By Tony Attwood
The bar was very accommodating, the beer was cheap, and as the teams lined up we were two Arsenal fans, two Cologne fans and ten people who seemed to have got lost and just come in for a drink.
It was all very friendly and chatty of course, and the bar even had an official door opener for visitors and departures – all very civilised. Afterwards I even managed to get back to the hotel without getting lost to look at the rather extraordinary news of Everton’s score of 1-5. I am not sure that any supporters carrying children attacked visiting players at that game, but I await reports.
In the aftermath of that match I rather liked the commentary of the current Everton manager. “I asked my players to make it hard for me to leave them out for the next game and the majority of them have made it really easy. Fortunately we have players to come back who are not quite as fragile. We keep conceding really easy goals, people aren’t having to work hard to score against us. Players have to take responsibility.” That’s the way to motivate a team – tell them they are awful – and make sure you do it in public.
Meanwhile we have won the group, despite last night’s defeat and now a few more details are known of the clubs going through. We could play any of the ultimate runners up.
(Seeded inext round)
(but pos not known)
|G|| Steaua București
|I||Red Bull Salzburg|
|L|| Zenit Saint Petersburg
As for those descending gracelessly from the Champions League we can’t play any of the top four in the first knockout round , as I understand it – but of course thereafter all is possible.
|1||A||CSKA Moscow||5||3||0||2||7||8||−1||9||Seeded in round of 32 draw|
|5||F||Napoli||5||2||0||3||10||9||+1||6||Unseeded in round of 32 draw|
But before I leave you to go off to yet another dancing venue (and persuade my body that yes this is fun because I am on holiday, and holidays are fun and my knees should stop complaining) allow me, if I may to offer you this newspaper story.
“Exclusive: West Ham ask for away Boxing Day fixture as local station too busy due to post-Christmas sales
“West Ham’s troublesome move to their current home has been hit with more unexpected scheduling difficulties.”
Now I am not running this because I think it is a great shock horror story, or a terrible loss to the very jolly supporters of State Aid United, but rather because I am completely surprised that it is a story at all. There are all sorts of restrictions that appear in scheduling matches. Arsenal and the Tinies can’t play at home on the same day, for example, there can be no football matches on the day of the funeral of the monarch, and Millwall used to have to play Boxing Day games, no matter where they were, kicking off at noon. (I remember that because some years back I went to see Cardiff City play Millwall on that day at that time. Or at least I think I remember it…. after all this dancing I may be a bit confused).
But anyway, the story is that West Ham asked the League to give them away fixtures on Boxing Days because the local underground station could not cope with WHU fans mixing with shopping centre fans.
Now I can’t see this as a problem in that none of the three stations open to incoming passengers after matches at the Ems can cope, but somehow life goes on. But apparently not with this wonderful state of the art station that WHU have servicing their club.
So apparently this year West Ham, who look to gain a massive decrease in their rent if they are relegated, have an away game at the seaside in Dorset. And that is the BIG EXCLUSIVE in the Telegraph. These retired admirals know how to live.
The club says there was “categorically no agreement in place that means West Ham United have to play Boxing Day fixtures away from home.” They are probably both right. There was no agreement and now there is. After all this was the most successful stadium move in the history of football. (I know that because their lady director said so).
Anyway this is such an important matter the Telegraph then checked with the Premier League and the paper now says, “The Premier League has confirmed to Telegraph Sport that West Ham have requested special dispensation to play away on Boxing Day.”
It must be very exciting manning the Telegraph’s football desk in Buckingham Palace Road.
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- The final transfer rumours: 3 new names to make 66 players tipped for Arsenal
- What the media won’t tell you about football, part 3 – referee home bias
- The real live facts that the media won’t ever touch (part 2)