ColumnAll in the Game

Erik ten Hag’s baldness somehow getting the blame for his struggles at Manchester United

Some significant goalpost-moving by the British home office, and the ugly life in Wolverhampton


On the face of it, the headlines last week didn’t look the best: “Football-related arrests in England and Wales reach nine-year high.” But? A big one. According to the English and Welsh Football Supporters’ Association, some significant goalpost-moving had been done by the British home office in how they added up the figures for the 2022-23 season.

Three new “datasets” were included for the first time, among them figures for arrests relating to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. “So if you were in a pub last December watching the World Cup and managed to get yourself arrested then – bingo! – you too could be part of the football-arrest statistics.” That added 101 arrests to the overall figures, 4.5 per cent of the total.

And Class A drug arrests have also been included for the first time, amounting to 8.8 per cent of the overall total. If, the FSA pointed out, these two categories had not been included, then the number of football-related arrests would actually have fallen.

The third “dataset” to be added, incidentally, was the number of arrests relating to the summer’s women’s World Cup. How many were there? Zero.

Word of Mouth

“That coach intervened badly. How can you get rid of Cristiano Ronaldo? The bald guys are very complicated.” Chile legend Arturo Vidal blaming Erik ten Hag’s decision to get rid of Cristiano on the fact that he’s follicly challenged.

“Maybe right now on the bench?” Frank Leboeuf on being asked what is the best position for Kai Havertz at Arsenal. Harsh.

“The Korean guy.” Ahead of Manchester City’s trip to Wolves, Pep Guardiola struggled to remember Hee-Chan Hwang’s name. After he scored the winner for Wolves, Pep won’t forget it in a hurry.

Ugly life

Having moved to England four years ago, when he joined Wolves’ academy, Spanish fullback Hugo Bueno should be well accustomed to life in Blighty by now. Alas, it would seem that he’s still struggling a touch to settle in. All you can hope is that his twin brother Guile is faring a little better at Borussia Dortmund.

“When I arrived here I realised that everyday life was not pretty or interesting,” he’s quoted as saying by Spanish paper AS. “The weather doesn’t help and they don’t go out much, but I came here to play football. I haven’t been to Dortmund yet, but it couldn’t possibly be uglier than Wolverhampton.”

You sense there might be a hasty clarification issued on his social media accounts some time very soon, with possibly an “I was misquoted” claim thrown in.

Quote of the Week

Look, I used to love Happy Days back then but I don’t have posters of The Fonz on my wall now

—   Ange Postecoglou insisting he’s moved on from his youth when Liverpool and The Fonz were the loves of his life. He probably has a poster of Son Heung-min on his wall now
In Numbers

17: The number of players sent off so far in this English Premier League season, according to Opta, compared to five at the same stage last season. Trigger happy refs.

Word of Mouth 2.0

“One idiotic young boy – I can’t even call him a man – has compromised the team with his behavioural standards ... unless we man up – and I know you have to be careful saying that in the modern era – and absolutely eradicate these weak, feeble-minded individuals that are currently inside our unit, we won’t get promoted out of this division.” How peeved was Bristol Rovers gaffer Joey Barton with his own Luke Thomas after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Peterborough? A lot.

“It was like watching someone else walk your daughter down the aisle.” Nathan Jones on seeing his former Luton side win promotion to the Premier League last May in the play-off final.

“I am ferociously pissed off at Uefa, Fifa and Serie A and all this gang for this crazy calendar. They are sending these guys to the slaughterhouse without anyone intervening.” Fair to say, Lazio boss Maurizio Sarri is not overly chuffed with his team’s busy schedule.