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Review of the week

Chris Charles | 10:15 UK time, Thursday, 23 April 2009

Over the space of a crazy few days, English football has witnessed more fours than a Twenty20 over - and there was me thinking three was the magic number.

You wait ages for an eight-goal thriller and two come along at once - just like the proverbial London bus, in fact - which could also be used to describe Liverpool's defence at the moment. Big, red and decidedly wobbly.

The writing looks on the wall for the Merseysiders, and although Rafa Benitez is refusing to throw in the towel, it appears the fat lady has already sung - and been watched by 100m people on YouTube to boot. (Sorry, Susan, that was a bit of a cheap shot - love you madly really.)

If they gave out trophies for entertainment, the Premier League's top scorers would have to order a new cabinet, but the cold hard stats don't make pretty reading for Liverpool fans. Two games, eight goals, one point and the knowledge that unless Manchester United have a bigger dip than Brian Jacks on Superstars (one for the older readers there) they are going to finish the season potless.

If they do end up with nothing, the Reds will take scant consolation in knowing they took part in two of the most exciting games ever - any more matches like that and the club will be slipping valium prescriptions into the season ticket envelopes. And the same applies to their respective opponents, Chelsea and Arsenal, who both experienced their second 4-4 draw in the last year or so.
Andrey Arshavin celebrates his fourth goal against Liverpool
How Chelsea could have done with an Andrey Arshavin after leaving their shooting boots behind when they hosted Everton for an FA Cup final dress rehearsal on Wednesday. Meanwhile Manchester United got over their Wembley defeat by cruising to victory against Portsmouth - all of which will have been music to the ears of Sir Alex Ferguson.

The old rascal was at it again by claiming an 'arrogant' Benitez had used 'game over' signals during the defeat of Blackburn to disrespect Sam Allardyce. Surely the Rovers boss is big enough to fight his own battles (and probably a few other people's too) but like flies around a sleeping cow, Fergie and Rafa just won't let it lie.

Never mind The Damned United, you could make a movie out of the pair's bitchings this season ('Ben Fer' has a certain ring to it), while Ferguson's previous enemies Arsene Wenger and Ramon Calderon have been cast aside like the uncool kids in school.

But that could all change next week when United face Arsenal in the first of their Champions League double-header - 'The return of Strop Idol ' as one tabloid journalist put it.

Wenger has been in the unusual position of being a peripheral figure in the Premier League's personality stakes, even resorting to a spot of Dad-dancing in the game with Villarreal to get himself on the back pages.

Yet once again he was outsmarted by the Big Two as Rafa was spotted wearing a pair of novelty socks in the dugout and Fergie stomped around the troubled Wembley surface with all the maturity of a Teletubby when a penalty decision went against his team. In fact at one stage he went so purple I actually thought he was going to turn into Tinky Winky.

Incidentally, after the much-vaunted criticism of the hallowed turf, what's the betting the groundsman will approach the Wembley bigwigs after the U2 gigs and plead with them to 'hack my pitch up'?

In other news, David Beckham was involved in a tug-of-war between AC Milan and Tottenham, depending on which paper you read. Some reports suggested Milan were desperate to bring the former England captain back in January, while others claimed Harry Redknapp was preparing to make a swoop.

Meanwhile, the man himself was keeping busy by dressing up as The Terminator for his latest advertising campaign. I'm not a betting man (at least that's the line if you ever meet my other half), but if I were to have a few quid, I'd bank on Becks telling the Rossoneri "I'll be back" when he heads off to LA in the summer.

Redknapp, never short of a story, recounted a tale this week of his days at Bournemouth when they signed a player from Jersey who nobody had ever heard of, on the basis that he brought over a box of tomatoes for the manager, John Bond, at a time when the salad favourites (I'm not getting into the fruit/vegetable debate) were in short supply.
Harry Redknapp
Look and learn, David Bentley - bring in a nice dollop of pie and mash and a crate of jellied eels to training on Friday and you'll be off the bench quicker than you can say 'Gaw blimey, love a duck'. I saw Bentley (at least I think it was him) in Islington's Hope and Anchor on Monday night. I'm happy to report he was sticking to soft drinks, although if the boss keeps leaving him out, Bentley might be using the pub's name as rhyming slang if you catch my drift.

Redknapp was praised as the best English manager in the game after hauling Spurs off the bottom and into contention for a European place. No mean feat given people genuinely thought Tottenham were on the way to the Championship before his arrival - a predicament that spawned a whole host of gags; 'Juande Ramos deliberately got caught speeding the other day, he'll do anything for three points' being my favourite.

Now it's Newcastle who have taken on that unfortunate mantle, with this the latest joke doing the rounds: "What's the difference between Alan Shearer and Newcastle United? Alan Shearer will be on Match of the Day next season."

Shearer is apparently considering returning bad boy Joey Barton to the line-up for the final five games and the midfielder was in yet more trouble after being caught on a train without a ticket. One 'witness' told The Sun: "Given his reputation it was par for the course - the only thing that surprised me was he was reading a book!" 'How to Lose Friends and Alienate People' perhaps?

And finally, story of the week concerned the Bolivian physio who secretly doctored his players' drinks with Viagra to 'oxgenate their blood'. There's all manner of dodgy innuendos I could follow that up with but as I don't think my family would take kindly to me being sacked in the current climate, I'd better not. Suffice to say he was probably hoping for an improved performance up front.

P.S. Apologies for not replying to any of your comments last week - I was up in Manchester on a 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' recce mission (BBC Sport are moving up there in 2011), from which I returned with more questions than answers.

One answer I can give was to those of you who didn't get the Robbie Blake spoonerism reference and to 'RedandBlack' who wasn't sure what a spoonerism (or should that be roonerspism?) was. I should have explained that the Burnley striker becomes Blobby Rake if you twist his name around, although it's fair to say the person who recalled Kenny Lunt blew my suggestion to pieces.


Player attempts to jump on team-mate to celebrate a goal - and misses
Villarreal coach falls off his chair at The Emirates
Beckham as Terminator
Dog interrupts match in Lithuania

(Courtesy of Off The Post football blog)


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