I’ve been disconnected with a vague sense of mourning over the end of this European football season. All leagues decided, many gods dead, most battles fought and all that. There is still, of course, the Champions League final and some important relegation issues to be decided, particularly in the EPL and La Liga, but I can’t help feeling the dank emptiness of my life closing in on me as I ponder months of soccer-free weekends. No offense to the MLS, as I plan on catching at least one DC United match this summer. At any rate, here are some links and thoughts as I wipe the vodka and tears off the keyboard and plan wedontknowitasfootball’s next move.
– From the rock bottom files, there was of course this debacle at West Ham’s end of the season awards banquet, which saw guests hurl epithets at Demba Ba and demonstrate other colorful forms of “support.” There are so many things wrong with this story. Maybe West Ham’s owners, aka the Gang Who Really Couldn’t Shoot Straight, should have postponed, or canceled outright, the banquet until emotions and tempers settled a little after Sunday’s relegation. I know the Hammers have a legacy and proud, passionate fans who are devastated over how this season transpired–but this scene was ridiculous.
– The Spoiler has an excellent list (with video!) of the Top Five Final Day Dramas.
– Following on that theme, here is an ESPN list of the most dramatic relegation escapes in recent English football history. Here is a tease recounting an insane 1987 match involving Torquay:
“The comeback began as Torquay defender Jim McNichol netted a free-kick, but what happened next could never have been anticipated. Needing another goal in the dying moments of the game, McNichol ran towards the corner flag to get in a cross and was attacked by a watching police dog on the sidelines. The German shepherd, called Bryn, bit McNichol on the leg and, after a lengthy period of treatment, four-minutes were added to the clock. With the seconds ticking down, Torquay’s Paul Dobson scored the equaliser and Lincoln lost their league status on goal difference.”
– Interesting Deadspin piece regarding new AS Roma owner Thomas DiBenedetto’s publicly professed urge to sign American players such as Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan.
– Get ready to argue with the fine folks at the Guardian over their Who are the best and worst of the 2010-11 Premier League choices. One gripe I definitely have is with them not choosing the Arsenal v. Tottenham match at the Emirates on November 20th as one of the matches of the year. That match had everything and haunted the Gunners (and me) for the rest of the campaign, even more than the Newcastle collapse. I’m also happy that they listed Luka Modric (the Arn Anderson of the EPL) as one of the players of the year and not Gareth Bale (he’s nowhere near Tully Blanchard, but Van der Vaart sort of was Flair a few times this season).
I was impressed by Bale’s November hat-trick in the San Siro too–but that was the last match of consequence that he exerted any real influence on and most EPL commentators were still talking about him as if he were some unstoppable Lionel Messi-like intergalactic force. He isn’t. He isn’t even the best player on his own squad.
More on history and relegation coming soon.