Early Doors

Not too rubbish to stay up

Early Doors

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For years, pundits and managers have warned that there is no
such thing as a team 'too good to go
down'.

The point is that a big fanbase, a fancy stadium and
highly-paid players cannot by themselves prevent relegation - you also need to
win some football matches.

This nugget of perfect obviousness is trotted out every time
a side with a decent reputation looks as though they might drop.

Among the recent sides who were definitely not too good to
go down are Leeds United (2003-04), West Ham (2002-03), Middlesbrough (1996-97)
and Nottingham Forest (1992-93).

We might be adding Newcastle United (2008-09) to that list
in a few weeks, but Early Doors suspects the Magpies will get out of trouble
because a new maxim applies; There is no such thing as a team too rubbish to
stay up.

In the new, polarised Premier League, it seems there is no form of ineptitude, however epic, that can guarantee a bottom-three finish.

Look at the lower end of the table:

West Brom have been doomed for months thanks to a defensive
line that seems to have been modelled on Belgium in 1914.

Middlesbrough's staggering uselessness in front of goal has seen
them score fewer goals than any side in the four professional divisions.

Newcastle
employed an entire squadron of big-name strikers last night and the trio, in
turn, showed that none of them can locate a bovine posterior with any sort of
musical instrument.

The truly lamentable Hull City
have won two of their last 25 games. Nobody's
saying Champions League any more.

Sunderland beat off strong competition to turn in the worst
team performance of the season last weekend as they lost 3-0 to West Brom.

Blackburn and Bolton are utterly nondescript outfits that could be wiped off the face of the earth and it would
take people months to notice.

Portsmouth
spent most of the season under the guidance of Tony Adams; a man whose tactical
ineptitude makes Bryan Robson look like Rinus Michels.

And Stoke would not have scored at any point this season if,
instead of conceding throws inside their own half, teams just put the ball out
for a corner.

Under normal circumstances, any of these teams would be perfectly
acceptable relegation candidates. This season, however, two-thirds of them are
going to stay up.

Over the last six months, Hull have averaged 0.56 points per game,
meaning they are likely to finish on 36.

Newcastle and Middlesbrough might be three points adrift, but if either
can conjure two wins from their last four games they might just be safe.

ED is going to stick its neck on the line and says that whoever
wins the Tyne-Tees derby at St James'
next month will stay up. So, a 0-0 draw it is, then.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Anyone got any Strepsils?" A
croaking Alan Shearer demands throat sweets after shouting himself to a standstill
at St James' Park.

FOREIGN VIEW: With Juergen Klinsmann currently taxiing around Los Angeles airport, Bayern Munich have
wasted no time sticking the boot into their ex-coach. The most interesting
revelation came from midfielder Ze Roberto,
who said that Klinsmann's final
half-time team talk, delivered when 1-0 down to Schalke, was simply this:
"You have to score a goal."

YOUR VIEW:
Ryan Giggs's coronation
as PFA Player of the Year caused a bit of a stir, it seems.

colekatt2002: What a load of rubbish, I had to check what year it is when I
found this out. Turns out we're not
living in the 90's, no Vanilla Ice
music around. Giving this old man this award shows the world has truly gone
bonkers!

A possibly swine flu-infected donneysbeck: LAT ME MAK ME
FEALANS CLEER AN THAS, GAGGSY DIDINAY DESARVE THA AWURD THAS YEER CAZ A HOS BEN
WARSE THON YASLASS BAT HE HOS DESARVED AT FAR HES AFFARTS DOON THA YEERS. BAT
THEY SHAD A WAITAD ANTIL A RETIRED TAY GAV EM
AT.

james_ssmith: Can't quarrel if Ryan
Giggs's fellow professionals voted
for him. Presumably they voted for the best role model. I see that despite a 'bad'
season that Ronaldo is leading goal scorer in the league. I have to say that
his goal celebration on Saturday revealed a case of blatant chest-waxing. He
should held to account. Is there no cosmetic device he won't try?

COMING UP:
We have all-singing, all-dancing coverage of Barcelona
v Chelsea
,
which kicks off at 19:45 UK
time. Get ready for the big anti-Leo Messi backlash when he fails to live up to
the hype by scoring five. Plus, jockeying unsuccessfully for your attention, we
have two League One games.

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