Clutching at straws and draws
A good place to start with this round up of the weekend’s press conferences, is the Britannia Stadium. Stoke don’t get a lot of air time on this blog but this week their performance on the pitch merited inclusion. Unfortunately Mark Hughes’ press conference was as dry as ever so he’s talked his team out of their day in the sun. I’m sure they’re gutted. Staying in the Potteries though, Hughes’ opposite number was clutching at excuses and it’s safe to say, he doesn’t have much faith in his squad. “We are playing with 13 players in all competitions,” said Pellegrini after his side’s defeat. “I always miss important names, but you have to play with the players you have.” For the record, those players include the mercurial David Silva and £50million men de Bruyne and Sterling, to name but a few. Down to the bare bones then Manuel.
This is a familiar drum for Pellgrini to be banging over the last few weeks, blaming poor results on too many games and consequent injuries. He was at pains to mention last week that City were the only team to still be in all four competitions at this point in the season, alluding to the fact that they are suffering as a consequence. But let’s break that statement down. Yes they are still in the Champions League, but haven’t been totally convincing for large parts of the campaign. Yes they are still in the League Cup. Likewise, it has taken a heroic effort, but somehow they have managed to keep themselves in the FA Cup so far this season, as, remarkably, has every other club in the Premier League and the Championship. Then last but not least they are still in with a shout of the league title but let’s be honest, unless you’re Chelsea, it’s been pretty hard not to be in with a sniff of the Premier League this season, given the dearth of quality at the top level. So while City are still fighting on all fronts, these lamentations from Pellegrini attempt to hide more pressing issues such as how City can cope without Kompany and Aguero in the team. Let’s not forget, it only takes a week to be knocked out of a couple of cups and for your season to be in flux; just ask Arsenal.
Talking of managers clutching at straws over the weekend, we need look no further than Remi Garde of Aston Villa. Reflecting on a backs to the wall point at Southampton, the Frenchman mused, “The talent at Aston Villa is not the same as at Manchester City or Arsenal but they still lose games.” OK. On your first point Remi, spot on, the talent is not the same. Secondly, Arsenal and Manchester City both lose games, agreed, but if they lose a few matches with the players they’ve got, how many more are Villa going to lose before the season’s out? Everyone can lose games and this season has underlined that more than most, but the simple fact is, the shit teams are going to lose even more than the rest. Villa are the definition of shit. Down they go.
Moving away from the platitudes and the bitterness that engulf many a post-match presser, it’s well worth tipping our collective hat to Bournemouth and Eddie Howe this weekend. Howe was beaming from ear to ear after snatching a late winner at Chelsea and he was gushing in praise of his players. “It was really emotional in the dressing room afterwards. I’m so proud if them,” were his words after victory at Stamford Bridge . Now, whether Bournemouth stay up or go down this season, that swelling sense of pride is a feeling that the club and those fans will never forget after what was a huge victory for them at the weekend. It’s nice to see that pride and pure joy come out in press conferences once in a while, so more power to their arm.
That’s enough of the positivity. One man who was on the opposite end of the footballing spectrum at 5 o’clock on Saturday, was Garry Monk. After another hapless defeat for his Swansea team, Britain’s most miserable man faced the cameras once again. There was a change in attitude from Monk this week however, as for the first time he recognised that he and his team weren’t good enough, stating, “The results aren’t acceptable and I’m fully aware of that.” The only problem is, I reckon that the Swansea fans and the board are aware of that too Garry. The closer we get to Christmas and the closer that Swansea get to the relegation zone, the closer they could get to pulling the trigger. It would be a shame for a manager going through the first genuinely difficult spell of his career, but he could pay the price for not toning down his blind arrogance early enough. There you go, I bet you’ve forgotten about the sunshine and light coming from Bournemouth this weekend already. Bring on some emotional breakdowns.