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Next

Marcotti: Platini's missed opportunity

FIFA 37 minutes ago
Read
Oct 18, 2010

White Socks 2-0 Red Socks

Few of us like Mondays 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 the past week in football.

Mo' money, mo' problems

The only thing that knocked the nonsense goings on at Liverpool off the front pages this week was the dramatic and heart-warming rescue of a clutch of Chilean miners, and apparently, the liberated 33 are already on their way to Merseyside to advise Roy Hodgson on how to extract himself from a large hole before Christmas.

Not a completely spurious gag, given that NESV's takeover has plunged Tom Hicks and George Gillett into the financial darkness. The new owners are used to success but it didn't take them long to realise the size of the mess they inherited when watching on at Goodison Park. Chairman Martin Broughton spent the afternoon explaining the game to his new pals - "we're in red" - and seconds after Mikel Arteta's goal I'm sure NESV chairman Tom Werner leaned over to say: "That's bad, right?"

We should all welcome Liverpool's new owners with open arms because they have brought to an end one of the most unpopular regimes of recent times, and managed to inflict upon Tom Hicks and George Gillett a £144 million loss - a figure that seems justified given the mess Muppet and Puppet made of running the club.

But of course, this won't be the last we hear of them, given their intention to seek £1 billion in damages - a final reminder of how warped Hicks' business sense is. I'm no expert but can you justifiably seek £1 billion in damages after losing £144 million? Completely outmanoeuvred in the end game by the chairman they employed to find a buyer, their rant about an "epic swindle" and "internet terrorism" is a truly fitting epitaph for their farcical reign.

Benitez in disguise?

What's your excuse for being second-bottom now then Liverpool fans? The poisonous atmosphere in the boardroom may have been permeated thanks to more Yanks promising bundles of cash for players, a new stadium and as many Werthers Originals as Roy Hodgson can eat, but the fact remains that the club's playing department needs a bigger overhaul than Latoya Jackson's wardrobe.

Liverpool barely had a kick in the first half of the derby and consisted of eight outfield passengers desperately hoping for signs of life from their only two gifted players. Sadly for them, the only scrap of connection between Stevie and Nando seemed to be their permanent expressions of disgust at their team-mates. Everton won at an absolute canter.

And most worryingly for Liverpool's fans, Hodgson seems to slowly be catching the deluded daze of the previous incumbent, who never failed to credit a woeful performance with unwarranted praise. Quite how Roy came to the conclusion that his team were "by no means inferior" in the face of a 2-0 scoreline baffles me. And if, as he claimed, the second half is the best Liverpool have played under his stewardship, then perhaps they are nailed on relegation candidates after all.

No Roon to manoeuvre

At least Liverpool can console themselves with the sizeable rift opening up at Old Trafford, as Manchester United's star player and notoriously hard-case manager indulge in their very own slice of open warfare. It has been building towards this point for months now, and reached a head during the week when the Roonatic openly contradicted his manager's cover story for his woeful form and inappropriate extracurricular activities.

Given that the only scoring Rooney has done recently seems to have been in swanky Manchester hotel rooms with women that weren't his wife (and who charge by the hour) it signifies yet another extraordinary miscalculation of judgement from someone who probably has no idea what calculation means. What does one + one + one equal, Wayne? £350-an-hour perhaps?

He only need ask Messrs Keane, Van Nistelrooy, Stam and Beckham what happens when you shun the guidance of one of the English game's most successful managers. Given just 18 minutes to try and rescue his team from Edwin Van der Sar's howler against West Brom, Rooney managed one shot on target and little else. Be careful what you wish for Wayne because hell hath no fury like a Fergie scorned.

Mancini talks dirty

An interesting, and rather sickly, outburst from Roberto Mancini preceded Manchester City's clash with Blackpool, as if thoughts of sea air infested his brain and instructed him to deliver a sermon on sex and drinking - two of the world's favourite pastimes.

"I do not understand players drinking until they are drunk ... I tell my players it is better that they go with a woman than drink." My dear Roberto, I think you'll find that's why Wayne Rooney's career has been steadily going down the tubes these last few months.

I'll wager the City WAGs will have something to say about Mancini's advice, who at this rate will turn into the embarrassing dad from American Pie, played to perfection by Eugene Levy, before the year is out.

Despite his words of booze-caution I bet it was cans of Stella all round in the dressing room after City came through their roasting at Blackpool with three points, largely thanks to Carlos Tevez, a deflection and some terrible refereeing decisions. Blackpool still await their first home win of the season, and we still await a post-match interview where their manager doesn't blame everything on the officials.

Right back atcha, Arsene

The next time Arsenal play Birmingham, in January, I say we dispense with the football and determine the points based on a 22-man free-for-all, and who emerges having broken the most opposition limbs. A fanciful notion yes, but if their matches carry on like this, it may not be too far from the truth.

Danny Murphy may have taken the heat off Arsene Wenger for a few weeks where whingeing about tackling is concerned, but Jack Wilshere's reckless challenge on beanpole striker Nikola Zigic put the focus firmly back on Arsenal's manager, and gave Birmingham the chance to let out two-and-a-half years' worth of emotion after they were roundly panned for Martin Taylor's leg-breaking reducer on Eduardo back in February 2008. Suddenly, the boot was not just on the other foot for the Gunners' gaffer, but firmly up his derriere.

Even in agreeing Wilshere's X-rated tackle deserved a red, Wenger couldn't help but have a little dig saying: "He didn't spend the whole game kicking people," but he was even less forthcoming on Emmanuel Eboue's flying scissor tackle, snapping: "Write what you want."

This was all manna from heaven for Birmingham, of course, who relished the opportunity to have a rare weekend in the area known as the moral high ground. They added Samir Nasri to the list of players who should have walked, and lambasted Marouane Chamakh for his swan dive to win a vital spot-kick. Alex McLeish reckons one of his players would have to be clocked with a "baseball bat" to win a penalty. Give it a few seasons, wee man, and you might be right.

• Don't forget, you can help The Fifth Official's bid to attract more followers on Twitter than Sepp Blatter at www.twitter.com/fifthofficial

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