Steven S looks back on seven days of human cannonballs, house-hunting and book-balancing….
Somehow we’ve arrived in March already, spring already bringing us warmer weather, lighter skies and ridiculous firing of successful managers in the lower leagues. In a relatively calm week compared to the scandals that have dominated the headlines since the start of the year, we kick off with some spreadsheet action.
One of the few occasions when accounting appears interesting to anyone other than Nigel from accounts is when football club figures are revealed. Alex McLeish is in the throes of spreading his immense greyness across the football landscape and following Villa’s defeat in their last home game to Man City, further losses were announced this week. £53.9 million of them to be exact. Whilst including the purchase of Darren Bent last January for £24 million, the figure does not include the sales of Downing and Ashley Young so perhaps a clearer idea of the clubs accounts will appear in the H1 report of 11-12.
Arsenal also proclaimed their results for the 6 months between June and November last year, posting almost the exact opposite and similarly below the headline figure of £49.5 million profits, the reality is a little different. Star player sales have become an annual event at the Emirates which appears to keep the books balanced, along with the various property sales associated with their move. It increases fears that Van Persie may have to be sacrificed to compensate the huge shortfall they will suffer if top four status and Champions League football is not achieved. He appears to be the last of the superstars that would go for fortune, so this ideology seems a little flawed. The club have pulled off some amazing transfer fee’s over the Wenger years but how much will they get for Djourou in a couple of years?
Arshavin moped out of the Emirates back into the loving arms of St Petersburg on Russian transfer deadline day, yet first thoughts go out to the Russian equivalent of Bryan Swanson. Imagine the poor bugger standing outside those stadiums for 12 hours talking about Chris Samba or Niklas Bendtner. It makes my sensitive bits shudder at the thought of it.
Mark has always believed he is destined for bigger and better things.
Mark Hughes continues to struggle with QPR as they show no improvement on the terrible form that had taken over previous to Warnock’s dismissal. Mark has always believed he is destined for bigger and better things, despite a managerial CV consisting of Blackburn, Fulham, Wales and relegation pending with QPR. This weekend Everton arrive looking to push on for a place in the top 8 and unless things turn around rapidly, you do wonder if Hughes will jump ship once in the Championship.
Liverpool did of course lift the first trophy of the season in what was an exciting game at Wembley, with Cardiff extremely unlucky not to have pulled off a bigger shock than Birmingham last year. The terrible irony being that it was Stevie G’s very own cousin Anthony who missed the decisive spot kick. The question still remains as to why a central defender that had been on the pitch for only 30 minutes was then allowed to take such a crucial penalty.
Scholes and Giggs continue to lead from the front for United as both of them hit the scoresheet last weekend. Together they have racked up an amazing 1586 appearances for the Reds, playing side by side a total of 342 times, with a win percentage of 64%. Although there have only been 16 occasions when they have been on the scoresheet together – the last time being 5 years ago against Tottenham. Perhaps number 17 will arrive this weekend to mark the anniversary.
England were back in action during the week, with the human cannonball Scott Parker collecting his first armband over Steven Gerrard. The manager mess looks set to drag on for some time as Trevor Brooking, a man not exactly well known for his fast reactions, told the media that the replacement could be ‘parachuted in a few days before the Euros’. By the time the summer is over, what’s the betting on another bail out?
Parker is out for Spurs, with concerns over Bale, Van der Vaart and Ledley King.
AVB continues to dodge bullets from behind, above and below, this time braced for a bad reaction to what seemed quite fair comments regarding previous failed strikers and managers. In addition Luiz has scrambled back to the media to clarify his comments that were taken as being directed at Lampard, i.e. ‘no one is above the team, shut up lardy and get on with it’. Or words to that affect. This weekend they travel to the Hawthornes who will be looking to build on the demolishing of Sunderland last weekend. Napoli arrive at the Bridge midweek in a game set up perfectly for the Italians to sit deep and bamboozle with their dynamic front 4. Mourinho was in the capital during the week oh so subtlety ‘looking for houses’, only intensifying the speculation that he will prance back into the club during the summer.
For the first time in quite a while the Tyne-Wear derby will be a top ten clash after the remarkable turnaround by Sunderland since O’Neill’s appointment and Pardew’s continued ability to get so much from a limited squad. Cisse has taken over where Ba left off before the African Cup of Nation’s and start the game as favourites; O’Neill and his merry men need to ensure the wheel’s are not starting fallen off after last week’s quite unexpected hammering.
Arsenal travel to Liverpool after their shocking 5-2 thrashing of rivals Tottenham last week, with injury doubts hanging over the head of Vermaelen and more crucially Van Persie, much to the displeasure of Wenger. The Reds should be full of confidence following last weekend yet scoring goals remains a huge issue, registering a paltry 29 in the Premiership so far. Man United travel back down to one of their favourite haunts, North London, a place they have been collecting three points quite regularly for a while. Parker is out for Spurs, with concerns over Bale, Van der Vaart and Ledley King with Rooney back for the Devils.
Wigan and Blackburn entertain Villa and Swansea respectively, in what seems like winnable home ties for the teams at the bottom who will really start to get their sweat on in this last third of the season. Quite how Roberto Martinez’s side have stayed in contention to avoid the drop is surprising and their current position certainly reflects their status as the worst team in the league. Yet, they have been there a few times now and know what to expect as the pressure begins to mount so could yet pull off another last day escape. Whatever happens, Wigan’s approach to the league has got to change because even after a relegation and possible promotion back to the top flight, there is no point going through the same loop every single season.
That’s a wrap for this week and we’ll be back next Saturday with more reviews, updates and general nonsense from me.