The Fifth Offical

Woy's woes and G-Nev's retirement plan

January 3, 2011
By The Fifth Official
(Archive)

Few of us like Monday but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from a weekend brimming with potential victims.

Roy Hodgson
GettyImagesRoy Hodgson is in danger of falling off the Anfield tightwope on which he has been walking recently

Welease Woy

The start of a new year heralds a fresh beginning, a time to sweep away all those niggling little faults and doubts that crept to the surface in 2010. Unless you are Woy Hodgson that is, for the only thing the start of 2011 signals for him is an unceremonious dumping from the job he's worked all his life for.

The pressure of hauling the squeaky Scousers out of the malaise that Rafael Benitez did such a good job of entrenching has taken its toll on an elderly chap, whose judgement has flipped and flopped more than a fish on a radiator. He was dead right to have a pop at the ever-so-loyal fans that slagged him off during the dismal defeat to Wolves, but compounded his misery by backtracking two days later. Courage of your convictions is definitely a Premier League prerequisite, but Woy's seems to have wandered off the wadar.

He was at least granted a stay of execution by a controversial offside goal deep in injury time against Bolton, rubber-stamped by a linesman who perhaps hadn't gone to Specsavers over the festive period. Even then, Woy argued it would be "churlish" to deny his side deserved to win, boxing Owen Coyle into a corner where he could either disagree, and appear churlish, or agree and look stupid.

So as the curtain falls on Woy's ludicrously short tenure, it appears as if the long-held wish of many Liverpool fans will be answered as King Kenny Dalglish rides to the rescue, trying to coax more than average football from an average squad after ten years out of the game. Be careful what you wish for.

An Open letter to Gary Neville

Dear Gary,

Retire. Please. It has become all too evident that your wispy goatee, stuttering run and loathsome brand of snarling are hilariously outdated. You are an embarrassment on the football field and look every inch of your 35 years.

Your career is now built on deception; that your hard work in training and 'great' attitude is still worthy of the odd game in seven, and that you somehow seem to have been afforded immunity against red cards by a series of blundering officials. First you got away with a nailed on second yellow after a desperate lunge on Matthew Etherington at Stoke, leading to your half-time substitution, and now you appear to be able to fell a striker bearing down on goal without so much as a peep from the ref's whistle.

In fact, it seems your gob is about the only thing in your entire body that still appears to work - not that anything good comes out of it, much like another body part I'd rather not mention. So before Fergie is shuffled into an embarrassing corner when he'll have to stop you turning up for training at Carrington, and even Scholesy won't sit with you for lunch in the canteen, do yourself a favour and pack it in. You're so bad you're even making Phil look good.

Yours, TFO.

'Arry's got Becks appeal

Another 35-year-old desperately clinging to a professional career is a certain David Beckham. The former England captain has saved us from the potential disaster of a January bereft of a ludicrous transfer deal, thanks to his outrageous flirting with Tottenham boss 'Arry Redknapp via the Daily Star.

Despite the fact that Jonathan Woodgate is the only person in Tottenham's entire squad that Becks could beat in a 100-yard dash, 'Arry seems intent on loaning the local-lad-done-good primarily to act as Aaron Lennon's delivery coach in training. 'Arry reckons Becks still has a "good brain" - displaying his lack of one by negating to insert "football" in between good and brain.

It would be a fitting end for Becks to have a final fling in the Premier League at the club where he started his career (as a child in Spurs' school of excellence), but in practical terms a three-month stint at White Hart Lane will only have an impact in the club shop and in the press. Expect Becks to make a beeline for team talisman Rafael van der Vaart within five minutes, while Posh heads for VDV's other half Sylvie to try and flog her some monstrously overpriced skirt from her fashion collection.

Leave off Doctor Hou

John Terry celeb Chelsea
PA PhotosJohn Terry & Co's celebrations were a tad premature

How quickly joy can turn to despair in football. After John Terry slotted what he thought was an 89th-minute winner against Aston Villa, he and the rest of Chelsea's pumped-up players mobbed Carlo Ancelotti as if all their difficulties had suddenly vanished into thin air. It was a premature victory dance rendered hilarious in an instant.

Spin forward 120 seconds and the chaps who scored goals two and three for Chelsea were bawling in each other's faces after Ciaran Clark tiptoed through the heart of the Blues' defence to nod an injury-time equaliser. JT was too busy planning a chest thumping lap of honour to see Clark coming, something the Drog clearly pointed out with a little too much vigour upon the final whistle.

If a point provoked disgust within blue ranks, it was welcomed uproariously by those in claret, who have been sinking so fast under the sheer weight of Gerard Houllier's personality that he is being shepherded towards the departure lounge before he has barely had time to get his suitcase out of the arrivals hall.

Still, a draw will offer Doctor Hou the respite that Carlo Ancelotti can only dream of after displaying to the rest of the Premier League how to turn a club from title defenders to Champions League clinger-on-ers is ten easy games.

City slickers

You may have heard a deafening creak emanating from the Manchester area as the clock edged towards midnight on January 31. Apparently it was the sound of City's cash vault being prised open in time for some more wanton spraying over the continent for the next month, starting with the £27 million capture of Edin Dzeko.

Given that another high-profile striker is on his way to Eastlands, Carlos Tevez chose an ill-advised time to turn in an absolute stinker against Blackpool - a performance so miserable it must have been conjured by the footballing gods of karma who were more than a little ticked off with the Argentine imp's Roonatic-style hissy fit in recent weeks.

He should have responded to the impending arrival of one of Europe's finest, not to mention Mario Balotelli's hat-trick last time out, with a five-goal haul against the Tangerines to reassert himself as top dog at the club. Instead, he continually fired wide of the target from close range, fluffed a penalty and fell over in front of an open goal. Perhaps Carlito's next burst of retirement chatter may not be rebuffed with such vehemence as the last, and accompanied by a one-way ticket back to Buenos Aires. Well, we can all dream can't we?

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