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Monday, October 8, 2012
Pardew's eight-year itch

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. The eight-year itch It might be an idea if Alan "I beg your" Pardew spends the first few months of his bumper new eight-year deal at the soon-to-be-named Wonga Stadium (this is not a joke) instructing his players how to defend set pieces properly, given the ease with which Manchester United punished them in the opening ten minutes of their Sunday afternoon scrap. Such was Newcastle's complete disdain for the principles of getting touch-tight to their men that the diminutive Patrice Evra even stole in to notch a rare Premier League goal. By the time Mike Ashley had taken his reinforced seat in the stands, the game was done and dusted and Chieck Tiote was displaying the sort of frustration shown by his doppelganer BA Baracus after realising that he'd been drugged and taken on yet another aeroplane. Tom Cleverley added gloss with a third, and then displayed, in his post-match interview, why a more fitting surname for him would be Thickerley. Asked whether he was attempting to score or cross for Robin van Persie, he insisted he had meant to lob Steve Harper. The only trouble was that he followed up that affirmation with this line: "Whether it's a good cross or a good finish, luckily it found the net." Indeed, the only sour note for Fergie was a flailing arm from RVP, directed into Yohan Cabaye's mouth. Remember RVP's row with Tim Krul last season? Strange things happen to the striker the further north he goes. God forbid that he ever moves to the SPL. A breath of wind So, who's going to be? Gareth Bale or Luis Suarez? Both are deserving of the mantle, given their extraordinary efforts this weekend, and with very little to separate them perhaps the only fair way to accurately judge their dive of the season contest is to have Tom Daley pitchside holding up marks out of ten every time they fling themselves to the turf. Shameful play-acting seems to follow Tony Pulis around at the moment. If it isn't Oscar or Branislav Ivanovic, it is Suarez, the boy who doesn't just cry wolf but eats, sleeps and drinks wolf. Suarez is more wolf than Kevin Costner at this point. Yes, he did take a boot in the chest from Robert Huth, but he more than got his own back with a forearm to the face moments later. But Suarez might not even be able to lay claim to dive of the weekend after the latest in a fine series of Bale efforts. Despite Brad Guzan charging out to meet him, the gap between the pair of them was so big you could have got three James Cordens between them. Though he knew he hadn't been touched, Bale still appealed for the foul and, presumably, a red card to follow, too. Shameful. #BUNCHOFTWEETS Oh, Ashley. Ashley, Ashley, Ashley. Whoever said that Twitter and the world's most argnorant (that's a mix of ignorant and arrogant) footballer wouldn't mix were clearly wrong. Obviously, a billboard warning that 'Loose tweets sink fleets' wasn't posted at Chelsea's training ground. Roman should buy one immediately, as well as another sign that reads 'No firearms or air rifles', and pin them both above Ashley's locker. It is the latest chapter in an increasingly hefty almanac for one of the Premier League's most alarmingly out-of-touch footballers. Don't forget, this is the man who nearly caused a motorway pile-up due to his outrage at being offered a paltry 55,000 a week by Arsenal. He is not a chap you could parachute into a spit and sawdust London boozer and expect to mix seamlessly with the common man. It is fitting that Cole's outburst came on Twitter, because the avalanche of #bants it unleashed was a joy to behold. Of all the tweets, one supposedly by Emmanuel Eboue was hard to beat: "Mr Ashley Cole, you lie to Cheryl Cole, you lie to Wenger, you lie to the Ferdinands, you lie to the FA. You should be titled the #UKliar." But undoubtedly brilliant as that is, my personal favourite was this: "I don't see why there's such a fuss about Ashley Cole. I mean, it's not like he shot anyone, is it?" To prove he'd learned his lesson, Cashley then had a pop at Alan Shearer, who had suggested that he should be banned for England's game with San Marino on Friday. Can't beat a fast learner, eh? Look Hughes struggling It's fair to say Mark Hughes wasn't the most likeable chap in the world even before he attempted to defend Carlos Tevez's refusal to come off the bench for Manchester City last season, and his popularity around the W12 region of London is currently sinking to levels previously reserved for Joey Barton and John Terry. Two defeats in six days have cemented QPR's place at the foot of the Premier League and have Tony Fernandes's podgy finger hovering over the flashing red button that instantly drops Hughes into a vat filled with ill-tempered seabass. It's not that he hasn't got good players at his disposal - well, if you discount his entire defence - it's just that he seems unable to mould them into a unit capable of winning. All the while, 'Arry Redknapp is lurking in the background like a joker trying to pull a funny face in a tourist's photo. With QPR bottom on just two points, the wheeler dealer is ready to ride to the rescue like he did at Spurs 2008 - and I'm sure that if he does, and turns their fortunes around, he'll hardly mention that fact. You can almost hear 'Arry salivating at the mileage claims he can make from commuting from his home in Dorset. Yep, there is no denying it, as one jape put it, Rangers are 'Redknapp ready'. Mario's tunnel vision It's been a quiet start to the season for the Premier League's chief circus clown, Super Mario. No goals in six league games and not even a yellow or red card. But just before the stats lead you to think he's committed himself to a more demure, low-profile lifestyle, he goes and throws a tunnel wobbly after being substituted in the home clash with Sunderland. Having done very little in 55 minutes of action in what was a routine home win - apart from lose out to Aleksandar Kolarov in an arm-wrestle to take a free kick - Roberto Mancini hauled him off for Sergio Aguero, who promptly scored within five minutes. Mario marched straight down the tunnel, without so much as a look at the bench. Admittedly, it's not quite up there with setting fire to your own house, throwing darts at youth team players out of a training ground window, backheeling an opponent in the head, gatecrashing a press conference at Inter, failing to put a training bib on properly, crashing your car, wearing a stupid chicken hat or being arrested for having a look around the grounds of a women's prison, but at least we know he's still got it in him. 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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