Random Reflections from the Past Weekend of English Football
February has been a month to forget for me, and it’s still not over. Some of you may recall that I was rushed to the hospital in late January due to blood clots. Unfortunately, it’s been one episode after another and I now find myself back in the hospital again in just as many weeks to help remove a new bout of blood clots, which are now in my right leg.
Being stuck in hospital, my health has been the number one priority but I’ve been able to keep entertained (and not go stir crazy) by watching and following games via the Internet and TV; the latest hospital I’m in has Fox Soccer Channel. Hospital number one had no WiFi or FSC. Hospital number two had WiFi but no FSC, while hospital number three has both. It makes a huge difference in helping the day go by so much faster.
Here are some of my reflections from the past weekend of English football:
- Fulham Appears Doomed. I watched the home match against West Ham with interest and was impressed by what I thought was Fulham’s best performance this season, especially in the first half. However, as is so often the case, they were undone by a poor decision by the referee to allow Solano’s goal, which should have been disallowed for one of two reasons: (1) dangerous play and (2) handball.
Jimmy Bullard, especially, had a wonderful game as an attacking midfielder. If he keeps on playing like that and continues to regain his full fitness, he deserves an England call-up in my opinion.
- Newcastle: Should We Be So Surprised? So Kevin Keegan has still failed to pick up a win for Newcastle United and in their most recent match, the Toon Army was mauled by a Manchester United side 5-1. To me it’s ridiculous that fans should expect more from Newcastle. It’s the same exact squad, a very poor one at that, that Sam Allardyce built. And most importantly of all, the defenders are still some of the worst in the league.
With that combination, there isn’t much Keegan can do as a manager to turn this team around. He did make a valiant effort in the first half against Man United by empowering his team to play with passion, which was one of their better first half performances all season. But the schoolboy defensive errors we saw in the second half are the downfall of Newcastle. And it’s the same defensive frailties that this Newcastle side has shown under Allardyce, Souness, Roeder and Robson — so it shouldn’t be so surprising.
- The Best Thing that Could Have Happened to English Soccer. Seeing the highlights of Tottenham’s win against Chelsea was a wonderful sight. It breaks the monopoly of the top four winning everything between them, but also shows how a club with a traditional fan base can react when they taste victory, and boy did those Spurs fans know how to celebrate.Contrast that with the legions of football fans who recently chose Chelsea as their team to support. Of course, many of these fans are gloryhunters. But Spurs fans, have lived through years of disappointment. Their faith in supporting their team has finally paid off.
From here, the sky is the limit for Spurs under Juande Ramos. The Spaniard could lead the north London side to UEFA Cup glory as well as putting the foundation in place for a side that could make a run to break the top four next season.
- My Heart Goes out to Eduardo da Silva. No, I don’t believe the tackle was intentionally malicious, but it was an exceedingly poor decision by Martin Taylor. And unfortunately it does keep us from watching the tricky Croat who has been a joy to watch this season and seemed to be improving in each game he played for Arsenal.
Health-wise, I’ll continue to stay in the hospital for at least another week to recover. I should be fine, but I’m seeking the opinion of some of the best doctors in the country to find out why this keeps on happening. Hopefully they’ll be able to get to the bottom of it, so I go back to full health and write (and podcast) more about the beautiful game and the best league in the world.
Thanks again to Michael, The Scout, Bill E Shears and (new addition) Ferd for writing while I’ve been away. And thanks to you, the loyal EPL Talk readers, for continuing to make the site a popular destination for fans of Premier League clubs.