The Fifth Official

Cooking up a storm

September 12, 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.

Too many Cooks

Garry Cook
GettyImagesGarry Cook has admitted making mistakes at City

As you read this I imagine Garry Cook will be tottering round a Cheshire golf course with Robert Mugabe, Colonel Gadaffi and Mahmoud Ahmedinajad now he has enough time to indulge his habit of golfing with chaps who care little about committing unforgivable breaches of the human rights act. Turns out golf is a huge leveller and not just a good way to spoil a nice walk.

Perhaps worse than the original sin that led to Cook's sacking was his pathetic excuse that someone had hacked his email account to send a jokey email to one of his pals about something that could only be known about inside the club. Ridiculous. Had I managed to hack his account I'd have ensured his online existence was now a festival of spam mail encouraging him to have a penis enlargement or to fax his bank details to a Nigerian con man.

Still, Cook does leave the club in rude health, City's wanton spending under his stewardship proof that if you keep squandering millions on strikers you will get it right eventually. In Sergio Aguero, it looks like City's owners have finally struck oil, having waded through the expensive sludge that is Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz, Craig Bellamy and Super Mario Balotelli. Even Carlos Tevez got a game, and brought his wife too. I'm sure Wigan at home is the one to captivate her into moving to Manchester.

Hair today gone tomorrow

Judging by his rip-roaring early season form I'd advise the Roonatic go back to the Harley Street clinic that granted him an extra wisp of hair for £30,000 and ask them to transplant a flock of seagulls or tight-curly perm on his egg-shaped head. It's like the reverse of Samson, though to be fair to the big lad, Harley Street wasn't an option in his day. A sword in each eye most certainly was, sadly enough for him.

The Roonatic's transformation is remarkable. Last season when he wasn't demanding a move or a few extra hundred grand a week he was meeting ladies of the night in expensive hotel rooms. On the field at least, he certainly wasn't scoring with any regularity. Now, he's already over half way to beating his tally of league goals last season and he's outscored every single top flight team bar Manchester City.

In fact, the only aspect of his public performance I can find fault with are his utterances on Twitter. Mind you, even they are still far more interesting than the mind-numbing drivel offered up by Michael Owen - the ninth-choice striker with no shame. "Watching X-factor with my beautiful wife," Wayne wailed on Sunday night. Ask him what happened last year and he'd have no idea.

The Vorm has turned

This is what Arsenal fans had been salivating over for nearly ten days after their tight-wad manager finally delved into his 'rainy day money' and desperately tried to salvage their season - the chance to actually glimpse Yossi Benayoun in that famous red shirt. A cast-iron 'goosebumps' moment for all who were there.

But Yossi wasn't the only debutant, as fruits of Arsene Wenger's last minute labour were sprinkled all over the field. Perhaps the most impressive capture was Mikel Arteta, a player who, according to the gaffer "has all the ingredients to be an Arsenal player". Yes, in that he is injury prone, has won nothing of note in his career and secretly hankers after a move back to Barcelona. Per Mertesacker would also be a stalwart, said Wenger, when he adapted to the "pace" of the Premier League. The only bad news is that pace is something the German has very little of. None in fact.

Still, they all played their part in a crushing 1-0 defeat of promoted Swansea. In fact, had it not been for a howler from Swansea's goalkeeper - in this instance the Vorm turned after an awful throw out to see Andrei Arshavin find his open net - Arsenal's new legion of imports would only have been celebrating a point against nailed-on relegation certainties. Worse perhaps, if Danny Graham could finish.

You've got to hand it to Stoke

Jonathan Walters celebrates after giving Stoke the lead against Liverpool
PA PhotosJonathan Walters celebrates after giving Stoke the lead against Liverpool

You may not have seen it, but at 4.55pm on Saturday an odourless fug of paranoia swept across the Britannia Stadium, seconds after Liverpool were sent crashing to their first defeat of the season by a Peter Crouch infused Stoke. An angry King Kenny warned in no uncertain terms he might have to start muttering nasty things about referees if they didn't start peeping in his side's favour.

Perhaps instead of calling an inter-club summit on whether he is allowed to abuse officials Kenny's time would be better spent working out how a total of four expensive strikers couldn't convert one of his side's 24 attempts on goal. Yes, Stoke's penalty was soft but why had Jamie Carragher delicately rested his arm round Jonathan Walters waist, as if he was indicating to the rest of the Premier League 'this boy is all mine'?

Two reasonable handball shouts came and went, but so did a plethora of wasted opportunities - Liverpool's profligacy summed up no better than in the section of play when they managed to squander five chances on goal in less than 10 seconds. And Luis Suarez, the man who got himself booked protesting at the second supposed handball, then missed an open goal in injury time. Hands up who saw that one coming?

Going, going, Gyan

Turns out the most baffling business of the transfer window occurred a good ten days after we all thought it had closed. Just 48 hours after Steve Bruce shook hands with Asamoah Gyan after the striker said he was staying at Sunderland he's off to the United Arab Emirates for a loan spell. It has nothing to so with a $3 million signing on fee or a $240,000 weekly wage I'm sure. How dare you even suggest such a thing.

In an acute example of what kind of toe-the-line guff is posted on club websites Bruce warbled on in the official statement about how he hoped Gyan would be back in red and white once he'd sunned himself in the UAE, then said post-match there no practically no chance of the striker returning. He then betrayed his own disgust by following a "no disrespect" prefix with about the most disrespectful thing he could possibly have said "No disrespect to Abu Dhabi, or wherever it is he has gone but..."

Replacing Gyan is that monolith of misplaced confidence Nicklas Bendtner, the footballer so fine he has left a Champions League club for one that looks hell bent on a relegation battle. You can only imagine my surprise that he was unable to lead Sunderland to points against Chelsea, though his horrendous first touch did allow Ji Dong-Won to grab a consolation goal. Bruce should be careful, because as one of the Premier League's heaviest managers, he is tiptoeing on thin ice.

Don't forget, you can help The Fifth Official's bid to attract more followers on Twitter than Leon Knight at www.twitter.com/fifthofficial