Bad Weekend For: New boys and hundred-percenters
A look across the English leagues for the Saturday and Sunday sufferers, with Simon Carter...
New Managers (AndrÃÂ© Villas-Boas Edition)
I have a friend whose favourite part of playing Football Manager is those first few months when he joins a new club. Many happy hours are spent reshuffling his squad, getting rid of players he doesnÃ¢ÂÂt like the look of or who donÃ¢ÂÂt fit his Ã¢ÂÂvisionÃ¢ÂÂ, and bringing in the replacements he hopes will lead his new side to glory. After the major reshuffle is done he starts to lose heart as the expensive new signings donÃ¢ÂÂt gel as he would like them to and the old boys start to look better with every game.
Fortunately, my friend can just start a new game whenever things donÃ¢ÂÂt go his way, but for real-life football manager AndrÃÂ© Villas-Boas there is no such luxury. Since becoming manager of Tottenham, Villas-Boas has spent a reported ÃÂ£57 million on six new players, including three on transfer deadline day, and sold or released 12 squad members as he sets about dismantling the Ã¢ÂÂalmostÃ¢ÂÂ team that Harry Redknapp had put together.
While it's debatable how much control he has over transfers Ã¢ÂÂ itÃ¢ÂÂs unlikely that he would have happily sanctioned the sale of Luka Modric Ã¢ÂÂ seeing the likes of Niko Kranjcar, Vedran Corluka, Modric and Rafael van der Vaart leave must have been difficult for Tottenham fans.
Of course, Villas-Boas could have appeased the restless supporters with a decent start at White Hart Lane but, just as at Chelsea last season, he has found winning Premier League games increasingly difficult. At home against Norwich on Saturday, Spurs were lucky to get as much as a point, even considering the lateness of the Canaries equaliser.
All in all it was a weekend that raised more questions than answers for all involved with Tottenham. This was perhaps inevitable given the surprise arrival of Clint Dempsey on deadline day and the non-arrival of long-term target JoÃÂ£o Moutinho, all of which will have disrupted the squad in the build-up to Saturday. Turgid, directionless and without flair, the winless Spurs, and Villas-Boas, will hope for better after the international break.
New Managers (Brendan Rodgers Edition)
Ã¢ÂÂI would need to be a nutcase to even consider at this moment letting Andy Carroll go out.Ã¢ÂÂ So said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers just over a week ago. But that was a different Brendan Rodgers. That was a Brendan Rodgers who had the tantalising prospect of new blood on the horizon. That was a Brendan Rodgers who thought that Clint Dempsey would just be one of the big names to arrive before the transfer window closed.
The thinness of the Liverpool squad won't even be the manager's main concern as he endeavours to eradicate the individual errors undermining any good work that his Liverpool side do. After well-publicised mistakes cost points against West Brom and Manchester City, errors by Steven Gerrard and, more directly, Jose Reina cost them dearly against Arsenal yesterday.
In a game where they completed more passes than the Gunners (thank you FFT Stats Zone) and controlled at least the wide areas of the field, Liverpool probably deserved better than the 0-2 result.
The bad news is that after three tricky opening fixtures, Liverpool must now travel to Sunderland and a squad-stretching Europa League clash in Switzerland before welcoming their old friends Manchester United. The good news? Among the free agents they can sign are both Michael Owen and Emile Heskey.
100% Club Part One
If youÃ¢ÂÂre one of the supporters of the 90 teams who played English league football this weekend (fans of Chelsea and Reading had a weekend away from league action), some of you will have smiles on your faces this Monday morning whereas some of you will be dreading the inescapable ribbing that will define your day: Watford fans may want to throw a sickie. But however your weekend went, most of you will be able to look back over the start of the new season and pick out one or two highlights.
Fans of Southampton, Peterborough United, Leyton Orient and Scunthorpe may struggle more than most as each of those teams remain almost hopeless, manifestly winless and absolutely pointless.
Apart from ScunthorpeÃ¢ÂÂs recent 4-0 home reverse to Yeovil, none of the pointless teams have seen themselves turned over (Southampton in particular were excellent against the Manchester clubs), but that only serves to add to fansÃ¢ÂÂ frustration of seeing their teams repeatedly come away from games empty-handed.
With international football on the calendar for next week, Southampton and Peterborough will have to wait to kick-start their season whereas Scunthorpe and Orient will try their luck against the impressive Sheffield United and the Ã¢ÂÂgood-until-yesterdayÃ¢ÂÂ Swindon Town respectively. There could be more bad weekends on the horizon.
100% Club Part Two
At the start of this weekend, six Premier League and Football League teams could boast 100% starts to the season; by the end, only Chelsea remained. Mourning the loss of a perfect opening might seem a little self-indulgent, especially when compared to those enduring nightmare starts (see above), but fans of Swansea, Everton, Blackpool, Gillingham and Oxford will have woken up on Sunday morning to find that a little of the magic had gone. They'll now be worriedly scrutinising the fixture list for upcoming tricky away fixtures or potential banana skins.
Of those the five teams in question, three of them Ã¢ÂÂ Everton, Blackpool and Oxford Ã¢ÂÂ tasted defeat (for Everton it was actually their first defeat in 12 games) but thereÃ¢ÂÂs no shame in losing away from home to West Brom, Leicester and York respectively.
While Swansea may, with hindsight, feel pleased with their point after twice coming from behind against Sunderland, Gillingham will have been disappointed with their draw against the winless Chesterfield.
So what of Chelsea? The European Champions and EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs only perfect team? Anybody who saw even a few minutes of FalcaoÃ¢ÂÂs destruction of them in FridayÃ¢ÂÂs European Super Cup (including Roman Abramovich if the tabloid reports of a ÃÂ£48 million January transfer are to be believed) will know that the Londoners will certainly not have enjoyed their weekend.