14th November 2004: Premiership Round-up

The optimistic murmurings will be reverberating in pub toilets across North London for a few days to come: “It was a fucking good game etc. etc.” They’re optimists in North London; Gunners fans have every reason to be delighted with their team’s attacking football and in particular the resurgence of Freddie Ljungberg to his excellent best, and false hope is a way of life over at White Hart Lane. Excitement aside, Arsenal’s 5-4 win only served to underline certain old truths. Over the years Tottenham have always attracted decent players but have consistently underachieved for over a decade; the quality in their squad is such that they are probably one or two midfielders short of a top six finish. January can’t come soon enough, and PSV’s classy midfielder Mark Van Bommel would be a tremendous acquisition. In the meantime, the burden on Jermaine Defoe and Robbie Keane is just too great; they will always get goals, but you can’t ask them to single-handedly beat teams like Arsenal. Paul Robinson had a torrid afternoon, as did the Spurs full-backs; the Jamie Redknapps of this world will have to go if Tottenham are to build a midfield capable of competing with the likes of Vieira or Lampard.

Secondly, there’s the matter of Arsenal’s defending, quite rightly described as “disgraceful” by Chelsea head narcissist Jose Mourinho. Arsenal can and will outscore most Premiership teams this season with this kind of performance, but in the latter stages of the European Cup is simply won’t be good enough. Jens Lehmann’s positioning for Ledley King’s header was the latest example of the German’s staggering mediocrity. The following is a list of the players who have played in goal for the last few European Champions:

1999: Peter Schmeical
2000: Iker Cassilas
2001: Oliver Kahn
2002: Iker Cassilas
2003: Christian Abbiati
2004: Vitor Baia

It’s also a list of world-class goalkeepers. I somehow can’t see “Jens Lehmann” belonging on that list. Nor will Arsenal succeed in Europe if Pascal Cygan remains the only back-up centre-half available to Wenger. In terms of personnel, though, the present first-choice back-four is certainly good enough not to be conceding so many goals, and it seems the problem relates more to attitude than ability. Chelsea, with their resilient trio of Cech, Terry and Carvalho, must be considered England’s best hope in Europe.

Elsewhere, Wayne Rooney ended his mini-drought in emphatic fashion at StJames’s Park, as Manchester United defeated Newcastle 3-1. Newcastle still haven’t worked out how to accommodate Partick Kluivert into their side without upsetting people; Craig Bellamy plays on the wing these days, and the words “square pegs” and “round holes” spring to mind. Liverpool edged out a resilient Crystal Palace side thanks to a hat-trick from Milan Baros, and Everton beat Birmingham City 1-0, with City’s Emile Heskey looking an increasingly forlorn figure up front. Arjen Robben’s return from injury has sparked Chelsea into life; where before they ground out 1-0 wins, they’re now free-scoring and have depth and variety in attack. This week’s victims, Fulham, were beaten 4-1. Norwich and West Brom look predictably doomed, beaten by Charlton and Middesbrough respectively. Man City played Blackburn and no-one cared.

Finally, spare a thought for Kingstonian chairman-turned-asset-stripper Rajesh Khosla, who this week failed to submit the club’s financial details to Companies House as required by company law. Khosla paid £0.45m to buy the club in 2002, and has since received £1.55m (set to rise to 2.4m) for selling the club’s stadium to AFC Wimbledon in June 2003. In a bizarre twist, Khosla is now threatening to “ban” representatives from the local newspaper, the Surrey Comet, from attending press conferences, on the grounds that they “ask too many questions about the club’s financial affairs.” Mr Khosla’s official statement on the matter was: “Kingstonian is a private company. You have no right to be asking these questions – it’s none of your business.” Charming. Oh the times they are a-changing (see my earlier article, re: “The state of Football in 2004”). Khosla, and other vultures like him, are simply beneath contempt; it may be too late now to save Kingtonian in any meaningful sense, but it is of the utmost importance to keep people like him out of football in future. Football clubs are cornerstones of communities, not ordinary businesses. So long as they are denied a special legal status to reflect this, they will never be adequately protected from the whims of the private sector.

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3 Responses to 14th November 2004: Premiership Round-up

  1. Anonymous says:

    In hindsight it might prove lucky that AFC Wimbledon bought the Fan’s stadium from the vulture Khosla, as he could have sold it to a property developer and then K’s would be homeless.

    If the Surrey Comet dont go to the Press events – what other press do? Even Radio Jackie make a point of supporting AFC Wimbledon.

    On this subject, you report well Nathaniel, but how can you ignore the record breaking run of AFC Wimbledon, finally acheived by drawing with Bromley – 75 games unbeaten in the league, please see:


    The FA Cup started proper and the league got a battering from the non league in a few games, but the amount of goals scored was encouraging. This also on a week where the english boys at Real serve up a 6-1 thashing and England play Spain in Madrid on Wednesday.

    Oh and did I mention the England captain has annouced his retirement after the 2006 World Cup, unlike half the Welsh team who have gone this week because the Welsh FA decided to appoint a manager who the players hate and think is a twat – I argee with them, must be shit being Welsh.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lets get this straight once and for all! AFC Wimbledon in no way helped Kingstonian by buying KINGSMEADOW (not “the Fan’s Stadium”) due to the fact that the ground/property could only be used for footballing purposes. All they did was facilitate Khosla greed and, by doing so, virtually kill off Kingstonian… which is consequence that AFC Wimbledon should forever live in fear of, because karma can be a real bitch!

    … and as for Radio Jackie supporting AFC Wimbledon, ultimately its because that club are ‘flavour of the week’ and everyone in the area are gonna watch a side who are dominating their league just as they would desert it when results on and off the field aren’t going their way. They are to football what The Darkness are to music, and i for one will be smiling when that old saying comes to pass “what goes up, must come down!”

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