Tag Archives: Hull City

The Premiership at the quarter-ish pole

prem trophy

Premiership trophy

Being an analysis of the Premiership at the quarter-ish pole of the season. With 10 games down, who’s looking good and who’s looking bad? Well, read on, dear reader, for that and much more.

LOOKING GOOD

Obviously, Chelsea is looking pretty good right now. Check out their goal differential (+20) and the fact that they’re pretty much running on all cylinders. Sure, that’s a clichéd cop-out, but still. The fact is that Chelsea have looked good since their summer tour of the US and I don’t see a drop in form coming anytime soon. Perhaps it’s due to Carlo Ancelotti. Or Didier Drogba hitting the net more often than Adriano hits the clubs. Too soon?

Not to be too much of a homer, but I have to include Manchester United in this category, too. Other than the Anfield slip-up, Sir Alex has done a masterful job getting the boys ready to play. And Ryan Giggs has been nothing short of amazing; I don’t know how he does it, but the man keeps playing and playing and playing. I am truly impressed. The only downside is Rio Ferdinand’s inexplicable loss of form (well, maybe it is explicable: back injuries can be career-enders). I look for Sir Alex to go get a central defender or two in January.

Surprisingly, Spurs are doing well this season so far. I think that’s deceiving, though, because their goal differential is only +4. Perhaps a couple of reliable defenders and a keeper should be brought in because, Lord knows, they have enough firepower should they ever harness it. I’m still waiting for Giovani Dos Santos to show the form in the Premiership that he did for Mexico this summer; that’s the Gio I’ve been waiting for for what seems like ever.

LOOKING NOT SO GOOD

I know this puts me in the minority, but I’m not convinced that Arsenal have what it takes to compete. They have to beat back Manchester City’s challenge and catch Chelsea and United. I simply don’t think they have the personnel to do that.

Liverpool is cursed this season. Injured bodies are stacked like cordwood outside of Anfield and that’s not a good thing, especially when it’s the captain. Pool are a two-man team (those two men being Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard) unless Alberto Aquilani (and his stunning girlfriend) can make a difference. I do like some of their players but it’s my position that they need one or two more to truly compete. Actually, what they need is Xabi Alonso. Shame, really.

I’m hoping for the best when it comes to Sunderland and Stoke City but I’m reasonably certain that my hope is misplaced. Which is too bad. I’d love to see them cause some chaos.

And, finally, it’s too bad Aston Villa couldn’t maintain their form. Hardly unexpected but too bad nonetheless. And Hull City is well and truly forked, methinks. Phil Brown needs to go and Jozy Altidore needs to play, dammit!

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Saturday Night Links: college football edition

Gael Kakuta

Gael Kakuta

Where else to start but with FIFA handing Chelsea a 1-year ban on signing new players for illegally signing Gael Kakuta, a French striker formerly attached to Lens, a French club? Wow. Just wow. FIFA really laid the hammer down on Chelsea, which is great, if the precedent stands. They also have to ensure that this new precedent is applied to all clubs fairly, from the biggest to the smallest. Apparently, something similar happened to AS Roma when it signed Philippe Mexès from Auxerre in 2005. In that case, the penalty was reduced to 1 transfer window (rather than 2) and a €7 million fine. On another note, how come the victims are always French?

Not surprisingly, Chelsea has filed the “strongest possible appeal” to the ban. Perhaps that appeal will carry more weight than just a regular-strength appeal. Or it’s just hyperbole. I expect Chelsea to get at least the same punishment as Roma, even with their strong appeal. Manchester United might be in for the same problem when FIFA gets around to ruling on its signing of Paul Pogba (yet another Frenchman… seriously, what’s up with that?).

Speaking of appeals… Arsenal are going to appeal Eduardo’s 2-match ban for diving. It says here that the appeal will be rejected and he’ll be gone for 2 matches.

Silly season update: how the hell did Hull get Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink? And why did Celtic release him? What’s going on there? I’m thoroughly confused by all of this. Though he’ll make a good partner for Jozy Altidore.

Hype from CONMEBOL in that Dunga doesn’t like Diego Maradona. Does anyone really like Maradona, though?

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Saturday Night Links: foreign policy edition

Everton 1-6 Arsenal (Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Everton 1-6 Arsenal (Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Something that’s been kicking around in my head, esp. when it comes to Mexico, is soccer as foreign policy initiative. Andrés Martínez wrote an interesting article examining it which is well worth a read.

Luis Bueno figures that Mexico’s two wins in a row have given it back its swagger when it comes to playing the US. While I won’t go that far, I will say that Mexico is looking much better now that Giovani dos Santos has decided to become a quality player again. I’m seeing shades of Nicolas Cage in dos Santos: he’s great when he wants to be but he rarely wants to be. I hope dos Santos starts doing crazy things with his hair.

Jozy Altidore’s move to Hull City FC has been delayed because of work permit issues. What the fudge? He’s played enough national team games so the permit should be a formality at this point. Get on with it, British Home Office!

The Premiership is back! The Premiership is back! And either Arsenal is really good or Everton is really bad. Tim Howard isn’t nearly that bad so I’m going to call this a tremendously off day.

Charlie Davies scored two goals for Sochaux. Keep it rollin’, Charlie!

Some Manchester United fans are still upset at the Glazers. Can’t we all just move on? It’s not like the Glazers have run the club into the ground.

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To honor the bottom of the table

Newcastle United is relegated... as they should be

Whenever a team clinches the league title early, speculation abounds over what the manager will do in the final couple of games. Who will he play? The choice is usually between his top players or some of his youngsters lacking experience (I exclude Arsenal from this because all of their players are 12 years old). It becomes a bit more complicated when the final game is the champion versus a team fighting for relegation. This year’s case on point is Manchester United v. Hull.

The problem, as I see it, is that the champion (Manchester United, in this case) is seen as responsible for the “integrity” of the league. As such, those who are not Hull City – Sunderland, Newcastle, and Middleborough – want United to field a full-strength team. They want this because (a) there is probably no circumstance under which Hull could beat a full-strength Manchester United squad; and (b) they’ve failed to make their own chances count over the previous 37 weeks and thus want help from the top. I’m not saying those reasons aren’t legitimate, mind you, I’m just saying that it’s a bit odd to expect Manchester United, in this case, to do to anything other than what’s best for them. That is, Manchester United will most certainly not play everyone because they have one more game that means everything: the Champion’s League Final on May 27.

I can appreciate that managers are friends. I can also appreciate that, with the stakes lowered for one team, another team – perhaps the manager’s friend – might benefit. What I can’t appreciate is a group of people manipulating the concepts of “honor” and “integrity” for their own selfish gain. There’s no honor in demanding that someone else manage their team for your benefit when you’ve played pretty consistently bad over the course of the season. Whining about one’s precarious relegation position is not honorable. And neither are calls for Sir Alex Ferguson to do anything other than what’s best for his team.

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