Sunday, 13 May 2012

Tallest Pygmy in the Village

No Movement1Man City386489
No Movement2Man Utd385689
No Movement3Arsenal382570
No Movement4Tottenham382569
No Movement5Newcastle38565
No Movement6Chelsea381964
No Movement7Everton381056
No Movement8Liverpool38752
No Movement9Fulham38-352
No Movement10West Brom38-747
No Movement11Swansea38-747
No Movement12Norwich38-1447
No Movement13Sunderland38-145
No Movement14Stoke38-1745
No Movement15Wigan38-2043
No Movement16Aston Villa38-1638
No Movement17QPR38-2337
No Movement18Bolton38-3136
No Movement19Blackburn38-3031
No Movement20Wolves38-4225
This season saw the Baggies finish the top placed team in the West Midlands comfortably clear of relegated Wolves and the increasingly shambolic Villa.  You have to be quite old to remember the last time we achieved this distinction it was back in 1978/79 over 30 years ago. During the intervening years we have often been ahead of the Wolves but never been able to finish higher than arch Birmingham rivals Villa and for many of those years we were quite literally not in the same league. As recently 2008/2009 I was beginning to think we would never beat the Villa yet alone finish above them sometimes we might join them in the Premier League but with Martin O'Neil in charge and being bankrolled by Randy Lerner's millions it looked like Villa were on the verge of gatecrashing the elite of English football and leaving their local rivals trailing in their wake.

Things changed last season we beat the Villa for the first time in ages and the post O'Neil decline has been spectacular. Crippled with debt and an owner who has turned off the financial succour which kept Villa top of the pile. To compound their problems Lerner made a disastrous management appointment in Alex McLeish which not only generated fan discontent but also led to a flirtation with relegation.

Wolves are in some ways stronger in that they are financially sound however a combination of mismanagement and poor performances from key players led to their relegation. They will regroup in the Championship under Stale Solbakken who will be under intense pressure to achieve a speedy return. Steve Morgan has invested heavily in the club and the cost base is a premier league one even if the team isn't.

Wolves join Birmingham City in the championship. Not long ago fueled by Carson Yueng's money Birmingham looked like they would be the challengers to Villa for supremency in the West Midlands however their star faded faster than you can say "lets sign Nicola Zigic".

When we were not top of the heap many an envious glance was cast particularly at Wolves and Birmingham.  Some fans saw the headline grabbing purchases of Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Kevin Doyle, Jamie O'Hara and Nicola Zigic and asked the question why not us? In short we could afford neither the wages nor the fees. In fact neither could the Blues whose current position off the pitch is grave.

We now find ourselves at the apex of West Midlands football at the point when it is at a nadir. Blues and Wolves are licking their wounds in the Championship and Aston Villa are a mess. I do not want to decry the club's achievements and for a us a top 10 finish represents real progress but let us not get ahead of ourselves.Finishing above two poor teams is a bit like being the tallest pygmy in the village. Being ahead of Stoke and Sunderland feels like an achievement doing so again next year will ensure a solid mid table position finishing ahead of Villa might mean we are relegated in 18th.

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