With only two games gone it would be nonsensical folly to make any solid judgements on players or teams at this early stage….but let’s do it anyway.
Kevin Phillips will bury chances until they bury him
Phillips is a born-and-bred marksman plain and simple – the only Englishman to ever win the European Golden Boot – and just because his birth certificate is scrawled on the back of the Magna Carta doesn’t change that fact. With four goals in four appearances already this term the arch-poacher will benefit from Holloway’s attacking philosophy and the fresh legs of Billy Clarke and name-sake Matt Phillips alongside him. Birmingham underused him last year to their cost; Blackpool will reap the rewards for trusting ever-green instinct over weary legs.
Michel Vorm looks a real steal
With two heroic performances so far including a penalty save last weekend against Wigan the Dutch shotstopper has already shown that the big gloves left behind by fellow countryman Dorus de Vries are in safe hands. Brendan Rogers struggled all summer to bring in a suitable replacement for De Fries – who was a much-valued figure at the Liberty and a key facet of their passing-from-the-back football almost doubling up on occasions as a sweeper – but he’s struck gold with Vorm, an experienced but under-rated gem. And all for the relative pittance of £1.5m.
All change, no change at United
Some of the chords may have been altered but the song remains the same at Man U with a stylish victory at home followed by an attritional three points away. United are notoriously slow starters so taking the maximum points in their first two games should be an ominous sign for their rivals who are pinning most of their hopes on De Gea’s erratic introduction to the Premier League continuing for a while yet. It won’t. Sure he’s flapped like a leper’s eyelid in a heavy wind but once the confidence begins to flow from playing behind a dominant side he’ll be a top class keeper for years to come.
The promotion ‘dark horses’ haven’t even popped their head out the stable doors yet
Henderson remains a bit shit
Though things are generally looking very chipper at Anfield at present with King Kenny’s revolution starting to take shape nicely serious doubts remain about the boy Henderson. The Cutter is prepared to offer a fulsome apology if proved wrong but at this moment in time – after we have seen him in close to thirty games for Sunderland, England U-21 and Liverpool and never once seen anything other than ineffectual mediocrity – we still feel Kenny has spent a large part of his king’s ransom on a pup.
West Ham won’t have it all their own way
The thinking in the pubs and bookies throughout the summer was that West Ham might just possibly replicate Newcastle’s success two years ago and, by retaining a nucleus of Premier standard players, blitz their way to an immediate top flight return. Already however it is looking exceedingly doubtful that the Hammers will dominate proceedings this year, never mind top a hundred points like the Geordies, as every team in an incredibly difficult division look to them as a big crowd-pleasing scalp. With Allardyce in charge, and Nolan as his second-in-chief on the pitch, West Ham deservedly remain favourites but they can certainly expect a very bumpy ride along the way.
Ipswich and Jewell are not suitable bedfellows
The portly-faced scouser is a fine gaffer whilst Town are a cracking, likable club so, in theory at least, it could have been a match made in Suffolk heaven. However the promotion ‘dark horses’ haven’t even popped their head out the stable doors as yet and in the process have shipped in a calamitous number of goals. The seven conceded against Peterborough – in a display so abject that Jewell agreed that the travelling fans deserved their money back – exposed the gaping chasms in a defence that appears to be made up of four strangers who can’t stand the sight of each other.
Instead of challenging the play-off spots Jewell has major damage limitation work ahead and even that looks hopelessly beyond him.
In time he will be fine. As will Ipswich. But probably not together.
Crawley can do a Stevenage
It’s now a fairly common occurrence for a conference side to achieve two promotions on the bounce, first getting into the bottom tier of the league then rocketing straight into League One at the first time of asking. No longer is a season or two of consolidation considered a practical requirement– a chance to find their feet at the higher level – as instead teams such as Stevenage (the most recent team to achieve this feat last term) use their momentum and winning habits to storm straight through to compete with the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Preston.
Crawley Town, the lower league fat cats, have used their resources wisely and currently top a very difficult and competitive division. Not only do they look at home they’re already eying up the more salubrious properties across the road.
Just as the viewer is slumping into a Wilkins-induced coma half time arrives.
Adversity may actually help Newcastle
At the time of going to press Joey Barton has been allowed to speak to QPR and a move looks imminent. Yet even his departure might not be enough to derail Newcastle’s fine start to their campaign as Alan Pardew looks to use all the negative press and pessimism amongst the Geordie faithful as motivational tools to inspire his depleted squad. Getting players to believe that the world is against them and critically then inspiring them to want to prove the world wrong each week is a very powerful weapon. Although Pardew has been wryly droll in post-match interviews thus far he’s said enough to reveal that this is precisely his tactic this year. It might well work too.
Keys and Gray will be horribly missed
Just as the viewer is slumping into a Wilkins-induced coma half time arrives. The viewer perks up, hoping to see some expert, opinionated analysis, only to witness a perspiring rat in a suit swaying with nerves alongside a presenter no-one knows the name of who appears to have all of his life-force sucked from him. Sky has become the bland leading the blind and is it not too late to forgive and forget the archaic indiscretions of Keys and Gray? After all, it was them who fucked up…why should we be the ones who suffer?
Aguero shows Torres the way
Though the Spanish transvestite has finally begun to display some of his old potency during pre-season (and with a bustling performance against Stoke on the opening day) his ex-Atletico Madrid amigo Aguero has demonstrated how to handle a big-money fee and high expectation – simply go out and do what you do best. In a half hour debut Kun doubled the amount of goals the hapless Torres managed in three months.