Hello! Welcome along to my weekly thoughts and observations that I couldn’t shoehorn into Team of the Weekend. With the Premier League back in our lives, there’s no shortage of incident this week so let’s crack straight on.
Same old brand new season
After all the fuss about the Premier League big hitters having several players who had little to no pre-season, very few of them missed a beat on the opening weekend. Sure, there were some rusty performances but nothing too remarkable, with 5 of last season’s top 6 picking up three points. The gap between the “big 6” and the rest seems to be as large as ever, though Arsenal’s credentials as one of those 6 sides could be under serious scrutiny this season. You can’t read too much into a defeat to Man City because better teams than them will suffer at the hands of the champions, but there are just so many passengers in that Arsenal side. Some big decisions need to be made by Unai Emery and it seems he is more likely to make them than a certain Mr Wenger, but Arsenal fans need to be patient and accept this is a work in progress.
I don’t think it is practical to fit Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette and Aubameyang into the same team, especially if Granit Xhaka is behind them. I think Petr Cech’s days as a guaranteed starter are about over and Hector Bellerin must be under serious threat from Stephan Lichtsteiner, who I thought did a good job at left-back in trying circumstances. It’ll be interesting viewing at the Emirates but take a look at Emery now and how he looks in November. If ever a job could age someone…
Newcastle fans took to protesting outside Sports Direct on Saturday as they have decided enough is enough of Mike Ashley. Some people, mostly people who this does not concern, have branded these fans as stupid because “It’s not like Ashley works in the shop” or “It’s not the staff’s fault.” Let me tell you why you are wrong.
It has become very apparent that Mike Ashley only cares about Sports Direct. It is Sports Direct that has purchased House of Fraser this week and that age long business tradition of stocking as much shit in a shop as high and wide as you possibly can, will continue through another brand. If an impact can be made on Sports Direct to the extent that Ashley starts to notice it, then he might finally decide to sell the club to somebody who actually wants it.
You’ll also notice Sky wheeling out a lot of people defending Ashley. Sky have a number of staff on the books of Keith Bishop, a PR agency. Bishop is working overtime at the moment to get the pro-Ashley message across. Dennis Wise, Andy Gray, Richard Keys – others will follow – are all coming out of the woodwork to defend how Ashley runs Newcastle United. The situation when to parliament and Ashley released a letter that was full of lies, which has been picked apart. Bearing in mind Ashley and his associates admitted in court to lying to the fans during the Kevin Keegan fiasco, nobody should believe a damn word he says. The supposed “financial help” he has given the club means NUFC are now further in debt than they were when he arrived (the money is owed to him). Don’t be drawn in by the lies. Rant over.
It’s been good fun watching Marco Bielsa get to work on Leeds. Two wins out of two so far including a 4-1 drubbing of Derby at Pride Park on Saturday has led to an heralded amount of Leeds optimism and you know, why not? This is a coach actually coaching his team how he wants them to play and they basically systematically took apart an inexperienced manager on Saturday. Lampard won’t be the last either. The worry is that Leeds will be knackered by November and it’ll all go wrong, but I’m intrigued to see how it goes.
Meanwhile, the decision to appoint an also-ran like Steve McClaren already looks like a bad one. QPR were always in for a tough season but it is looking even tougher under a man who seems to fail an awful lot these days. Surely sticking with Holloway would have been a better bet?
There seems to be a growing trend of the “Community Shield” equivalents being played abroad, as the Spanish Super Cup took place in Morocco on Sunday. It’s not the worst idea and is surely a better idea than the mind-numbing tours of America that clubs seem to embark on in pre-season where nothing ever seems to be accomplished except visa issues. How long before the Community Shield comes to us live from Barcelona once Wembley is sold?
I’ll be back next week with more musings. Toodles for now.