Of course they did…
The Chelsea revival might have looked solid in terms of results but they rarely strung together a good 90 minutes under Grant. They were quite fortunate against United, second-best at Newcastle until they scored, failed to beat Wigan (the result which pretty much derailed their title aspirations) or deal convincgly with Bolton on the final day. With the talent at his disposal this Chelsea team should have been running the show and playing great football – and they just didn’t.
Although I have been an ABU since 1983 (long before they were any good) they were the right team to win the league. And to triumph while giving games to the likes of Ji-Sung Park, John O’Shea, Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick says even more about them. No, I’m still not buying this Michael Carrick thing – sorry.
Next seasons Premiership whipping boys
Bristol City are likely to face Hull in the play off final with the latter defending a 2-0 lead in their play-off semi second leg this evening against Watford. You have to hand it to managers Gary Johnson and Phil Brown as both have done amazing jobs. It’s just a shame that they are more likely to sign a Wallwork than a Ronaldo next year on their way to being relegated by Christmas.
But staying up…
I was delighted that Fulham survived on the final day. Partly it was because I quite like the chummy awkwardness of Roy Hodgson. He’s the football manager equivalent of Bush or Def Leppard – revered outside his home nation and longing for that hit single on home turf (but in the shape of avoiding relegation).
It was also partly because it sent Alex McLeish (and Birmingham) down. McLeish walked away from managing his country for the bright lights of the Premiership after just 10 months in charge. The SFA refused Birmingham’s approach but McLeish resigned and left a bad taste in the mouth of Scotland fans who had seen Walter Smith walk away before him.
Similarly Lawrie Sanchez (sacked by Fulham after 17 games for consistent rubbishness) got his cumuppance after walking away from Northern Ireland when they were top of their Euro 2008 qualifying group. He then hilarious claimed that Fulham would have been well safe if he had been left in charge. He must have been expecting a late run of form from Chris Baird and David Healy.
Mark Hughes was the last person to dump one of the home nations for the Premiership but he left Wales on the back of a poor run and after putting in a solid 5 years. And he has proven himself to be a more than competent manager. That’s the difference.
Barry to Pool
I indicated that Aston Villa would not be properly remunerated for Gareth Barry given his rather low-profile in the football world. But if, as reported, Liverpool are willing to bid £10m then I think O’Neill should give in and let the midfielder go.
Values are crazy at the moment though. David Bentley – an occasional performer – is being valued at £15m. It’s as obscene a valuation as Michael Carrick or even Louis Saha back in the day.
Meet the new Bryan Robson. Following relegation with Crystal Palace and walking out to join Charlton, sacked from Charlton after 12 league games and then being “released” from his contract with Coventry, Ian Dowie has not been assigned another league club to underacheive with – QPR. What a come-down for Rangers fans. Following media speculation that Zinedine Zidane was being lined-up as their next manager, they ended up with someone a little less glamorous.