Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Substandard Sunday: Weekend Observations 14th - 15th January 2011: Part Two

Part One Here

On Sunday the stage was set. Girlfriends up and down the country despaired as Sky Sports were about to serve up a veritable feast of football with three back-to-back Premier League matches followed by matches featuring the big two in La Liga. Of course, in the final game, Barcelona didn't disappoint but by that stage, many were probably wondering why they bothered as the day produced stalemate after stalemate. 'Super Sunday' turned into the 'Day of the Draw' – not a good outcome for Sky and all their excessive hype. As former Norwich striker Darren Huckerby observed on Twitter, the Feast of football was more like a bargain bucket.

The 'starter' was served up in the form of a typically frantic second-city derby. There was actually very little to observe in Birmingham and Aston Villa's 1-1 draw. However, despite being technically poor and pretty much making a mockery of the claim of the Premier League being the bestest league in the world ever, it was still weirdly entertaining as both sides were desperate for a win to pull them away from the bottom of the table. That and the bragging rights of the West Midlands. I maintain that Villa are a far better side that they are currently showing but unless they start getting results the once unthinkable scenario of Championship football could yet be a reality. Perhaps the reported interest in Darren Bent and his goals could help them in their quest.

This may well be the most bizarre transfer of the season. So many questions are being asked. When the story broke and I text my housemate - a supporter of niether club - he furiously replied and demanded to know how Villa could afford to pay £18-£24 million and why the hell they would spend it all on Bent!?

On the other side of that coin, why would the England striker currently playing for a Sunderland side that could well be in Europe next season decide to join a relegation threatened Villa side? But alas, I think all of us have long since stopped questioning the logic and reason behind the many, many random decisions in football.

Bent played what may well prove to be his last game for Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby before handing in a transfer request on Monday. Another dour derby that failed to live up to it's billing. Sunderland had themselves an opportunity to close in on the top five but blew it as they were only able to scrape a very fortunate 1-1 draw at home to their Northeast arch rivals. If Bent does go, the Mackems will be more than happy that they still have goal scorer Asamoah Gyan in their ranks.

Following the first two derbies was what many were describing as the most important Merseyside derby... well... since the last one. This particular match took on extra importance because it was the return to Anfield of 'King' Kenny Dalglish meaning we were subjected to what felt like an hour long rendition of the red scousers belting out "You'll Never Walk Alone". I have to say, it made for quite emotional viewing.

Nausea is an emotion, right???

Coincidentally enough, 'The King' left Liverpool two decades ago after drawing a Merseyside derby 4-4. Could his return be just as spectacular? No, not really. The result was the same but the scoreline different. A 2-2 draw proved was just about a fair result for the rivals and fallen giants who can't be even separated in the league right now as they sit in a lowly 13th and 12th respectively – both on 26 points and a just 4 off the drop zone.

Without wanting to dwell too much on Liverpool and the messiah complex they seem to have inherited from Newcastle, an intersting stat shows that the in his first three competitive matches, the much maligned 'Woy' managed two wins and a draw. Kenny's current record: one draw, two defeats. Granted factors such as preseason and transfers need to be taken into account but maybe, just maybe, he isn't quite the saviour the Kop believe him to be.

Nothing sums up the current failings of the two clubs more than the list of goalscorers. Meireles, Distin, Beckford and Kuyt all scoring in the same game? That's Premier League misfits hall of fame right there.

And so to the main course, an intriguing but ultimately disappointing 0-0 draw between two teams fighting it out at the very top of the table. Recently, everyone has been getting a little over-excited about Tottenham and talking about a potential title challenge. In years gone by it would be fair to say that Spurs had something of an inferiority complex against the top sides. The last 12 months however have seen wins over Chelsea, Liverpool, and most importantly for everyone in N17, Arsenal. This weekend, 'arry's boys 'ad their best chance in a while to end what has been an embarrassing run of winless matches against Manchester United stretching back 10 years.

Unfortunately, this Tottenham side who some would argue are on something close to equal footing would United, allowed that meekness of days gone by to take over once again. In contrast to their win at the Emirates, their performance lacked the bottle required for these big games and they never really looked capable of beating the league's pacesetters. Even after United were reduced to 10 men and 'arry threw on Jermaine Defoe, they failed to produce anything of note. Luka Modric is one of those players one could watch all day without getting board and Spurs' creative maestro was pulling all the strings. But he would have been left frustrated by the lack of movement from Peter Crouch up front who managed to be about as useful as an inflatable dartboard.

United once again managed to avoid defeat despite still looking barely above average for the duration. The point took them back to the top of the league above City and Sir Alex will be encouraged by the fact Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have managed to reform the 'sturdy' defensive partnership that provides more protection than a titanium condom. A backline that will most likely see them as Champions again come May. They allowed Tottenham close to nothing on Sunday.

As good as they are in defence, there must surely be a slight worry about the other end of the pitch as Wayne Rooney continues to put in the kind of shocking performances that would see him struggle in League Two right now. At least players at that level know how to complete a five yard pass and trap a ball without it bouncing off them and going out of play. I dont understand the insistence of Sky commentators among others to constantly try and defend his displays and suggesting that he is 'trying to hard'. If he's playing badly, slate him in the same way you would Berbatov or even Cristiano Ronaldo before him. As we saw in South Africa, Rooney is no longer England's golden boy so doesn't need nor deserve the protection from the media.

Sticking with Rooney and failure by 'neutral observers' to take him to task, the striker's appalling behaviour over the course of the match somehow turned out to be even worse than his attempts to play football! When Rafael was rightly given a second yellow card and subsequently sent off for tripping Assou-Ekoto, the scouser was clearly seen on Television mouthing a number of obscenities for which he was rightly booked for. Not that this stopped him however as he continued his sweary monologue when another decision went against him.

Note to Sky: if we can all see Wayne Rooney calling the referee a 'Fucking Wanker' then you must have too. We're not asking you repeat what is said but at the very least comment on the fact that talking to the referee in such a way is unacceptable. It's funny how Sky Sports News are quick to run special features on how many officials at grass roots level are walking away from the game but their commentators refuse to condemn someone like Rooney whose actions directly influence the amateurs and children that take to the field in parks up and down the country every weekend. Ok, Rooney has no obligation to be a role model but when he is acting in such a way that is fundamentally against the spirit of the game, he needs to be reprimanded. What are the authorities doing? If Ryan Babel is fined 10 grand for something that was seen to undermine an official, then Rooney should be facing a similar punishment for a verbal assualt that is potentially more damaging than bad photoshop skills. I don't hold much hope for such a thing happening any time soon though.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well said mate !!!