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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

We're Number One

After all the strange excitement of last May where there were cries amongst all the faithful that "we've got our club back", and following the expected exodus of players, things have certainly changed at the Valley. There's been a wholesale turnaround of playing staff with officially, 13 players leaving and 9 new ones joining - cafcpicks sees it more accurately with 15 out and 12 in - and the mood and spirit at the club couldn't, it seems, be better. It all leads to a feeling that at the moment we are in a very privileged position.
As a consequence of all the changes we are currently Number one favourites to win the fizzy pops and I can't recall a time when we were favourites to win anything. Except maybe that dreadful day at Wembley in the 1987 strangely-titled Full Members Cup Final against Blackburn when they were Tier 2 and we were in the first.
And whats more we can now look upon all the nauseous squabbling that you read about in the Premiership these days with a superior air. Eighty grand a week for someone like Bellamy who sometimes scores goals but is now on his 8th club. What is Curbishley thinking? Meanwhile a 20-year-old German prospect joins Spurs for £5M? Maybe its true that there's less news coming for the fizzies but who really cares what happens to Tevez or Heinze and whether Martins is staying or not?
And there we are, sitting pretty, seemingly above it all. Pards wants another couple of players but unlike times past says there's no need to sell. And even if it may be a coincidence that this comment appeared on the same day that Bordeaux are reported to be interested in Diawara, the message is clear. We've a healthy club, we've got money and players everywhere are saying they want to join us. Well, not Premiership players, of course. But we don't really care about that,we don't want them anyway.
And to reassure you that the gaffer has his feet firmly on the ground, all we have to do is remind you what he said in May, before the Spurs game.
"It is all about the politics of what happens if you are relegated. The one thing I know about the Championship is that you need a strong spirit and if you do not have that, you will not come up. Birmingham and Sunderland have managed to cull their squad and keep the players that have that spirit. You should not fear relegation.
Unfortunately, though, whenever a Premier League club gets relegated, the people who suffer most are the ones who work at the stadium. The most important thing is bouncing back if you do go down so you can re-employ all those people - that was certainly my focus at (former club) West Ham.
In terms of clubs coming out of the Premiership, there is a history of top players leaving. Personally, I think relegation is something we get carried away with. It is very important, but it is not the be all and end all and in some ways it can even be a blessing because it gives you the chance to re-address the issues at the club.
Certainly, it is not the end of the world if we go down, we will be strong and we will bounce back if the worst happens - but the top priority is staying up this season."
We will be strong he says and who can refute that after our pre-season so far? And, perhaps even more important, to reaffirm that our club and manager live in the real world where there are more important things that football, we can only quote what he says about tonight's game at Aldershot, which is a benefit game for our scout fifty-one-year-old Paul Shrubb, who represented both Aldershot and Aldershot Town, and was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in January 2006. "In an ideal world I'd love to field strong sides in both matches tonight, but the game at Aldershot is also a testimonial for Paul and I therefore feel obliged to send the stronger team there."
And when all's said and done, I'd rather prefer my club to be at a benefit game 10 days before the start of the season rather than be included in the meaningless shenanigans that purports to be the "Premier League".

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