Weekend Round-up: Awards
Every week-end (well most weekends) 46 games are played up and down the football league. That's a lot of goals, managers, teams, players, pundits and post-pre-and-during-match quotes to keep up with. The good news? We're here to help, with a weekly awards list highlighting the best (and worst) of the action.
Punditry of the weekend
‘Any sort of touch and he would’ve scored.’
It’s the football cliché that provides the little to ‘he’s hit it too well’s large. Both are clearly horseshit. But, ‘any sort of touch’ often escapes the limelight, primarily because it’s difficult to prove that any sort of touch wouldn’t have done the job, because there was no touch.
I mean we can imagine it, or remember it happening before. We’ve all watched a compilation VHS presented by a former Premier League footballer fallen on hard times and seen that Kanu miss. But on this occasion there was no touch. It’s the ideal pundit-ism. It sounds like you’re saying something, but no-one can ever actually prove you wrong. Let’s call it the Jenas* exemption.
But you’d be drummed out of the pundit-magic circle faster than you can say, ‘good, clean, strike’ if you ever uttered this cliché when there was a touch, surely? Step forward, Matthew Upson, commentating for NBC on Liverpool vs Leicester.
It’s 2-1 Liverpool. Leicester coming back into it. The game in the balance. A cross squirms and deflects its way across to Wes Morgan no more than three yards from goal. Morgan lives up to his reputation, and sort of stumbles into the ball like your dad approaching a bollard on the way back from a school PTA wine-and-cheese evening. He kicks the ball into his other leg, the chance is lost and ultimately the ball’s shepherded behind and out of danger.
Upson, summing up the action, notes that ‘any sort of touch’ from Morgan would have done. Except the Jamaican had already disproven that theory. He touched it. Twice in fact. And yet he did not score. Tear up your pundit membership card, Upson, we’ve had enough of you ruining our tricks.
*For the record, Jenas is good on the radio, but stick a microphone in his face and he becomes dull in inverse proportion to the wackiness of the studio.
Fan of the weekend
Again, a few options here. The kid who hopped the boards into Neymar’s arms. The fans who held up a banner calling the aforementioned Brazilian a crybaby which he proceeded to celebrate in front of. Aston Villa away fans who decided that rather than watch their side go down to Sheffield United they’d engage in some intra-club fisticuffs a la Dyer and Bowyer. More seriously, Celtic fans involved in a crush outside Celtic Park where five were injured, deserve credit for staying calm, and we wish the one person who was taken to hospital a speedy recovery.
But the fans who take the biscuit this week are Plymouth Argyle’s travelling support. If you’ve ever looked at a map, then you’ll understand why that might not be a particularly enjoyable job. If you’ve seen them play this season that won’t have done much to change your impression of the gig. Plymouth Argyle’s fans watched their team lose 3-0 at Portsmouth, capping a run of three successive defeats during which they’ve shipped eleven goals, and then, on the way home to what would presumably be a long-evening of empty-glasses and mournful discussion of tactics and 'heart', their coach caught fire. Like, literally burst into flames. Fortunately, no-one was hurt. But it’s hard to think of a more perfect metaphor for being a fan of a struggling club stranded at the bottom of the league than voluntarily leaving home to make a six-hour, 340-mile trip round-trip, only to find that on the return leg your mode of transport has spontaneously combusted.
Football fans, eh, who’d be one? Well, 49 very angry Devonians are. And we salute them.
Quote of the weekend
Apparently Mourinho has been signing off his texts to Ed Woodward with, 'kisses to the twins'. A kinder, gentler Old-Trafford-internal-politics.
Player of the weekend
Romelu Lukaku. 2 goals. A job saved. A pink shirt rocked. A new dawn?
Manager of the weekend
There were a few contenders for this award this week. Maurizio Sarri for a fourth straight Chelsea win achieved while battling presumably unholy tobacco and seafood risotto withdrawal. Cowley one and Cowley two at Lincoln for a three nil win which keeps them top of League Two and on course for a second promotion in three years. Jose Mourinho saved his job for another week at least. Tony Pulis put on a show so dull that there’s hope for all of us his team won’t be featured again on Sky for the rest of the season, despite their lofty league position. There’s Javi Gracia whose Watford team (tipped for relegation by some lesser members of the commentariat) also won their fourth straight game, beating Tottenham. I, mean, obviously this award should go to Gracia. It’s not close.
But we’re Foul Throw, not Accurate Awards Weekly. So this gong goes to Steve Evans. The Posh manager was sent to the stands at the ABAX Stadium for stepping outside his technical area. To be fair, if I was in a ground that sounds like it’s sponsored by a cartoon-corporation convicted of poisoning people through their radios, I’d probably want to get out of the exact six-foot box I’d been told to stand in too.
But he wasn’t finished. It was in his post-match comments that he really excelled himself, though. According to the Peterborough Telegraph, Evans said, ‘I thought the referee was poor today. He is a poor referee.’ A pause for mourning here please. Then Evans added the clincher, recalling that while he was Mansfield manager, ‘he had given Bond [the ref] a rating of three out of 100.’ Three. Out of one hundred. Bask in its petty specificity. Glory in the absolute absence of context. Congrats, Steve, we’d love to hear your speech.
Team of the weekend
Hard not to go with Watford here. See above re Javi Gracia.