by Steven S
Welcome back to another Saturday Review. An all new-look site born just before an all new weekend of Premiership battle means that, like real men, we’ve celebrated a new life – so precious and meaningful -but now it’s time for the pub. Get the beers in.
8 bookings, 2 players sent off, managers giving it large and 52,000 manic supporters all made for another cracking derby last weekend. No, not over in Rome but the Tyne-Wear derby, the first for a long time inside the Premiership top 10. Most memorably for those that will look back on this as a classic, will be witnessing that inconceivably rare moment of a Niklas Bendtner goal. Granted, the ball wasn’t moving when leather hit PVC but you just try and take that goal away. Golden moment of the season so far.
Arsenal continued their unlikely comeback trail last weekend, snatching the three points with two sharply executed attacks after surviving the Liverpool barrage of the first half. King Ken called it “unlucky”. It’s an argument losing weight after struggling all season to score goals at home and finish off the opposition. Every time I have seen them play they have looked very good – a solid passing team looking to go forward. Despite the amazing movement of Suarez giving so many defences a headache, a real goalscorer is still to be found.
Yet ironically, marooned down in West London is the last no.9 hero of the Kop, a man literally (hair) dying to get back some sort of recognisable form. His time at Chelsea surely has to be over in the summer with another few months in limbo to come watching Di Matteo laying out the cones whilst the managers take training. Which reminds me, have you noticed the odd face of Di Matteo? All of its features seem to have gravitated toward the centre, leaving as much space as possible around them. He has a wife etc so he’s not doing too bad but grow some hair man. And don’t listen to Meireles.
After a terrible start to 2012 West Brom have gone about their business largely unnoticed, taking 13 from the last 18 points available and now sitting comfortably right in the middle of the table only 4 points off 7th. One position higher may be out of the reach of the chasing pack with Liverpool’s game in hand but Pulis, Jol and Hodgson have experienced their own difficulties whilst continuing to keep their teams in place for a great finish.
Following three straight wins, the media are sniffing round Hodgson and sizing up if they will approve of his inclusion in the England role they will devour once the domestic season ends. A look at his record tells you he is a nomad of the football world having managed 21 clubs across his 40 year career on the side of the pitch. If an offer was put on the table by the FA, a patriotic man unlikely to ever get another top level club in his latter years would likely take the opportunity. Hopefully the WBA chairman is planning for forthcoming scenarios. Gary Megson is available I hear…
The last time Abramovich sacked a manager so late into a season, he was fortunate enough to bring in Gus Hiddink.
That AVB was a miserable man wasn’t he? His inaudible baritone post match interviews, wrapped under his beard and black overcoat seemed to carry the poor performances from the pitch and beyond. He appeared to be an isolated figure from the start and I’m not sure if there are any Chelsea fans that could determine his general demeanour or discerning character traits. There was no relationship with the players or the fans, nothing for him to be remembered for except added to the list in media articles.
The last time Abramovich sacked a manager so late into a season, he was fortunate enough to bring in Gus Hiddink who weaved some magic as they finished the season far more organised. This time round his options are not wide enough to bring in a top tier international man, running a huge risk of missing Chumps League money for the first time. With so much change needed on the field restricted by the ever decreasing sanctions off it, Roman has taken the huge risk of trusting the players to manage the team until the summer. It’s a situation that can work for a tournament situation but with trophies still to aim for, 15 or so matches under so much pressure may prove too much. Do you think Martin O’Neill is looking down south wishing he had just waited those few more months?
Another double header at the bottom end of the table as QPR travel to Bolton, both teams in desperate need of a win to fire up some sort of momentum. From the last 10 games, The Trotters have taken a paltry 8 points, bettered by QPR’s lowly tally of 6. Owen Coyle and co have had a long hard slug all season at the foot of the table with the aura that Bolton once carried playing at home long gone. The curse of yet another ‘promising young manager’ tag seems to have cast their manager back into the Championship for some regrouping.
There is some confusion ahead of Tottenham’s journey up to Goodison, not over Pienaar who it is clear will not be able to play against his current licence holders but over Saha’s inclusion in the game. Moyes seems to be of the belief that a ‘gentlemans agreement’ between the two managers will keep the striker out of the game, slightly contradicting Redknapps assertion that the Frenchman is fit and ‘ready to play’.
He has made a strong start to his time at Tottenham who despite a very consistent season so far, will face up to a number of important conundrums come May. An ageing injury prone Saha, big wages to pay for Adebayor full time and of course the management situation. Money will have to be invested into the squad upfront and not forgetting at the back, so perhaps that £50 million ‘war-chest’ is more like a small container. Combined with Harry’s potential departure they have to hope that level of consistency is not disrupted and they fall back out of the Champions League positions a season later.
European problems for Premiership teams highlights the drop in standards since last season although we know that all fans of the top flight teams care more for the Premiership than abroad. CL and EL games are nice little decorations to hang off the edge but nothing beats ignoring all logic and hope for the best. Three points is all that matters to any of us at the end of 90 minutes and there will be plenty more to fill our offices and spare time with by next weekend. Time is a precious thing and I’ve wasted too much of yours already, so until we meet again get the hell outta here, whilst you can.