Last on MOTD: Final thoughts

CONGRATULATIONS to Manchester United. Not only are they the Premier League champions, but they are also one of only three top-flight teams to have avoided being last on Match of the Day all season. Can you name the others?

I’ll tell you: Liverpool and Manchester City.  Life may not always have been sweet for Rafa Benitez and Sven-Goran Eriksson this season, but it was never dull enough to be plonked on just before the midnight movie.

That elite group of three had been a foursome going into the final round of Premier League fixtures, but Arsenal fell away right at the end. And if that’s not a metaphor for their season, I don’t know what is.

Tonight’s final match: Sunderland 0 Arsenal 1
Commentator: Dan O’Hagan

Mathieu Flamini gone, Alexander Hleb – and others – may follow. What on earth does the future hold for Arsenal?

Well, Theo Walcott should have a big part to play in it. The teenager, who Eriksson took to the last World Cup en spec, decided a drab game with a classy flick of his bright red boots after 24 minutes. It was the final Premier League goal to be shown on Match of the Day this season, 39 weeks after Rolando Bianchi had scored the first. (Whatever happened to him?)

Like most of the games to feature last on Match of the Day this season, Sunderland v Arsenal will quickly be forgotten. Unlike most of the games to feature last on Match of the Day this season, though, it didn’t involve Derby.

Let no one outside of Derby try to convince you that their team is always last on Match of the Day. The Rams were the runaway winners of the Gubbometer, bringing up the rear 13 times in 43 shows this season.

When I started this experiment last August, I came into it with an open mind. Nine months later, I am able to make the following observations about a typical ‘Last on MOTD’ game:

1) It will involve the team who came up via the previous season’s Championship play-offs. Derby, like Watford the previous season, weren’t ready for promotion, and were doomed to relegation early on. Consequently, they were often on MOTD last. On the evidence of what I have seen in the Championship this season, whichever team out of Hull, Bristol City, Crystal Palace and Watford makes the Premier League is destined for the same fate.

2) It will be a 1-1 draw. You might have thought that the Gubbometer would be clogged up with 0-0 stalemates. Not so. Of the 43 games which appeared last on the regular MOTD show this season, only seven were goalless, while 11 finished 1-1.

3) John Roder will be the commentator. For all my early-season claims that Tony Gubba always covered the final game on Match of the Day, he wasn’t even the commentator condemned to do so the most often. Gubba did the final game six times – the same number as Ian Gwyn Hughes – but Roder managed seven. Only Derby were last on MOTD more often.

Only one game this season fulfilled all of those criteria: Derby’s 1-1 draw with Bolton on September 29. It therefore wins the award for the Gubbometer Non-Game Of The Season. There is no prize.

Finally, on a personal note, I’d like to congratulate Fulham on a remarkable relegation escape. Most of the interest in the Gubbometer seems to have come from Fulham fans, some of whom (I think) got genuinely excited around Christmas time, when it looked as though their team might finish top of it.

Though it wasn’t to be, thanks to Derby’s startling ineptitude, at least Fulham will have a chance to compete for it again next season. Providing, that is, I can be bothered to do it again next season. I’ll get back to you on that one…

Gubbometer: Final standings

1. Derby: 13 (Gubba difference: +2) – Champions
2. Fulham: 7 (GD: +2)
3. Wigan: 7 (GD: +1)
4. West Ham: 7 (GD: 0)
5. Gubba: 6
6. Reading: 6 (GD: +1)
7. Birmingham: 6 (GD: 0)
8. Blackburn: 5 (GD: +3)
9. Bolton: 4 (GD: +1)
10. Sunderland: 4 (GD: 0)
11. Portsmouth: 3 (GD: +1)
12=. Aston Villa: 3 (GD: 0)
12=. Chelsea: 3 (GD: 0)
12=. Newcastle: 3 (GD: 0)
15=. Millwall: 2 (GD: 0)
15=. Walsall: 2 (GD: 0)
15=. Middlesbrough: 2 (GD: 0)
18. Tottenham: 1 (GD: +1)
19=. Everton: 1 (GD: 0)
19=. Arsenal: 1 (GD: 0)
19=. Cardiff: 1 (GD: 0)
19=. Wolves: 1 (GD: 0)
19=. Bury: 1 (GD: 0)
19=. Workington: 1 (GD: 0)
19=. Huddersfield: 1 (GD: 0)
19=. Grimsby: 1 (GD: 0)
27=. Manchester United: 0
27=. Liverpool: 0
27=. Manchester City: 0

(NB. Where teams are level, positions are decided by Gubba Difference; the number of times a team is on Match of the Day last with Tony Gubba commentating.)

Last on MOTD 2007/08: The complete list

Aug 11: Everton 2 Wigan 1 (Commentator: John Roder)
Aug 15: Fulham 2 Bolton 1 (Tony Gubba)
Aug 18: Newcastle 0 Aston Villa 0 (Alistair Mann)
Aug 25: West Ham 1 Wigan 1 (John Roder)
Sep 1: Middlesbrough 2 Birmingham 0 (John Roder)
Sep 15: Wigan 1 Fulham 1 (Paul Mitchell)
Sep 22: Reading 2 Wigan 1 (Tony Gubba)
Sep 29: Derby 1 Bolton 1 (John Roder)
Oct 6: Aston Villa 1 West Ham 0 (John Motson)
Oct 7: Reading 1 Derby 0 (Simon Brotherton)
Oct 20: Fulham 0 Derby 0 (Ian Gwyn Hughes)
Oct 27: Sunderland 1 Fulham 1 (Dan O’Hagan)
Nov 3: Aston Villa 2 Derby 0 (Simon Brotherton)
Nov 10: Bury 4 Workington 1 (Damian Johnson)
Nov 24: Derby 0 Chelsea 2 (Steve Wilson)
Dec 1: Huddersfield 3 Grimsby 0 (Ivan Gaskell)
Dec 8: Chelsea 2 Sunderland 0 (Simon Brotherton)
Dec 15: Birmingham 1 Reading 1 (Alistair Mann)
Dec 22: Bolton 3 Birmingham 0 (Ian Gwyn Hughes)
Dec 26: West Ham 1 Reading 1 (Dan O’Hagan)
Dec 29: Birmingham 1 Fulham 1 (Martin Fisher)
Jan 1: Reading 0 Portsmouth 2 (Martin Fisher)
Jan 5: Walsall 0 Millwall 0 (Ivan Gaskell)
Jan 12: Derby 0 Wigan 1 (Ian Gwyn Hughes)
Jan 15: Millwall 2 Walsall 1 (Dan Walker)
Jan 19: Portsmouth 3 Derby 1 (Tony Gubba)
Jan 26: Wigan 1 Chelsea 2 (John Motson and Mark Lawrenson)
Jan 30: Bolton 0 Fulham 0 (Ivan Gaskell)
Feb 2: Birmingham 1 Derby 1 (Ian Gwyn Hughes)
Feb 9: West Ham 1 Birmingham 1 (Ian Gwyn Hughes)
Feb 16: Cardiff 2 Wolves 0 (Ian Gwyn Hughes)
Feb 23: Wigan 2 Derby 0 (Alistair Mann)
Mar 1: Derby 0 Sunderland 0 (John Roder)
Mar 8: Blackburn 1 Fulham 1 (Tony Gubba)
Mar 15: West Ham 2 Blackburn 1 (Dan O’Hagan)
Mar 22: Middlesbrough 1 Derby 0 (Alistair Mann)
Mar 29: Reading 0 Blackburn 0 (John Motson)
Apr 5: Blackburn 1 Tottenham 1 (Tony Gubba)
Apr 12: Portsmouth 0 Newcastle 0 (John Roder)
Apr 19: West Ham 2 Derby 1 (John Roder)
Apr 26: West Ham 2 Newcastle 2 (Martin Fisher)
May 3: Blackburn 3 Derby 1 (Tony Gubba)
May 11: Sunderland 0 Arsenal 1 (Dan O’Hagan)

mikewhalley.wordpress.com

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One Response to Last on MOTD: Final thoughts

  1. Paula says:

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for a very entertaining blog over the last 10 months. And yes, as a Fulham supporter i was following the table quite closely much to other people’s amusement. The next three months without Gubba-watch won’t be quite the same.

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