Tuesday, December 30, 2008

FutureShocks: Liverpool Win EPL, Fergie Resigns, Arsenal Turmoil and Hull Fall

Just imagine if...

Liverpool were crowned Premiership Champions last week. But the news moves quickly as today's story is Arsenal's continuing decline, and Spurs being involved in a match fixing scandal with Liverpool and Alex Ferguson's shock resignation from United. Here's a brief rundown of this week's news...

Aston Villa made a little bit of history by claiming fourth place in the Premier League. And as a result they will enter the Champions League in the preliminary rounds. Arsenal who were pipped to the post on the last day will enter into the UEFA Cup.

Martin O'Neill was in jubilant form after Gabriel Agbonlahor's hat-trick secured the fourth place berth, and for once was lost for words as he hugged John Robertson on the sideline. By finishing in the Champion's League positions Aston Villa will now make their debut in European Football's premier competition.

But O'Neill's work is only beginning. Agbonlahor and Ashley Young are now two of the most sought after players in Europe, and the Irish man will have it all to do to keep these two at the club. Not only that but Villa will also have to significantly strengthen their team if they are to make the knock out phase of the competition.

Arsenal by contrast are in complete turmoil. Arsene Wenger is said to be close to quitting the club over a number of issues. They failed to back him with cash in January when Wenger wanted to make a major signing, citing that his major dealings in the transfer market have all turned out to be flops.

It has also come into public knowledge that Liverpool's Xabi Alonso had agreed terms to move to Arsenal in July but that the London club would only go as far as £13m when Liverpool wanted £15m.

And we all know how that deal turned out, Alonso has been nothing less than spectacular for the Anfield side this season. After Gerrard's loss of form in February following his court case Liverpool looked like they could fall away from the top as United put the pressure on.

But when the going gets tough the tough get going, and Alonso was phenomenal during the title run in. Everything went through him and it was he more than anyone else who guided Liverpool to the title.

Back in North London, the Arsenal board have made it abundantly clear that Wenger will have to sell before he can buy. And Barcelona have moved swiftly to take advantage of the lack of money at the Emirates by signing Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor for a combined fee of £35m.

The reason that there is no money to spend at Arsenal is that they invested heavily in a property company, Arsenal Holdings, following their move to the Emirates.

But with the global financial crisis hitting the London Property market hard, the monies that they invested has been greatly reduced. Initially £130m was invested in the property company and they developed some well received apartment complex's.

But following the financial downturn Arsenal Holdings have found it next to impossible to sell these apartment's as banks refused to give mortgage's on them, apartment's are now considered a poor investment by banks.

With money being eaten up by their property company, and with a growing debt following their move to the Emirates, Arsenal needed to finish in the top four to gain the lucrative Champion's League cash.

And to make matters worse for Arsenal, Wenger is now being heavily linked with the vacant managers job at Old Trafford following Alex Ferguson's shock resignation following the deterioration of his health.

United pushed Liverpool all the way to the title, but fell away in the last few weeks. Most football pundits placed the blame on the growing disenchantment in the Old Trafford dressing room with Berbatov and Ronaldo.

Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes both went public after Carlos Tevez was allowed to leave the club while Ferguson persevered with Ronaldo's growing petulance.

Berbatov's lack of performance in the final few games has also added fuel to the fire, and Nemanja Vidic is believed to have demanded a transfer following his on field confrontation with the Bulgarian international, so whoever the new manager turns out to be he'll have his work cut out.

In a recent press interview Wenger was asked to comment on the vacant position and his ominous reply was that "it would be an attractive position for anyone..."

Elsewhere in North London, life is not too rosy either. Spurs avoided relegation on the last day following their victory over Champions-elect Liverpool. Rafael Benitez's decision to give all his squad players a game has caused huge controversy, especially considering Spurs needed to win by four clear goals and for Hull to lose.

With Spurs getting their requirement following their 5-1 win and Hull losing, it is the Tigers who join Stoke and Portsmouth in the Championship next season.

Ironically and despite avoiding relegation, Spurs will be in next years UEFA Cup as they qualified through their Carling Cup final appearance even though they were resoundingly beaten by United 3-0.

So this season is over, Liverpool win the title, Ferguson resigns, Arsenal are closer to administration than ever and Wenger looks odds on to take over at United and Spurs and Liverpool are at the centre of a match fixing scandal.

You just couldn't make this stuff up...

twitter / WillieGannon