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Olimpo, a modest team from the port city of Bahia Blanca on the windswept Atlantic coast in southern Buenos Aires province, are doing well in the Clausura championship. They are in fourth place three points behind leaders Velez Sarsfield.
Boca Juniors, one of the big clubs from the capital, are 14th — seven points off the pace.
Yet Olimpo, promoted this season, are in greater danger of relegation than Boca. Their fourth place in the table does not save them from also occupying one of the promotion playoff berths as a result of the three-season points averages.
The averages were introduced 28 years ago and although the move was not presented as such, it was designed as a safety net for a poor season by one of Argentina’s big clubs after San Lorenzo suffered a humiliating relegation in 1981, though it failed to save Racing Club in 1983, the first year of its implementation.
Most people agree that sacking a manager after a few weeks or a handful of matches is ridiculous, but sometimes chairmen go to the other extreme and exhibit reserves of patience that would be beyond most fans.
Given the frantic pace of the soccer industry, Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate can consider himself an extremely lucky man after a season that brought the club just seven league victories, 28 goals and relegation.
Alan Shearer has a big decision on his hands after his eight-game stint in charge of Newcastle United ended in relegation from the Premier League on Sunday.
Most fans of the club will be desperate for Shearer, the club’s record goalscorer, to be handed the job of rebuilding the team as they prepare for life outside the top flight.
England’s most popular soap operas thrive on a weekly recipe of misery, doom and gloom that is gobbled up by television viewers seeking some relief from their own trials and tribulations.
In that sense, the final weekend of the Premier League season is quite similar.
With Manchester United already polishing the trophy again after sealing a third consecutive title last week, neutral television viewers are salivating at the prospect of watching the suffering of fans of Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Hull City and Sunderland as their clubs desperately scarp for top flight survival.
Newcastle’s interim boss and Geordie hero Alan Shearer opened St. James’ Park on Tuesday and his Premier League side trained in front of 7,500 fans.
It could prove to be a masterstroke. As the sun shone down and school kids on half-term flocked to the stadium, it had the city buzzing again just two days after the disappointing loss to Chelsea.
Well, at least we now know it wasn’t an April Fool’s Day joke… Alan Shearer has been confirmed as Newcastle manager for the final eight matches of the season.
He faces a Herculean task in keeping Newcastle up and with no managerial experience to his name the odds must be against him.
The phrase, if you are interested, was used for many years to describe the passion for football in the region before a scholarly book by reknowned journalist Arthur Appleton “Hotbed of Soccer – the story of football in the North East” was published in 1960 and told a mainly successful story.