For me, I'll tell you what, oh my days, there's something quite likeable about Danny Murphy - even if he has the sunken eyes of a man with a lot of demons...
Back in June we looked at what each PL club needed this summer. Now we re-visit last season's top six to assess their progress. There are an awful lot of gaps...
The FA Cup is a dead pin-up. They used to be irresistibly attractive, then a little faded, then downright ropey, then imploring you to smother them in a hospice so they no longer felt the pain and indignity that comes with being plain in a pretty person's world. Happy Monday, everyone!
Chelsea 1-0 Stoke City
A game that was watched by 700 Stoke fans who were charmingly mocked by the Chelsea PA man, and tens of thousands of Chelsea fans who only just recovered from being charmingly mocked by Roman Abramovich when he tried to make them play nice with Rafael Benitez. This game was appalling. Chelsea were plainly superior but showed that the squad is clearly lacking. No, not Juan Mata, because Oscar will probably be their best player for years to come, and not in midfield where Nemanja Matic played smartly and with assuredness. Up front, Samuel Eto'o was a clever purchase because he cost nothing, knew how to work with Jose Mourinho, and wasn't Fernando Torres or Demba Ba. However, the struggle to build on a single goal did rather demonstrate that Chelsea would do well to have at least one striker who wouldn't be the limiting factor on the team.
Southampton 2-0 Yeovil
Sunderland 1-0 Kidderminster
What Sunderland need to remember is that nobody cares about the relative cup success of Crystal Palace in the year they were relegated, unless it's to point out that nobody cares about the relative cup success of Crystal Palace in the year they were relegated. What we all need to remember is that Gus Poyet is a berk, and that we can all laugh when we see him and his by-association-wretched club bomb out of one league, two cups.
Bournemouth 0-2 Liverpool
Brendan Rodgers launched an ASTONISHING attack on Victor Moses after the game:
"For Victor it is very simple," the Liverpool manager said. "He wants to remain in a position that he will remain at a big club, whether it is Chelsea or Liverpool. There is no bigger motivation than that. In order to do that he needs to be performing day in day out in training.
He continued his VITUPERATIVE broadside:
"If he does really well for us there is a possibility we will want to have him permanently but ultimately it is Chelsea's decision because he is their player. And if he has done really well, then they will want to keep him. When you sample the life of the big institutions like Liverpool, then there's not many that want to leave.
And concluded with a VICIOUS dismantling of his very being:
"I have seen improvements in his training. If the top players are training nine or 10 out of 10 every day and you have players who are five or maybe six out of 10 every day, then they are not ready to train with them, never mind play games with them. So you have to get them up to the level."
So, train well and play more. NICE ONE, BRENDAN.
Sheffield United 1-1 Fulham
Yes, there was a plucky underdog getting a replay against Premier League stalwarts. Yes, there was a late equaliser that appeared to be heading towards an inevitable winner. Yes, Rene Meulensteen was, on this showing, quite obviously the secret for Manchester United's and Cristiano Ronaldo's success. But the real story is Andre Marriner's devotion to being startlingly bad. At least two clear penalties, one other possible, and the man gave none of them. He missed blatant fouls outside the box, too. Is Andre Marriner in the pay of technology companies to make them look absolutely necessary? No, obviously not, but he was a steaming pile on Sunday.
Wigan 2-1 Crystal Palace.
What Crystal Palace need to remember is that nobody cares about the relative cup success of Crystal Palace in the year they were relegated, but nobody really cares about the relative success of Crystal Palace in the Premier League in that year or this. Tony Pulis likes to make football unlikeable, and Crystal Palace have gone from systemic incompetence to a blend of unwatchable incompetence and unwatchable comptence. The FA Cup won't miss them. The Premier League might not get the chance to.
Birmingham City 1-2 Swansea City
Ah, the City derby. A tie with a storied past that broadsheet writers like because they can use words like 'storied.' Those stories in full: nobody cares. Not least because it didn't match the club statement this week from Swansea after Chico Flores and Garry 'Gary' 'A' Monk ('!') had a serious exchange of views: "The club can categorically state that nobody was threatened with a brick." Which leads us to one question - why are loose bricks available at training grounds?
Stevenage 0-4 Everton
Manchester City 4-2 Watford City
For a moment, there was a freak occurrence, and everybody got ready to write some shocking headlines. Journalists and spectators could not wait to tell their readers and their friends, respectively. The Queen was notified, David Cameron prepared an everyman phrase to appear in touch with the modern game and make a few people believe he was drawn from the same species as the population. Micah Richards was on the pitch! But then Richards was substituted and the world reverted to its usual axis, birds that had dropped from the sky returned to their business of pecking and gliding, and horses un-ate one another. Watford eventually lost after taking the lead, but nobody was surprised about that.
Arsenal 4-0 Coventry City
What's another way to say 'yep'? Still, remember everyone, as fun as it is to read about the FA Cup, there are just forty or so more of these reports to get through. The magic of the cup!
Andi Thomas and Alexander Netherton