Ginola and Merson make hard work of simplifying matters

Moyes stands firm on title ambitions as pundits turn up the heat

Manchester United manager David Moyes: feeling the heat in the Old Trafford hot zone. Photograph: PA

Manchester United manager David Moyes: feeling the heat in the Old Trafford hot zone. Photograph: PA


You know, if the Manchester United board is suffering from “squeaky freaked out OMG! WTF! bum syndrome”, they’d do well to consider Daveed Ginola as their new gaffer, the wisdom he displayed on BT Sport on Saturday suggesting he is wasted in the punditry world.

Half-time: “I think Manchester United need to score a goal,” he declared, in a knowing kind of way. Jake Humphrey and Owen Hargreaves exchanged “um” glances. “If they go today without a goal it’s going to be difficult for David Moyes and his boys.”

Then Daveed grinned in to the camera, in a “because I’m worth it” kind of way.

Jake Humphrey and Owen Hargreaves exchanged “um” glances. But he wasn’t wrong, in fairness. Whether he’s worth it to BT is a whole other debate.

The match. Ah now.

Come full-time, Ray Stubbs felt he had no option but to ask the question: “Do you stand firm that you can still feature in the title race?” Moyes: “I stand firm that we’ll be very close.”

One definition of “close”, of course, is “uncomfortably airless”, which might have been what he meant, Match of the Day’s “heat map” later that night confirming there’s divil a puff of fresh air in the United midfield. It showed Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote refusing to let the ball out of his sight, glued to the bloody thing, while Tom Cleverley and Nani were in the frosty blue zones, allergic to meaningful possession, peripheral to the contest, nigh on in the stands selling MUFC hot dogs.

Hottest zone
The hottest zone, though, was Fergie’s seat in the VIP section, a volcanically sizzling red, before it blanked out as he thundered towards the dressing room to commence his “remember me, tossers?” address. Still, the outpouring of sympathy – nay, empathy – the past week from the non-United faithful has been a lovely, moving thing, not least the 8,367 “Moyes finally sees Everton win at Old Trafford, LOL” text messages.

At least Arsenal didn’t win yesterday, which was a comfort. It came as a surprise to Sky’s Paul Merson, though, having told us the Arsenal lads were all “singing from the same hymn sheet – they’re listening to Radio Luxembourg and you’re listening to Capital FM”.

How can you not love The Merse? Eg: “To win the Champions League with Porto, you have to be tactically acute”.

And then he announced “Aaron Ramsey is the second best player in the world”, which those who manage Fantasy League teams might agree with, but that’s only because Ronaldo and Messi (Zlatan: “Hello??”) are unavailable.

Come full-time, though, it was Everton’s Ross Barkley who was feeling Merse’s love, “the simple stuff he did well – sometimes, believe it or not, that’s the hardest stuff, the simplest stuff”.

True. Leinster, Munster and Connacht also simplifed the hardest stuff in the Heineken Cup over the weekend, winning handsomely.

Fionnuala Britton, though, missed out on the hardest thing of all, making it a European Cross Country three-in-a-row, finishing fourth in Belgrade. So, that’s a 4-1-1-4 record in the race, which is fabulous. But. “Anything less than a win was going to be a disappointment – so many people have helped me to improve, I just feel in a way I’ve let them down coming fourth,” she said to RTÉ’s Greg Allen after the race.

Hats off, too, to Seán Tobin who came ninth in the Junior men’s race. Jerry Kiernan, on RTÉ duty yesterday, was well impressed. But. “I believe he’s off to college next year in America, I’ve heard he’s going down to Mississippi, now if that’s so, I don’t know what the hell is taking him down there.”

There’ll be no welcome for Jerry, then, in Jackson, Mississippi Brilla, incidentally, is a football team based in Jackson. Daveed Moyes could be heading there soon.