Tuesday 25 June 2019

Women's World Cup France 2019 Day 17: England v Cameroon provide warm up for jaw-dropping post-match scenes

England 3 Cameroon 0 in the first of Sunday's last 16 Women's World Cup games, and shocking scenes "going out worldwide" as England manager Phil Neville put it.

Indeed, as Neville laid into Cameroon for their "behaviour", the global audience was treated to an act of hypocrisy unprecedented at this level.

Mr Neville, who as a pundit on Match of The Day 2 once said he'd have "two footed" Tomas Rosicky for an "exaggerated" disguise pass, told BBC that the ninety minutes just played "didn't feel like football", as he focussed at least three times on the "worldwide" aspect of the event, which Cameroon had disrespected "worldwide".

Mr Neville, who was once booked for diving while playing in a Merseyside derby for Everton against Liverpool broadcast to over 100 countries ("worldwide"), said he had no sympathy for the Indomitable Lionesses.

"They felt sorry for them in the end, we should have had a red card and a penalty as well", he continued, suggesting that Alexandra Takounda's late scythe on Steph Houghton didn't fall into the "good foul" category that he regularly cites in the pundit's chair/sofa.

Cameroon are likely to protest that their protests were just part of their ongoing tribute to previous men's World Cup tournaments, expanding on their Italia 90 references from the group games to capture more memorable moments throughout this knockout match. Just a few minutes into the game, left back Yvonne Leuko, an admirer of Neville the player while growing up watching Premier League games beamed into many a nation, produced an elbow into Nikita Parriss' face that was straight out of the Terry Fenwick-on-Diego Maradona Mexico 86 mould. There was then a brief sojourn back to Italia 90, when Augustine Ejangue gobbed on Toni Duggan's arm (although proof of intent was less obvious than Frank Rikjaard's on Rudi Voeller), before a small misunderstanding of the rules over England's second goal revived memories of that Zaire player who smashed a stationery ball down the other end of the pitch as Brazil prepared to take a free kick against them in 1974.  

Cameroon are expected to admit that their boycott-threatening response to their disallowed goal at 2-0 in the second half was not, as some assumed, a parody of Kuwait's Prince-intervening actions in 1982 when an offside looking goal for France was given, but just a normal, human reaction to the nauseating and unwanted pedantry of VAR.

"I can't stand here and say 'everything's wonderful'", Mr Neville bleated on, and it's clear that everything has been far from wonderful in his life for some time, given the excess of moaning and fondness of foul play. Anyone who has seen Mr Neville in an Everton shirt, reducing former team mate Cristiano Ronaldo to tears with a ball-forgetting lunge from behind at Goodison Park in 2009, will testify to that.

And many millions all over the planet did.              

Friday 21 June 2019

So who VAR's VAR? Day 15 Women's World Cup France 2019

VAR's successful campaign to dominate the Women's 2019 World Cup motored in to a second week.

Threatened with electric shock treatment for the remaining twenty minutes of USA-Chile last Wednesday, ref Riem Hussein was forced to award USA a penalty for a foul that hadn't even taken place in the penalty area. Despite the low grumbles of both BBC commentators at this decision, VAR will point to the wider world of modern football where teams are awarded champions league places despite falling outside of the single champions' spot 

Where VAR’s reign has now made redundant the directive to give ‘benefit of doubt’ to the forward in close offside calls, this penalty decision in favour of the holders’ appears to be an example of supporting attacking play in an even more generous way. Some cynics will mutter bitterly that this is yet another case of the mass pandering to USA that has been happening ever since the lead up to 1994 World Cup when FIFA’s secret proposal to increase the size of the goals to placate the points/goals hungry American people was made public in error. VAR themselves, without being questioned on the subject, have not admitted to the penalty award having anything to do with instructions from above, be that Trump, Putin or Qatar via Platini via Sarkozy.

Just to clear this up once and for all: VAR is only there to intervene when there are clear and obvious errors, such as for instance, a penalty being given for a foul outside the penalty...ah.

Away from VAR (seeing as VAR is there, of course, to end all discussion and debate), it was nice on Saturday to see Cameroon midfielder Genevieve Ngo Mebeleck channelling her country's Italia 90 spirit when slicing a head-high follow through onto the hand of Holland's blond midfielder, Jackie Groenen. Unlike in the opening game in Bologna 29 years ago, when Benjamin "Chopper" Massing was red carded for executing the final blow on Argentina's Claudio Caniggia, Mbeleck was only booked. Groenen escaped action despite having her crocked hand in an unnatural position. Frustratingly for Holland, they had to remain tight-lipped, fully aware that Nigel De Jong's studmarks are still embedded in the chest of Spain's Xavi Alonso, some nine years after the 2010 World Cup Final.

Wednesday night, and I got to experience my second full game of this tournament, England again (of course, duh!) against Japan. Already qualified, England looked to top the group at the expense of opponents who'd won this competition in 2007 but, with the men's team 2018 destiny in mind, Phil Neville made eight changes with two eyes on losing.

The wholesale changes included the return, to my delight, of centre back Millie Bright of Chelsea, recovering from a shoulder injury. I became a fan of Bright in the Euros, admiring her rugged style at the heart of the defence, a throwback stopper with a mix of the unpredictable, which is always interesting in someone who plays so close to her own goal. She bullied the Arsenal attack for over an hour in the 2017 Cup Final like the leader of the school playground, shirt too unbuttoned and tie too loose, snatching away bags and packed lunches from other kids while getting her minions to upturn pockets for cash.  Then for the last 15-20 minutes at Wembley she completely lost it, her powers leaving her and playing like an extra attacker for Arsenal.

Bright's range of on-pitch schizophrenia was evident against the Japanese, first playing a raking long range pass early on to start an attack, while at other times unable to play any pass without an excess of force, conceding throw ins at will, combined with a tendency to let the ball go through her as if it was some poltergeist sphere in a film.

Luckily for Brighty and England, in a second half that the Lionesses struggled to stamp their authority on while a goal up, Japan lacked the killer conviction of Birmingham's Ellen White, who scored an instinctive second to go with her measured first, at a time when Japan were on top and really should have been level. Like in the Euros, when Jodie Taylor's goal instincts made the difference against technically superior opposition, the rotated forwards here have scored four between them in three games.

For me, the best change from the last game was Vicky Sparks for Jonathan Pearce in the commentary box, although it did appear, late in the game, that Pearce pulled rank. Selecting the England match to watch on iPlayer, I relaxed as it was Sparksy doing the talking, alongside Rachel Brown and Rachel Yankey, but with just a few minutes left I decided to turn to the other game in the group, Scotland-Argentina, where all the drama was happening in, as Sparks said it, "Saint Denise" (as an aside here, I believe the uncultured pronunciation of St Denis to be forgivable, as I am partial myself to a bit of "Ajax" with the J not silenced, and have always refused to go along with "Leenal" Messi, stubbornly sticking with "Lionel". While I can't quite bring myself to declare the x in Grand Prix, I have never forgotten the sight nor sound of the irate Arsenal fan on our club organised coach that was running late and getting lost on the way to the 1995 European Cup Winners Cup Final standing up and yelling at the driver "Oi! Parc Des Princes. Naw!", with all available s's used).   

Anyway, I turned to the other game, where Scotland's 3-0 lead and apparent march to the knockout rounds as a 3rd place best loser was about to be halted by a last minute VAR penalty for Argentina, in some kind of macabre salute to 1978. The score was indeed, 3-2 as Argentina stepped up to take the last minute spot kick. But then, in a most anti-Scotland way, the goalkeeper, Lee Alexander, saved the pen and all was well again. There was, however, a twist in this already twisted tale. Already established as world leaders on events in the penalty area, the curtain-twitching VAR passed on the gossip that Alexander had strayed from her goal line before the kick had been taken. With the apparent new rule in place that goalkeepers must have at least one foot on the line before a penalty is struck, the untypically accepting Argentinians were suddenly allowed to re-take the kick. Alexander was first booked and then, on VAR's instruction, informed by the ref that if she repeated the act, would face a third penalty with one eye missing. Inevitably Argentina scored, even with a shot that went straight down the middle, and Scotland's lifelong international agoraphobia continued.

I turned back to England, rewound a bit, and Pearce was somehow commentating. Perhaps he'd been there all along, and my sense of denial had found super strengths. Maybe I should be more tolerant of him in these times of VAR. It's strange because two of my biggest annoyances in football, the moving goalkeeper to save a penalty (exception Dave Beasant at Wembley 1987, which I loved!) and the red card for a player conceding a penalty have now been eradicated, and yet FIFA have somehow found solutions that are more annoying. I mean, really, a booking for every player who gives away a penalty even if they clearly go for the ball or can't stop their hand rising up due to being human? What are we saying there - don't even bother to get the ball off a forward in the penalty area? Let him shoot? If not, there may be a penalty where your goalkeeper will be effectively tied to a post?

Maybe this is the secret alternative to increasing the size of the goals and guaranteeing more 'scores'. If Steph Houghton had mistimed her last-ditch tackles just fractionally in covering for Brighty, even Japan might have bagged one.                                                 

Sunday 16 June 2019

France 2019 World Cup Day 8: Patriotism's Coming Home

I'm having just as much trouble catching up with the women's World Cup as I did the men's last summer.

Wonderfully, this summer's tournament in France is getting comparable viewing exposure, but I've managed just one game and a half in the 12 days it's been on. 4.3 million watched England beat Scotland 2-1 on Sunday at 5pm, and maybe double the number wanted to but, like Thailand playing USA, found the odds stacked against them.

To some, an early evening weekend kick off is perfect (me pre-kids, for instance), but when one's missus is lovingly preparing a roast dinner for five, my priority is keeping the other three members of the family alive. Take your eyes off them for a second and they'll be tumbling around the washing machine on a 90 degree 1400 spin, thumping noiselessly against the tub like General Zod and cohorts in Superman II.

What I did squeeze in, between the narrow margins of the ever expanding bedtime routine and my own rapid surrender to sleep, was the early stadium-side exchanges between BBC's chosen punditry team on opening night. While 2015 World Cup winning USA goalkeeper, Hope Solo, and fomer Arsenal and England's Alex Scott made some welcome points to Gabby Logan about FIFA's resistance to "grow the game" in certain countries, Dion Dublin, currently on the books of Homes Under the Hammer, revealed that he'd done “loads of research and watched loads of videos".

I for one was reassured by Dublin's aptitude, recalling a time on radio when he said he'd "never heard of “ Mathiueu Debuchy when Newcastle signed him from France in the summer of 2012, mere weeks after the right back had played in every one of France's four games in Euro 2012. For a man paid to actually inform the public on football matters (and not make elbow-nudging in-jokes about his colleagues' lackluste performances on the putting green), this smacked of Alan Shearer's own revelation of ignorance in 2010 regarding Ben Arfur, who'd also just signed for Newcastle (ha, so good to get one in on Shearer, early doors. He's not even anywhere near this tournament!).

Finally, on Friday night, Day 8, I watched the whole of England v Argentina. It's very possible that  I wouldn't watch an equivalent meeting of this fixture, but I sat through this one without the babyish tendancies that that wretched male game brings out in me. Does this mean I want England to win? I'm liberated when I admit, yes, I do want England to win!

Even with Phil Neville as manager...

Angered though I normally am by the lesser known Nev, I saw 20 years ago and more that he was the man for a job dominated by women. One night in the mid-late nineties, I found myself in the unenviable position of being in the Hotshots bar of the now defunct Leisureworld in Hemel Hempstead.  With an England under 21 gathering that same week, Nev and team-mates Nicky Butt, Michael Duberry and Emile Heskey strolled in. While the wild young men of Chelsea and Leicester City approached the fruit machine and pool tables, Manchester United's Nev and Butt, mere yards from us just outside the bar perimeter, were quickly spotted by two attactive women who engaged them in lively conversation. From the off, Nev was animated and engaging, despite his looks, and using his personality to inject consistent hilarity in the female dialogue instigators. Such was his ease in this situation - in stark contrast to Butt, who  kept his hands in his tracksuit pockets throughout the scene in a flawed conceit to look cool while no doubt being ready to pounce if the opportunity struck - that it was clear Nev was one to watch.

Both my eyes, however, were fully focused on Logan before kick off of, what I will now term, the Argentina game. With her hair in a ponytail and dressed in a full-length white coat, she gave off the look of a lab assistant, occasionally delving in to her laptop for the latest data. While the experimental line up of Scott, injured Arsenal and England regular Jordan Nobbs and Dublin tried to analyse the findings in real terms, Logan applied her own research on Shearer, asking for Dublin's comments while Scott was midway through a sentence.

With the action underway - after the same countdown to kick off that blight's the men's tournaments - we could finally get to hear Jonathan Pearce patronise Sue Smith in the commentary box. "You went the colour of beetroot" he told her kindly, in reference to Nev singling out her "legend" in the press conference as a pioneering England player. You did, Sue, you really did. Beetroot. You did, young lady. I'm telling everyone now. Stay there, Sue!

Pearce proved he could mix it too, though, grumbling "Feel free to comment at any time, Sue" during the first half. "You wouldn't stop talking during the day!"

Bloody women, eh Jon, non-stop wittering on when you don't need it!  

Against the amateur players of Argentina (one of whom Pearce criticised for getting cramp, even though it turned out not to be cramp), England found doughty resistance but, unlike in 2002 in Japan and Korea, earned a correctly awarded penalty against the South Americans. Sadly however, No.7 Nikita Parris was unable to convert like England's No.7 17 years ago. At half time, Dublin explained that this was down to Parris "hitting it with her heel".

0-0 at half time, the interviewed Nev spoke about the importance of not getting sucked in to Argentina's "going downs and timewasting". As a man who has long championed the "good foul" on MOTD, he must have been quietly impressed by his opponents' approach. Nev's adoption of the Gareth Southgate of Russia 2018 waistcoat seemed quite apt. Both men were ultimately responsible for England's elimination from successive European Championship tournaments, and while Southgate's rosy path to the last four in the home of Putin has seemed to redeem him in the bitter eyes of many, Neville must hope that the item of clothing will work at least an equal charm to exorcize his own penalty-related ghost.

Happily, England will now progress to the knockout stages, (unlike in Euro 2000) having found a way past the Argentines’ robust defence and inspired goalkeeper just after the hour. A rare Argentine attack was brought quickly out of defence by Jill Scott/Jessica Knappett, who played in the menacing Fran Kirby (certainly menacing to Arsenal in defeat to Chelsea in the 2018 Cup Final), in turn feeding Arsenal's Beth Mead on the left. Mead's piercing ball between defence and goalie meant that even out of sorts Jodie Taylor couldn't miss if she flicked her right boot out.

The one goal proved enough, though a tougher fight awaits England on Wednesday when they play Japan for the right to top the group.

Not that it always matters...    

Monday 10 June 2019

Champions League Final exposes folly of BT Sport squad strength

So here we finally were, almost in pre-season territory, as the 3rd and 4th placed teams in the 17/18 Premier League faced each other in the 18/19 Champions League Final.

"No one expected us to be here" Tottenham Hotspur boss, Mauricio Pochettino/Danny Dyer had said after both the quarter final and semi final aggregate draw wins, unwittingly suggesting that lack of expectation and pressure  had helped them reach the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid. But his biggest conundrum of the European journey now awaited him: How to win the Final on away goals?

Pochettino/Dyer's idea to outscore the opposition was to recall star striker Harry Kane, some 53 days after his last appearance in the quarter final. This surprised some, who believed that this amount of time had actually separated the last semi final and the Final.

Meanwhile, up in the BT Sport studio, the Tottenham head of Glenn Hoddle and Liverpool eyes of Michael Owen, together with Rio Ferdinand and the 'impartial' Gary Lineker as presenter, represented three winners of European Finals (Hoddle didn't play in either leg of Tottenham's UEFA Cup Final win in 1984). Ferdinand, Champions League winner with Manchester United in 2008, said he would have been "delighted" to play against a centre forward not fully fit like Kane, while Owen, UEFA Cup winner in 2001, said Kane had to play because "It's Harry Kane!"

In fairness to Owen, he was not just being empathetic to a fellow injury prone No.9 ("Injured forward's union!"), but mindful of not being too hard on Pochettino/Dyer, who's leg he'd dived over to win England a winning penalty against Argentina in 2002 World Cup. He needn't have worried, though, as Pochetinno/Dyer has put the experience to good use, earning Tottenham twelve extra points a season via the theatrics of Erik Lamela, Dele Alli and Kane himself.

The BT Sport commentary box boasted more European silverware, former Liverpool player Steve McManaman a goalscorer in Real Madrid's 2001 Champions League success when they successfully defended the trophy, while main commentator, Darren Fletcher, shared the same name as the Scottish, Manchester United midfielder who won the Champions League in 2008. The other person speaking over the action was Jermaine Jenas.

For at least one viewer taking advantage of the free streaming of the Final through BT Sport's YouTube channel, the choice of main commentator (as well as one of the co-commentators) was strange, considering the embarrassment of riches at BT Sport's disposal via the famous ITV feeder school. That one viewer at least was under the impression that the mass exodus of names either playing second fiddle or escaping from Clive Tyldesley had all fled to BT Sport, even if the jobs weren't available. But tonight, there wasn't a Champion or a Beglin or a Drury or a McCoist or a Townsend in sound.

Jon Champion, for one, seemed tailor-made for the occasion, or perhaps not, if you refer to my opening paragraph. It just seemed - to that one temporary viewer at least - that the offering of Fletcher and Jenas was, for the occasion, a bit, well, Friday Night Social. Would Nikki Chapman be given the job of voice over for a Royal Wedding? Ben Shepherd, General Election coverage?

Perhaps to compensate for bringing mere unfulfilled potential to the table, Jenas became the most outspoken of the three commentary box occupants during the game, and as early as the second minute started laying in to a Tottenham team significantly more progressive than any of their teams he played in. Kane, Trippier and Sissoko (understandably, to be fair) were hung out to dry in the dissection of Liverpool's opening goal from the penalty spot.

Throughout the following 88 minutes, Jenas asked himself some strong questions in relation to the apparently under-par performances on the field: "Is it the occasion?" he pondered, "the three week break?" "the heat?" His failure to know the answer didn't stop him from slaying Son Heung Min for not showing enough "patience" when running towards goal in the first half.

Jenas's disapproval of these people performing at the summit of the club game was reminiscent of Mark Bright tutting at Brazillians during 2006 World Cup and claiming at South Africa 2010 that "I've seen Messi live three times and he hasn't played well once". I would counter, and indeed did so at the time, that I'd seen Bright play anonymously a handful of times and had never seen a more terrible open goal miss than his one in the 1993 FA Cup Final replay for Sheffield Wednesday against Arsenal.

McManaman was far better placed to comment on running through on goal, of course, but BT Sport and BBC are reaping the benefits right now of a golden generation of mediocre but articulate ex Tottenham players, such as Jenas, Danny Murphy and Michael Brown, with Tim Sherwood showing up occasionally to remind people he's out there.   

Half time in the studio obliged Rio Ferdinand to play the adjudicator, as Hoddle and Owen disagreed over the penalty award in favour of their teams, while Lineker - not one to shy away from matters involving Europe - implied that Liverpool had got a "lucky break". Rio, vastly experienced in these squabbles with three children under ten, closed the case with the damning verdict that Sissoko had "given the ref a decision to make". While Lineker took Rio's verdict with some decorum, Hoddle appeared to mumble "Yeah, like Baku giving UEFA a decision to make".

With Liverpool outstripping both their original ticket allocation and Tottenham's number in the stadium, the Never Walk Alone's were just too strong for that song Spurs fans have nicked off Southampton. Southampton fans sitting at home brooding over Tottenham not only taking their manager but their greatest hit, know that any lawsuit will fall short owing to the North Londoners' use of "the Spurs" rather than "the Saints", but the Spurs should be more gracious in this situation. They were once the victims themselves when Manchester United, sweating over a Cup Final song in 1983, pilfered 'Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur' from Tottenham Hotspur and adapted it to 'Glory, Glory Man United'. 

Although Jenas tried to even up the Tottenham leaning with a few mentions of "Mauricio", It was Divock Origi, in the mould of David Fairclough, who settled the game with his most memorable goal yet as a sub.  And so, for the second successive time in their six time Champions Cup/League winning history, Liverpool win it without having been champions the previous season. And yet, should they successfully defend it next season, surely no one should listen to the cold hearts (of Man Utd and Man City fans mostly) devaluing their triumph after a 97 point failing.

"And rightly so, Fletch", even Jenas would surely agree.     




Thursday 6 June 2019

Baku at the ranch for BT Sport boys as Europa League Final impersonates old school testimonial

While thousands of hardcore Arsenal and Chelsea fans stayed away from the Europa League Final in Baku (Twinned with Gilead), the chosen BT Sport commentary team of Ian Darke and Robbie Savage seemed, themselves, to be guiding us through proceedings from a place nowhere near Azerbaijan.

The isolated sounds from their well-worn mouths in relation to the venue was reminiscent of ITV coverage of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, when technical issues obliged Brian Moore to commentate on group matches from the pundit studio in London.

Whether or not BT Sport had decided to hold Darke and Savage back to make a saving, this left anchor man, Jake Humphrey and pundit man, Martin Keown, as their only audio-visual British representatives, mixing with EU types, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Cesc Fabregas pitchside. Ex Arsenal and Chelsea man Fabregas got his suit wet, courtesy of a stadium sprinkler system operated by a sinister contact of Sir Alex Ferguson, still looking for revenge for the pizza attack of 2004.

Humphreys made Cesc do a twirl and then recalled another pre-match incident from the last round, in The Mestalla at Valencia, where Keown suffered a stray ball in the face. Oddly, the very same thing happened to Keown in the warm up of Arsenal-Leeds United in the 2012 FA Cup 3rd Round at Emirates Stadium when United's Michael Brown smashed a shot straight into the side of his head. Were it not for Brown's hapless inaccuracy on the pitch, suspicions might be aroused that people are doing it deliberately.

Back up in the studio, all pundits agreed that the pitch now down below them reignited the feeling of wanting to play in a Final. Gudjohnsen, though, said he would resist the temptation, because "I would embarrass myself". Maybe that same mentality had run through the Norwegian's head in the 2nd leg of the Champions' League semi final that he played in at Anfield in 2005, when he was presented with a last-gasp opportunity to take Chelsea through to a Final with AC Milan in Istanbul but screwed his right footed shot, indeed, embarrassingly wide.  

Down on the pitch again, when the pre-season friendly, er Europa League Final, kicked off, the absence of Keown, Savage and Brown-like characters ensured that the first half passed without incident. Chelsea keeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, the most difficult Stamford Bridge custodian to spell since Eddie Niedwiecki, was too polite to even punch properly, while semi-final hot shot, Pierre Emerick Aubamayang of the Arsenals, couldn't bring himself to punish the Mike Teevee of the Carabao Cup Final.

By the second half, viewers of BT Sport's YouTube channel, or app, or, lest we forget, those in the ground, couldn't work out whether Arsenal didn't want the trophy enough or qualification for the Champions League enough. Whilst this was pondered even by Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Laurent Koscielny, their former team mate, Olivier Giroud, always something of a textbook Europa League standard talisman, dived to head in past former Chelsea captain, Peter Cech, playing his last game for The Arsenals. Giroud celebrated "respectfully", although the more honourable thing to have done, if he was that bothered, would have been to nod it wide of the goal.

At least Giroud had the decency to stay out of Chelsea's second goal, made by Eden Hazard and finished by a Pedro finally unburdened by the removal of that weird half moustache: in the modern game, it's the small percentages that make the difference.

In fairness to Giroud, he could little about the third either, being barged to the ground by Maitland-Niles while minding his own business. The resulting penalty was barely worth even taking, a duel as it was between a man who never misses one against a man who never saves one. This is perhaps unfair on Cech, who saved Ronaldo's shoot-out pen in the Champions League Final of 2008 for Chelsea against Manchester United, and, more importantly, Troy Deeney's at The Emirates against Watford in 17-18; it's just that I can't recall Hazard not ever scoring one. Inevitably, the man leaving Chelsea slid the ball past the man rejoining Chelsea.  

Arsenal sub, Alex Iwobi, scored the goal of the game with a volley from just inside the box to tempt Savage into a topical comment about European comebacks, though barely had he ended that sentence than Giroud was crossing for Hazard to volley in a fourth for Chelsea. Giroud's left footed ball across the box was reminiscent of his ball for Aaron Ramsey to head in the winner for Arsenal against Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup Final. Now having played in five professional Finals since arriving in England, Giroud has set up three goals, scored two and won a penalty in them - while not even starting two of those games. He's the man for the medium-large occasion.

So Maurizio Sarri won his first ever professional trophy against the serial Europa League winner, Unai Emery, adding silverware to the 3rd place Premier League finish his team somehow stumbled into. His tenure at Stamford Bridge is, therefore, under threat, and UEFA will soon breathe easily again once this, and other speculative information, overshadows all that frilly talk about unacceptable venues and ticket allocations for Finals and their ethos-for-a price policy, not to mention this absurd anti-discrimination folly on taking bribes!                                

End of season Premier League review club by club Part 2: 11-20

11th: Brighton & Hove Albion (48 points) Finishing one point behind your made up rivals must sting. A bit. It’s Millwall who hate Crysta...