This weekend was all about the magisterial genius of one manager who rose above his peers to claim the prestigious Diary Award for Dug-out Botherer of the Weekend.
No, not Brendan Rodgers. There's a pattern developing: Liverpool play brilliantly for a few games, and Rodgers makes positive noises about the title. Then they slip up, and Rodgers makes rueful noises about the title. Then they play brilliantly again. We're currently looping back around to the beginning: since the 1-1 draw against West Brom, after which Rodgers threw in the unlikelier of the two towels he was holding, Liverpool have won four in a row and looked various shades of decent in the process.
In essence, Liverpool's season has consisted of their fans shouting "Look at all the goals!", everybody else saying "But, but, but look at the gaping hole where the defence is supposed to be!", and Rodgers oscillating between the two, enjoying the former but occasionally having to 'fess up to the latter. Every time he allows himself to enjoy it, they slump; every time he wallows in despair, they perk. Currently they're second and trying not to giggle. Science has demonstrated that they will stay there if, and only if, Rodgers manages not to draw attention to the fact. Say nothing, Brendan! Keep it buttoned! We give him...two days. Unless Liverpool manage to book Jose Mourinho as a replacement for all future Liverpool press obligations. Ah, Jose. Even when he says nothing, he says so much...
Not Mark Hughes. Always a tricky one, Stoke against Arsenal. Obviously the result and the manner of the result were entirely predictable, but no less funny for that. And it's hard not to admire a football club who can, by virtue of their very existence, force fans of another into fits of spluttering and patrician rage. On the other hand, Charlie Adam is an absolute scrote of a footballer who spends far too much of his time kicking or standing on other people's legs. This raises an interesting philosophical question: if all a footballer does on the pitch is act like a scrote, and everybody is around to see it, is he just a scrote?
Not Manuel Pellegrini either, though he deserves a note. His plan for beating Sunderland - 'have better players' - didn't really work in the first half, as his team were out-thought and out-scurried by a side featuring Phil Bardsley. But credit to him, it came good in the end, and a similar strategy may well see them to more trophies in the future. Well done him. Well done everybody. Sunderland's fans were brilliant and their team pretty good, mind, and to celebrate that, Gus Poyet has presented himself with his own snood. That's the real trophy.
And no, not Alan Pardew. Obviously, you shouldn't go around headbutting players. Equally obviously, to have done so was very, very funny, both in itself and in the inevitable splurge of hand-wringing Helen Lovejoy-ing won't somebody think of the children-ing it provoked. It looks as though Pardew will be losing a fair slice of cash but not his job, which will come as a blow to those peculiar people labouring under the delusion that Pardew has some kind of paternal responsibility to the children of Newcastle not to come the complete pillock. He doesn't. Stop being silly. Unless he headbutts a child next week, in which case, fair play.
No, this week's real winner was David Moyes. People have been calling his credentials into question, asking whether United made the right decision in appointing him, a man with absolutely no credentials for the job. Well, in your faces, people! His clever plan to ensure that United didn't have to play City in either league or cup this weekend - a fixture that could well have ended him - paid off. A whole weekend has passed, and United haven't done anything disappointing, anything hilarious, or anything shambolic. He has proved that he's a safe pair of hands, and a calm yet inspirational leader. As long as you don't actually ask his team to play any football. Come on up, David! You hero. Mind the stairs there...oh. Oh dear. Could somebody help him up? Not you, Mr Van Gaal.
Andi Thomas and Alexander Netherton