Hung, Drawn And Quartered
If you heard a clattering noise in the distance at about 4.50 on Saturday afternoon and couldn’t quite work out what it was, it was the sound of the wheels falling spectacularly off the Manchester City bandwagon. They held onto third place by dint of Liverpool and Arsenal cancelling each other out on Sunday afternoon, but it is now surely only a matter of time before they plummet down the Premier League table, leaving it with an altogether less interesting look. Meanwhile, Juande Ramos must be wondering what he has let himself in for as Spurs lost at home yet again, this time at home to Blackburn. If he can’t turn things around in the next two or three weeks or so, it officially becomes a “crisis”.
Curiously, the BBC web site chose to list the results from the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup above the results from the Football League over the weekend. This may or may not be a reflection of the averageness of the weekend’s League matches. In the Championship, Watford stayed top of the table without kicking a ball, whilst Bristol City continued to cling onto their coat-tails by beating Stoke City at Ashton Gate. Considerably more interesting are the goings-on at the bottom of the table, where QPR and Sheffield Wednesday are breathing some life into the cadavers that their seasons have turned into. Both won at the weekend – QPR won 1-0 at an increasingly moribund looking Charlton Athletic whilst Wednesday beat Blackpool – leaving Norwich City rooted to the foot of the table, Crystal Palace in the relegation places and Sheffield United, who could only draw 1-1 at Hull City, still looking nervously over their shoulders in nineteenth place. Bryan Robson for England, hmm?
In the rest of the League, it was business as usual. Over 30,000 turned out for Leeds-Millwall (I wonder why that was?) and Luton and Nottingham Forest recreated the 1959 FA Cup final at Kenilworth, with Forest very magnanimously letting Luton win this time, by two goals to one. At the foot of League Two, Mansfield Town, Lincoln City and Wrexham are tied at the bottom on nine points, but former Premier League club aren’t far above them after only picking up a point at Grimsby. The real excitement of the weekend, however, came in the FA Cup. Woking were giant-killers of some calibre in the early 1990s, but they were slain themselves at the weekend – beaten 1-0 at home by Ryman League club Staines Town. Elsewhere, Hitchin Town picked up a very handy draw away to Conference club Weymouth, Workington beat Boston United 1-0 and Ware took up their place in the First Round Proper as the competition’s lowest placed team with a 3-1 win against Tonbridge Angels, and will face Kidderminster Harriers in the First Round. The live BBC match will be the match between Torquay United and Yeovil Town. This promises to be my television highlight of the year.