For most of the season David Moyes has looked like a rabbit caught in headlights. There has been the wide eyed stare, not knowing what way to run or which direction to turn (okay, so from what we have seen, not much turning has been going on, just a lot of crossing), the indecision and being flattened from the speeding juggernaut– oh wait that just happened – I think it was called the 3-0 lost to Liverpool.
But, if you think about it, David Moyes is actually doing pretty well. If you look at what he achieved with Everton, he is bang on track for a successful season:
At the start of the 2013/14 Premier League Season, very few pundits and fans would have predicted the next 9 moths would be so entertaining. There has been the demise of Manchester United, the Liverpool renaissance, the closely fought battle for the 4 Champions League spots, and the multiple teams embroiled in the battle against relegation. However, what has proved to be the most entertaining story by far is the drama surrounding the Premier league managers.
It has been a long time since we have seen so many managerial causalities in one season. What makes this season even more unusual is the managers who have been brought in to ‘rescue the team’ are struggling – one manager has already been sacked (after 8 weeks in charge), at least two more are in the ‘last chance saloon’, and that’s before we pay any attention to the David Moyes situation at Manchester United.
You have supported the same team since you were 10 years old. Team posters used to adorned the walls of your bedroom, the clubs crest featured prominently on your duvet cover, you always pretended to be the teams star playing during the kick about with your friends, and your team’s players were the first thing you looked for when you got your hands on a new packet of Panini stickers.
You can’t remember why you ever became a fan – perhaps it was because they were the team that were winning everything at the time, or you liked the color of the kit, maybe your family had always supported them, or they just happened to be your local team (my local team was Reading….enough said). But whatever the reason, you had a team and you loved everything about them.
Its Valentines Day weekend and in honor of the romantic day I have created the special Premier League Valentines Day Eleven – consisting of the eleven players most fans love.
The eleven has nothing to do with looks, but has everything to do with the sheer skill, effort, ability, along with the desire to win that these players demonstrate for their sides on a weekly basis. Despite earning a 6 figure salary every week, these players lead by example, they give more than 100% every time they play, they are not arrogant, petulant or full of their own importance. These are the players, that no matter what team you support, you cant help but love them.
The Premier League Valentines Day Eleven – in the much loved 4-4-2 formation of course.
Subs: Tim Howard (Everton); Michael Carrick (Man Utd); Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea); Ricky Lambert (Southampton) Kevin Nolan (West Ham)
Manager: Tim Sherwood (Tottenham Hotspur)
Which players would you select for your Valentines Day Eleven?
With the FA Cup taking center stage this weekend, its time to look at part 2 of the Premier League Season, the story so far –
Having scored 63 goals this season, you would think Manchester City would be flying high at the top of the table, but they are currently one point behind Arsenal in second place. City are by far the best team in the league, their new manager looks like he has been at the club for years (as opposed to just 7 months), the players are in phenomenal form and yet they struggle away from home and have been prone to the occasional slip up. If they can start winning all their games, and handle the pressure of being in 3 cup competitions they will soon open up a sizable gap between them and the rest of the league, and their route to becoming champions turn into a walk in the park.
One of the surprise teams this season. Before the season started, this team had disaster written all over it. The manager had fallen out with the chairman, the technical director is a relic from the Stone Age, and half the team can’t even speak English. And yet they have defied all the odds to play some wonderful football and will be fighting for a top five finish.
It has been a football extravaganza over the past couple of weeks. I for one have been glued to the tv – watching the drama unfold over the crazy Christmas schedule and the upsets of the FA Cup – there have been many highs and lows for all concerned – the teams, the managers and of course us, the fans.
So with the season now past the halfway point, this is where the drama really starts to unfold and we begin to see the stress and strains of the Premier League run in, and what will prove to be make or break for a lot of teams. But before the hullabaloo really gets going, lets look back on the first half of the 2013/14 season and the story so far (Part 1) –
The gunners came out the gate running (in August), and caught many teams by surprise. They remain at the top of the table, but how long will they maintain this position? Theo Walcott is out for six months and their list of injuries continues to grow. The next few weeks will be critical to their title challenge and their fortunes may depend on their dealings in the Transfer window and how they perform during the crunch games against the bigger teams. I believe they will finish in the top four, but they will not be champions this season.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; it is still the embodiment of Christmas, told the world over. So what better way to celebrate the festive season with a Premier League version of the classic story.
The Christmas Premier League schedule is the busiest part of the season, games come thick and fast, teams travel up and down the country and if they are lucky players and the managers get at least Christmas day off to eat some turkey, enjoy several helpings of Christmas pudding, pull a cracker or two before collapsing in a heap and watching the Queens Christmas Message.
It is the managers who bear the brunt of the seasonal stress, so let us dedicate the Premier League Christmas Carol to them.
Bob Cratchit – Roberto Martinez (Everton) – Okay so he is not in such a pitiful situation that Cratchit was – overworked, underpaid – but he is dealing with a stingy chairman who offers very little in the way of money to buy new players.
When David Moyes took over from Sir Alex Ferguson many believed it would be business as usual – teams would come to Old Trafford expecting to loose, Robin Van Persie would be the leagues leading goal scorer and the team would be top of the table and 6 points clear by Christmas.
But something has gone horribly wrong, instead we find a team closer on points to the relegation zone than they are to the top of the table, have lost more games so far than they did for the whole of last season, goals are not coming easily and it is Arsenal who are 5 points clear at the top of the table going into the busy Christmas schedule.
Once upon a time, and not so long ago this fixture would have pitted top (Chelsea) against bottom (Southampton) and would have seen a humbling defeat for Southampton. This season however, 3rd (Chelsea) will play fifth (Southampton) in a top of the table clash.
Southampton, under new manager Mauricio Pochettino are under going some sort of renaissance, reliving their glory days from the early 1980’s when they knew what life at the top was all about. Many believe Southampton should enjoy it while it lasts. Despite having a very good victory against Liverpool and holding Manchester Utd to a 2-2 draw, they have yet to face the in-form teams. But they are about to come thick and fast, first up Chelsea, followed by Manchester City and Tottenham over the Christmas period, (although given Tottenham’s mauling at the hands of Manchester City last weekend, it is debatable whether Tottenham can be classed as “inform”). But the point is, whether it is possible for Southampton to maintain their amazing form and justify their fifth place position – if they can’t they had fun while it lasted, and one things for certain they will not be facing relegation this season.