Oct 4 98
No More Dell Hell, Arsene Whinger, and Tunnel Vision
After three horrible losses on the trot at the Dell, it was great to see United shake
off the Southampton curse on Saturday. It was especially good to see a second consecutive
match in which Jesper Blomqvist ably deputized for Ryan Giggs. The Welsh wingers
absence, along with those of Schmeichel, Scholes and Johnsen, gave me cause for concern
before the kick off, but our squad is finally strong enough to cover such absences.
I suppose the assembled media went home disappointed, having seen their hopes dashed of
adding another chapter to the "United fall apart at the Dell" saga.
And I wondered what the man from the Mirror would make up after watching the Men in
Black take apart Davey Jones fish out of water this weekend. After all, telling the truth
has never been the Mirrors style, and since the BSKYB takeover bid began, the Mirror
has worked overtime on trashing the Old Trafford team. To wit, the Mirrors assertion
in Thursdays rag that a Jaap Stam blunder led to the last gasp equalizer by Bayern
in Munich last week. Well, unless our new Dutch boy exchanged shirts with Schmeichel, and
grew some blond hair in rapid fashion, it was Peters faux pas which led to Bayern
tying it up at the death. But that wouldnt fit with the Mirrors editorial
decision to slam Stam at every turn, would it, so their reporter decided to blame the
defender to follow the company line.
What a waste of trees.
Last week I wondered in this space if David Beckham was ever going learn to control his
propensity for retaliation. His performance in Munich didnt go any distance toward
persuading me he would. A more alert officiating crew would have surely have caught his
errant elbow and the media would have had another field day reporting on another Beckham
red card. Of course, a more alert officiating crew would have caught the fact at least 2
of the passes in the build-up to Bayerns first goal were offside.
But Beckham should be aware that referees all over will have seen him getting away with
his flying elbow at Munich, and his inexcusable stamping on Stephen Hughes at Highbury
recently, and will be vigilant in future games, and that could spell trouble to come. He
will already miss the next Champions League match versus Brondby thanks to the
accumulation of two yellow cards and to miss further matches due to indiscipline would be
A Little French Whine.
Arsenals manager is finally finding out what it is like to be at the top.
Everybody wants to knock you down. News comes this week of Arsene Wengers belief
that jealous rivals are kicking his club to pieces and referees are less than sympathetic.
Wengers nez is out of joint for a number of reasons, not the least of which is
referee Paul Alcocks refusal to even discuss Martin Keown's appeal at being sent off
at Sheffield Wednesday last week.
He also claims opposing teams try to "do and provoke" his compatriot
international Patrick Vieira. And he further claims theyre picking on poor little
Dennis Bergkamp as well. Now we all know Dennis wouldnt hurt a fly - if he thought
anyone was looking.
Wenger claims Berkgamp was grabbed by the throat at one time during that infamous match
at Sheffield Wednesday, while Nicholas Anelka was sent flying. Good job Berkgamp
wasnt sent flying, eh Arsene, because we all know how Dennis feels about flying.
Wenger continues "The opposition always physically attack us and we are always
getting hounded or our shirts pulled. The second half at Wednesday was appalling."
Listen, Mr. Whinger, what is really appalling is your clubs disciplinary record, not
just this year but ever since you took charge at Highbury. Last year they were among the
worst in the Premier League in terms of yellow and red cards. And this year your lot look
like setting new lows in the sportsmanship department. The record reads three sendings off
and 19 yellow cards in the first six weeks of this season.
These facts obviously mean nothing to the head Gooner though. Before Sundays game
against Newcastle he moaned "We are not a dirty side. When we play Newcastle on
Sunday they'll be talking about Ruud Gullit and his sexy football and us playing dirty
The whining doesnt stop there. Wenger says "We are not getting any
protection or understanding from referees. There have been incidents in which other teams
have targeted us, and in particular Patrick Vieira. Other players are trying to do him and
provoke him because of his temperament. I have spoken to him long and hard about the
situation and he knows he has a problem. Patrick has got to learn to be
And theres even more.
"I know teams are trying twice as hard against us because we are champions and I
accept that. But I feel we have not been treated fairly and it is the right moment to
speak up. I have seen the Sheffield Wednesday match twice and what they did to Tony Adams
at corners was like rugby. We need semi-professional referees and certainly a second
official on the pitch."
Right on Arsene. Two referees on the field. As if your players dont have trouble
enough getting away with dirty play with just one ref out there.
Vierra is being looked at by the disciplinary gods for allegedly pushing a police
officer (bright lad isnt he) after the match at Hillsborough. I know there have been
many after the match incidents in football but it seems to be becoming a trendy. This
weekend alone there were two post match tunnel incidents.
Spurs captain Sol Campbell and teammate Colin Calderwood face FA bans after one
incident at Derby on Saturday. And there is also the possibility of criminal charges
arising from the bust-up in the tunnel at Pride park in which Countys Francesco
Baiano and two stewards were also involved.
Dermot Gallagher was the referee in charge of that game and details of what happened by
now have formed part of his match report. Gallagher says he didnt actually see what
happened with his own eyes, but security staff reported it to him and told him the police
were going to deal with it.
Hold on a minute Dermot. If you didnt see it, then how can you possibly include
it in your report? In court it would be branded hearsay and thrown out as evidence. If the
FA want to know about it then they should request a copy of the police report. Its
dangerous to rely on second hand evidence and I would hate to think the FA finds it any
more reliable than the courts do.
The second incident this past weekend involved Paul Ince and Graeme Le Saux at the end
of the Liverpool-Chelsea fixture on Sunday. The two apparently had an angry confrontation
in the tunnel at the end of the rough contest. It probably didnt help that the match
was officiated by the card happy Graham Poll. 7 players were booked in the match, and Poll
refused passionate Pool penalty appeals after Karlheinz Riedle went down in the
Chelsea penalty area. Now refusing Liverpool a penalty shout at Anfield is dangerous
enough. As I said last week, the Anfield penalty is part of the games folklore, and
it is blasphemy to turn down a spot kick claim in front of the Kop.
Anyway, as Ince and Le Saux came off the field they apparently had a little discussion
about some of the referees decisions. Being with different teams they agreed to
disagree, and rumour has it more than words were exchanged. Poll at least has the grace to
admit he didnt see any of what happened in the tunnel so his report will not include
any mention of the incident. Take note Mr. Gallagher.
So we are now in a two-week hiatus while the England squad prepares for its next
European Nations Cup qualifier. No doubt there will be plenty of nonsense come out of the
England camp to supply ammunition for next weeks Reditorial. With Glen Hoddle still
in charge how could it be otherwise?
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through email or through the Guestbook here. Getting feedback makes the writing all the
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