My observations may not be in sync with what is actually the case; however, from the northern part of England to the coast of Devon, I came in contact with only one Chelsea supporter—a tattooed chap wearing a Chelsea kit with Drogba on the back. The man was on Platform 2 at the Torquay rail station, panhandling and homeless.
I have not met anyone who plays Fantasy Soccer, but so far all English subjects are astounded to find an American with the passion and knowledge of the Premier league. There are opportunities to talk footie with people in the pubs; however, more often than not, the subject turns to the economy and politics. One occasion proved to be a spirited discussion; although Sir John was only able to understand half the words the man was saying.
I am still basking in the excitement of seeing from the outside the venues of Wembley, Old Trafford, the City of Manchester Stadium, the Reebok and the home grounds of Blackpool, Blackburn, Leeds, Wigan and a few lesser clubs. Bolton’s home was the cleanest and most impressive. Sadly for Wanderer’s supporters, it will be a miracle for Owen Coyle’s team to avoid being dropped from the Premier.
In a country less than the size of Montana, it is fascinating to see the enthusiasm of football supporters and the ease getting from city to city to attend road matches. The British rail system is fairly efficient and clean. The economic boost that cities get from membership in the Premier division is, to use the most common word heard in the U.K., “massive”.
We are fortunate in America to have easy access to FSC and ESPN for Premier matches. The games here are televised on Sky Sports (Martin UGH! Tyler was doing the Spurs-Gunners game) and not all hotels and pubs have the matches available. The World Cup Rugby tournament from New Zealand has been the dominant sports topic of conversation with England ousting Scotland and Ireland doing well to advance. Sir John read a book on the Laws of Rugby (never refer to them as “rules”) and after watching a match in person and on TV and studying the laws, I am still in a state of confusion on the game’s details.
There will be an international break this weekend with England in action Friday. The topic of the tabloids continues to be Carlito and how City will deal with the knot head. His suspension certainly did not impact the team over the weekend with a convincing clean sheet. Aguero left early with an injury and fantasy managers holding him hope he can shake the knock and return in two weeks. Dzeko’s run-in with Scarfcini resulted in his watching the game from the bench. We shall see if he regains his place in the starting XI. There is no denying that Nasri has made a quick transition to City and David Silva seems to be the best all-around offensive player in the Premier league.
As we all know, getting up-to-date info on player injuries is a challenge in the States; however, it’s not much better over here. Sir John had no idea that Ashley Young had an ankle knock and would miss the match on Saturday. Managers who held him had to get midfield substitute bench points, and once again for Sir John, N’Zogiba disappointed.
Rooney’s return to the lineup was good fantasy news for managers who have him. Now we all hope our players can stay injury free whilst playing for country.
Several teams are establishing themselves as pleasant surprises and complete flops. Others are Jekyll and Hyde. The surprises are Newcastle and Swansea, the flops are Bolton, Blackburn and Arsenal. The teams that show up one week and phone in their game the next are QPR and Fulham.
Fantasy managers are being rewarded for sticking with players; the biggest of the lot is Frank Lampard. Those managers (including Sir John) who gave up on Demba Ba and Darren Bent are in a state of regret although Ba is out for a spell with a knock. We shall see if Andy Carroll gets a regular spot for Kenny D. Certainly Dirk Kuyt has not been fantasy point-productive through seven weeks.
The volcanic offensive eruption at Fulham was shocking. The papers report that Andrew Johnson who had a hat trick was helped when a British track star taught Johnson how to change his running mechanics. Apparently taking long strides instead of a lot of quick ones has thus far allowed Johnson to avoid his frequent hamstring pulls.
The weather has been “brilliant” (another oft-used word over here). From our arrival September 22 to October 4 we have not needed a coat or an umbrella. That may be changing, but for now, we are glad to have brought San Diego sunshine from the colonies.
Now an observation on TV news and news in general in the UK: The amount of time and coverage given the Amanda Knox murder reversal verdict and the trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor has been ridiculous.
One last note: Lady Patti and I attended a cinema on Sunday night and watched a live feed of the 25th Anniversary of the Phantom of the Opera from the Royal Albert Hall in London. At the end, Andrew Webber along with many in the cast from years past showed up for a tribute and most of them sang. It was a spectacular experience.
For now I remain,