games in and our results pretty much reflect the turmoil at the
club both on and off the pitch. Both Levy and Jol stand
accused of a certain degree of naivety when it comes to man
management issues. For the former to be exposed in
attempting to engineer a managerial coup is on a par with some
of BMJ's most recent substitutions: both did what they felt was
right at the time and for commendable reasons, as both have the
club's progress at heart. But feeling has to be tempered
with clear thinking, especially at this level when so much is at
There's something about the ten game mark in the Premiership
that appeals to most people as an indicator of how things are
going to pan out for the season and I hope Jol gets at least
that long. By that time (irritating international breaks
notwithstanding) teams have had a chance to bed in newcomers and
generate a team pattern and to show what they can do.
Early season flukes and upsets start to be seen for what they
are: aberrations. Manchester City fans can see this
happening already and I doubt whether Mourinho will be losing
much sleep over the defeat to Villa on Sunday. The
Sunderland result was strangely reminiscent of the embarrassment
at Carlisle back in the Seventies.
Berbatov has started to play like he did last year although,
worryingly, that smile of content has yet to be seen, even after
scoring. The team play for long stretches against Man Utd.
and Fulham was exhilarating, with Bale the catalyst for all that
has been good over our last 180 minutes. Malbranque was
the width of a post away from making it 4-1 at Fulham and Keane
also hit the bar at The Theatre of Prawns before the locals had
roused themselves. Take away both Smertin's and Nani's
deflected shots and that would be at least three extra points on
the board leaving us well placed. And let's not get
started on refereeing decisions ... let's hope the old cliché
that it all balances out over the season comes true.
Results and bizarre defending (copyright THFC ad infinitum)
apart there's not a lot wrong with the team. Bale gives us
balance and the midfield is ticking over nicely. Berba's
goal will inspire others as well as doing his self-confidence a
power of good. Dawson will be back for the Arse and he and
Kaboul will be a formidable partnership once they learn each
other's ways. Robinson will benefit from the break,
especially if he sits out the internationals coming up : he
could learn a lot from David James about how to cope with
adversity. JD, like Jol, can only gain from deciding to
stay and tough out the difficult situations they find themselves
in. It would nice (in the original sense of the word) if
Defoe were to score the winner against Arsenal a week Saturday,
redeeming both himself and his manager with a precise finish.
Europe was a springboard for our achievements last year and it
could well be again this season. The draw against the
Cypriot side was, arguably, the first bit of luck we've had this
year. Even with Marian Pahars, they should be clinically
despatched giving the team and our manager a much needed
distraction and change of pace from the Premiership.
Middlesbrough also should not present any fears, especially at
home, allowing us to progress in the Carling Cup.
the upcoming Premiership games, we are capable of taking maximum
points from the Arsenal and Villa home games and away at Bolton.
Draws at both Liverpool and Newcastle would be good results.
That would give us 15 points after ten games, and see us safely
through to next rounds of both cup competitions, enough to
guarantee Jol his job. To achieve that with both the board
and his critics sniping at him would qualify him for the
football equivalent of the Victoria Cross.
hope he makes it through the no man's land he currently finds
himself in to a place of safety : to be cut down by 'friendly
fire' is a dreadful way to go.