Alan’s Season 2013-14 Diary No. 9
1 day Special, Saturday 28 September
A strange set of results. I bet nobody but nobody predicted that lot.As I type this sentence at 5pm we are top of the Premier League. One point clear of Arsenal who are about to play Swansea. I am sure we would have all taken that if offered at the start of the season. Gareth who?
I thought a draw was a fair result against Chelsea. We had patches of brilliance in the first half and I think we would have won it if we had got a second goal before half time. There is no way that a team with Chelsea’s strengths were going to play second fiddle throughout the game and they got stronger as the match went on until Torres was sent off. I would have given him Man of the Match before he was dismissed. Initially, I thought Vertonghen would get a second booking because his hand touched Torres’ face as he came down from the aerial challenge. However the replay showed Torres launched himself at Vertonghen, rather than the ball and appeared intent on knocking him for six, which is exactly what he achieved.Given Torres’ behaviour earlier in the game, including clawing at Vertongen’s face, I can see why the ref thought the aggression and intent deserved a booking. What did surprise me was the blatant fear that Mourinho displayed by immediately putting a defender on and “parking the bus”. In the past, Chelsea would still have gone for it with 10 men. This time, it was “that’s it, we’ll take the draw” and Spurs returned to dominating the rest of the game.
I can’t let Manchester United’s situation pass without comment. 11th? Their worst start since before Fergie’s time. West Brom apparently deserved the win. My first thought was to say that after their failure in the transfer market, it’s hardly surprising and the same thing would have happened to Ferguson – but it wouldn’t would it?
That would be an insult to him. How many more years would he have had to stick at it to prove that he was always going to be successful until age and health got the better of him? I wouldn’t blame Moyes either. I thought he was a good choice as manager and still do. I am superstitious though and sometimes I think when things happen, it is just fate.
History seems to repeat itself and sometimes people just seem to be a plaything of the gods. This situation is beginning to look just like what all United’s rivals were hoping for; a repeat of what happened at the end of Sir Matt Busby’s reign. United seem to have planned and made all the right moves with the new appointment to make sure it didn’t happen but here they are at the start of October in 11th place.
They are all going to need to pull together, in the boardroom and on the pitch. This is where we find out if they really are the characters they like to think they are, or prima donnas who were relying on their reputation from past glories and Fergie’s managerial nous to drag them through the last couple of seasons. They’d better make a couple of world class signings in the January transfer window, or with their massive debts, it could all unravel very quickly. Massive expenditure might seem crazy when they owe so much but without continued success, they won’t be able to service the debt they already have. Meanwhile, on top of bringing his considerable managerial abilities to bear, I believe Moyes is also fighting fate – and that’s a battle that not many men win.
Fulham and Cardiff
A couple of great goals in this game. This time Cardiff were on the right side of a last minute winner. Given the rumblings that have been coming out of Craven Cottage recently, I fear Martin Jol will be out of a job by Monday. Another good manager who has not had the best of luck recently.
Rats. Arsenal beat a valiant and skilful Swansea 2-1. To be fair, some of their play was sublime. We finish the day in second place.
PostscriptI have just seen advance pictures of the headlines in Sunday’s newspapers on Match of the Day. There are banner headlines of Jose Mourinho calling Vertonghen’s reaction to Torres’ challenge a “disgrace” and saying it’s what happens when a foreigner brings his habits to the English game. That’s rich, a Portuguese talking about how a Belgian reacts to a heavy challenge when he has already had his face clawed by a Spaniard to the extent that red welts swelled up on his face.
What has any of that got to do with which country any of them come from? Jose you are a foreigner in this country. You are also a great manager and welcome back here but get over it. It must feel good as a foreigner to be welcomed back to these shores. How much better must it feel for AVB tonight? According to Gary Lineker he is being welcomed back as guest of honour at Porto’s anniversary dinner in your home country. Slagging off Vertonghen to divert attention from Torres’ earlier assault is beneath you. It hasn’t worked either because if you had left it alone, I wouldn’t be typing this postscript.
The original assault went unpunished, I guess Vertonghen was wondering how far Torres would go next time if allowed to continue.