Firmino. The Great Escape Artists. The Prem’s Hierarchy. “They Have Guardiola”
Players come and go, with the Football Column affording a special mention to Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, who is leaving the club after eight years, racking up 362 appearances and a 111 goal tally. Roberto’s last appearance at Anfield came v Aston villa, with the Brazilian’s equalising goal in front of the Kop, highlighting the player’s technique with a mid-air touch ball on the laces on approach to the five yard box, showing extreme balance an technique of the highest order, to caress the ball into the Villa goal. A player with great vision, technique, movement, controlled and paced, when to drop off and when to move forward to make an impact with a sublime suppleness, a crisp finisher when on goal. The ultimate compliment came from Jurgen Klopp “A great football brain”. Roberto Firmino, a humble man with the Champagne smile.
The Great Escape Artists
The ‘Dogs of War’, Everton Football Club, has to be the case with another last ditch trap door escape, defeating Bournemouth 1 to nil to retain the club’s 69 year top flight status, the Orlivian ticket was crushed down. The great escape artists at the fourth time of asking on the final day of the season. The 1994 and 1998 Houdini seasons and last seasons remaining home fixture to defeat Crystal Palace 3 to 2 to knock back implosion.
In the East Midlands, Leicester City defeated Westham United two to 1, but Everton had the key to Leicester’s destiny. Communication lines were red hot around the King Power stadium blarting in their ears. The Foxes learned their fate, no free toffees, relegation confirmed, despair kicked in with the other relegation threatened incumbent Leeds United hit the buffers early doors on four minutes with a Harry Kane opening appetizer to wet the Leeds tear wipes, crash landed on a 4 to 1 loss over the ninety minutes. Pre-match, big Sam Allardyce was questioned on why he came back to manage Leeds, quote Allardyce “I became tired of poached eggs and walking round the lake”. Sam the heist merchant on a reported £500,000 pay day for a one point offering v Newcastle, that’s a poacher’s fee, eggs on the menu Sam? Down the suction pipe go Southampton, Leeds and Leicester three slots to fill in the Championship.
The Jetsetter clubs with high octane top flight longevity hit the printer scanner, the print out on entry to the higher sphere.
- Arsenal, top flight since 1919-20
- Everton 1953-54
- Manchester United 1975-76
- Tottenham Hotspurs 1978-79
- Chelsea 1989-90
The Prem’s Hierarchy
Congratulations to Manchester City on claiming their fifth premiership title in six seasons. Pep Guardiola has won 35 titles as a manager, astonishing figures, one of the most outstanding coaches of all generations, runners up Arsenal hit the level of City during the season on perfecting the quick interchanging passing and sublime movement. The Gunners at the season’s end succumbed to lack of experience as their Achilles heel. Time to put the oddball critics to shit creek, Arteta and his charges can be proud of the Premiership’s only challengers to Manchester City.
Nine points behind the Gunners, and into third position came Manchester United who have made vast strides under Ten Haag. Goalkeeper David de Gea is not Mr Reliable, with a possible change imminent. A firm leader is required in midfield to add to some much needed fire power up front. The viled owners the Glaziers are playing roulette with the mechanisms of selling the club, united they stand? The unexpected early doors arrival of Newcastle United into a top four slot behind United was not predicted, with shrewd signings by Eddie Howe to work the oracle into the team ethic. During Howes sabbatical on leaving Bournemouth, Eddie enhanced his management and coaching knowledge to envelope on visits to top line clubs in Europe. The Athletico Madrid manager Diego Simone seemed to have an effect on Howe, with the adopting of the mantra ‘The dark arts of football’. The Athletico Madrid badge, the clever formula to slow the opposition, to frustrate, to suffocate the match oxygen if required, depending on the state of play, quote United’s Ten Haag “Newcastle are bloody annoying”, bang that drum. A mixture of expansive football and to dampen the opposition, time for the tennis stop clock to enter the fray, to regulate. The referees are rudderless in dealing with the dark arts, how to work the match play, Newcastle United. Liverpool failed to qualify for Champions League football slotting in at fifth position, the first time for seven years that the club has fallen short, to suggest that Liverpool took their finger off the pulse during the pre-season and paid the price, the Europa League beckons. The Liver Bird regained it’s normal flight path at the season’s end, with a seven match winning sequence, but just fell short. The Kopites can trust Jurgen Klopp to rebuild in part and re-energise to a high powered team, as Arnie would say “I will be back”, that’s for sure Liverpool FC.
Tucked five points in behind Liverpool came Brighton and Hove Albion, who have become the country cousins of Manchester City, with technically high an accomplished brand of football. Graham Potter’s exit from the club could have caused a derailment, but Potter saved that grace for the Chelsea, Chelsea. In 1997 the club was within a whisker, of relegation into the non-league sphere, a remarkable transition to slay the beast, the pyramid, fly those seagulls into Europe. The Premiership’s final entry into Europe is Aston Villa into the Conference Cup, under the guidance of Unai Emery, who has four Europa cups in one’s cabinet, an elitist manager who will deliver, full reigns given to Unai, success will prevail.
The Top Rankers
The top ranking clubs with the crowning glory, Champions of England.
- Manchester United, 20 titles
- Liverpool 19
- Arsenal 13
- Joint fourth Everton and Manchester City with 9 titles each
- Aston Villa 7 titles
- Joint sixth, Chelsea and Sunderland on 6 titles each
“They have Guardiola”
Congratulations to Manchester City, treble winners. The Premier League sealed and delivered May 20th, followed by the two to one FA Cup Final win v Manchester United on June the 3rd. The final crowning glory came on June 10th defeating Inter Milan in Istanbul one to nil to enter, Champions of Europe, the lifting of the Champions League trophy.
Sing song Manchester City,
Say that you want me
All of the time,
Say that you need me,
Always be mine,
Because they have Guardiola
They have Guardiola, all of the time
Pep Guardiola has reportedly gifted his £750,000 bonus to al the staffers at the club, from the admin, to the tea ladies, chiefs, cleaners, laundry, pitch manicurers, security staff, the list goes on, integrity holds court with Pep. Westham United claimed their first trophy in forty three years, defeating the Italian side Fiorentina 2-1 in Prague. Congrats all round. The clock is ticking for the 2023-24 season on 12th August, Manchester City open the defence of their crown at Burnley.