Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hands On The Prize

Last year when a valiant West Ham were muscled out of a much deserved FA Cup victory by a lucky late Steven Gerrard equaliser, I didn’t expect to ever see such an upset again on these shores. Yet as I keep saying until I go blue in the face, ‘football is a funny old game’. An equally surprising result awaits us at the end of a season when every pundit expected the Labour Party to do so well.

Now trailing in the Premiership table behind their big Tory rivals by thirteen points, the lacklustre Labour team must surely concede that they can only settle for second place. The Conservatives looks unassailable while bottom of the table strugglers, Lib Dems United, continue to face a relegation battle as they continue to blame their aging striker Menzies ‘Nobbler’ Campbell. As an old player myself, I think the criticism is unfair. The team is let down by a midfield that expends a lot of energy but only ever seem to get very muddy in the middle of the pitch. It just won't do. It won't do at all.

Meanwhile, Labour Party supporters might still hope that their team do what the Arsenal team achieved in the 1997-98 season. In sixth spot at Christmas, they still managed to win the league title. Yet if such a fightback is to happen, they need to find an alterative to the striking partnership of Tony ‘Gobbler’ Blair and Gordon ‘Robber’ Brown, which has failed to deliver enough goals this season. The service also needs to be improved from a underperforming midfield quartet of Miliband, Reid, Beckett, and Straw, while defensively the team look as weak as ever. John Prescott's ball handling skills are never in question but I do question why he constantly needs to punch everything that comes his way.

Come on gentlemen! Not since the days when I hosted Match of the Day have I seen a team work so poorly as a unit and concede so many home goals. Back in 1979, the flamboyant star of the day was James ‘Flash Jimmy’ Callaghan. He used to make some wonderful runs into the box. He had the longer shorts, high socks, and big sideburns so you knew he was a real footballer's footballer. But he lacked stamina for the longer game. When Thatcher (Margaret not Ben) started to send in some of those deep cross field balls, Flash Jimmy’s game fell apart. Foorball changed that year. The old game was so reliant on dominating the midfield, you see? Flash Jimmy just couldn't protect his wings and that's where Thatcher’s pace and fleetness of foot eventually saw the Tories win the Premiership.

History is repeating itself. But then, as I'm always saying, until I'm blue in the face. Football is a funny old game.

1 comment:

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