September’s Giraffes & Lemons

Two months into the season and the league table is beginning to look ominous for those supporters who do not follow one of the big clubs, with the usual suspects congregating in our around the Champions League spots.

Thankfully I am pleased to inform you that the Team Lemon award for September does not go to Stoke City, or even to Sunderland, but to West Ham who, Payet apart, are looking like genuine relegation candidates. The Team Giraffe award for September again doesn’t go to the team sitting on top of the pile but instead to Tottenham Hotspur who have looked, along with Liverpool, the team most likely to stop Pep’s Manchester revolution. Below is my updated predictions for the end of the season:

So here it is, (last month’s position is in brackets):  

  1. Manchester City (1st)
  2. Chelsea (2nd)
  3. Tottenham Hotspur (5th)
  4. Arsenal (4th)
  5. Manchester United (5th)
  6. Liverpool (6th)
  7. Everton (7th)
  8. Southampton (8th)
  9. Leicester City (9th)
  10. Watford (14th)
  11. Crystal Palace (16th)
  12. West Bromwich Albion (11th)
  13. West Ham United (10th)
  14. Stoke City (12th)
  15. Middlesbrough (11th)
  16. Bournemouth (17th)
  17. Swansea (15th)
  18. Burnley (18th)
  19. Hull City (20th)
  20. Sunderland (19th)

From an individual point of view there can only be one winner of the Lemon of the Month and that has to be Big Sam. For someone who has just been given his dream job to be caught out grasping for more money may be bringing the game into disrepute but a baser level it is just plain stupid. At the other end of the football spectrum there have been a few standout performers in September, most notably De Bruyne and Capoue but my Giraffe of the month goes to a Son of Tottenham Hotspur for the way he has taken the pressure of Harry Kane.


Big Sam and The FA in “What Another Fine Mess”


If the allegations surrounding Sam Allyardyce by The Telegraph are found to be true the newly appointed England manager may be employed for about as long as Peter Taylor held the same role. The paper claims Big Sam was willing to accept around four hundred thousand pounds to offer advice on how to get around the rules on third party ownership, a practice that has been outlawed in the UK since 2008 and worldwide since last year.

Even if the allegations prove to be unfounded, if there is evidence that such a meeting did occur then Allardyce must surely be dismissed from the job he has always craved. In a world where he has seen the charges upon whose shoulders his job security has rested become richer and richer, the temptation to cash in must have been immense but Big Sam is being handsomely paid by his new employers and should have realised that any such golden cash cow was fraught with risk. If Sam did go to this meeting do you really want somebody so stupid managing the national team?

When Allardyce was appointed the media was exuberant because they finally got the man they wanted, he was English at a time of the Brexit and he had the no nonsense persona they craved after the fiasco of Hodgson. What is more the pundits all knew, and liked him, because most of them are players who have played for or against one of his teams, just like the FA who hired him the media in the UK has become nothing more than an old boys club. Now, after the Telegraph’s allegations, I wait with baited breath for the reaction from Big Sam’s one time supporters. Will the old boys club rally round one of their own or will they, like kids in a school playground, turn on him as they smell a weakness?

Whatever happens in the media, one organisation that needs to be held accountable is the FA, who may find the next few months to be a period of damage limitation. For an organisation that seems to be handing out fines every other week to players and managers for the crime of bringing the game into disrepute, this is a public relations nightmare and I suggest has brought more disrepute to the English Football brand than any incident in the last few years. Any company that hires a CEO would surely do their due diligence on their new employee but it seems the FA were less than thorough when carrying out this task. But maybe the suits at Wembley were too busy patting themselves on the back because of all the positive PR they were receiving in the British press.

Again, if the allegations are found to be true then it seems that the England team will be looking for their third manager in the space of six months and this time the FA needs to decide what is best for the growth of the English football team. Not what they think will be a popular choice or someone who has an impressive, yet irrelevant, CV. We do not need a manager who lets players do what they want on the pitch but one who devises the tactics and demands that they are implemented on the field. The current England squad is not one the best in Europe yet alone the world so it is time we stopped employing managers who are their friends and employ a manager who realises the players he selects are responsible for his job and so is willing to give them the bollocking they deserve when they don’t perform.

Some may say that Big Sam was this man but remember this is the manager who declared after the laboured performance against Slovakia that it was not up to him to say where Wayne Rooney should play!