November 27, 2009
There isn’t much that’s less United than the Protestant Work Ethic, and in general, neither should there be. But in the case of Darren Fletcher, I’m prepared to make an exception.
Not content with dominating yet another game and scoring the goal of his life in the process, he followed it up by giving an interview quite brilliant in its terseness. Neither affectation nor nervousness, but the natural demeanour of a serious man and a serious footballer, it was all the more puritanical juxtaposed alongside the bouncing effervescence of Patrice Evra, who aptly referred to him only as “Fletcher”; no first name, no nickname, no messing around.
After riding out a difficult start to his career, Fletcher has developed into a player of genuine excellence. Although as a rule, one should never be surprised by anything, there was a time when this would have seemed utterly unfeasible, even if there'd been a United-branded sword of Thundera on sale in the Megastore.
November 21, 2009
Referee Union head Alan Leighton must be related to ex-United goalie Jim; there’s simply no other explanation as to why he’s continued to prolong the tedium of the Fergie/Wiley saga. Unless, of course, he’s parasiting on someone else’s fame and is hot, breathless and horny from seeing his name in print.
No sooner was the matter closed than Leighton opened it again, publicly speculating as to whether Wiley would sue - a question he’d have been better off discussing with the man himself. He may also have been wise to consult a lawyer, but instead chose to make sure he got in the papers again, at the price of showcasing his ignorance. For a statement to be defamatory - as set out by Lord Atkin in Sim v Stretch, in case anyone’s interested - it must lower the Claimant in the estimation of right-thinking members of society.
So let’s look at the evidence. Fergie apologised, pleased guilty, was punished by an independent body and was the subject of unanimous condemnation. Very clearly, he was the only person lowered in the estimation of anyone, and for his trouble was hit with a hefty fine and touchline ban – a pretty stern punishment for a remark made in the heat of the moment. But still this wasn’t enough for Leighton, wading in yet again lest he be dispatched back to anonymity; expect to see him in the Australian jungle some time in the future, eating live lizards and singing “Take A Look At Me Now”.
November 13, 2009
Fergie clearly doesn't like Radiohead, because if he did, he'd know to leave the karma police to their own devices. Instead, he criticised Alan Wiley's fitness, provoking the inevitable retaliation. "This is what you get when you mess with us" indeed.
Were I to believe in karma, this would be in some way placating, but I don't, so it isn't. That leaves me with coincidence and luck, not enough to fully explain why in games against Liverpool and Chelsea, United have been on the wrong end of almost every decision remotely givable against them. That isn't to say I'm suggesting any kind of collusion - Martin Atkinson is no Edmond Dantes – but neither is it controversial to state that if you continually aggravate people, they will become subconsciously prejudiced against you. If Fergie were on trial, you'd not be finding Brian Hill, David Elleray and Phil Dowd in the jury.
The probable goal and definite penalty Sunday's linesman denied United was enough to make you wonder what the point of them is. In any case, the limitations of human vision mean that giving offside will almost always be a matter of judgment rather than of fact. This doesn't especially bother me, but on behalf of those eager to eliminate human error, you'd think that the technology exists for each player's boot to be fitted with a sensor, linked to a receiver on the touchline able to tell us definitively what it and isn't offside.
November 6, 2009
When I was a lad, it was generally held that the most inappropriate behaviour imaginable was sex with the rabbi’s wife over the synagogue reading desk - at least until someone threw wee over the bloke leading the service. But then this week, Harry Redknapp decided it was his place to dispense instruction as to what constitutes acceptable behaviour.
Anyway, I’ll get to that presently, but let’s deal with the football first. Luckily I got stuck in traffic on my way home to watch the Blackburn game, so that by the time I got there I had a fair bit of juice saved up on Sky+, the double speed making the carelessly slow start less painful than for those watching in real time. Although the win was routine in the end, the incredibly poor quality of the set-pieces was even more annoying than usual – perhaps United should replace Micky Phelan with Quentin Tarantino.
Also this week we’ve seen another couple of promising shows from Obertan, encouragingly looking to play around defenders, and not just from the touchline. The upside of this upside is that it should facilitate the binning of Nani. He may never have had a proper run in the team, but neither has he earned one, and he’ll never be good enough to attain the level of performance required to obscure his cheating, truculence and perpetually indignant expression. As frustrating as a pair of rubber pants, I doubt there’d be a single person mithered if he left and plenty who’d happily give him a boot in the right direction.