Thursday, March 24, 2011

Yet More Words about Association Football

Tottenham fans are pessimists. At least, that's the impression you get when speaking to some of them. They have suffered so many years of dashed expectations that optimism is usually greeted with screams and mass exoduses - to suggest Tottenham could actually win something is incredible; most fans are loathe to even suggest we could draw something.

Of course, in this new world order of professional football, finishing 4th is tantamount to winning. The English Premier League is such a bizarre place, but no less bizarre than European football, where a team that finishes 4th in a league can enter in and potentially win a competition called the Champions League. In fact, a team lovingly known in these pages as the Red Shite have done just that in the last few years. The irony of the Premier League is now that there are 6 teams that reckon they deserve to be in the Champions League, but there are only four spots, which means that two of them end up having to play in the Europa League; which is (for football fans) the equivalent of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy of European football. Don't get me wrong, Fulham would have liked to have won it last year, but Aston Villa have treated it with a certain amount of contempt in recent years, because, frankly it doesn't offer the money or the prestige that the top table competition does.

Which brings me nicely to the end of the current football season. The sun is shining; girlies are out exposing masses of delectable flesh and there's less than 10 games left to decide which teams will be playing for glory and millions of quid next year and the two other teams who will contemplate fielding B-teams and wondering if a serious attempt at winning the league is possible (but without Champions League football, they can't guarantee signing any world class footballers, as they tend not to want to play for teams that aren't in the Champions League).

You can pretty much bet your house on ManUre, the Arse and Chelski filling three of those four places - while neutrals would love to see four different teams representing England, there's as much chance of that happening as there is of buying a really unhealthy sandwich from Subway. The other place is a real battle; Man Citeh will believe that owning more multi-million pound footballers means they deserve it; Spurs will argue that they've been the best entertainment in this year's Champion's League so they should get another crack at it and the Red Shite, despite having the double done to them by Blackpool, will feel that King Kenny has changed the club's fortunes enough for them to win all 8 matches they have left and Citeh and Spurs to drop masses of points. The best the Red Shite can seriously hope for is 5th and another season wiping the arses of Europe's elite. But have spurs got what it takes to usurp Citeh and get that elusive 4th spot for the second season on the trot?

The pessimist in me says that we'll end up finishing 6th and I'll have to suffer the humiliation of Red Shite fans texting me and calling genial Harry Redknapp a rubbish manager; but the optimist that hides deep in my psyche reckons that we can do it again. Yes, we have 4 massive games lying in wait - Citeh, Chelsea and the Red Shite away from home, a possible 0 points from 9; we have to play the Arse at home and achieve the first double over them since dinosaurs ruled the Earth and we have 4 other games that could end up being banana skins - Wigan away, but WBA, Stoke and Blackpool at home. We have revenge to get over Wigan and Blackpool and points to prove over WBA. Stoke's away form is dodgy, so that could go horribly wrong as well. Then there's Birmingham at home; another club we have a score to settle with ourselves over. 1-0 up from the 8th minute at St Andrews, Spurs managed to manufacture a draw by gifting Brum a goal in injury time and prevent us from a deserved 3 points.

If Spurs can win the five easy games, that's 15 points. If they can do the double over Arsenal that's 18 and a total of 67 points. Any dregs from the other three games will go a long way to ensuring a top 4 finish. It's not a huge stretch to expect them to get something at Citeh; the Manchester team have only managed to beat us once in the last five years and we have become a bogey team for them at Eastlands. The Red Shite tend to always beat us at Anfield, but by the time we play them they'll probably be resigned to Europa league obscurity and it'll be the end of a long and crappy season for them; pride might have something to play, but I fancy a point from this encounter, especially if we need it!

So, is 68 points enough this season to qualify. Let me go and play Predictor on http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/predictor/default.stm and see what that says...

The Red Shite, even being optimistic really don't stand a chance. Citeh hit 67 points and that's after beating Spurs, which means that despite the bookies making them favourites to finish in the last Champion's League spot, Spurs, if they play to their potential could pip them to it again and subsequently ending Roberto Mancini's tenure as boss and causing Arabs to have palpitations as their money hasn't done a Chelsea and won them anything. They might, however, do United and get through to the FA Cup final.

So, to fly in the face of my fellow pessimistic Spurs fans; I think, given the indifferent season Spurs have had, that they can qualify for Europe's top table on merit, yet again, and if that happens, then expect a few really world class players to join and a concerted effort by Redknapp to challenge for the league next season.

Or it might just go horribly wrong and I have to eat humble pie and suffer the taunts of people with no footballing pedigree...

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