Soapbox: bye bye Premier?


We can all envisage the nightmare scenario at 10 to six on Sunday: the scores stand at Aston Villa 1 Newcastle 1 … Hull 0 Man United 1 … Sunderland 0 Chelsea 5.
Suddenly, three last-second penalties are awarded: to Hull, the Mags and us. You can work out the rest: Cisse sends the goalie the wrong way but hits the post, Hull survive on equal goal difference, but more scored, and the Mags climb above us.
Pete Sixsmith, disconsolate and angry after last night’s shambles at Fratton Park, actually thinks it will be even more clear cut. His seven-word verdict last night did not have the defensive horror show “threatens” relegation but “means relegation”; only my editing made it less pessimistic;. Similarly, there was no question mark in his suggested headline for this piece. What follows is not for the faint hearted …

When I started doing these pieces 18 months ago, Colin said he wanted thoughtful and reflective articles, done after the din of battle had died away and there was time to take a long view. You could work out your emotions, positive and negative, and give a balanced and calm verdict on what you had seen, thereby enabling readers all over the world to get the considered view from the world’s greatest football club.

Well ******** to that.

I am sat writing this at 11.00pm on Monday having just watched the team throw away a one goal lead, a place in the Premier League and the possibility of any worthwhile investment from Ellis Short.

I am angry. I am frustrated. And I truly, truly believe that we will go down on Sunday and that the Mags will stay up.

For the second game running the opposition invited us to win the game in the first half. The team that Paul Hart picked was there to be taken – Kanu, slower than an arthritic tortoise, Utaka no idea of how to play off Crouch, Campbell dreaming of a sun kissed contract abroad. And what did we do? Same as at Bolton. Put the ball over the bar, didn’t arrive quickly enough in the box to support Kenwyne, showed no urgency or initiative.

Hart’s team talk at half time must have been along the lines of: “Well, they’ve had their chance. Let’s go out and play some football.” Kanu put on his slippers and lit up his pipe and Traore came on to put the fear of God up our defenders. After five minutes of the second half, I feared the worst and began to read the letters page in Rugby League Express, not wanting to see what I suspected would happen.

Then we scored. A good goal and our first in the League outside the North East since before Christmas. I punched the cushions, wriggled about, the cat shot me a dirty look and scuttled off upstairs and I began to think of the calm and relaxed atmosphere on Sunday with 42,000 chortling as the Mags slid away.

It’s amazing what can pass through your mind in a minute, because that’s all we held the lead for. Woeful defending allowed Utaka (as prolific a goalscorer as Darryl Murphy) to get in front of his marker and score. Never mind the red herring of Alan Wiley’s mysterious whistle; it was rank bad defending, only to be surpassed a few minutes later by Ferdinand who gave the ball away and allowed Utaka a clear run at goal. From a goal up and ecstasy to a goal down and deep, deep depression.

Ferdinand has gone to pieces as the season has unwound and has been dreadful recently. The back four is horribly exposed by pace (Bolton didn’t have any) and I dread to think what Drogba and Anelka will do to them on Sunday. Distribution from the back is abysmal, putting continued pressure on the midfield.

Still, a point would do and we had chances, but by this time we had reverted to lumping the ball up to Jones and he is not that kind of player. I thought he had a good game and you can see why other managers like him. Once Cisse came on, Jones became diminished and although we had chances, I had no confidence that we would score.

The third goal was academic; we can’t go down on goal difference, but it showed what a soft touch we are and must encourage Shearer and the Toon Morons for Sunday

We will certainly lose on Sunday and I think that Hull and That Lot will win. Yet another relegation, one which was totally avoidable even after Keane walked out. I have no sympathy for the players bleating about “We don’t want a relegation on our cvs”. No? Well try to do things like passing accurately, tackling firmly, hitting the target with shots and not playing like a bunch of cissies.

I do have some sympathy for Sbragia, but he is not adventurous enough and he must realise that this lot can’t hold on to a dog lead, never mind a goal lead. Quinny must be shocked and horrified at this debacle. There are few more honest and genuine people in football and he must despair of ever seeing this club achieve anything. I know I have.

3 thoughts on “Soapbox: bye bye Premier?”

  1. For no logical reason, my glass is half full for a couple of minutes.
    The greatest joy (so my memory tells me) is to see your team score and win. In the Championship, we should win a lot more than we lose and play ‘real’ football clubs with genuine supporters (unless the Mags go down as well).
    In the Premiership, pretty choc a bloc with overpaid selfish a***holes, it is all about fear and losing more times than we win. In order to hit the top 6 you have to spend, spend and keep spending just to keep up.
    Maybe relegation isn’t that bad as long as we come back up again, and again, and again.
    I’ve worked hard down here in West Essex to build up a significant fan base – well, not actual ‘fans’, but certainly lots of people who now take an interest in how my team do. I certainly get the sympathy vote.
    (Hi Pete. You did ask for a comment.)

  2. If only we could all share your belief John. Logically you’re right but I will harbour serious concerns until Villa, Man U or – OK, this is the fantasy part – us are out of reach.

  3. Once again last night was a disappointment, one of many we have experienced this season.Our inability to vaguely threaten our opponents goal has cost us dearly.My own opinion is that this is down to the ineptitude of our strikers and Rico being unable to hit a ball without putting it into outer space rather than good defending by any of the other teams we have played.
    The underachievement of this group of players should never be under-estimated.I only wish they were on some kind of performance related pay.Maybe then they might at least attempt to feign interest in the plight of our club as some of them shamelessly pick up their wages.Some still baffle me as to their purpose on a football pitch.
    For what it is worth I thought we played reasonably well last night.We were badly let down by incompetant defending and our usual pathetic efforts in the opposition box.Other than that we played the ball around well and created well from midfield. This is an unforgiving league and the result was not surprising even when playing an ordinary team like Portsmouth.
    We move on to the last game of the season which could condemn us to another relegation.I say that as I counted up all the drops that I have experienced as a fan since I started supporting the club and it amounts to 7. If you add another 4 from Ayr United you can see why most of my football supporting career is surrounded by abject misery.
    The happy pills however have been doing their duty and I genuinly believe that we will be safely in the EPL next season.The whole senario that would require us to take the drop is just too unlikely and I cannot seriously believe that the Mags and Hull will both win bearing in mind who they are playing.Villa are still a decent side and are striving for 5th spot and Man U will probably put out a weakened team but will still be good enough for Hull.The Mags haven’t won away from home in 5 months and Hull have won once since November,form that will ensure that one of them will take the drop.Trust me will be safe come Sunday night.

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