We’re approaching a very unusual time in the football season: the end. It’s a time when fans get to watch games in shorts and sunglasses, TV companies start accompanying football coverage with adverts for cricket and two teams with absolutely nothing to play are seemingly able to stage the world’s most excruciatingly tedious stand-off without breaking sweat.
With a weekend just passed which included a Mourinho ‘masterclass’ and the customary Spurs home despatch alongside the more infrequent occurrences of Arsenal and Stoke victories, it’s time to look at the final few weeks of the season and what to expect from the predictably unpredictably self-appointed ‘best league in the world’…
David Moyes will turn a darker shade of grey
It’s been a tough old few months for ‘Moyeseh’. Not only has he had to make do with meagre resources while serving up one of the most abject leadership campaigns against relegation of all time, but he has also had the embarrassment and shame of a sexism row to contend with.
If you hadn’t noticed already, Moyes’ complexion (and hair) has been turning increasingly grey with every step closer to relegation and appalling constructed attempt at a ‘Dad joke’. So, one thing that I feel I can say for sure is that as Sunderland’s grim fate is confirmed over the next couple of weeks, Moyes will indeed turn a further shade of grey in mind, body and spirit. It’s ‘Fifty Shades Darker’, but with a more sinister plot…
The players of West Brom will mistake a football pitch for a beach
Now some might argue that this has already happened thanks to West Brom’s current run of form which comprises three straight league defeats, but I think there could be more to come (especially if Ben Foster’s escapades at the weekend are anything to go by).
Tony Pulis is carving out a fearsome reputation as a manager who impressively manages resources until the 40-point mark before allowing his players to let loose and visit the fabled ‘beach’ in March, April and May, presumably in anticipation of visiting the actual beach in June and July. Expect to see Gareth McAuley and Jonny Evans attempting to build a sandcastle in the Baggies box, while Salomon Rondon and Matty Phillips hone their bat and ball skills.
Fantasy footballers lose their shit over double gameweeks
If you’ve come this far and are still highly invested in the current fantasy football campaign, then well done you sad, sad person. I have to confess, I am among this cohort which is what prompted me to raise this point. Over the next few weeks, fantasy football enthusiasts will be extolling the virtues of the ‘double gameweek’, where rearranged fixtures conspire to create a fantasy anorak’s wet dream.
Whatever you do, don’t get into a conversation with one of these people – it’s likely to be long, it’s likely to be tedious and it’s certain to be complicated. One thing I will say for those that are still with me – Southampton’s additional games are at home to Arsenal and Man United, so Dusan Tadic may not be such a great ‘shout’ after all.
Stoke fans to complain about their lot
At this time of the season, fans (myself very much included) start to bemoan their situation and air their displeasure with the current regime – be it players, coaching staff or hot snacks. And this weekend we were provided with a timely reminder of this disenchantment. A few years ago, Stoke fans got a bit of stick when they started to disapprove of the Pulis playing style and it was at this point that pundits and fans of other teams let the Potters know that they were getting above their station, they should feel ‘privileged’ just be in the Premier League and not in a relegation dogfight. Since then, the football has probably improved but the final league position has been rather stagnant.
This week, after a run of three straight defeats Stoke really needed a result against Hull. At 1-1, Charlie Adam and Saido Berahino were removed to be replaced by Peter Crouch and Jon Walters. The substitution prompted a negative response from the ‘Bet365 faithful’, who were clearly becoming exasperated with Mark Hughes.
Of course, just eight minutes later Pete and Jon combined to edge the home side in front. This is all summed up very nicely in our latest podcast ‘Konch’, which you can listen to here.
The point is – be careful what you wish for because sometimes it might not be that bad and may just end up with a lanky centre forward planting the ball into the far corner…
Jermain Defoe to hand in a transfer request
This might not actually happen, but I’ve put it down here due to the trauma caused by Jermain when he turned his back on West Ham after they were relegated in the 2002-03 season. Hammers folklore has it that a young Defoe took to the pitch on the final day of the Premier League season with a transfer request concealed in his sock. Whether this is true, we’ll never know. However, one thing that is categorical is that the striker handed in a transfer request almost immediately after West Ham’s fate was sealed.
In a recent interview, alongside saying he wants to go on Strictly Come Dancing, Defoe said that he regrets handing in that request and has urged young players not to follow the same path. Whether he is merely extending the olive branch with an intention of paving the way for a summer move back to Upton Park following Sunderland’s relegation, it’s not yet clear…
John Terry to get his kit on one last time
The time has finally come for us all to say goodbye to #JT26, ‘Mr Chelsea’ and stadium tour coordinator John Terry as he calls time on his illustrious Blues career. Providing Conte’s mob don’t fuck this up and hand the title to Spurs, then we will all hopefully be presented with one last chance to share a chuckle with John.
If Chelsea win the league, there’ll of course be a trophy to lift and therefore a kit-based dilemma for club captain John to face. Does he lift the trophy in full kit for the benefit of the Terry family photo album or does he lift it in a sort of half-training kit/half-match day kit scenario?
JT will most likely be on the bench for the occasion, so unfortunately whatever he does won’t be quite as crass as the Champions League Final scenes in Munich. But here’s to hoping for something memorable. We are talking about John Terry here, after all.
By Conor Shilling