Monday, January 26, 2009
ESPNsoccernet: January 28, 5:38 PM UK
The last look at the weekend
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 five-star weekend.
Swansea sail past parlous Pompey
I'm almost starting to feel sorry for Tony Adams, which is reason enough for his sacking. Whenever a harsh observer with a heart as black as a pint of espresso, like one's self, starts feeling sympathy for a well remunerated Premier League buffoon such as him, things must be bad.
In fact, this was probably a good exercise for Pompey - testing themselves against a well drilled and functional mid-table Championship outfit - because they'll be playing plenty of teams like that next year.
Roberto Martinez was the latest mind to outwit a scarily incompetent Adams Family management team. It probably didn't take much mind you - given the parlous state Pompey are in he could have worked out his tactics ten minutes before kick-off on the back of a pack of matches and still come up with an eminently more potent plan of attack than bumbling Adams.
Big Tone's day of reckoning is surely fast approaching. Wednesday anyone?
Another derby? Do we have to?
I don't know about you but I couldn't have been more under-whelmed by the two Merseyside derbies we had the misfortune to sit through this week. Monday's Premier League encounter was bad enough, but Sunday's Cup tie was abysmal.
And before you write this off as yet another Fifth Official rant it's not just me remarking on Liverpool's limp and lifeless attacking enterprise. Liverpool were ''nowhere going forward without Gerrard,'' said former Kop idol Steve McManaman, adding ''I don't want to think about it,'' when asked where Liverpool would be without their talismanic skipper. They looked ''ordinary'' when Gerrard wasn't on the ball added Gary Speed.
Craig Bellamy may have added Liverpool to his extensive list of former clubs but his place as repugnant weasel has been filled by Javier Mascherano. In a despicable 30-second episode he dived theatrically when Tim Cahill barely brushed his shirt, then while lying prostrate on the floor, urged Bennett to give the Everton makeshift striker a second yellow card. Reprehensible conduct.
Liverpool still haven't won since Rafa did a Keegan, he's stalling over a new contract, the owners are skint and won't have been pleased to note their £20million signing, Robbie Keane, didn't even make the squad. Crisis? What crisis?
Redknapp rages - Fergie fumes
You can't switch on the box or read a paper these days without stumbling across another 'Arry Redknapp rant. After blowing his top post-Burnley when he stated he'd be fielding his ''weakest team'' possible at Old Trafford in the FA Cup, he then pointed the ire-beam that protrudes from his dangly jowls at TV pundits Teddy Sheringham and Andy Townsend for accusing his side of ''not trying''.
Not that Redknapp was alone in firing barbs at the press. Fergie confirmed The Sun would be the latest to be banned from his press conferences for the foreseeable after their ''scandalous'' claim that he was eyeing a long-standing FA loophole which allows clubs to avoid Cup replays if they both agree in advance. "I don't know what we do about these people,'' sniped Sir Alex, ominously, while simultaneously bashing out a text to 'Hit men R Us'.
As it was, Redknapp was true to his word on Saturday and did field his weakest team. Modric was included, Bentley started, Bale was there. Ithankyou.
Bellamy swerves hanging
Hartlepool's brave FA Cup run came to an end after Premier League lowlights West Ham did a thoroughly professional job on them (albeit with the help of a clearly bog-eyed referee and linesman). But things might have been very different had Craig Bellamy not joined Manchester City in the week.
That's because, as explained in TFO on January 5th, Hartlepool have history when it comes to cheeky little monkey's. Back in the Napoleonic war a monkey was washed ashore after a French ship wrecked off the coast. The residents, never having seen such a beast before, hung the poor chimp thinking it was a French spy.
If they were scared enough to swing a monkey from a tree by his neck, imagine what they'd have done upon seeing Craig Bellamy - a far more obnoxious, invidious and altogether frustrating character. They'd have skinned him alive and stuck his head on a pole.
There's probably only one Exodus Geohaghon
Kettering Town's epic Cup tie with Fulham was notable for one name that leapt from the team sheet and practically begged to be celebrated in this week's effort; Exodus Geohaghon. I can't help but imagine he's a half Irish, half Jamaican prop-forward or the inspiration for several naff television pilot shows that never saw the light of day like ''Exodus Geohaghan: Evacuation Specialist'' or ''Celebrity Abattoir School with Exodus Geohaghan''.
Sadly he didn't do enough to ink his wonderful name into FA Cup folklore, managing only an own goal and a few Delap-style lobs into the end zone in 90 minutes. His joyous name did conjure up memories of amusingly-titled Cup heroes of the past though, like Roy Essandoh.
He was the chap who was playing for non-league Rushden and Diamonds for free when he answered an SOS posted on the internet from injury hit Wycombe Wanderers in 2001. Wycombe boss Lawrie Sanchez signed him and stuck him on the bench for their FA Cup quarter final with then Premier League side Leicester City.
Essandoh hadn't even had a training session with his new team mates, crikey, he barely knew their names but that didn't stop him coming on in extra time and nodding the goal that secured Wanderers an FA Cup semi-final.
After the game he said: ''It's my first game in the FA Cup and this has happened - if people out there can't believe it imagine how I feel.'' Quite Roy, quite.