From Prideless Park to the Allianz Arena
Wolves should really be off the bottom of the league, had they held on to three points at the Hawthorns last week.
This week and it is another vital game. Too often this season Wolves have done incredibly well to beat the best teams in the country but then let themselves down when it really mattered against the teams around them. Mick McCarthy is a grumbling Yorkshire type anyway, but you can see his point: In games against Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool this season Wolves have gained 12 of their 25 points. Against Wigan, West Ham, West Brom and Aston Villa (the four teams closest to them) Wolves have gained two points.
This weekend Blackpool travel to the Black Country. It is another chance to beat a side in trouble. Chances are running out.
With November/December’s postponements, this weekend is a rare opportunity for City to move forward whilst their compatriots stay still (only rivals United are playing in the League amongst the Top Four).
Roberto Mancini will know that five teams need to become four in the next three months, and you suspect that the Italian may be looking for pastures new if City are not one of those four. A home game against Fulham therefore becomes must-win, as does the avoidance of an injury to Joe Hart, with Shay Given potentially out until next season.
21st May 2005. It has been a long wait. Patrick Vieira put away his penalty and then moved to Juventus, Inter Milan and Manchester City.
But on Sunday Arsenal’s players can change all that for Wenger. They can win a trophy. Suddenly Mickey Mouse becomes Mickey Meaningful.
It may not completely remove the albatross from around Wenger’s neck if Arsenal win, but you can be sure that the weight would be doubled if Arsenal manage to engineer a defeat.
Let’s just say that it is Sunday, and West Ham have beaten Liverpool. Okay, so I know he is the second coming. And I know that Liverpool fans are cock-a-hoop (laaaa) about King Kenny’s Scouse renaissance.
Dalglish will have gained two points from Wigan (h), Everton (h), Blackpool (a) and West Ham (a). Hodgson got four points (still a poor total) from those reverse fixtures. Yes he beat Chelsea, but so did his predecessor. Yes he beat Wolves away but Hodgson beat Bolton away. Yes he beat Fulham and Stoke at home but Hodgson beat Blackburn, West Brom (when they were performing) and Napoli.
Hodgson massively underachieved and was rightfully removed. Kenny has started off well, but this is not the return of the Messiah, this is a work in progress.
Disclaimer: Please note that this is merely devil’s advocate stuff. I don’t want to start a war of words!
It is an oft-quoted sentiment that time is a valuable commodity in football. Try telling that to Nigel Clough at Derby County: He has had bucketloads of the stuff. After a decent start to the season, Clough’s Derby have plummeted down the Championship. Their record in the last fifteen games reads: Won 1, Drawn 3, Lost 11, For 10, Against 26.
Derby fans have been critical of the board, even staging protests, but star player Kris Commons left in January because he wanted to leave and was out of contract in the Summer. Clough has been able to bring in an amazing 42 players on loan or permanent deals during his reign, and the club has not significantly moved.
Clough has the chance to halt the slide at the Championship’s other crisis club Sheffield United. Our friend Eau de Savage will be hoping a change in fortunes is to appear.
Fans of the Bundesliga / Fans of football
Anyone who chose to watch Inter v Bayern on Wednesday rather than the dross from the Velodrome (and I award myself a big pat on the back) is to be congratulated, as we saw a Bayern side that put themselves in the driving seat to knock out the European champions.
It is not as easy on the domestic front, however, where Dortmund top the league by ten points, thirteen clear of Bayern. But after a dreadful start Brian Munchen have won ten of their last twelve games, scoring a crazy 40 goals in the process.
On Saturday there is no late Premier League game. I urge you to switch on to ESPN and watch Bayern at home to Dortmund. I cannot praise the German league enough for its watchability (I don’t care I it isn’t a word) and atmosphere. The big game in Europe this weekend is there for you to lap up, and I haven’t got a clue what the score will be!