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Jan 24, 2011

Kenny on high, Sky humble pie

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 weekend brimming with potential victims.

It's a miracle

Even I raised a glass to King Kenny-the-Messiah-all-hail-the-special-one as he finally landed his first Liverpool victory for 20 years, because having already secured the club's exit from the FA Cup, it means there's a good chance I won't have to write about him next week. But to give the man his dues, Molineux witnessed the first remotely attacking performance Liverpool have put on since the second half against AC Milan back in Istanbul in 2005.

Poor old Roy (remember Roy?) had sent Liverpool's average players into a stupor with his dogged mantra of defending space and closing down opponents, turning them into football agoraphobics who risked a panic attack whenever they crossed the halfway line. But Ken has removed the blinkers and the brown paper bags to hand the club back a sliver of spirit.

In fact, with Fernando Torres back to his chippy self and learning to pick his fights better - Richard Stearman rather than Joey Barton - and Raul Meireles on song, the only negative of the weekend came with the club's movements in the transfer market. Apparently, Anfield's woes can be solved by Ajax striker and the planet's No. 1 Twilight fan, Luis Suarez, and Blackpool's Charlie Adam, but only if the price is right. So, Ian Holloway, come on down ...

Olly McTavish

It's been far too long since an Olly soliloquy was featured in these ragged pages, but with Kenny hurling admiring glances at Charlie's similarly chunky calves for over a week, the Blackpool boss has shed all the respect he had for Liverpool, and likes nothing more than giving them a good whack in his post-match chats.

After Blackpool had been mugged by Sunderland, just like Sunderland were mugged by Blackpool less than a month ago, pint-sized Olly clambered up onto his high horse and delivered a sermon Moses would have been proud of, lambasting not only Liverpool, but Aston Villa and Birmingham for essentially playing 'knock down ginger' in pursuit of the Tangerines' talisman.

Not content with claiming Blackpool should get £46 million for Adam - the price of Premier League survival - he then suggested King Kenny-the-Messiah-all-hail-the-special-one had forgotten to take inflation into account when making his first transfer bid in 20 years. Olly then signed off with this gem, perhaps an insight into his Friday nights during summer: "If Charlie is only worth £4 million then I'm a Scotsman called McTavish."

Hell Bent on Villa

The other player at the centre of an unseemly tug of war this week has been Darren Bent. The striker celebrated a late point for Sunderland in the derby with Newcastle last Sunday by cracking out his pencil case and scribbling a barely legible note to his gaffer in crayon that simply said: "Smell you later."

The deal (money) was done remarkably quickly (money) but no-one is quite (money) sure why Bent, who continually bored (money) his followers on Twitter with professions of love for Sunderland (money) was in such a rush to move (money). It prompted the unseemly sight of Steve Bruce and Gerard Houllier wittering on about liars and xenophobes. It was like having a fight over a wet handkerchief smeared in out-of-date peanut butter.

Still, in an event more predictable than Piers Morgan's smug grin during his debut week on CNN, Bent scored within 20 minutes to hand Villa a much-needed win over Manchester City, whose chairman could sneeze and produce £18 million encrusted in snot. He might have to do it pronto if he is revive City's dwindling title hopes.

Grow up, you're Welsh

Given the resentment that has been simmering for a few months, I expected two particular managers to arrive at Craven Cottage tooled up, having added a few more menacing-looking members of the Tafia (the Welsh mafia) to their touchline posse, or at least to be sporting a particularly sturdy tea tray down their suit jackets by way of an improvised bulletproof vest.

But all that passed between Tony Pulis and Mark Hughes on Saturday were two limp handshakes and the odd grimace. The two have been warring since Andy Wilkinson cut Moussa Dembele to pieces when the two sides met in the Carling Cup and one bookmaker was even offering odds of 20-1 on a punch being thrown. Having been promised Battle Royale, all we got was the equivalent of handbags between two floppy courgettes.

Seeing as how it had all got a bit WWE, one of Sunday's quieter moments found me daydreaming about how the pair could form an unlikely alliance if my idea of a Royal Rumble between all 20 Premier League managers ever comes off. Those two would surely be there from start to finish (probably with David Moyes for company), lobbing chumps like Avram Grant and Alan Pardew out of the ring with a swift flick of the wrist. I can only hope that particular corridor of my brain never opens again.

Do me a favour, Keys

Ever since football in England went all razzle dazzle with the creation of the Premier League in 1992, the discerning domestic fan has been forced to suffer Sky Sports' sycophantic, smug and self-satisfying pair of Richard Keys (presenter) and Andy Gray (pundit) through nearly every televised game, so many will rejoice at the generous helping of humble pie they are currently being forced to eat.

Before Liverpool's game at Wolves the pair were caught off mic sticking the boot into female linesman Sian Massey, quipping that someone had better go and explain the offside rule to her. Keys, for good measure, added a cheeky "the game's gone mad". Despite the fact that Massey correctly allowed Liverpool's opening goal to stand and had an excellent game.

After the pair's inexcusable rant Keys then launched his bid to earn a cameo in Alan Patridge's next show with this gem, questioning a newspaper article written by West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady that claimed sexism was prevalent in the game thus: "Do me a favour, love."

The usual grovelling apology followed, with Sky saying the pair's comments were not acceptable. But they do have previous in this regard, as this glorious clip from yesteryear proves.

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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