THE WEEK THAT WAS

Darren Bent goes through the keyhole

November 26, 2009
(Archive)

This was the week in which Thierry Henry and Wigan made public gestures, Eric Cantona and Arsene Wenger got angry and Darren Bent gave us an exclusive insight into the "strange" mind of Fraizer Campbell.

Henry demands a replay, sort of - Friday, November 20

Thierry Henry
GettyImagesThierry Henry: All apologies?

Thierry Henry rescued his reputation from irreparable damage by magnanimously calling for a replay of the game between Ireland and France. The only problem being that FIFA had already ruled out such an eventuality a few hours earlier. Talk about 'horse' and 'bolted'. Still though, good effort Thierry, no doubt the Irish nation have forgiven you.

"Naturally I feel embarrassed at the way that we won and feel extremely sorry for the Irish who definitely deserve to be in South Africa," said a contrite Henry. "Of course the fairest solution would be to replay the game but it is not in my control.''

In light of this gesture, The Week That Was would like to take the opportunity to demand a replay of the 1986 quarter-final that witnessed Diego Maradona's handball, call for video technology to settle the 1966 'did it cross the line debate' and impress on Henry VIII the need to retract the execution of two of his wives. And in a seamless, and not at all contrived segue...

King Eric calls for Domenech's head - Saturday, November 21

Eric Cantona weighed in on the great Henry debate with a few choice words for his countryman, as well as France coach Raymond Domenech. Clearly unimpressed with Domenech's record, Cantona - whose coaching credentials include managing the French beach soccer side in Minehead's Butlins resort in May - said, with a characteristically dramatic flourish: "I think that Raymond Domenech is the worst coach in French football since Louis XVI." The monarch being the man executed following the French Revolution of 1789 of course.

After advocating a public beheading for Domenech, albeit in a roundabout way, Henry did not escape criticism either, with Cantona exclaiming: "What shocked me most wasn't the handball, honestly. What shocked me most was that at the end of the match, in front of the television cameras, this player (Henry) went and sat down next to an Irish player to console him, even though he'd screwed them three minutes earlier. If I'd been Irish, he wouldn't have lasted three seconds."

Just think, if things had been different it could have been hurling spectators fearing a swift Kung Fu kick to the chops.

Zaki controversy - Sunday, November 22

A disclaimer: There is no comic value in this snippet, just general bemusement. Amr Zaki, for some bizarre reason, chose to disclose to his personal website his suspect reasons for deciding against a move to Portsmouth.

"I refused their offer before, but now joining Portsmouth is no longer an option for me," Zaki wrote. "After Portsmouth signed an Israeli player and also hired an Israeli football director a possible move was ruled out. On top of that, no way could I play at Portsmouth with an Algerian within in their ranks."

So to the list that reads 'inconsistent, unprofessional and poor timekeeping', add 'intolerant' to the collection of reasons not to sign the Zamalek striker.

Wigan's damage limitation exercise- Monday, November 23

Wigan's playing staff were so ashamed by their 9-1 humbling at the home of Tottenham Hotspur (and rightly so) that the playing staff kindly agreed to reimburse every fan who attended the game. Now let's take the Telegraph's stated figure of 400 fans, and average out the ticket price at £40, and that makes the damage somewhere in the region of £16,000. In other words, about as much as Paul Scharner spends on hair treatment in a year. As gestures go, it was in the Thierry Henry league.

"We feel that as a group of players we badly let down our supporters yesterday (Sunday), and this is a gesture we have to make and pay them back for their tremendous loyalty," an embarrassed Mario Melchiot told the club's official website.

All well and good, but a dangerous precedent has been set. What happens if they lose heavily at home to Sunderland on Saturday. Will Melchiot and the boys be reimbursing the 17,000-odd that turn up at the DW Stadium?

Arsene turns the air blue - Tuesday, November 24

The Week That Was has always viewed Arsene Wenger as an upstanding moral crusader, ready to tackle football's ills for the good of the game. Albeit one that suffers from the occasional bout of myopia. But the Frenchman shattered any illusions about his good nature this week when indulging in an expletive-filled rant at the media in his press conference.

In fairness, having to face Fleet Street's 'finest' week in, week out would be enough to test anyone's patience, but Wenger finally snapped when asked yet again about Theo Walcott's World Cup prospects, channelling the spirit of Joe Kinnear in a rare outburst.

"For f*** sake, the World Cup is in June. Is he on holiday until June 9?" Wenger asked the assembled journalists. "You cannot be serious? He's paid by Arsenal every week to perform. And well paid. A guy who wins with his club then goes to the World Cup, has a good chance to win. Players are not afraid of you if you do f*** all the whole season."

Bruce denies 'dodgy' signings - Wednesday, November 25

In an unashamedly blatant attempt to deflect criticism away from his own team following that 9-1 loss at White Hart Lane, Wigan chairman Dave Whelan remarkably tried to pin the blame for the result on former manager Steve Bruce for making some "dodgy" signings.

Whelan's poorly executed PR stunt was the most transparent and embarrassing piece of blame transference since Sir Alex Ferguson declared that grey shirts were at fault for Manchester United's 3-1 defeat to Southampton in 1996. Unsurprisingly, Bruce took the opportunity to reply on Wednesday.

"I know that he [Whelan] was in Barbados at the time, so maybe he'd had one or two glasses of white wine when he made the remarks. I could respond, but I'm not going to because I don't want it to blow up into something it doesn't have to be," Bruce said, before going on to respond. "I'm not going to get embroiled in that sort of stuff, but he knows the decent job I did for him. If Wigan want to offload those two [Hugo Rodallega and Charles N'Zogbia], then we'll be happy to take them."

Darren Bent goes through the keyhole - Thursday, November 26

Watching footballers on Cribs is always a depressing prospect. With their untouched dining rooms, 30'' rims on their hummers and extravagant collection of lamps, they represent everything that is wrong with modern society and the cult of consumption. Thank goodness, then, for Sunderland striker Fraizer Campbell.

Darren Bent
GettyImagesDarren Bent and Fraizer Campbell in tandem for Sunderland

Our insight into Campbell's domestic bliss comes courtesy of team-mate Darren Bent, who has practiced his best Lloyd Grossman accent to ask "Who would live in a house like this?" Posting on his Twitter account, Bent (aka @DBTheTruth) has taken a couple of snaps on a tour of Casa Campbell and the results are surprising, to say the least.

In the first update, Bent asks: "Can't believe fraizer campbell has newspapers for curtains what's going on." The coup de grace, though, comes with "And I just found this in his house. What a strange dude." Strange indeed. It's the most unnerving representation of the human head since this (real) photofit of a Bolivian murder.