It's all come down to this

It’s all come down to this?

No. Not Arsenal’s season, that ended a few months ago.

No. Not the Flamini contract flap. He’ll either stay or go and all the speculation is useless.

No. Not the Hleb contract flap. The boss has taken care of that today, he reported Inter to FIFA for tapping up.

No. Not the Edelman thing. That’s a whole ‘nother column, I’m just waiting for the tree to stop shaking and all the fruit to drop before I weigh in on that topic.

I mean it’s all come down to a relegation party: who will be relegated this season? We’ll find out tomorrow.  Bolton and Birmingham both play important matches that could move them one step closer to relegation. And frankly, if Bolton, Birmingham, and Robbie Savage (“playing” for Derby) would get relegated, it would be justice.

Bolton hasn’t tried to play a proper football match in 3 years. Instead, they’ve fouled, kicked, dived, and basically cheated their way as high as 6th place. That’s a sad commentary on the state of modern football isn’t it? When a team can reach 6th place in the league by playing anti-football, there’s something seriously wrong in mudville. Kevin Davies epitomizes the team: devoid of talent, he instead tries to break ankles in virtually every match. Or El Haji Douf? The man who proudly claims he dives? Why is he allowed to play football? That team is what’s wrong with English football and their relegation would be justice for anyone who wants to see some integrity returned to the game.

And Bolton supporters? They cheer their team when they cheat, they boo opposition when they are fouled, they sing heinous songs about Arsenal, and I have yet to meet a Bolton supporter I could respect.  They are a blight on the Premier League and they don’t deserve top flight football either.

Slightly more controversially I will be rooting for Birmingham to make the drop too (I know I’ll get stick for this). If you think about it, it’s only fair, because instead of teaching his team to play football, McLeish goads the team into “getting stuck in.” Unfortunately, this tactic has predictable results. Taylor breaking Eduardo’s leg was inevitable as long as teams like Birmingham are rewarded with top flight football for their overly physical approach to the game. I’m sorry to the Birmingham fans, because they (mostly) do seem to be a sane bunch, but relegation should be the logical outcome for any team that applies this strategy. If you want to stay at the very best level, encourage your team to play football instead of just kicking at people. Look at Everton, Villa, and City, if they can do it, so can you.

And then there’s Robbie Savage. One of the most despicable cheats I have ever seen play the game. His relegation is the exact way his career should end. Have fun in your new Derby White Mercedes, Robbie, may it remind you of your career. More than anything, that car represents the disgusting manner you played football: blatant disregard for anyone and everything around you.

So, tomorrow sees Fulham play Birmingham and Bolton host Sunderland. Fulham and Sunderland wins would put Fulham out of relegation (for a week) and move them into a points tie with Bolton. Bolton has the advantage on goal differential over Fulham but Fulham has to play Pompey and Bolton plays Chelsea in the final match of the season. So, Fulham has the schedule advantage I’d say.

Here’s the bottom of the table (from ESPNSoccernet.com):

13 Sunderland 36 11 6 19 36 56 9 3 6 23 20 2 3 13 13 36 -20 39
14 Wigan 36 9 10 17 32 49 8 5 5 21 15 1 5 12 11 34 -17 37
15 Middlesbrough 36 8 12 16 33 52 5 5 7 17 22 3 7 9 16 30 -19 36
16 Bolton 36 8 9 19 33 53 6 5 7 21 18 2 4 12 12 35 -20 33
17 Reading 36 9 6 21 37 65 8 2 8 19 24 1 4 13 18 41 -28 33
18 Birmingham 36 7 11 18 42 59 5 8 5 26 22 2 3 13 16 37 -17 32
19 Fulham 36 6 12 18 35 60 4 5 9 20 31 2 7 9 15 29 -25 30
20 Derby 36 1 8 27 19 82 1 5 12 12 39 0 3 15 7 43 -63 11

As you can see, the bottom 5 teams are extremely tight with just three points and a few goals separating  them.  Fulham clearly need 6 points to have any hope of staying up and getting to play Birmingham head to head puts them in the driver’s seat.  More than ever, if they want to stay up, they have to win.  So, for one day this year, I’ll be a Fulham/Sunderland fan.

COME ON YOU FULHAM!