As some of you may have noticed, I have spent this afternoon “pimping this place up”. I should point out that I’m not even sure whether “pimping this place up” is still the correct terminology to use (for all I know, I am now coming across like my dad doing an impression of Will Smith as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, or whether I have subscribed to the right things or not. Over the last eighteen months, I have almost made a virtue of the fact that no-one reads this blog, but I have come to the conclusion that this is probably a “bad” thing, so I am going to have a going at whoring it out. Flashing a bit of thigh, if you like. I’d try not to concentrate too hard on that mental image, though, if I were you.
So, this football weekend, then. I spent this afternoon luxuriating on the sofa eating ice cream straight from the tub and keeping one eye on the football. Poor old Spurs, eh? Stop sniggering at the back, by the way. It is a tad concerning, a week before another important round of international matches, that Paul Robinson has started playing as if he has been learning from the “Coco The Clown Big Book Of Goalkeeping Funnies”. Fernando Torres’ last minute goal cost Martin Jol four places in the Premier League table too, but equally fascinating was Liverpool’s temporary blip. Coming hot on the heels of a home defeat by Marseille during the week, Benitez’s expensively assembled team is starting to resemble most other Liverpool teams – so much fluff, but still lacking the killer touch.
Manchester United and Arsenal may have won with varying degrees of easiness (United took almost an hour to get torn into the strangely still-dislikeable Wigan Athletic, while Arsenal were strolling against Sunderland until the defensive frailty which will, if there is any justice in the world, prevent them from winning the league this season), but mid-table Chelsea (savour those words – savour them) struggled again, this time to a 1-0 win at Bolton that came about thanks to some hilarious Bolton defending. The game is up for Chelsea, though. The Premier League isn’t scared of them any more, and that was a good seventy-five percent of the reason why they steamrollered more or less everyone for three years. Hell, even Spurs could give them a game at the moment.
Some sort of congratulations should be awarded to ITV, who demonstrated their commitment to top quality football coverage by cutting down their show “The Championship” to less than thirty minutes so that they could cram in a repeat of the grand prix before the rugby internationals started this afternoon. Their featured match between Sheffield Wednesday and Leicester City was notable for Leicester scoring two of the scrappiest goals of the season and the resounding boos that reverberated around Hillsborough at full-time. Brian Laws: Dead Man Walking. Watfoed and Charlton are occupying the top two places (although Charlton did concede a last minute equaliser against Barnsley). Even funnier than that is the continuing crisis at Sheffield United. We all had a good chuckle when they took on Bryan Robson during the summer, but they are now sitting just above the relegation places after a 2-0 defeat at Bristol City.
Swindon Town beat Gillingham 5-0 at The County Ground in League One and, if rumours are to be believed, they’re going to need all the points that they can get. Leyton Orient are still top in spite of a 5-0 home defeat by Swansea City (it’s not often you can say that, is it?), and Carlisle United, who took on, in John Ward, their third manager of the season in the week, kicked off in style with a 4-0 win against Millwall. In League Two, Franchise stay top (the only small satisfaction to be taken from that is that their success has meant that a consistent rumour that QPR are sniffing around Paul Ince – terrible when people use their money to take what is rightfully yours, isn’t it?). Finally, in the Preliminary Round of this year’s FA Trophy saw Bradford Park Avenue play out a 1-1 draw against FC United of Manchester in front of a bumper crowd of 1,310, whilst there were six other matches played out in front of crowds of over 1,000 below the Conference (at AFC Wimbledon, AFC Telford United, Kettering Town, Boston United, Southport and Kings Lynn, in case you were wondering). Draw your own conclusions.