Premier League: Top to Bottom (part four)

Football Burp casts its gaze over the Premier League as it stands after last weekend’s results, collating supporter opinion and offering it up in a convenient, team-by-team format…

Premier League round-up
Pot... Luck (Image courtesy of edwin. 11)

16. Wolverhampton Wanderers

General mood: In turmoil, with both Mick McCarthy and Roger Johnson having publically condemned supporters for booing and chanting “you’re getting sacked in the morning” during Saturday’s 2-2 draw at home to Swansea. McCarthy’s description of these dissenters as “idiots” is of course the subject of much debate amongst the Molineux faithful, with some weighing in on the manager’s side and others backing supporters’ rights to express their displeasure having parted with their money to be there in the first place.

Reasons to celebrate: Fighting back from 2-0 down in order to avoid a sixth straight defeat. Erm…that’s about it.

Causes for concern: Only taking a point at home to a side likely to be involved in a relegation battle. Going 2-0 down for the sixth consecutive game. Roger Johnson not looking like captain material. And, of course, the growing animosity between McCarthy and sections of the support.

Sample message board quotes: “My ‘selection -wise quick-fixes’ would be to pair up Stearman and Craddock as centre backs and put Dohery in at RB until Zubes and Foley are fit. Johnson and Berra are shot to pieces at present and need to be dropped, if only temporarily. We also seem not to be able to be strong enough to play two wingers in games, leaving us bare in midfield, so until Fletcher is fit again, play 4-5-1 and only one winger. There is no easy way out of our current form crisis but it does need fans support, not booing, to be able to improve.” – gladbachwolf, www.the-wolf.co.uk

“The slow build-up play against Swansea was the cause of frustration in the crowd around me. Frequently Swansea were able to get all their players into their third of the pitch from where they were able to put pressure on our ball carriers. This caused players, one in particular, to lose the ball or miss passes. I remember MM berating players during the Stoke cup game last season for not playing from the back. I realise that the slow build is supposed to be safer defensively but we were more likely to hit teams on the break before we adopted it. With all our players seeming to want to take extra touches by the time the ball gets to the attacking players the defence is in place and harder to break down. It is interesting that Roger Johnson, in one of his recent criticisms of the fans, picked up on this.” – Remus, www.molineuxmix.co.uk

17. Fulham

General mood: Concerned about the disappearance of their previously dependable defensive solidity, as well as the current tendency to surrender possession cheaply. Not yet convinced that Martin Jol is the right man for the job. Perhaps reflecting on football’s narrow margins after seeing Bobby Zamora miss an open goal to put them 2-1 up at home to Everton on Sunday, before the Toffees went straight up the other end and nicked the three points themselves.

Reasons to celebrate: Brede Hangeland’s in good form and wants to sign a new contract. Bryan Ruiz’s sublime chip hopefully a sign of things to come. Simon Davies still to return from injury.

Causes for concern: Down towards the bottom of the table despite having had a mostly fit squad, unlike last season when their form improved as players returned from injury. Danny Murphy looks close to finished at this level. Steve Sidwell has not impressed.

Sample message board quotes: “Of course having three managers in three seasons does not help but the team looks so disjointed and uninterested. I am not advocating Jol’s dismissal but something is not quite right , maybe the dressing room confidence ? Moreover as I have said before our lack of investment in tried and tested quality premiership players, who we are frequently connected with, but are constantly sneaked away right under our nose by other clubs. We have failed to build substantially on our success of two years ago and as a result some astute signings have gone to our rivals who at the moment I am afraid are leaving us behind.

One cannot help wondering if there is an element of truth in what Mark Hughes has been saying, after all, I did comment at the time how inefficient we were and still are at signing good players that come on the market,and lets face it; rightly or wrongly our ambition is pretty much along the lines of what he is reported to have said. You need to invest to stand still. To improve requires considerable judgement which at present we lack. We are too old. We huff and puff with no game plan and are easily closed down reducing the number of chances we create with a forward line struggling past its sell by date.” – Realistic, cc.fulhamfc.com/forum

“I don’t really know what the fuss is about [regarding Zamora’s miss]. True it was a bad miss but every single forward in the world, no matter how brilliant misses the occasional sitter. Bobby is a great forward, my favourite centre forward for years, I love his unselfish style and basic first touch and vision, we would be far worse without him, it is true i think he isn’t at his sharpest at the moment but so what. He is still a tremendously vital part of our team. And others have a go at AJ too. He is also a great player and I notice the goal started with AJ and Bobby’s miss started with great unslefish hard work from AJ. These players would be really hard to replace, they are truly the best we’ve had for ages!” – andy, cc.fulhamfc.com/forum

18. Bolton Wanderers

General mood: Rapidly losing faith in Owen Coyle’s ability to keep the club clear of relegation after a seventh consecutive home defeat, this time going down 2-0 to Sunderland. Last night’s Carling Cup defeat at Arsenal barely registered when contrasted with their dire league form.

Reasons to celebrate: Hmmm…anyone?

Causes for concern: Lee Chung-Yong and Stuart Holden look like being out for a good while and the squad simply isn’t strong enough to accommodate these setbacks. Kevin Davies and Martin Petrov have not performed at all. Absence of both Johan Elmander and Daniel Sturridge, each of whom had good goalscoring spells at different stages of last season.

Sample message board quotes: “I don’t know what he says privately to the players, but after reading this, and hearing Gary Cahill saying that OC doesn’t allow negativity in the camp (and insists that they move on when they lose a game), I worry that the facts that are staring the rest of us in the face are not getting through the thick skulls of the players.

It might help if Coyle harps on (to the players) performances a little more. Don’t allow the players to ‘move on’ until each of them has rectified the issues with their own game. It’s almost as though OC belives it’s just a matter of fine tuning and a little more concentration. I hate to say this because I expected it to be one of OC’s core skills, but I’m not sure he knows what to do to lift the players and motivate them. The players see him as a great guy, which is fine when your winning. But being one of the lads is a big issue when the team is performaing badly and he then has to tell them some home truths about their games. When you have an average squad of players, you need a great motivator to push them that extra mile. I have my criticisms of Big Sam, but he could motivate.” – Billy Bradshaw, www.boltonbanter.com

“I don’t get any enjoyment out of the games. We’ve been abysmal since last April. No signs he can turn it round. Players are unmotivated, lacking passion and tactically we are clueless. A complete lack of organisation and belief all over the pitch. Sadly Owen has ripped the heart out of the club, the spirit is gone and the players don’t respond to him. Gives me no pleasure but I think the time is here to say adios to the manager who has given us the worst home run in the clubs history. I know he won’t be sacked yet, and I hope to god he turns it round and proves me wrong. But right now I can’t see an end to this abject misery!” – BWFC_Insane, www.the-wanderer.co.uk

19. Wigan Athletic

General mood: Almost resigned to the fact that this is the season they’ll finally go down after seven years in the top flight. Chronic lack of investment has left Roberto Martinez with a squad that, no matter how much he tries to mould them into a good footballing side, simply aren’t good enough. However, some fans think he should be doing better with what he has available.

Reasons to celebrate: There are enough poor sides in the division for the Latics to have a realistic shot at scraping to safety yet again. Came close to taking a point away to high-flying Newcastle United. Decent showings from midfielders David Jones and, falling asleep for the goal aside, Mohamed Diame.

Causes for concern: Still conspired to lose the game despite being well in it until late. Do not look sufficiently equipped to beat the drop, as things stand.

Sample message board quotes: “Another defeat, another load of claptrap from Martinez. Truth is there has been no real investment in this team. Result, this is the worst team we have had in the premiership. Although good old Roberto tells them they are world beaters. All part of his in Europe in 5 years plan, bonkers. Dave Whelan still runs it as a business and does not have that ‘Jack Walker’ i want my team to win something before l die? And Blackburn did the Premiership? We all love Dave but he is only concerned about survival. Martinez is a nice guy but nothing else, we need a strong Manager that stands up to Whelan and brings better players in. Hutchins went in the November having amassed 11 points, the way things are we will not achieve that all season? Time to go Roberto. Small crowds and getting smaller, why because people are no longer prepared to watch a team that would struggle in the Championship. That we are a selling club that continually continues to hang on the premiership status by its fingernails. This season though we have been found out.Even Bolton beat us 3 1 at home? Will l be there next week OF COURSE.” – fanlatical, Wigan Athletic FootyMad forum

“I would like to say how proud I am of the team and manager today. We went to an unbetean, current top 4 team’s ground today and completely outplayed, out passed and outdid them in every department. However, somehow, they managed to get a goal and win the game. Which was absolutely heartbreaking. Well done to all at the club, they all deserve a massive round of applause from everybody. (Not as if they will get it, more likely to be boos) Nothing seems to be going for the team right now. Don’t make it worse next week. We need to be at the ground next week and forget about every thing so far this season and just get behind the team like we did against West Ham. None of the protesting, booing and grumbling, is that so hard to ask? PS The referee was shocking today! Absolutely awful!” – wafc_fan, Wigan Athletic FootyMad forum

20. Blackburn Rovers

General mood: Encouraged by a better performance against Spurs than of late, even though they lost 2-1 to remain bottom of the table.

Reasons to celebrate: Good performances from Junior Hoilett, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Simon Vukčević and of course Chris Samba. Only really undone by brilliance of Rafael van der Vaart.

Causes for concern: Still bottom of the league and lacking firepower with it. Still protests against Steve Kean, which could get even fierier if as rumoured he is given a new contract.

Sample message board quotes: “Back from the game. Dead impressed. Rovers played attacking, open, expansive football; always looking to nick Spurs on the counter. The formerly paper-thin midfield seems to have beefed up considerably. Things are finally moving in the right direction. The one thing I will fault was the decision to play Roberts. An aberration. He’s still a donkey, but an increasingly slower one all the time. Should have been dragged off after half an hour, HT tops. Ref had a stinker too. All in all, Rovers played great. Praise to Kean.” – SheepShagginRover, www.roverstalk.com

“Calling all Rovers fans….it’s time to act before it’s too late. Even the media are starting to believe that it is only a minority of Rovers fans who want Kean sacked ! We all know this is not true and that the majority of Rovers fans are disgruntled as a result of recent performances and the rubbish Keam comes out with after every game. However, when it comes to making our feelings known, it is only a minority who are prepared to campaign for what we want…..WE WANT OUR ROVERS BACK !! It’s time to show Venkys that things cannot carry on in this way otherwise we will be relegated. It’s time to let Kean know how we really feel, without affecting our support for the team while they are the pitch . So, now is the time to stand up for what we believe in…our club, Blackburn Rovers.” – BigDom, www.brfcs.co.uk/mb