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Nov 24, 2008

The last look at the weekend

Few of us like Monday but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from a five-star weekend.

Where's your Gallas gone?

Hands up who saw that one coming? Oh, right, everyone (apart from the most blinkered of Arsenal fans of course, you know who you are). William Gallas was a poor choice of captain right from the start and it's silly old Arsene Wenger's silly old fault that it's blown up so spectacularly in his withered old face. He probably realised he'd made a boo boo pretty early on but pressed ahead with that pig-headed "I'm right you're wrong" attitude like far too many managers do.

Anyone could see Gallas was unfit for purpose after his session of waterworks at St Andrews in February. Crying on the half-way line when your team are facing a penalty is petulant, stupid and pathetic. What captain worth his salt deserts his team-mates at a time like that?

Wenger should have stripped him of the job there and then. If he had he wouldn't be in this wholly inevitable mess now.

A miraculous recovery

Funny how most of the flak thrown about after Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard ruled themselves out of contention for England's game in midweek was hurled in Liverpool's general direction – Capello's medical staff even insisting the squeaky scouser turned up so they could verify his "injury". I bet Fabio was in there himself, poking and prodding away to gauge the scale of Stevie G's wincing.

And yet Frank Lampard was let off without so much as a raised eyebrow. Double funny then, that we learned on Friday Fat Frankie was back in training and expected to start at the Bridge for the Blues on Saturday against Newcastle. Not only did he start, but he galloped around in a frenzy for a full 90 minutes like a three-legged impala fleeing from an onrushing, and ravenous, cheetah. And don't forget he also managed to complete a full 90 minutes last Saturday at West Brom. I smell something fishy down Lamps' end. Err, so to speak.

Anyway, all he missed was a famous England win in Germany and a superb performance from central midfield rivals Gareth Barry and Michael Carrick. Oops.

JFK gets a stay of execution

On the 45th anniversary of John F Kennedy's death another JFK was the beneficiary of a reprieve. Although there the comparison ends. One was a visionary, charting a path through the choppy waves of early 1960s America. The other a chubby, greasy-haired, fry-up lover with a predisposition to utter the word f*** rather a lot. Sometimes even 52 times in a five minute burst when his character has been assassinated.

We'll be seeing a bit more of the irrepressible Joe it seems after Mike Ashley's undisputedly brilliant reign at Newcastle saw fit to hand him an extra month's contract. One of the clauses in it reportedly sees Joe receive a bonus if he manages not to clear his throat 18 times a minute during every televised interview he gives.

Apparently he reacted to Ashley's offer thus: "I'll f*****g bite yer chubby f*****g arm off for an extra month you f*****g w*****r. Ta very much."

Stoke and West Brom in "dross game" shock

Did the earth move for you dear? What do you mean the Earth stood still? Let's be brutally honest here, unless you've particular affection for either West Brom or Stoke the last place you'd have wanted to be on Saturday was at The Britannia Stadium. I'd rather have spent an afternoon eating my way through a sock draw or learning the foxtrot with John Sergeant.

To be fair to West Brom, at least they try and play the game in the right fashion. The last word of that sentence could hardly be used in conjunction with Stoke. Let's face it, if the Potters were invited to a fancy dress party they'd turn up as an armed robber.

Here was Tony Mowbray's verdict: "I don't want to be harsh but I thought it was a pretty dross game of football. I don't think there was too much to talk about, it was a pretty poor match." I've said it before and I'll say it again; imagine my surprise.

A tale of two gaffers

Sunday saw the meeting of two Premier League bosses who couldn't be more different. Roy Keane would probably react to a disastrous run of form a la West Ham by eating one of his players in front of the squad just to put the fear of god into them. Gianfranco Zola is more likely to pitch up round his skipper's house, cook his wife a Michelin-starred meal and wash the car for good measure just to tease an extra five per cent out of him.

As it was, the softly softly approach won out as the Hammers claimed their first win in eight. Sunderland meanwhile, suffered their fifth defeat, and their third straight home reverse, since they finally beat local rivals Newcastle in their own backyard. I wonder who is on the menu at training this morning then. Easy. Andy Reid. There'd still be plenty of him leftover for Christmas.

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