I was going to write a little spiel all about Jose Mourinho and his eclectic ways but the excitement of the relegation battle and various other issues of the last few days have prompted me to go elsewhere in my head.
I’m not going to be righteous and say it’s a shame to see any club get relegated. Good riddance, Southampton.
Bye bye Rupert
When Glenn Hoddle walked out of The Dell for Spurs in 2001, the bile aimed at North London was insatiable. According to Rupert Lowe, proud chairman of Southampton, Hoddle had left a bigger club to go to a bunch of ‘North London Yobbos’.
There is no disputing the basic facts. Hoddle did let down the Southampton fans, lying about his intentions and walking out on a sixpence despite the appeals of all the management, players (except maybe James Beattie) and fans. Indeed there can be little doubt that the manager was tapped up.
That he was sacked as Spurs boss within two and a half-years is immaterial. Hoddle has never been a good manager and Saints fans would have seen the team he built dismantle in the following twelve months. In truth you should have been thanking us for taking the useless twit (and that other over-rated waste of space, Dean Richards) off your hands. All you had to do then was hire someone capable and do what you had been doing for the last quarter of a century – avoid relegation.
But, no. Your smug, yet insecure, chairman wrote cheques that his ass couldn’t cash. He did it on the cheap with Stuart Gray, sacked him after six months and appointed Strachan. WGS realised that his day in the sun (8th place, FA Cup final) had come and gone. With the team in decline, he walked. In February 2004 (keep up now), Steve Wigley took over for a short period while Lowe tried to negotiate the re-hiring of Hoddle. But fan opposition was too high and he eventually plumped for Plymouth manager Paul Sturrock. The portly Scot lasted thirteen games (including just two games in to the new season) before being fired. Steve Wigley took over as head coach but lasted 14 games (1 win) before being replaced by Harry Redknapp. And HR, self-serving, self-publicist pain in the ass as he is, was always fighting a losing battle at St Marys.
So down go the Saints. Down go the mouthy fans who filled message boards with anti-Spurs comments and plenty of laughable diatribe about Southampton being a bigger club than Spurs. North London Yobbos we may be but we’re North London Premiership Yobbos.
Finally Southampton are a big club, Rupert. Compared to Crewe and Luton. I’m sure if Paul Sturrock brings Sheffield Wednesday up he’ll enjoy shaking your hand.
Getting what you deserve is something of a topic for me today. With great amusement I read the football world coming out in praise for Bryan Robson, who somehow managed to keep West Brom in the Premiership. The fans are chanting his name and celebrating wildl….hang on. How can that be? The fans? Didn’t the West Brom fans boo Robson in December and chant for former manager Gary Megson? Didn’t they besiege radio phone-in shows calling for his head?
They’re not the first and nor will they be the last. Leicester City fans rebelled against Martin O’Neill – right before he took them in to the Premiership, finishing in the top half three seasons in a row, winning one of two league cup finals and going in to Europe. Ipswich fans cried foul when former Norwich player Joe Royle was appointed at Portman Road. They’ve reached their second consecutive play-offs on a shoestring budget.
What I would like to see these fans do – in fact, no. What I would like to see passed as law is that any “passionate” fan who believes strongly enough that their manager is rubbish and is then proven wrong, should forfeit their right to go to games. Any fan who partook in the anti-Robson singing or any Ipswich fan that showed displeasure at Royle’s appointment should not have the chance to see their teams in the Premiership next season.
This lowest common denominator attitude of the football fan expends far too much energy and column inches. I loathe hypocrisy and yet we saw it yesterday as tens of thousands of Baggies fans danced in joy with a man they were demeaning only five months ago. How dare they. The excuse that ‘you pays your money’ gives you the right to not be responsible for your actions or opinions, just didn’t wash any more.
Not for Sale, eh?
Same with these Man U fans who are suddenly up in arms about the fact that the club is ‘for sale’. Your club has been sale since 1991, friends. These empty gestures of burning season ticket renewal forms doesn’t wash with me. I guarantee that the majority of the burners will be sat in their seats next season once Mr Glazer throws enough money at the problem. Football fans, just like the suited club figures they loathe, can be bought.
It’s highly amusing to see these mere foot soldiers standing up to their commanding officers like it makes a difference. This isn’t a repeat of Wimbledon/Milton Keynes Dons situation. You can’t just pick yourself up and go establish AFC Manchester on the edge of town. If 20,000 Manchester United fans walk away, there are 40,000 others who will gladly take their seat and buy the merchandise.
The only way you can “own” your club is if you actually do own it. Anyone fans got £800m lying around?
I’ll get there in the end. The Chosen One finally got his hands on the Premiership title. But is it really that big an achievement?
Spending £200m over two seasons waters down Chelsea’s title in my eyes. Rarnieri spent half of that and Mourinho the rest. Ironically it was many of Ranieri’s buys that were key to their success. None of Mourinho’s signings could be seen as key. Lampard, Terry, Duff, Makelele, Cech and Robben were either all at the club, or pre-signed, when Mourinho arrived. His purchases were rather underwhelming. Drogba, Carvalho, Tiago, Ferreira and Kezman were all, at best, moderately successful. Even without those five players Chelsea could have made do with the likes of Huth, Parker, Gudjohnsen, Cole, Bridge and Johnsen.
But another way of looking at it then is that Mourinho turned Ranieri’s reasonable second-place in to a run-away Premiership win.
Whatever way you slice it, I’d prefer to have seen a level playing field, with Chelsea spending about a quarter of what they did. We would have had a far more competitive Premiership and perhaps the only exciting thing on the final day wouldn’t have just been the relegation battle.
If Chelsea start the spending again this summer, we might as well all go home.