Sunday, 10 May 2009
Worst Underachievement This Season? Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea, Newcastle, Man City or Arsenal?
This is a genuine question. Which of the clubs in the headline have "enjoyed" the worst season in 2009-10? A strong case can be made for each.
Let's begin with the obvious candidates, Newscastle. Monday is make or break time for the carToons and I can see their game of the season ending in a draw. If that happens, Newscatle really could be heading back to the Fizzy Pop, a desperately sad fate for a genuinely "Big" club. Newscastle, like Tottenham, should be held up as an example of what not to do if you want to succeed in football. Look at all the successful clubs down the years and there are two key components - stability at management level and developing home grown talent: Liverpool built a dynasty, an empire; Arsenal had a system and grafted on new players gradually over the years; Manchester United, of course, have had Ferguson and all of their success has grown out of the Beckham, Giggs, Scholes and Butt generation. Chelsea are the exception but then have Chelsea really enjoyed success? In terms of return for the money spent, the answer is arguably no. Meanwhile, the Barcodes have changed managers more often than the girls in the city change their underwear and don't seem to have any form of youth policy whatsoever. The result has been disastrous. King Kevin, King Owen, King Al, the monarchs come and fail but still the mistakes are repeated over and over and over again.
But has this year really seen Newcastle underachieve? Well the frightening truth is that, looking at the team, they are pretty much where they should be in the table. Tell me, now Given has gone, is there anybody in that Newcastle team who merits the description "pure class" or "brilliant" or even "a very good Premiership player"? Owen should be, but Owen is playing like a shot bolt, a broken thoroughbred with two lame hocks. Martins was meant to be, but I saw him playing in Italy before Newcastle signed him and I wasn't impressed. And apart from those? Mediocre is perhaps a generous description of the rest - a mixture of once weres, hoped to bes, might once have beens and never ever will bes. Underachievement? No, Newcastle's position represents a par performance for me, that's why I placed a bet on them to be relegated in December.
How about Man City? Well it is too early to judge. I desperately want City to fall flat on their faces but I suspect that won't happen. They have retained Hughes despite the temptation to get rid and stability is a key component for success as I have said. Also kids are coming through - Ireland, Richards, Johnson, Sturridge, with more waiting in the wings. When you look at the side, it is good already and will get better in the summer. Yes this season has been disappointing but the project is less than a season old. If the season has been used for "bedding in" the new signings, then it could be seen retrospectively as the prelude to a Caligula style orgy of excess. City dreams of Champions League football may not just be wet dreams after all!
The case for Chelsea is strong. Third place and an FA Cup is not good enough (assuming they beat Everton) but they were robbed by an appalling referee against Barcelona. Had Chelsea made it to the final for the second season running, that would have been acceptable, even if they then failed to win it. Something odd has been going on at Stamford Bridge. Abromovitch hasn't been chucking the money around as before and it may be, just may be, that he is getting bored with his little blue toy. who knows, he might be about to chuck his toys out of his pram, in which case, this year will be remembered fondly by Chelsea fans as one of the "death throws" of the Big Blue Monster.
Chelsea play Arsenal today in the smallest "big game" in the history of football. Chelsea will finish third by default, because Arsenal are not good enough, and Arsenal fourth because Villa ran out of steam. Today's match is of no consequence. And, like Liverpool, Arsenal will win zilch again this season. But is this underachievement? When you look at what Wenger has spent and the players he has lost, you have to say that Arsenal have done well to hold on to the coat tails of the bigger clubs above them. Based on transfer expenditure, Tottenham are now much the bigger of the two North London clubs, so Arsenal finishing so far ahead of their hated rivals is a triumph in itself. Add in a semifinal appearance in the Champions League and you have to say that this season represents, at worst, a par performance. Far from underachieving, this Arsenal side has over-performed and had they bought Arse Shavings last summer, they might have enjoyed a fantastic season. One thing is for sure, the Russian is the signing of the season. Spurs must be kicking themselves for not bidding higher when they were in the running for his signature. Moderateric or Arse Shavings, I know who I would rather have!
"Liverpool? Underachievers?" I can hear the Scousers squeal, "We stuffed your mob 3-0 yesterday!". Yes you did, and yes the performances in the last few weeks have been outstanding, but what happened in the middle third of the season when the pressure built up? Liverpool, from the manager down, cracked under the strain. What will Liverpool win this season? Absolutely nothing yet again, and that is disgraceful given the money spent and the presence of Torres and Gerrard in the team, two genuine World Class players. The brutal truth is this - Benitez has spent a massive amount to take Liverpool precisely nowhere this season. Second is not good enough. A quarter final exit in the Champions League is not good enough. Exiting the FA Cup to Everton is not good enough. Ok, the League Cup isn't worth mentioning unless you are a Tottenham fan, I accept. And who is to blame? The guy that no Liverpool fan seems to want to criticise. Benitez has blown it with poor rotation policies, poor signings and his stupid rant about the Mancs. You could hear Fergie sniggering as Benitez made his outburst. "Remember Keegan?" he must have said to his wife. "Here we go again!"
So Liverpool are my number two underachievers. No surprise in that, second is the best they can hope for in any competition these days!
And so we come to Tottenham "We are in Eighth and Above West Ham" Lukewarmspur. Let's wind the clock back to last summer. Do you remember? After signing Bentley, dos Santos, Gomes and Modric, this was finally going to be the year! Tottenham were going to finish above Arsenal and qualify for the Champions League. What could stop them? The team was brilliant and led by one of the greatest, most exciting, most tactically astute managers in the game. Oneday had guaranteed This Day, the Cockyfools would be crowing from the rooftops come May 2009. And what happened? I shouldn't laugh because my ribs were bruised in a footy game last week but honestly, the performance over the season has been truly risible!
A season that began with Arsenal in their sights is ending with the Cockyfools crowing because they might finish above West Ham. A season that began with Champions League aspirations has been spent largely securing Premiership survival. A season of hope turned into a season of angst and anguish. A season that began with a tactical giant as a manager is ending with Flash 'Arry in charge! Laugh, I could shit myself, but that's what Tottenham do when they come close to a successful season!
All that money spent and Tottenham are crowing about sitting in eighth place and that is underachievement with a capital U. So Cockyfools, crow away, you have won a trophy this season after all, the Top Underachievers. But hang on, that's a title you win nearly every season anyway!
Posted by Hammersfan at 13:55