Quickfire EPL Season Review Part 1


United ended the season in triumph.

So another Premier League season has come to a close, and it was one of the most closely contested in recent years. The quality may not have been the best – at least not at the top – but a pretty epic relegation battle has nevertheless seen three decent sides condemned to the Championship. So how will each team look back on this season? For a full account, you’d have to ask a fan of each club, but here’s a quickfire review of how I see the top ten – the bottom half follows later.

1. Manchester United (P38, W23, D11, L4, F78, A37, Pts80)
Well, a season in which you end up as champions can only really be called a success, but it will have hurt to end by being outclassed by Barca at Wembley and United weren’t as imperious as you’d expect of the leagye winners this season, so Sir Alex will know that he has a busy summer ahead of him if United are to improve and ensure they can remain on top next season.

Click through for the rest of the top ten…


Ian Holloway: A manager not allowed to manage?


Holloway prepares to watch his Blackpool side face Villa.

I’m amazed that there has been such a furore over Ian Holloway’s selection of a ‘weakened’ side against Aston Villa last week, a game that the Tangerines lost only very narrowly. It recalls the ridiculous fine handed to Mick McCarthy and Wolves last season for fielding a weakened team against Manchester United, a decision I criticised them too. At the end of the day, it boils down to this: who has the right to decide whether or not a player is good enough to play for any given Premier League team?

Because ultimately, all Ian Holloway has done is picked a team of Blackpool players to play for Blackpool. Those 11 players were all registered with the club and with the Premier League. By the laws of the game and the competition Holloway is well within his right to play them. Hell, with the introduction of the 25-man squad rule this season, surely the football authorities should be pleased that Holloway is utilising the younger players in his squad.

Click through for the full article…

Life after Capello: O’Neill for the top job?


Would O'Neill be a good successor to Fabio Capello for England?

Fabio Capello was yesterday honoured by the BBC as the Sports Personality Coach of the Year and that’s testament to what really has been an impressive transformation of England’s fortunes by the Italian. However, Capello has previously suggested that this will be his last job in management whether or not he wins the World Cup and so, while I remain full of hope that his reign will end on a high, I today had my thoughts turned towards possible successors.

Watching a replay of Aston Villa’s momentous triumph over Manchester United on Saturday evening I was really impressed by Aston Villa’s performance and the way in which they took the game to the Champions. Most incredibly though, was that aside from Brad Friedel and Stylian Petrov, the entire starting lineup was British, and (from memory) seven of them actually English. I couldn’t help thinking upon this realisation – and my apologies to Villa fans here – that Martin O’Neill would be the perfect successor to Fabio Capello.

Click through to find out why…

Are the ‘big four’ crumbling?


Chelsea's defence undone for a third time by Everton: are they crumbling?

Last week Manchester City came from behind to beat Chelsea by two goals to one and many a football pundit saw that as proof that, despite all the draws and flattering to deceive, the Eastlands Billionaires could be a real threat to the ‘big four’ this season. Thus, after Everton’s injury-decimated side also matched Chelsea with a 3-3 draw yesterday, the same logic could be used to suggest that my beloved Toffees too, could realistically hope to breach the big four this season.

Such logic is clearly flawed though, because even as an Evertonian I’m realistic enough to know that we pose no threat to the Champions League spots and City’s inability to beat Bolton yesterday has seemingly confirmed that they too lack the necessary consistency to ‘break’ the top four. However, I still think we may see an unfamiliar team near the summit of the Premier League this season, considering Chelsea’s recent stutters alongside those of the other ‘big four’ clubs, it could be argued that they are not as untouchable as they have been in recent seasons.

Click through for the full article…

WDKF Wednesday: A Gamble & A Heartbreak


WDKF Wednesday Topper
I hope you’ll forgive the late arrival of this week’s WDKF Wednesday article, I did fear I wouldn’t get it posted on Wednesday at all because we have somehow contrived to exceed the download cap of our broadband plan and so have been operating on dial-up speeds for the past few days. Up until now it hasn’t been a problem but today everything has gone wrong and for some reason WordPress refused to load properly on my laptop so I could only publish blank posts, strangely. I’ve comandeered a flatmate’s laptop though and have had more success.

So now my weekly article at We Don’t Know Football is at last up and ready for your inspection. This week I’ve looked at the the decisions of a couple of Premier League footballers regarding transfers to Manchester City in the season before a World Cup summer and discussing whether or not it is a gamble worth taking. Click through, have a read and leave a comment to let me know whether or not you agree.

Click through to read my WDKF Wedenesday article…

Daylight Robbery

Everton were literally crowded out at Villa Park, with 12 men playing their 11.

Everton were literally crowded out at Villa Park, with 12 men playing their 11.

It is 2.57am in New Zealand as I write this, and I have an alarm set for 6 o’clock to get a ferry in the morning. However, having just seen Everton robbed of three points by Aston Villa feat. Howard Webb I feel compelled to expel some of the frustration that is coursing through me here.

The game summed up two different styles of football. Everton played entertaining, stylish and passing stuff, it was slick and at times beautiful. From the off, Villa couldn’t handle it and so they turned on the muscle, flying into challenges and jumping all over Fellaini, Cahill and Jo who were a constant threat.

Click through to discover in full the injustice of the match at Villa Park…

Premiership Conclusions



1. Top Four or Top Six?
After watching my Everton side completely outclass Wigan today as well as seeing Aston Villa run Man Utd very close at old Trafford, I felt that the question must be considered – are we now privy to a ‘top six’ rather than a ‘big four’ in the Premier League?

Having seen Everton and Villa staying well in touch with Arsenal in particular this season, and witnessing a number of very close matches between Everton, Villa and the ‘big four’, it certainly seems that the gap in quality between them is closing. Indeed, if Arsenal are still considered to have an outside chance of the title, then one could legitimately say that Villa and Everton aren’t far away either. It is the gap beneath fifth and sixth place though, that really emphasises the gulf developing between the ‘top six’ and the rest.

Wigan are now 10 points behind Everton, and West Ham are still seven points adrift in seventh place. What’s more, both of these two clubs, until relatively recently, would not have considered themselves safe from relegation. Indeed, arguably only the top six Premier League clubs have not felt the real threat of relegation this season. Many will suggest that perhaps Villa and Everton are in a ‘league of their own’ at the moment, ahead of the majority but still behind the ‘big four’.

They may have a point, because Villa and Everton do not have, at the moment, the depth of squad necessary to mount a title challenge, which the ‘big four’ do possess. However, the gap seems to be closing each season, and with the supposed ‘evening up’ of monetary reward between the Champions League and Europa League from next season, we may well soon see the Premier League as ‘six and the rest’.

Click through for three more conclusions from this weekend’s action…