Middlesbrough – Take Me To The River

May 20, 2015

“Having stormed past Brentford in the Championship play-off semi-finals, Middlesbrough are tantalisingly close to a return to the Premier League. If they manage to overcome Norwich City in the final, they will be back in the top flight after six long years, which would be a fine reward for owner Steve Gibson, who has been supporting the club (in both senses of the word) for so long. Boro spent eleven consecutive seasons in the top division before relegation in 2009, winning the League Cup and reaching the UEFA Cup Final during this period, but promotion has to date proved elusive.” The Swiss Ramble


Crystal Palace – I’ll Fly For You

May 16, 2015

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“Just five years ago Crystal Palace were in administration and the South London club’s prospects looked bleak before they were rescued by a consortium of wealthy businessmen, known as CPFC 2010 and fronted by Steve Parish. They purchased the club and, importantly, also managed to convince the bank to sell them the freehold of the ground. Since those troubling times, which included a deduction of 10 points, the club has prospered, gaining promotion from the Championship only three years after its rebirth and enjoying two seasons in England’s top flight. The journey has not been completely smooth, as Palace have had to replace their manager three times in the Premier League, though even these changes proved very timely.” The Swiss Ramble


Southampton – The Saints Are Coming

May 6, 2015

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“As a rule football clubs that go through a lot of change do not perform very well, but in recent times Southampton have proved to be an exception with significant upheaval at all levels seemingly not impacting their progress. Not only have the Saints had three managers in the last two years, but they have also experienced significant player turnover. Nigel Adkins, the manager who led them to two successive promotions, was unceremoniously sacked after a poor start in the Premier League, paving the way for Mauricio Pochettino’s arrival, before the Argentinian in turn departed for Tottenham last summer, leading to the appointment of the former Dutch international Ronald Koeman in June.” The Swiss Ramble


Newcastle United – In A Rut

April 20, 2015

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“As Newcastle United’s passionate supporters endure yet another frustrating season, it all seems a far cry from the days when they were known as “The Entertainers”. Mid-table mediocrity appears to be the pinnacle of the club’s ambition, while a cup run is to be frowned on, as it might weaken the chances of remaining in the top flight, where they can continue to benefit from the lucrative Premier League TV deal. Most of the fans’ displeasure is aimed at owner Mike Ashley, a highly successful businessman who has turned around the club financially, but who clearly favours profit over performance. He has made a series of strange choices, such as hiring his mates Dennis Wise and Joe Kinnear, that have slowly drained the supporters’ spirits, leading to widespread protests and even an organised match boycott.’ The Swiss Ramble


Tottenham Hotspur – The Bottom Line

April 16, 2015

“Being a Tottenham supporter must be a pretty good test of whether you are a glass half-full or glass half-empty type of person. On the one hand, the club is consistently at the higher end of the Premier League, memorably qualifying for the Champions League in 2010 and only missing out on a technicality two years later (due to Chelsea’s European victory); but on the other hand, it’s often a case of ‘close, but no cigar’.” The Swiss Ramble


Sunderland – Distant Sun

April 3, 2015

“These are tough times for Sunderland. Last season was also difficult, but finished on a high with an appearance in the Capital One cup final and the ‘great escape’ as a run of late victories avoided relegation. However, the club is currently just outside the relegation zone, leading to the sacking of Gus Poyet. As chairman Ellis Short explained, ‘Sadly, we have not made the progress that any of us had hoped for this season and we find ourselves battling, once again, at the wrong end of the table. We have therefore made the difficult decision that a change is needed.’ It remains to be seen whether former Dutch national team manager Dick Advocaat is the right man for the job, but it is clear that the club is completely focused on retaining its Premier League status, especially with the blockbuster new television deal on the horizon.” The Swiss Ramble


Aston Villa – Lost In The Supermarket

March 24, 2015

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“For a club of Aston Villa’s rich history, the past few years have been profoundly depressing, as they have spent most of that time at the wrong end of the Premier League table, desperately trying to avoid relegation. Their managerial merry-go-round has failed to improve matters, merely bringing their own version of doom (Alex McLeish) and gloom (Paul Lambert). This has been matched by a dismal performance off the pitch with the club bleeding money through some hefty losses, financed by the American owner Randy Lerner pumping vast sums of money into Aston Villa – with no tangible success. Little wonder that this toxic combination has caused Lerner to put the club up for sale.” The Swiss Ramble


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