HOW ABOUT WE SHAKE ON IT?
While Manchester United’s shellacking at the hands of Brentford was undoubtedly the funniest match of the Premier League weekend, the Archbishop Desmond played out between Chelsea and Tottenham at Stamford Bridge certainly made a good case for being the best. But for all the top-drawer entertainment served up by both sets of players in the oppressive London heat, the game was ultimately marred by the kind of post-match scenes no right-minded football fan wants to see.
The kind of scenes on assorted Social Media Disgraces, where fans insulted, questioned the integrity of and occasionally libelled a referee who, a couple of minor oversights aside, had a largely excellent game. The kind of scenes where assorted Social Media Disgraces’ so-called refereeing experts demonstrated their lack of understanding of laws they want imposed rigidly by wailing – incorrectly, as it happens – that Chelsea should have got a free-kick for that Cristian Romero hair-pull on Marc Cucurella. Or that one of Tottenham’s goals should have been ruled out for offside, when they would be outraged if their own team had one chalked off in identical fashion. The kind of scenes that led to – at the time of writing – more than 70,000 tinfoil hat-wearing sheep blindly following a lead set by their team’s manager, signing a petition calling for Anthony Taylor, the official in question, to be forbidden from ever officiating a Chelsea match again. In time they might see the irony of complaining about biased officials, while simultaneously demanding the right to handpick their own favourites, but the early signs suggest today is not that day.
Of course, there were also the kind of post-match scenes every right-minded football fan wants to see; specifically the minor 30-man stramash that ensued when Thomas Tuchel upset Antonio Conte with the intensity and vigour of his post-match handshake. Going for the perfunctory no-look mini-clasp, Conte was rendered apoplectic when Tuchel grabbed his hand, refused to let go and came over all Strictly Jamie Redknapp as he forced the Italian into an unappreciated three-quarter turn while demanding he look him in the eye. Cue bedlam and red cards for both managers that mean they may have to sit out their respective clubs’ next dance routines.
Given time to calm down, the pair played down the shenanigans as they fulfilled their post-match media duties. Tuchel went so far as to raise his shirt-sleeve and flex his biceps for the ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate, while later in the evening, his opposite number made light of the matter on Instagram. However, the German is facing further disciplinary action for suggesting “maybe that would be better” upon being asked if Taylor should be kept away from future Chelsea games. “But we also have VAR to help make the right decisions,” he added, lobbing in another insult but crucially providing a caveat that a good lawyer might just use to get him off the hook.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“You can’t have a tactical plan but then put it in the bin. They are good players and have to take responsibility on the pitch as a team and as individuals, and that’s what we didn’t do. I asked them to play with belief and take responsibility for their performance, and that’s what they didn’t do” – Erik ten Hag picks over the remnants of Brentford’s 4-0 dismantling of his Manchester United before hauling the sorry squad in for extra training.
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“Hang on a minute. Regarding extortionate drinks prices at the London Stadium (Friday’s Fiver), you’re saying that West Ham ‘who don’t operate or profit from the concession stand, are now threatening to sue the footpads in charge if they don’t drop their prices in time for their next home match’. Surely that’s the only thing from which they don’t profit? Taxpayers pay £14.5m for new seating, plus another £5m a year for stewarding, while the club only pay £3m a year in rent. So I’d suggest the owners can afford to dip into their deep pockets and treat all their fans to limitless drinks” – Christian Goldsmith.
“It is not often that one reads constructive criticism on the advertising boards during a game, but during Brentford’s quite wonderful annihilation of Manchester United on Saturday, there was an advert for a company offering skip hire and rubbish clearance. Great marketing as clearly Harry Maguire and David de Gea were being personally targeted” – Nigel Sanders.
“It’s obviously very easy to mock bottom-of-the-table Manchester United, although having said that it’s clearly no reason not to, but can we not look at the positives? For a start, those fan sentiment charts are going to be going crazy” – Noble Francis.
“If it is any consolation to Dave Lloyd (Friday’s Fiver letters), it would appear my beloved Spurs have opted for a third kit that apparently evokes ‘Tottenham’s ever-evolving DNA’ but instead appears to involve staring at the bottom of a swimming pool. Third kits: please explain” – Morgan Jones.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Christian Goldsmith.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Manchester City player Benjamin Mendy raped women in locked “panic rooms” in his isolated mansion from which they believed they could not escape, a court has heard. The court heard he found many of the women in Manchester nightclubs, often with the help of his “fixer”, a 41-year-old called Louis Saha Matturie, who is on trial alongside him charged with multiple counts of rape and sexual assault.
Manchester crown court has been told that Ryan Giggs assaulted his then girlfriend “with lots of force” before turning to her younger sister and saying: “I’ll head-butt you next.”
New Aston Villa signing Diego Carlos is likely done for 2022 after rupturing his achilles in the win over Everton.
A quick whistle around the latest transfer news: West Ham want PSG’s Thilo Kehrer and Chelsea’s Emerson Palmieri, Bristol City’s Antoine Semenyo is on Crystal Palace’s radar, Chelsea are set to land Inter tyro Cesare Casadei and the Glazers plan to pick up £15m by selling talented Manchester United youngster James Garner.
And QPR keeper Seny Dieng is still basking in his added-time equaliser at Sunderland. “I didn’t know what to do, and then all the players were all over me,” he cheered. “I don’t practice heading in training, I only ever use my hands so it was a nice feeling at the end to get something from the game.”
STILL WANT MORE?
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