Lower-middle-class clubs in the Premier League who may feel there is nothing but merit money to play for in today's games should consider the danger of ending up in 12th or 13th place; these comfortable positions, which provide the basis for an assault on Europe, too often presage a dramatic slump and relegation. Check last season's table: Newcastle 12th, Middlesbrough 13th. Two years before that, Charlton fell from unlucky 13th out of the trap door and in the preceding seasons Southampton and Birmingham finished proudly in 12th place then, like Humpty Dumpty, had a great fall. Wigan and Bolton beware.
Go Green, don't take flight
No sooner are today's games over than Fabio Capello will collate reports on form, injury and hospital appointments and announce, at about 8pm, an England squad to play Kazakhstan and Andorra in World Cup qualifying. The first game is still a fortnight away, but it was deemed wise to give the players as much notice as possible, rather than having to recall any from faraway beaches; or in Ledley King's case, nightclubs. As the West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green told The Independent last week: "I've learnt from my mistakes in the past when I've had to cancel flights."
If there's Wembley, there's a way
England's 2018 World Cup bid, we are told, will not fall victim to the arrogance that scarred the last one. And a little sucking-up to influential members of Fifa's executive committee is not to be sniffed at. The huge scoreboard read "Wembley welcomes Mohammed Bin Hammam" when the Asian Football Confederation president, an executive for more than 12 years, was given a guided tour of the stadium by the FA chairman Lord Triesman.
Fisher are looking all washed up
A sad end to the tale of Fisher Athletic, featured here three months ago when turnstile operator Donna Powell took over as manager for one game (a 2-1 defeat). Relegated after coming bottom of the Blue Square South, 70 points behind champions and fellow south Londoners AFC Wimbledon, the Fish have been wound up in the High Court, an event marked on the club website under the heading "Last Match": "High Court (A), lost – wound up."
Close to your neighbours
Colleague Mark Fleming suggested in these pages that Chelsea against Fulham must be the "blandest" of local derbies, prompting thoughts about whether it is also the most one-sided. That depends how far the definition of a derby is stretched. It transpires that Chelsea have 39 head-to-head wins to their nearest neighbours' nine. But Manchester United, recording their usual victory against Wigan last week, made it nine out of nine against their Lancashire "rivals", and Leeds have won 13 against Bradford City, losing only two. In one local ding-dong that could be renewed next season Millwall have a distinct edge over Charlton (30-11), but other pairings prove unexpectedly even-handed. United lead Bolton 49-42; and Stoke may be lauding it in the Premier League but their presumed superiority over Port Vale in the Potteries is a mere 19-15.
City boss: money is useless
And finally... here's a quote to cut out and keep until the next transfer window ends on 31 August. Manchester City's zillionaire chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak says: "We are not going to splash money around because that formula doesn't work." As if they would.Reuse content