1. It is very possible Roman Abramovich thinks managers are a lot like forwards. They may be effective for the initial part of a contest/campaign, but eventually they run out of gas and need to be replaced with a fresh-legged substitute. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Abramovich move to a “manager by committee” system next year, where he chooses from an extravagant stable of managers-on-call to “start” each of his treasured EPL matches. He’s honestly not far from it… 9 different football minds in the past 9 years of his reign. Have fun, Rafa Benitez.
2. Go from Tottenham’s head coach, to top candidate for the national team gig, to droopy- jowled man sitting smugly in the stands at QPR’s almost-not-getting-routed by Manchester United game… and you’ve described the most recent leg of the Harry Redknapp Experience. Not sure if he can possibly get worse results than predecessor Mark Hughes, but the horizon is still less than rosy for the managerial maverick. Guiding the Rangers to their first win of the season would be an excellent place to start.
3. A while back we talked about Southampton not being as bad as their record made them out to be, that they had been forced to trudge through the devastating upper-half of the Prem table to start the top division season. Well… as their schedule has eased they’ve shown that to be true, going on to tie Swansea, crush QPR on the road and handily defeat Newcastle in their last 3 matches. They’ve also only given up two goals during those 3 games, a huge positive for a team that was hemorrhaging enemy strikes a month ago.
4. I don’t know whether or not Manchester United can keep scoring as many goals as they have been, but it’s made for some pretty entertaining soccer so far. Come from behind victories seem to be their signature this season… but make no mistake, there could be more Norwich-like shock losses in their future if they don’t shore up that back line and defensive midfield. The return of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, as well as the possible re-emergence of Anderson, should help the situation.
5. With all the managerial turnover this past week, should Roberto Mancini also be looking over his shoulder? The short answer is probably yes, but every manager at a major club (besides Sir Alex) is ever-weary of the proverbial axe. Missing out on yet another Champions League knock out stage is a big blow, but being able to focus solely on the EPL should give his already deep roster an advantage down the stretch. Manchester City (as long as they don’t play that ridiculously precarious 3 in the back formation anymore) should continue to live in the very top portion of the table till season’s end.
6. Did anyone else read this Telegraph piece on Fernando Torres having a degenerative knee issue that Chelsea didn’t know about? Not so sure his pace is the only thing he’s been lacking during his West London lull, but maybe he was injured beyond repair (and then brutally played into the ground by Benitez) while at Anfield. In any case, the article gives a detailed look at (at least) one of the likely contributors to the Spaniard’s downfall.
7. We all saw Arsenal stumble to another bottom of the table opponent this weekend, but I still think it is premature to label Giroud a worthless bust and put a shotgun to Wenger’s back come the January transfer period. Much like the short match-filled week that saw Di Matteo unfairly cast out of Stamford Bridge, Arsenal also played an emotionally draining derby game against Tottenham a week ago and another big contest against Montpellier in the Champs League a few days after. Playing a lowly team like Aston Villa on the road after minimal rest this weekend was a classic trap game. The Gunners will recover, and they will continue to push for a Wenger-approved “doesn’t really matter as long as it is in the top 4” finish.
8. What the dickens is going on with Newcastle? They’ve regressed from inconsistent to seriously flawed in a matter of weeks, and Alan Pardew is starting to look more and more like the captain of a sinking ship. Ever since Yohan Cabaye was stricken with a nagging groin injury, Newcastle has struggled to earn anything more than a draw in the Prem… they’re sorely missing his playmaking presence. While Cabaye is currently taking steps to remedy his hampering ailment, his surgery will definitely rule him out till the New Year. This may get worse before it gets better.