Today I bring you a guest blog that I wrote for World Football Commentaries which responds to the recent sacking of Chris Hughton from Newcastle and Sam Allardyce from Blackburn. It’s that time of year again where managerial casualties always tend to come thick and fast, and this article looks at why that is, and whether the decisions by the owners of those two clubs to wield the managerial axe were at all justified.
Well, I suppose you can always count on the opening day of the season to bring your pre-season optimism crashing down to earth can’t you? After a great pre-season Everton lost 1-0 to Blackburn today, dashing our hopes of getting off to a good start in the League for the first time in a long while. On the bright side, I suppose it’s better than last season’s 6-1 loss to Arsenal, and not as bad as Wigan, West Ham or West Brom’s starts, but with such high expectations before the match, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.
Obviously, it is not the end of the world though. This was the first game of a long season and many teams will get beaten by Blackburn at Ewood Park this season. However, if Everton are to have the superb season that we need to have, and that this squad has the potential to deliver, we need to change the way we approach matches like this. We weren’t at our best today, and Blackburn defended well, but I would have liked to have seen more ambition from Moyes going into this match.
You might well say it’s a bit early to be drawing conclusions from this weekend’s Premier League action given that there’s still plenty of fixtures to be played tomorrow and Monday, but I think we can safely say that Saturday’s action both on and off the pitch has given us plenty to be discuss to be going on with. Plus, tomorrow is likely to be both my last day with an internet connection for some while and very busy, so there’s no time like the present.
To business at hand then and as I said yesterday, this season’s Premier League action is proving to be nigh on impossible to predict. We’ve now had two weekends full of surprise results and the established order that has developed over so many years seems to be quickly unravelling. It’s hard to know what to make of it at times but I think at least some conclusions can be cautiously made.
Good day Ladies and Gentleman, and welcome to the first part of my Premier League Preview. Over the next few days I’ll be looking in detail at all of the twenty teams that will compete in the Premier League this season, with a view to providing a comprehensive preview to what should be an exciting season. First up today are Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers.
For each team I’ll be looking at where they finished last season, and what their aims for the forthcoming campaign might be. I’ll then analyse how successful I think they might be with regard to their strengths and weaknesses, an analysis of their summer transfer activity so far and by picking out one key player per club. Finally, I’ll make a prediction as to where they shall end the season, come next May.
Portsmouth vs. Everton
Last week Portsmouth and Middlesbrough played out a draw that did neither side much good, and they’ll see it as an opportunity missed. Pompey’s game against Everton today should be much tougher, but the Toffees will not be taking their trip lightly as they know that they face a team scrapping for their survival, and that can bring out the best in some teams. Everton’s injury list continues to hamper them with Yobo the latest to squeeze into the treatment room, with Tony Hibbert and Tim Cahill also nursing knocks. Who knows how Moyes will squeeze a side together, but so far this season they have kept producing results and I believe they may repeat the trick again today. It’ll be a battle though.
Blackburn Rovers vs. West Ham United
West Ham sit pretty in seventh in the Premier League and can look at Blackburn’s perilous position with smug glee all over their faces: it could so easily have been them. Zola has worked his magic, but this will be a tough trip for the little Italian’s side. They’re starting to pick up some end-of-season niggles as the season catches up with them and they may not fancy it today against a physical Rovers side. Allardyce will have his team fired up for their scrap for survival and home games will be the key. They will want to make the most of a home advantage and will probably outfight the Hammers today.
Man City overcame AaB Aalborg on penalties yesterday after slumping to a 2-0 defeat in the second leg. The club-formerly-known as a yo-yo club and now derided for being the World’s Richest Club came very close to being Eliminated from the UEFA Cup, and indeed any travelling fans must have thought they’d blown it when Evans conceded a late penalty. But it is a wonder they are there at all, when you think about it.
Manchester City were, according to the final Premier League table, the 9th best team in English football last season. The ‘big four’ took the four Champions League places, Everton and Villa finished 5th and 6th respectively, qualifying for the UEFA Cup, and Portsmouth won the FA Cup (and finished 8th) to secure their passage in European competition. Blackburn Rovers, who finished 7th in the Premier League last season, didn’t qualify for the UEFA Cup.
A two part investigation to analyse the difficulties that football faces in maintaining and improving its standard of refereeing.
For a few days now I have been intending to write a piece about the difficulties of introducing goal-line technology and suggesting that ultimately, it would probably produce more problems than it proposes to solve, with regard to the integrity of refereeing decisions in football. However, after watching Everton’s match against Blackburn this morning and witnessing the propaganda like effect that Sam Allardyce’s ridiculous allegations had on the officiating of the match, I have come to truly realise just what a sticky situation refereeing is in.
As such, I will present two articles, one that criticises the impartiality of refereeing and acknowledges the need in football for an improved standard of officiation through eliminating the bias that is so predominant through so many high profile matches; and another that argues against the effectiveness of a proposed system for the eradication of human error with regard to goal-line decisions in these high profile matches. The truly bizarre thing, is that I believe strongly in both arguments, even though they appear to argue against one another. I will present both conclusions and simply invite you, the reader, to decided whether they are at odds, or whether there may be a solution to appease both, and save football from ever-lower standards of refereeing.