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THE WEAK RANKINGS
In which the least powerful clubs in Europe are given their dues because I’m antsy to put my words onto some kind of page somewhere
5. Philadelphia Union
The first of two teams I love on this short, highly-subjective list. But hey, losing influential forward Sebastian Le Toux and well-seasoned goalkeeping maniac Farid Mondragon was all part of their master plan. Season’s still young, but staunching the loss of blood from three straight defeats to open 2012 would be nice.
Dammit, Cottagers; get everyone on your cool, Martin Jol-led, free-wheel-attacking bandwagon only to test such flighty added support with a dire two-game losing streak that has them in “freefall.” Losing to Swansea is a cool rite of passage for teams appropriately dazzled by Leon Britton’s metronomic midfield passing, but stinking up Craven Cottage in a loss to Aston Villa? Borderline sacrilege. Today’s afternoon jaunt at Old Trafford — a place they haven’t won since the Industrial Revolution — augurs further pain.
3. Olympique de Marseille
Winless in Ligue 1 since January 29, and just nine points from a possible 30 since the turn of the New Year is far from acceptable. They’re now 20 points behind league-leading Montpellier and PSG — and a mere 12 points above the relegation zone. It’s churlish to think they’re in any kind of actual threat, but what fun! (Not fun: key defender Souleymane Diawara being out for the foreseeable future with a knackered knee.)
2. Inter Milan
Huffed and puffed in the first half of Sunday’s Derby d’Italia, but never really came close to blowing Juventus’ house down. Allowing Alessandro Del Piero to sneak in and score his first of the season was further pain for the Nerazzurri. Diego Forlan is sullen, Javier Zanetti’s captaincy and extraordinary career is losing a spot of sheen, and Diego Milito’s style of play — akin to a lightning bug trying to escape a closed jar — is rather less threatening than Claudio Ranieri needs it to be. Limp to the finish line, lads; there’s always next year.
1. Liverpool FC
Two weeks in a row, the Reds have shown that summer vacation is well and truly underway. Kenny Dalglish may have brought a trophy to Anfield, but at what expense?