Tag Archives: Football

Final Premier League Table 2010? Place your bets now…

So, there’s this theory. I stole it (I think) from Times journalist Daniel Finkelstein. It’s a pretty good theory and allows you to see the final Premier League table months before the season ends. Sceptical? Then, let me explain.

Order the Premier League teams after they’ve played 12 games (this process is harder than it sounds, because most sites don’t allow you to look at tables retrospectively – which means you have to keep the League tables for a couple of weeks).

Once you’ve worked out the maths – and every team in the table has played 12 games – you’re left with an ordered list. And this table, give or take a place or two, is likely to be the final Premier League table. Still sceptical?

Well, I heard about the theory a couple of years ago and – give or take a bit of movement – the theory was sound. There’s normally a couple of big changes (Hull dropping like a stone last year, Spurs zooming up the League). And as I said before, you have to have an accepted error of one or two places around most teams.

Which – if you look at the table below – is either Champions League or nothing (if you’re an Aston Villa fan, like me). And it’s time to get excited if you’re a Chelsea or Spurs supporter, and time to look away if you’re a West Ham, Pompey or Wolves fan. Anyway, here’s the [predicted] final table for 2009/10 (goal difference after 12 games in brackets, followed by points):

  1. Chelsea (21, 30)
  2. Arsenal (21, 25)
  3. Man Utd (11, 25)
  4. Tottenham (6, 22)
  5. Aston Villa (8, 21)
  6. Man City (7, 21)
  7. Liverpool (9, 19)
  8. Sunderland (1, 17)
  9. Stoke (-3, 16)
  10. Blackburn (-9, 16)
  11. Burnley (-10, 16)
  12. Fulham (-1, 15)
  13. Everton (-5, 15)
  14. Wigan (-9, 14)
  15. Birmingham (-4, 12)
  16. Bolton (-11, 11)
  17. Hull (-15, 11)
  18. West Ham (-4, 10)
  19. Wolverhampton (-10, 10)
  20. Portsmouth (-8, 7)

New look for an old blog

I’ve been updating my blog. Well, actually I’ve done some of the updating. The vast amount of grunt work has been done by my good friend Jonny – he is a very decent egg. The end result of this updating process is that the blog has been moved from one platform (Mr Site) to another (WordPress).

I am currently uploading old content to WordPress. Re-publishing this old stuff in a backwards chronology is a bit like living your life in reverse style – dead features lists have been re-born, Wimbledon is still rubbish. And Aston Villa are still about 6th in the Premier League (again).

Clive Tyldesley and oxen wrestling

So, England have qualified for the World Cup Finals. Good. But Clive Tyldesley? Bad, very bad.

Me and our Clive have a love/hate relationship. I could, of course, just turn the sound off. But shouting about his commentary is part of the fun. As a mate of mine said many years ago: “The best times in your life are shouting at the TV with your mates”. Sad but true – and it’s as true now as it ever was, even if the person you’re shouting with is your slightly scared two and a half year old daughter.

Anyway, I digress – Clive Tyldesley. Grrrr…

My God, does he have to talk so much? When Barry Davies retired, he was quoted as saying he felt there was not enough silence in modern football commentary.

Our Clive, on the other hand, has made a career of filling every potential second of airtime with words. He rarely commentates in the traditional sense; you don’t get “Lampard, to Rooney, to Barry…”

Instead, you get a running babble of facts, clichés and opinion. What you get is something like this: “John Terry will be the eighth captain to lead England to a World Cup Finals”.

So bloody what? I mean, who cares if he’s the millionth? What difference does it make? And anyway, how does our Clive know who’s going to be captain in 2010? It should be Terry but football – as Tyldesley is likely to remind us many, many times – is a funny old game.

But what’s really funny is his Wikipedia entry. There’s the disclaimer at the top of the page that declares: “This biography of a living person does not cite any references or sources. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately”. And at the end of the entry – in the ‘Other Work’ section – is this beauty:

“He has also wrestled oxen professionally.”

Catch it now. It probably won’t last for long. Unlike Tyldesley’s commentaries, which go on and on and on…

Wimbledon is rubbish

I love major sports events and major sporting venues. Actually, I love rubbish sports events and rubbish sporting venues, too.

I remember dragging my wife to watch Austrian non-league side FC Eurotours Kitzbuhel in a pre-season friendly. We were on holiday; it was her special treat. We’ve also watched old men bowling in Malta and she’s been spoilt with visits to a bunch of empty football grounds across Europe.

Sportplatz Kitzbuhel: Why my wife loves me

Sportplatz Kitzbuhel: Why my wife loves me

Sometimes major sporting venues are more than the sum of their parts. Snooker at The Crucible in Sheffield really has to be experienced. It’s a pretty awful theatre that – somehow – comes alive during the snooker. I think it’s the quiet intensity of having to sit in silence, watching a couple of blokes in suits smacking balls round a table with polished sticks.

Cricket at your regular haunt – Edgbaston, in the case of my youth – is also great. Especially during mid-week county matches, when the only people there are you, your unemployed mate and pensioners. And watching football live is always wonderful, of course.

But Wimbledon is rubbish. Thanks to our overuse of aerosols and rack-mounted servers, it’s normally too hot – despite everyone saying it always rains. And it’s always too busy. Unless you queue for 17 days, you can’t get on the main courts – which means you spend hours trailing round the minor courts, watching amateur British players lose stinky mixed doubles matches.

Other venues have an aura and a sense of excitement. Wimbledon doesn’t; it’s just full of people in caps, who eat too many strawberries and drink too much Pimm’s. It’s like the Chelsea Flower Show, actually – boring, busy and over-rated.

Don’t bother going to Wimbledon. It’s one of those rare events that’s actually more enjoyable on television. Again, like the Chelsea Flower Show.

Football reading group

I have only ever been in one reading group. It was several years ago and the group only read books on one theme: football. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it was a select group – just me and a couple of mates. The premise was fairly standard; read a different book about football each month.

It wasn’t as difficult to find books as you might expect. It wasn’t as boring as some of you might expect, either. Beyond the ghostwritten autobiographies and first person accounts of hardcore hooliganism, there’s a surprisingly excellent range of football books.

Saying that, however, the first book we read was Steve Claridge’s autobiography – a tedious tale of gambling, crap cars and rubbish performances for rubbish clubs. I refused to read the chapter on Birmingham City, which other members of the group said was ridiculous. But I have my standards.

The group lasted for a year-or-so before we ran out of ideas. There are only so many socio-economic accounts about the history of German football worth reading. Well one, actually: ‘tor!’.

In fact, the group split for good when one member suggested branching into cricket. I was vehement that I hadn’t joined a football reading group to read books about cricket. And that was that. But maybe it’s time for a re-start?

Emmanuel Eboué is just a small fish in a bigger prawn sandwich

“It was a moment that summed up the vein-bulging temper and perversity of the modern football fan,” begins David Hytner’s review of the Arsenal vs Wigan game  from last Saturday. “It perhaps went even further and offered pointers about society in general.”

Hytner was referring to Arsenal’s own fans booing Emmanuel Eboué for a series of mistakes. Eboué was eventually substituted. Whether the incident offered a broader comment on society is a moot point but I really liked this part of Hytner’s review:

“Blame the credit crunch. Attending matches is not cheap, especially in these parlous times and, after a hard week, some modern fans have no time for underperforming players, particularly not those who earn in a week what they do in a year. They pay their money, they bubble with indignation and they have a right to express their opinions. Loudly. Call it Wembley syndrome. The England players Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole would relate to that. Many supporters no longer feel the duty to support. They are now consumers and, if the product is not up to scratch, they wonder why they should tolerate it.”

Everyone is a consumer now; everyone is obsessed with consuming. Rather than being about cheap boiled sweets and empty stands, football is more about champagne and Sky’s TV money. The ordinary man (or woman) on the stands has been pushed to the side, not just by money-obsessed executives – but also by the game itself and its obsession with ‘markets’ and ‘consumers’. And that is the saddest thing of all.