Just when I forgot football was unpredictable, Estonians, Kalju Nomme, won in Montenegro to progress to the Champions League second qualifying round, where they are expected to face Celtic (it’s not that unpredictable).
Last season Kalju Nomme were knocked out of the Europa League in the first qualifying round by Icelanders Stjarnan (whom we beat 6-1 on aggregate in 2015). A year earlier, Kalju Nomme beat Faroese Torshavn to reach the second qualifying round of the Europa before losing to Hungarians, Videoton.
They hit the heights on 2016 by beating Trakai of Lithuania, then eliminating Maccabi Haifa on penalties. They were eliminated in the Europa third qualifying round by Turks, Osmanlispor. If there is a shock for Celtic tonight, or in the next round, there will be some inquest!
Until last month, Newcastle were managed by former Real Madrid, Valencia and Liverpool manager, Champions League winner, Rafa Benitez. They are a business with £178 million turnover, operating in the most desired environment in the world, but today made Steve Bruce the happiest man in the land, by appointing him manager of one of the biggest clubs in England, reward for 20 years of meandering manager randomness.
No matter how badly you think some football clubs are run, Mike Ashley, the ultimate decision maker at Newcastle, did not make this appointment lightly. I am sure he wanted to keep Rafa, and then wanted someone with Rafa’s credentials, but he’s ended up with a guy previously sacked by rivals Sunderland.
What Newcastle have discovered, is that the market for managerial talent is unbearably tight.