1. All hail the great scouting network of the northeast.
Its grim up north, or so they say, however this season’s dark horses have galloped into Champions League reckoning from their hallowed turf on their country’s north-easterly tip. Newcastle United look set to get their passports out next season and its in no small part down to Alan Carr’s father. Yes that Alan Carr, of the Frankie Howard/Noel Coward/Graham Norton (delete depending on age/taste) variety, the camp comedian’s father Graham heads the Geordies’ prolific scouting network. Not content on serving up one unknown African goal-machine from the Bundesliga named Demba, in Demba Ba. Carr’s scouting network ensured Manager Alan Pardew picked up another unknown African goal-machine from the Bundesliga named Demba, in Papiss Demba Cisse. Through Ba’s goals in the first half of the season and Cisse’s astonishing return of 13 goals in his first 12 games in the second half on the season, Newcastle have rode roughshod over many Premier League defences. “Re-Demba the name” The Geordies shout, after this season how could we forget.
2. Tactics win matches.
This has been the season for the chalkboard Charlies to have their say. Paul Lambert’s Norwich and Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea have been the best promoted sides the Premier League has seen in quite a while and its got a lot to do with the way they set their teams up. Norwich’s formation has chopped and changed to great effect and this was no more so the case than when the two promoted clubs met in February. A 1-0 lead for Swansea quickly became a 3-2 defeat as the Norwich 4-4-2 became a 4-3-1-2 and Lambert’s men enjoyed an extra man in midfield that stymied the quick passing of Swansea’s Xavi-light midfielder Leon Britton. Lambert’s on the fly reading of the game has been a breath of fresh air and has rejuvenated those who love to re-invert the pyramid.
3. Ashley Young’s nothing but the fall guy.
Ashley Young looked ready for a season of success, serenity and silverware when he expertly curled in a shot from 25 yards as his Manchester United side beat Arsenal 8-2 in August. However, it was not to be as he became embroiled in one of the most debated topics…well ever. Forget evolution vs creationism, good vs evil even eagle vs shark. To dive or not to dive became the question of the moment. That was until Gary Neville spoke the most sense since his grandfather decided to name his baby Neville. Using his giant iPad screen thingymajig on Sky Sports, Neville pointed out that which every football fan has known yet oddly refused to accept. Diving is part of the beautiful game. The defender who foolishly sticks his leg out in the penalty box might as well have gift wrapped it for the attacker to make contact and go to ground. Some do it more spectacularly than others – Ashley we’re looking at you here – but its not going to be eradicated any time soon.
4. Blue side of Glasgow left looking like lone Rangers.
It’s still not really clear to football fans in Scotland, just how disastrous this season might turn out to be for the Old Firm. The millions of pounds are still owed, the players are leaving Rangers in their droves, and the boardroom is still in turmoil. The only fans who really know the ins and outs are Celtic’s, who take great glee in regaling anyone who will listen, just how up the spout Rangers truly are. However, there is an element of sadness to the story, after all who hasn’t fallen for a charming man promising riches beyond their wildest dreams. As far as Rangers do fall – which incidentally isn’t that far considering even a new football team will still start in the SPL it seems – one can’t help but wonder what this says about the state of Scottish football as a whole, surely its time for the SFA to take control once and for all
5. That No.10 for Barca still looks pretty handy…shame about his teammates though...