FORGET about tactically constipated football matches in the top leagues or the never-ending stream of European fixtures where substitutes have to study a spread-sheet with the coach before coming on. No, if it’s good, old-fashioned entertainment you’re after, you can’t beat the lower leagues in the Football League.
Take for instance the titanic League Two clash between Chesterfield and Crewe: Chesterfield are enjoying life in their spanking new 10,000 capacity stadium and the 6,047 fans who turned up were able to savour a real goal feast. Chesterfield, who were 4-1 down at half-time, staged a remarkable comeback and the thrills and spills continued in the second half before the referee finally blew his whistle with the scores at 5-5.
Across the Pennines in Lancashire, Accrington and Gillingham did even better, serving up an ELEVEN goal treat: Again the game ebbed and flowed before Accrington finally ran out 7-4 winners!
Teams that play away from home are always conscious of trying to avoid giving the home fans any extra incentive to get behind their side. So Turkish outfit Bursaspor decided not to wear their green-and-white hooped strip, similar to that of Celtic, when they took on Rangers in the Champions League tie at Ibrox. The two Glasgow sides are arch-rivals and Bursaspor obviously felt that the green-and-white would inflame the Rangers fans. “We expect to see controlled aggression from our players but there is no need to increase the tension,” said coach Ertugrul Saglam. However, they shouldn’t have bothered, they lost the game 1-0.
Only a couple of days after insisting his job was safe, the Leicester City chairman Milan Mandaric sacked manager Paulo Sousa after less than three months in charge. Commenting on his dismissal from the struggling Championship side, Sousa said: “To be sacked after being told that there was a long-term strategy at the club is something that I find very surprising.”
And then on Sunday Leicester announced that Sven-Goran Eriksson had taken over. This time Mandaric said: “Sometime in the future we can look back and say this was truly the right thing to do.” Nice to see a man who knows his own mind.
Perhaps the only sensible words came from Richard Bevan, chief executive of the League Managers Association, who said: “How can a chairman expect to deliver success at a football club when a talented manager is recruited and dismissed within two months? Knee-jerk dismissals, and the chopping and changing of managers will not deliver success on the field and is incredibly destabilizing to the entire club. Paulo’s sacking is even more disappointing in light of the chairman’s comments on Paulo’s appointment in the summer, when he stated he was ‘delighted to acquire a manager of such great calibre’. Leicester City Football Club has had 14 managers since 2004 and six whilst the current chairman has been at the club. Clearly the club has to examine its manager recruitment strategy as their current approach does not work. It is damaging to the club and its fans and is an inappropriate way to treat talented managers and their careers.”
You just can’t keep Manchester City out of the news. They have announced losses of £121m for the 12 months leading up to May 31 this year, having spent more on wages than their entire turnover. The loss is up from £92.5m for the previous year and is one of the heaviest in Premier League history.
Back in the real world, Paul Buckle, manager of League Two side Torquay United has revealed his playing budget has been cut by the board. He told BBC Radio Devon: “The budget has been cut, quite considerably, because of financial restraints the club has off the field. There are financial restraints on the club away from the football side and they must come first. The finance side is vital and you can’t spend over your means.”
Are you listening City?