So with exams out of the way at last, I am happy to be back in the blogging saddle. You will be happy to know that I am not about to try and sum up everything sporty that has happened in the last month. Hell, it would take me at least one page to explain Blackburn’s situation.
With the table beginning to take shape, the strugglers preparing their life-boats, and the chairman fondling their triggers, it is not going to be a happy Christmas for everyone in football.
Most surprisingly of all we find Owen Coyle on the wrong end of some criticism. I’m not going to defend his record this season. 13 defeats in 16 games is not good enough by anyone’s standards, and his Bolton side lie five points adrift of safety. Sadly, it looks like he may be nearly out of time.
Since that thrashing at the hands of Stoke in last season’s cup semi-final, the Trotters have been displaying relegation form. The same form that Burnley were stuck in prior to Coyle’s departure for Bolton.
I look at the team and don’t see any real quality. The best players from last season – Jack Wilshere and Johan Elmander, have either gone back to their parent club, or been let go altogether. Some have not stepped up to the plate to fill the gap.
Before the weekend’s fixtures I got the welcome news that Blackburn supporters were finally ceasing their series of protests against their team’s manager Steve Kean.
While I am not exactly his strongest advocate, it surely goes without saying that endless demonstrations against how the team is being run cannot help performances on the pitch. At the time of writing, a 2-1 home defeat to West Brom had just been confirmed, so maybe the protesters will rear their ugly heads again over Christmas.
With the two Manchester clubs dropping into the Europa League, continental competition will take on a strange feel – not to mention Stoke’s absurd tie against Valencia. I’d say this draw alone is Tony Pulis’s proudest moment in management.
With Stoke moving up to eighth in the Premier League table this weekend you could hardly argue for an adverse effect on their performances. I for one cannot wait to see Valencia’s centre backs trying to cope with a Rory Delap special.
London clubs are also finally enjoying the upper hand briefly, at least in European terms. However, do not be surprised to see AC Milan and Napoli eliminate English interest before the last eight. Milan will surely have too much for Arsenal, while Chelsea will hope their new found defensive solidity carries forward to February, as Napoli have some deadly weapons up front.
Consider this a dipping the toes back into the ocean, and some more substantial musings will be winging their way to you shortly.