So, last I left you, we were down to three teams in the running to see who I'll follow in the Premier League this year. Wednesday will of course remain my only true love in England, but seeing as how the budget only stretches to cover the DirecTV sports package and not the inflated prices of Setanta, nor the Wednesday World service (though I'm hoping to have that shoehorned in somewhere next year), I'm left with the sorry option of throwing my lot in with another in order to sweeten the experience.
The choices remaining are Everton, Blackburn, and Spurs. First off, let's just go ahead and usher Everton out the back door quietly as they're the runt of the litter here and barely squeaked into this final round. Thanks for coming boys and have a great season. Now that that's out of the way, we'll take a look at the two remaining contenders.
Style of Play
Now, I'm a sucker for the beautiful stuff that Arsenal and Barcelona play, but I also appreciate that not every team has the resources that the G14 can muster. I won't stand for teams with that amount of cash that play a nonsense "tactical" game like Chelsea, but I don't mind teams that don't have the finances to compete engaging in a bit of it. Of the two, Tottenham usually play the more attractive stuff, though a lot of their flair is down to individual brilliance rather than team play. Indeed, Blackburn can knock the ball around a fair bit themselves when they set their minds to it, though the tendency is to play a bit more up-tempo and direct.
Like the previous category, you get what money can buy. Blackburn have some excellent talent in the likes of Gamst Pedersen and McCarthy, but Tottenham have the clear quality advantage here as I really like Berbatov, Keane, Lennon, and Zakora. On the other hand, Blackburn do have a token American in the form of Brad Friedel. More importantly, they have former DC United captain Ryan Nelsen as their skipper. The potential is also there for Roque Santa Cruz to come in direct from Germany and replicate what Berbatov did last year with Spurs.
The other side of the coin is the dislikable players, and both sides have their share. Blackburn's Robbie Savage is everybody's favorite whipping boy, while David Bentley has the air of a sneering little punk about him (you can take the boy out of Arsenal . . .). Spurs can respond with Jenas, who is about equally as unlikable as Bentley, and Malbranque, who doesn't quite have the despicableness of Mr. Savage. Unfortunately for Blackburn, Spurs' villain-in-chief should be leaving the club soon in the form of want-away Egyptian bad-boy Mido.
I don't have a problem with either manager. Martin Jol is the more affable, but there's something to be said for Mark Hughes' intensity. Jol is also committed to building a young, talented side and allowing them to flourish, while Hughes gets by with what he has, though the quality has been increasing as of late. I think what swings the balance in Hughes' favor is his oft-biting sarcasm, the fact that he's gotten nearly as good results as Jol with far few resources, and the fact the he had a public tiff with the Special One.
This is the least of my considerations since this won't really be a long term affair, but it does bear some review. Let's face it, Spurs are a glamour club, while Rovers are, well - not. That actually swings the balance in Blackburn's favor in my eyes. But if I'm going to England some day soon, chances are that my stopover or destination will be London, and not Lancashire. All that said, when push comes to shove, Blackburn are a tough, determined side who'll scrap for every point they get, while Spurs are frankly a bit soft.
Well, It's really a close thing here. In fact, nearly a dead heat and I could go either way, so it'll have to come down to that final arbiter of fate - the dreaded coin toss. Heads will favor Blackburn as, let's be fair, they're more likely to have the ball in the air and the more likely to play the psychological game; while tails will favor Spurs as their glamour is more likely to land a bit of tail and they're also more likely to turn tail and run when the physical stuff comes knocking.
. . . Sorry, had to go find a coin. I've ended up with a nickel (of the 1999 vintage), which sports one of my favorite historical figures, Thomas Jefferson. Have I dragged this out too long? Oh well, here goes nothing. Hmmm, interesting. The fates have spoken. The die is cast. This season I will be hitching my cart to the dubious fortunes of . . .
Congratulations Rovers! Now let's go kick us some Boro bum!