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Review of the week

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Chris Charles | 13:59 UK time, Friday, 18 December 2009

Snow on the ground, reports of a secret Christmas party, Rage Against The Machine heading for their traditional Christmas number one - yep, it's finally beginning to feel festive.

As I hit the sack on Thursday night, I felt sure I'd be awoken by 6am shouts of 'Daddy, can we build a snowman?!' but alas the predicted overnight flurries failed to materialise and I was left trying to answer a few awkward questions, all beginning with the word 'Why?'

Although perhaps not as awkward as the atmosphere at Tottenham's training ground, following allegations in The Sun that a few of the players had flown to Dublin for a knees-up, cunningly disguised as a golf trip.

Not surprisingly, the story was peppered with words like 'shame', 'wild' and 'embarrassment' - despite there being no suggestions of any impropriety during the "audacious plot planned with military precision".

On Friday, Harry Redknapp was quoted as saying: "I don't think my players would take the liberty of having (a Christmas party) without asking me first" - two days after they got back from their alleged jolly.
Paul HartPaul Hart is the latest arrival at Loftus Road
Harry's clearly not a fan of the drinking culture but my favourite comment of his on the subject came earlier this year when he said: "If you have to get drunk, you shouldn't be drinking." How else are you supposed to do it?

If you want a proper chuckle, come on down to Loftus Road - home of the ex-factor. I've got nothing against Paul Hart but I wasn't exactly doing cartwheels when I heard the news that he'd become our ninth boss in two years.

I'm going to stick my neck out and say he will still be in charge come Christmas - although I wouldn't put my mortgage on it. In the meantime I'll do what I do every few months and give the new man my full support - after all, a good Hart these days is hard to find.

Over in the Premier League, the top dogs were behaving like they'd been asked to dance by a woman with a face like a blind cobbler's thumb. After you. No, after you.

First you had Chelsea being held at home by Everton, only for Manchester United to slip up against Villa. Arsenal then closed the gap by beating Liverpool, but couldn't repeat the trick at Burnley as the top two returned to winning ways.

The most controversial result of the week involved United's 3-0 defeat of Wolves reserves, as Mick McCarthy rang more changes than a campanology workshop. McCarthy insisted he was doing it for the good of the club, although the chants of "we want our money back" from the travelling faithful suggested the fans thought otherwise.

Sir Alex Ferguson was predictably quick to back McCarthy - and you can bet he would have been just as gracious had Mick tried the same trick against Chelsea. While if Arsenal had left Turf Moor with all three points, would Arsene Wenger have even given the matter a second thought? I think that's what they call a rhetorical question.

To complete a topsy-turvy week, Liverpool did the unthinkable and actually WON. Yes it was 'only' Wigan and yes they still gave themselves a late scare, but win they did - and I'd like to add my personal thanks as it has visibly eased the tension in our flat. At least one of our teams finally has something to smile about.

Rafa Benitez, to his credit, has kept his pecker up throughout the mini-crisis and while his insistence after every setback that 'the season starts here' began to resemble a stand-up routine, he laid his cards firmly on the table on Wednesday when he 'guaranteed' Liverpool would finish in the top four. And as we all know, Rafa deals only in Facts.

Let's hope for his sake that it doesn't come back to bite him - a thought that may have crossed Wayne Rooney's mind when he earned a yellow card for tumbling to the ground against Villa, after being taken out by an imaginary forcefield. In September this year, you may remember, he stated: "I have never intentionally tried to dive."

But it was all smiles for team-mate Ryan Giggs, albeit nervous ones, as he was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

The 36-year-old looked as comfortable as a vegetarian in a kebab shop as he muttered his thanks, and while you could argue the award was more a reflection of his lifetime achievements, in this age of the pampered, preening player, it was nice to hear a bit of genuine humility.

Meanwhile Giggsy's former team-mate Phil Neville admitted he was enjoying the high life as he talked about his luxury apartment one floor from the top of Manchester's 554ft Beetham Tower. "On our first Christmas here we looked out and we were above the clouds - amazing," he drooled.
Phil Neville Phil Neville
All well and good, but it's a hell of a round-trip if you want to take your kids for a kickabout. And it's certainly a step up from Nev's last place but I bet he's secretly missing the Versace kitchen and those monogrammed gates.

Talking of class, nice comment from Carlton Cole, who revealed he used to smuggle in tomato sauce to England gatherings because the pasta menu dreamed up by Fabio Capello was too bland. Perhaps not the best timing as the boss mulls over his World Cup squad - if I were a betting man I'd say Carlton has had his chips.

The West Ham striker has scored some spectacular goals in his time but even he is unlikely to get close to the stunner from Maynor Figueroa for Wigan at Stoke. The Honduran defender's free-kick flew in from fully 60 yards and already looks to have the goal of the season award in his sky rocket.

Headline of the week came from the New of the World's exclusive back-page splash about a group of 'Far-East businessmen' putting together a billion-dollar bid to buy Manchester United. 'Chinese Takeaway' screamed the banner, but it was only once you'd got a few paragraphs in that the paper revealed the alleged consortium were actually based in...Bangkok.

Name of the week came with the news that Wigan were running the rule over Chilean striker Waldo Ponce, while the story of the week had to be the parrot owned by Wayne Rooney's in-laws. Apparently the Manchester United striker taught the African Grey to repeat his son's name, Kai Wayne Rooney, and now it won't say anything else.

'A pal' said: "It's driving everybody around the bend. No-one knows how to stop it." Sounds like a case for the Monty Python team.


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