Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Latest Football News and Opinions From 90 Minutes Online

Rombling - Battles, Medicals & Fat Blokes

I try to not be a hypocrite, so even though I wouldn't want to question the wisdom of Martin O'Neill, I can't help but feel a tad disappointed by his decision to leave 8 first team regulars behind for our second leg match in Russia against CSKA Moscow. At the airport, the youthful squad containing the likes of Clark, Bannan, Lowry & Lichaj looked more like they were queuing up for their school dinner rather than depositing their luggage and the decision to rest so many key players is tantamount to conceding the tie & the UEFA cup. 

 

In the past I have criticised the likes of Bolton & Portsmouth for not giving two hoots about continental competition. Both of those clubs strived so hard to qualify for Europe and may well never get there again, so for them to play weakened teams in September and October when the season was young and they'd been comfortably mid table just seemed like an awful waste.

 

 

Therefore I have to express a degree of displeasure. Sure, I can see where Martin is coming from. With the 'Big 4' as strong as they are, plus the vast potential for Man City to emerge as a dominant force, this season represents a golden chance to get a top 4 slot and qualify for the Champions League, which in turn would give us increased revenue and a theoretically better chance of attracting a higher caliber quality of player this summer. 

 

However, football should surely be ultimately about the glory of winning things should it not? We won't win the Premiership this season. We would realistically have no chance of winning the Champions League next season. It's not likely, but if we played our strongest available team, winning the UEFA Cup would have been a possibility.  

 

10 days ago, we were talking about fighting on 3 fronts. The fact that we were knocked out of the FA Cup should conceivably mean that there our 3 less potential fixtures to worry about. It's not as though a really treachorous league tie awaits at the weekend - we're at home to Stoke. 

 

So, I don't see why we can't have a better crack at the UEFA Cup. With our awesome away form, we were capable of getting the result out in Russia needed to progress. Instead, we are throwing untested youngsters to the wolves and it looks about as ominous as the ill-fated charge of the light brigade. The prospect of a side spearheaded by the attacking threat posed by Marlon Harewood is as about as terrifying as a one armed childrens tv presenter. 

 

Our predictable departure from the UEFA cup won't be judged immediately, but by whether the sacrifice actually leads to greater things. Should we squander our 6 point lead over Arsenal and surrender our top 4 position or do an Everton and get dumped out of the Champions League qualifying round, then the decision to wave the white flag in Moscow will be a deeply regrettable one. 

 

A comparison would be Harry Redknapp at Spurs. To the chagrin of the hardcore fans who braved the sub zero temperatures (and equally frosty hospitality) of the Ukraine, the decision to rest several main players and practically throw the game by starting 'Coco' Gomes was met with anger.  

 

The reality is though that Tottenham are in a different position to Villa, desperately fighting for their survival (not to mention they have a great opportunity to win silverware via the league cup final) with relegation having cataclysmically dire consequences. The fact that a refreshed first team performed and beat Hull to get a vital 3 points on Monday justifies Redknapp's stance.  

 

Speaking of Hull, how crap is their medical team? Their previous record signing was 2.5 million defender Anthony Gardner, who was injured when he signed and just recovered from a lengthy lay-off to make only his 5th appearance for the Tigers. Now, you have the Jimmy Bullard debacle. Duffen & Brown look a right pair of wallies and it makes you think exactly how much the wily Roy Hodgson knew - certainly his seemingly controversial decision to not give Bullard a new contract has been vindicated now. 

 

Finally, a picture of an enigmatic appendage shaped porker is currently doing the rounds on the internet. I think that Hull hero Dean Windass, who is currently on loan at Oldham, could be the mysterious thumb man.

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