It was nice not to have a game this weekend, especially as it coincided with a lovely dose of the flu meaning that, game or no game, this blog would probably have been parked in favour of lying on the sofa and suffering in the way that woman believe only men can do!
The FA Cup continues to under whelm. Am I the only one who doesn’t have any sympathy for Neil Warnock over Aston Villa’s goal, which was scored from a corner even through the last player to touch the ball was a Villa one? Cleary it was an error but any sympathy one might have is displaced by Warnock, who like Sam Allardyce, takes every opportunity to berate or belittle match officials to the point where it’s becomes tiresomely repetitive and loses any impact it might otherwise have had. In this case Warnock’s hysterical over reaction, he wanted to official in question banned, had less credibility as he then said a draw was a good thing for his debt ridden club because of the extra gate receipts and TV revenue the replay would give them! It’s almost as if Warnock and Allardyce use this tactic to detract attention from their team’s performances and therefore there ability as manager. They remind me of Ada and Cissy the two old women Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough used to play – sorry if you are too young to remember!
Officials make mistakes and as a result get criticised but it is reasonable for managers to expect them to be 100% perfect? Looking at the position of Crystal Palace (ten point deduction notwithstanding) and Blackburn in their respective leagues, one suspects that Warnock and Allardyce have also made more than their fair share of mistakes. However will they, as they seem to do every time they fail to get three points, continue to try and deflect attention away from such shortcomings by citing poor officialdom?
To us and I guess the break has given those who are tired a chance to rest and those who are injured more time to get ready for he next game? Reports seem largely concerned with medical updates of our growing squad of patients. I guess with the potentially vital game against Manchester City coming up Rafa might be tempted to rush players back, however, the news is varied? It looks like Sunday will be too early to bring Torres back but hope springs eternal at a return for Jamie Carragher. Elsewhere the good news is that Glen Johnson and Yossi Benayoun have returned to training.
The importance of the City game this weekend has all but eclipsed Thursday’s UEFA Cup tie. It will be interesting to see just how we approach this, seriously or with half a heart and half a team, we shall see? The Champions League knock out stages start this week and we will probably see a small part of the spotlight turned towards us because of our failure to qualify. I guess the best way we can nip this in the bud is strengthen our hand for next season’s qualification by beating City on Sunday?
Meanwhile the Premier league is considering a suggestion to introduce a play off for the fourth place Champions League spot. What do I think? When it comes to the Champions League I’m a traditionalist for the old format. The Champions should be just that even it means that we won’t have taken part for twenty years. Ultimately this all boils down to one thing – greed. The PL will get a few more matches, probably at Wembley, to line their already not inconsiderable coffers. The team that qualifies will go into a tournament which contains teams that are not Champions of their own league because UEFA want to increase revenue by increasing the number of games by introducing an increasingly tedious league format. One wonders if the Premier League would have considered this if the same four teams didn’t qualify for the CL each year, they need to keep interest going the domestic league right until the end of the season?
No doubt if a fourth place play off is introduced I’ll watch it and probably be interested however the inescapable fact is that a team that finishes fourth could lose out to team that finishes seventh, even though they have earned more points and won more games. Tell me if that is fair?
Yes folks, s*d The Champions League, on balance we are best off out of it and that’s my excuse …. until next year!