This week’s photo is of my dog, Mollie the Collie, refusing to come in after a twenty-minute kick around in the back garden. It was 12-12 and she wanted a ‘next goal wins’ outcome, I wanted a cup of tea and a sit down.
Top of the pile in the tsf.tech league this week is Nikita with a nifty 74 points, making JD Sallinger proud, with a handy 19 points from Son’s cameo versus Leicester. Niall and Reece bagged 70 points each whilst the two Pauls hauled in 69 points.
I was personally delighted to see Paul B with 69 points. Paul is a long-standing, long-suffering Norwich City fan (aren’t they all?), who recently bought the yellow and green carpet from the club trophy room, sold on eBay for £50, after the trophy room was closed as it just wasn’t being used and turned into a storage room for the corner flags, nets and cones. It was fifty years old, but like new, the room hasn’t been opened since 1986 so after a quick dusting, it’s great he said.
This offset his disappointment when Norwich’s latest sponsorship deal, a new contract with the dog-food firm Spillers was cancelled. An FA spokesman said that it would be fraudulent to have Norwich players with Winalot on their shirts. Elsewhere in the Beck household, Michael’s tumbling from first to second in the table flummoxed everyone, but surely the new leader, Ron, will run out of steam soon. Scott bounced back from the previous week’s low score to edge third, but it’s still early days yet. It’s worth noting that Michael’s and Ron’s teams have nine out of eleven players in common.
It’s a pesky international break this weekend, after The Queue disrupted our fixtures last week, feast yourselves on the Nations League and can you then let me know what the qualification rules are? England play on Friday, suffice to say Gareth Southgate’s rabble, savagely battered 0-4 in June by Hungary are in serious trouble of relegation. Wales will fall out of the A tier should they not beat Poland on Sunday. No doubt Gareth Bale is playing golf so unavailable. With a first appearance at the World Cup for 64 years looming, I’m not sure the Welsh will care anyway.
Northern Ireland are also battling to escape the drop. They have to at least match Cyprus’s two results this coming week, else it’s Andorra, Liechtenstein and San Marino in the group of minnows. Northern Ireland’s all-time record in the Nations League is zero wins in 14 attempts so probably best to keep expectations in check. All of which leaves us with Scotland, who will be promoted to the top tier next week if they manage to beat Ukraine (twice) and the Republic of Ireland.
With the Human Rights World Cup sabbatical looming – from November 12 to December 26 – the Premier League table will be an uneven, unsatisfying jumble for some time. There will be no mid-winter break this season due to the World Cup, so that’s one thing. It’s hard to extract too much narrative from this particular set of data currently other than another trophy for Man City looks on wash-rinse-repeat, but by running the numbers through our RonManagermetrics™ supercomputer I’m confident it won’t be Leicester top of the pile.
What’s happened to Leicester? I’m passionately against fox hunting but these foxes seem to be shooting themselves. Leicester are bringing up the rear after giving up on the whole enterprise of being a football club – signing players, marking at set-pieces, scoring goals, winning games stuff like that. Will Deluded Brendan survive much longer? Check him out Deluded Brendan In a recent interview he claimed Look, I take over clubs, have success then get bored. Give me Manchester City and I’d have them back in the Europa League in no time. By the way, I didn’t want the Chelsea job in case you were wondering. The next/first assignment for under-fire boss Brendan Rodgers/new manager Sean Dyche will be a Monday night Midlands derby Leicester (W0 D1 L6) v Forest (W1 D1 L5) where under-fire boss Steve Cooper/new manager Sean Dyche battle it out for 20th/19th at the end of the evening.
Then there’s Aston Villa, who have spent an absolute fantasy fortune, and saw off Southampton in a match broadcast on Sky Sports, described by Jeff Stelling as up there with the worst ever PL games. Great endorsement for the monthly £33.99 subscription. And what about Steven Gerrard? Is he successfully instilling some much-needed grit in his side, or sending an expensively-assembled team out to play meat-and-potatoes football? The jury remains out. Rafa Benítez, ghost of sackings yet to come, has now reappeared in the media and may warm up those Midlands hot seats further.
Whenever I think of Everton, my mind immediately gravitates towards thoughts of the passion and noise of their fans when we’ve been to Goodison over the years. Many of the loyal Evertonians need a good hair cut though, therefore it makes obvious sense they would team up with Turkish outfit and top-tier industry professionals Vera Clinic as their first Official Hair Transplant Partner. One in the eye for those Old Trafford suits and then some. Vera, the club declares, will be visible around Goodison Park on a matchday, allowing fans to contemplate whether a new top knot will boost their confidence while witnessing their latest on-pitch travails. Vera board member Kazim Sipahi blurted The reason behind our success in the hair transplant sector in Turkey is that we attach great importance to teamwork. Likewise, any success in football has to come from teamwork. With that kind of synergy, what can go wrong? Beats an Amazon documentary hands down.
As we are getting into the season now, a few things are coming to my attention, most notably double-barrelled names and the number of coaching staff on the bench – together with just how many arm-crossing coaches there are now. John Cooper-Clarke has always been a favourite of mine, and back in my youth Ian St John and Ian Storey-Moore were the only footballers with double names. Now every club has a double-barrelled named player which must make it hard work for those printing the player names on the back of shirts in the club shop.
It started with Sean Wright-Phillips, but now we have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at Liverpool, Ruben Loftus-Cheek at Chelsea, Ainsley Maitland-Niles at Arsenal, Kyle Walker-Peters at Spurs, Trent Alexander-Arnold at Liverpool, Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Everton. Don’t they all sound awfully upper class? Must have gone to good schools. I’m just glad Jacob Rees-Mogg doesn’t play football.
The clubs are so rich these days, they have loads of background staff who sit in rows two and three on the bench behind the manager. When Burnley played at the Etihad last year, I counted 27 support staff on the City bench. The average is five video analysts, ten goalkeeper coaches, five throw-in coaches. There must also be someone who takes the half-time pie & brew order too.
At Arsenal, the manager has a hand-over-his-mouth coach to check his hand is over his mouth when talking rubbish in Spanish to his staff, so the cameras can’t pick it up. At Chelsea and Spurs, Potter and Conte also have their own arm-crossing coach. He has to make sure they always have their arms folded while standing on the touchline, making them look serious and executive.
Transfer deadline is 11am Saturday 1 October, enjoy the break!