by Steven S
Welcome back my internet family; I’ve been perched online for seven days now awaiting your return, gathering the latest titbits for your tired eye sockets, so let’s not waste any time getting down and durty.
With six weeks until England kick off their Euro 2012 campaign against France, the FA pulled the rug from under nearly everybody’s feet with the appointment of Roy Hodgson as manager. The reaction since Tuesday has been mixed though it descended into farce with The Sun’s caricature Roy’s use of W instead or R’s. Yesterday the negative campaign continued with a back page of ‘Roy Who’ as selective comments from German football were used to further slander the man. Not taking into consideration the fact that Hodgson was approached by the German FA a few years ago to discuss taking over the national team it sets the tone for the uphill struggle he faces to win over the public, media and a pocketful of players used to getting their own way.
Hodgson gave a good account of himself after the announcement, quick to recognise that he was not the front runner in the eyes of the media whilst clearly glowing with pride at securing the position. Alex Ferguson commended the FA for not making an appointment based on a media campaign following the continued rumours linked to Redknapp since Capello’s ‘resignation’. In many ways Roy fits the profile perfectly given his international experience, current Premiership knowledge and of course being an Englishman.
The national team are serial underachievers not only through the Premiership era but going back through the years of Division One teams winning European trophies regularly. The squads have not always had a great spread of exceptional individual talent but the team(s) as a collective should have at least pierced the Quarter Final stage more than once in 20 years. Germany are the perfect example of a nation that can put together hard working, physical teams able to perform above what may be expected, creating a continual funnel of belief passed on from squad to squad. Managers have changed in England and the results stay the same – pointing towards attitude problems from the players’ quarters more than anywhere else.
Staying in Germany, two more players announced their arrival this summer from the Bundesliga; Lukas Podolski confirming the inevitable with his transfer to Arsenal and Marko Marin signing under the radar for Chelsea. Marin’s form has suffered over the past 12 months, losing his place in the Werder Bremen and national sides, although his form in the previous two seasons marked him out as player with big potential.
The characteristics needed to succeed in the German and English leagues are not far apart so you do wonder why there have not been many more heading into the Premiership. The adaptation period for new players to the Premiership appears to be shortening every year so combined with the similarities between the two leagues, we may see more of an influx.
Speaking of players from the German league, player of the week and perhaps buy of the season, Papa Cisse scored his twelfth and thirteenth goals of the season, in his twelfth appearance for Newcastle. Chelsea finally hit a wall following their fantastic run through a very tough fixture list, previously hammering their local rivals QPR 6-1 on Sunday in a performance reminiscent of the Ancelotti days.
Cisse’s first goal was a sharp piece of instinctive movement; flicking the ball onto his control and hammering into the net with a sharp volley. The second goal he produced was completely out of this world and a strike many will only see once in a generation – that is how good it was. Recovering from their 4-0 mauling away to Wigan on Saturday, Newcastle are still in contention for fourth and possibly even third, depending on how Tottenham and Arsenal fair over their last two games. Next up are Manchester City, now favourites for the title after dominating a poor United in Monday nights derby clash.
Blackburn effectively relegated themselves last Sunday, not registering a single shot on the Tottenham goal as they lost 2-0 and put one foot in the grave. This Monday they host Wigan in game that could seal both team’s future for next season as a defeat for Blackburn will confirm their relegation and victory for Martinez’s side puts them on the magic forty point mark and ensures safety for another year.
Chelsea are to bid for the Battersea power station site on the banks of the River Thames, hoping to build a much needed 60,000 capacity stadium. Earls Court and an extension to their current home have previously been ruled out and with FFP coming into force over the next season or two, the extra revenue will obviously be needed, as Roman will not dip into his pocket forever.
The second domestic trophy of the season will be handed out this Saturday evening as the FA Cup final approaches. Every year it seems to lose its relevance and a little more of its sparkle for the teams at the top of the game not helped by being played before the final game of the Premiership. Chelsea have two huge finals to focus on now the chance to finish in the top four has all but gone and their recent strong form will make them favourites before kick off.
Over the past decade Liverpool have become something of a specialist cup side bagging two FA Cups, three League Cups a UEFA Cup and of course a Champions League trophy. Yet another defeat at home, this time to Fulham, puts their league form into stark contrast with the cup successes and the Reds will need to have the comfort of two cups to mark this as a good season.
Fabian Delph, Chris Herd and James Collins were caught on camera pushing and kicking out at bouncers during a friendly night out after their club awards in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Some might say it was the only kick any Villa footballer has got on target for a long time and this follows on from the double trouble racked up by Jermaine Pennant, not content with a drink driving offences and now accused of assaulting a woman in a nightclub. An arrest warrant was also issued to Steven Pienaar last week following his failure to attend court after he was caught speeding. The standard of football in the Premiership has dipped over the past season or two but we can always produce world class stupidity.
Speaking of which, our seedy weekly relationship has come to an end once again, so I will let you go back to your wife and kids again and keep this dirty little secret between us. Make the most of your three days off and until next Saturday, keep it real.