Well there’s a lot in the world of football to give comment on, so let’s get cracking.
Am I turning on MOTD? I am a guy of habit and if a product is doing the job for me I’m unlikely to go somewhere else for my kicks. Since I can remember the place of preference for football coverage has always been the BBC. From Des Lynam to Gary Lineker, Barry Davies to Jonathan Pearce and Trevor Brooking to Alan Shearer, I’ve taken on what they’ve developed. It’s not been perfect, but I’ve enjoyed the stuff more often than not.
Yet of late I’ve started becoming somewhat disgruntled by some of the stuff. I guess it was highlighted by their coverage of the Stoke City vs. Arsenal incident where Shawcross broke Ramsey’s leg. The defence of Shawcross on the grounds that he’s a good lad and wasn’t being malicious really baffled me and got me thinking again about what drove the show. At the time I didn’t make much of it, but it rankled.
Since then, though, things haven’t improved. Gary’s getting a bit too contrived for my liking. I’ve never really liked Shearer’s punditry, and Mark Lawrenson has become too annoying now and I begin when its it time to put certain pundits out to pasture. You know when I’m really cheesed off though when even my favourite Alan Hansen is also not hitting the right buttons.
With Sky Sports scheduled to dominate next season in the Dryden household, could this be curtains for MOTD?
The Mess for Fourth Place
Really Liverpool should be well out of contention by now, but even though Spurs beat Chelsea and Arsenal, the Reds are still in with a shout – it’s not unrealistic, but not deserved. Villa are also complicating matters, but I expect their capitulation any game now.
Man City – what’s that all about? Compare Ancelotti at Chelsea against Stoke, with Mancini against United and Arsenal. Is he still getting used to English football? Is he conservative by nature with such a wealth of attacking talent? I want them to finish fourth still, but I want them to deserve to finish fourth and they’re not keeping up to their end of the bargain.
Glad that’s done and out of the way, all in all the right teams got relegated, I am not sad to see any of them go and they don’t go down like Newcastle set to automatically come back up, so that should make the mess of the Championship even more worth watching … or not … next season. Being a man who lives next to Bolton I’m really pleased that Coyle’s decision has been borne out at least for this season. I hope the board will now back him to do a job at the club that could add a new chapter that will top the Allardyce achievements.
I like what Sunderland are doing and hope they take it seriously to push on and try and get the most unlikely win against Manchester United to aid their run for the top ten. I definitely prefer them to Blackburn. Yeah Allardyce is proving himself as ever the adept Premier League manager, but his football still leaves much to be desired and Sunderland look promising whereas Blackburn are punching their weight.
So with Wolves surviving and Wigan and Bolton also staying up but not in a convincing fashion, that should make next season all the more intriguing. All those teams and West Ham will need to invest wisely in the pre-season to ensure their survival next season, because at least Newcastle United will come up with no desire at all to go down. Still for me geographically next season should be friendly to me – enough North West matches to sustain my interest and quite a few Midlands matches as well to widen the choice.
In that area as well, who can blame Hodgson for putting an under-strength side out against Everton? If they do get fined by the Premier League it will be an absolute joke. If the team were battered black and blue and got well and truly trounced by Everton because their team was sub-standard then the argument could be made. If other teams had their positions seriously threatened by it then that would also be fair enough. But who in Hodgson’s position wouldn’t do the same thing? He is still the man for me that deserves the manager of the year award for his feats this season and I really hope they can complete it by beating Hamburg at Craven Cottage on Thursday.
Scrap for the Top
There’s little doubt now that it will all come down to next week, but actually the pressure is on Manchester United to leave the Stadium of Light with three points – nothing less will do. Chelsea thrashing Stoke City was enjoyable and is this the peak for Stoke – Kitson mouths off, Beattie on his way, no real sign of progress on the playing front, will they be found out next season?
The Chelsea deal though brings us to something very close to home for me as a Liverpool fan.
Do I want Liverpool to beat Chelsea and potentially hand over the initiative to Manchester United and put them in a position to win their 19th league title, one more than us, and establish a new record of back-to-back title wins? Well that depends on the result on Thursday.
If we win and make it to the Europa League final, I don’t really care about our race for fourth place. If we don’t get through, then I want us to do our best against Chelsea even if that means getting all three points, because as I said, just because we win, doesn’t mean United will, and if United don’t then the title will be going to Stamford Bridge.
Wrapping Up With Wednesday
So there’s just about enough to keep things interesting going into May and that’s not even touching the finals of the FA Cup, Champions League, Europa League and Play-offs. In the middle of all that a quick word on Sheffield Wednesday.
I’m working in Wigan now and one of my dear colleagues is a Wednesday-ite (better typed than said). I’ve been following their plight with interest and how they and those around them have managed to bumble around and fail to take any advantage coming their way. So it comes down to the last game at Hillsbrough where Wednesday to avoid relegation to League One cannot afford anything less than a win against Crystal Palace who are just two points above them.
I am hoping for my colleague’s sake that against all odds they can pull it out of the bag and get that goal and that win. Here’s looking forward to the outcome of everything on Monday morning.