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Nov 8, 2010

This week on Kev and Andy

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.

This week on Kev and Andy

It appears as if Kevin Nolan may have left his crash course in 'How to be a good mentor' just before they explained that it isn't the best idea to accompany your mentee on an all-night bender before taking three young ladies back to your Tyneside crash pad (otherwise known as the family home) to carry on the festivities until mid-morning. Yes, they had just enshrined themselves as Toon heroes after the derby mauling of Sunderland, but perhaps a little more tact may have been in order.

The latest scurrilous accusations appeared in a well-known Sunday rag and one of the more disturbing images thrown up by their revelations involved Carroll shouting "ride me, ride me," in dulcet tones at a lady in a cat suit (standard Geordie issue for a night out). Who said romance was dead?

Meanwhile in London, 'party on Kevin' and 'party on Andy' had a ball on the field too as they led the Toon to their first ever win at the Emirates. Chris Hughton has never struck me as a tactical genius but his idea to pump it long into the box and get big Andy to challenge hapless Lukasz Flappyhandski proved a masterstroke, and provided the winning goal.

After the match, a dejected Arsenal Wenger described Carroll as a handful. Perhaps cat suit lady is best placed to confirm or deny this claim.

Hargreaves, Parked

Saturday brought with it the most predictable injury in the history of the Premier League. Newcomers to the game will have been shocked to learn of this mystical Owen Hargreaves character, who has been in rehab for approximately 23 years thanks to his dodgy knees, but far less shocked to see the returning hero trudge off after just five minutes in the pressure cooker against Wolves.

Plenty of people, rather harshly, found it hilarious, but it is hard to have sympathy for the Canadian when you undertake a bit of crude maths to make a speculative point about his earning power during his two year lay-off. If we reckon he takes home about £60,000-a-week, and he's been out for 111 weeks, that is £6.6 million he has made, whiling away the hours on the side-lines.

By my reckoning, that is £3.3 million a touch in his last two appearances. One a cushioned header against Sunderland back in May and the cross on Saturday that pinged his hamstring loose. Fabio Capello, who seems as desperate to play him as Fergie, hadn't even taken his seat before Hargreaves hobbled back into the wilderness.

The sole reason Manchester United escaped with three points was thanks to the Premier League's favourite South Korean. I've always liked the cut of Park Ji-Sung's jib. Or should that be Ji-Sung Park's jib, or maybe Ji Park Sung's jib? Anyway, Parky was the hero with a late goal and Fergie escaped with an unlikely win.

Super Mario, bad Balotelli

Sunday offered a perfect snapshot of the unhinged enigma that is 'Super' Mario Balotelli. My only previous encounters with this volatile ball of metaphysical energy came during his time at Inter when he was either swearing at the fans, hurling his shirt on the floor or telling the highly decorated Jose Mourinho exactly where he could stick his Armani jacket.

He seems to like Roberto Mancini though, the chap who handed him his Inter debut back in 2007, but could do with a lesson in demure fashion from his Italian gaffer, given some of the monstrous outfits he has already been pictured in. God forbid he ever hits the town with Phil Brown - it'd be like a walking towards a hurricane made up of discarded Bermuda shorts.

After showing flashes of his infamous irritability during last week's flop at Wolves, Mario must have been feeling pretty super after 26 minutes, given that he potted twice to hand City a healthy advantage. But then the red mist settled just above his mini-Mohican, as he raked a boot to the face of Youssuf Mulumbu and was handed a straight red.

Jose famously said Balotelli "does not know how to use his brain" and given that his petulant dismissal will see him sit out Wednesday's derby clash with Manchester United at Eastlands, perhaps we should instead ask if he has got one at all. The same can be said of Mancini, who claimed he was stunned by the red card and intended to appeal. Given that he then went on to blame the officials for his own failure to substitute Balotelli before the touch paper was lit, perhaps it is better if we just refuse to listen to anyone from City ever again. That way, it'll be like Garry Cook doesn't exist.

Woy of the Wovers

If Woy was welieved last week, he'll be overjoyed after his rejuvenated Liverpool handed Chelsea a sharp 45 minute lesson at Anfield. This was a Fulham-esque performance that extinguished any lingering drop fears among the faithful and denied the desperate wishes of the rest of us who thought it would be rather amusing if the Reds were forced to endure a relegation dogfight until May.

But it seems Woy is finally getting his message across, so much so, that he even managed to coax some potency out of Fernando Torres, who for once looked like he was actually enjoying having a kick about, not wearing that "I'm vaguely talented, get me out of here," expression on his face. But then he does like playing Chelsea at Anfield, as his six goals in five games testify.

Chelsea have a striker with an equally good record against Liverpool but he sat snugly on the bench for 45 minutes, instead of terrorising Carragher and co like usual. By the time he finally emerged, Carra had gained sufficient confidence to know it was a rare day when he wouldn't put through his own net at Anfield. He demonstrated this with a brilliant, goal-saving challenge to deny his perennial tormenter, and even got a big bear hug from the Drog in return.

Houllier go home

I see Gerard Houllier's charm offensive at Aston Villa continues apace after he branded beanpole striker John Carew "stupid" and accused him of "living in the past" as he attempts to expunge a boatload of cash in exchange for a few more years of ungainly centre forward play for the Villains.

The Houllier experiment has so far yielded one win, two defeats and three draws but also offered up a radical new way of tactical thinking, when the out of touch Frenchman deployed a 4-6-0 formation against local rivals Birmingham City. He very nearly registered win No. 2 at Craven Cottage, but for a late Brede Hangeland leveller, yet after the game he seemed more intent on slamming Carew than praising his young team.

Houllier accusing Carew of "living in the past" is about as rich as it gets seeing as the Frenchman operates like it is still 1999. And even though he said he didn't doubt Carew's ability, he followed it up by saying he hasn't scored enough goals in the last few seasons. He then acknowledged those fans who chant Carew's name would soon start chanting 'Houllier go home' if the lanky striker doesn't start netting soon. At this rate, the only players left at the club willing to give their all for the cause will be Emile Heskey and tiny 20-year-old Barry Bannan, who Gerard seems to want to build a team round.

When he starts wibbling on about white liquid in a bottle being milk and priests marooned in a vet of sugar in a few weeks, then we'll know he has truly lost the plot.

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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