Since around last Thursday I have been excited about putting together a blog on my reflections on how things have been going in football. The weekend before I’d enjoyed watching an interesting set of FA Cup matches including Leeds’ tremendous performance in beating Man. Utd. Things transpired since then, but this week in particular I was able to make some notes. Thus here are some comments on the football scene in general at present. My views on the Rafa situation will be published soon enough.
I enjoy reading the tweets that people have posted about the title race as the title that no one wants to win. Some of the reports make it look as if Birmingham were lucky to get the draw with Manchester United recently. As I recall however it was United that were away from home and they were the ones with a man down.
United still find themselves in a great position to clinch the Premier League whilst still playing way below their best even in beating Burnley today. With all the fuss there’s been in football lately their form has kinda slipped down the ladder of news stories and despite being out of the FA Cup at least they’re still in contention for the Premier League and the Champions League also.
Meanwhile on the blue side of Manchester, it was out of order for Man City to sack Mark Hughes – and I still want them to finish in the top four – even if it’s at the cost of Liverpool. I’m just into their whole project as I was excited about the Chelsea project. With an ambitious manager and some intriguing signings I just want them to turn the draws into wins and then take it from there. Their current run under the new manager is impressive, especially in winning matches and keeping clean sheets. Those who say that Mancini hasn’t made that much of a difference obviously haven’t noticed that statistic which is different to his predecessor.
I don’t always agree with Phil McNulty, he comes across just a bit … wrong at times. I can see his reasoning, however, and it sits comfortably with me what he says about the possible virtues of the return of Patrick Vieira. It was a great win for Man City over Blackburn with Tevez on form. If they win their game in hand then they are just 3 points behind Man Utd and that makes things very interesting indeed. If they can maintain their solid start under Mancini then that will pester the top two and perhaps …
That is why for my benefit I so want Chelsea to clinch the title. So their stuttering of late has not been too pleasing and it is to be seen whether or not they really can survive the winter without some of their influential players like Drogba and Essien. Usually it’s after Crimbo and into the New Year that things clear themselves up. With the cancellations and the like, though, it seems we will have to wait for the month’s end to get a clearer idea of who will do well and who will not. Chelsea’s involvement in the nine goal thriller with Sunderland (it’s a nicer way than saying Sunderland got their asses handed to them) is a good sign of them doing well in the absence of their superstars.
The situation at Tottenham and Aston Villa is intriguing as well. Both have form in being the higher reaches of the League, but both are notorious for not having that run that the traditional top four are able to go on that establishes them in that position. Seeing their inconsistent form so far this season able to play sparkling football one minute (especially Tottenham) but then dropping points at silly times asks questions of their ability for the rest of the season. It also gives hope for a certain team on Merseyside that could do with all the help they can to salvage their season, but you will read of that in good time.
So Coyle is at Bolton and that spells some really interesting days ahead for the club and with me being round the corner, I look forward to what develops with great interest. I think it’s a good appointment by Bolton and if Coyle does what he did at Burnley at the Reebok Stadium then they will have found themselves a worth successor to the legacy left by Allardyce and may also push on further than Big Sam.
With Bolton playing Arsenal on Sunday you’ll notice I didn’t bother that much with Arsenal and that’s because for all their quality football they are still a season away from the maturity and quality required to beat the big boys. They will always play attractive football as long as Wenger is in charge and they will always play promising football as long as Wenger is in charge. I’d be very interested to see however if the team can grow together to achieve anything, like winning trophies and stuff.
I was considering the same issue of the role of non-British coaches/managers in the Premi
er League and the likely backlash and resentment about it. It cannot last long anyway because the bubble of the Premier League is scheduled to burst soon and more British managers will prove their worth at lower clubs to be able to make an impact eitherwith their clubs on the likely title winners or get to a top club. As ever the xenophobia misses the point of why British coaching/management is lacking and rather than deal with the problem it gripes about the present situation as if big clubs are just meant to give a chance to a Brit because they’re a Brit, which is plainly ridiculous.
So with some big clubs out of the Cup already the question is who are the favourites to win it, but I’d really want to see Chelsea go all the way to win another one. Either them, Tottenham or Man City. I like the way Tottenham play. Ancelotti has got some of the ruthless aggression back in Chelsea that made them League champions twice in a row. Man City in the meantime could really do with a trophy to mark them out as more than a flash in the pan spending money with nothing to show for it.
Now then, what about Liverpool …