Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Premiership Mid Term Report Card

We're more than half way through the Premiership season so let's take a look a how the runners and riders are performing so far.

ManYoo - A+
It's a quite staggering performance so far from the red half of Manchester. A squad that - upfront aside - has been universally panned for being too old and having no midfield has swept all before them. A huge points total beckons if they can keep up the pace.

Van Persie was seen as far too expensive given his age and contract situation (the latter is irrelevant to the value of a player we would add) but if he wins the league for them almost single handedly then he will be worth every penny. Ferguson however remains the supreme difference and the master of the Premiership.

ManCity - B
City - as are any club that has spent heavily - are much maligned with media coverage to rival that of Syria. The fact remains however that they have lost only twice all season and are the only club with a realistic chance of catching ManYoo.

There are clearly factions and problems within the squad and the loss of Yaya Toure in particular to the African Nations Cup will be a big loss. In the short to medium term however they are here to stay.

Spurs - A
'arry's pet media would have had you believe that Spurs were mad to dispense with his services. Then bringing the failure that was AVB in to replace him and to top it all Luca Modric was sold, disaster beckoned. Much to the newspapers' chagrin, AVB has bought wisely and has Spurs playing some fantastic - and winning - football.

Spurs merely walked through an open door into fourth place last year after the implosion of Chelsea. Beating Arsenal to the Champions League spot this time around would be a far bigger achievement.

Chelsea - D
On the face of it, a D for a team that would be in third place if they win their game in hand seems harsh. But the reality of the dysfunction at the club renders Chelsea ill placed to win anything in the short to medium term.

Given that Benitez had no information about the Demba Ba transfer, one must ponder who is making the decision on not giving Frank Lampard a one year contract extension when his influence on both games and the club itself is still there for all to see. The new faces have generally fared well but they will lag Manchester whilst short termism remains the norm.

Everton - A
Fantastic season again for the Toffees. Moyes has built a top quality first eleven with the resources at his disposal. Given Everton's latest set of financials, they will be unable to strengthen the squad to push for the top four and keeping Baines and Fellaini during the January window will be a priority.

Arsenal - F
Sixth place and eighteen points (a game in hand we hear you cry) is not good enough for Arsenal nor its' fans. Wenger has been wheeling out the same delusional arguments for years now and whilst Arsenal will never be relegated, it is starting to remind people of the last years of Brian Clough - minus the drinking and the charisma.

West Brom - A
Brilliant first half of the season for Steve Clarke and the Baggies. Clarke has eschewed 'No2 syndrome' in taking the Baggies comfortably in to the top half of the table with seemingly only two more wins required to ensure total safety for another season.

Liverpool - C
Hard to mark the Reds this season. Liverpool in eighth place looks like abject failure to most people but people must remember it is over TWENTY years since they tasted success in the league and their decline has accelerated since Istanbul. Their squad with one or two exceptions is abject and the rebuilding process will be long and arduous.

This blog has a sneaky feeling that Brendan Rodgers is the right man but it will take several seasons. The reality is that with the current financial power of Manchester and Chelsea, Liverpool have no realistic chance of winning the Premiership unless something else changes.

Swansea - B+
Another solid season for the men from Wales. The departure of Brendan Rodgers and Joe Allen to Liverpool was meant to herald the inevitable second season decline. Michael Laudrup has however kept the ship steady and the capture of Michu has proven to be inspired.

Stoke - B
It is a measure of how far Stoke have come that mid table obscurity seems somehow to be disappointing. Whilst there remains a strong suspicion that the club has indeed 'peaked' they will certainly be in the Premiership for at least one more season.

West Ham - B-
Hammers fans will feel disappointed of late but their fine early season form has given them a sense of security and Allardyce doesn't normally fail at this level in terms of avoiding relegation. A couple of January additions should see them finish comfortably mid table.

Norwich - B
Despite a recent run of defeats, the Canaries' Carrow Road form has seen them stay comfortably - so far - out of the relegation zone. They will definitely need to pick up more points however at home if they are to avoid looking over their shoulders as Spring approaches.

Fulham - C+
Fulham are a little in danger of becoming a bit of a 'nothing club'. They're incredibly inoffensive and that isn't necessarily a good thing. They should however be too good to go down.

Sunderland - D
One of the first serious periods of questioning over the managerial career of Martin O'Neill. He remains (outwardly at least) supremely confident and with their ability to score goals and quality of squad they again should be too good to go down.

Newcastle - D
Standing still after last year's over achievements has proven a huge mistake. With the departure of Demba Ba, January reinforcements are badly required to make sure the error doesn't become a catastrophic one. The squad is threadbare and injuries have cost them dear.

Aston Villa - C-
Villa again suffer from 'big club syndrome' when the reality is their squad is poor in quality and not old enough on average to get into most nightclubs. Paul Lambert has taken on a huge job and he will need time to turn things around. Avoiding relegation this season will be paramount to those plans.

Southampton - C
Back to back promotions have effectively meant the Saints being promoted out of their depth and how it shows. They have however done themselves no favours by playing so openly and some hard truths need to be realised if they are to survive.

Wigan - D
There is only so long that everyone can keep talking about what a great manager Roberto Martinez is. Sure the squad is tiny but they have proven in the later months of the past seasons that they have the ability. Why does he continually have to take them into the bottom three before they start to show it?

Reading - F
Reading lack quality and any kind of managerial nous. They look entirely doomed.

The situation at Loftus Road is bizarre to say the least and set up perfectly for Redknapp who has inherited a squad easily good enough for mid table. Should they be relegated however Mark Hughes will be to blame. Something appears rotten at the core of the club with planning so shambolic it resembles Chelsea.