Erik Schuman is a fan of the Premier League in general and not one specific side.
His next big sports adventure will be to England to catch a game at Old Trafford then a game at Chelsea/Arsenal/Tottenham/Liverpool next so he can experience the madness and insanity of the Barclay’s Premier League in person.
In real estate they say the three most important things to consider for long-term success are, “Location, Location and Location”.
In the Barclay’s Premier League, sides fighting the relegation battle and hoping for long-term success find three of the most important things are “Timing, Timing and Timing”. This season’s “winner” in this regard sure looks to be Blackpool.
On the last day of the 2006-07 Season Manchester United hosted West Ham with the Hammers fighting for their Premier League lives. Manchester United had already won the League and this was the last game of their season since they were not in the Champions League Final.
Manchester United sat many big names and thanks to a Carlos Tevez goal, West Ham won and stayed up – winning a game they might not have won had Manchester United played its “big names”.
The fact Sir Alex Ferguson and (then) West Ham Manager Alan Curbishley are good friends may have also had something to do with it – SAF not wanting to send his friend down to the League Championship, so he put out a less-than-top-flight lineup in hopes it would help West Ham – and it did.
On the last day of the 2008-09 Season United had already won the Premier League. They were in the Champions League Final with the game being played 72 hours later.
United sat just about everyone in their game at Hull City so they would be rested for the Champions League Final – a smart move. The Tigers were 17th just 1 point up on Newcastle.
Darron Gibson showed his stuff scoring an amazing goal and United actually won 1-0 playing very few “big names”. Hull City benefited from United sitting its “big names”- they just couldn’t find a way to get a result but thanks to Aston Villa beating Newcastle the Tigers’ Premier League life was extended one more year.
Let’s look ahead to the last day of this 2010-11 Season. On May 22 Manchester United will host Blackpool in what will almost certainly be a very meaningful game for the Tangerine Army in their fight to stay up. But like Hull City in 2008-09, Blackpool might catch a huge break in “Timing” facing United when they do.
Here is United’s schedule for the rest of the season (Including their last 2 games to show the tremendous amount of games they have to play to end the season):
April 9: Host Fulham….Won 2-0
April 12: Host Chelsea in the Champions League Quarter-Finals……..won 2-1 to move on the Champions League semi-final.
April 16: FA Cup Semi @ Wembley vs Manchester City (A game United should win now that Tevez is out for City and because the only “Hart” City has is in net and not in any one of its underachieving players).
April 19: @ Newcastle in a game re-scheduled from April 16
April 23: Host Everton
April 26: Champions League Semi-Final game @ Schalke
May 1: @ Arsenal in the BIGGEST Premier League Game of the Year
May 4: CL Semi Hosting Schalke (Not having to go to Germany between 2 big games really helps United here)
May 8: Host Chelsea (Chelsea now has only the league to focus on and thus they will be very rested and ready and looking for payback for being ko’d from the Champions League and trying to stay in the Top 4 to qualify for the 2011-12 edition – and playing a United side paying its 9th game in 30 days – YIKES!)
May 14: Either………..The FA Cup Final OR @ Blackburn. For argument’s sake let’s say they play in the FA Cup Final that means……….
May 17 or 18: @ Blackburn in Premier League game (When Sam Allardyce was sacked this season, Sir Alex was one of many who blasted the firing – he would love for nothing more than to win this game and help relegate Blackburn as a way of exacting revenge on the owners for canning Big Sam and also this might be the game that could wrap up the League Title for the Red Devils).
May 22: Host Blackpool
May 28: If they make the Champions League Final the game is played on this date and while it is at Wembley and travel won’t be as bad as past years Manchester isn’t as close to Wembley as Chelsea is!
OK, let’s start adding up all the games United has to play in a very short stretch and we can see something’s has to give.
If United is in the Champions League Final and if they have the Barclay’s Premier League clinched before the May 22 final league match with Blackpool (both very real possibilities) I don’t see how Sir Alex would even dream of playing any “big names” against Blackpool choosing instead to give them extra rest in a meaningless game with the Champions League Final 6 days later.
The fact it is 6 days and not 72 hours like 2008-09 does mean he could play some “big names” but why risk getting them injured? Would you play guys like Rooney, Giggs, Scholes, Berbatov, etc – or would you sit them on the bench to get them extra rest and avoid any chance of injury?
The ONLY “big name” I would play is Van der Sar because it is his last home game @ Old Trafford and I’d want to play him in front of the home supporters. Other than that I sit almost everyone and let the kids play and see what they got.
If this happens Blackpool would be ecstatic while every other team in the relegation fight would be not happy at all – but Manchester United earned this right – so “shut up” other teams.
This could mean for the third straight odd number season a team fighting for its Premier League life might catch a massive break on the last day of the season by facing a United side without its big guns.
The reckless and attacking style Blackpool plays might not make a difference as far as United still doing well because as open as the pitch will be Blackpool might still lose thanks to their awful defense – but if I am ‘Pool I’d rather face United w/o big names than with.
Ian Holloway and Company should be huge Manchester United fans because the closer the Devils get to the Treble the better off it will be for Blackpool on May 22 in what figures to be a very meaningful game for them in their hopes of staying up.
For the record I think they will – and if they do Ian Holloway is the Barclay’s Premier League Manager of the Year because every pre-season prognostication had Blackpool finishing 20th with fears of a Derby County-like season.
Staying up would be one of the greatest Managerial achievements ever!
Six games left with 4 @ home including 3 straight and 2 away but the last one @ Man U might not be so daunting.
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