Posts Tagged ‘mcleish’

Season Previews 2010/11 – Birmingham

10/08/2010

Birmingham

Last Season: 9th

New Signings: Foster, Zigic, Valles

Key Player: Roger Johnson

One To Watch: Eric Valles

Needs A Big Year: Ben Foster

Would Quite Like: Avoiding second season syndrome and a victory over the Villa.

More money please.

Prediction: 12th

Thoughts: If Ben Foster can adequately replace the departing Joe Hart in goal then Birmingham will go a long way to having another successful season. One of the surprise packages last year (I had them down for relegation!), Alex McLeish will be looking to consolidate and make sure his team remain as tough to beat as they were last season.

A lot of their players probably over-performed and bearing in mind there is quite a reliance on people as old as Steve Carr and Kevin Phillips, there is a valid concern that this year won’t quite be as good. A proper left back is needed so Ridgewell no longer has to play there while Zigic will hopefully provide consistency up front or a big target to aim at if nothing else.

Carson Yeung’s promised riches haven’t quite materialised but continued defensive solidity will ensure mid-table will be perfectly acceptable and attainable again this season.

T.

Season Predictions 09/10 – How They Turned Out

31/05/2010

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. I’m still in two minds about whether to do season reviews for each club – to be honest I’m in World Cup mode now. Perhaps I’ll still get round to it though.

Back in August I played a mug’s game and tried to predict how everyone would finish. Here’s what actually happened:

'Expert' predictions...

Looking at the results showed I got just three clubs spot on: Man City in 5th and basement dwellers Hull and Pompey taking the bottom two places. In my defence I was only one place out with six other clubs but really this table looks like what it is, rubbish punditry.

I think if Gareth Southgate and Garth Crooks had a bastard lovechild it would look something like this predictions table (enjoy those nightmare thoughts kids).

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In terms of the thinking, I had found it really tricky to split the top three when writing pre-season predictions. My loyalties to Arsenal may have played a part in placing them second while I couldn’t bear to predict Chelsea as Champions even though deep down I knew they had retained the most strength over the summer.

A similar scenario led to placing Spurs 7th – I was hardly going to predict them a Champions League spot was I?! I underestimated Liverpool’s decline and overestimated Sunderland’s improvement.

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The biggest mistake was Birmingham, a full nine places out, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who had them down to struggle. Fair play to Alex McLeish (who I had as first sacking!), he brilliantly led them to a top half finish.

The bottom half was slightly better predicted clubs wise, if not positions wise. The dearth of quality is such that it’s pot luck as to where the likes of Bolton and Wigan finish. I got three of the bottom four right and on another day would have predicted Burnley to come in 18th not 17th.

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In terms of the cups and other stuff it went like this:

And I thought the league prediction was bad...

Oh dear. Only Bayern Munich correct and I suppose West Brom for promotion. If the Premier League table was the Southgate/Crooks lovechild then this is the resulting mess when said lovechild had a threesome with Alan Shearer and Jamie Redknapp. I literally couldn’t do any worse at being a pundit. Like I said at the beginning, it’s time for the World Cup…

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T.

The Six Pointer – Shearer’s Magic Boots, Relegation Tears & more…

04/05/2009

That was the long weekend that was.

 

1. Rafa is still absolutely adamant that Man Utd will slip up twice on the run in to let Liverpool sneak in and win the title. Looking at their final four games of  Man City (h), Wigan (a), Arsenal (h) and Hull (a) there is certainly some potential for dropped points but I don’t see them losing twice  or drawing three times which is essentially what Benitez needs to happen. Even if they lost to Arsenal, it’s difficult to envisage a scenario where they don’t get the required seven points they need for the title. The run of three games in six days will be a tough ask but with the Champions League out of the way after this week until the end of the season, there should be enough within the squad to cope. Of course Liverpool can’t concede while it’s still mathematically possible to win the title but I suspect that it will remain false hope. They should win their three remaining games (West Ham [a], West Brom [a], Spurs [h]) but United haven’t won the Premier League ten times in sixteen years without knowing how to close things out.

It'll take more than a sneaky handshake to mug the title off me Rafa.

It'll take more than a sneaky handshake to mug the title off me Rafa.

 

2. All of the bottom eight lost this weekend meaning it is as you were in the battle to avoid relegation but with just three games left. Stoke, Portsmouth and Blackburn all had varying degrees of poor performance but such is the inability of the clubs below to win that it would be most surprising if they were dragged back into it. West Brom are six behind with nine to play so will go down officially next week leaving the at risk north-east foursome to battle it out. 

 

3. Middlesbrough face a trip to St James Park next weekend in what could be a winner stays up scenario. What price a 0-0 draw that does neither of them any favours? Boro have scored nine measly goals away from the Riverside this season yet face a Newcastle side that have scored once since Shearer’s return. I remember the images of when he returned, with his boots on the dashboard as he drove to the training ground. Clearly he’s been unable to teach any of his old dogs up front new tricks. I saw a terrible film over the weekend called Like Mike, in which a kid finds a pair of Michael Jordan’s old trainers and gains the ability to play basketball like him. It’s only worth watching for the cameos by NBA stars like Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. Anyway, I digress but it got me thinking about how maybe some Newcastle’s strikers need to steal those boots on the dashboard. As the joke goes, the only way Shearer will be on Match of the Day next season is if he returns as a pundit, as it sure doesn’t look like Newcastle are staying up.

Those boots are made for talking. But not walking.

Those boots are made for talking. But not walking.

 

4. That is unless Hull continue to make things interesting. I know I talk about the north east four, but if anything Sunderland having a four point advantage over Newcastle means they have to screw up twice in the remaining three games to be caught. This perhaps leaves Hull as the only catchable team. You can talk about 40 points being the safety mark all you want but I think that this is a season where it will be exceptionally low. Now is the time for threatened teams to be scrapping for points not losing every week. Given the bottom four in the form table are the four aforementioned teams (Boro ‘lead’ with four points from six games, Sunderland have three, Hull and Newcastle two) you could see a scenario where 35 points keeps you up. Boro or Newcastle would need just a win, draw and defeat from their last three games to achieve that but even that seems beyond them right now. 

 

5. The remaining point of interest is the battle for UEFA Europa Cup qualification with West Ham, Man City, Fulham and Spurs separated by a point. Of those four I think the teams managed by Zola and Hodgson deserve it most but the teams managed by Hughes and Redknapp have the squads to cope best. Given that the latter two managers didn’t give two shits about it this season, I don’t see why they should be rewarded with a place next season. Both Zola and Hodgson have done wonders with small squads and even smaller budgets and I would be delighted if either of them got the spot. I worry for Fulham getting it simply as I could see an Ipswich syndrome where they overachieve but then don’t have the players to compete on two fronts and face a relegation struggle the next season. All four teams face quite tricky run ins (all play top six teams twice except Man City) so it will be interesting to see who comes through.

 

6. A word for the end of the Championship season too. Wolves and Birmingham come back up and will no doubt go straight back down if they stick with their current managers Mick McCarthy and Alex McLeish. Of the playoff bunch, Burnley or Reading look the most likely to survive in the top flight from what I’ve caught this season. Meanwhile, at the bottom Norwich, Southampton and Charlton all went down into League 1. All were in the Premier League as recently as four seasons ago. Something to note for the threatened clubs this time round. 

Alan Smith prepares his relegation tears, yet again.

Alan Smith prepares his relegation tears, yet again.

 

T.


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