Football – Saturday 24th October 2009

Posted: October 24, 2009 in Sport
Tags: , , , ,

Another weekend of gripping Premiership action, and more results that weren’t quite what was expected. Spurs beaten at home by Stoke, Wolves snatching a draw with Villa, Birmingham beating Sunderland, and Hull and Portsmouth sharing a point. There was one expected result, that of Chelsea beating Blackburn, but I doubt anyone really saw Blackburn conceding five goals in all. It’s been another fascinating Saturday in the Premiership, with more games lined up for Sunday which promise to be corking.

Be honest now, did anyone really see Stoke beating Spurs at White Hart Lane? I know they have a great record when they’re playing at home, at the Britannia Stadium, but Stoke have never really been a team that travels well. If I’m honest, I expected Stoke to struggle this year after they kept themselves up rather comfortably last year, but all credit to Tony Pulis, he’s got them playing well and not just using the long-ball tactics and Rory Delap’s devastating long throws. In this game though, Spurs had all the running, all the chances and all the play, but failed to punish Stoke. And as all of the teams in the top four that Spurs are desperate to break into know, you cannot afford too many chances against this kind of team as they will find a way to punish you. Look at Burnley, and their results against Manchester United and Everton at Turf Moor…in both of those games the away team had plenty of chances but failed to take them, and Burnley made them pay for that sloppiness in front of goal.  In the case of Spurs though, they had plenty of chances, but were then hamstrung by the injury to Aaron Lennon with no available substitutes left. Stoke went for the throat at that point, and got their reward.

Chelsea won a very easy match against a Blackburn side that hasn’t exactly been made any better by Sam Allardyce since his arrival to replace Paul Ince. Whilst they may not be in danger of relegation this season, this isn’t due to good teamplay on the part of Rovers, more due to the fact that there are much worse sides in the league than them. I still maintain that Allardyce isn’t a Premier League manager, even with his achievements at Bolton. I see his sides as being one-dimensional, and very aggressive and hard on the pitch. But the better teams (which is most of them, to be fair) will simply pass around the players and take the hard tackling out of play. Unless Blackburn show serious signs of improvement, I can see them releiving Allardyce of his duties before Christmas, in which case he may drop down the leagues…who knows, if Notts County still need a manager by then he could go back there!

Dropping down to the Championship, and Middlesbrough played Preston int he first match since the dismissal of Gareth Southgate. I’m stumped a little bit by the way Southgate’s sacking was done, with Steve Gibson (Middlesbrough chairman, who I have great respect for) saying that the decision to sack Southgate was made weeks ago. If that was the case, why wasn’t he sacked weeks ago? The only thing I can think of is that Gibson wanted Southgate to go out on a high, with a win, but that still doesn’t feel right. It was the right decision, a change was needed with Boro really not performing to the potential they have, it’s still the timing that puzzles me. Were they lining up Gordon Strachan behind Southgate’s back? Did they want to keep the period of time without a manager to a minimum? Pass. Anyway, they drew 2-2 with Preston, and very nearly won but for a last-gasp Billy Jones equaliser for the Lilywhites. Best of luck for the Boro for the rest of the season, and best of luck to Gareth Southgate in finding a job that suits his ability.

Quick mention of my team, Bury FC. We had a very shaky start to the season (but then we are the Shakers…) but seem to have got past that phase and are now beginning to motor. Having Alan Knill at the club has been fantastic for us, and we were unlucky not to be promoted, or at least reach the play-off final last season. Hopes and expectations have been raised at Gigg Lane, and he is quietly building a squad capable of bigger things. The fact we were able to keep hold of our star striker, Andy Bishop (highly rated in the Championship teams) has been a massive bonus even though he has missed most of this season so far with injury. Once we have him back, I can see us really starting to push for a place in the top three of League Two. Great times at Gigg Lane, may they continue…and long may we keep hold of Alan Knill, I really hope he doesn’t get poached from us!

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