Fifth official: The last look at the weekend

September 22, 2008
By The Fifth official
(Archive)

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

GettyImagesRiley was quick to brandish the yellow card in the direction of the United players.

Cards galore at the Bridge
The first meeting between Manchester United and Chelsea since that night in Moscow was always likely to be a bit chunky, and right enough it was. There were eight bookings in the game and only one of those for a player in a blue shirt. As you can imagine, this delighted Sir Alex Ferguson, who looked like he was fit to burst. Either that or the waistline of his particularly snug-fitting tracky bottoms was digging into his lungs given how high he'd hoisted them up. Think Simon Cowell and then some.

As for the game, Nicolas Anelka should have been carded for his early contender for glaring miss of the season. Astonishing it was. Apparently £15m buys you a striker who somehow fails to hit the target from four yards out with the goal gaping. Not that you'd know it from his expression, which is permanently the same. I bet you could sit him down, tell him he's won £250m on the lottery, been asked out for half a shandy by Scarlett Johansson or that his house had exploded and that sulking-mug wouldn't even offer up a flicker.

City slickers on song
Robinho must still be labouring under the misapprehension that he really did sign for Chelsea the way Manchester City are playing at the minute. He revelled in his free role as City humbled a usually stout and organised Portsmouth team by half a dozen goals at Eastlands on Sunday, and presumably laughed until he fell over when he found out David James is currently England's number one keeper.

Robinho might not be able to pick out the city of Manchester on a map, or recount any name from the famous title winning side of 1968, but the Brazilian certainly looks like he's having fun making fools of seasoned professionals like Sylvain Distin and Sol Campbell. Mind you, I'm sure he'd still be smiling if Pompey beat them 6-0 given that around £140k is gently thudding into his bank account every week.

Ashley nowhere to be seen
Newcastle United's team coach must have a half decent sat-nav system installed because with their management's woeful lack of direction at the minute they'd probably have ended up in Tajikistan had they organised it themselves. Gianfranco Zola must have wet his pants with delight when he saw his first game in charge of the 'Appy Ammers was against a rudderless, managerless and clueless club who are the Olympic gold medallists at implosion. Mike Ashley was last seen on the terraces necking a pint at the Emirates days before the Kevin Keegan row blew up.

At Upton Park on Saturday he knew he'd be used as a punch bag had he tried to employ the same tactics, so instead he spent two hours skulking in an executive box with his cronies, complete with his trademark Laurel and Hardy grin. He'd have to have downed 17 pints of fizzy lager in a row in order to forget what a mess he is making of a once proud and respected football club though. And don't get me started on Dennis Wise...

Theo-mania hits town
So instead, onto Theo Walcott, he's our saviour you know. After THAT hat-trick in Croatia the 19-year-old was thrust into the limelight like a pushy mother forcing her goofy daughter to murder another Britney Spears song in front of a sneering reality show panel. Forget the fact that before he scored his first goal in Zagreb he was having a Grade A stinker; now he's the best thing since sliced bread and we've all caught a dose of Theo-mania.

GettyImages / AlexLiveseyTheo Walcott: The great hope of English football.

All of a sudden we are forced to endure countless tabloid articles about how good he was at school, his preferred breakfast or what his other half's favourite soap is. It is arguably what we in Britain do better than anywhere else on earth. Build them up, build them up, build them up ... wait until he shanks a pen in the quarter-finals of the World Cup then dismantle the kid like he was a sideboard from Ikea. Then it'll be wasted talent this, WAG-obsessed that and before you know it he'll be drinking white spirit and begging outside White Hart Lane, which brings me neatly to my next point.

Laughable Spurs still unable to focus
Spurs. Ha ha ha. That is all I was intending to write about another mind-numbingly dull performance from Juande Ramos' sorry shower, but then I was politely reminded of my contractual obligation to hit the word count in order to be remunerated for this. So, allow me to elaborate. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

I even wanted Spurs to beat Wigan if only to shut up their hilarious crackpot of a chairman Dave Whelan. According to his gospel four goals adds up to Amir Zaki being as good as Alan Shearer, and Steve Bruce is also "one of the best four managers in the world". Now that is delusion of the highest order. Why doesn't he just go the whole hog and claim Titus Bramble has fulfilled his tag as the most promising defender of his generation? Mind you, even Calamity Bramble himself managed to shut out the Spurs and their £30m-worth of attacking talent. Now that is funny.