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Monday, September 3, 2012
Van Persie's spot of bother, Carroll singing

The Fifth Official

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.

Rubbish Van Penalty

It's a good job Robin van Persie scored a match-winning hat-trick at Southampton because had his preposterous Panenka cost Manchester United all three points he might never have heard the end of it. You might think being the Premier League's most lethal marksman affords you the right to attempt something so classy that only Andrea Pirlo can pull it off. But it doesn't. It really, really doesn't. Quite why RVP (Really Vacuous Panenka) thought it was the right time to crack out such an arrogant manoeuvre is beyond me, but after his dink had been swatted to safety by a lunging Kelvin Davis, Old Trafford's new sweetheart was stunned into action, scoring twice more and reacting with glee when he learnt that some referees allow Manchester United to play as much Fergie-time as they need to find a winner. There was no way Fergie was going to lose on his 1000th league game in charge, but poor old Nigel Adkins has now lost all three of his Premier League matches. Twice they have led the titans of Manchester, twice they have lost late on. Encouraging performances yes, but still no points and when you take into account they've had a home game with Wigan among those three, you'll realise why Adkins is starting to look like a worried chap.

Oh, Carroll

He's the ying to Big Sam's yang, the apple to his pear, the long to his ball. Andy Carroll has returned to nuzzle at the warm, quite possibly sweaty, man boobs of Sam Allardyce, and joined up the dots on his theory of how football should be played. Carroll is the muse in Big Sam's football philosophy, even if he still won't admit to himself that he is an exponent of the long ball game. Wanted, played, involved are not things the big ponytailed lump has been since he was choppered into Anfield aboard Mike Ashley's helicopter seemingly eons ago. It was a nostalgic sight, seeing the lad who likes a pint chuck himself about like he was trying to break up a fight in the Bigg Market, and offering Brede Hangeland outside every time the ball came near him. Two partial assists were reward for the sort of showing Liverpool could have had if they'd wanted, but chose not to. But, of course, there is always an element of tragicomedy about Tyneside's totem pole. Seconds before he was due to be substituted he rose for yet another long ball (how long before those notoriously fickle Hammers' fans start moaning this ugly, winning football is at odds with their famous Championship tradition?) tweaked his hammy and now won't be seen for a month. It'll be just like being back at Liverpool for the lad.

Brendan's Rodgered

Carroll may have been dispensed with but Liverpool is still a club confused. They play pretty passing triangles on the pitch and look nice, but singularly fail to procure results. The new gaffer says all the right things (except when it comes to Carroll) but only has one Premier League point to his name, which signifies Liverpool's worst start in over half a century. The brave new dawn is turning into the same old nightmare. Plenty of things have been perplexing me this week. Just what is Liverpool's transfer policy? Where have the shrewd principles of moneyball been parked? John W Henry and his pals seem to have got things arse about face; allowing King Kenny to squander a potentially team-changing windfall on a host of charlatans who are now deemed not fit enough to lace youth team players boots by the chap who has replaced him. In this window Liverpool have seemed hell bent on weakening themselves in pretty much every department and must now encase the profligate Luis Suarez in padded gear to make sure he doesn't miss any games, a gag for his loose gob might be a decent idea too - not that he is contributing much anyway. Oh, and Arsenal played pretty well didn't they? But you don't tune in for that sort of nicey nicey chat do you?


Tottenham's fans are never happier than when they've something to grumble about so they'll be as delirious as pigs in poop after an especially underwhelming start to the season. Boos rang out at half-time and full-time as AVB's headless chickens took just their second point of the campaign when faced with what should have been a home banker against Norwich. Perhaps it not surprising they played as if they are strangers because, essentially, they are. Daniel Levy has a unique approach to the transfer window, when he seems to think he transcends into some negotiating God who actually believes that when he immerses himself in water he doesn't get wet, the water gets Daniel Levy. Or that death once had a near Daniel Levy experience. Already AVB has that embattled look he sported during his miserable time in charge of Chelsea and if he thought Tottenham's fans might be a tad more forgiving, he'll have long forgotten that idea. The Portuguese does like an overhaul doesn't he, shipping so many players out of the club that he could almost have hired a charter flight to ship them all off. Do you know what he reminds me of? A young Juande Ramos.

Captain Fletcher

What a bargain Steven Fletcher looks at 14 million. I always knew he had it in him. Two goals on debut is not a bad way to start repaying a fee that pretty much everyone in the land must have thought was ridiculous. Apart from Wolves, who just thought it was hilarious. But spare a thought for those who didn't get their dream move to Stoke like Charlie Adam, or a six-month loan stint with Everton. There are some out there left on the shelf, unloved, unwanted and without that extortionate signing on fee. Despite being free, poor old Michael Owen didn't manage to find a club, even though he tweeted frantically during the day to remind people he was still in the shop window. His demands aren't too great I'm sure. He just wants about 100,000-a-week, plenty of time off to watch his horses run around and to play for a Premier League club within a 14 miles radius of his house. Liverpool perhaps? Don't laugh, it might just happen. Don't forget, you can help The Fifth Official's bid to attract more followers on Twitter than Leon Knight at

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