The cry of “Azaadi” (“freedom”) has got a fresh lease of life, courtesy the controversy around JNU and its student leader. So much so that we think that it might find its way to England and onto the stands of the stadiums of the clubs in the Premier League. For rare indeed is the football fan that does not want Azaadi from something or in some cases, even someone. Keeping that in mind, and bringing the spirit of tolerance and freedom to the EPL, here is a light-hearted look at the Azaadi demands of different EPL clubs:
Azaadi from the boss!
This does seem to be the sentiment that is going around many a club, and most notably at Newcastle United, where the terraces seem to be running out of patience with Steve McLaren. Ironically, the one place where the man in charge IS departing is the one where the fans seem saddened to let him go – Manuel Pellegrini’s amiable reign at Manchester City is drawing to an end, and many want him to leave with one more trophy at least.
Azaadi from boredom
Football is supposed to be an action packed spectacle but you would be forgiven for thinking it was anything but had you have been following the exploits of West Bromwich Albion and, ironically, Manchester United. Both teams haven’t done too badly for themselves so far, but their fans are extremely upset for a perceived lack of “aggression”, less so in the case of West Brom than United, who have actually a formidable reputation as an attacking side. Louis Van Gaal and Tony Pulis might quote the clubs’ positions in the league, but the fans want excitement, not just clean sheets.
Azaadi from crazy defenders
Mention the word “defense” and it is a fair chance that folks supporting Liverpool will wince. Yes, it is human to err and divine to forgive, but the folks at Anfield must be fed up of divinity given the rate at which their back four and goalkeeper seem to make mistakes, even making silk curtains look solid in comparison. Jurgen Klopp might have rejuvenated Liverpool’s strategy but at the back, he and the club are literally living on a prayer.
Azaadi from injury
The club may be called Arsenal, but given the rate at which its players keep getting injured, we have a feeling that Arsene Wenger and the fans might be tempted to call it Hospital instead. The club has perhaps its best chance to win the title since the Invincibles run of 2005, but has frequently found itself stripped of key personnel by injury. His critics might accuse him of not spending enough in the transfer market, but going by the injury list, he might counter by saying that he is keeping medical bills down by not expanding the squad too far!
Azaadi from undeserved defeats
They have played some very good football. They have been bold and adventurous. And yet find themselves in the lower half of the table. You cannot blame the fans of Everton and Crystal Palace for feeling just a bit hard done by. Both teams have at different times wowed the critics with their flair for attack, but have time and again been undone by carelessness or sheer bad fortune. The fans are furious but cannot really blame their teams, which have been doing their best. Neither is likely to be involved in a relegation dogfight, but both deserve better.
Azaadi from logic
They had no business being where they are if football logic had anything to do with it. But Leicester City find themselves at the top of the Premier League and West Ham are in the top five ahead of the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. And as we approach the home stretch of the season, neither team is likely to be disappointed with their results, no matter where they finally finish. As for the fans, it has been one dream run for them – small wonder they will be demanding Azaadi from footballing logic.
Azaadi from the current season
Yes, it has been competitive and fun but for a few clubs, it seems as if the end of the season cannot come soon enough, as they seem unlikely to get into the European slots and seem to have dodged relegation. What seems to be left to play for is pride, but even that motivation seems to be ebbing by the day, as end of season weariness is making itself felt. If that sounds a tad difficult to digest, ask those who follow Swansea, Southampton, Everton, Bournemouth and Watford. The spirit is willing but the will itself seems to be fatigued.
Azaadi from relegation!
Another year, another battle to save themselves from the plunge – the fans at Sunderland would be verily weary of seasons that start with promise but ends up being all about survival. And while there’s no doubt that “Big Sam” Allardyce has got them well organized and defensively strong, safety still is some distance away with neither Norwich nor Newcastle, likely to give in without a fight. As always, the battle to avoid relegation will be as fascinating as the battle for victory, and as always (at least in recent times), Sunderland fans will find their patience and courage tested. Oh, and their nerves frayed.
Azaadi from the EPL
Yes, it might be sacrilege to suggest it, but we do think that there is a club that really wants to be out of the EPL. Aston Villa has been enduring the horrors ever since the season got underway and going by the tame response of fans and players alike, it is almost as if the club that was once a contender for the title is now reconciled to life in the lower half and wants the current season to end so that it can get into rebuilding mode. A sad sight indeed.