Thursday, 21 January 2010

Midweek Observations 19th - 21st January

1. Case of the ex

As you will all know, Carlos Tevez delighted the entire football loving nation by bagging a brace for Moneychester City to beat their debt ridden neighbours from Salford in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final. Whatever you think of the grotesque sums of money they spend on players and the long term ramifications for English football (That is, City eventually making every season a boring procession of trophy-winning dominance while the rest go bankrupt trying to keep up. Over-simplification? Perhaps, but it's pretty much what will happen), it certainly raised a smile on my face to see them get one over their arch nemesis. And to see a Manchester United old boy do it just made it all the more sweet. Granted, the reds will undoubtedly be favourites to progress following the return leg but in the mean time, I just have to say that anything that winds up a boot-licking moron like Gary Neville (pictured below) is OK with me.

2. May the fourth be with you

And so for all the agony, anger, despair and talks of crisis, failure, Armageddon etc at Anfield, all of a sudden the scousers are just one point off the sacred top four places that a month ago many would have suggested was out of their reach. As bad as they have been this season, and make no mistake, they have been pretty bad, Liverpool's result against Spurs was a reminder to all the naysayers and critics than Liverpool are not quite ready to give up their status in the fabled 'big four' without a fight. Of course, there's a huge chance they still won't finish in the Champions League places but suddenly, Rafa's guarantee that many mocked a few weeks back doesn't sound so stupid.

Spurs on the other hand only showed more evidence that, despite how far they have come in the last few years, they are still not quite ready to mix it with the elite. Every time they get close, there's always some kind of obstacle; inept managers, tactless boards, Chris Armstrong, Lasgane. One day, Spurs will get a clear run to success and in the 89th minute of the game to clinch the first title seen at White Hart Lane since 1961, the world will end. Mark my works.

Although saying that, if anyone can tell me why Jermaine Defoe's goal was disallowed, I'm all ears.

3. Arse up

L'Arsenal are now top of the league. Something quite momentous I've been led to believe (Call me crazy but I can't quite remember trophies being handed out in January). Can Arsenal win the league? Some would suggest that the determination shown to come back from 2-0 down against Bolton as a reason why they can. However, others will feel the fact that they went 2-0 down (at home!) to Bolton at all as the very reason they can't. Chelsea under Mourinho and Manchester United in recent seasons have shown the importance of a mean defence if you are to win the title. L'Arse, this campaign, have conceded more goals than those two, Villa, Spurs, Fulham (!) and Birmingham (!!!). Arsene Wenger has done brilliantly to get his side where they are but the real test of their apparent new found mental strength and ability to 'battle' will come in the next couple of weeks when they face a Villa side fresh off their goal orgy with Blackburn, Manchester United, Liverpool and a Chelsea side that humped them back in November. If, in the unlikely event, the gunners are still top after those games, only then can talk about the title get serious.

4. Willy's Big Tackle

Much has been made of William Gallas' admittedly horrible tackle on Bolton's Martin Davies. It makes a change to see perennial 'southern softies' Arsenal being accused of being over-physical while those well 'ard Northerners are the ones walking off the pitch with a few bruises.

Besides, given how Bolton have gone about playing 'football' over the years, any so-called assault on one of their players is surely just canceling out some misdemeanour they have committed in the past and restoring the natural order of things. I think Matt Taylor kneeling on the back of Fabregas' neck just three days before might have flicked the proverbial karma switch.

5. When the fat lady sings

On the subject of northern thugs, Blackburn Rovers, with former Bolton General, Sam 'The Walrus' Allardyce in charge were involved in a ten goal 'thriller with the Villa' in what some (me) are calling the match of the decade (so far). Somehow, despite conceding SIX goals, the Walrus still somehow came to the conclusion that because ONE of these goals could have been disallowed that it is somehow the fault of the official that the country wont be seeing Blackburn and both their supporters at Wembley for the Carling Cup final. The mind boggles. No wait! when it comes to Fat Sam, it really doesn't. It's very rare when I suggest football needs to take lessons from rugby but the Respect campaign becomes [more of] a big joke if people within the game aren't censured whenever they decide to have a pop and question the integrity of the officials.

6. Sol Disrespectful

Sulzeer Jeremiah Campbell has always struck me as a strange man. He's never been one for tact or showing any concern for anyone other than himself when it comes to his career. Maybe he's different in his personal life but all I can judge him on is what he does in terms of his football career. This is a man who as captain of Spurs thought "what do I care about a silly little hundred year old rivalry? I'm joining my team's arch rivals. For FREE". The same man who apparently decided at half time in a match for Arsenal that he didn't really fancy it so left. Of course, Sol was miraculously on good terms again when L'Arse made it to the Champions League final. Campbell is then said to have negotiated to have his Arsenal contract terminated to 'go abroad' before ending up at Portsmouth! After 3 years and one FA Cup with the South coast side Campbell was gone again. Whether this had anything to do with their impending financial apocalypse is open to speculation but seeing as Campbell next turned up in supposedly cash-rich Notts County colours, said speculation could only be intensified. Was it then a coincidence that following the former England man's sudden departure it was discovered that the Magpies didn't quite have the pot of gold they led everyone to believe? Now, after a shock return to the gunners, Big Sol is taking the now penniless scroungers of Fratton Park to court over some unpaid monies.

When the news broke, people screamed blue murder asking all sorts of accusing questions: How could he be so insensitive and unsympathetic to their plight? How can he sue a club struggling to stay afloat? Has this man no heart? Have you ever seen him and Osama Bin Laden in the same room? And so on.

Exsqueeze me but, at the risk of sounding unpopular, Isn't Campbell is perfectly entitled to take whatever steps he deems necessary to get what was promised to him? If you or I worked for a company that was struggling financially who were withholding what was promised contractually, wouldn't we be entitled to do exactly what Sol is doing? Once again, people are thinking football is a special case where the normal rules of life don't apply even to the point where some people are actually feeling sorry for the terribly run mess of an organisation that is Portsmouth FC.

7. And finally,

Going back to that Carling Cup semi... EVEN HESKEY SCORED!!!!

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