Most of the time this league stinks

PUBLISHED: 16:16 23 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:25 10 September 2010

EVERY year we told by associated pundits that the Championship will be “tough”, standards will improve, and money will talk when it comes to finishing positions.

EVERY year we told by associated pundits that the Championship will be “tough”, standards will improve, and money will talk when it comes to finishing positions.

Clubs such as West Bromwich Albion, we are reliably informed, have “Premiership quality” squads; as expectation levels over the season ahead get ratcheted up in August.

Yet what do we end up with?

A situation where - in mid-February - a team such as Bristol City has a shot at going top of the league.

The Man sat somewhat aghast on Monday night as he watched Bristol take on Crystal Palace on Sky.

With Dele Adebola lolloping about up front, a fair smattering of League One players, and a cameo from fat boy Lee Trundle - they were a pitiful sight for the paltry 16,000 spectators to behold.

They nicked a draw in the fifth minute of injury time; showing a hint of the team spirit that might go some way towards explaining their success.

But really, for Bristol to be knocking on the door of the world's richest football league, is not far off a joke.

The Man thinks this division has got worse this season in terms of quality.

In fact, in the majority of games, it stinks.

Depending on how you look at it, we either picked a really good season - or really bad one - to allow Peter the (Disa)pointer to wreak his havoc.

In previous years you would suspect the start we made would have condemned us to relegation no matter what skills the new manager possessed, taking nothing away from the Roeder Miracle.

It is indeed a “tough” league, in the blood and guts sense, but not in the footballing sense.

One look at the table ahead of today's fixtures tells its own story - the top two being made up of the respective athletics clubs of Watford and Stoke.

It is a supreme irony that the sort of football that now makes you a success in this league also guarantees that same team relegation from the Premiership, with less than 15 points.

Bolton managed to make the football by numbers style work in the top flight, but they only managed to stay up with ease once they'd laced their team with some world-class performers.

However, for all its weaknesses, The Man does think the Championship is a great league.

Anyone can beat anyone, you can get tickets for any game, and there's no West Ham or Newcastle. There's also no Mark Lawrenson co-commentaries.

If only it didn't lead clubs toward bankruptcy, I'd be quite happy for us to stay there.

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t IT'S ALL ABOUT TIMING RUSTY

POOR old Rusty got well and truly ruffled against Leicester.

Having seen replays of the tackle, The Man feels a red card was very much deserved.

It's a shame players don't engage their brains before doing that sort of thing, as three matches without one of our top performers is a major blow.

The Man wonders, however, whether there was something else rattling Rusty's cage last Saturday.

After all, the night before his former club Stoke had gone top of the league, and look a very decent bet for promotion.

This, of course, is the player who left us for Stoke - the summer before we won the title.

It must be a touch frustrating for the young man…either that of the cruel gods of football are trying to tell him something.

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t TYKES ARE A JOY TO BEHOLD

A BIG thank you to today's opponents Barnsley, for their removal of Liverpool from the FA Cup.

It was the sort of shock The Man thought he would never see again, and was a complete joy.

For their endeavours the Tykes have been handed a quarter-final against Chelsea, which they are sure to lose.

However, as The Times was quick to point out, this is very much a nouveaux David v Goliath clash.

It said: “The last and only time Barnsley played Chelsea in the FA Cup, in the third round in 1989, the Yorkshire side won 4-0 and it was not such a shock.”

Which is exactly why The Man - and thousands of others - still struggles to comprehend Chelsea as a “big club”.

Beating them never used to be a big deal. In fact, The Man would regularly look upon the fixture as a home banker, with a decent shout of getting something away from home too.

Teams like Everton, Nottingham Forest and (dare I say it) Tottenham still loiter in my sub-conscious as bigger clubs; it is very difficult to shift the perceptions of teams you had when you first started watching football.

Everyone will have different feelings about who are the big clubs, depending on when they started going to games.

That's why I still struggle to think of Wigan as a professional club, let alone Premier League.

Chelsea could win the league every year and I'd still always think of them as the team with cars behind the goal.

It's also worth remembering that a Chelsea fixture with Wimbledon holds the current record for the lowest ever Premier League crowd...

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t FOZZY'S HEART IS IN RIGHT PLACE

EVERYTHING The Man has heard about Fozzy, in terms of his character, has been positive.

He forms a big part of Team Glenn; and his attitude has helped drag us towards survival.

And no doubt he wakes up each morning and wonders quite how he has gone from toiling in the Swiss Sunday Leagues to being captain of one of the best supported clubs in England.

It has been a great few months for one of the few surviving members of Grant's Tartan Taliban, but footballers are a special breed...

This week Fothregas said: “It will be a big decision to stay. There have been a couple of other teams who have contacted my agent.

“I have told the people at the club and given Glenn my word that I want to stay, but there are a few things that are important for me to make my decision.”

Eh? The Man would politely suggest that if there is any deal on the table, Mr Fotheringham signs it.

His calls for the board to give Roeder some money to spend were interesting too. Presumably he doesn't want GR to be given too much money to spend...not that there is going to be much in the kitty anyway.

I am convinced Fozzy's heart is in the right place and that he wants success for our club, as we all do. I just think now all the money has gone, we need to be reasonable on what we can expect the board to give the manager.

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