Five talking points from the weekend’s football
We could give mention to the excellent El Classico, but instead here’s five views closer to home.
1. Lee Clark won’t last till Christmas
Yet another defeat for Birmingham at the weekend, as the pressure starts to mount for new boss Lee Clark. There was plenty of criticism from the wider footballing world when Clark was cast out from Huddersfield Town earlier in the year, at a time when they were high in the table and hadn’t lost many games. However, there was more of a mix of opinion among Huddersfield fans, and perhaps we’re beginning to see why.
Owner Carson Yeung is already looking to jump ship, and given the squad Birmingham have he and the City fans can’t be anything other than hugely underwhelmed by their start to the season. A month ago Yeung reportedly turned down a £12m bid from Gianni Paladini and Flavio Briatore, fresh from their stint at QPR – with Big Ron of all people tipped to be brought in. Grim prospects at St Andrew’s currently.
2. Emile doing what he does best
It was the surprise move of the summer – former international striker Emile Heskey ending his time in English football and heading to Australia to link up with the Newcastle Jets, joining the likes of Del Piero and, erm, Nick Montgomery in the Aussie A League. With replica ‘9 Heskey’ shirts reportedly selling out after launch (rumours that Emile’s credit card is now maxed out are so far unconfirmed), he has already captured the imagination of the Jets fans.
Yesterday saw his much anticipated debut. Unsurprisingly, Heskey didn’t score, but did manage to take out the Adelaide keeper in the 2-0 loss.
3. Stevenage holding up surprisingly well
Many people, including most of our writers, thought Stevenage’s impressive showing in League 1 last year was a one-off. They’d done well under Graham Westley, but with his departure to Preston it was only a matter of time before the effects of his leadership wore off and Stevenage returned to a more natural midtable position.
Far from it on the form they’ve displayed so far. Unbeaten and 2nd in the table behind the juggernaut of Ronnie Moorinho’s Tranmere, manager Gary Smith has shown he’s got what it takes to succeed at Broadhall Way. Smith’s previous experience as a manager was a 3-year stint at the Colorado Rapids, guiding them to their first MLS Cup championship. In a division that’s wide-open this year, guiding Stevenage to the Championship for the first time in their history looks an increasingly achievable aim.
4. Villa sleepwalking towards relegation
Paul Lambert’s side were again easy pickings as they went down 2-0 to the rapidly-improving AVB-led Spurs. Villa used to be a fairly reliable side – they wouldn’t really challenge the top 6, but nor would they be in danger of the drop (till McLeish came in anyway). They weren’t pushovers by any means. This year, however, like their close rivals they have a lacklustre start and are starting to stare at the relegation zone again.
A number of lower-league signings in the summer plus a new manager that may well not be cut out for a club of Villa’s size is a potential recipe for disaster. You have to expect the likes of Southampton and QPR to start winning at some point. When that happens, the alarm bells at Villa Park will truly start to sound.
5. Bleak times for Barnet
This looks the season Barnet will finally fall through the trap door back to the conference. With a quarter of the season gone they lie bottom of the table, without a win, and with just 3 points to their name.
A succession of miracle escapes in recent seasons, culminated in last year’s final day of the season Houdini act after Martin Allen was parachuted in to mastermind their last 3 games of the season. But this year, without football league goal machine Izale McLeod, their future looks particularly grim.
Having drunk in the last chance saloon for so long, it looks like time is finally going to be called on their football league status. And with Allen now in charge of League Two’s runaway success story Gillingham, their former saviour won’t be riding to the rescue this time.
Written by @josephclift and James Albion