We can start absolutely nowhere else than with Garth Crooks and his BBC Team of the Week. Largely because it is absolutely batsh*t mental. We have to bullet-point this…
* Let’s start with his suggestion for Watford to replace Marco Silva should he go to Everton…
‘If Silva goes to Everton – and I think he must – Watford can do much worse than replace him with Alan Pardew, who has a lot to offer.’
Now Crooks has form here. This is what he wrote in September 2016…
‘If the Eagles can produce the right service for Christian Benteke, and retain the £50m-valued Wilfried Zaha, then Palace seem almost certain to retain their Premier League status. Manager Alan Pardew’s business in the transfer window has been outstanding.
‘The acquisition of Mandanda, Benteke and Loic Remy has once again established Pardew’s business acumen. If he were to get £50m for Zaha this season I suggest he gives up football and becomes the chairman of the Confederation of British Industry!’
Now Pardew did not get £50m for Zaha, but he did get sacked three months later because Palace were absolutely sh*te. Bizarrely, he is yet to be offered a job by the CBI. Or indeed by any football club.
* Now Crooks may have an odd fascination with Alan Pardew, but he has absolutely no truck with some things…
‘North London supremacy and comments about which player would get into whose team are conversations that belong over a pint in the Dog & Duck.’
Literally one paragraph later (which Crooks presumably wrote on the way to said public house)…
‘Shkodran Mustafi would almost certainly not get into Tottenham’s back three.’
* Obviously talking about north London supremacy and combined teams is below Crooks, but hair is another matter. Now that is absolutely worthy of discussion.
You may remember this from September:
‘I also want to discuss Paul Pogba’s new hairstyle, which features a red streak. I only mention it because he clearly wants to bring it to our attention. There is so much for the midfielder to do at United and he still insists on behaving like an adolescent.’
Now Pogba is back, he has no choice but to pick him again, though he does so – in his own words – ‘through gritted teeth’.
‘I have no time for his hairstyles and even less time for the dancing exhibitions. They are for beauty parlours and catwalks. What I do enjoy, though, is a footballer who can produce moments of magic with a football at his feet.’
Since when is the catwalk the place for a ‘dancing exhibition’? And what the chuff is a ‘dancing exhibition’ anyway?
‘I had little choice but to pick Pogba over Jack Cork for example. Cork was outstanding for Burnley against Swansea but Pogba is in a different class. Yet there was something quite virtuous about Cork’s performance I did not see in Pogba’s against the Magpies.
‘Nevertheless, it would have been vindictive of me not to pick Pogba. I refuse to allow a poor rendition of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever with a poor haircut to stop me from producing an honest selection, but I do so through gritted teeth.’
Crooks there…using a cultural reference that is literally 40 years old. Which, coincidentally, was the last time this old man had his finger on any pulse at all.
Presumably, Cork is ‘virtuous’ simply because he has a sensible haircut. We would suggest that Crooks and Pa Mediawatch meet, but Pa Mediawatch is a) a massive racist and b) possibly too progressive for Crooks.
* This one we will just copy, paste and leave here for your delectation…
‘I have said it before and I will say it again: Ozil should be playing for Tottenham, where he would be far more appreciated. Spurs fans would be giving him that ovation every week.’
But would Spurs play Ozil as a left wing-back, as per your TOTW, Garth?
* Like any elderly gentleman, Crooks believes that things that happened 21 years ago are classed as ‘recent’ – the Spice Girls, Jurassic Park, Changing Rooms, the arrival of Arsene Wenger…
‘It is only in recent times that Arsenal, under the watchful eye of Arsene Wenger, have shed their ‘boring’ tag.’
Just wait until somebody tells him that Robbie Williams is no longer in Take That.
* But perhaps we are being a tad unfair on Crooks. After all, he has spotted something quite spectacular is happening with Eden Hazard at Chelsea…
‘He is certainly looking extremely effective alongside Alvaro Morata. I saw the beginnings of this partnership against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge recently but did not make too much of it as I thought it just happened by stealth.
‘However, having seen it again against West Brom, I am beginning to take the view that both players are looking for each other quite openly.’
Yes, Crooks is ‘beginning to take the view’ that Chelsea’s two most attacking players me be trying to, you know, play together. We are sure that Crooks will let us all know when he has been absolutely convinced.
Other than that, we can’t fault him.
Are you experienced?
The Daily Mirror columnist Stanley Victor Collymore is a big fan of Marco Silva, so does he back him for the Everton job? Of course not. He lacks ‘experience’, apparently. How on earth could he be ready for the job of managing 16th-placed Everton after just a few months in the Premier League?
‘I’m not surprised Everton have gone for him on the back of Ronald Koeman’s sacking.
‘But, even so, I’m not convinced that he is the right man for the Goodison Park job just yet, because what Everton need is someone who is used to managing really big clubs here or on the continent.’
Now you could ask exactly how Silva is supposed to get those jobs at ‘really big clubs’ if those clubs only look for experience, or we could point out that HE ALREADY HAS MANAGED REALLY BIG CLUBS.
Like Sporting CP, with their 50,000-capacity stadium, their 18 Portuguese titles and their regular European football.
Or Olympiakos, with their 32,000-capacity stadium, their 44 Greek titles and their regular European football.
But obviously this is not enough for Everton, who have not finished in the top four of the Premier League for 13 seasons.
So what does Collymore suggest Silva should do?
‘Yet, with a couple more seasons’ experience, he would be a more rounded manager and better prepared to get into a club like Everton for the long haul, as Poch has done at Tottenham.
‘That is why I’m convinced he is better off staying at Watford for the remaining 18 months of his contract and seeing what his options are then.’
So you don’t really think he needs big club experience; he just think he has to manage a mid-table Premier League club for quite a lot longer first. Earn your chance, boy.
Flashback to Martin Keown in October on Mesut Ozil:
“I think in some departments he’s already left. Psychologically, mentally, he’s already left the football club.”
Now after his man-of-the-match performance against Tottenham, Keown tells the Daily Mail:
‘This weekend, we have learned nothing new about Ozil.’
Have we not learned that he probably hasn’t “downed tools” and “already left the football club”?
The Daily Mail’s Ian Ladyman is on a mission to make us think that actually, Manchester United are doing swimmingly. You may remember that he wrote this on Friday:
‘Ahead of Saturday evening’s home game against Newcastle, United are second in the Premier League. To be ahead of Chelsea, a re-energised Liverpool and the much-feted Tottenham is a significant Mourinho achievement.’
Yes, that’s second-favourites Manchester United in second.
And now on Monday he would have us believe that United coming from behind to beat Newcastle at home makes them somehow more impressive than the team currently eight points clear…
‘They have a cussedness, for example, that City have yet to show and in players such as Lukaku – now a goalscorer again – Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they have the weaponry that can turn games.’
Yes, there will be question marks about City (eight points clear having scored 13 more goals than United, despite all their ‘weaponry’) for as long as they do not show the ‘cussedness’ to come back from a goal down at home to a mid-table side. For that truly is the mark of champions.
Jamie Redknapp, August 2017:
“Tottenham’s squad on paper is a bit thin, but they have the best XI if you like. The only XI you can really name, and he knows his best team from last year, apart from Kyle Walker, but [Kieran] Trippier will come in, is Pochettino.”
Jamie Redknapp, November 2017:
‘When Kyle Walker joined Manchester City in the summer, the talk was that Tottenham had pulled off a great bit of business, that £54million was an excellent deal for a 27-year-old right-back. With Tottenham now trailing Pep Guardiola’s side by 11 points in the title race, it is increasingly looking like a bad decision.”
But we thought they had the best starting XI in the Premier League even without Walker, Jamie?
Recommended reading of the day
Sid Lowe with Nolito.
Adam Bate on Pep Guardiola.
Donald McRae with Kenny Dalglish.