The Fifth Official

Best friends forever

September 26, 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.

I'm tyred of fighting

Mario Balotelli, Roberto Mancini
GettyImagesLet's never fight again: Mario Balotelli and Roberto Mancini make friends

A tear-jerking moment on Saturday lunchtime as Mario Balotelli finally re-added Roberto Mancini as a friend on Facebook and gave him a big hug to celebrate after scoring the opener against Everton. How nice to see a touching embrace on the touchline rather than the undignified sight of Mario fighting the urge to throw his iPad at the back of his manager's head.

But as well as Super Mario played in his late cameo - relegating Carlos Tevez to his former role as bench leper - it would be remiss not to mention his new do, a bizarre landing strip of hair that looks like it has been inspired by tyre giant Pirelli. Lord knows he needs to get a grip upstairs but will his travelator effort provide more traction for his mental faculties?

No wonder David Moyes acts as if he has nothing but contempt for City, the shiny megastore to his tatty corner shop. Whereas Mancini can turn to £50 million worth of talent on the bench, the ginger Mourinho could only make sad eyes towards a subs' bench that consisted of Apostolos Vellios and Denis Stracqualursi, strikers purchased using the chief bargaining tool of tickets to see Bill Kenwright's latest London production, Dreamboats & Petticoats, and a lifetime supply of Chang beer.

So little faith did he have in his forward department he played the little known five-and-a-half, four-and-a-half formation with Tim Cahill in the twilight zone between attacking midfielder and striker - before Vincent Kompany "did him" of course, by shamefully allowing himself to pole-axed by a lunging tackle from the Australian. How rude.

Snap, cackle and pull

The Roonatic's mysterious absence at Stoke - a pulled pork string is rumoured - and an early injury for Javier Hernandez meant Manchester United's front line quickly became a festival of forgotten men. Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen showed exactly why they have perfected the art of looking disgruntled on the bench (or the stands in Owen's case) as they turned in performances as threadbare as a motorcyclist dispatch rider's budget underpants.

At one stage early in the piece, Owen and Jonathan Woodgate embarked on an amble down the line for a loose ball - a race of the sicknotes that had gamblers the world over betting on which muscle would ping first. Thankfully for both delicate parties, they managed to avoid serious injury and could spend the next hour or so desperately trying to shy away from physical contact anywhere on the pitch.

Proof that Owen hasn't got it anymore came just hours before a big interview with a Sunday paper in which he insisted he'd still got it. Perhaps he was under the misapprehension that Leeds are still a Premier League club. He also said he wouldn't turn his back on England, despite having been staring at England's turned back for roughly three years now. Don't turn your back on your day job of watching horse racing either, Michael, for it won't be long now.

Torres: A Modern Tragedy

I've an idea Fernando Torres - next time you find the back of the net for Chelsea, ask for an immediate substitution to prevent yourself from inadvertently nudging triumph out of your queen-sized bed in favour of the comely contours of calamity.

Once again, the £50 million man proved he is returning to some form of sharpness with a well-taken goal, albeit against the might of Swansea, and once again he drowned his copybook in a vat of ink in needless fashion with what only can be described as a two-footed assault on Mark Gower. It wasn't just an ugly tackle, it was an absolute minger.

The irony of it all was that, in keeping with his early season form, 'Nando completely missed the target. Gower initially went down as if his leg had been caught by a passing Eurostar and transported to Brussels but, oddly, he managed to spring to his feet the second Mike Dean's digits rested on the red card in his back pocket. Torres trudged off knowing by the time he is eligible to play in the Premier League again in late October his form might well have evaporated on the continent too.

You have been Warnocked

David Cameron, Lakshmi Mittal
GettyImagesAston Villa ultra David Cameron headed to Loftus Road on Sunday

It was only a matter of time before Neil Warnock's calm start to the Premier League season was shattered by a verbal diatribe of decibels on his favourite topic - the incompetence of referees. After young pup Michael Oliver awarded Aston Villa a penalty for a tug of the shirt so minor a tailor wouldn't even charge for it, the Yorkshire terrier unleashed hell.

In his first post-match TV interview, Warnock insisted that he wouldn't lower himself to bleating on about the officials or the injustice of their decisions, but after having watched a few replays of the game's more contentious incidents Warnock demanded to be interviewed again to do just that. Underlining his love for a sequel, he also had another pop at Armand Traore - "I am going to fine him as much as I can. Total amateur Sunday league sending off" - after having given him an earful as he sloped off the field.

If Warnock was delighted at Rangers' late leveller then it dismayed Prime Minister David Cameron, who is a dyed in the wool (or should that be cashmere?) Villan. Of course he was there to check out Shaun Wright-Phillips - his favourite right winger - but rumours he demanded a recount at the final whistle after Richard Dunne's late own goal are untrue. Sitting next to QPR shareholder Lakshmi Mittal, rumours that Cam labelled Rangers' last-minute deadline day spree a false economy are wrong. I mean, who is he to be lecturing anyone on the economy anyway?

Let's hit the Ba

Mike Ashley is over the moon. He can't cram any more Sports Direct logos into St James' Park but his private transfer policy is paying off. Such short names like Ba and Best are far cheaper to print in the club shop as he forces the entire squad to go through the entire season with only one strip that they must wash at home. He doesn't want to be squandering any of that £35 million on washing powder, you see.

Newcastle's rag-and-bone squad won't find many more charitable defensive units than Steve Kean's creaking poultry machine this season, though, as Blackburn's boss proved that his triumphant round of media appearances after the win over Arsenal was as misguided as any number of Yakubu's attempts on goal.

It should be no surprise when Peter Lovenkrands is released in January to make way for new signing Qu Bo either as Cashley Mike continues to strain every last commercial cell in that strange rich head of his. And while Ba skips into the goals like a fresh lamb, his predecessor Andy Carroll lollops in his search for Liverpool goals like a man with 35 ragged sheep on his back. Well, they do say that lurking underneath every ponytail is an arse.

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