The Fifth Official

Calamitous Cashley, creepy Crawleys

February 21, 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 week brimming with potential victims.

John Terry consoles Ashley Cole after the England left-back fired over the crossbar
GettyImages / IanKingtonJohn Terry consoles Ashley Cole after the England left-back fired over the crossbar

Cole pays the 'pelanty'

Watching Chelsea capitulate in penalty shoot-outs truly is the gift that keeps on giving. After John Terry's slip and boo-hoo antics in Moscow, the world's favourite left back Ashley Cole suffered the ignominy of having penalty egg smeared all over his smug chops as he skied Chelsea's vital fifth at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. How much of it was to do with Jonny Heitinga's pub-style barge just beforehand is open to question.

Was there a single person on the planet who didn't rejoice at Cole's miserable effort, so rotten it had more chance of interfering with Heathrow's flight path than Tim Howard's net? All that was left was for Phil 'nerves of steel' Neville to show Cashley how it is done by slamming his 12-yarder into the top corner to make it seven defeats out of eight for Chelsea in shoot-outs. Cole then shamefully shunned a handshake from David Moyes, to make his humbling all the more satisfying.

Beleaguered Carlo wasn't the only person who was desperately praying the match wouldn't go to spot-kicks, as Chris Waddle shuffled uncomfortably in his ESPN commentary seat, given his complete inability to say penalty properly. Perhaps his own Cole-like effort at World Cup '90 skewed his pronunciation forever. Still, it doesn't matter to Everton, they will take any sort of win, and like Waddle said, if it's on 'pelanties' then all the better.

Fergie's creepy Crawleys

How can the FA Cup be dying when Crawley can make it all the way to the North West's finest monument to American capitalism, warbled Fergie on Friday, as he sprinkled his own grizzly version of romance on the most seductive of ties?

The same romance he dismantled the second he disdainfully flicked his team-sheet towards the officials as he denied Creepy Crawley the chance to play footballing princes Ryan Giggs, Nani and Dimitar Berbatov in favour of Wes Brown, Fabio and the once homeless Bebe. Still, being homeless is probably preferable to living in Crawley.

In all seriousness, it was heartening to see some genuinely second-rate footballers get a chance to show what they can do at an arena like Old Trafford. I do hope Gabriel Obertan and Darron Gibson were grateful. In fact, so pitiful were the displays from both, they'd probably struggle to get in Crawley's squad for their next match at Southport.

After the famous Manchester United had clung onto their one-goal lead as a spirited team 93 places below them in the football league rattled their crossbar, they then decided to belt out the most inappropriate rendition of 'Glory, Glory Man United'.

Viva Las Vegas

Those Arsenal fans who have spent every minute since the final whistle sounded after a famous win over eighth wonder of the world Barcelona calling me an 'effin this' or 'effin that' on Twitter must be cursing their luck this isn't an every Thursday column. If it were you'd have been treated to some rare gushing (my GP says it'll clear up in a matter of weeks) but as it is, this is Monday and you'll get more scorn for your pound after lovely Leyton Orient brought you crashing to earth.

You've got to love the FA Cup. Arsenal swanned from beating Barca into Brisbane Road with a horrified look on their keenly moisturised faces, the kind of look I expect would emerge on Kate Middleton's if Prince William suggested they leave the Ritz in favour of a few Jaegerbombs at that skanky Wetherspoons near Victoria station. Still, all had seemed to be going to plan when Tomas Rosicky found the net.

But Arsene Wenger clearly hadn't banked on the super-sub to end all super-subs, Jonathan Tehoue, derailing the Gunners' quest for an unlikely quadruple. According to Os' boss Russell Slade, Tehoue has scored all eight of his goals this season after the 85 minute mark. His goal ensured another midweek tie for Arsenal, a timely boost for Orient's coffers and a trip to Las Vegas from chairman Barry Hearne for their efforts. So, after holding Arsenal to a draw, does this mean Leyton Orient are better than Barcelona?

Mario Balotelli: Scored but then offered little team play
GettyImages / DeanMouhtaropoulosMario Balotelli: Scored but then offered little team play

Balotelli does the travelator

Roberto Mancini clearly knew what he was getting into when he signed Europe's loosest cannon, Mario Balotelli, but I wonder if he could go back in time he'd keep that bundle of £24 million notes firmly in the pocket of his Dolce & Gabbana slacks.

The most noticeable thing about Balotelli against Notts County on Sunday was his latest haircut, a triangular affair that couldn't help remind me of the travelator contestants used to have to negotiate towards the end of Gladiators. Perhaps it was a cry for help; an arrow-led guide to the place on his body most of his problems emanate from.

The best thing that happened to City came when Balotelli smashed his face into an opponent and was substituted, though he still managed to aim a few verbal volleys at his coach and mentor through a fog of mild concussion before staggering down the tunnel to go and pick a fight with himself in the changing room. After his exit City scored three goals and looked cohesive. You can draw your own conclusions from that.

UEFA, FIFA's Mini Me

Football is moving so far away from the common man at such a pace that soon the only way said common man will be able to watch football is through a ridiculously powered telescope in a specially constructed 90,000-seater observatory because the 2020 Champions League final will be played on the moon in front of 16 filthy rich swine's who've paid a £1 billion each to attend.

I've always thought of Platini and UEFA as being FIFA's Mini Me, given Blatter's numerous, obvious failings but this week they demonstrated just how similarly money-grabbing and negligent they are by imposing prices of £150 to watch the Champions League final at Wembley. If that wasn't bad enough there's a whopping £26 administration fee, one to make even Ticketmaster weep with pride. That add-on alone is just £2 less than Wigan are charging for the forthcoming visit of Manchester United for heaven's sake.

Even Fergie called it a "killer" pricing policy, while UEFA's director of competitions Giorgio Marchetti desperately bumbled on about market rate, claiming they could fill the stadium if they charged even more than that. So I say why not? Why not charge £200 a ticket and have done with it? It's not as if a couple can take their two kids at those prices anyway, so why not just hike the admission and offer an extra few rounds of prawn sandwiches upon entry?

Few sights make me queasy - and I've had plenty of nights out in Blackpool - but this is enough to make even my stomach turn.

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