Could this be the most average Premiership season we have ever seen?. By which i mean, every single team in the English top flight has been rather poor this term. No one team has been head and shoulders above the rest, and its due to this reason that for the first time in recent memory, the bottom of the table is actually more entertaining than the top. Yes, winning the league is the ultimate goal of all 20 teams (if it isn’t the ultimate goal, you shouldn’t be playing the sport), but as the ‘Big Four’ have become tougher to predict, the bottom half of the table has begun to shine.
Whilst teams like Wolves, Wigan and Blackburn may not play the beautiful game in the way that Arsenal do, the sheer dogged determination to achieve survival has everybodies attention. With only 8 points separating Wolves in 20th and Aston Villa in 9th, it is still mathematically plausible that any team currently residing in the bottom half of the table could be relegated come the closing week of the season.
One thing that has emerged, above all else, from the Relegation battle is the ethos of the Seasiders. Blackpool have slowly started to grate on myself and a lot of other supporters, as their care free attitude has gradually transformed into an arrogant swagger. It’s almost as if they believe, that by playing more attractive football than the other relegation strugglers, that they have more reason to achieve survival than everybody else. Whilst they have certainly been that figurative breath of fresh air this season, simply playing attractive football does not warrant relegation avoidance. With Avram Grant, Roberto Martinez and Mick McCarthy working their behinds off every week in order to secure the points needed for the magic 40 mark, it must be rather frustrating to have one of your neighbours claim that, although they might get tonked 3-0 every weekend, they deserve their place in the Premiership because they are a delight to watch. It would certainly irk me if style persevered over substance.
Personally, i think McCarthy is one of the best managers in the league, certainly one of the most underrated, and although his team is arguably a Championship side (with only Hanneman, Jarvis and possibly Doyle being Premiership quality), it would be more of a detriment to the league to lose Mick than it would be to lose Blackpool FC. Over the course of the 33 games played by Blackpool, currently occupying 18th place, the quality of their squad has come to light. Whilst they may be entertainers, you cannot hide from the fact that bar Charlie Adam, they have not made the transition from Championship side to Premiership side (they have the leagues worst goal difference), and at the end of the day they are exactly where they deserve to be.
I would not wish the disadvantages and despair of relegation upon any team, but as 3 do have to go down, i would ideally like it to be Blackburn, Birmingham and West Ham.
For me Blackburn are the worst football team in the league in terms of the style of play and the way they approach every fixture. They have gone right back to square one under Steve Kean, adopting the philosophy of having big strikers that everybody aims long balls towards. Add to that the ludicrous decision to sack Sam Allardyce, a decision that Blackburn have still not recovered from, the apparent lack of any understanding of the English game from the new Owners and the fact that they have conceded the most goals away from home this season, I believe they have not done enough to ensure another year of Top Flight football. Although realistically they will probably survive.
Likewise, the lack of any goal threat from Birmingham has seen them win only 8 out of their 32 games (a 25% win rate), whilst drawing 14. That record in itself is synonymous with relegation and whilst i have nothing but respect for Alex Mcleish, when you realise that they have the joint worst goals tally (32, along with Wigan) in the entire league, you start to wonder if they would be better off in a lower division.
And finally, West Ham. Possibly the better of the 3 teams, with Green, Upson, Parker, Cole, Keane, Bridge and Ba all showing that they deserve to be playing regular football in the Premiership, it has been a simple lack of bite that has seen West Ham stuck quite firmly in the bottom 3 for the majority of the season. They have the individuals, but when the sum of all the parts are combined they often come up short against every other side in the league, proven by the statistic of having the fewest number of wins of any team. It would be a shame to lose the Hammers, as they are one of those entities that you simply associate with the Premiership, however their form has been far too sporadic for a team looking to survive.
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