Like a summer blockbuster about robots from outer space, the Premier League rumbled towards its conclusion this week with a selection of plot lines wrapped up in more or less predictable fashion: West Ham United were relegated having been terri-bad all season. Manchester United got the point they needed against Blackburn to lift their 19th title. And perhaps most significantly, the evil Decepticons… sorry, I mean Manchester City, secured at least fourth in the table and a place in the intergalactic Champions League.
They did so on Tuesday with a perfunctory 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, the goody robots who have managed since January to morph from a slick sports car into a collection of knackered humanoids only occasionally able to score goals. Ironically, robot-dancing Peter Crouch is partly to blame in that department, having managed four goals in the league all season – and the own-goal here, which sent Manchester City into the Champions League at Spurs’ expense.
City signed two players »who’ll blow your brains out«
Harry Redknapp looked on with an air of resignation. Like anyone watching the match, he sensed that this was a turning point in English football history, one that would leave Spurs, after a roller-coaster first season in Europe’s premier competition, firmly frozen out of the most lucrative show in town. It was the evening that Manchester City turned up at Da Club, wearing brand-new blinging threads, pushed their way past the bouncer, and flounced into the VIP area. A click of the fingers will bring them a dozen bottles of Cristal and whichever players in the world they want (rumours currently link them to Xavi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic). They will be extremely hard to shift out of the elite again and Redknapp knows it. »City tell me they’ve got one or two players signed already who’ll blow your brains out«, he said before the game. »They’re not going to stop until they win the league and even the Champions League.«
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That view was lent credence at the weekend when City won the FA Cup final 1-0 against Stoke to win their first trophy for 35 years. Few doubt that it will be a springboard to more extravagant silverware. The juggernaut is up and running. The summer transfer window at Eastlands will be frantic. And next season the title race will be a fascinating tussle.
Hoping to be involved in the fray along with City are the 19 other Premier League clubs who aren’t West Ham. Some have a better chance than others, with Wolves, Wigan and Blackpool all claiming three points this weekend and setting up a nail-biting final day.
It was perhaps Blackpool who caught the eye most at the weekend, winning 4-3 against Bolton in the kind of wildly entertaining match they seem to have been involved in all season. DJ Campbell scored twice for the Seasiders to become the second highest-scoring Englishman in the league behind Darren Bent, want-away Charlie Adam thrashed in the winning goal, and they even at times defended competently. All they have to do now, to stand a chance of staying up, is win next weekend at Old Trafford.
Ian Holloway: »God has written a story«
Yes, that Old Trafford. Where Manchester United remain unbeaten all season. According to Blackpool manager Ian Holloway though, you never know what might happen: »Blow me down with this fairytale we're on – the story that has been unfolding the past two years«, he said on Saturday. »We've got to go to Man United and get a win. I've had some strange things happen in my life and maybe the main man up there [God] has written a story that will probably beat Cinderella and I believe we can do it.« He might be mad, but he and his team will be sorely missed should they go down.
The situation at the foot of the table is perilous for all the clubs up to Blackburn in 15th and as tight as what we might call in English, a nun’s fanny. You can look that one up…
Here’s how the survival battle now stands:
14 Sunderland 37, -14. 44
15 Blackburn 37, -14, 40
16 Wolves 37, -19, 40
17 Birmingham 37, -20, 39
18 Blackpool 37, -21, 39
19 Wigan 37, -22, 39
20 West Ham 37, -24, 33
This all points to one thing – an afternoon in the pub next Sunday, glued to the Premier League. I strongly suggest you join me!
An dieser Stelle erklärt Titus Chalk die englische Fußball-Kultur auf Deutsch
Folge 39: Avram Grant Milwall Legend
Wahrend des Spieles zwischen Wigan und West Ham, ein Flugzeug hat das DW Stadium umkreist. Hinter es, halt es ein Banner, das mit den Wörtern »Avram Grant Milwall Legend« beschriftet wurde, eine grausame Witze mittels West Hams Erzrivalen. Das Banner war eigentlich teil der neusten Modeerscheinung in England – sich über Rivalen mit grossen Banners zu mokieren. Blackpool hat gerade Preston North End gestichelt mit einem Flugzeug (»We are superior, love Blackpool FC«) und Manchester United Fans haben Sonntag Anfield eingesickert um ein Banner über ihre 19. Meisterschaft zu ausfalten. Die Gags sind allerdings lustig, vielleicht aber nicht für Grant. Keine West Ham Legende, er wurde sofort nach dem Spiel gefeuert.