HOW long can you stretch out a joke before it starts to get too thin? At least another nine months, I’m hoping. And so the Gubbometer returns.
Last season, I proved beyond doubt that anyone who claims their team is always last on Match of the Day is wrong. Unless they’re a Derby fan.
And even that will change this season, as Derby will not appear on Match of the Day at all – not even in the FA Cup, as ITV and Setanta have the rights to that now.
This means that the race to find the team which appears last on MOTD most often this season will be won by a new team in 2008/09. Don’t be surprised if it turns out to be Stoke, for reasons which may become more obvious as the season progresses.
Stoke’s 3-1 defeat at Bolton, though, was not the final game on the first MOTD of the new season – despite the fact that Tony Gubba was commentating on it.
No, the tail-end match followed something of a pattern. Last season, the final game on opening day featured Wigan losing 2-1 away from home, despite a goal from a Latics striker making his debut. Guess what?
Last night’s final match: West Ham 2 Wigan 1
Commentator: Roger Johnson
Fabio Capello was in the crowd at Upton Park; which leads me to the one tweak I plan to make to the Gubbometer for the new season. Every time the match Capello attends is featured last on MOTD during the campaign, the England boss will get a point, just as Tony Gubba does. I feel it’s the least I can do. (Although as the great John Sparkes would tell you, the least I can actually do is nothing at all.)
Capello saw Dean Ashton score twice (nothing unusual there) and then hobble off with an injury which will keep him out of England’s next game (nothing unusual there, either).
Amr Zaki scored Wigan’s consolation (if you’re interested, Antoine Sibierski was the debutant who struck on the opening day at Everton last season). And that was it, really.
Gary Lineker insisted, tongue slightly in cheek, that this game was only on last for alphabetical reasons. West Ham boss Alan Curbishley rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders during his post-match interview at the bookmakers who have installed him as favourite to be the first Premier League manager to lose his job this season.
And the Hammers, astonishingly, are fifth in the Premier League. This is astonishing because it is the first time for something like nine months that they have not been 10th.
Of course, any table after one match is utterly meaningless. But they’re fun to look at, aren’t they?
1=. West Ham: 1
1=. Wigan: 1
1=. Capello: 1
4=. Gubba: 0
4=. Arsenal: 0
4=. Aston Villa: 0
4=. Blackburn: 0
4=. Bolton: 0
4=. Chelsea: 0
4=. Everton: 0
4=. Fulham: 0
4=. Hull: 0
4=. Liverpool: 0
4=. Manchester City: 0
4=. Manchester United: 0
4=. Middlesbrough: 0
4=. Newcastle: 0
4=. Portsmouth: 0
4=. Stoke: 0
4=. Sunderland: 0
4=. Tottenham: 0
4=. West Brom: 0
(NB: Teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference: the number of times a team is last on Match of the Day with Tony Gubba commentating. If they are still level, they will be separated by Capello difference: the number of times a team is last on MOTD with Fabio Capello present.)