November 04, 2016

The Top Flight

The Top Flight?


BILLY'S CONTRACT has been watching upper-league football again



This season, more by accident than intention, I seemed to have watched a fair few Premiership games. I absolutely refuse to subscribe to the altar of Sky Almighty Premiership so myself and my mates pop down to the Local and with the money I have saved by not paying a Sky Subscription I can upgrade from a pint of John Smiths to a more expensive craft beer. 

I have also being watching MOTD more than previously but instead of saving money I am saving time, which, due to my retirement, is in very short supply. I normally record MOTD and watch it on Sunday or later in the the week. The advantage of 'taping it', is that you can skip the opening titles and credits, Gary Lineker droning on and the punditry, as well as fast forwarding through the matches you do not want to see. Best of all you can avoid watching the Borer altogether.

Stoke and Watford must be delighted that Borer are now in the Premiership and as such they will no longer be the last game screened on MOTD. The first game I watched live was United versus City. There must have been half a billion pounds worth of players, I was going to use the word talent, but I do not think that appropiate as, on the Old Trafford pitch on the day for the first twenty minutes or so, neither side could string two passes together but could give the ball away to their opponents with component ease. £80million for Pogba. You are having a laugh.
"Best of all you can avoid watching the Borer altogether. "

A few weeks later I watched Spurs v City and it was more of the same from City. They kept on passing to the team in the white shirts rather than those in their own colours. How Raheem Stirling gets his game is beyond comprehension. I was thinking that this is the top level of football and the fans are paying £40/50/60 to watch this pedestrian entertainment. I was going to add that you can perhaps understand poor football being played in the lower leagues due to limited player ability and overall player inconsistency but I cannot accept that not being able to pass a ball to a fellow team mate from a distance of three yards is basic school boy stuff at any level, including Darlington's.

What of the Premiership? Interestingly, none of the front runners are setting a pace and all have their failings. With the manager, the squad of players, plus the money that they have spent on them, Manchester City on paper at least should win the Premiership by a country mile. I hope not, as they will have bought the title, that is why every man and his dog within the footballing fraternity (perhaps barring Coventry fans) wanted Leceister to win the league last season and stick two fingers up at the rest of the Premiership's so called big boys.

 Arsenal and Tottenham to their credit play nice football but so do Bournemouth and Southampton. As for Manchester United I feel that even with The Special One in charge they will do well to finish in the top five and I will be surprised if Mourinho does not walk before the end of the season. The sad thing about United, love them or loathe them, they no longer play attractive football and even when staring defeat in the face under Sir Alex they would fight like a dog with a bone to the very last minute to get a result ...well the last minute plus the six additional minutes which were usually added on by Howard Webb.

You have to take your hat off to the likes of Watford and Burnley, who are punching well above their respective weights and have spent very little in the process compared to the traditional top six - once again another two teams who are cocking their noses up at the Big Boys.

Crystal Palace are another team who have flashed the cash and although Christian Benteke is a good signing,  as a team they seem to have gone backwards ever so slightly. Unless Big Sam makes a second coming perennial strugglers extraodinaire Sunderland should be relegated by Christmas or New Year at the latest. They haven't even got the bonus of the mandatory six points that Newcastle gleefully gift them on a plate each season to help their cause. Heaven help them if Defoe gets injured.

Myself I would like to see Arsenal win the Premiership, I must admit that despite all his faults, I actually quite like Arsene Wenger and on their day his team is a joy to watch. I think in the past Wenger has sacrificed winning the Premiership in favour of concentrating on the Champions League. This season he should reverse this policy and opt for an early Arsexit from Europe. Failing that I wouldn't mind seeing Liverpool win the title, purely just to see Jurgen Klopp's Teutonic reaction the moment he knows that the trophy is his. Sadly, unless he strengthens it, like another German, his defence will prevent this from happening. I'm talking of another 'Downfall' here. Thanks to the likes of The Mackems and Hull City, the Borer, even with their lack of fire power, might just avoid the drop but all is not lost. They have only played one of the big teams and coupled to that, they do have a history of imploding over the Yuletide period.

My favourite entertainment comes from The Queen Elizabeth The Second London Olympic Stadium when West Ham are playing at home. Their fixtures should be re titled as Fight Night. Apparently there has been crowd trouble at every home game they have played so far this season ...even against, of all teams, Bournemouth,  whose fans I view as retired, gracious and genteel, and who like nothing better than afternoon tea. When the Hammers are not fighting opposing supporters they are battling with their own fans for something else to do. Can you image the carnage and bloodshed at that stadium if Leeds United and Millwall were in the Premiership. It certainly would be an updated version of Life on Mars.

The Premiership is only a quarter of the way through the season and it is too early to call who will win what, albeit that we already know, Sam Allardyce aside, that Sunderland are down. No doubt in January the Premiership clubs combined will probably fork out the best part of another billion pounds, not to improve any, but just to maintain the Status Quo (with sincere apologies to Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi for that ...although in Sunderland's case you could say Down Down Deeper and Down).

WHO ARE YAH?

I was reading the football section of last Saturday's Daily Mail (I know, I know!), which gave details of the team selection for each side playing in the Premiership that weekend. For a bit of fun I got my son to read out some of the names of the line ups and I/he had to guess which teams they played for. He read the entire Burnley team out and it wasn't until he named George Boyd that I could guess the name of the team. This same applied to the likes of Swansea Watford, Hull, Stoke and even Tottenham along with several other sides. Take away Defoe Cattermole and O'Shea at Sunderland and Downing Friend and Rhodes at the Borer, I did not know the names of any of their players.

In the seventies I could pretty much name every player in the old First and Second division sides and most in the third and fourth divisions for that matter. I suppose this is down to the amount of foreign footballers who now play in this country and the fact that back then most players were one club men who stayed with the same clubs for years on end. This is borne out by the amount of testimonial games that were played back in the day. It is the same in Scotland. I watched a bit of the recent Rangers v Celtic clash on TV and out of the 22 players on the pitch I could only name Kenny Miller. Having said that, he has been with Rangers for the best part of a thousand years.

It is much the same at Pools. I recently saw a picture of Matthew Bates and I had to ask my pal who he was as I don't recall seeing him play for Pools, or if he did it was a very long time ago!