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Good Week/Bad Week in the Premier League

by Owen Blackhurst
15 November 2010 9 Comments

Roy Hodgson and Roberto Mancini are drinking sarsaparilla in the last chance saloon, Chelsea look anything but butch and Gerard Houllier is doing it for the kids.

Bad week for Roy Hodsgon, Carlo Ancelotti and Mrs. Doubtfire.

On Saturday night I, like a million others, got myself all wound up at the prospect of seeing two big men beat seven bells of shit out of each other. I stupidly got caught up in the hype and thought, in boxing parlance, that I’d see, “a right tear up.” Or, like the bloke stood next to me spitting beer out of his nostrils, “a proper fuckin’ raaahhh.”

So I drank rapidly, talked all sorts of nonsense to men I’ll never see again. Popped outside for a fag and listened to a bloke who was no taller that 4’8” tell me how he’d been a contender. Speculated that Audrey looked up for it and had a chance because oh his solid right jab and big left. Shouted that if Haye dropped his hands that A-Force might chop him down. Screamed for ‘another Kronebourg please darling,’ after the awful first round. Laughed when Audley didn’t throw a punch. Shook my head when he let Haye batter him. Went home without any desire to stay awake for Manny Pacquiao Vs Antonio Margarito. Missed a proper fuckin’ raaahhhhh.

This fight, of course, wasn’t the only mismatch of the weekend. Last Sunday, after his brace of goals had put Chelsea to the sword and got John W. Henry’s missus all moist at the gusset, Fernando Torres said the following. “We have to be able to do this against the weaker teams or it means nothing.” Now, though I’d struggle in the written part of my Kentish dialect exam (are there three As or four in row?) I’ve got an urban masters in Spanglish due to my brother living in Buenos Aires. Let me translate.

“Roy, for a start, it is hard to take you seriously as you look like a cauliflower trying to headbutt its way out of a beagle. You’re a fuckwit if you think that Paul Konchesky is a left-back worthy of the Liverpool shirt and, as we the players won the game today, if you can’t adapt your ‘two-banks-of-four’ formation to get six points out from the games against Wigan and Stoke then you should take your jowls, and the imaginary beard you keep stroking, and piss off whence you came. Miss Linda, now that I have your ear and, who knows, possibly your arse, I’d like you to tell John that Roy Hodgson would, at no other time in history, have got the job. Now that period is over, sack the pillock or this beautiful new dawn will be ruined by a man who looks like he should be on the broom at the big B&Q at Switch Island. Please, look at Man City, and hurry up, or me and Pepe will go and you won’t get to be the jamon in between two slices of pan ajo.

Man City were shit again. The fans booed, Doubtfire substituted a striker for a defensive midfielder and a tumbleweed blew across the pitch. Plus ça change.

Liverpool were turgid against Stoke, they weren’t up for the physical and that will send fans over the edge much quicker than a lack of technique. Although it may seem harsh, the faithful just don’t like Roy. They usually give managers a chance at Anfield, but the soap opera of the last two years has left the fans with no time for dilly-dallying. No time to allow a basically limited manager, who has had more success with plucky underdogs, to get a team of internationals used to playing in a in a system designed to stifle and protect.

And what about Chelsea? Had David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd been commentating, he’d have said ‘start the car’ so often that John Terry, a man with all the intelligence of a cantaloupe, would have dragged Jody Morris out of whatever crack den he’s sleeping in to hotwire every vehicle in the car park. Although they are still top and, should they get everyone fit, will probably still have a bit too much for everyone else, Carlo should be worried. Last season he had midfielders coming out of his arse. Now, he has an autocratic chairman dispensing with his number two, a bench with less experience in the dark arts than Aled Jones and, even more worryingly, ‘a lack of spirit.’ For every week he doesn’t play, Frank Lampard becomes a better player. Sunderland hammered them yesterday, without Petr Cech it could’ve been a cricket score. Who knows, maybe they all stayed up to watch the Pacquiao fight after laughing at Audley? While the Sunderland players spent the journey south dining on raw meat and taking the piss out of Brucey for wearing a quilted Barbour at his age. They were tremendous, they denied Chelsea space in midfield, targeted the makeshift defence and used the pace of Welbeck and Richardson to harass Ashley Cole into his worst performance since the hairdresser puked on him.

Oh, and Man City were shit again. The fans booed, Doubtfire substituted a striker for a defensive midfielder and a tumbleweed blew across the pitch. Plus ça change.

Good week for Gerard Houllier

When Houllier was manager of Liverpool, the Kop used to sing, “Who let the reds out? Hoo, Houllier…” He also gave Steven Gerrard his debut and won a few pots. It all went a bit sour when he signed Bruno Cheyrou and called him ‘the next Zidane’ but he was ill, so I’ll let him off. Should he continue to blood young players and commit to attacking football, his tenure at Aston Villa could be massively important for both the club and the national team. Ok, so they showed naïveté in allowing United back into it, but with Young, Bannann (Scottish), Albrighton, Agbonlahor and even the maligned Stewart Downing forming a ‘famous five’ of Ardiles proportions, Houllier is giving Villa fans something they haven’t had for a long time; excitement. He is lucky that he has this season as an elongated honeymoon period. The club was on the floor when Martin O’ Neill left, but now with him, Gary McAllister, Gordon Cowans and Kevin McDonald responsible, Villains can rightly be excited as to what the future holds. Just don’t let him buy anyone, Randy. Unless, of course, you would like to see Djibril Cisse dye his hair claret and blue.

Of course, loads of other stuff happened this weekend. Arsene Wenger must wonder how his team can lose at home to the Baggies and Newcastle, yet play with grit to win at Goodison. Spurs fans will be getting slightly worried that Gareth Bale will be sold at the end of the season if he carries on like this, and also that they can’t defend for toffee. And Mick McCarthy is one bad result away from covering his face in grease, buying a huge gun and going on the rampage in Wolverhampton City Centre, a la Michael Douglas in Falling Down.

As I said, Plus ça change.

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Essie 12:15 pm, 15-Nov-2010

Well done Sunderland - great game, great result!! Up the Pool!!

dave 12:34 pm, 15-Nov-2010

Sir Alex must have opened a decent bottle last night and contemplated reaching his premiership dozen. Nice one.

Steve Black 1:13 pm, 15-Nov-2010

The weekend showed, again, that we can't extapoltate what we've seen over 90 minutes over the rest of the season. After every game someone's in crisis, too good to go down or it's definitely someone's year. 'We've got to take it one game at a time' is one of football's oldest cliches becaus it's true, this term more than most.

Energy Warning 6:05 pm, 15-Nov-2010

How to reveal you don't know anything about football in one easy step: refer to Gareth Barry and/or Yaya Toure as a 'defensive midfielder'.

Owen Blackhurst 6:28 pm, 15-Nov-2010

@energywarning. They are defensive midfielders. But let's say they're central midfielders or, if you want, attacking midfielders. It doesn't matter what you want to call them. Would you bring either of them on for your main striker, at home, if you were 0-0 with five minutes to go and being booed. If so, I'd draft your application letter as there could be an opening real soon. Yaya Toure played defensive midfield and, on occasion, centre-half for barca. Gareth Barry finally became an England regular playing as the holding midfielder. Both very good players, neither of them goal-scorers.

Ken Bove 9:14 pm, 15-Nov-2010

A central midfielder is rendered 'defensive' by virtue of the fact that his priority is to defend and contain, rather than take risks, commit opponents high up the pitch and create goal-scoring opportunities for himself and others. Don't think I've seen Gareth Barry burst beyond the opposition defence since he played for Sussex under-16s, and even then he was playing as a make-shift striker. Yaya Toure does venture further forward at times, but doing so is clearly unnatural to him - he runs out of steam, and spatial awareness, upon reaching the edge of the D. And, judging by recent City performances it is evidently not what his manager has asked him to prioritise. It is such negativity that is threatening to cripple the trademark entertainment factor within the Premier League's upper echelons. Shame on Mancini. I'm not sure if 'Energy Warning' is apt. Perhaps you should rather heed a misinformed idiot warning.

M_ob 9:54 am, 16-Nov-2010

Isn't playing in a system designed to stifle and protect exactly what liverpool's internationals have been doing for years - well before Hodgson took over? Or were Lucas, Maxi Rodrigues and Ryan Babel playing buccaneering football under Comfy Kecks Benitez, the Spanish Ian Holloway?

Owen Blackhurst 10:12 am, 16-Nov-2010

@M_ob.. couldn't agree more regarding Rafa, it's just that can you imagine going from one such system to another? Roy's patterns of play are obviously different from Rafa's, but they are both cautious coaches. The players look to be suffering from tactical fatigue and could do with a manager who preaches creativity. This also goes for the fans.. I'm sure after what has gone on, and realising that this is a transitional season whatever happens, the supporters would prefer to see a team having a proper go and trying to entertain. If Roy continues to shut up shop after ten minutes and invite pressure, he has no chance.

Shane 5:38 am, 18-Nov-2010

@energywarning, given that Mancini seems to want to rely on Tevez, Silva and Milner/Johnson to form the attacking tip of Man City's team then how can Barry and Toure not be playing as defensive midfielders. Sure, Barry can play down the left and Toure can do the box to box role, but they certainly haven't been doing that of late. They have simply been providing another layer of defence to the back four, which explains the rather turgid displays they've been putting in. Seems a shame for a squad that earlier this season looked like it might offer a lot of sparkle.

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