Archive for December 20th, 2010

What We Learned From Prem Week 17+

Welcome To The New Prem Winter Break

Blow me down, it's a little bit of bad weather. Cue instant panic and travel chaos in the UK.

So this is Christmas, as I believe John Lennon once said, and what have you done? Well not satisfied with kicking Engerland in the balls when it was down by mischievously moving the goalposts as far as that World Cup bidding process was concerned, fat criminal wastrel Blatter the Hutt now proposes to piss on the dying embers of the World Cup by suggesting that the Qatar 2022 World Cup should  be played in the winter.  His spurious reason? That the players won’t be able to play in the heat of a Qatari summer. As if that’s reason enough to rip up the rulebook, not to mention FIFA’s own bidding criteria which stated that the 2022 World Cup would be played in June 2022. All this because Blatter wanted to outflank the Qatari FIFA delegate, who was planning to stand against him in next year’s shotgun election (winner to be one Blatter the Hutt).

All this puts the Prem boys in a bit of a tizzy. Well, quite a lot of a tizzy to be honest. They’re pretty pissed anyway that their best players have been hijacked all summer and left crocked for the season, while they are still expected to merrily pick up the tab, grin and carry on. They certainly won’t be happy at the thought that their best players in 2022 will be taken away around Christmas time and delivered back, crocked, exhausted and unable to play for the remainder of the season.  No they won’t. Add to that the fact that they will undoubtedly miss the vital 3rd round of the FA Cup, which takes place the first weekend in January and you have a big pile of unhappy bunnies.

And that’s not all they’re unhappy about. Oh no. They’re doubly unhappy right now as their principle argument against this, that we actually play football in the winter, has been dealt a bit of a blow by the inconvenient truth that, guess what, it’s winter. There’s snow all about. People can’t go on holiday, let alone get out to see the game as there seems to be a bit of travel chaos. It is surprising that, given we have so much weather here in the UK, we seem so spectacularly unable to deal with it.

So, guess what, the whole Prem has, apparently gone to ratshit in less than a week, which those on the continent simply call ‘having a winter break’. We persist in the delusion that the Prem never closes (certain Tuesdays and Wednesdays aside and don’t forget Thursday is Early Closing day).  Obviously we will get the worst of all worlds here due to the chaotic unplanned nature of our enforced winter break, which means that none of the players will really benefit from a structured break and we’ll have a load of fixture congestion for the big clubs right around key Big Cup matches. So well done everyone. Public Inquiries all round on that one.

So It’s Football You Want?

Two games survived the weekend, with Man City‘s clash with Everton surviving until Monday. Neither of Saturday’s matches managed to do anything to move the quality index beyond Woeful and it did make you wonder why you bother watching this league if it is consistently unable to produce matches that are actually worth watching.

Sunderland gave Bolton a right good kicking, and not just from that inept tackling Lee Crappermole fellow. This is what people whose heads are still marooned in the 1970s (ie pundits) call ‘a proper game of football’, which is to say a whole load of hoofery mixed in with some dreary agricultural challenges masquerading as tackling. The sooner this sort of play is truly exorcised from the game the better. Admittedly there weren’t any of the really classic bad tackles, you know the sort, late, studs up, no hope of getting the ball, with the trailing leg just guaranteed to catch the standing leg of the player being tackled to cause maximum long term injury, but that’s no ringing endorsement of quality. This game had all the appeal of a 50 a side children’s playground maul. Hoof, it went as the ball was clouted 80 yards into the opponent’s half. Head, it went as the central defender risked permanent spinal damage heading it back the full 80 yards in somewhat indiscriminate fashion. Clumpf it went as another defender aimlessly launched the ball… and on and on and on and on.

On their day, which wasn’t today, Sunderland are one of the more interesting teams in the Prem on a tactical level. They seem to be operating a 3 man attack wall, with nothing  but a bunch of holding midfielders (and poor holding midfielders at that) behind them. The combination of Asamoah Gyan, Danny Wellbeck and Darren Bent is nothing if not attack minded (even if Bento is a bit rubbish), and they showed at Chelsea exactly what impact this can have. They seem to have a decent understanding of one another and you sense that this could be an interesting counter to the dull 4 – 5 – 1 many teams are playing. Certainly against a Bolton side who aren’t great away from home, it worked a treat, pulling their defence all over the place in the same way Man City did the other week.

And that, if you believe me, was the highlight of the weekend as No-S0-Real Blackburn‘s match against West Ham, was something deeply, deeply unpleasant. Admittedly Not-So-Real did attempt to pass it about a bit more, but they’re still essentially the same team they were at the beginning of the week when Fat Sam was still in charge. Now they have yet another one of those promising young managers with a personality vacuum and accelerated hairloss who will remain anonymous – think Glen Rhoder or one of the many Championship managers whose name escapes you. West Ham have only Scott Parker between them and certain relegation. A point a match won’t save them now. Expect a job lot of shit loanees to come in over the winter. And compare the work Avram Grant is doing with a well paid Prem squad with what Ian Holloway is doing at Blackpool.

Rob Green Save Of The Day

In keeping with the many postponements, we are turning this award on its head and actually going to award it for possibly the single moment of class in the whole weekend. Craig Gordon‘s save at the end of the first half was outstanding as he scooped the ball up and over the bar from Zat Knight’s 3 foot tap in. It was the sort of instinctive save that looks almost accidental but speaks of long periods of practice and training. As those golfers say, the more I practice the luckier I get.