Turns out that Premier League football really is a funny old game
It was a week of surprises – some of which were just plain weird
Manchester United interim manager Ryan Giggs sitting in the dug out with Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt during the match against Norwich
If you have Liverpool and Munster tattooed on your heart, you probably microwaved your remote control for dinner after an especially painful day – although the Liverpool faithful must have feared the worst when they heard Glory Days blasting through the Anfield speakers on Sky before the game.
A bit previous, you’d have thought, like those ‘Liverpool 2013-14 Premier League Champions’ t-shirts on sale during the week, although the lyrics were actually apt enough:
“Well time slips away and leaves you with nothing mister but boring stories of . . . glory days.”
Well . . .
Niall Quinn needed to be strapped to his chair, so squeaky was his bum over this three-way title-battle that seems destined to visit the wire, while Graeme Souness wore the look of a man who was beginning to wonder if the Glory Days weren’t actually about to return any time soon.
“It was clear that they had not come here to win the game with the time-wasting and what not,” said Brendan Rogers after Chelsea had, you know, won 2-0, not at all a Kevin Keegan spontaneous combustion moment, but teetering on the edge.
José was being José, nostrils flaring when he spoke to Sky, ‘if you want to call me a genius, that’s okay,’ they said – and sure look, maybe he is.
Still, it’s written in the Merseyside stars that Liverpool will prevail, the potential wackiness of it all that Everton might give them back their Glory Days by kiboshing City next weekend. The theme from Z Cars will transmute in to Achy Breaky Heart .
But the self-professed genius that is José, his second string doing unto Liverpool what his first lot most probably would have failed to do (winning), might have another say yet.
Saturday, of course, was the debut of Gaffer Giggs, which for those of us born in the last century is like seeing your niece becoming a granny. Weird.
So, once they’d stopped high-fiving each other over the sacking of Moyesie, Giggsie’s charges did the business against Real Norwich, prompting talk of the young fella getting the job on a permanent basis, Juansie and Waynesie lending their support to the prospect in their Sky chinwag after the game.
Is Giggsie more tactically astute than Moysie?
What, asked Sky, did he tell his players before the game?
“Just go out and enjoy yourselves,” he replied.
Well, it worked, on this occasion at least, but if he was to come up against José (‘Just go out and endure bus-parking hell’), you’d wonder if enjoyment would prevail.
(Brendan: “No chance.”)
Louis Van Gaal, then.
You’d be tempted to cuddle your telly when they appear on screen, not least after you’d said ‘ah sure, there’s always next year’ just before Simon Zebo did his try-thing (Steffon Armitage? Hush), making you wonder if the Glory Days were about to be renewed.
A tough old day, though – “it’s raining kitchen sinks on Munster at the moment,” as Sky’s Stuart Barnes noted when the going was exceptionally tough – and when the Toulon people booed the bejaysus out of Ian Keatley when he prepared to do his kicking thing, you could only hope they’d need Dyno-Rod to suck them out of the drain.
Jonny Wilkinson’s left peg? Grr.
Meanwhile, the Saturday Night Show on RTÉ. Kevin Kilbane. For those entrusted with the task in bygone days of extracting post-match quotes from players after Republic of Ireland games, the fella was gold rolled in to, well, gold.
If you asked some of his team-mates about, say, the weather, they’d regard the query as invasive, muckraking and scurrilous, while sporting that ‘d’you know who I am’ look. Kilbane, even if he was booed off the pitch after the most miserable of nights, would be a gentleman – cooperative, mannerly and gracious.