English Football Weekly Wrap: Relegation Special, Jose Mourinho’s Return, Lessons from Germany


Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool (Image via LFC Official Facebook)

In my weekly column on SWOL, I take a look back at the weekend’s English Premier League and domestic cup action and the talking points that it throws up, as well as any significant news related to English football at large. Follow me @theredarmchair for regular updates throughout the week.

EPL Round 35 Recap: QPR, Reading Gone; Newcastle, Sunderland Disintegrate; Wigan Fight

Forget the top two; forget the top four; forget the top seven; forget the top half even. All the excitement is happening down at the foot of the Premier League table now, with new stories and permutations being thrown up every weekend.

Obviously, the one not-so-exciting match took place between QPR and Reading, whose shared 0-0 draw turned them from relegation favorites to Championship sides next season. Actually, “not so exciting” is most definitely a euphemism; this was by far the most boring and depressing display of Premier League football all season. Jose Bosingwa caught the eye with his relaxed demeanor after relegation was confirmed, but Tony Fernandes should hope that his players use their three remaining games to put themselves in the shop window. That should be as unlikely as Reading selling any of theirs to a Premier League team in the close season.

A goalless draw and a point would’ve been a dream result in hindsight for Newcastle United and Sunderland, who just a few weeks ago were involved in a Tyne-Wear derby classic. That didn’t end so well for Newcastle either, and they made it a healthy nine goals conceded at home without reply when they capitulated against Liverpool, who basically were allowed to do anything they want in their 6-0 victory. Sunderland fared one better, literally, but that didn’t stop Aston Villa from notching six either. Christian Benteke followed up his Young Player of the Year nomination with a barnstorming performance and a hat-trick. Newcastle, Sunderland and Villa are all on 37 points above the relegation zone.

With an extra game in hand, Wigan Athletic are third from bottom, five points from the above trio, but still in with a fighting chance. Logically speaking, you’d think the Latics wouldn’t be able to make up the difference, but history suggests otherwise – and even on Saturday, they snatched a last-gasp draw from Tottenham Hotspur to make it a point gained. Roberto Martinez has a phenomenal track record on his side, but with West Bromwich Albion, Swansea City, Arsenal and Villa to come, that’s probably just a step too far for them this time. Wait – Wigan v. Villa on the last day of the season? That could be interesting.

The triumphant return of the Special One

It wasn’t so long ago that Jose Mourinho actually lived up to the Special One moniker. A year ago, when Real Madrid romped to the La Liga title, Mourinho’s star couldn’t have been brighter, and when Roberto Di Matteo was sacked at Chelsea, the calls for Mourinho’s return couldn’t have been louder. But this has been an underwhelming season for Real by all accounts, and while Borussia Dortmund were, frankly, just fantastic in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal, you’d have to think Real missed a golden opportunity to get their hands on the trophy again. Mourinho’s flirted with a return to Stamford Bridge this summer. Let’s hope this won’t become the not-so-triumphant return of the Not-So-Special One.

Much to learn from the German exhibition at Wembley

How about the Bundesliga, eh? If Germany weren’t already back in the headlines following their exploits in the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championships, they surely are now after a blistering campaign in the Champions League, where Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have put on footballing exhibitions throughout Europe this season. The supposed powerhouses of European football, Real Madrid and Barcelona, were brutally torn apart by a show of pace, energy, fluidity and counterattacking from the Germans, and they rightly take their place in the spotlight now. It’ll be a mouthwatering final at Wembley this May – there won’t be a better opportunity for the English to learn how to restructure their footballing infrastructure than at their home stadium. That’s a tad ironic.

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