Siu’s View: EPL Round 32 Recap, Exodus from QPR, Di Canio’s Appointment, United & Swansea Finances


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 32 Recap: City Rouse, Villa Rise, Reading Ragged

Before we go further into the relegation battle, let’s first reserve some praise for Manchester City. Roberto Mancini’s men went to Old Trafford and brought home all three points for the second time in a row, the first City manager to do so since Joe Mercer. In terms of the title race, of course, only the most improbable of permutations could possibly result in a dramatic repeat of last year’s memorable City triumph. (Scratch that: only the most impossible of permutations could result in a miracle.) But what the 2-1 victory over Manchester United says is that there is a reason Sir Alex Ferguson’s team isn’t in contention for the Quadruple, Treble or Double. And that City might just come back next season.

Stoke City Britannia

Britannia Stadium (Wikimedia Commons)

Now onto the bottom of the Premier League. First, Aston Villa came up with an impressive 3-1 away victory at none other than the Britannia, featuring lots of late drama and an absolute stunner from Matthew Lowton. While we’re at it, what’s with right-backs scoring world-class screamers? We’ve seen that from United’s Rafael da Silva already this season, and both are sure-fire Goal of the Year contenders. Anyway, the Villa-Stoke game gives the former a bit more room at the bottom, but drags Tony Pulis’ side into the dogfight. And the Stoke faithful gave him a right earful at the final whistle on Saturday. A late twist, perhaps?

What won’t be a twist, though, is Reading losing their Premier League status at the end of the season. Seems like an eternity ago that Brian McDermott and Adam Le Fondre won Manager and Player of the Month. (That was in January.) Now Reading at rooted at the foot of the table following a depressing 0-2 home defeat to Southampton, who are coming along nicely after ditching a certain Nigel Adkins for Mauricio Pochettino just a few months ago. If 23 points is what Reading have on board after a dismal season with a squad not fit for the EPL, I shudder to recall how awful Derby County truly were.

Mass Exodus from Loftus Road!

Shaun Maloney. Oh Shaun Maloney. Or should that be Adel Taarabt? Or Stephane Mbia? It happened like this: Deep into stoppage time, QPR’s Mbia committed a silly foul outside the box. Wigan’s Maloney took charge of the freekick, while Taarabt ducked his head in midair. The result? An equalizer for Wigan, euphoria for Roberto Martinez, and Harry Redknapp looking like the apocalypse. As a result of the game, Wigan are level on points with Sunderland (31) with a game in hand, while QPR are seven points adrift of safety. Which in all probability means relegation. Which in all probability means a mass exodus. First on the list to leave will be Loic Remy, who has proven to be QPR’s biggest threat and a very decent forward. More relegation-bound stars here.

Paulo Di Canio and the Stadium of Right

Right, sorry about the headline. Right, and sorry about that too. Well, this is what happens when a controversial figure takes charge of a club that is not in need of more headlines. Sunderland are precariously situated on the brink of the safety zone, and what they don’t need right now is the negative coverage that Paulo Di Canio has already given them with his fiery and controversial past. Di Canio has already stated that his squad are not fit enough, which proved all too correct at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The fire was there though, which is admirable enough. But what he has to get right and right away is points, points and points. Sorry about that again.

Footy Finance: Aon Training Complex and Swansea’s Profits

Let’s wrap things up with our latest installment on finance in English football, which sheds light onto the commercial aspect of things and makes the whole picture that much more interesting. We start with Monday’s rather jaw-dropping announcement that Manchester United have agreed a huge naming rights deal with Aon, except that this isn’t a stadium sponsorship case, but rather for their Carrington training ground. What’s more, it’s worth a whopping £15 million a season. Say what you will about the debts forced onto United by the Glazers; what’s inarguable is the Red Devils’ sheer commercial, marketing and PR might. That’s a big-name signing every summer provided by their training complex. Sheesh.

Our second story is on Swansea, who have probably made it onto this column more than any other club in the Premier League. The simple fact is that their business model is just impressive. On Tuesday, Swansea announced a record profit of £15.9 million from June to November 2012. The amount doesn’t do it enough justice. When we consider that it’s just the Swans’ second season in the English top flight (and don’t forget that they’re still the first and only team from Wales to do that), the entire picture just gets that much prettier. With Michael Laudrup at the helm, a summer of fruitful spending to look forward to and a League Cup triumph in February, we’re looking forward to even better numbers this time next year. Whisper it quietly, but is this a Premier League fixture (or even force) in the making?

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