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Random Reflections from the Past Weekend of English Football

The Gaffer at Old TraffordFebruary 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.

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  1. Llewellyn

    February 26, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Prayers go out to you and your family for quick and speedy return!
    Great to see you posting again!
    Get well soon Gaffer!

  2. wanderer_abroad

    February 26, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Sorry to hear about the continuing health problems. Get well soon Gaffer, we all need a bit more EPLTalk in our lives.

  3. LemmusLemmus

    February 26, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Again, all the best – although it doesn’t seem to have helped much last time.

  4. TheScout

    February 26, 2008 at 1:07 pm


    Glad to hear you have internet and TV at this new hospital. It’ll help the time pass as you say. I hope you get better soon.

    I won’t really be posting this week either as I have my father and wife to take care of this week. Both had surgery this week but I should be back next week.

    Take care!

  5. Kartik

    February 26, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Best of luck chris. BTW, MLS Talk will be returning Friday with our Fusion special. That’ll be some good listening from the Hospital. I got far more interviews than I had anticipated. The special may bring a tear to your eye. Please take care of yourself.

  6. kat kid

    February 26, 2008 at 1:04 pm


    your health is the most important thing. you only get one shot at it.

    take care

  7. JLay

    February 26, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Geez Gaff,

    Sorry to hear that you’re having trouble again. Rest up and get better ASAP. We need to do another pub weekend before too long, and I need you healthy.

    Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you- anything at all. You know the number, but I’ll give you a call today or tomorrow either way.

    Feel better man!


  8. twakum

    February 26, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Get well!

  9. timmyg

    February 26, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Get better Gaffer, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    And yes, sadly, Fulham is doomed. Saturday was truly a depressing day.

  10. Johnathan Staring

    February 26, 2008 at 8:43 am


    Seems like you need Setanta Broadband that way you would be covered on all angles. A hospital with FSC, how did you come across that? But yes any sanity break from the reality of being stuck in the closest thing to hell is always a bonus. Being stuck in the hospital with my dad over November and December, I know just being the visitor is hell but it is worse on the one involved.

    As with Eduardo, your health comes first. Take all the time you need and get well soon. The last thing you need is your own health taking the nosedive like Newcastle United and Reading.

    Again, all the best on a full and speedy recovery. No one deserves it.

    Johnathan Starling

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