At 4pm this afternoon the final set of fixtures in this year's Premiership campaign will kick-off. Unfortunately, after all the promise, there seems to be little to play for. With the relegated teams already having their fate confirmed, the Champions League and Europa League spots decided and the title, barring the most unlikely of slip-ups, seems to be on its way back to Stamford Bridge. Instead, I thought I would reflect on a couple of the more eye-catching stories of the last few days.
The first of these is the return of The Mighty Whites to the dizzying heights of the Coca-Cola Championship. Leeds made typically hard work of their challenge though before eventually beating Bristol Rovers and then celebrating their great triumph with a pitch invasion at the final whistle.
Needing a win to seal automatic promotion they seemed to be relapsing into the poor form that had plagued their season ever since their historic win at Old Trafford. In the 34th minute Max Gradel was shown a red card for violent conduct and then to confound their problems Leeds conceded shortly after the break.
Leeds did, however, overcome this adversity to make their promotion to the second tier of English football all the more emphatic. First Howson scored a lovely goal from just outside the box before the comeback was completed just four minutes later as Jermaine Beckford slotted home his 31st goal of the season. Beckford was the captain for the day and left the pitch to a standing ovation as, although it is very unlikely he will play in Leeds shirt again, the Elland Road faithful showed their appreciation for his goals that have earned them promotion out of League 1. The victory was made all the sweeter for the Leeds fans as it doomed their lower league rivals Millwall to the lottery of the play-offs. Personally, although not a Leeds fan, I am happy to see Leeds get promoted, as I was when the Toon won the Championship. These are the clubs with the fans and the stadiums which belong in the top flight.
Meanwhile, about 4,000 miles away, Kevin Pietersen continued his immense form as his score of 53, in just 33 balls, helped England to a great win over South Africa in the Twenty20 World Cup in Barbados. England only just scraped into the Super Eights though. Having lost a farcical match to the West Indies courtesy of the Duckward/Lewis method their second match against Ireland was called off, again thanks to the weather. They got through with a better net run-rate. Since entering the next phase of the competition, however, England have hit their stride thanks in large to the supreme talents of Kevin Pietersen.
Pietersen has continued the form he captured during the IPL into the Twenty20 tournament and his two innings in the Super Eights stage have put England all but into the semi-finals of the competition. Against Pakistan he led the run chase with 73 runs (not out) and got another half ton against the country of his birth, South Africa, yesterday. He has now gone home to be with his wife Jessica for the birth of their first child and will miss England's match against New Zealand tomorrow. He has stated that he plans on returning for the semi-finals which are scheduled for Thursday/Friday of this week. England must be hoping that Jessica sticks to her due date so that KP can return to the tournament because on the form he his he could carry the team to the final and perhaps to our first Twenty20 trophy.
Thoughts, comments and opinions please...