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Day: December 29, 2010

Match Of The Midweek 1: West Bromwich Albion 1-3 Blackburn Rovers

To the outsider, Blackburn Rovers had always been one of the more stable Premier League clubs. However, since the arrival of Indian Poultry giants Venky’s last month, the off-field business at Ewood Park (covered elsewhere by Ian and Mark) has seen Rovers become the Premier League’s latest basket case. On the pitch, Steve Kean has had a loss at home to Stoke and a draw against West Ham in his opening games, and needed a win to end 2010 on a personal high note. Kean hasn’t looked to make many changes to the team since Sam Allardyce left the club, with the only new face being highly rated teenage centre-half Grant Hanley alongside Ryan Nelsen. Hanley’s presence is down to an ankle injury to Christopher Samba, and Phil Jones’ knee ligament damage, but his performances so far suggest that Samba may struggle to regain the position, regardless of his alleged recent fallout with Kean. Another area in which Blackburn have retained their continuity is their style, with a number of trademark physical challenges in the opening minutes, and even before the hosts have settled, Blackburn take the lead. Morten Gamst Pedersen provides a looping pass to Kalinic, who beats the offside trap and places the ball past Scott Carson for his first league goal in over three months. 0-1. Initially, West Brom try and play Blackburn at their own...

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The Twohundredpercent Review Of 2010, Part One: On The Pitch

In many ways, 2010 has been an unusual curate’s egg of a year on the pitch. With the value of hindsight, we can see that not everything that we might have predicted last January came to pass yet, at the same time, it often felt as if it was very much business as usual on the pitch. The clubs of the Premier League and Barcelona, the aesthetes choice, all contrived to hit a brick wall in the Champions League before the final whilst, in the Premier League itself, league  Chelsea managed to break Manchester United’s most recent monopoly on the league title itself with a victory that felt more routine than it was thanks to late season thrashings of Aston Villa, Stoke City and Wigan Athletic. Yet Chelsea needed a win at Old Trafford and those thumpings to secure the title on the last day of the season. With the World Cup finals came a competition that couldn’t – and didn’t – live up to the hype. Spain were, as we might have expected, technically superb but seldom sparkled in the manner in which we may have hoped, whilst many of the other “bigger” nations flattered to deceive to varying extents, from England, who, like the tournament themselves, were simply incapable of living up to people’s expectations (and the biggest surprise about this was the amount of surprise expressed...

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Billy Meredith, Sandy Turnbull and the Downfall of Manchester City

Manchester City’s recent difficulties with Carlos Tevez aren’t the first time they’ve had problems with their captain and star player. Not that there are many parallels to be drawn between Tevez’s recent travails and the Billy Meredith affair of 1906 – except perhaps one: the situation of the club. Then as now City were nouveau riche and were seen as gatecrashing football’s top table with big spending. The difference now, of course, is that such spending is perfectly legitimate – at least until Platini gets his way. Back in the early 1900s, there was a maximum wage in effect, introduced in 1901 at a top rate of £4 a week, and it was this that was to prove City’s undoing. Meredith – the “Welsh Wizard” – was, by common consent, the greatest player of the age and one of football’s first superstars. Playing on the right wing, he’d scored 29 goals en route to City’s first promotion to the top division in 1899. There was a setback in a subsequent relegation, but under the management of club secretary Tom Maley – brother of Celtic’s Willie – City were promoted again in 1903 and in 1904 Meredith scored the only goal in the FA Cup final – the first major trophy to be won by either Manchester club. They finished second in the league that season too, and league officials,...

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