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That’s Entertainment – Things From Around the Houses

By | 14th September 2009

scholes-red-card-v-spursIt was a cracking weekend footballing wise. Full of  bad blood, twisted blood, blood on face, all sorts of other blood, and it was bloody good. While there were many incidents around the houses this week, the main two occured in London and Manchester, and both between sides from those respective cities.

Ain’t that just the way that life goes down, down, down… – Gary Lineker once described football thus: “22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win.” While it is a delightfully humerous nugget of wisdom from everybody’s favorite affable jug-eared sex-pest, he may want to update it a bit for the club game, and in particular, his former employers. “Football is a game where 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and in the end, United beat Spurs”.  Tottenham take an early lead, look alert and dangerous before United grab a goal (or two) and in the end wind up seeing out the game comfortably. I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere before?

Ten heads are better than eleven – Up until Paul Scholes’ sending off (harsh to say the least, but he should really have some kind of electronic collar that shocks him whenever he thinks about going in for a tackle) it was a relatively even game. United looked more composed but Spurs kept at it and were it not for Peter Crouch being unwaveringly awful in the air, may have even gotten level.

However, after the sending off  United took complete control, only looking like conceding from Jenas’ long shot and the resulting corner. Rooney (looking at last like the talismanic world class player he always promised to be), Fletcher, and Evra had Spurs so far in their pockets it wouldn’t have been a surprise if they’d made them disappear completely and produced a long string of connecting coloured hankerchiefs instead.

Where’s your head at? – Peter Crouch, ladies and gentlemen, the tallest footballer in the world who is pathalogically incapable of heading the ball. Now, while I admire Crouchy for his skill (good feet for a big man, etc. etc.) you’d think that being a freakishly tall boy who wants to play football, at some point it would have struck him what a huge advantage it would be if he was a great header of the ball.

But alas, no. Maybe he’s so brittle his neck will snap off if he connects too forcefully? Maybe he’s going through a prolonged rebellious stage where he’s getting back at all those coaches who said he’d only be useful in the air by deliberately being utterly crap at it? Maybe there was just nobody at youth level who could kick it high enough so the ability never developed? Who knows…

The importance of being Emmanuel - In another fantastic Cockney-Manc encounter, the spectators at Eastlands were being treated to a tremendously multilayered performance from Emmanuel Adebayor. In 90 minutes he managed to convey (quite brilliantly) all the disparate sides of his character.

Unsurprisingly, it was the more unsavory aspects that garnered the most attention. It’s all well and good being able to dribble round half the Arsenal team to setup a sumptuous chance or score a classic striker’s header with aplomb, but it doesn’t necessarily stop you from being a complete c**t. It was clear from the start that Adebayor was going to make a nuisance of himself. He stood brazenly in the Arsenal half as the teams prepared to kick off, on the one hand a jokey referential prank, and on the other a clear cry of “look at me mummy, look at me!”

The stamp on Van Persie was nasty and deliberate (A City fan told me today that was unfair since I was basing it almost solely on video evidence. Indeed, video evidence. Certainly the least reliable form of evidence there is…) and his celebration was the most glaring example of ‘incitement’ it’s possible to get. While the Arsenal fans should take the blame for their reaction, the steward that was hurt in the resulting melee should get an apology from Adebayor as well. There was so little need for that that simply saying ‘no need’ doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

Bent into shape – Darren Bent’s second goal for Sunderland against Hull this weekend was  close to being the worst example of defending I’ve ever seen. Imagine Cristiano Ronaldo’s second against West Ham in 07/08 but with the defenders standing about 10 yards back. Two of them there were, two of them behind the ball and neither seemed the least bit bothered that he was anywhere near their goal. It would’ve been the worst example of defending ever but that honour lies with Sheffield Wednesday’s number three in the 1992/93 season and his valiant attempt to try and remember if he’d left the oven on as Steve Bruce powered a header just over his head.

Time is not on my side – Strangely not commented on in most of the papers, but West Ham were denied an opening goal against Wigan by the unattentiveness (or possibly stupidness) of  referee Alan Wiley. With West Ham on the attack Carlton Cole had just nodded the ball over the advancing keeper when Wiley blew for half time. Cole put it in the net less than a second after the third blow of the whistle. Replays showed that Wiley wasn’t even facing the direction of the play when he blew up.

Now I might be imagining it, but I thought there was a rule, or at least a standard practice, to not blow when a team was in attack? Have I just invented this? Or did someone mention it to me when I was younger and I’ve taken it as lore? Either way, it seemed ridiculous to me and if he saw it then he was being the most cruel, and at best finickety by blowing, and if he didn’t see it, well, if the ref isn’t watching the game what hope do we have?

Better the Devil You Know. – There seems to be a bizarre secret underground competition in football this season, whose sole purpose is to see who can produce the most horribly appalling kit possible. I thought Manchester United had the worst kit in the Premiership with their knock off Marks and Spencers Pyjama top for 9-11 year olds. On closer inspection however, it has been trumped by Everton’s Le Coq Sportif trop l’oeil effort. The impression they’re going for, I assume, is of an opened necked collarless shirt with a white T-shirt underneath.

Why? I mean, really, why? The worst kit in the entire league system is clearly Newcastle’s nuclear banana monstrosity but don’t get me started on that. We’d be here all week.

When two tribes go to war – It might seem old school, and contrary to my asthetic love of free flowing football (the beautiful game in its essence, if you will), but I love a ‘tasty’ encounter. Oh yes. A bit of aggression, the roar of a baiting crowd, tackles flying in, players squaring up to each other. Admit it, you love it too.

Would the 2006 World Cup final have been as good of a game if Zidane hadn’t nutted Matterazi? No, of course not. United vs Spurs and City vs Arsenal were great games, both enhanced by the slight possibility they’d boil over at any minute. Perversely, Scholes’ dismissal quieted that game, but before that you could see a red was be on the cards (pun intended). I’m not advocating all out war, of course. The United – Arsenal ruckus of ‘91 was  too far but a bit of bad blood now and then adds to the gladiatoral atmosphere. While we all like to see the game ‘cleaned up’ as it were, and hooliganism is right out of the question, it wouldn’t be as good without a ‘nawty’ encounter now and then…and you know it. Deep down you know you do. Get in there my son… ‘Av somma that!

This weekend’s matches – fantastic or dull? Have your say below!



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