Can Wigan stay up for both of their fans?
Interesting Wikipedia Fact: Generally, Wigan rugby supporters are associated with the eastern areas of town; Wigan Athletic fans are associated with the western areas, which surrounded their old Springfield Park home (although this is not exclusive). It is also argued that Rugby League is more favoured as a sport by followers of the Catholic faith ; although the rivalry does not have any sectarian elements. (St Patrick’s RL club were often seen as a feeder to the professional team in the area. They are based in the Scholes district which was always looked on as the Irish quarter)
Jackie’s club knowledge: Next to nothing. I didn’t even know Wigan had association football until they were promoted two season ago. Paul Jewell and the Latics surprised many and when they took a 1-0 lead in the last game at Highbury with Champions League football on the line, I was not too fond of them. Emile Heskey is the perfect player for them.
Fantasy: Not even in a 18 team NW keeper league
OK…that’s not completely fair. Jason Koumas is a really good player and will be worth it when the matchup is right. I’d not ever select a Wigan striker and even though Leighton Baines takes free kicks, the signings of Titus Bramble and Mario Melchiot almost ensure no clean sheet bonus.
Best and Worst Possible Finish: 18th and 20th-Perhaps Paul Jewellio was really that good, but Wigan should give Derby a run for the bottom. After barely escaping last season, the Latics have brought in Cotterill, Sibereski, Koumas, Bramble, Melchiot, Nash, and Michael Brown. This doesn’t reassure me and other than Koumas, who I rate, the others are Coke League quality, which should be helpful next season.
Wilson Betemit surely is worth more than a middle reliever who can’t keep his cool. Please….please…please let there be no more trades for the Dodgers today.
Can Roy lead Sunderland to a Reading style climb?
Interesting Wikipedia Fact: In 2006 Sunderland was listed on eBay, bidding went to £10 Million (GBP) before the listing was removed by eBay, only after the listing was reported in the national press.
Jackie’s club knowledge: Sunderland were a pretty good side when I first began watching English football. The Mackems had just come up and played attacking football that was similar to Reading last year and they finished 7th. The next season they made a brief title challenge before finishing 7th again. Since then its been dire yo-yo stuff. Kevin Phillips would bang em in regularly and Claudio Reyna was actually really good in the few games he played for the club. I never cared too much about them until Arsenal played them in a game late in the season when Sunderland were already relgated and on their way to finishing with the lowest point total in premiership history. Some no talent hack took out Diaby and my hatred of Sunderland began. Throw in Roy K*nt and my wife’s slight interest in Newcastle and you can understand why I hope they’ll go straight back down.
Fantasy: Not sure who will be playing up front for Sunderland, so avoid the strikers for the first week or two at least. Anthony Stokes may get the nod eventually and if so could be worth the odd play. Michael Chopra led the Coke league in goals for Cardiff, but he’s a classic Coke level player. The two players whom I’ll be considering semi-regularly are Carlos Edwards and Kieran Richardson (yes that one). The T&T international scored 5 and assisted 5 in just 15 games last year. He’s quick and may even take a free kick or two. Richardson cost under $3 and may play every week. He’ll be useful when trying to cram Ronaldo, Drogba, and Gerrard into the same team. The D was relatively poor last season and that’s not likely to improve….stay away.
Best and Worst Possible Finish: 15th and 20th-I’m just not buying it. Roy is not going to play for them and the roster looks short on talent. Yes, the Irishman got fantastic results last season taking Sunderland from the bottom of the Championship to the top, but without a bit more help I can’t see them staying out of the relegation fight. I’d guess they’ll stay up, but not by much. (and hopefully not at all)
The Sports Putz is thrilled. A real sports nut. Happens all the time. Of course he did. Well done Dodgers! Got to find a Straw shirt for Ric. FJM on the Garnett trade. Yes, not that there is anything wrong with it. Hockey returning?
Birmingham City back to stay?
Interesting Wikipedia Fact: St Andrews was built on an old gypsy camp. The gypsies are reputed to have put a curse on the ground when they were evicted. Fans still blame this when the club has a string of bad results.
Jackie’s club knowledge: The Bluenoses seemed to establish themselves in the premiership after coming up in 2002. They packed St. Andrews and beat the Villans pretty regularly. Mikael Forsell was a beast until he did his knee and neither he nor the club really recovered. Birmingham have recently been taking Arsenal youths who were no quite good enough and turning them into decent players. Matthew Upson, Jermaine Pennant, Jonathan Bendtner (now back with Arsenal), Sebastion Larsson, and Fabrice Muamba as well as a few others have made the trip from the first city to the second. The club will probably try and add a few youngsters on loan this season too as Arsenal Jr. will now try their act in the big time.
Fantasy: I’d pretty much planned on nabbing Gary McSheffrey in August since City finished second in the Championship. He’s a midfielder and he scored 16 goals while assisting on 19 last season. The new Ashley Young! Then Yahoo had to list him as a forward ruining his value. He’ll still be worth it for some matchups but as a forward for a team that might struggle to score he’s probably not a +5 player. When the matchup is good Seb Larsson and Gary O’Conner might be worth cheap pickups (I don’t rate Ghaly at all). If Mido comes in he’ll be worth watching and Forssell has been in good form this pre-season. City was pretty sound defensively last season too, so if they start well don’t be afraid to take Maik Taylor and Rafael Schmitz when matched up with weak opposition at home.
Best and Worst Possible Finish: 10th and 20th OK, so I’m admitting I have no idea. I think the Blues could be pretty tough to beat in Birmingham. Steve Bruce has a pretty inexperienced side, but there is money to spend and the kids are pretty decent. They must avoid the bad injury and a poor start, but I figure them ending up closer to 10th than 20th.
First Team at Pride Park?
Interesting Wikipedia Fact: In 1895 the club moved to a new stadium, The Baseball Ground (so called because it was previously used for baseball), which became their home for the next 102 years, and adopted their traditional colours of black and white.
Jackie’s club knowledge: I don’t remember much about Derby’s last Premiership run. Jim Smith kept them up for a few years against the odds. I remember the White Feather, Seth Johnson, and the first of many John Gregory led failures. I’ve read plenty about their proud history as an original football league member and they were quite good in the 70’s I suppose. Fellow Yank Gooner, Geoff Caldwell supports Derby as his second side.
Fantasy: Steven Howard led the Rams in goals and assists last year, but he’s unlikely to find life easy a class higher and he’s a yellow machine too. If Billy Davies plays Giles Barnes he could occasionally be worth a fantasy run out. He’s got real pace and the midfielder will probably play up front some. Earnshaw is not an answer to any fantasy question and play the past it Darren Moore for sentimental reasons only.
Best and Worst Possible Finish: 17th and 20th– Davies seems to know what he’s doing, taking Derby County up a bit ahead of schedule. I saw four or five games last season and the players work hard for each other. Still, this club was outplayed by Southampton and West Brom in the playoffs and with little help coming in I can’t see them getting the same bounces this season. Staying up will be the goal and Derby County are the best bet to yo-yo back to the Coke league.
ACC football! For 1oK you can be Greg Paulus for a week.
Grant Wahl writes about Iraq’s inspiring run. Canes stocked? Deadspin previews the Dolphin’s 5 win season. ESPN does something well? Or at least steals a great idea. Sanford’s Soccer Net compares KC and Derby. Costas vs. Bonds! Subtle ride. A deserved audience. Worst year ever? How did they know?
Since Arsene took over, I can’t really recall a more anxious period for Arsenal. Does the result of a pre-season friendly mean anything? I’d say it does mean something and while surely playing well is more important, not even Arsene can feel completely comfortable with so many questions just 16 days away from kickoff. (I’m considering doing brief premiership preview for all 20 squads starting next week)
Bad news for USMNT. Bud Selig is acting like a child. Need help naming your fantasy team? Proud to wear the colors. Simpsox? Peter King should stick to what he doesn’t know (football). A Steeler sent to jail. Curt should put a sock in it. Stall should have gone to Teasers. This weeks Joe chat!
John Swofford says a betting scandel is unlikely in the ACC. He says:
“There wasn’t anything that we saw that concerned us that stimulated our belief that we should take this route, but this whole issue of gambling is so prevalent throughout our society.
True dats, and so….how could he, David Stern, or anyone else, really protect the integrity of the game?
Legalize gambling, and I don’t mean the state run regressive taxes kind of gambling either. If there was some sort of department in charge of lines and such, it would be much easier to spot the funny business that is probably much more common than we realize. The bets on Donaghy’s games probably were placed illegally…and you can’t expect any league to monitor everything. Basketball is especially vulnerable because the calls are open to interpretation. Reasonable people disagreed about Henderson’s foul/punch of Tyler and if Swofford really wants to make sure ACC basketball is free of shaving or rigging, he’d lobby for the legalization of gambling in DC. I know Dean would be strongly opposed to this and I don’t/wouldn’t put real money on my teams (it hurts bad enough), however the cat is out of the bag.
Vin was right, RIP Mike Coolbaugh.