As we entered the close season I planned this as a sort of weekly revue of EPL clubs, and how they are coping. I expected to be fighting off the usual “Oh my God its a disaster, Man IOU has signed everyone and we haven’t” but in fact its not quite like that at all. Funny old game.
Manchester IOU. Two megastars down and no big signings. Either the Yanks have told Sir Alex F Word that he can’t have the money cos the banks want it (Oh to have been there for THAT meeting) or this losing of players wasn’t as planned as it seemed. Of course Manchester will sign someone but their fans are worried, and they remember that Manchester has had their own spells of not winning.
The KGB in Fulham. Changing managers and bringing in a guy who in recent years has not exactly been the cream-maker slows things down. Of course they have the billions, but they have also proven that billions won’t buy the league every year. And players note those who have no shone under the KGBs pulating lights in the face and have withered away.
Liverpool Insolvency. Insolvency is the word. With Setanta not paying up, and the account that should have built the stadium down to the last £30m the owners are desperate to sell but no one wants to buy. The owners are dumping American assets like mad, which means that treacherous bankers are at last pushing a hard line. With Manchester IOU, Manchester Arab and the KGB in Fulham all willing to wave cheques everywhere, Liverpool can’t compete (witness Barry). Gerrard won’t go of course, but others might.
Manchester Arab. Looks like they have realised the stupidity of the ££££££££ offer for Kaka etc, and are now picking up players at the hypermarket with Barry and the like. They might just pip Liverpool I into 4th.
Aston Hold Your Head. Without the money to compete they resorted to tactics (holding the head if going down, playing the reserves in Russia) but in the end the tricks backfired. They’ve had their five minutes of fame.
The Tiny Totts. Harry Redknapp remains on police bail over issues of tax evasion and/or fraud – which he strongly denies. At Portsmouth the sell everyone no matter what the talent and bring in his own men, just about bankrupted the club (see below) and with a spot of luck might do the same to the Tinies.
Portsmouth. Peter Storrie, the executive chairman, is another still on bail, still denying everything. They have been taken to the very edge by Appy Arry’s dealing, and if the new owner doesn’t meet the fit and proper whatnot, they are going to be in deep deep mucky stuff.
Birmingham Done Nothing Wrong David Sullivan and Karen Brady celebrated wildly getting promotion, forgetting for the moment that they are on police bail on charges. They deny everything (sounds familiar). There is precious little cash lurking, and they are up for sale but could survive because of the weakness of others.
Everton No Democracy. Everton pulled down their training ground, built another one and expected the the local council to roll over as usual and give planning permission for housing on the old site. The council said no, leading Everton bosses to demand “who this little clique of unelected busy bodies” were, that could mess up their money making schemes. They were the people’s elected representatives actually. That left the club without the bonus money they expected, and still without the funds to build the much needed new stadium. You can never been sure what the first game of the season brings, but overall I doubt they are going anywhere at all.
Arsenal. We are looking good – a man who is highly rated in the position that needed bolstering has been got for a decent sum. There is calm stability which arises from a unique situation: Arshavin will be entering his first full season after a proper summer break (which he didn’t get last year) attuned to the EPL, and will luck Rosicky and Eduardo will be entering like new players – but of course are already integrated. If (and I admit it is a conditional) those two are ready, and Arshavin after a proper break and acclimatisation can build on what we’ve seen, then we now have four players that we didn’t have at the start of last season. Plus Denilson and Song who have come good. That’s over half a team. Bendtner and Vela really developed too, we’ve discovered yet another left back… I’d say “Looking promising”.
So, as it seems thus far, top four as before, although if Liverpool can’t buy and maybe lose someone, they might slip to be replaced by Manchester Arab. At the bottom Burnley ought to go back, along with Hull and perhaps Wolverhampton Wobbleyou.
- Arsenal has let in one more goal than at this stage last season, and that’s a disaster
- Arsenal continue to make more progress than the rest of the big seven
- Arsenal v Tottenham; the team and some rather jolly recent history
- We are running out of referees, and the reason is the PGMO.
- Arsenal v Tottenham: the key fact the media won’t to tell you – and why they won’t