds get in to replace him? talkSPORT takes a look.Click the right arrow to see seven possible replacements for Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool… 6. Andre Villas-Boas (Zenit St Petersburg) – The ex-Chelsea and Tottenham boss has already revealed he’ll leave the Russian side at the end of the season, but the Reds could tempt him to quit earlier should Brendan Rodgers vacate the throne at Anfield. He won the Russian Premier League last season in his first full campaign. 7 1. Jurgen Klopp (Free agent) – take a look at six more possible successors to Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool manager by clicking the arrow above – The former Borussia Dortmund boss is a wanted man after his spell at the Westfalenstadion. His excellent tactical work and humorous characters will endear him to the Anfield faithful. Liverpool could talk to him in the coming months about the possibility of replacing Rodgers, but will the lure of managing a side in the Champions League rule out the Reds? 4. Frank de Boer (Ajax) – The Dutchman was linked with the Liverpool job when Brendan Rodgers took over and has since admitted he’d love to manage the club (and Tottenham). He won four Eredivisie titles in a row before Ajax lost the crown to PSV Eindhoven last year. De Boer was also named JFK Greatest Man in 2013 by JFK magazine in the Netherlands. 7 3. Unai Emery (Sevilla) – With Sevilla failing to register a single win so far this season in La Liga, the talented Spanish boss could possibly be tempted to jump ship. He guided his men to back-to-back Europa League triumphs in 2014 and 2015 but lost key players Aleix Vidal and Carlos Bacca in the summer. 7 7. Lucien Favre (Free agent) – A week ago Borussia Moenchengladbach had called Favre ‘unfireable’ as they struggled to follow up last season’s success but after another defeat at the weekend, he chose to leave on his own accord. He saved the club from relegation in 2011 and got them into the Champions League for the first time with a third place finish last season. Liverpool could snap up a talented manager if they choose to move for him.last_img read more

Who hates each other the most? International football rivalries ranked

first_img 3. Germany v Netherlands – Rooted in the Dutch’s anti-German resentment following Germany’s five-year occupation of Holland during the Second World War, the hatred between these two sides can be summarised by Dutch midfielder Wim Van Hanegem before their 1974 World Cup final match against West Germany. “I don’t give a damn about the score… They murdered my family”. The much-favoured Dutch went on to lose that final 2-1 which became known in the Netherlands as “De moeder aller nederlagen” – “The mother of all defeats”. In Euro 1980 the game saw German goalkeeper Toni Schumacher and Holland’s Huub Stevens fighting on the pitch before Rene van de Kerkhof punched Bernd Schuster in the eye as West Germany won 3-2. But perhaps the biggest flashpoint on the pitch came in their meeting in the 1990 World Cup. Germany again won 2-1, but the match is remembered for Dutch midfielder Frank Rijkaard spitting into the mullet of Germany’s Rudi Völler twice, once after both players had been sent off (pictured above). 9 9 1. Argentina v Brazil – With seven World Cups between them, this is an intense rivalry between two of the most successful football nations ever. But despite boasting some of the world’s best players, the ‘Battles of South America’ are often memorable for far more infamous reasons. In 1937 the Brazilian team were forced to leave a Copa America game, fearing for their safety from Argentine fans and in a 1939 game, when Brazil were awarded a controversial penalty, the entire Argentine team left the field before the final whistle. Seven years later a South American Championship meeting descended into farce following a fight involving both players and spectators. In recent games, Diego Maradona was shown red in the 1982 World Cup after kicking Brazil’s Joao Batista and in Italia ’90, Argentina’s 1-0 victory was marred by accusations from the Brazilian team that their water had been spiked with tranquilisers, a claim which was later confirmed by Maradona (pictured above celebrating in a Brazil shirt after the match). 9 9 5. France v Italy – France and Italy have met consistently in big games. Italy enjoyed the lion’s share of victories early on, but since the 1980s the French have had the better of their rivals and one notable win included beating Italy on penalties en route to winning the 1998 World Cup at a time when much of the French team played in Serie A. France also won in the most dramatic fashion against Italy in the Euro 2000 final with a David Trezeguet golden goal. But undoubtedly the most notorious moment in the rivalry came during the 2006 World Cup final. Having scored a penalty in the first half, France captain Zinedine Zidane was sent off (pictured above) after he head butted Italy’s Marco Materazzi. Italy went on to win on penalties and after the match rumours swirled that Materazzi had insulted Zidane’s family. The moment is now permanently cast in bronze in a 16-foot tall statue. 9 6. Croatia v Serbia – As a result of troubles off the pitch, subsequent matches between these two sides are politically charged affairs fraught with tension from both sets of fans. The countries have only met a few times on the pitch; the first was a goalless draw in 1999 that was marred by riots, political protests and an eventual power outage. Serbia, as an independent nation after Montenegro gained independence, met Croatia in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup with away fans banned for both games. Some Croatian fans (pictured above) were reported to chant, “Kill the Serbs” as their team won 2-0 and in the return match, Croatia’s Josip Simunic scythed down Serbia’s Miralem Sulejmani in one of the worst tackles in history. By Robert CottinghamGermany take on the Netherlands in a friendly in Hannover, pitting two of football’s biggest rivals against one another again.Here, talkSPORT looks at where this game ranks among other fiery internationals.Click the arrow above, right, to see more. 4. England v Scotland – England and Scotland contested the very first international fixture in 1872 and like many of the greatest football rivalries, it is a bitterness born out of both historical context and geographical proximity. The two teams regularly met in the now-defunct Home Championship until 1984 and in one memorable match following a 3-2 Scotland win at Wembley in 1977, Scottish fans invaded the pitch, ripping up turf and bringing down the goalposts. They have met only a handful of times since the 1990s and games are always highly anticipated by both sets of fans. A meeting between the two at Euro 1996 was lit up by a Paul Gascoigne wonder goal (pictured above) and following a Euro 2000 play-off match, crowd trouble spilled over into clashes in Glasgow city centre resulting in more than 50 arrests. And the rivalry will be renewed as the teams were drawn together for World Cup 2018 qualification. 9 9 7. Denmark v Sweden – Denmark and Sweden are two countries whose rivalry is centuries old, with 27 Dano-Swedish wars between 1521 and 1814. On the field, in the two were drawn in the same group for Euro 2008 qualifying and in the first match Denmark staged a remarkable comeback, drawing level after being 3-0 down. But the game descended into anarchy as Denmark’s Christian Poulsen was sent off by referee Herbert Fandel for hitting Sweden’s Markus Rosenberg. Just before the resulting penalty, a Danish fan invaded the pitch and tried to punch Fandel (pictured above). The match was abandoned; awarded 3-0 to Sweden and saw Denmark forbidden from playing their next two matches in Copenhagen. 9. England v Germany – With bitter rivals Germany and Netherlands playing a ‘friendly’ in Hannover, talkSPORT looks at where their rivalry ranks among other international enemies. England have a notable dislike of Argentina, but that is secondary to the English’s hatred of Germany, summed up by the tasteless English chant “two world cups and one world war”. The first competitive meeting between the football teams was won by England in the 1966 World Cup final, but Germany have recorded notable wins at Italia ’90, Euro ’96 and the 2010 World Cup. England were able to celebrate a 5-1 World Cup qualifying win in 2001, but Germany actually reached the final of that competition and the rivalry has been pretty one way since. 9 2. Algeria v Egypt – When Algeria secured the final African place at the 2010 World Cup at Egypt’s expense in a play-off, riot police in the Egyptian capital Cairo were called into action as trouble flared near the Algerian embassy. Members of the Algerian party were injured when stones were thrown at the team bus during that fiery play-off, while in 1990, Egypt refused to send its team to the Afican Cup of Nations in Algeria. A year before that, when Egypt beat their rivals to the 1990 World Cup, Algeria’s Lakhdar Ballomi allegedly gouged out the eye of Egypt’s team doctor. 9 8. USA v Mexico – Frictions arising from Mexican immigration into the USA form the foundations for this rivalry though Mexico were so dominant early on that they lost only once against their neighbours between 1937 and 1990. As the USA improved, however, the matches have become increasingly competitive. Fans relish the frequent meetings between the sides and often more than 100,000 attend matches in Mexico’s Aztec Stadium. Unsavoury incidents include American goalkeeper Brad Friedel reporting bags of urine being thrown at him in 1997 and Mexican authorities alleging Landon Donovan (pictured above scoring against Mexico in the 2002 World Cup) was alleged to have urinated on the pitch during an Olympic qualifying game. When the USA won 2010 World Cup qualifying match 2-0, Mexican assistant coach Paco Ramirez saw fit to slap American midfielder Frankie Hejduk in the aftermath as the teams headed to the dressing rooms. last_img read more

‘A bigger liability than Arteta, this Arsenal player needs to be dropped’ – Fans react to midfielder’s performance

first_img Aaron Ramsey in action for Arsenal at Bournemouth 1 Aaron Ramsey divided opinion among Arsenal fans during his team’s 2-0 win at Bournemouth.The Welshman’s name was a trending topic during the 90 minutes at Dean Court, with many Gooners tweeting to state their displeasure with his performance.But some Arsenal fans seemed impressed by Ramsey’s showing.Take a look at a selection of the reaction to Ramsey’s display, below, then leave a comment with your thoughts.last_img

Steve McClaren’s hair island – update: ‘This is who he needs to see’

first_img1 Newcastle manager Steve McClaren took a verbal pounding on talkSPORT over his hairstyle.One fan rang the Drivetime show to suggest a way in which the Magpies boss could turn things around, with his team struggling to avoid relegation.‘McCLAREN’S HAIR ISLAND IS TO BLAME FOR NEWCASTLE FORM – TALKSPORT CALLER’And the rant on McClaren’s decision to slick his thining hair back and leave one tuft isolated has led to some funny responses via Twitter.The Magpies are in the relegation zone on goal difference, so might a new look help? Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren last_img read more

WATCH! Former Manchester United defender Fabio scores stunner for Cardiff

first_imgMiddlesbrough’s 3-1 victory over Cardiff at the Riverside on Tuesday night was packed full of action.The four goals included a brilliant strike from the Bluebirds’ former Manchester United full-back Fabio – his first in professional football – and a comical own goal from his fellow defender Matthew Connolly.There was also a superb penalty save from Cardiff ‘keeper David Marshall. Check out highlights of the game above.last_img

South Bay Pakistanis shocked by killing

first_imgAs the first female prime minister of Pakistan, Bhutto cultivated ties to the West and pushed for a more democratic society, drawing the ire of Islamic radicals. She also clashed with current President Pervez Musharraf, whom she sought to defeat in the Jan. 8 elections that may now be postponed. The evolution of Pakistani society in the past decade – via the spreading of satellite television and cell phones – put her in a precarious position, said Nayyer Ali, a Long Beach doctor and Muslim Public Affairs Council board member. “Part of that social change has been the conflict between social and conservative forces,” said Ali, who writes for the weekly Pakistan Link newspaper. “And Benazir was at one of the fault lines and victimized by this.” By midmorning, the Pakistani Consulate’s phones were jammed with calls as officials scrambled to make sense of what Pakistani Counsel K.K. Ahsan Wagan called “a national tragedy.” Pakistan already is in the throes of the Islamic prerequisite three days of mourning for its former prime minister. Several Southern California-based members of the Pakistan People’s Party, of which Bhutto was head, have also been in Pakistan helping with election campaigning. “We still are numb and can’t believe this has happened,” Adnan Shafiq, a Riverside resident and a senior vice president with the Pakistan People’s Party’s Southern California chapter, said in a call from Punjab. Shafiq and other party members were especially hard-hit by the assassination. “She was our only hope,” Shafiq said. “I don’t know what will happen now.” But in Los Angeles, many Pakistani-Americans still expressed hope that their homeland will continue moving toward democracy and away from military rule. “I do feel that processes that are in place will continue and that this will only be a temporary setback,” said Torrance electronics businessman Lodhiz Pervaiz. “I personally feel that we will see a good democratic process going forward, and I hope the elections are not put off.” Some, though, were not as optimistic. “I’m afraid the democratic system has taken a back seat over there,” said Adnan Khan, a Walnut resident and a businessman in the medical-technology field. “Pakistan is so much a part of the war on terror that right now it seems that while much of the world is fighting the war on terror, Pakistanis are fighting with each other.” Still, most local Pakistani-Americans appeared hesitant to join many of their countrymen in Pakistan and blame Bhutto’s death on Musharraf, who said Thursday that the assassination was the work of terrorists. Instead, some Pakistani-Americans wondered about the wisdom of Bhutto’s return to her country after years in exile. “The situation there was dangerous for her,” Pervaiz said. “It was especially so in that she was moving out so freely among the people.” Others like Ashraf Ali were even more direct: “She didn’t know the ground realities of Pakistan that have changed dramatically since 9-11.” Like Dada, Ashraf Ali was educated at PAF Model School and St. Patrick’s College in Karachi, where Bhutto’s husband also studied. And he said he believes Pakistani expatriates fail to understand the changes in their homeland. “Since 9-11, Pakistan has had all kinds of terrorists coming in from other countries, and it has changed the gun culture,” he said. “People who have been out of the country a long time don’t realize it. There’s a drug culture that has been channeled out of Afghanistan to Pakistan.” For Dada, his friend’s assassination is particularly disturbing because he feels that despite Bhutto’s intelligence and sophistication, she was a victim of hubris – the belief that her charisma, popularity and political ego protected her. “She was such an intelligent lady but at the same time power-hungry,” Dada said. “It’s beyond understanding. Part of you doesn’t want to accept the reality of what has happened.” tony.castro@dailynews.com Staff writer Paul Clinton contributed to this report. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! . ALSO: » Bhutto assassination throws wrench into US policy » Bhutto’s life a sweeping epic of blood and controversy » VIDEOS: Bhutto killed in suicide blast, Bhutto’s life » MORE PHOTOS Assassinated Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was remembered Thursday by countrymen in Southern California as a charismatic figure who raised expectations but whose family has been plagued by tragedy. “Her father was assassinated and so were two brothers – her whole family has been wiped out just like the Kennedys,” said Los Angeles Pakistani-American businessman Yaqub Dada, a longtime personal friend of the Bhutto family. “Why? Only God knows the truth, but basically, everything is related to power and nothing else.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonDada, who attended high school and college with Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, was part of the group of 40,000 Pakistani-Americans in Southern California stunned by news of the assassination. “I started getting calls telling me of her death around 5:15 (a.m.),” said Syed Ashraf Ali, president of the Pakistani American Arts Council in Los Angeles. “These are very, very truly tragic events. Everyone knew she was in danger but, still, it’s shocking.” At Al-Noor restaurant in Lawndale, owners Hasan and Ghosia Zaidi watched news coverage with their three sons. The family emigrated in the 1990s from Karachi. “It’s shocking,” said son Syed, 21. “My mom woke up my father. Someone actually shot her. It’s sad.” last_img read more

Dedeaux funeral set for Jan. 16

first_imgThe funeral service will be at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, USC officials said Friday. The family asks that any donations may be made to the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, which promotes amateur sports in Los Angeles. In 45 years at USC (1942-86), Dedeaux led the Trojans to a record 11 national championships, coached nearly 60 future major leaguers and was an international ambassador for the game. LOS ANGELES – The funeral for the great USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux will be held Jan. 16. He died Thursday at 91 from complications of a stroke on Dec. 2. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonThe Trojans’ baseball field is named in his honor, and a memorial service will be held at Dedeaux Field this spring. Duncan won’t play for Team USA PHOENIX – Tim Duncan has officially notified USA Basketball that he will not be a part of the U.S. team that will compete at this year’s world championships and the 2008 Olympics. Jerry Colangelo, managing director of USA Basketball, said Saturday that Duncan’s agent, Lon Babby, had called with the news earlier this week. Because of the call, Colangelo did not meet with Duncan when the San Antonio Spurs came to town this weekend. center_img Colangelo, chosen to form a team to bring the U.S. back to world prominence in the sport, is requiring players to make a three-year commitment. The commitment includes a training camp in July, probably to be held in Las Vegas, as well as exhibition games in China and South Korea leading up to the worlds in Japan in August. There will be another training camp next year, followed by another and more exhibition games prior to the 2008 Games in Beijing. Colangelo said has met with 15 to 18 players, and Duncan was the first to say he would not take part. Some, including Shaquille O’Neal, have said they were still considering it, while others, including Allen Iverson, have said they were willing to make the commitment. East beats West in all-star game SAN ANTONIO – Chris Wells ran for three touchdowns and earned MVP honors in leading the East past the West 27-16 in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl high school all-star game Saturday. Wells, who has verbally committed to Ohio State, scored on a pair of 5-yard runs and another from 2 yards out. He led all players with 67 yards on 13 carries. “I think I can be a cutback runner,” said Wells, a senior at Akron’s Garfield High School in Ohio. “But I think I can do a lot of things. Just like today, you saw I can be a power runner.” Wells, who rushed for 1,930 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior, had the first score of the game on his 2-yarder in the first quarter. Miller unhappy with `60 Minutes’ ADELBODEN, Switzerland – Bode Miller is unhappy with the way his interview with `60 Minutes’ in which he said partying had affected his performance in the past, which was characterized in excerpts and media accounts. “We are very saddened to see that what is considered the pre-eminent news show in U.S. history has set off a firestorm by headlining a press release on a Bode Miller profile with an out-of-context and salacious headline involving drunkenness,” Lowell Taub, the ski star’s agent, said in a statement Saturday. Notable HORSE RACING: Allaire C. du Pont, a Thoroughbred enthusiast and owner of five-time Horse of the Year Kelso, has died. She was 92. SOCCER: European champion Liverpool beat Luton 5-3 in the FA Cup, rallying from a 3-1 deficit in one of the most riveting comebacks in soccer’s oldest cup competition. TENNIS: Roger Federer won the Qatar Open in Doha, Qatar for the second straight year, beating French teenager Gael Monfils 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the final. From wire reports 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

AA HOME INSURANCE SURVEY CLAIMS DONEGAL HAS FEWEST BURGLARIES

first_imgDonegal has the fewest number of burglaries according to a widespread survey.The AA Home Insurance survey of almost 15,500 people said that just 13% of people in Donegal have been burgled.Dublin is worst for burglaries overall, with more than 38% of people saying they have been a victim of this crime at some stage. But it is the commuter counties around the capital which have seen the greatest increase.Counties Louth, Laois, Offaly and Kildare have been hit hardest while County Meath has seen the greatest increase in the commuter counties with 40% more burglaries in 2012 than eight years ago.This figure was reflected in the latest AA Home Insurance survey which showed that people from Meath have experienced more burglaries this year than in any other county.Kildare came in at second for overall burglaries with over 34%. Conor Faughnan, Director of Consumer Affairs at the AA explained: “The problem in the commuter counties around Dublin is that every morning a would-be burglar knows that there will be a mass exodus towards the capital, leaving behind whole estates full of empty houses, meaning easy pickings.”The AA survey also found that more people in Limerick said they were burgled than in any other county in Munster. Burglaries in Limerick have increased by almost 10% since 2004, reaching 22%Cavan is worst for the Ulster counties in the Republic, with more than 19% of those polled saying the same.“Burglaries don’t just mean the loss of some of your belongings but they also mean an infringement on your personal life and your security” added Mr Faughnan.The AA poll discovered that 14% of those who were burgled said that the offender got in through an open door or window. But over 31% of participants said that the intruder gained access through a locked door.Mr Faughnan said: “To combat this, make sure all exterior doors are fitted with deadbolt locks which are pick-resistant and be sure that these doors are made with solid wood or metal, a minimum of one inch thick. In the majority of cases, burglars gained access through a closed window so it would also be a good idea to fit window locks.“Having all these additional security measures would be a complete waste if you left your house keys where a burglar can easily find them. Don’t leave your keys in obvious places like under a plant pot, on the door frame or beneath a mat.“When no one is home, it’s worth leaving a light on or perhaps the radio to deter a would-be trespasser. However, the best way to protect your home is with a house alarm.” AA HOME INSURANCE SURVEY CLAIMS DONEGAL HAS FEWEST BURGLARIES was last modified: August 26th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:AA Home Insuranceburglariesdonegallast_img read more

Arsenal plot triple swoop, Tottenham star rejects new contract and more gossip

first_img Transfer Rumours and Paper Review 1 Here are the top transfer-related stories in Sunday’s newspapers…Arsenal will look to beat West Ham to the signing of Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette by lodging an improved £35m bid. The Gunners had an initial £29.3m bid rejected by the French club earlier this week. (Daily Telegraph)Arsenal are also making a move for Torino full-back Bruno Peres, with the Italian club wanting £16.9m for the player. (Gazzetta World)Chelsea have had a £57m bid for Romelu Lukaku rejected by Everton, who want £75m for the Belgian. (Daily Mirror)Christian Eriksen has turned down a new contract from Tottenham as he wants a significant rise on the £30,000-a-week he is currently earning. (Evening Standard)Leicester City will offer Riyad Mahrez a new £100,000-a-week deal to ward off interest from Premier League rivals Arsenal. (Daily Express)Manchester United are closing in on the signing of Monaco’s 22-year-old right back Fabinho. (Globoesporte)Everton are likely to seal the £7.1m signing of Idrissa Gana from Aston Villa this weekend. (Daily Mirror)The future of Manchester United defender Cameron Borthwick-Jackson is up in the air after he was told to find himself a loan deal for the forthcoming season. (Manchester Evening News)Manchester City are reluctant to meet the £50m valuation of Everton’s John Stones and are hoping to persuade the Toffees to sell him for their preferred price of £40m. (Guardian)Swansea could be about to lose their captain, with Everton keen to sign Ashley Williams in a deal that could cost up to £10m. (Daily Mirror)Arsenal are in talks with Valencia over the signing of German defender Shkrodan Mustafi, who has a £42.1m release clause, after the injury to his compatriot Per Mertesacker. (Sky Sports)Here are the latest transfer stories from talkSPORT.com:Seven top players who snubbed interest to sign a new contract this summer, including Arsenal and Liverpool targets Arsenal transfer news: Possible defenders and forwards to help the Gunners win Premier League title Arsenal transfer news: Lyon president doesn’t expect Gunners to bid again for Alexandre Lacazette Manchester United transfer news: The nine players reportedly told they can leave Old Trafford by Jose Mourinho Southampton bid £10million for Barcelona winger Cristian Tellolast_img read more

Iran nuclear crisis takes on shades of Groundhog Day

first_imgWhile we’re still waiting for winter to arrive in Los Angeles, on Thursday Punxsutawney Phil will clamber out of his Pennsylvania burrow to predict winter’s duration. If he sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter. If not, break out the flip-flops. In the Bill Murray 1993 screen version, Groundhog Day had less to do with a chubby critter and more to do with a bad day that repeats over and over, a cycle Murray’s character can’t stop until he learns how to get it right. In this respect, it’s quite fitting that this year’s Groundhog Day falls in the midst of the Iranian nuclear “energy” crisis. Not because Phil will emerge to a pack of mad mullahs and run back into his burrow, but because the kerfuffle is looping from one day to the next with the same promises, same threats, same sound bites, and same looming chance of the Islamic Republic having nukes. Here’s a recap of the action (or inaction, as it were): Iran says it can’t live without nuclear energy despite sitting on big fat oil reserves. Iran also wants Israel wiped off the face of the Earth. Everybody except the usual sympathetic suspects puts two and two together and surmises that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and minions are full of horse manure. Thus began the never-ending day. Them: We want to enrich uranium. Us: No. Them: We’re breaking the seals on our enrichment facilities and cranking ’em up. Us: Stop. Them: Try to stop us! Us: We’ll refer you to the U.N. Security Council. Them: We ain’t afraid of no stinkin’ Security Council. Us: But we’ll take you to the Security Council! Reportedly, this is called diplomacy, though it’s a lot closer to dawdling. To throw some spice into Act II, Iran – Holocaust denier to the max – announced it would be holding a Holocaust conference this spring, if for no other reason than to further annoy the Great Satan (us), the Little Satan (Israel) and every Satan in between. A long-dormant offer from Russia was resurrected to process Iran’s uranium for it and ship it back. Nice, but not good enough, Iran said last week, after feigning interest long enough to stall international action even more. (Expect a few more mind-changes.) Iran representatives even took a trip to Security Council veto-wielder China to get friendly, and Ahmadinejad spent a couple of days kibitzing with fellow bad guy Bashar al-Assad in Syria. On Saturday, Iran said it would respond with medium-range missiles if their facilities are attacked – the range being Israel, U.S. bases in the Gulf and Iraq. And what are we – the coalition of those not thrilled by the thought of a nuclear-armed Iran – doing? Depends whom you ask. Kofi Annan and Mohamed ElBaradei have said they don’t expect a speedy decision on Security Council referral from the International Atomic Energy Agency when the “U.N. nuclear watchdog” meets to discuss Iran’s naughtiness on – guess what – Groundhog Day. But like Hans Blix, they’ve made clear that they favor the carrot over the stick, even if Ahmadinejad is ready to whack the West with a two-by-four. On the action-oriented side of the spectrum, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution Friday condemning Iran and supporting Security Council referral. Iran won’t care, but even this symbolic action goes beyond IAEA thumb-twiddling. Israel has seen this movie before, thus is least likely to get caught up in the never-ending negotiation spin. It’s also in the biggest danger. And Iranian opposition groups continue Web campaigns against the regime, and will be rallying against Islamo-fascism on Wednesday in Los Angeles and other cities. In the meantime, everything has been dragging along much in Iran’s favor. Israeli newspaper Haaretz recently reported that an Iranian news site was threatening what many have feared – that a cranky Iran could close the Straits of Hormuz. But wait – Agence France-Presse reported on similar oil-strangulation threats a year ago. It’s so “Groundhog Day.” And in the never-ending game of push and shove, one thing remains to be seen: Does Mahmoud really have the might, or will he run from his own shadow? One thing’s for sure – he’s isolating his country in a dark burrow. Hopefully, like Bill Murray’s “Groundhog” character, we can finally pull our actions out of the rut, do the right thing and wake up to a brand new day. And not Ahmadinejad’s version. Bridget Johnson writes for the Daily News. E-mail her at bridget.johnson@dailynews.com. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more