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The wrong end of the table

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:17 pm
by Charlie
This feels like one of the most interesting seasons I can remember, with no team invincible and Liverpool under the illusion they belong at the top. Not playing like this, they don't.

But the most interesting games are between the other teams - West Ham vs Aston Villa yesterday looked fantastic, to judge by the Match of the Day highlights.

It seems to be the convention to knock the pundits for their comments after each game, but I find them useful and enlightening. I wish I had played in a team who understood the principles of back four defending. Or perhaps the others did undertand, it was just me who didn't. But I do sometimes wonder, is there such a thing as a good goal? Every time the ball ends up in the net, the pundits are liable togrumble at at least one defender for being in the wrong place, and usually there are two or three players at fault. At a corner, does the goalie come out to punch, or stand on his line and trust the central defenders to head him out of trouble?

It's all fascinating, and after his move to Villa, Brad Freidel still looks like the best goalie in the league. 37 years old, American; who would have guessed?

So tough on Paul Ince to be dropped as manager of Blackburn, and then the hard-to-like Sam Allardyce comes in to watch the same players trounce Stoke 3 nil. It ain't fair.

After a gruelling first half of the season, the three north East clubs are hanging in there. Middlesbrough are generally looking like a good side, although they were pathetic against Fulham yesterday. Sunderland have lots of exciting players, and finally they feel like a team, just as Roy Keane walked away in despair. Cisse and Jones could become the best strike force in the league. I never reckoned Kieran Richardson at Man United, but he has blossomed into a terrifying force, particularly from free kicks just outside the penalty box.

The story of Hull City is a fairytale for all romantics.

By this time of the season, I've usually settled on the three teams that deserve to drop out, but although West Brom are looking uncomfortably far off the pace, they still play well and it will be a travesty if manager Tony Mowbray is sacked after performing miracles to get them promoted last season. How civlised the Reading owners have been, to keep Steve Coppell in place regardless of how his team does - it's looking likely they will float back up next season. Next time he will have a better idea what to do to keep them up.

PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 9:14 am
by Nick Boyes
Villa do look like a team you would pay to watch. A wealth of english players playing well which should help the national squad.
I watched Ashley Young develop as a youth team player here at Watford and we thought that when Villa payed 9M for him it was slightly over the top ! His younger brother is still at watford and could be as good.
The best footballing side in the championship last season was WBA but Hull were the toughest (and roughest ) side to play against and Stoke were just horrible. I thought Hull would be found out at a higher level but with some good buy's notably Marlon King ( another ex watford ) they have moved on.
I think one of the newer problems for football will be falling supporter numbers as we all cut back a bit. Even at championship level £27-30 admission plus travel , food etc doesn't make for a cheap day out, especially as some clubs do not reduce prices for kids.
As all supporters of the lower tiers of football say if you want to see the real game ignore the premiership and drop a level or two.
Funny how we all want to go up though.

Down: West Brom West Ham Sunderland

Up Wolves Birmingham Reading

PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 1:23 pm
by Nick Boyes
Well after the run of matches over the christmas period I am going to revise my predictions. It's very rare a side who is bottom in the new year stays up so West Brom look doomed. As for the rest you could say that all teams from 11th in the table downwards could be in trouble come May.
West Ham , who couldn't buy a goal, with a few wins have shot up the table and should now be safe. Having watched Blackburn lose a two goal lead yesterday expect some serious spending in january. Stoke are now fighting each other instead of the opposition.
As a fan in the lower division I dread the transfer window opening when watford are certain to lose our only decent player(s) especially as Southampton's decision to play their youngsters has made them one of the few teams below us in the table.
What's been interesting is how well the managerial careers of Darren Ferguson and Nigel Clough are going in the lower leagues. The two sons of famous successful managers Alec Ferguson and Brian Clough, makes me wonder if being a good football manager is hereditary or wether they were taught tactics in the highchair.

PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:30 pm
by Charlie
Nick Boyes wrote:. It's very rare a side who is bottom in the new year stays up so West Brom look doomed. As for the rest you could say that all teams from 11th in the table downwards could be in trouble come May.
West Ham , who couldn't buy a goal, with a few wins have shot up the table and should now be safe. Having watched Blackburn lose a two goal lead yesterday expect some serious spending in january. Stoke are now fighting each other instead of the opposition.
As a fan in the lower division I dread the transfer window opening when watford are certain to lose our only decent player(s) especially as Southampton's decision to play their youngsters has made them one of the few teams below us in the table.

. The two sons of famous successful managers Alec Ferguson and Brian Clough, makes me wonder if being a good football manager is hereditary or wether they were taught tactics in the highchair.

I'm worried that Boro are looking very vulnerable and could easily drop down. From the beginning of the season, the three newly promoted clubs have all played well and I don't think any of them will go down, including West Brom. Blackburn probably won't either, which is unlucky for Paul Ince since I don't think Sam Allardyce has changed anything. I hope Paul gets another chance soon, to prove what he can do. Ideally, starting with a Second Division club sand then taking them up like Steve Coppell did with Reading.

Most impressicve First Divisions clubs: Aston Villa and Fulham.

Three to go down: Boro, Bolton and Portsmouth.

I agree that it always feels unfair when the rich clubs raid the Second Division teams that are vying for a place in the higher division, thereby making it harder for them to get promoted. But it sometimes seems even worse when they are allowed to steal players from the opposition in the same league.

There's something seedy about the way the wolves are yapping at Robert Green, playing so well in goal for West Ham, and Jimmy Bullard, the heart of Fulham for the past year afte being nursed through recovery from a terrible injury.

So now we're going to watch the January transfer window version of changing partners, with Wigan's Heskey rumoured to be a target for Villa, and Blackburn's Santa Cruz on Manchester City's shopping list where he could join former manager Mark Hughes.

It doesn't seem right, but that's the way the system operates.

Yes, those chips off the old blocks do seem to have what it takes to manage teams outside the main league. Nigel Clough has made it clear he doesn't want to start trying to climb a managerial career ladder, being content to stay where he is and see how far he can get.

PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:41 pm
by Nick Boyes
My brother who is a Boro season ticket holder reckons they lack the ability to close a game down defensively. Mind you with Alves and Mido Boro must have the heaviest strike duo in the league.
You do wonder if Tony Adams is the next manager for the heave ho.
If the out of work managers were still match fit there is the makings of a good second division side in their ranks.
Watford have signed a young Arsenal defender on loan so perhaps our record as having the worst defense in the championship may change, starting on saturday in the FA cup when we play Scunthorpe. A real banana skin for us as they are playing well and have the always cheerful physio turned manager in Nigel Atkins.

Still not agreeing with with your 3 for the drop, My Spurs friends still look worried.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 1:09 pm
by Nigel w
If you can take your eyes off the fantasy football called the Premier League for a second, has anybody noticed what is happening to my club, Charlton?

We sacked Alan Pardew, appointed his deputy Phil Parkinson, the board declared that he would be judged on his results and then announced that after the Shef U game on Dec 28, there would be a 'strategis review' of the position.

Parky failed to win a single one of his eight games in charge as a caretaker and we are rock bottom of the Championship. This week we had our 'strategic review ' - the result of which is that we have given him the job on a permanent basis and our board has declared that he is "overwhelmingly'' the best man for the job.

Under Alan Curbishley, we used to be held up as a 'model club' among the smaller fry. Now we have become a complete and utter joke..

Off to see us get bundled out of the FA cup by Norwich this afternoon.
Although fate, being such a perverse mistress, will probably deliver us our first win in three months when we don't really want it and would much have prefered three points in any one of the last 16 winless league games !

PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:58 pm
by Nick Boyes
Nigel w wrote:If you can take your eyes off the fantasy football called the Premier League for a second, has anybody noticed what is happening to my club, Charlton?

Off to see us get bundled out of the FA cup by Norwich this afternoon.


A draw not a bad result Nigel ?
I see Roeder was singing the praises of your scorer Shelvey, he must be good as normally all you get from Roeder is moans about the pitch, ref etc.
What has happened to Bouazza, who was class when watford sold him to Fulham?
It's not looking good for you and the new man seems like the cheapest option. Trouble is once the club becomes a yo - yo one , up one season down the next , the stadium is never full ,all the best players leave and us fans just get greyer. Still us footy fans who stick with our local team aren't meant to enjoy games , thats for the corporate lot !

The Watford win against Scunthorpe was an awful game only enlivened by the fact we won and I was sat in the middle of an american marching band from Delaware who were over for the new year parade and then did Watford's halftime entertainment. Best bit was after we scored the twenty or so drummers got going causing the home fans to give them a 'can we have you every week ' chant.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 2:44 pm
by Con Murphy
Seems we've got a bit of a Championship thread going here (sorry Charlie) - my son's a fan of our local team Reading, so I get to see them quite a lot and for once have a slight feeling of superiority reading about the travails of the tier two strugglers.

Ironically, Phil Parkinson is such a cult figure at Reading that they still sing songs about him at away matches, and I see that he’s just taken fellow battler (and ageing crock) Graeme Murty on loan from the Royals, so that’s you pretty much doomed, Nigel. There are lessons to be learnt from Charlton for every supposed ‘model’ club - I always thought they might be more Curbishley Athletic than Charlton Athletic just as I fear that Coppell FC is but a passing phenomenon in our part of the world.

We’ll be at the Watford game on Friday Nick, but I assume you’ll be watching it from the warmth of a Hertfordshire hearth, as it’s on Sky? Teams have started making things difficult at the Mad Stad, and with the new loanee Arsenal defender in your team, I fancy you might nick a draw – and you won’t even need to concede a ghost goal to get you started!

It’ll be interesting to compare how things pan out for the respective teams – I feel that Reading have most to lose as they aren’t a convincing second-place at the moment, will not win the play-offs and already lack clout in the transfer market, and that’s before the parachute payments cease. Watford surely have too much in attack to go down, although there are some improving teams down there (Forest, Barnsley, Doncaster) so they’d better watch out. Can Charlton join the improvers? If they play with the spirit and drive their manager possessed as a player, they might just do it – but that was in what is now League One, his natural level as both a player and manager?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:03 pm
by Nick Boyes
Con Murphy wrote:Seems we've got a bit of a Championship thread going here (sorry Charlie) - my son's a fan of our local team Reading, so I get to see them quite a lot and for once have a slight feeling of superiority reading about the travails of the tier two strugglers.

We’ll be at the Watford game on Friday Nick, but I assume you’ll be watching it from the warmth of a Hertfordshire hearth, as it’s on Sky?
I fancy you might nick a draw


As a 'real fan' ( or is that sad man ) I will be there, however the joys of the M4 on a friday may mean listening on the radio for some of the first half.
It was a good game at our place , of course enlivened by the ref Atwell giving the goal that wasn't. I read that he has been promoted to the FIFA list so at least we won't be seeing him again in these parts.
As for the ' nick a draw' quote maybe I'll start to use that as my name on here , following in the footsteps of Des whatever he's called this week .

PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:21 pm
by Charlie
Nick Boyes wrote:As for ' nick a draw' maybe I'll start to use that as my name on here

Sounds like the place where women keep their undergarments, so be careful.

By the way, please feel free to pursue discussions about Second Division (Championship?) teams, they seem to be the only ones whose fans attend virtually every game, instead of just taking sides in order to have somebody to 'support' in discussions.

Is it possible that Manchester City might become the most expensive team ever to be relegated by the end of this season. They are one or the few Premiership teams whose fans feel more like Second Division supporters, hanging in there against all rational logic.

It's fascinating that a sort of voodoo seems to have infected so many of them this year, not only the fly-by-night Brazilians grumbling about this and that, but even the previously infallible centre back Richard Dunn has been making mistakes all season. I am still baffled at the decision to turn Micah Richards into his partner as a centre back. As a right back, Richards was just about the only success during McLaren's era as England manager, playing particularly well with Wright Phillips. Now the latter is himself back in the Manchester City squad, but they never get picked by the club in those positions where they blended so well for England.

There seem to be so many very good players in the City squad, including two more England contenders, goalie Joe Hart and midfielder Michael Johnson, and the outstanding Stephen Ireland (who is indeed Irish) and new discovery Dean Sturridge. How can they be so low? Doesn't make sense.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:22 pm
by Dominic
Charlie wrote:...new discovery Dean Sturridge.

This confused me, as I fondly remember Dean Sturridge as Wolves' top scorer in the 2001-02 season, and he helped them get promotion to the Premiership a year later (let's hope they stay up longer next time!). I have now found out that Daniel Sturridge, Dean's nephew, is an up-and-coming striker at Manchester City.

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 9:58 am
by Charlie
Having been alarmed at the prospect of all three North East teams going down in one flush of the loo, it seems that Sunderland are probably safe.

In the meantime, my regional loyalties have given way to admiration to West Brom from the Midlands, by far the best of the struggling teams and managed by former Middlesbrough favourite, Tony Mowbray. They were bottom for so long, it seemed impossible for them to recover, but as all the teams above them keep losing, there is still an outside chance that they catch up at the last gasp, with Hull (managed by Phil Brown, yet another North Eastern manager) the most likely to go down with Middlesbrough and Newcastle.

All the experts agree, West Brom 'play football', but the arm chair pundits on Match of the Day have cynically suggested that's no way to try to survive in the First Division. Instead, they admire the pragmatism of Stoke City's manager Tony Pulis (also from the North East) who has made sure his team know what to do at set-pieces - corners, free kicks and especially throw-ins, where Rory Delap has thrown defences into confusion with his howitzers.

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 2:12 pm
by Nick Boyes
Charlie wrote:
All the experts agree, West Brom 'play football', but the arm chair pundits on Match of the Day have cynically suggested that's no way to try to survive in the First Division. Instead, they admire the pragmatism of Stoke City's manager Tony Pulis (also from the North East) who has made sure his team know what to do at set-pieces - corners, free kicks and especially throw-ins, where Rory Delap has thrown defences into confusion with his howitzers.


It will be interesting how one of the previous armchair pundits on MotD gets on tonight managing Newcastle against Boro in what he is calling his most important game ever.
Be warned if Sheffield United get promoted through the playoffs as they have at least 2 chuckers of the long ball throw in , Greg Halford and Leigh Bromby, along with a strong' thou shall not pass' team ethic.
Watford's stuttering season ended with a respectable 13 position in the table. With the usual optimism of a long time season ticket holder I look forward to the next saturday in august when it starts all over again. It's started well already with 20% reduction in my season ticket price , Graham Taylor back on the board of directors and our manager off to see his best friend Jose Morinhio.

Any ideas what to do on saturday afternoons ? I tried speedway this weekend but just ended up with dirt in my face.

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 1:38 pm
by Charlie
Nick Boyes wrote:It will be interesting how one of the previous armchair pundits on MotD gets on tonight managing Newcastle against Boro in what he is calling his most important game ever.

Newcastle won 3-1 and move up to fourth from bottom, as Hull slip below them.

Can West Brom catch up and escape? Two weeks to find out

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 9:01 pm
by Con Murphy
Charlie wrote:Instead, they admire the pragmatism of Stoke City's manager Tony Pulis (also from the North East)


North-East Dorset? He must have moved south at an early age. Can't place the accent, actually. Sometimes I think Southampton, then other times Devon, maybe even Somerset, with even a hint of his Welsh parentage. Can anyone pin it down more precisely?

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