Last week may have seen the first significant news of the football off-season, but it certainly wasn’t the last. Following the retirement of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, and David Moyes’ arrival at Old Trafford as his successor, there has been plenty more big news in the past seven days.
Category: Wigan Athletic
It’s all too common in the 21st century for perceived ‘small’ clubs to complain of having their best talent or their manager tapped up by a divisional or continental giant who simply walks in and steals their target for a paltry compensation fee. Manchester United are one of the clubs to surface most frequently in these conversations, a recent example being their pursuit of Paul Pogba from French minnows Le Havre a couple of years ago.
The way with which Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan has dealt with the approach made to his manager, Roberto Martinez, by Liverpool, is therefore reprehensible. Despite – and disregarding – the efforts of Liverpool’s American owners to follow the ‘correct’ procedure, Whelan has broadcast the Anfield club’s every moment as if he were a Sky Sports commentator giving the Soccer Saturday bunch regular updates on a weekend fixture.
The ultimate round of matches of the 2011-2012 Premier League season had more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. In this vein, footballing clichés were wheeled out by the bucket load. At Manchester City, it really was a game of two halves, as the league leaders thoroughly pummelled the Queens Park Rangers defence, peppering shots at Paddy Kenny and any other body the R’s could get in the way. 44 of them, in fact. With Manchester United maintaining a 1-0 lead over Sunderland for the majority of the game at the Stadium of Light, all eyes were on the Etihad Stadium. Pablo Zabaleta set the Citizens on their way just before half-time, at almost exactly the same point as Bolton Wanderers completed their turnaround against Stoke City to take a 2-1 lead. QPR were relegated, Bolton were staying up, and City had a hand on the trophy. Surely this would be it from Mark Hughes’ ultra-defensive side?
Blackburn Rovers are not a franchise. They are a living, breathing football club, supported by mostly locals who, since 2001, have enjoyed Premier League football. Now the club will be plying its trade in the Championship, thanks to the unfathomable incompetence of the Venky’s Group, which purchased Blackburn in 2010 and promised all the glory and riches under the sun. Making a mockery of the FA’s “fit and proper persons” test, Venky’s have been like a slow poison at Ewood Park, gradually withdrawing the dignity of this once proud club, which, however you judge their means in doing so, won the Premier League in 1995.
Like, obviously not lambs, but chickens to the slaughter (as per the Venky’s’ PR arrangements) Rovers have been terrible all season. Steve Kean was the most misguided of appointments, and may as well have been hired by a drunk in a pub, for all the credentials he possesses for the job in question. However, and this is a vital point, Kean did not hire himself. Nor can he inflict a “self-sacking” on the grounds of incompetence. Plenty of managers have been hired to positions they neither deserve nor merit, indeed one only has to look at England for many an example, but whatever Kean did in charge, he was never cut out for a top flight management job. And yesterday, this was made clear, if we all didn’t know it before.
What’s the biggest joke in football right now? I’ll give you a clue. It plays in red and is based on Merseyside. Congratulations lucky guessers, it is indeed Liverpool Football Club. The Andy Carroll debate has been, at local, national and international level, covered to the point where no new ground could possibly emerge, so next in the firing line is the team’s massive underachieving this year. Liverpool supporters appear to reside in a state of semi-trance, barely batting an eyelid as their once great club slides further and further down the table, and revels in glories so minor and insignificant you’d imagine the city’s mayor might organise a parade for yet another unplanned teenage pregnancy.
So why does the complacency of those on the Kop annoy so much? Because, quite simply, Roy Hodgson was unfairly hounded out of Liverpool in favour of the incumbent, the returning hero, Kenny Dalglish. Widely revered as a saviour, nay, some sort of god, Dalglish is supposedly the answer to years of underachievement and the “new big four” of Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
Well, the inevitable happened again. Chelsea fired a manager. Big deal.
Andre Villas-Boas has looked ready for the chop since Christmas. The youngest manager in the Premier League, in his third season as a manager, sitting in the hottest seat in world football? Working for the most trigger-happy owner in top-class sport with a record of three wins in 12 games? Fighting a losing battle in seemingly trying coerce a group of veteran superstars into his new-age training and tactical methods? It could never last.
And yet, after casting aside numerous more successful managers without a second blink, that trigger-happy owner didn’t want to fire this one.