SAD (SMITH, ALLARDYCE, DYCHE)
Then there were three. The Premier League will have its Super Sunday filled with AS IT STANDS league tables, tearful fans in ill-considered fancy dress and perhaps even a repeat of last year’s fake-news hoax, when mischievous Wolves supporters made some Liverpool counterparts believe the title would be theirs, only to find Manchester City were still going to be champions. With Big Cup, Big Vase and Tin Pot stuff generally sorted, most eyes will turn to the bottom. Three proud provincial clubs, managed by three stout yeomen of the Midlands, two from three must descend to the Saturday-Tuesday land of Don Goodman’s camel coat, David Prutton’s gush, Lee Hendrie’s frosted tips. Friday night at the John Smith’s, a Real Football heartland commentated on with the gravitas of a state funeral, where a point snatched in deep snow at Stoke definitely means more.
Leicester gave themselves a chance of escaping those EFL badlands by drawing 0-0 at Newcastle on Monday, dragging out the nerves for Big Cup-bound Toon fans by employing a policy that was less “get it launched” and more “get it launched into Row Z”. Still, they might have stolen it had Timothy Castagne been able to hook the ball beyond the reach of Nick Pope in added time. Before that, Deano “Dean” Smith had dropped James Maddison and Harvey Barnes from his starting lineup, rendering the midfield as clogged as Wout Faes’s plughole.
Sunday, then. To stay up, Leicester must beat West Ham, the Hammers with Tin Pot final and the Alkmaar heroism of Knollsy distracting them. The Foxes must also hope Everton fail to beat Bournemouth, for whom Gary O’Neil will be grimly determined –even if his team are entitled to have been hitting the East Beach Harry Ramsden’s lunchtime special (with bucket of Bud) hard. If Everton, kicking off two points above Smith’s mob but with an inferior goal difference, slip up, then they – or Leicester – may end up relying on Spurs (yes, Spurs) to save them by stopping Leeds in their tracks. Football Daily’s advice: it’s probably simpler to check the league table to work this out.
Bad habits: will Leeds fans break out the fancy dress against Spurs? Photograph: Dalton Bowden/Shutterstock
Deano’s zero-sum strategy [actually 0.08 xG – Football Daily Statto Ed] on Tyneside appeared aimed at knocking down Leeds’ chances, a cynical calculation of which Sam Allardyce himself would have been proud. Leeds’ prospects thus became the most bleak, even if Tottenham are currently playing with the collective team spirit of the cast of a cancelled panto, give or take Harry Kane’s continued brilliance in the wake of rank incompetence around him. “I make no apologies for the way we played,” under-apologised Deano. Only a win will do for him now. Between Dyche, Allardyce and Smith, Doom Sunday can only feature some next-level sh!thousery to disgust and entertain an eagerly rubbernecking public.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I asked how bad it had been and he said: ‘I got chased through Primark by somebody who wanted to batter me because I had made a decision.’ Also, somebody had defecated on his doorstep after a game. It is embarrassing. It is embarrassing that people think that is acceptable” – Scottish FA chief suit Ian Maxwell offers an insight into the state of things and what some senior referees are having to put up with.
David Squires looks at Manchester City’s title win and an imposing presence in their engine room.
Here you go. Illustration: David Squires/The Guardian
Two thoughts occurred on reading that Graeme Souness is going to swim from Dover to Calais (yesterday’s Quote of the Day). Firstly, let’s hope no one hands him a Scottish flag, or a Union Jack on the French side, given his previous in Istanbul. But then again, should he achieve his own personal Brexit, he’s probably more likely to apply for citizenship in the land of champagne. Those retirement-age strikers could certainly use his indefatigable ability to get stuck into the good cause. Fair play to Sou” – Justin Kavanagh.
How marvellous that a Sheffield Wednesday fan recovered a player’s lost mask after a match (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs, full email edition). In that same spirit, I found a woollen hat at a Leyton Orient match last December. It’s sort of dark blue with a floppy tassel. Is it yours? Let me know and I’ll pop it in the post” – Mike Wilner.
Send your letters to [email protected]. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Justin Kavanagh.