Friday, January 7, 2011

THE RETURN OF.... "Going Suds Up - The Best Beers, The Best Soccer"

By Kirsten Schlewitz / Senior West Coast Beer and Aston Villa Correspondent

2011 football was not supposed to start out this way. A new coach should have brought a fresh approach. We were meant to be climbing into the Champions League spots, not sliding into the relegation zone. Instead, our top players aren’t performing, there are training ground bust ups, and people are placing bets on when the manager packs his bags. And I’m not even a Liverpool fan, for goodness sake!

This weekend, four Premier League managers will be fighting for their jobs (that is, if Roy Hodgson hasn’t been sacked by Liverpool by the time of this piece’s publication): Avram Grant of West Ham, Carlo Ancelotti of Chelsea, Gerard Houllier of Aston Villa, and the aforementioned Hodgson. Apparently beating Chelsea bought Mick McCarthy a bit of a reprieve. Of these teams, the Hammers are bottom of the table, the Villa just ahead in 18th (ugh), Liverpool are safe in 12th and Chelsea should be pleased as punch in 5th. Then again, the Europa League is not enough for last year’s title winners, and Ancelotti is likely not sleeping well these days.

This weekend brings the first round of FA Cup ties for the Premier League—times when managers typically rest their best and are secure in the knowledge that their mistakes can be rectified over 90 minutes. That’s likely not the case for these four.

On Saturday, West Ham host Barnsley, who are not exactly a powerhouse in the Championship. Aston Villa travel to another Championship side, Sheffield United (9:00am CT, FSC), who are facing their own relegation battle. For Sunday, we have Chelsea hosting yet another Championship side, Ipswich, who have just sacked Roy Keane for leading them too close to the relegation zone. Sense a theme, here? Finally, Sunday also brings Manchester United to Liverpool (7:30am CT, FSC), although if the Fenway Sports Group elects to fire Woy after the Reds lose to the league leaders, well, that’s a special kind of harsh.

For these managers, tossing and turning in their beds, wondering when the axe will fall, I present Lost Abbey’s "Judgment Day" (San Marcos, CA). It’s time to get over your qualms about drinking a 10.5% beer before noon, because if you’re a fan of one of these teams, it’s almost necessary. There’s just something indescribable that makes me love this beer. Maybe it’s the aroma, which is filled with raisins, plums, cherries and brown sugar. Or maybe it’s the flavor, which doesn’t hide the alcohol, but enhances it with vanilla and plums. Judgment Day finishes with a spicy bitterness, much like these managers might.

I’d give anything to see one of them take a swing at one of the owners on their way out. Ancelotti taking on Roman Abramovich? That’s blogging gold, that is.

About Kirsten:

Ever since Brazil caught my eye during the 1994 World Cup I’ve considered myself a soccer fan, but it wasn’t until the summer 2008 that I decided to find a club. I focused on the Premier League and eventually chose Aston Villa. Initially drawn in by the pretty clarets and blues, I found I liked their organization, their owner and their manager. I fell hard and now it’s too late—I can’t give them up. As for MLS, that was easy, as I live in Seattle. I also support Exeter FC, SSC Napoli, FC Koln, Estudiantes Tecos and Tooting & Mitcham FC, all for a variety of reasons including cider, tattoos, scarves, owls, and a soccer player texting while on the pitch. I’m the Managing Editor of SB Nation’s Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte. I also contribute to Two Footed Tackle.

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