We don’t cover Dutch football very often, but the climax to this season’s Eredivisie title race was so remarkable that we’d be remiss not to mention it. AZ Alkmaar, Ajax and PSV entered Sunday level on 72 points each at the top of the table. AZ had a superior goal difference and needed just three points against the not-very-good Excelsior to walk away as champions. However, AZ choked, losing 3-2 and getting a man sent off in the process.
1 Dimitar Berbatov, Middlesbrough v Spurs
As Alan Hansen would say, that is fantastic technique. If Dimi carries on like this, Spurs will really struggle to keep him in the summer. Chelsea and Man Utd will surely be keen to track down his agent’s mobile number.
Arsenal Ladies’ Irish contingent, Ciara Grant, Emma Byrne and Yvonne Tracy (l to r), celebrate after the Gunners defeated Swedish champions Umea IK over two legs to win the Women’s UEFA Cup Final. The second leg was held at Meadow Park, home to Borehamwood FC. The match finished 0-0; Arsenal had won the first leg 1-0. [Photo: Ian Walton/Getty Images]
Props to Pies reader Patrick for spotting that Roy Keane-plus-beard is a modern-day King Leonidas (leader of the frankly suicidal Spartans). I can imagine Roy’s half-time team talks in a totally different light now: ‘Mackems! Tonight we dine in hell!’
Sweet baby Jesus of Nazareth! Accrington Stanley secured League Two status with a thrilling 3-2 win against Paul Ince’s Macclesfield (who are in danger themselves of dropping out of the league) at the weekend. Most English football fans have a soft spot for Accrington, a traditional club whose name reeks of muddied nostalgia and half-time pies. I like them even more now that I’ve discovered their chairman is a real-life Brian Potter (without the wheelchair though)â€¦
Sunderland and Birmingham have secured Premiership football for next season after clinching the automatic promotion places in the Championship. Both sides have returned to top-flight football at the first time of asking after being relegated last season. But what is the reason for Sunderland’s success after a disastrous start to the season?
The FA is to launch an investigation into the disgraceful scenes at the end of Leeds United’s match at home to Ipswich on Saturday. A late equaliser for the Tractor Boys left Leeds all but mathematically relegated sparking a pitch invasion involving several hundred fans.
We love our football here. You know that. We canâ€™t get enough of it. If thereâ€™s a new place we can visit to feed our desperation for all things football-shaped, weâ€™ll go there. Well, weâ€™ve come across something that might interest youâ€¦
Middlesbrough chief executive Keith Lamb has implored Gareth Southgate to toughen up, saying that the young Boro boss will only improve ‘when he gets rid of the naivety, the honesty and integrity and he becomes as shitty as all the rest’.
Sunderland’s Carlos Edwards is fouled by Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen during last night’s Championship match at The Stadium of Light. The resulting penalty was scored by David Connolly. Sunderland won 3-2 to go top of the league, two points ahead of Birmingham; if Roy Keane’s team defeats Luton next weekend, they will be promoted to the Premiership. [Photo: Christopher Lee/Getty Images]
This week the Premier League bid farewell to plucky Watford. The Pies Fantasy League has been saying a long goodbye to Abney Park Rangers since before Christmas! Meanwhile, it’s hotting up at the top of the table. Tommy’s Where Was Dean Ashton? remain favourites but there are five teams in with a shout.
Jose Antonio Reyes, currently on loan from Arsenal to Real Madrid, recently said he ‘wouldn’t like to go back to London’. Reyes started quite strongly at Madrid, but he’s gone rapidly downhill since his first few matches (sound familiar?) and is now out of favour with coach Fabio Capello.
Ian Holloway is on top form in his BBC column this week, reminiscing about the time he played with the late, great Alan Ball and slagging off the poker-playing skills of his Plymouth Argyle players. However, it was when Ollie started rambling about how human beings are losing the art if conversation, that he came up with this pearl of a quote:
1 Luton Town, Arsenal, West Ham, Wimbledon, Coventry, Celtic, West Brom (current). Whose career?
2 Which Scottish team does comedian Billy Connolly support?
3 Picture round. Who’s wearing shoulder pads?
DARIUS VASSELL TO SCORE FIRST FOR MAN CITY AGAINST ASTON VILLA (15-2)
The Man City striker has some interesting stats against his former club that may be worth following. He has scored the first goal in three of the fives matches he has faced them (including last two) and has a total of five in five. Playing at home, this is a fair price.