Michael Baggaley: A play-off for Champions League slot would be great for Potters fans
SO West Bromwich Albion are in the Champions League places. Do you think they could stay there?
The correct answer to this is, “No, they can’t. Of course they can’t”.
The Baggies haven’t got a hedgehog on Spaghetti Junction’s chance of negotiating the rest of the season and staying in the top four.
Every year a surprise team briefly threatens the European glory places.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Last season it was Stoke for a few games and then Swansea before the natural order was restored and the big boys took up their usual spots with the tedious inevitability of the X Factor winner becoming Christmas Number One.
But what if West Brom could really aim for the Champions League, or Stoke or Swansea or Sunderland?
I have a dream my friends, no not the one where Piers Morgan becomes a hermit, even better than that.
No, the dream to which I refer involves Premier League play-offs for the Champions League as the teams who finish in places fourth to seventh compete for the final spot.
Ridiculous? Well not really because the Premier League considered this two years ago but, amid very little publicity, it didn’t get the 14-6 majority required.
Apparently clubs were concerned that the play-off winner might struggle in Europe and, as a result, English clubs could eventually have their quota of Champions League qualifiers cut from four to three.
Good point. Maybe the upstarts from the play-offs wouldn’t do as brilliantly in Europe as Manchester City or Chelsea have this year.
Hopefully the clubs will reconsider because it’s well worth the risk.
The top three would qualify automatically anyway, and the scramble for the fourth place via the play-offs would give at least 10 teams something to realistically aim for at the start of the season.
In the last 10 years, the teams finishing in the places from fourth to seventh have included West Ham United, Blackburn Rovers (three times), Charlton, Aston Villa (four times), Newcastle (four times), Bolton Wanderers (twice), Middlesbrough and Fulham.
So although avoiding relegation will always be the number one priority, Stoke supporters could at least start every season talking about the Champions League with straight faces, as could the fans of Newcastle, Sunderland, Swansea, Fulham, Aston Villa etc...
There would be the usual complaints that play-offs are not fair. Why should a team who have finished fourth over an entire season have to play for a Champions League place against a side who could only come seventh?
No, it’s not fair. But it’s hardly fair that the same teams get Champions League football every season, so therefore bring in extra revenue and get better players wanting to join them.
The Premier League believes it’s the most competitive in Europe, but it would be a hell of a lot more competitive if the Champions League slots weren’t contested by the same four of five clubs every year.
The underdogs would still have to win the play-offs, but if a West Brom or a Swansea did get through then they would have neutrals across the country rooting for them.
When Chelsea were getting stuffed by Juventus this week, I imagine the reaction of most non-Blues fans was mild amusement.
Come on, what would you rather watch? Arsenal v Olympiakos (again) or Wigan v Real Madrid. It’s a no-brainer.
Picture the scene, Arsenal finish fourth, take on seventh-placed Stoke and then get spanked at a fired up Britannia Stadium in the play-offs first leg.
Just imagine Arsene Wenger’s face.
So come on Premier League, get the Champions League play-offs going. You know it makes sense.
I’m guessing Barcelona could cope with a wet Tuesday in Stoke – but at least we’d get to find out once and for all.
ANDRE Villas-Boas, pictured, doing radio interviews. Seriously, what is the point?
I’m loathe to criticise him for his command of English. After all, my own grasp of Portuguese only extends to “six beers please” and “Is that your octopus?” (What a night that was, by the way).
Besides, I don’t think the problem is his English.
No, the trouble is, he’s a mutterer. I haven’t heard such muttering since I told my two boys, aged nine and six, they couldn’t have any pudding until they had eaten their vegetables.
So here were AVB’s thoughts on the 5-2 defeat to Arsenal last week... “Erbbbbrrrrmmmmmmrrrrrr oooobbbb.”
If you thought that was controversial, check out his thoughts on Chelsea sacking Roberto Di Matteo: “Erbbbbrrrrmmmmmmmrrrr roooobbbb.” Fascinating stuff.
Having just purchased a digital model, it was bad enough that I can’t get Radio Stoke’s Vale commentaries on the bleeding thing.
Now, even on the finest technology Argos can offer, the Tottenham manager sounds like a muffled motorboat engine.
Is this what we pay our licence fee for?