Okay, so we had the World Cup to watch during the Premier League break, but that ended 3 weeks ago! We need live football action (and no, the International Champions Cup in the US does not count) luckily the football drought will soon be over and normal weekend action will be resumed – phew!!!!
Starting on August 16th the action and drama will return once more and with it comes new managers, new players, new teams, and new technology.
David Moyes has left the building…lets hope Manchester Utd can get back to where they belong. Quite frankly the local postman could have done a better job than the poor suffering Moyes, but in Louis van Gaal it looks like Man Utd are in pretty safe hands. Having already won titles with Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and overachieving with the Dutch team at this years World Cup (with a 3rd place finish) van Gaal has taken full command of the red devils sinking ship and has begun shoring it up nicely. If he can stay away from the ridiculous mind games inflicted by Morinho he should do just fine.
I am not Queens Park Rangers fan, but every Saturday I find myself sitting on the edge of my seat, checking the results, willing for QPR to win. I have no explanation as to why I do this but most fans always seem to have a team they would like to win the battle against relegation and a team they would like to see drop like a stone.
Okay, so a team should be for life and not just for Christmas (or in this case the run in) but there are exceptions to the rule, and the run in to the end of the season is one of them. So I have decided to briefly adopt QPR, a team I am willing to do well, a team I cheer as the results come in and as was this case this weekend (March 9th, 2013), I was pleased to see that for the first time since April 2011 they have won two consecutive games –come on!!!
Don’t ask me why I decide to give so much emotion to a team I don’t really care about for the rest of the season. It may be because I feel sorry for a team in their predicament; it may be because I feel they don’t deserve to be in such a mess, it may be I have an affinity for the manager. In this case it is Harry Redknapp – the man who is the king of leading clubs to the great escape and performing miracles to keep a team in the Premier League – he has done it before. Or maybe it is because I dislike the teams around them, and think they deserve to go done.
Whatever it is, I will be cheering for QPR to the bitter end and with only ten games to go, the battle is on to see who will survive.
Unless something unusual happens and a team suddenly begins to plummet down the table, (Blackpool are the only team in the previous 12 years to suffer relegation after being in 15th position or higher with 30 points still available) the main five contenders (given their place in the league) for the drop are –
Queens Park Rangers (position 20th, bottom with 23 points): the club has been bottom all season, and was bottom at Christmas – given the ‘Curse of Christmas’ – a name given to the trend where the team at the bottom at Christmas has been relegated – the odds are not looking good. But given their current good form, the easiest run-in of the bottom five clubs and the skill of the manager to recognize which players in his squad have the desire to fight and save the club they might stand a chance.
Verdict: It will come down to the last game of the season, but they will survive.
Southampton (position 16th, bottom with 28 points): Southampton has been struggling all season. They have the ability to play wonderful football and with a new manager at the helm they were starting to move up the table. However the honeymoon was short lived and they have only picked up 1 point from their last 3 games.
Verdict: They need to pick themselves up fast and start winning games again. But in my opinion they deserve to go down for sacking manager Nigel Adkins for no apparent reason.
Wigan (position 18th, bottom with 24 points): Wigan is a mystery. For the past two seasons they struggle all year and then suddenly come alive with about ten games to go, and start beating every one (in 2010/11 Wigan were bottom with ten games to go, they picked up 15 points from their last ten games and finished 16th). They absolutely killed Everton 3-0 in the Quarterfinals of the FA Cup and if they continue to play this way they should finish outside of the bottom three.
Verdict: Roberto Martinez and his players have been here before and claim ‘they know how to cope’. They have the quality to stay up, so lets hope they survive.
Aston Villa (position 17th, bottom with 27 points): Villa have failed to keep a clean sheet in their past 17 matches, they have the divisions worst goal difference and have been truly awful.
Verdict: they have been in the Premiership since 1988 and for such dire performances this season they should go down – please put everyone out of their misery, get relegated, and the Premier League will be glad to see them back again once they have sorted themselves out.
Reading (position 20th, joint bottom with 23 points): My home team, I feel sorry for Reading, a good team and a good manager but for lack of investment by this point of the season they have run out of steam. Reading manager Brian MaDermott highlighted the fact that the $10m Aston Villa paid for their leading goal scorer in the summer is more than he has spent on his entire team. Given the lack of experienced players and the fact that Reading have 6 meetings between the bottom five clubs between now and the end of the season, I think the writing is on the wall.
Verdict: given the lack of ambition and investment by the clubs owner they will be going back to the Championship.
Key Facts with 10 games to go:
37 Points Wigan have taken from their last 10 games over past two seasons
3 Times Aston Villa, QPR and Reading will play other bottom-five teams
12 Average league position of QPR’s opponents in remaining 10 games
6 Matches the bottom five have won between them in their last six games
3 Times a team have been above the bottom five with 10 games to go but been relegated (Blackpool in 2011, Wimbledon 2000, Sunderland 1997)
42 Highest points total for a relegated club since Premier League reduced to 20 teams – West Ham in 2003
33 Lowest points total for a club to stay up since Premier League reduced to 20 teams – West Brom in 2005
4 Occasions 40 points has been needed to ensure survival since 1995-96 (source Guardiannews.com)
Final verdict: Goodbye Aston Villa, Southampton and Reading.
QPR saw their five-match unbeaten run come to an end on Saturday as they lost 4- 1 to Swansea City.
Manager Harry Redknapp couldn’t hide his disappointment with the way his team defended, with keeper Julio Cesear – so impressive in keeping four clean sheets in the last five league games – responsible for conceding three of the four goals. Redknapp felt Swansea didn’t have to work very hard for their goals, and given the way QPR have defended in their last five games, it was a disappointing display from the team who are desperate for points to lift them out of the bottom three.
Michu scored for Swansea in the eighth minute, and ten minutes later Angel Rangel doubled their lead. QPR were desperate to get back on level terms and were not helped when the referee denied a clear-cut penalty. Redknapp brought on Bobby Zamora after half time in an attempt to change his sides’ fortunes, and in the forty-eighth minute Zamora slotted the ball neatly into the back of the net to reduce the deficit to 2-1. But that was where the comeback ended, Pablo Hernandez added a third for Swansea in the fiftieth minute and Michu got his second goal of the game in the sixty-seventh minute.
Swansea City enjoyed 61% of the possession and with stats like that; Redknapp knows his team was outplayed for most of the match.
Luckily for QPR the teams around them – Wigan, and Reading both lost, had those teams won the points difference between QPR and their rivals would have been almost impossible to make-up. As it stands, QPR remain four points adrift at the foot of the table with only twelve games left to play.
And sadly for QPR things aren’t going to get much better anytime soon – their next opponents on February 23rd– league leaders Manchester Utd.