The Fifth Official

PlayStation Sideshow Bob, Taylor-made

November 21, 2011
By The Fifth Official
(Archive)

PlayStation sideshow

Even Luis Suarez had to disapprove of another comedic Luiz defensive display
PA PhotosEven Luis Suarez had to disapprove of another comedic Luiz defensive display

A paltry ten minutes is all the action Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll were trusted with at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea and Liverpool re-opened boardroom talks to try and thrash out who came off worst in the mega-millions January bring and buy sale. Under the rug next to Big Andy were Stewart Downing (£20 million) and Jordan Henderson (£20 million) meaning that Liverpool's bench, given its prime location in west London, became one of the most expensive slices of real estate in the area.

If only Andre Villas-Boas had asked Chelsea's other January flop to warm it too. David Luiz seems to be a walking panic attack; a man as unpredictable as a wasp in a bay window. He reduces his team-mates to gibbering wrecks with his diverse approach to positioning. Gary Neville, still operating on a covert mission for the cult of Fergie, said Luiz looked like he was being controlled by a 10-year-old in the crowd operating a PlayStation. It is the first time in my life I found myself nodding in agreement with something that has come from his mouth.

AVB said Neville's line was "ridiculous" but followed it up with a catastrophic underestimation of the man he works for. "The owner didn't pay £13 million to get me out of Porto just to pay me another fortune to get me out," he said, seemingly unaware that Roman Abramovich is an impulsive and impatient billionaire who goes through managers quicker than poo passes through a small dog. As one wag on Twitter put it, AVB is on a Hiddink to nothing.

Taylor-made for Toon

Good old Mike Ashley; he could see Newcastle's luxurious saunter into the Premier League's top three had tilted the world dangerously off its axis. Thankfully, in the international break he righted that wrong with an audacious attempt to underwrite 119 years of north east history by abandoning the "commercially unattractive" name of St James' Park in favour of one that trumpets the selling of bargain sports goods to a breed of youngsters who still think it is morally acceptable to tuck their shell suit trousers into their socks.

With another war breaking out between fans and board, reality also returned on the field as the poster boy of Newcastle's unlikely surge, Ryan Taylor, swapped 30-yard screamers for defensive haplessness, gifting opponents Manchester City two goals in three minutes with every conceivable part of his body. Seriously, the hum of mediocrity around that man is so loud it's as if he is being followed constantly by a swarm of 40,000 bees.

In stark contrast to Newcastle, the only thing that perturbed City's fans on Saturday was the thought that their owners can spend the best part of a billion on the club yet were forced to inform supporters on Saturday that there would be no chips on sale during the interval. The club would not be drawn on rumours that Ashley had eaten them all prior to kick off.

Welcome to hell - a foggy Wigan

Paul Robinson: The captain of Blackburn
GettyImagesPaul Robinson is leaving Blackburn

Life doesn't get grittier than a Lancashire derby in autumnal fog at the DW Stadium. I couldn't help but notice it was played on the same day as the annual Transvestite Olympics were held in London and whilst watching the highlights it struck me the defending on show could not have been any worse had half the players been wearing tight-fitting, ankle length ball gowns and comedy wigs.

As relegation dogfights go, this was epic: six goals, including two in the opening seven minutes, one that traversed the laws of the game and the last a penalty, won by Blackburn's goalkeeper when he received a Kung Fu kick to the head eight minutes into stoppage time. And all this played out to a backdrop of Blackburn fans hurling abuse at Steve Kean in front of owners who travelled all the way over from India to watch, yet left at half-time because they were cold. Best league in the world? You bloody bet it is.

Unsurprisingly, Roberto Martinez was disgusted with the referee's award of Blackburn's illegal second. "We don't have a big voice," he whispered before suggesting if it had happened to Liverpool we'd be talking about it for weeks. He's wrong, if it happened to Liverpool their fans would whine about it for 20 years. "I'm sure today after 20 minutes it will all be forgotten," he added. Roberto, we feel your pain but the reality is that people will forget Wigan ever existed about 20 minutes after you are relegated.

Around the grounds

No other game could quite match the drama of events at the DW Stadium, least of all the one involving Manchester United, whose reaction to the pumping they received by their City neighbours has been three edgy 1-0 victories. Ryan Giggs finally made it for a club game in Wales after 886 appearances and, befitting the multi-cultural nature of the English game, collected a mistake from a Spaniard to set up the winner for a Mexican.

On the opposite side of the island, a certain Dutch striker gave rise to the notion that Arsenal should change their name by deed poll to Robin van Persie FC after he took his goals tally in 2011 to 31. After overseeing a catastrophic run at the start of the campaign, all the while insisting he wasn't about to quit, Arsene Wenger reacted to the Gunners' fifth straight victory by talking about quitting.

And at the Britannia, you could have been forgiven for thinking you were watching a Village People XI square off against a Magnum PI XI given the amount of dodgy moustaches on show. The stiff upper lip contest was won fair and square by QPR, as Stoke's back four, all sporting wispy caterpillars below their nose for the 'Movember' cause, let Heidar Helgusson run riot.

Blatt's life

I couldn't let this week pass without a tip of the hat to another impressive chapter in the life of the game's glorious leader, Sepp Blatter, the man whose appetite for controversy and incompetence seems utterly insatiable. FIFA's PR department must have a list of important topics the president is not allowed to speak about, accountability and transparency being two of them, so perhaps they should add racism to the list forth with.

Not only were his comments predictably nonsensical, his clarification statement on FIFA's website a few hours later essentially repeated exactly the same remarks but with a picture of him hugging a black man at the top of the page. In fact, given that cringe worthy image, perhaps it is time Sepp hired a completely new PR team.

There was obvious interest in who Sepp was embracing, then overwhelming joy when one discovered it was a prominent South African politician by the name of Tokyo Sexwale. A man who surely is at least an extra 10% more ace due to his awesome name. If he had been called Osaka Coitussseal, would he have reached such a position of power I wonder?

Rio Ferdinand was bang on the money in his reaction to Blatter's comments, and the infamous picture, and when one finds one's self agreeing with Rio, you know time is surely up for soccer's chief clown.