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Down Among Dowie And The Dead Men

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Robbo Robson | 11:38 UK time, Tuesday, 27 April 2010

It's been a thoroughly enjoyable season, with plenty still to keep us interested. The fact that the quality, even amongst the top two, has been pretty variable, has only helped keep the Premier League pot boiling.

Sadly, Portsmouth have been joined by the two leading candidates for the drop at the start of the season, Hull and Burnley.

Brian Laws has bemoaned Burnley's lack of consistency, but I think losing 16 out of 18 games away from home is bloody consistent. The Burnley defence has been so holey it should be made into a site of pilgrimage for Hansens and Lawros everywhere.

But Burnley are the ones who might just bounce back. Barry Kilby has run his ship wisely. The banner proclaiming 'Owen Coyle is God' (which might explain why the Clarets hardly ever play on Sunday) will come back to haunt them.
Burnley bannerBanner from heaven...or not
Personally, I think Owen Coyle is the bit of the England striker's knee that gives way every time it looks like he might be getting back to full fitness.

But there's a sense of reality at Turf Moor, and that includes a highly appreciative bunch of fans, who kept singing to the very end of the 4-0 drubbing by Liverpool. Good on them.

Meanwhile, Hull have begun an internal game of pass the buck. George Boateng's blamed Phil Brown, who's still out on gardening leave. I guess if the flowers have been badly affected by frost in the first half of spring, he'll leave them outside and give them a really good talking to in front of everybody. Mind you, some fans are still lamenting the passing on of the Orange Crooner.

Chairman Adam Pearson has blamed his predecessor, Paul Duffen, who, to be fair, has proved to be a keen student of Ridsdalean Economics. The fans blame Pearson for bringing in Mr Bouncebackability Iain Dowie, who for all his spring-heeled enthusiasm, couldn't rescue a teaspoon from the bottom of a washing-up bowl.

Dowie's a kind of bushy-tailed, empathetic Grim Reaper, or Death Management Consultant, I suppose. The face fits, any road. If he taps on the door of your football club, be afraid, be very afraid.

Of course, the old cliché has been trotted out by both clubs: "The league table doesn't lie." Fair enough, but it doesn't tell the whole truth either - especially when players get all end-of-season a little early. Certainly, Stoke turned up at Stamford Bridge with trunks on and lilos out.
Tony Pulis apparently suggested the Potters had had their pants pulled down and their bottoms spanked. Lee Dixon said it was worse than that - and whatever that means, Lee, son, I don't want to go there!

But it looked like the refs might be mentally scrolling through the cheap flights to Marbella 'n' all. I've seen less dodgy pens behind a bookie's ear than the one that gave Villa the points against Brum.

You might expect Birmingham to have taken the foot off the pedal by now, but that big, angry troll Alex McLeish was stomping and cursing up and down the touchline like the match officials were the three billy goats gruff trap-trap-trapping across his bridge.

Pundits tell you, if you go to ground in the box you've got to get the tackle right. Unless of course the ref's half a mile off and trying to keep up with the fleet-footed anagram Agbonlahor, in which case just let the bloke have a shot. (Given Gaby's indifferent finishing it's not a bad call every time.)

It's one of them decisions where a quick video replay would've told the ref all he needed to know. And it would have taken just as long as it took Martin Atkinson to calm down the screaming banshees in Birmingham shirts.

Everton's last-ditch penalty was nowt at all, just Tim Cahill dropping like a toppled wardrobe and Lee Mason buying it.

I wasn't too convinced by the Chelsea penalty either. But having said all that, I was almost praying for the ref to make a horrendous blunder during the Arsenal-Man City snooze-athon on Sunday evening.

Are City really going to stick with Mancini next season? 'Cos by hell they're not going to be England's most expansive team are they? He's got the budget of Croesus and the mindset of Mick McCarthy. He's so conservative, he makes Rafa Benitez look like he's in Hair the Musical.
adebayorpigtails595.jpgAnyone seen Boss Hogg?
Even Emmanuel Adebayor's arrival didn't spark much excitement beyond the predictable chorus of boos, although whether that was 'cos of his provocative goal celebration at Eastlands last year, or the fact that he modelled his hairstyle on a pig-tailed Daisy Duke is another matter.

The race for fourth is tighter than my father-in-law's wallet but, if only for the team's more adventurous spirit, I'd prefer Spurs to bag fourth. Plus I tipped 'em, to almost universal derision, to bag the last Champs League spot at the start of the season.
And I'm still backing Chelsea for the first spot.

You're a Koppite. It's Liverpool 0 Chelsea 0. And with the last hoof of the game Steven Gerrard sweeps a right-foot belter into the bottom corner from 35 yards. Who's jumping up and down, eh? Somewhere down the East Lancs Road the love for Gerrard (something that up until this point was a love that dare not speak its name) comes flowing.

In the Scouser's honour, United erect a statue of Stevie G outside OT, Sir Alex offers to take David Ngog, Emiliano Insua and Lucas Leiva off Liverpool's hands and Gary Neville records a touching version of 'I Will Always Love You'.

United skip along to the Stadium of Light and goals from Zimmer and Bus-Pass (you know who I mean) leave them a point clear with only Pulis's premature holidaymakers to come.

I'm smiling but it's not going to happen, is it?
Is it?

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