Midweek Memoirs of Mr Bodell #1
Ok, I promised myself I wouldn`t just cover the mighty Watford. Or, the Premiership so the first one applies to the Coca Cola Football League, or whatever they are branded these days. I`ve long said that the Football League is far stronger than the Premier League. It now seems others are cottoning onto this idea too, although there are a few sticklers waving the 'Best league in the world the Premiership` flag. Yes readers, they are the kind of people who wear sandals with socks and drink herbal tea!
So, the Coca Cola Football Leagues are very strong, the Championship especially, although it does have the advantage of taking in three homeless ex-Premiership clubs each season. Invariably, and wrongly they are the favourites to bounce straight back up-unless they wear yellow, another irritation of mine. This year the Championship has, I would say perhaps eleven teams with a realistic chance of winning promotion to the Premiership. And, so you can all flurry to the bookies to bung a fiver on your favourite in an each-way bet, here`s my top 6:
5. West Brom
6. Sheffield Wednesday
(The other five are all 'hyped-up` favourites, bar Cardiff and Norwich)
If you have correctly guessed that Sheffield United, my second favourite team-honest, are an 'over-hyped team` and disagree, justify spending £6.5 million James Beattie and Billy Sharp. Have fun.
So that`s reason one out of the way. Although to extend that, League One is looking good again this season. Nottingham Forest have realistically got to win promotion to keep Colin Calderwood in a job whilst Luton are tipped to succeed, surprising when your strike force is Paul Furlong and Paul Peschisolido! On top of those two, Millwall, Yeovil and Southend will all provide able opposition in the Championship charge.
Ok, number two. For the Premiership purists who would have me hung, drawn and quartered for not mentioning them, at least there will be two, possibly three teams in it this year. I did say this last year as I felt Liverpool`s strengthening would help them challenged Chelsea and United. However, I was proven spectacularly wrong as so often when I make football-related predictions. This year is going to be different. All three have strengthened, United hugely and I feel that when the spine of your team is: Van Der Sar; Vidic, Ferdinand; Carrick/Hargreaves, Scholes; Rooney and Tevez. You`re always likely to succeed. It`s by far a stronger eleven that United had last season and with the likes of Nani, Anderson, Giggs and Ronaldo battling for wide places, plus the unmentioned Neville, Heinze and Evra at full back, all in the frame too, Chelsea have a hell of a job on their hands.
In fairness, Chelsea have added to their squad too, but with their injury-prone nature, as I write fourteen first-team players are sidelined including John Terry, this season looks like it could be another real test of Jose`s actual ability. The addition of Florent Malouda looks good, Ben Haim will surely only be back up though. And, whilst he looked good at Bolton, he isn`t as comfortable on the ball as Carvalho or Terry.
Liverpool have spent, and spent big. Ryan Babel will be pushing Harry Kewell all the way this season for the left wing berth, a race I expect the Dutchman to win. Whilst up front last seasons top goalscorer, Peter Crouch has to battle with Torres for a starting position. Yossi Benayoun is a talented player, but where will he fit in at Anfield? I`m worried that he is a 'signing for the sake of signing`. The big talking point at Anfield is Fernando Torres. Is "£26 million too much? Yes. Will he fit in? Time will tell. Will he be a hit? Time will tell. On that vague, and rather hastily assembled analysis, it likes decidedly like Mr Benitez has over-hyped yet another of his fellow countrymen. Remember Antonio Nunez and Josemi, or even Fernando Morientes?
So a big season beckons in the Premiership. My third reason 'Why this season will be better than any other ™` (!) comes down to a small club in London that no-one has really bothered to mention in a positive way this Summer-Arsenal. No-one expects them to succeed, bad the odd optimistic Gooner, and with the signings they have made plus the departure of Thierry Henry you can forgive the gloom around the Emirates. The fans can at least enjoy their seasonal silverware having won the Emirates Cup and Amsterdam Tournament! In all seriousness however, I think that Wengar has to be trusted in replacing Henry with Eduardo da Silva. No manager would let their star striker leave without finding someone they think or know can fill the void that has been left. Wengar included. And, if all else fails and the Gunners are out the title race, Europe and all cups by December, we can at least sit back and enjoy their wonderful flowing football which everyone seems to praise so regularly. Funny how none of them are Arsenal fans mind…
Ok, a quick trip back to the Championship for reason number four. This time it`s a Watford one, well two, rolled into one. Last season. I hated every minute of it, except two games. Carling Cup matches against Accrington Stanley and Hull City. Why? No pesky glory hunters. As I mentioned in an article on Vital Watford last year you can spot a glory hunter miles off. First of all, you`ve never seen them before. Secondly they have a northern accent (all their local sides are supported by Southerners?!) and thirdly they have the latest shirt, complete with Premiership patches and 'King No 9` emblazoned across the back. Stereotypical maybe, but truthful too. No glory hunter worth their salt can be bothered to freeze their nuts off against a team like Hull City or Stanley so people like me are the only ones their. We fall under that dying breed of 'Loyal Supporter` somebody who has been going for more than one year, somebody who knows who Dai Thomas is, someone who knows Gavin Mahon once had dreadlocks, someone who has seen their side stuffed 5-1 at home by Crystal Palace! So last season these rare moments I truly enjoyed. Of course, these games weren`t helped by the child and his uninterested Grandfather who sat me behind me in his full Watford kit (home one week, away the next, 'keepers if both were in the wash). Complete with, I hasten to add, yellow Diadora shoes, plastic horn and the will to have 'Francis No 17 (incorrect, its 7 pal) added to his shirt, I could smell him a mile off, in fact on entry to the Lower Rous I could smell his fear as somebody with an opinion who was prepared to show vocal support entered the Lower Rous 'library`. I have since moved I am delighted to report and will be hurling abuse at the referee, Jordan Stewart, Rob Kozluk and Lee Camp from the Rookery next year folks!
Ok, so I hate the Premiership. The over-payed, over-rated, flash car driving numbskulls that play in it don`t help either, but on a personal level it will be nice to away from the Glory Hunters this year.
But, as my doctor says, 'relax more and you won`t keep finding yourself surrounded by scary-looking men` (I did bend the truth slightly there, ever so slightly mind). So let`s be positive. The new season looks good for us Hornet fans and yes it doesn`t look good for the other 'fans` either! On the field Aidy`s purchases look astute and despite not being able to flog Kabba, everything looks rosy. Oh, hang on, Bouazza`s on his way. I can remember his debut vs. Sunderland as he hit the bar from 30 yards. His full debut vs. Preston-he scored (joy!) as did Paul Devlin (double joy!). But now it looks like he`s on his way. Correct me if I`m wrong by commenting at the bottom, but do we really need the money? We aren`t perilously close to administration now and from the occasional snippets of information the club accidentally leaks, we`re in the best shape we`ve been in for a while. So why flog the crown jewels? We will never progress by doing so. Anyway, relax. In Aidy we trust.
Fifth and final reason 'This season will be better than any other™`. To increase the longevity of my club career I have retired from caring about England, ('cough` Mr Carragher, 'cough`). I took this decision after the draw with Israel in the 2008 European Qualifiers. However. I have done some quick thinking and if England are to qualify for Euro 2008, then they must win all, if not most of their remaining games. They`re gonna have to win, gonna have to play well, crikey, this might be exciting-hang on folks, reality check, McClaren is in charge. They`ll scrape through in the last match when he throws on four strikers. Ok, scrap that idea. Let`s just hope they don`t qualify and McClaren is sacked. That`s my thoughts on him anyway. Notice how I refer to England as 'them`-that`s my protest against not caring about them. In fact, I`ve taken up supporting Northern Ireland, they`ve a great chance of making the Euros, plus they`re basically English, plus, I can do a great Northern Irish accent! And, Peter Kennedy and Chris Baird have N.Ireland caps. Sorted!
That concludes 'The Midweek Memoirs of Mr Bodell` this week. Feel free to comment below, any constructive criticisms greatly received, I`m off to practice the old accent…
Keep the faith,