After a truly splendid winter break, I’m delighted to be back every week providing you all with an irreverent look at the weekend’s football, here on 7Canto….wait, what?
“Talk of The Devils”?! What the bleeding….when did this….were my legal team consulted?!
Fear not though friends – new website and new design it may be, but when it comes to this column its same writer, same column title, same format, same terrible jokes. So what’s been happening this week in football then?
I don’t know about anyone else but I love the build-up to Manchester United v Liverpool games – far more than I enjoy the actual games themselves, funnily enough. This past week has been no different, with plenty of nonsense flying around as both managers & sets of supporters try to get one over their counterparts before the duel itself. It’s all very silly, but it is entertaining, particularly when it revolves around a Mr Howard Webb.
As soon as Webb was announced as the referee for the big match, the fun and games started. The Scousers were incandescent with rage – flinging around Photoshops of the slaphead wearing a United shirt, whining about a penalty decision he gave against them two years, four months and six days ago, including him in the United starting XI (XII, technically) and just generally seething that the FA had the nerve to appoint their best and most experienced referee for the biggest game in English football. The cheek! Quite frankly, I’ve never really understood the “Webb conspiracy” stuff. I did hear once that former referee Dermot Gallagher supports United, but Webb comes from Rotherham and considering that every United supporter comes from London/Cornwall/Ireland/Japan (pick your own favourite) it doesn’t really wash that he grew up as a Red with posters of Bryan Robson on his bedroom walls and that this whole shebang is a glorious MUFC created conspiracy. Still, what do I know?
What I do know is that Webb’s performance yesterday was a damn sight better than United’s second half display was. 2-0 up and cruising was suddenly 2-1 and nervy after Rafael decided to have a little snooze and letting Sturridge in to score uncontested. Can you remember a more nervous last 20 minutes at Old Trafford? There was the 1-0 win over Barcelona, and last season’s 1-0 win over Fulham was particularly tense, but when considering the magnitude of the match and the opposition this had to be the biggest “cloth toucher” I can remember. Nevertheless, a win is a win, and Rafael’s error has already been forgotten, swallowed up in the sweetness of the three points against Liverpool and the Monday morning gloating in offices all over the country. Lucky boy.
So the onus was then on Manchester City away at Arsenal. The lead was ten points though it wasn’t for long, as the other Super Sunday referee, Mike Dean, decided he wanted to hog the spotlight for once. To be fair to Mr Dean, I think he got the big decision right – penalty and red card – but it didn’t half suck the fun out of the game. He’s good at that though, Dean. I get the feeling just by looking at him that he goes round stamping on balloons, sneering at kids with face paint on and just generally draining the soul out of other people’s lives. Far be it for me to compare Mike Dean with a Dementor from the Harry Potter series, but you do get the feeling that the only enjoyment he gets from life is seeing rules adhered to, being able to whinge about “common sense not being common enough” and perhaps sitting in his favourite seat with a glass of Port and a Downton Abbey DVD, his loyal dog Ronald not allowed on the sofa thank you very much.
Anyway, that’s enough nonsense from me for now. It’s good to be back. See you all next week nerds!