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Nov 22, 2010

Madams, Hooters and porn magnates

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.

Where have Roo been? Quite what the Roonatic did to deserve a luxury break in Dubai then a week-long stint nailing cheeseburgers in Portland I don't know, but I did thank one tabloid for pointing out that Manchester United had packed him off to the stripping capital of the United States to get fit. I can only imagine Colleen's delight was matched by that of the madams across the North West upon hearing news of his return to these shores. Back at Old Trafford, Fergie tried the football version of 'sneaking him in through the back door while no-one notices' routine by bringing him on in tandem with Paul Scholes, knowing full well the presence of the ginger ninja would dilute the chorus of boos some fans have been storing up ever since the Roonatic puffed out his chest and lifted his skirt in Manchester City's direction. As it turned out, it was a fairly routine return in a fairly routine win, made much easier by Wigan flaying into tackles like Karl Henry with 24 hours to live. And when you throw in another defeat to Chelsea - three losses in four with only one goal scored - it was about the perfect day to drop the bad stink back in. That short walk across the city isn't abandoned, though - merely postponed until the summer, don't you think? A Royal appointment. At Hooters A few of the more lonely of our nation's residents have been going a little potty this week about news of a royal wedding. The first thing Prince William did after announcing his engagement to Kate 'she's not middle class, she's as bloomin' posh as he is' Middleton, was leave the missus at home in favour of a weekend on the tiles in Blackpool with his cord-sporting, turned-up collar, loafer-wearing chums. Given that I share a special bond with Prince William (we were once in the same room for a split-second before I was unceremoniously bundled out) I can only stare at my phone and wait for his text asking me to be best man. Just in case, I've provisionally booked a table for 12 at Hooters (Charlie will love that), a bring-your-own-booze curry house and a private karaoke room in Soho with The Outhere Brothers. Ian Holloway was already over excited at having royal company in the stands so, when Luke Varney (or Varn Basten as he is now known) smashed in a goal of the season contender after only three minutes, I expected him to go pop. Ollie told Prince William to leave the ladies alone on his night out, but judging by a few of my visits to Blackpool, he won't have needed any encouragement to do that. Kaboul-ly for you, Spurs 'Arry's pre-match rambling about Tottenham being a contender to win the league looked almightily stupid after 45 minutes of the North London derby as Arsenal cantered into a two-goal lead without a trickle of sweat troubling any of their gargantuan Gallic chins. But a healthy lead over their bitter rivals seems to do funny things to Arsene Wenger's team, who looked hapless in the second half once 'Arry had plugged the chasm of a gap in his midfield by tucking Gareth Bale inside Jermaine Jenas and reverting tactics to 'dangerously open' from their first-half 'ridiculously open' setting. But after three unanswered goals, and a first away win at one of the big boys for 17 years, 'Arry cracked out his 'We can win the title' trumpet with all the gusto of Big Sham at an all-you-can-eat vindaloo buffet. Surely a team that daring can't succeed, especially after Rafael van der Vaart confirmed this week that 'Arry spends more time worrying about Tic Tacs than tactics. "It's not that we do nothing," he said, "but it's close to that." It's beginning to look like 'Arry's famous instruction to Roman Pavlyuchenko last season - "just f***ing run around" - is the most complex tactical instruction he has ever delivered. Look Hughes talking It is entirely possible Mark Hughes accepted the Fulham job with one sole aim in mind - to gain revenge on Manchester City's owners for his unceremonious dumping last year. The sort of ritual humiliation Roberto Mancini knows full well is coming some time before the season ends. But try as Hughes might, the only thing he could inspire his warrior-like players (Damien Duff and Chris Baird) to produce was the football equivalent of turning up at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant to be served cold soup with a crusty topping of burnt hair. After 34 minutes, Fulham were three down, and sporting the haunted look City acquired towards the end of Hughes' reign. Despite saying they hadn't moved on after he was forced to, he then relented after the beating and said City could now win the title. And all this from a team whose former captain accused some of them of not trying in training and floated the idea of halving weekly wages for the perpetrators. A nice idea, Kolo, but if your brother can't bring himself to sprint for a few shuttle runs, insisting he only take 50% of his pay packet (£110,000) would only mean he'd be forced to drive his Lamborghini to work rather than chopper in as usual. Avram gets Hammered All that admiration Avram Grant garnered for keeping Portsmouth ticking through the farcical off-field distractions last season is rapidly disintegrating, even if the Israeli is the public face of a club owned by two pornography magnates, who seem to permanently flit between an insistence that they aren't about to sack someone and sacking someone. One win all season is a paltry return and their surrender at Liverpool was pathetic, leading the travelling fans from London to sing "You're getting sacked in the morning" at their own gaffer, and the rather more ironic "It's just like watching Brazil" as Luis Boa Morte rolled another pass into the wilderness in his new central midfield role. Liverpool, fragile under Woy and missing their talisman after Fabio Capello insisted he shave down his weak hamstrings in England's midweek mauling by the French, barely broke into a canter to slap down their witless opponents. There's a bullet in the chamber and if the next two games - against Wigan and Sunderland - don't yield at least four points, the bongo brothers will surely be taking aim. 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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