We put the brakes on the footballing weekend featuring various bits and bobs, but mostly importantly another killer line from Dave Bassett’s autobiography…
Squatters rights. Occasionally pushed into the background by the rather more glamorous bragging rights and last rites, squatters rights were left breathing a sigh of relief on Sunday night after a pair of derby draws. Indeed, this Monday morning bragging has been in short supply in Barcelona, Madrid, Paris and Marseille.
Usually it’s a bit like a dramatic final day of a championship, when a bloke with a clump of bragging rights in a battered Co-op bag and week-old stubble is lingering between two stadiums, his ear glued to a transistor radio.
But when Barca and Real (who said it was all about Messi and Ronaldo?) and Marseille and PSG both played out 2-2 draws, that bloke threw all those rights in the direction of Inter fans. They, at least, will be bounding into work, ready to throw them over their colleague at the water cooler after a narrow success over AC Milan.
Although to identify with this, you’ll have to buy into the conceit that all work places are full of fans of rival teams, or that they have a work place at all. They’ll probably all be bragging in their pants on Twitter.
Tranmere. If you were one of the two people who read our pre-season profile of Tranmere, please accept our apologies. Actually, there were more than two. We know that because we received at least a couple of messages from Rovers fans containing words you’d never utter in front of your mother. They were right.
In fairness our…okay, my…final comment read: “Survival should be within their means.” And, ahem, I stand by that. Ronnie Moore’s men extended their unbeaten start in League One to 11 matches on Saturday, picking up their eighth victory, this time on the road at fellow hopefuls Notts County.
They are now four points clear at the top and have three players – Jake Cassidy, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and Andy Robinson – heading the scoring charts.
Having been out at 50/1 for the title at the start of the campaign, they are now as short as 6s, with Boylesports and Ladbrokes offering stand-out quotes of 8/1. While in the promotion market, Moore’s charges can be backed at 11/4 (SkyBet), behind Sheffield United, MK Dons and Swindon in those stakes. So, survival looks to be on the cards. Right?
Kevin Keegan. Sometimes it’s easy to forget he exists, that he was just a scarcely-believable character in a hazy dream from the 1990s: the Bez-from-the-Happy-Mondays of football, dancing manically, swishing his head about like a waifish scarecrow caught in a hurricane and uttering barely-comprehensible phrases at every corner.
But each time Manchester United play Newcastle, someone somewhere is watching Keegan warble - that warble. And for a few hours the Geordie is back in the limelight, returning to the consciousness for a moment, along with those button-up Ellesse tracksuit trousers which were somehow popular about 18 years ago.
The match itself? Keegan is likely to have been left slumped over the advertising hoarding he’s installed in his front room, after the visitors’ comfortable success.
Blackburn. We need to talk about Alan. The man who, for an hour and a half each week has you longing for the return of the test card – actually, that girl’s doll would probably provide a new level of Match of the Day insight – has thrown his hat into the ring for the Blackburn job.
As if Steve Kean wasn’t bad enough. Alan Shearer now wants in. He might even bring Iain Dowie along for the ride. Imagine. “With my history at Blackburn, I would speak to them absolutely,” Shearer told television’s Job Centre Plus, Football Focus.
Is this really what Rovers need? Gary Neville’s sharp and well-communicated analysis on Sky last season didn’t do him any harm when Roy Hodgson was putting together his England coaching staff. So by the same token, on TV Shearer has only demonstrated that his understanding of football-from-the-touchline is something akin to that of the dippiest ones on Loose Women.
Four games without a win and now back in ninth, Rovers could do with moving swiftly. But Shearer?...
Sparky. If Shearer does leave the comfort of the Salford sofas, another man with Blackburn connections might be in line for the role of wearing blue shirts with white collars in his place.
It is difficult to imagine that this was what Mark Hughes was aiming for when he left Fulham in 2011 because the club didn’t match his ambitions.
His QPR side staggered to another defeat on Saturday, going down 3-2 at West Brom, to remain winless and rock bottom. Hughes has guided Rangers to victory in just eight of his 29 matches in charge, with 17 of those ending in defeat.
It promises to be a sweaty international break for Sparky, with Harry Redknapp set to continue his open-top bus tour of the country, refusing to rule out speculation linking him to every job going or not going. And the R’s have clashes with Everton and Arsenal to come when the Premier League clicks back into gear.
Barnet. The Bees rarely get a mention in this section, mostly because it has been taken as a given that they’ll spend the majority of the season scraping along at the bottom of the Football League like the knees of a particularly rotund lady doggy-paddling in the shallow end of a lido in Telford. But usually we can expect a very brief mid-season upturn, just enough to give them some sort of hope going into the run-in
Who remembers Lawrie Sanchez talking up a play-off charge in February? His side went on to win one of the next 17 before edging to safety thanks to back-to-back victories in May. But just now, spring drama is looking unlikely. Their fate will be sealed before Easter if Mark Robson, in his first managerial post, cannot mastermind some sort of progress.
The Londoners managed a point at Southend on Saturday but it came as a bitter blow after having taken a two-goal lead at Roots Hall as late as the 65th minute. They are now winless in 11 and have just three draws to show for their campaign to date. Five points from safety, the future looks dicey…
A randomly-selected sentence from Dave Bassett’s autobiography Settling the Score: “If I’d had a shoe-string budget it would have been an improvement – as it was, there was not enough in the kitty for a midget’s fly-button.”
Best of the Bets Show
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