Capital Gains And Capital Losses: 4 teams, 2 massive games

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 30 March 2018, 11:48

MOST BIG cities have the ability to accommodate vast wealth and desperate poverty within its confines.

Rich and poor are living cheek by jowl, success and failure next door to each other.

In a football sense, London will play host this weekend to two football matches which underline the massive differences in fortune of clubs which exist barely a dozen miles apart.

On Saturday West Ham are at home to Southampton in a classic relegation ‘six pointer’. Whoever wins will climb out of the Premier League’s bottom three at the loser’s expense.

Twenty four hours later, Chelsea take on Tottenham in a derby game where both teams occupy the loftier reaches of the division in a battle for a place in the top four amid the pursuit of Champions League football for next season.

Both games will be equally fiercely contested.

Interestingly, both managers on duty at Chelsea will be foreign, the two locking horns at the war-torn London Stadium are British.

At Stamford Bridge: Italian Antonio Conte versus Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino. At West Ham Scotsman David Moyes is against Welshman Mark Hughes.

That in itself tells you something about Premier League football in the 21st century. The Brits are fighting for survival. The foreigners are slugging it out over luxury goods.

The big question is which is the biggest game of the two?

Champions League football is worth millions of pounds in hard currency and lots more in terms of prestige.

Chelsea are currently fifth in the table and five points behind Spurs. Their manager Conte admits if his team doesn’t win it will be very difficult to catch their rivals before the end of the season with only seven games to go.

That means the possibility of not facing Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich next season. And instead slumming it in the Europa League.

Both Chelsea and Tottenham are out of this year’s Champions League. They both fell at the same stage – the last 16. Getting back in for next year is important.

But for West Ham and the Saints it’s a very scramble to stay in the top division, to remain among the 20 best clubs in the land and amid the best in Europe, with all the TV money and commercial benefits.

Missing out on the Champions League for a season is bad news, but it’s not a disaster. Relegation to the Championship is a nightmare scenario – particularly for West Ham.

The club is in the bottom four of the table but seventh in terms of its wage bill, paying over the odds to some woefully underachieving players.

Take a look at the fortunes of those clubs who went down last season: Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull City.

Sunderland are about to slide into League One, the third tier of the English league, Hull are 18th out of 24 teams. Only Middlesbrough are enjoying any kind of resurgence as they cling onto a play-off place by a point from Bristol City.

There’s little evidence of a bounce back effect.

It’s not uncommon for big teams to spend one, maybe two years down in the Championship before sorting themselves out and climbing back out and back into the sunshine of the top tier.

But to see two clubs, one big and one medium sized entity, floundering so badly in a downward spiral of gloom and despair should be terrifying for West Ham and Southampton.

The Hammers have enough problems already with supporter unrest at their new and much disliked new stadium in Stratford. Southampton invested considerable amounts on a massively new revamped training ground and a reputation as having a brilliant Academy.

Both those teams have much more to lose by going down than Tottenham and Chelsea do by missing out on the Champions League glamour for a year.


Managers Departed

Last man down

Michael Collins
Michael Collins
(Bradford City)
3rd September

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