Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Month of Saturdays: May 2008

With Ben having decided that he'd rather spend two weeks in Australia than watch the European Championships it falls to me to round up the last month in the madhouse that is St James Park, and for once it's been relatively quiet.

Of course, before Ben departed for the land of the Socceroos, there was still time for him to see us to lose our last two games of the season. Turned over by teams in loftier positions in the table who both, at the end of the day, wanted it more than we did, and unsurprisingly Chelsea and Everton can now look forward to European competition next season, whilst we contemplate a summer in which the players we want end up flirting with us before signing for Spurs.

However, the thing which really caused the press to fill their papers were a few quotes by Kevin Keegan in which he, not unreasonably, suggested that the top four this season would, in all probability, be the top four next season (and quite probably the season after that too).

Chris Mort came out and supported his manager, applauding Keegan's attempts to manage our expectations, but seemingly that wasn't enough for the press who merrily talked about crisis meetings and sought to perpetuate the story of the supposed power struggle between Keegan and Wise.

Thankfully, with the season ending, the story too seems to have died a death (at least for the moment) but what the end of the season does also signify is the imminent departure of Chris Mort, back to the London office of Freshfields, whence he came. Mort goes, with our best wishes, as the man who steadied the ship after the turbulent reign of fat fred came to an end and the wild Ashley ride began.

Heading out of the door before Mort are Stephen Carr, Peter Ramage and James Troisi. The Irishman certainly won’t be missed, apart from in the canteen, where now there will only be Viduka fulfilling the role of Oliver Twist and returning for seconds. In contrast, Troisi seemingly wasn’t able to make the cut.

The most likely to be seen again, at least on the terraces, is the now departed Ramage, who is certain to reappear to support the team he grew up with, and was fortunate enough to represent. A wholehearted performer, technically he should find his level with QPR in the Championship where his occasional error will be more likely to go unpunished, and his hard work and endeavour will serve him well.

However, the bigger concern is that with more bodies heading out the door, there’s been precious little to suggest that anyone is rushing to fill the vacant seats on the roller coaster.

Quite where that ride is going to take us over the summer is anyone's guess, but unless some new passengers arrive sooner rather than later it could prove to be a one-way ride down another dead end.

Currently kicking his heels is Joey Barton, who has had a mixed month, found not guilty of trashing a taxi he was convicted of beating someone up outside McDonalds at Christmas, and as a result he’s currently swapped the bars of the Quayside for those of Her Majesty. Whether he’s going to be allowed back on the ride once he has paid his debt to society we’re going to have to wait and wonder.


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