Harty on... the Albion, Rebels Youth and predictions

CRISIS, what crisis? Half-time at Hereford, never mind one foot waist deep in the Conference and staring at extinction, that’s a crisis.

Saturday, 17th August 2013, 9:00 am

Half-time at Hereford, never mind one foot waist deep in the Conference and staring at extinction, that’s a crisis.

Clearly, Oscar Garcia’s honeymoon period is well and truly over, but could I point out to the very small minority of his detractors that at exactly the same point last season, the Albion had one point but hadn’t scored a goal.

Prior to the Derby game, a stat was being bandied around from the first two matches that the Albion had created well over 30 scoring opportunities.

As reported in last week’s column, the Newport cup game should have been all done and dusted, even before the Albion went down to ten men with the dismissal of Inigo Calderon.

The game-changing red card has now been rescinded, which obviously is good for the Albion in the fact that we don’t lose Calde through suspension but that doesn’t give us our entry back to the League Cup, all very frustrating.

What the stats do point to is that when Craig Mackail-Smith finally returns from injury, could the Albion’s pattern of play be tailor-made for his striking style?

Personally, I’m not worried by the start to the season, dare I say it Palace lost their first three league fixtures last season and they play Tottenham in the Premier League this weekend.

I understand the Amex transfer window is not shut and new players will be coming to the club before the end of the month, but it’s the possibility of a fit and rejuvenated Mackail-Smith that excites me.

He’s a natural goalscorer, and I believe he will show all his knockers and doubters that this is the case at this level.

A cracking night at Woodside last Wednesday when Rebels youth edged out a very good Crystal Palace academy side 2-1, containing three of their excellent under-18 squad.

The achievement of the Worthing lads is put into some kind of footballing perspective when you think that this was the first time the Palace side had been beaten in more than 12 months.

My thanks to Sue Biggs, former teacher at the Orchards, who is now in charge of education at the Selhurst Academy, who fixed the whole thing up and, hopefully, this fixture will become an annual part of the under-18 pre-season programme at Worthing.

Now in its third year, Worthing host the Portsmouth FC Academy this evening, Thursday, 7.45pm kick off, before the youth start their Ryman Youth League campaign on Monday, with the visit of Horsham, again a 7.45pm kick off.

The response to the Herald-sponsored season ticket offer has been very encouraging and the season ticket also applies to youth games as well.

Finally, with the start of the Premier League, it’s time for the annual Harty predictions, which normally have bookmakers everywhere booking additional holidays after increased profits.

With three changes of manager at the top of the Premier League, this was Arsene Wenger’s chance to push Arsenal back into the top echelons of domestic football.

But, yet again, he’s kept his hand in his wallet, so with that in mind I think City will win the league.

As for the two domestic cups, whichever big club takes it seriously, although on the subject of pots bizarrely I’ve got this feeling that the Champions League trophy might return to these shores next May.

At the other end, I think the relegation battle will be predominantly between five sides, Newcastle, Sunderland, Palace, Stoke and Cardiff, take your pick from them, but, of course, I’ve got my own personal favourites in there . . .