When the big games come I get nervous – just like most supporters I guess. Probably the worst occasion was the final game at home to Leicester in the Unbeaten Season. I had hoped I would be dancing and singing and having a lovely time, taking photos and all.
But the silly buggers were one nil down at half time, and I felt really ill. The league was won of course, but surely they couldn’t throw the prize of the unbeaten season away at the last?
Of course they didn’t, but my abiding memory is one of real worry. So it will again, be riding up to the game against the Bankrupts, and in an effort not to think about that today, how about a little reflection on one or two of the more amusing issues around?
Like the Tiny Totts starting to talk about breaking into the Top Four next season – just like they talked about it, last season, and the season before and…
What is amusing is that Appy Arry is worrying that maybe getting a place in the Europe League this year will make it harder to break into the Top Four next year, so perhaps they should throw a few games now, not get into Europe next year, and then have fewer games and make the big push…
It is not so far from what M O’Neil did with Aston “hold your head” Villa this season. They went to Russia to play a UEFA cup game, sent out a team with a few top players missing, and duly lost. The reason they did this was to get fourth place this year in the EPL. So they threw out a chance of getting to a final, on the vague hope that the Lord Wenger’s talk about it all coming right at Arsenal was just talk. As it was they ended up about 200 points behind us (well not quite, but it is a big gap).
A breakthrough into the Top Four for any of the little clubs is dependent on one of the Top Four having a bad season. This of couse could happen when…
a) Sir Alex F Word retires and the owners and their bankers move in to get the debt restructured (thus depriving the new manager of the regular £40 million a year expenditure on which Sir F-Word has built his club). This sudden lack of funds will happen to an aging squad (you will have noted the celebrations for Giggs’ 100th birthday recently) and could be the moment they slip down.
b) Mr Absent Abramovich goes even more absent, and decides that if he can’t win everything he doesn’t want to play. He appoints M Mouse as manager and they slip into League Two, (Spending is limited at KGB Fulham, there is strict censorship within the club, and the owner has a penchant for changing managers – any of these could give them a bad season).
c) Liverpool Insolvents’ big moment is this summer when the club have to refinance the £350m loaned by Nat West and an American bank. At first the banks were taking a strong line demanding repayment in July, but now they have softened saying they might continue to loan the dosh if the owners of Liverpool stump up some more cash. The owners can’t so they are trying to flog it all to the Arabs, and meanwhile they have a maniac spender for a manager. It could go very wrong.
d) Arsenal are the least likely to slip, since this season is the one of rebuilding that was most likely to cause a problem – and instead we got a 21 game unbeaten run. By next August we’ll have all this team one year older (a good thing) and several more ready to step up (a game or two for Wilshere and Merida) with fringe playerse like Vela more central, and Arshavin coming into his own. There’s also a lot of loanees and some of those might become squad players too. So the squad is bigger, more experienced and that bit older – a slip up next year seems unlikely.
The the Tiny Totts, Manchester Arab, Hold your Head Villa, and the rest will be looking at a shut door, until one of the big boys falls apart. Villa look likely to lose Barry, the Arabs have got a manager who doesn’t look comfortable (in the Oooooze), and as for the Tinies, Arry will spend a lot, rebuild the team, sell off whatever he can find, and that’s another season drifting by (but we can all have a laugh as their stadium plans fall apart).
So, time for a smile, take it easy, watch the ladies in the FA Cup Final, and hope they beat Everton in the league decider. Just the relaxation I need before getting all knotted up again.
(c) Tony Attwood 2009
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