Harty on ... the Albion, Barnes and Mayweather v Pacquiao
BACK-TO-BACK home wins against Birmingham and Leeds United have seen the Albion move up to 18th place, six points clear of the bottom three and only seven points away from my previously predicted tenth-place finish.
Clearly, the season doesn’t end now. But with a defined game plan and actually having a proper manager in the dug-out, the near-certain threatened relegation of three months ago is now a distant memory.
From the outset, serious mistakes were made – selling off the ‘family silver’ on the playing staff and replacing them with items from a car boot sale was always going to end in potential disaster.
Thankfully, under Hughton, that has been averted. But just how long it will take the Albion to get back to the stage they were under Gus Poyet, 0-0 going into the second leg of a play-off semi-final, remains to be seen?
For whatever reason, it all went seriously wrong after that, with Oscar Garcia’s brief dalliance with the play-offs last year merely papering over the cracks.
Freezing the season ticket prices for next year was the least Paul Barber and the club should have done.
What needs to follow is Chris Hughton being given a decent budget in the summer, so next season the Albion boss can actually go for it, without having one hand tied behind his back, or interference from elsewhere.
n Apologies, but I was unaware that Jose Mourinho had been canonised and made the patron saint of football.
This mass hysteria over Ashley Barnes’s challenge on Nemanja Matic in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Burnley on Saturday is almost as bad as the tackle itself.
Even looking at it from a number of different television angles, it was bad and you can’t blame the Chelsea player for his initial reaction. But, having known Barnes during his time at the Albion, all these allegations of him being some kind of cynical monster attempting to end an opponent’s career are as wide of the mark as some of the astounding claims of widespread bias against Chelsea by their manager.
Ultimately, if it was that bad, the FA had the power to charge Ashley Barnes retrospectively after the game. They chose not to and that should be the end of the matter – rather than the media witch-hunt that has unfolded, but try telling Saint Jose that.
n For all the hype, I can’t get that over excited about the announcement of the May 2 “super fight” in Las Vegas between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
There’s no doubt it will be a stand-out event in the history of sport but, as a boxing contest, it’s five years too late.
At 38 and 34 respectively, they are both arguably passed their prime.
Had they fought in May, 2010, that would have been a different matter. Despite the huge sums of money on offer, this fight is comparable to Ali and Frazier having their third epic contest in 1980, or Benn and Eubank fighting each other at the start of the new millienium.
It still won’t stop Vegas going into over-drive in just over two months, with almost certain record PPV sales, despite this being the first ever $100 subscription for a boxing match
And, if they make enough money, and the result is not that emphatic, don’t rule them out doing it all again in November.