by Kieran Davies
Around the country if not the globe, football fans of every club around have jumped on the bandwagon of blaming Steven Gerrard for Liverpool’s failure in capturing the title. Let’s clear a few things up on this matter. Firstly, Liverpool set out this season with the ambition of acquiring Champions League football qualification and did so in style. On the way they gate crashed a party that weren’t invited to, held their own in there for a while much to the surprise of all, but eventually got booted out of it. If at the end of the season we are saying that Liverpool are rubbish for only winning 12 out of their last 14 games, then I’ll happily take that one on the chin all day long. Secondly, not that any Liverpool fans have said this, even just over the course of this season Steven Gerrard has done far more for the club than he has been accountable for. It’s ironic in some ways as these same fans will no doubt be expecting the same Steven Gerrard to drag their sorry team out of the group stages of the World Cup again in a month or so.
Supporting a football team is all about the banter with friends who support opposing teams as we can never effect any decision that decides our club’s fortunes so make light at the expense of the fortune of others. For this Gerrard’s slip deserves its moment in the limelight but that’s been and gone. The only beneficiaries are Man City’s fans yet the ones spearheading Gerrard hate campaigns support every club bar them. Title or no title, Brendan’s men finish their campaign in a much stronger position than all rivals bar Man City. Both Tottenham and Manchester United will undergo further transformations with new managers due to be appointed. Fans of these clubs will be hoping these managers bed in quickly so their teams can hit the ground running next season. The distraction of a World Cup will disrupt these matters somewhat with players and potential new managers involved it will be a short time they have to spend with their squads this summer. Chelsea seems to be where strikers go to lose all their goalscoring powers so no doubt they will be set to spend big again in filling that void. Spending top money doesn’t guarantee success however as the likes of Shevchenko, Torres, Carroll and Lamela will vouch. Then you have situations where genuine world class strikers just don’t take to the Premier League like Forlan and Morientes. A lot of pressure will be on Mourinho to find the answer and having outcast Romelu Lukaku, a certain Russian will be keeping a keen eye on the situation.
It will be an interesting summer as all the clubs in the top half of the table will be looking to strengthen squads to make sure they don’t fall behind the pack, the smart money would be on doing your business before the tournament as player prices may inflate with good performances and also bring the interest of many other clubs at the same time. This is easier said than done and clubs wise enough to do this will already have a lot of wheels in motion on this front. Clubs will also look to cherry pick players from the relegated clubs also but this is something which occurs almost like an annual event now. 37 games into the season, it is safe to say that David Marshall will have a lot of suitors this summer. I don’t think there’s a side in the league who wouldn’t take the Scot to their side even if it is to compete for a number one spot. As it now seems clear who is going to be relegated the one area of the pitch they won’t struggle to keep their players will be up front. Those three teams are going down as they share one common trait, none of them have got a goalscorer capable of getting you double figures in the Premier League.
Well these players will get their chance to sharpen their claws in the Championship now. The only thing really left to be decided in the Premier League this weekend is the ‘Channel 5 Cup’where results will dictate whether Tottenham or Man Utd get an excuse to miss Eastenders on a Thursday night next season. Whether fans like it or not at White Hart Lane only a mere point is needed to guarantee those long journeys to parts Europe only Genghis Khan will have seen before. City have a game in front of their own fans to confirm themselves as Premier League champions although this has been ‘sewn on’ since Liverpool’s defeat to Chelsea as their superior goal difference meant the title would be sporting sky blue and white ribbons. The table doesn’t lie, they deserve it. From a fans perspective it is great that it has mathematically gone down to the final day of the season again but aside from an Andy Carroll masterclass repaying some of the money the Anfield outfit wasted on him, Pellegrini’s side are merely just going through the motions on Sunday.
The final weekend of the season is usually not a good time for any football fan as the reality of months without their fix of the game starts to set in like a gloomy fog but this year we’ve got a World Cup to look forward to. As this tournament is being held in what some would call the native home of football, Brazil, can we hope for an enthralling tournament? It’s sad to say but over the last couple of decades these spectacles have been a bit of a letdown. Everyone has their own favourite but for me, there hasn’t been a good tournament since Euro 96 or if we are talking World Cups we would have to go to Mexico 86 or Italia 90. It’s hard to fathom with such a wealth of talent on show how we haven’t had World Cup tournaments living up to these ones of the past. People talk of how Ronaldo and Messi are the greatest players ever yet they don’t have that ability of a Maradona who carried his country to victory in Mexico 86.
While England has one of if not the best league in the world, will they step up to the big stage for once? Or will we enlist Tony Robinson and the Time Team to go hunt down living survivors of ‘that win’ to reminisce instead? On paper this World Cup has the potential to be one of the best ever, let’s hope it lives up to its own hype.