Scholes points out the number of passes it took to be nominated for another award.

by Steven S

Only two weeks left of the season leaving the remaining three games to resolve the outstanding issues of relegation, European places and of course the champions. So that is two weeks before we all crash into a deep summer long depression, aided of course by the inevitable England car crash at the Euro’s.  So stop mucking about and get those meaty eyes stuck into this week’s sumptuous pie of a review.

The PFA and FWA awards were handed out this week – RVP collecting both the gongs for the seniors and Kyle Walker somewhat surprisingly collecting the young player prize. The writers’ award offered a ludicrous third place to Paul Scholes following his return from retirement in January. The ginger maestro has been at the centre of United’s resurgence since the turn of the year although quite how he was picked ahead of Dempsey who also missed out on the PFA Team of the Years is anyone’s guess with Gareth Bale also being picked on half a season’s performance. Liverpool refused to comment when asked how many players would make the season’s second half worst team.

The standard of football may have dropped in the Premiership this year but it would take a brave man to suggest the level of excitement has not gone up a gear or two. In addition to the ridiculously high scoring matches in the first half of the season, the second half has compensated the reduction in scoreline with one of the most exciting run-ins for years. We will come to the two Manchester clubs shortly but first of all, the race for the top four – or should that be top three – is really reaching a crescendo.

First of all Tottenham’s terrible run of form continues at the worst possible time; their defeat away to QPR extending the sequence to one win in nine. Meanwhile Newcastle have bounced back from their 5-0 thrashing away to a then buoyant Spurs and have now taken fourth spot; three points ahead of Tottenham and three away from Arsenal, with a game in hand. Their last four games are the toughest of the three teams realistically battling for the two places although it is easy to forget how many times they have confounded the cynics this season.

Yet Chelsea’s amazing win over Barcelona to reach the CL Final could yet change the entire dynamics of the last few games, as lifting the trophy would place them back into the competition next season at the expense of the fourth placed team. Bravely or stupidly, I’m not sure, I will not try to summarise the current possibilities for the European spots:

As I understand it an extra place in the Europa League is opened if Chelsea win the Champions League but do not qualify for the Champions League nor Europa League through domestic competitions. However Chelsea are effectively guaranteed Europe because a league place will be opened due to Liverpool winning the Carling Cup so that above scenario is (as I understand it) made redundant.

It is the runners-up of the Carling Cup that do not gain a place under any circumstance. The runners-up of the FA Cup would qualify for the Europa League should Liverpool win it, Chelsea don’t qualify through the league and of course don’t win the Champions League. However in this case, the runners-up of the FA Cup would be Chelsea!

In that case of Chelsea winning the Champions League then the Europa League qualifiers as it stands would be: Newcastle, Tottenham and Liverpool.

Following JT’s moment of lunacy in the Camp Nou on Tuesday his sagas continue this weekend when he comes face to face with Anton Ferdinand once more. Following discussions with his legal team, the FA have been advised to call off the pre-match ritual to avoid prejudicing the pending case. Which means shaking hands and walking past each other can be a danger but marking each other at corners should present no problem at all. Logic is not the legal system’s friend.

Given the disgusting chanting by the Chelsea fans during the minutes silence at Wembley and the abuse Ferdie received from some Blues fans at the Genk game, there should be more cause for concern with what happens off the pitch, rather than on it. Chelsea have turned their season around to secure two cup finals giving the Old Boys a last gasp chance of glory although they do have to be careful about taking their eye off the ball even though getting to 3rd or 4th seems an impossible task.

Aston Villa will be on the look out for a new manager during the summer after Randy Lerner gave McLeish his full backing, usually the precursor to a sacking. Whether or not that will be a job for a Premiership manager or a Championship one remains to be seen following their defeat at home to Bolton which pushed the Midlands club ever closer into the dogfight.

There is a stat currently doing the rounds for the amount of times Liverpool have hit the woodwork this season, which currently stands at thirty. Dalglish has had to start conceding that saying they had ‘one of those days’ no longer holds much weight and the problems obviously go much deeper. Last season, a similar stat was thrown toward Arsenal who had hit the bar or post twenty-two times by the season’s end. Yet at the same stage last season the Gunners had netted 66 goals in the Prem a massive 26 more than Liverpool have managed so far.

With Sky on the verge of imploding over the forthcoming Manchester derby and Gary Neville being forced to literally cut out his tongue should City win, news reaches us the Balotelli may once again return bringing his own form of chaos. United start as slight favourites as either a draw or victory will leave them in the driving seat so the question is will Mancini start cautiously or go for the jugular, much like the Old Trafford mauling? The game is of course the biggest of the season although the teams they face in their remaining games will prove to be just as vital.

And there we have it my misguided followers. I’ve spewed about as much nonsense as the internet will allow for one week, so good luck to one and all and let’s do it all again next Saturday.