I have to say, I have empathy for the looters. When you see no other option for survival, I totally understand the mindset of trying to obtain what you need to live. Of course, I’m talking about those who tried to loot food and water in Somalia – not the idiots in London right now who are stealing televisions, clothing and anything else they can get their hands on.
This is not something I wanted to be writing about – my intention this week was to give a Premiership preview with some analysis of where each team stood. Instead, I’m spending my time reading reports about London, a city I lived in for nearly 8 years, being in flames and destroyed by rioters. I just wanted to offer a few thoughts about these events and will then provide a very brief prediction for the new season, whenever it may start.
Nominally, this all started because a man was killed in Tottenham, North London, by a police officer. There are conflicting stories about the events that lead to this death, and they will come out in the investigation, but I think it’s important to recognise this has nothing to do with that event at this point. There was a peaceful protest from the family of Mark Duggan, the man who was killed, requesting more information from the police, but for people to use that as a reason for this mindless violence and destruction is a complete fallacy. Whatever happened in that incident, I feel great sympathy for the family of Mr. Duggan, and for the police officers who were involved in the incident. If mistakes were made on either side, it would be difficult enough to come to terms with – to have the event be referred to as the catalyst of all this rioting must exacerbate it greatly.
Trying to work out the true reason for these riots is much more difficult – obviously economic downturn and a hot summer are contributing factors, but there are plenty of other places where those issues exist and people manage to get along without rioting. The British National Party (the BNP – an extremist, racist group) will try and blame the influx of ethnic minorities to the country – indeed last night their Chairman and (somehow) Member of the European Parliament Nick Griffin tweeted that “In all the radio and TV Interviews I’ve heard from London, I’ve only heard one real London accent” – as if talking like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins* would abate any trouble. Griffin is doing his best to turn this into race riots, my fear is that he is going to be successful. Thus far, from what I have seen the looters/rioters/arsonists/criminals/twats have been from every ethnic background – a potential descent into a race riot makes this all the more frightening.
*I’m kidding, his accent was terrible
One final point I would like to comment on, is the idea that those who are rioting are doing so because of poverty. I know everything is relative, but there are real issues in East Africa right now, famine is killing tens of thousands of people and it is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. Idiots in the UK are grabbing the headlines with their mindless violence, in the US everyone is focused on the economy and the amount of money companies were worth went from ‘a helluva lot’ all the way down to ‘slightly less than that’; meanwhile people are starving to death. These people have real problems, not ones created by bickering governments or opportunistic thugs – danger to ordinary people in the UK is very real now, I’m saying it is completely needless and could be stopped in an instant if the rioters realised the error of their ways. The same is not true in the Horn of Africa, the situation is tragic and they need our help. If you can, donate to help to those most in need.
And so, a quick prediction for the comparatively irrelevant business of the new Premier League season, which is due to start on Saturday August 13th, but is likely to be pushed back at least a week.
1. Manchester United – Barcelona is the benchmark that Ferguson is measuring his improved squad against, the rest of the Premiership will not prove as much of a concern.
2. Manchester City – Aguero is a great signing, he might even make them slightly more interesting to watch. They’re getting close, but will not be Champions – yet.
3. Arsenal – much as I’d like to believe they’d finish outside the top 4, there is little chance of them dropping as many points at home as they did last year. If Van Persie stays fit, they may well challenge for a first trophy since 2005.
4. Liverpool – Dalgish turned the team around when he took over last year and has brought in good players. If some of their plethora of midfielders were defenders instead, they’d have a great chance of finishing even higher.
5. Chelsea – Unlike the other former Porto boss who came to Chelsea, I just can’t see Villas-Boas being able to control the egos in the dressing room. Expect him to be out of a job before Christmas and Guus Hiddink to step in to steady the ship.
6. Tottenham – The scenes around the stadium last weekend may have looked like Los Angeles after the Lakers win a Championship, but that’s where the similarity ends. Spurs still have the same strikers who couldn’t score last season – staying still when everyone else improves means a lower finishing position.
7. Everton – always steady, never flashy – will always cause teams problems but cannot see them finishing any higher than this
8. Stoke – Pulis has done a great job with Stoke and made them a solid team – can see the progress continuing again this season. I would also bet that Woodgate will play more games in the next year for them than he managed in three seasons at Spurs.
9. Sunderland – or Manchester United B as they could be known having brought in half of the fringe players from Old Trafford. Losing Jordan Henderson was something of a blow, but now when it filled the coffers by 20m to improve the squad.
10. Fulham – and I’ll be rooting for them to do well – Martin Jol was a great manager for Spurs and should never have been cast aside. Good luck Big Guy.
11. Bolton – Owen Coyle has done the seemingly impossible – made Bolton interesting again. They are much more entertaining to watch now and I do not expect relegation to be a threat for them this year.
12. Newcastle /13. Aston Villa – not much to say about these teams, they’ll beat some good teams at home, lose to some bad teams away.
14. West Brom – Roy Hodgson could get them even higher than this, but for a club known for bouncing between divisions, continued survival in the Premier League is in itself a great success.
15. QPR – Warnock has experience at this level and, although there is much infighting and bad treatment of the fans from the board, I think they will be good enough to finish clear of relegation. Expect investment in January if they are looking in danger of slipping back down to the Championship
16. Wolves – The first of 5 teams than in a strong division I could put bottom of the league – they’re not a good side but the clubs below are even worse.
17. Norwich City – maybe staying up by last day heroics, I think their home form will be just enough to keep them out of the bottom 3.
18. Wigan – I have no idea how Wigan are still in the top flight, but no more after this year, it’s their time.
19. Blackburn – owners who do not seem to have any concept of realistic transfer targets, a manager with no record of success – I can see this unraveling, and fast.
20. Swansea City – has to be.