Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Great TSA Premiership Preview Thingy!- Part One

Its almost that time again. The Premiership, that bloated behemoth, that column inch glutton, that vulgar exemplar of 'all that's wrong in today's society', returns this weekend. TSA, being, as you are no doubt aware, a socially conscious, right-on website, abhors the accompanying media hoopla, the deification of louts and the rampant, unfettered capitalism with which the Premiership is invariably associated, and the way in which it squeezes out most other sporting endeavours into the margins of public consciousness.

With that in mind, here is TSA's super fantastic 2005-06 Premiership Preview fandango!! (Team tabs ladder not included)

Now I'm not hung up on originality or anything, but I have noticed one or two similar artifices in rival publications, both on-line and "old", and generally they either do this thing alphabetically (snore!), or by how the relevant grizzled hack believes the teams will finish the campaign.

TSA has come up with a dazzling conceit to amuse you, dear reader, and it is this: classify teams by geographical location! Brilliant, I know, how better to strike a blow against football clubs regarding themselves as global brands, than to box them off in there own little corners!

I'm all about the community.

So it goes like this: Part One- London; Part Two- the North West; Part Three- the Midlands, the North East and the South Coast.

This time next year they'll all be doing it like this........

PART ONE: LONDON

CHELSEA

Of the seemingly infinite number of cliches which comprise the lexicon of football punditry and analysis, the one about the Premiership being a three horse race is the most in danger of going to the great Football Focus studio in the sky. Quite simply, I cannot see another winner of the title than the nouveau riche from West London.

All last season Jose Mourinho's rivals waited for a 'blip', for the wheels to come off in a firestorm of millionaire hissy-fits and and torn kashmir overcoats. The only perceptible blip came in the Champions League, when the title had been all but wrapped up, when the absence of Arjen Robben and Damien Duff, whose presence had hitherto camouflaged their lack of a top class striker, explained their inability to break down a dogged Liverpool. With the addition of Shaun Wright-Philips this potential problem should be averted, and with Hernan Crespo back and (on the evidence of the Community Shield) a more settled Didier Drogba likely to improve, the failure to sign an Adriano or a Shevchenko should be assuaged.

Leaving aside the morality of Roman Abramovich's billions (if that is possible), Mourinho deserves enormous credit for the sense of unity and team spirit he has created, and the absence of complaints from benched players is testament to this.

Verdict: Champions. Best bank balance, best manager, best goalkeeper, best defence, best midfield...should be enough.

Makes 'em tick: John Terry- does the seemingly impossible, gives 'Chelski' a soul.

What he'll say: "It is a beautiful thing, what we do, it is like the gods playing football!"

What he means: "Gosh I'm handsome"

ARSENAL

So finally he's gone- and with something of a whimper, despite the interminable sagas which previous close seasons have witnessed. Perhaps there was a secret caveat between Patrick Vieira and Arsene Wenger last summer: stay one more year, till Fabregas and Flamini are a little older, then go with honour. Whatever, when a club loses its figurehead, its dressing room leader, and the central on-field character in almost a decade of success, uncertainty must reign.

Two key questions surround Arsenal's chances: replacing the void left by Vieira, and contemplating a world without Dennis Bergkamp. Wenger has not been totally convincing about the former, and unless there is some unexpected transfer activity, or an alteration in the team's shape, an awful lot would appear to rest on the young shoulders of Cesc Fabregas.

The Bergkamp succession is a major issue also, the peerless Dutchman's sheer class is irreplacable, so Wenger may have to rejig the Arsenal blueprint. Whatever he comes up with, with attacking options like Reyes, Ljungberg, Van Persie, Pires and new signing Aleksandr Hleb, it will be continue to be fluid, quick and it will be beautiful to watch- and Thierry Henry will be the most valuable player in the league again, and the most admired, and the top scorer.

Verdict: 2nd. Could get a little closer to Chelsea, but the loss of Vieira will not be easily overcome.

Makes 'em tick: Gilberto Silva- strange choice, I know, but the Gunners just work better when he's there, and now he'll be even more important.

What he'll say: "Well of course we are the best team in the league....."

What he means: "....in a deconstructionist perspective, of course. The league table is bourgeois text, open to interpretation!"

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

The White Hart Lane Youth Club is open every Saturday afternoon; kids can partake in such well known activities as "Free Flowing Football", "Entertaining the Punters", "Timid Capitulation on Cold Winter Nights in Grim Northern Places", "Lacking Substance" and "Finishing Ninth".

Looks good for Spurs, they've signed pretty much all the best young native talent to add to an already gifted squad, added the grit and class of Edgar Davids, appear to be full of goals and have England's goalkeeper and in Ledley King a great talent at the back. Martin Jol appears also to have the gruff forcefulness to implement his ideas.

But it's Spurs, isn't it? You know how its going to go- plenty flair. lovely football, loads of goals, and then.....the wheels will come off for a spell as the drudgery of the league campaign bites. Its not glamour that wins leagues, and that's what Spurs do best.

Verdict: 6th. For all that, there is much to look forward to for Spurs fans, a breakthrough into the top four or five is a few seasons away, but not making Europe would be a disappointment. Oh, and they love the Cup don't they.....?

Makes 'em tick: OK, he hasn't played for them yet, and he is 32 now, and if he was as good as he used to be, well, he wouldn't be at Spurs, but Edgar Davids is exactly what Spurs have needed for a long time.

What he'll say: "Winning 6-5? Yesh, thish ish exactly as I planned"

What he means: "I am Dutch, and therefore never wrong"

CHARLTON ATHLETIC

So much to admire about Charlton. The exemplary housekeeping shown in how they carefully built the club up from the yo-yo years to an established Premiership outfit, and the part played by loyalty to (and from) a long term manager in that; the community iniatives the club is involved in; the regeneration of the Valley from overgrown dump to spiritual home again.

But it seems that no matter how much Charlton grow organically, they can never seem to dispel the sense that they are a survivalist club. This can be the only explanation for why Charlton stall consistently. Despite Alan Curbishley's protestations to the contrary (and we must presume that he does not proclaim in the dressing room, when forty points has been reached, "Right that'll do lads, here's the holiday brochures, I hear Dubai is the place to be this summer") there must be a pervading sense within the club that they do not belong at the top table. Even if they are challenging for a top six place, as they have been in recent seasons, the slump comes as inevitably as Spring.

Maybe they're happy like that, maybe they are right, maybe they don't belong any higher. Maybe they've read about Icarus, and are happy to stay on the ground. In keeping with their reputation for careful husbandry, its all very prudent, wise and safe.

I mean who wants to "live the dream".......

Verdict: 11th. Or thereabouts. This year, and the next, and the next. Till one year they appoint Kevin Keegan, give him £40 million, get to the Champions League Final and go bust.

Makes 'em tick: Alexei Smertin should prove a good buy for a side who've never preoperly replaced the now despised Scott Parker.

What he'll say: "Well we'll hope to push on from here, Europe is a definite possibility"

What he means:"Quite fancy Florida this year"

FULHAM

The archetype of the modern Premiership nonentity- hovering just above the relegation zone, bereft of ambition and a protagonist in many of Sky Sports' dullest Monday evenings. It got so bad last year that their supporters began to chant "4-4-2, 4-4-2, 4-4-2" in a show of dismay at the continual deployment of 4-5-1, that belt and braces of formations.

Chris Coleman, of course, has done an excellent job in keeping up a plaything with which Mohamed Al-Fayed has long become bored. However one feels that perhaps this could be a year too far. Andy Cole is gone, and the vultures are hovering around Steed Malbranque (although Manchester City's interest appears to have dissapated) and Luis Boa Morte, so scoring goals could be a problem. Edwin Van der Saar, who saved Fulham on many occasions last season, is gone, so stopping goals could be a problem.

You just wonder, if things go wrong, do they have the heart for a relegation struggle?

Verdict: If Malbranque and Boa Morte stay, 16th; if they go, 18th.

Makes 'em tick: Malbranque, a fine attacking force, at his best.

What he'll say: "Mister Al Fayed and I see eye to eye on everything"

What he means: "If it wasn't for the Harrods discount card..."

WEST HAM UNITED

Bobby Moore isn't it, enduring image, the 'appy 'ammers, forever blowing bubbles, East Enders, the spirit of the blitz- "look there's the Queen Mum, ain't she marvellous?!"- oooh the Krays, nasty lot, loved their Mum though....

Its great to have West Ham back. There's something very heart warming about the club, the hackneyed east London charm, but also the history and the sense that the claret and blue are an integral part of the fabric of English football. The fabled youth system also symbolises a club that is in touch with football's soul, the nurturing of talent often appearing to be done for its own sake.

Lets hope that the two years outside the top flight have not scarred the club too much, but I fear it may take another bounce down a division before they regain stability at the highest level. Relegation hit hard, and their squad has a bare bones look about it, compared to the relatively glittering side that took them down. Alan Pardew has struggled to be accepted at Upton Park and would most probably not be there now had the Hammers not scraped into the play-offs in sixth.

Ireland fans will be interested to see how Israel's Yossi Benayoun fares in the Premiership, but the fact that he will be playing behind the likes of Marlon Harewood and Bobby Zamora does not augur well.

Verdict: 19th- a shame, but they'll be back.

Makes 'em tick: Teddy Sheringham. Will be worth the ticket price alone to see the man with the best brain in football in the Premeirship in surely his valedictory season.

What he'll say: "I'm sure Marlon and Bobby will click soon"

What he means: "Well would you rather Glenn Roeder back?!"

2 Comments:

Blogger DrCelt said...

hmmm,
in spite the criterion being geographical location, Chelsea still appear ahead of Arsenal even though C comes after A. Definitive proof that their now being second best is starting to creep into their psyche, oh well

3:38 p.m.  
Blogger DrCelt said...

Oh, now with Benayoun at West Ham, does that mean the 'appy 'ammers will sing about 'gassing the jews' next time they play Tottenham? Jolly bunch of loveable racists

4:04 p.m.  

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