The Annual Great Escape
We’re into the final third of 2013/2014 and only one thing is certain – the battle for Premier League survival is approaching boiling point. Everyone down at the bottom thinks it will be their team to face the dreaded drop, as panic buttons across Britain are thumped. We can usually rely on last season’s FA Cup holders for the opposite response to a relegation battle, though this season a new club must be ready to step up to the plate.
I’m sure to many of us, Cardiff and Fulham look absolutely knackered; in all honesty I think they both deserve to be in the bottom three without a doubt. Both have changed managers since August and during the January transfer window faced accusations of ‘panic buying’. Players with no previous experience of playing in England and others without ever experiencing a relegation battle have been brought in by Fulham and Cardiff. If these clear risks don’t pay off, offloads will need to be made over this summer due to the gulf in difference between revenue between Premier League sides and those in the Championship.
Vincent Tan has been quite the character this season after impressing the British public with his unique dress sense, yet more importantly showing a continued disregard for the then current manager Malky Mackay. At first, his replacement showed a great spirit which led them to a 2-1 cup victory at Newcastle. Since that day on Tyneside, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have only taken 4 points from a possible 21 in the Premier League. City’s odds of 5/2 for survival look a bit short if anything.
Fulham on the other hand seem to be moving in the right direction, even if their new boss is perceived to be harsh on his players. The reliance on the midfield partnership of Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell has been agonizing with attacking creativity and defensive organisation needing plenty of work. Around 2,000 of their supporters travelled to the midlands last weekend as Felix Magath began his tenure with a surprisingly solid away performance against West Brom. Felix has succeeded with flying colours at many clubs in the past, particularly in the Bundesliga. The 60-year-old is determined to achieve survival at all costs, but can he really pull of the great escape? Well one team usually does and my money’s on Fulham.
When Cardiff and Fulham face each-other next week, the loser of that fixture may find themselves preparing for an early relegation. Sunderland’s cup final against Manchester City could prove a distraction in their survival push - who like West Brom are without a league game this weekend. However, Premier League action this weekend see's Cardiff travel to Tottenham while Fulham host Chelsea. Can either find a route out? The great escape is on.