Mind the gap

I hate it when I don’t blog for a while.  I really enjoy writing but it’s almost been two months – without checking that’s probably the longest I have been without posting since I first started in 2007.

I have had lots of things I wanted to write about – a wonderful and intriguing trip to Montenegro, girls lost in Nigeria, stuff I’ve read in the Bible, books I’ve read, UKIP, the Premier League run in……

……but I just haven’t had the mental energy to sit down and get something down.  So I’m just getting one post out there this morning in the hope that it smooths the way for my brain to get psyched up for another post in a day or two.

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Premier League Prediction

It’s been a strange Saturday for football, no Premier League or Championship and loads of postponements.  So I thought I’d have a little prediction at how the Premier League is going to finish.  Being an unfortunate Villa fan the season is a bit more ‘interesting’ than recent years.  I think from 10th to 18th is going to be really tight.  Here are my predictions….any other thoughts?

  1. Manchester United   92pts
  2. Manchester City   79pts
  3. Chelsea   76pts
  4. Arsenal   73pts
  5. Tottenham Hotspurs   69pts
  6. Everton   62pts
  7. Liverpool   59pts
  8. West Bromwich Albion   53pts
  9. Swansea   48pts
  10. Southampton   43pts
  11. Norwich   43pts
  12. West Ham United   41pts
  13. Fulham   40pts
  14. Sunderland   39pts
  15. Newcastle United   39pts
  16. Stoke City   38pts
  17. Aston Villa   38pts
  18. Wigan Athletic   37pts
  19. Queens Park Rangers   34pts
  20. Reading   25pts

Premier League Predictions

It’s the turn of the Premier League today.  Just a few more days till kick off after a great weekend of Football League action.

Anything could happen but here are my predictions:

  1. Chelsea (Champions)
  2. Manchester United
  3. Liverpool
  4. Everton
  5. Manchester City
  6. Arsenal
  7. Tottenham Hotspur
  8. Aston Villa
  9. Fulhum
  10. West Ham United
  11. Sunderland
  12. Blackburn Rovers
  13. Wigan Athletic
  14. Wolverhampton Wanderers
  15. Stoke City
  16. Birmingham City
  17. Bolton Wanderers
  18. Hull City (Relegated)
  19. Burnley (Relegated)
  20. Portsmouth (Relegated)

What do you reckon?  I do love a good bit of debate and disagreement.  On the other hand, I love flattery and encouragement so feel free to say that I have got it spot on and am a genius pundit.

Out with a whimper

I spent much of this Premier League season haughtily publishing the top few places of the league table.  You may have noticed I haven’t done this for a while, for obvious reasons.  Out of our last 14 league matches we managed to win only twice!  Absolutely pitiful.  Just how poor we had become was totally evident yesterday as we only managed to limp past a disgracefully bad Newcastle through a flukey own goal.

The extent of the damage was masked by our terrific first half of the season.  Martin O’Neill must build the side over the summer if we are to have a chance of maintaining our top 6  ranking again.  I can see Man City, Tottenham, Fulham and West Ham being very strong next season.

It’s gonna be great to have three West Midlands sides in the top flight and I desperately hope Sheffield United will join us after today’s play off final.  I was genuinely gutted to see West Brom go down.  They are a great side and I’ve become quite fond of them since I started working in West Brom in September.

So, for your viewing pleasure, here is the final Premier League table to the 2008-9 season:

  1. Manchester United   90pts
  2. Liverpool   86pts 
  3. Chelsea   83 pts
  4. Arsenal   72pts
  5. Everton   63pts
  6. Aston Villa  62pts
  7. Fulham   53pts
  8. Tottenham Hotspurs   51pts
  9. West Ham United   51pts
  10. Manchester City   50pts
  11. Wigan Athletic   45pts
  12. Stoke City   45pts
  13. Bolton Wanderers   41pts
  14. Portsmouth   41pts
  15. Blackburn Rovers   41pts
  16. Sunderland   36pts
  17. Hull City   35pts
  18. Newcastle United   34pts    R
  19. Middlesborough   32pts    R
  20. West Bromwich Albion   32pts    R

The Blades will blow it again

Who would have thought that it would be Neil Warnock who would be thwarting Sheffield United from gaining promotion to the Premier League?  You couldn’t have written it, but as the Blades line up against Crystal Palace tomorrow they will be within 90 minutes, plus some crucial injury time, of returning to the top flight.

But they won’t achieve it.  Not because of Warnock but because Sheffield United always bottle it.  Whenever they reach a defining moment in their history they buckle and collapse:

1.  FA Cup 1993.  Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Sheffield United.  The most intense steel city derby in my memory and it was the FA Cup Semi-Final.  Win this one and you get bragging rights for a decade but United couldn’t raise their game and Wednesday went on to make their second final of the season (losing both ha ha!)

2. Premier League 1994. Chelsea 3-2 Sheffield United.  At half time on the last day of the season United were well clear of relegation but then it all changed.  Everton came from 2-0 down to beat Wimbledon 3-2 and United conceded a late goal at Chelsea.  All they needed was a point but they had blown it.

3. Premier League 2007. Sheffield United 1-2 Wigan Athletic.  I know that it was all totally unjust with the Carlos Tevez thing and that West Ham United should be in the Champtionship right now but when all you need is a point at home against a weak Wigan side then you have only got yourself to blame.

Tomorrow Birmingham will fail to beat Reading leaving the door open for United to take their place in the Premier League.  I wish I could say they will grasp the opportunity but they won’t.

Football out of the Olympics please

The International Olympic Committee may be giving football a big kick out of the Olympic programme if the sport fails to improve its drug tesing procedures.  All other Olympic sports must provide the whereabouts of their athletes every single day of the year and football must do the same.  However, UEFA and FIFA say this infringes on the privacy of players during the short off season they get.  They boast that there are over 25,000 doping tests within football each year.

Let’s just take a little look at these two statements.  First of all, the effects of drugs taken during the off season will have a huge effect on the recovery of footballers and also help them to maintain their fitness.  It would be foolish to claim that drug abuse does not happen when there are millions of pounds at stake for each of these players if they don’t make the grade when the season starts in August.  I think the fact that footballers rarely get caught does not at all show they are clean but simply highlights the weakness of the testing procedures.  Many footballers cheat on the pitch, I think it is safe to assume they will cheat off the pitch also.

If I disect the statistic mentioned earlier:  The biggest five leagues in the world are the Premier League, the Championship, La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga.  Between them they have approximately 2,500 players.  If the 25,000 tests were spread between them that would be only 10 tests each player per year.  Then you have other big leagues to throw in from Europe, Asia, South America, North America, Africa and Oceania and you can see that each professional player will only be tested a few times each.  I know that a track and field athlete will have dozens of tests each year.  What is football trying to hide?

I guess I am biased though.  I think it is ridiculous and disrespectful to the Olympics that football uses the tournament as an Under 23 championship.  It doesn’t go anywhere close to empodying the Olympic spirit and I would not be at all sorry if it lost its place (along with Tennis – PLEASE!)  The Olympics is the greatest event in the world and all sportsmen and women should treat it as such.

Frustrating Villa

Aston Villa  2   Stoke City  2

I cannot believe we let slip two goals at home to Stoke with less than two minutes to go.  No disrespect to Stoke but considering the standard I have got used to this season, that is so embarrassing!  Mr O’Neill must be tearing his hair out after throwing away the UEFA Cup midweek.  There are no excuses for today we should have been fresh and strong at the end because of the players rested against CSKA but we were the team that fell away.  I just hope 6 points are enough to hold off Arsenal.

Stiliyan Petrov