Monday, 20 September 2010

Weekend Observations 18th - 19th September: Part Two

Part Two... Part One here

On Friday, Sam Allardyce had us all in stitches when he jokingly suggested he would win every trophy in sight, every season for ever and ever if he got the chance to manage a top football club. The laughter stopped when we realised he was deadly serious. I think he made his point though as his Blackburn side barely scraped a draw against Fulham scoring a goal that seemed to epitomise exactly what he offers as a master football tactician and one of football's unsung heroes: a long ball into the box, a deliberate but unseen foul on the opposition goalkeeper by Pele incarnate El Hadji Diouf and an easy finish for Chris Samba. In all seriousness, his backlash against Wenger's complaints make more sense now. If more action was to be taken against these perceived roughhouse tactics, Allardici's glaring limitations as a manager would be ruthlessly exposed as the only 'tactic' he seems to know how to employ would be rendered utterly redundant.

Who knows? If Big Sam was at Chelsea maybe the title would be wrapped up by Christmas! Either way, I think they might just about get by without his style of 'football'. In that instance, if the title race is set to be a boring predictable procession, I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say we are all hoping to see more 'competitiveness' throughout the rest of the division. Putting aside their two humpings in London so far, Blackpool are playing their part as are they team they managed to beat in their last match, Newcastle. It's bloody difficult to know what to make of the Magpies at the minute. Gone are the days of Kevin Keegan's swashbuckling league title bottlers. Now we have Chris Hughton's less exciting side that are just happy to go about their business and I doubt would be too disappointed with mid-table obscurity.

Looking at their current squad, they're hardly packed with superstars but with the likes of Nolan, Barton, Carroll and loan signing Ben Arfa should have the quality to see them keep the wolves of any potential relegation battle at the door. Their defence however, while not as bad Geordie back lines of years gone by, is not one that would fill many with a great deal of confidence. Just as easily as they put 6 past Villa a while back, you can easily see them conceding as many as the likes of James Perch is regularly being put on his backside having been given the runaround by any half decent Premier League winger you could care to mention.

The inconsistency that has plagued them for years still seems to be there. At the start of the season, not many teams, let alone the promoted ones, would have been expected to take 6 points from two games against Villa and Everton respectively but then again not many teams will expect to only salvage a solitary point from matches against Wolves and Blackpool.

But you've got to give them credit for their win this past weekend and spoiling many betting slips that would have had that match down as a cast iron home win (Bastards!).

Speaking of whom, you have to wander what is in the water on Merseyside that has made all the football so-substandard in that part of the world. Liverpool's problems are well documented but it's not gone unnoticed that the blue half of the city have started the season just as ineptly as their red-clad brothers. Just when they thought they'd cracked it with that dramatic draw against Manchester United, they have been brought back down to earth with a bump. Everton have often been slow starters(08/09 - 2 wins in opening 9 games, last season 1 win in first four) citing injuries to key players and whatnot but this season there seems no legitimate excuse for being second bottom after 5 games. I don't doubt The Toffees will get it together at some stage but once again, it looks like Moyes and co will be blaming a poor start for their inevitable failure to achieve anything worthwhile.

The only team preventing Everton from being Rock bottom are West Ham who battled to a draw against Stoke in what I'm told was far from a classic game of football. Not that I'm claiming there is a connection but isn’t it curious that The Hammers' first point of the season came when Avram Grant wasn't there? A sign perhaps?

Finally, having seen Kenwyne Jones'* goal in that game, the most important football question of the week is surely thus: Is he now a must for the old Fantasy Football team given Stoke's rather direct approach? How many goals is he going to get this season???

*Rubbish knowledge: Kenwyne Jones has played for Stoke, Sunderland and Southampton. All teams that wear red and white stripes and begin with the letter 'S'. You can have that one on me...

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