Despite His White Boots

Football, football, football and, if the mood takes me, more football.

Monday, May 25, 2009

One For The Road

One thing that people consistently overlook in football is the fact that, for example, however bad the teams at the bottom are, only 3 go down. However good the teams at the top are, only one can win, three go up, etc. This couldn't have been demonstrated more clearly then yesterday in the Premiership.

Four teams at the bottom [1] needed a result against higher placed opposition who had nothing to play for. They all lost. They were mostly [2], by all accounts, abysmal. Then of course what happened was that Hull and Sunderland celebrated like they had won the Champions League, when what they were actually celebrating was being about 3% less fucking awful than Newcastle and Boro. And for what ? So they can do it all again next year.

Let's be clear. Those four teams have been absolutely stinking the place out since Christmas. FFS they all finished at least nine points behind Stoke. And next year, mark my words, it's going to be even worse. Wolves, Birmingham and the playoff winners will compete in the Premiership in the sense that they won't really be much worse than Hull, Sunderland, Stoke, Portsmouth, Bolton and Wigan. If they can put a few points in the bag before they get sussed, they'll have every chance. It worked for Hull.

The other frightening thing is how much money the game is sucking up via these extremely moderate outfits. On Match of the Day last night Jonathan Pearce said that fifteen of the Newcastle squad earn more than 50 grand a week. OK, it was Jonathan Pearce, but he can't just make that up can he ? Later he said that relegation would cost them £100 million. Now, there seems to be an unspoken agreement that any time someone mentions this amount of money, whether in the context of relegation from the Prem or promotion from the Champ, they have to say something higher than the last time someone said it. It can't be that much. Can it ? But the funny thing was I was sitting there thinking "so where does it all go ? ... oh right, the wages".

People within the game are still trying to sell this notion that the Premiership is a great competition. When asked about Newcastle's relegation, Steve Bruce said "It just goes to show how competitive the Premiership is". No, what it actually goes to show is how shit Newcastle are. The bottom eight or so is "competitive" in the sense that they're all about equally terrible, except that a couple of them (Bolton, Stoke) are better organised and kick people to better effect.

More and more people outside the game, on the other hand, have realised that the money, and the Champions League money in particular, is making the league much less competitive, in overall terms. Last year's top six : United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton, Villa. This year : United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, Villa. Net change : Liverpool moved up two places. Next season - anyone want to take a wild guess ?

Look, I'm sure it's great if you're a top four fan. Most of your home league games consist of trying to get past the opposition bus parked in the goal area, but what the hell, you usually win anyway, and there's your Cups and Champions League. But from the outside, it's basically crap. And the worst thing is that the very height of my own club's ambition is to do a Fulham and elbow their way to 7th for a season or two, which to be honest they could maybe do, with a different owner anyway. But so what if we did ? Is that all there is ? If that's all there is, my friend, let's go and play golf instead.

[1] Incidentally Fulham and Spurs, the only other teams with something to play for, also lost

[2] Sunderland maybe get a pass against Chelsea.

Update 26/5 : In the light of the above, and how impressed I've been with them the last 2 seasons at Loftus Road, I think Burnley could be a really good bet to stay up next season.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Torquay 2 Cambridge United 0

I nipped over to Wembley for the Conference Playoff final during my "internet holiday". As I used to occasionally pop down to the Abbey when I lived in Cambridge, I thought I'd throw my lot in with them. Unfortunately for them, I kept up my 100% playoff final record of no wins and even no goals in three games. United were the better side until Chris Hargreaves burst through to open the scoring for Torquay ; the goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of them and they only really pressed for 10 minutes at the start of the second half. That surge had already come and gone when one of their centre-halves was sent off for a rash foul (having already been booked), and when Tim Sills headed in a second it was totally game over.

Wembley still looks great and the newly-relaid pitch was pretty good as well, although you'd hope it would be as this was the first game played on it ! And so now we're definitely done and done for another season.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Good Blog Post re: Briatore

An Open Letter to Flavio Briatore

Nothing for me to add. You can see my own comment basically agreeing, #32.