Sunday sees the end of the 2008-09 English Premier League Season. Manchester United have already snatched a third successive title, so the real focus is at the table’s foot, where Newcastle, Hull and Sunderland are fighting for survival, with the other North-eastern club Middlesbrough already all but down. Mystic Pete assures me that Hull, who are playing Man U, will go down (as you know, I am Mystic Pete’s representative on Earth, and he is seldom wrong, well, sometimes, well, all the time), but in many ways I’d prefer Newcastle to drop. Not that I have anything against them, if anything I feel great pity for Newcastle: not many big teams make a bigger balls-up of things and go through managers than my beloved Spurs, but Newcastle really teach us a lesson. It’s as if the people running the club want them to go down. It reminds me of the Eurosong organizers in that episode of Father Ted, who let Ted and Dougal’s “My Lovely Horse” win. My Lovely Horse, running around in the field… (um, don’t tell Michael Owen)
As for Spurs, well we got out of that battle a while ago, and how! Now we’re a win away from getting into the Europa Cup (that’s the UEFA Cup; as Alan Partridge would say, “they’ve rebranded it you fool!”) which we purposely got knocked out of this season, to give us a better chance of getting back into it next year. Speaking of Europe, Manchester United face Barcelona in the Champion’s League final on Wednesday in what should be a classic. A phrase which guarantees it will be a 120 minute 0-0 affair ending in tired overpaid stars tapping in penalties. Perhaps we’ll be surprised.
The season finale I’m following most closely however is that in France. When we lived in Aix, in 2002, Olympique Lyonnaise won the title for the first time ever, and we were all pleased. They have won it every year since, totally dominating. This year, however, they’ve slipped up and allowed Bordeaux and Marseille to slug it out. As a Marseille fan I’m delighted, (though Pierre Mystique tells me that les Girondins will break OM hearts), but I just hope this ushers in a new era of competitiveness in French Football.
This time of year though is the time when new football shirts come out to play, and debates rage on football shirt websites (such as football shirt culture, or football-shirts.co.uk) about the lame unimaginativeness of Nike’s templates or the dread felt by fans of teams who have Puma that their new kit will also be in their new cheap wierd chevron style (that’s my concern for the upcoming Tottenham kit anyhow; Puma make nice trainers, but atrocious football kits). Kit companies have taken to releasing ‘leaked images’ of fake kits, to throw off the counterfeiters; Umbro did so with the new England kit. And of course, South American and lower-league English teams are still using female models to launch their new shirts (many of whom wear them much more elegantly than the average beer-and-pie-guzzling footy fan would), but this year’s prize for gratuitous use of female model goes to Northern Ireland’s Linfield. Their new Umbro away kit apparently features some sort of thong. That makes a change; most of the new kits this year are just pants.