Bizarre item 1On Saturday Manchester United had the chance to catch up on points with Chelsea by winning at Fulham. The three points would have brought them level with a faltering Chelsea - with only one win in the last three matches. With many defenders injured and unavailable, experienced manager Ferguson chose midfielders Carrick and Fletcher alongside regular full-back, Evra, and reserve team player De Laet as a back four. Man U lost 3-0. Why, with 9 reserve defenders, did the manager not choose two more of them? This is one of the sports where the young have no fear. They may be less-experienced in big matches but would be orientated to defending. Carrick's instinct is to pass the ball forward. He followed his instinct early on, a short pass forward to Scholes, who lost the ball to Murphy, the Fulham captain, who ran forward and scored. Carrick was too near his own goal to play a short pass but his instincts tricked him. Would a trained defender have done this?
Bizarre item 2On Sunday, the day after Man U 's defeat, Chelsea had the opportunity to go 6 points ahead at the top of the table. They were playing West Ham at the bottom of the table. What did they do? They drew, 1-1, and were lucky to do so. They were slow, unimaginative, dull and toothless. They should have lost - particularly as there could have been a penalty for the Hammers when Carvalho of Chelsea jumped on the back of a West Ham player as the ball arrived in the goal mouth from a corner. Chelsea drew level through a penalty when the referee, nearer the players, deferred to the linesman further away over a tackle by Upson. Video replays show it as a risky but successful tackle. Anyway, Cool Hand Frank (F. Lampard) took over and scored from the spot. Whistle, confusion, disallowed: Chelsea players in the box before the kick was taken. Frank takes it again, different part of the goal, scores. Whistle, confusion, disallowed: Chelsea players in the box again. Frank runs up again, and scores at the other side of the goal. Whistle, referee points to centre circle. Goal!
Image via Wikipedia
Three penalties for the price of one. Bazaar qualities as well as bizarre? But how cool was that from Frank?
In a live interview immediately after the match, asked about how he felt while going through the penalty ordeal, Lampard said, "I could have done without that!" A great understatement. So refreshing, after the boyish blokes who whip off their shirts and glory about the pitch just for doing their job. In contrast, this was a real professional!
Thanks to Frank, Chelsea got a point they did not deserve and now stand 4 points ahead of Man U at the top of the table - having bizzarely won only one of their last four games, and that was close, against bottom of the table Portsmouth. (Permission for the continued use of the photo of Lampard has been requested by e-mail. The photographer was Aleksandr Mysyakin for Soccer.ru)
Bizarre item 3
Mark Hughes, manager of Manchester City, whose 4-3 win against Sunderland at home was televised by Sky, was sacked after the match. Roberto Mancini, whom the former Chelsea manager, Jose Maurinho, replaced at Inter Milan, took over. Hughes with the camera on him during the match claims he did not know he was being sacked until it was over. In post match punditry on television I heard the remark," Won't this treatment (of Hughes) deter young English players from going into management?"
Like hell it will! Wait until we hear the amount of the pay-off. Hughes will never need to work again, but of course he will. And the next time no doubt he will be chosen by those who run the club and put their money into it. Unlike the Manchester City job where he was the sitting manager when new owners came in with huge funds to spend. He had the wonderful experience of spending it for them. The forlorn experience on the pitch and under the cameras for his last game will soon be forgotten. But it was bizarre viewing as the television screen switched from yet another goal by Sunderland and then the figure of the man in the overcoat on the touchline. Mercifully, Hughes was saved from a final touch of humiliation when his team did actually win!