And not a Roy Hodgson in sight
It is the biggest week of Roberto Mancini’s tenure at Manchester City. Do or die. Last weekend City were defeated by a side that hadn’t won since the opening day. Such cock-ups can simply not be afforded for a club looking for success and an owner looking for payback.
With the Manchester derby on Wednesday, Sunday’s trip to the Hawthorns becomes must win. If City get less than three points from the two games, Mancini might find a P45 on his desk come Thursday morning.
Spurs were class on Tuesday, teaching the European champions something of a lesson. But without wanting to p*ss on their fans’ chips somewhat, I suggest that there is need for a degree of caution. Spurs do sit in fifth place, but are as many points off Man United in third as from Wigan in 17th. Dropped points at home to Wigan and Everton followed midweek Champions League games. Concentration needs to remain paramount, as Bolton are a side that have lost just once at home this season.
Evidently Spurs are unlikely to win the Champions League. If glory nights like Tuesday are to remain, then games away at Bolton need not to be stumbling blocks in a pursuit of a top-four finish.
When ‘Big Sam’ stated that he would be better at a club like Real Madrid or Inter Milan where he would win titles easily, a new age of irony was born. Quite what the fashionistas of Milan would think of Blackburn’s current ‘hoof it and wrestle’ football (see Christopher Samba’s goal against Fulham in September) is open to opinion.
One suspects that Allardyce would be best keeping his own council flat bedroom tidy before asking to move into Simon Cowell’s mansion. Blackburn have won just once since the opening day, one clean sheet in the same period, and have only scored more than one goal in a game on one occasion all season.
With the least ambitious ownership in Premier League history seemingly close to a takeover, Rovers fans could do with a boost. A home win against Wigan on Saturday is expected rather than hoped for. I’m not sure it will necessarily be one for the neutrals, but Blackburn won’t care if they can get out of the relegation zone.
There have been hints recently that Torres may be returning to his old self, but we should not be lured in by a backheel assist. Torres still looked reasonably lacklustre against Bolton, and his recent record is still four goals in 20 games, with half of these against Liechtenstein.
Sunday’s game puts Torres against familiar opponents, and the striker has five goals in seven games against Chelsea. If Liverpool could force Chelsea to drop points, then the revitalisation at Anfield would be into second gear. For Torres it is a chance to gain confidence and form. Both have been sadly missing of late.
Being the manager of Crystal Palace is akin to Emile Heskey’s career: a hell of a lot of work put in with no control. After the terrible financial mess of last season, the club is hoping to find itself on an even economic keel, but the legacy of disaster remains. The club have an inexperienced squad pierced with loan signings, but the side has not gelled in any way. Conceding two goals per game on average, Palace have lost 9 of their 14 games in the league.
The 3-0 home defeat to Swansea portrayed the problems, with only two of ten outfield players having made more than eight appearances for the club before this season, and a distinct lack of quality on show.
Maybe Palace were spoilt with Neil Warnock last season, but a trip to the Riverside this weekend looks like the first Football League six-pointer of the season. George Burley will hope for a change.