Back In The Good Old Days
Clint Dempsey’s final match for Fulham vs Newcastle United was a remarkable affair for both himself and The Cottagers. Fulham gave the Magpies a sound 5-2 thrashing as Clint Dempsey became the first American to ever get a hat trick in the Premier League.
And instead of smacking crackers into Row Z, Bobby Zamora assisted in all three of Dempsey’s goals, along with slotting one home from the spot himself as did Danny Murphy to open the scoring.
Now…the world has changed as the 2016-17 Championship season opens today as this is writ with these once solid Premier League squads squaring off at The Cottage down in the 2nd Level. It’s tempting to trot out that old cliché, how mighty are the fallen and all that dross….but it’s solid home truth…so feel free if you’d like. But personally I’ll give that wide berth.
It’s tempting to consider that when Fulham lost Dempsey to crosstown rivals Tootenham, that this loss set in motion Fulham’s eventual decline. Fulham should have kept Dempsey and paid him handsomely, for much longer than they did. As for the Michael Jackson statue…well, that was a just aberration in the grand scheme of things… 1
Newcastle, meanwhile got mired in its own vale of shite….most of it emanating from Mike Assley(pun intended)…no, scratch that, make that ALL of it. And last season, they tumbled down to the Championship despite the best efforts of Rafa Benitez who was press-ganged into duty on March 11th last season.
So on Friday 5-8-16 (aug 5 2016 in Mineral Point WI) at 7:45 PM (1:45 PM ditto), the Championship sprang to life at Craven Cottage and the long grind to the finish began.
The expectation was that The Fat Spanish Waiter and his lads would squeak out a win over a team that haplessly finished in 20th last season…a spot that would have guaranteed relegation if the Championship didn’t have 24 teams instead of 20 in the Prem. So Fulham were spared another fall to League 1….for the record, Charlton Athletic ( once a first division stalwart), Milton Keynes Dons (the club that was stolen from Wimbledon by the new town of Milton Keynes, northwest of London; and since I was in te employ of the Milton Keyes Development Authority at the time, I was say that I had a hand in building it for which I will eternally hang my head in shame); and Bolton Wanderers ( insert some what the fock here)
Instead, the reality of Friday’s opening championship match was a 1-0 win for Fulham on Matt Smith’s header of a Tom Cairney corner at the 45th minute. Rafa’s opening night at his new little restaurant didn’t go quite so well the Newcastle’s waitstaff were nervous and spilling soup on the customers and not getting their dishes out on time to the right tables. In other words, they were bottlers pretty much.
Meanwhilst, Fulham’s journeyman coach Slaviša Jokanović had to be happy with Fulham’s resolve and fight and all those similar cliches. Fulham just might scrap it up to a mid-table finish when all is done…but I wouldn’t put all of my mother-in-laws’ money on it just yet.
Blackburn Rovers 1 Norwich City 4
Look at this!! For the first time in 14 years, Norwich City won their opening match of the season! And not only did Alex Neil’s men win, they won convincingly, going away, on the trot. Jacob Murphy opened the scoring with a real EAT MY GOAL!! moment.
Cameron Jerome and Wes Hoolihan followed moments later and the Canaries took a 0-3 lead in at halftime. After the break, Steven Naismith got off the schneid at the 58 minute mark. Rovers tucked in a consolation goal by Aaron Stokes at 67 minutes. But it was a convincing rout all the way.
Norwich’s return to the Championship is off to better start than Newcastle’s. And it’s an understatement of course to say that Rafa has far more management pedigree than Neil. But the Canaries are a more of well-rounded team than Newcastle. Neil can fine tune the squad as the season roils through the Championship grind. Rafa not only has to fine-tune, he actually has to rebuild, rethink, and find some new recipes.
Both Norwich and Newcastle are tipped to immediately return to the Prem. But on the evidence of Gameday 1, the Canaries are much further along. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen the Canaries rip the heart and soul of a team like they did on Saturday. Keep it up, lads! On the Ball, City!
The Championship Years
I’ve been hinting a new directions and different approach for this little sadness diary. I’m thinking that minor adjustments might make a big difference. One of those adjustments will be titled The Championship Years.
While it sounds too all-encompassing a concept, its really quite simple in its implementation. What I will be doing is focusing a bit on the Championship, the 2nd Division of football n England.
The impetus for this is also quite simple. Norwich City was relegated from the Prem to the Championship and thus I’ll be focusing on them and gauging their progress back up. Hopefully, for my Canaries, the Championship Years will only last 1 year.
But my focus on The Championship is going to remain. There are a lot of stories down there that need to be plucked from their obscurity.
So while my focus will be on Norwich, I’ve not going to neglect the other teams that dwell there. Obviously I’ll also keep a keen eye of Newcastle, because despite the unrelenting fucktardery and jackassery of owner Mike Ashley, I like the Toon and wish them well. And as I alluded to, Rafa has his hands full with not just the squad but with his cunt of an owner.2
Aston Villa also dropped with Norwich and Newcastle, and to be honest, while I also like them, I don’t see them returning to the Prem anytime soon.
Some of the great teams of yore have been stuck in The Championship for years with little hope of returning to the First Division anytime soon. Leeds and Nottingham Forest come immediately to mind.
So I’ll be keeping a keen gaze focused on the Championship.
As I wrap this little sadness diary entry this Sunday morning, Garry Monk’s debut as a Championship coach with the aforementioned Leeds was rather inauspicious to say the least as his lads trotted up Loftus Road for a 3-0 beat down by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s Queens Park Rangers.
Monk is no slouch as a coach, but I think his hands are even more full than Rafa’s because, well, lads it’s Leeds.3 Hasselbaink has not been coaching as long as Monk, but last season he led Burton Albion up from League 2 to League 1. Obviously he jumped at the offer to coach QPR. We see how these boys progess as the Championship season grinds along. While I’m not at all keen on QPR….they can dwell in mid-table mediocrity in The Championship for all I care…I do and will and root for Hasselbaink to do well since he’s a former Chelsea man and won the Premier League Golden Boot in 2000-01, his debut season for The Blues.
There. I suppose that explains it. Yes?
And if not, you know all the usual disclaimers of the facts not getting in the way of the truth etc etc etc so I wont belabor them.
And now time for a beer, and since I hate music….MUSIC.