Alive, not Dead

By , Posted on 6th November 2013 - Posted in: Football News, Help

Hello again, and may I say how nice it is to be back. I disappeared from these pages at the end of April 2012, around the same time in fact that Roy Hodgson was being appointed England manager. Pure co-incidence of course and there was no suggestion that I was so depressed at the notion of Roy trying to lead our boys to ahem, glory in ‘Polkraine’ that I’d gone and done myself in. No, I’ve long since decided that our national team’s just not worth that kind of sacrifice. As a startlingly succint headline of the time noted, ‘Roy Hodgson, he’s not Harry Redknapp’ and I dear readers am alive, not dead.

So where were we? A quick flick through the archives shows that 18 months ago I was prone to making rash predictions, such as: Man Utd to pip neighbours City to the title (ha!); Kenny Dalglish to continue his resurrection work at Liverpool (cough, cough); and ‘Arry to be a shoe-in for the England job (well come on, everyone else thought so too). So, three out of three’s not bad, unless you were expecting accuracy in my forecasts. Forecasting is for weather dudes anyway. I’ll confine my comments in future to matters of the present and past.

In one of my more insightful moments I did predict the imminent managerial turnover at the top end of the Premier League. In fairness the merry go round had already begun spinning in March 2012 when Chelsea dumped Andre Villas Boas. He promptly ended up at Spurs the following summer, the same time that Liverpool were relieving Dalglish of his duties. Champions Man City meanwhile waited a year (until they weren’t champions any more) before sacking Italian gaffer Roberto Mancini. Chelsea, who appointed another Roberto in place of Villas Boas, Roberto di Matteo finally attained football’s Holy Grail and won the Champions League the same summer. Di Matteo’s reward? The sack of course, delivered in November 2012 (they clearly didn’t win the Champions League championingly enough for owner Roman Abramovich). Enter Rafa Benitez, working under the splendid title ‘Interim Manager’. As befits anyone with a job title containing the word ‘interim’ he was duly sacked at the end of the season. Chelsea have re-appointed Jose Mourinho, a man of messianic proportions to the Stamford Bridge faithful, but years of tinkering by Roman have left Mourinho with a disjointed and confused squad. Good luck with that one then.

Meanwhile 2013 champions Man Utd finally faced up to the day they’d dreaded for many years, the retirement of iconic superboss Sir Alex Ferguson. Only surly old Arsene Wenger remains in place amongst the clubs of the English elite and accordingly the early Premier League table for season 2013-14 sees Arsenal top of the tree. With each of the other clubs bedding in new bosses Arsenal have seen their chance and taken it. Will it stay that way? Well, as I said, I ain’t making no predictions no more. Suffice to say, we’ve got one of the most open and exciting title races in recent memory on our hands. Early season favourites, City and Chelsea have spluttered thus far and at times there has been a refreshingly 1980s look about the table, with Liverpool, Everton and Southampton all clinging to Arsenal’s coat tails, not to say Man Utd languishing in mid table? Yeah, very 80s.

In other news Roy is doing a rather decent job with the national team. He’s Roy Hodgson, not Harry Redknapp. He’s got us to Brazil and the 2014 World Cup. So I’m glad I didn’t do myself in but doubtless I’ll be feeling suicidal next summer, some time around late June. You know the script: red cards; a goalkeeping cock-up; penalties; an embattled manager turned into a comedy vegetable … oh God here we go again. But then let’s not make any rash predictions. Let’s not go there. Not yet. Let’s all enjoy not being Roy Hodgson for the time being.


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