Day: July 20, 2011

The Twohundredpercent Premier League Previews: Blackburn Rovers

Although the close season seems to be getting shorter and shorter, the summer is a chance for football clubs to regroup and rebuild, and it goes without saying that some clubs need more rebuilding during this break than others. Comment assent seems to have it that, in the summer of 2011, one of the Premier League clubs that is in the most drastic need for surgery is Blackburn Rovers. Last season came close to being a nightmare season for the club. Its take-over by the Venky’s London Group in November of last year was greeted by supporters with a combination of excitement and apprehension. This was another new group of people choosing to dip their toe into the water of the Premier League, and they did so for the arguably reasonable price of £23m. Nine months on, the jury is still out on the club’s owners. Their first significant move was one that arguably affected the rest of the club’s season. Sam Allardyce may be some way from being everybody’s taste, but he had at least led the club to the relative comfort of a mid-table position the year before and a considerable amount of experience at managing in the Premier League. He lasted, however, barely three and a half weeks in the job under Venkys’ ownership. His replacement, Steve Kean, was lowered into the position very slowly. Some...

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The Twohundredpercent Premier League Previews: Aston Villa

They are amongst the pillars of the English game. They were amongst the first bastions of professionalism in the game, were founder members of the Football League in 1888, and their name immediately conjures up something almost unfathomably romantic about the history of football in this country. That said, though, Aston Villa can occasionally give the impression of being a club that is plain damn contrary. For example, their sole First Division championship since 1910 of 1981 was followed by becoming the champions of Europe, yet five years after the greatest triumph in their history they were relegated, in bottom place in the First Division. This turned out to be but a minor blip, but Villa remains an enigmatic club, unburdened by the weightier aspirations of some of their peers, but still with a sense of place and history which carries with it a level of a minimum level of expectations which the team on the field only sporadically manages to meet, and this summer has again seen the club rather stuck between two stools. Last season saw Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers all back in the top division for the first time since 1984, and for all four clubs it was a season of mixed emotions. Birmingham City won a major trophy and a place in Europe, but were relegated at the end...

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Playing With the Numbers: The SPL Decide Against a Ten Team League

We are now nearly five years removed from discussions about the Scottish Premier League expanding with an SPL2 division, sparking a war of words with Scottish Football League officials keen on retaining their say in how Scottish football would operate going forward. Since then, that plan collected a bit of dust that was kicked up regularly as calls were made for some sort of reorganization to the game in order to see the clubs be more competitive and more of them stable financially. When current SPL chief Neil Doncaster began pushing what appeared to be the most controversial of the reform recommendations from the McLeish Report–that of a ten team premier division–public optimism for meaningful reform likely dimmed. Supporter opinion polls demonstrated overwhelming rejection of the plan, and initially it was thought SPL club representatives would not come to an agreement to trim their flock by a further two, aware in reality it could be one of their own clubs that could land on the wrong side of the cut. After all, there would be no way the SPL would actually agree to something recommended them following an independent review, right? So, it came as a bit of a shock when shortly after the New Year, news filtered through the Auld Lang Synes that the SPL working group had come to a similar conclusion and supported a ten team top flight with two premier divisions,...

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