Angry Fans

OUR football correspondent LIAM MACKEY is back in top form and full of energy.

He casts his eye over your comments and gives his own critical analysis of the goings on throughout the world of football. You may agrewith him or then again you may not. This week Richardo Fuller slap to the Captain; Wenger losing his mind; Rafa to laugh last and longest; What was Gerrard doing at 2.30 am; Ashley asking too much for Newcastle; Supporters not fooled by businessmen; P Jewell took Derby backwards; Scolari suffering memory loss; Pleased for Hodgson; Berbatov expensive flop; Sbragia is a poor choice; Phil Brown believing myth. Ireland’s long ball.

The Letter of the Week goes to Anthony Barry, Clonmel. Get in touch with your postal address and our magnificent prize will be winging its way to you.

WATCHING Ricardo Fuller dish out a slap to Andy Griffin, his captain, on Sunday led me to wonder what other inter-team face-offs would make good viewing. I think I would pay good money to see John Terry v Didier Drogba; then there’s the chance of a rematch between Emanuel Adebayor and Nicholas Bendtner; at Old Trafford Vidic and Ronaldo would be a laugh, with Ronaldo’s version of the Ali Shuffle well in evidence and almost anyone at Newcastle against Joey Barton. On second thoughts, scrap that. Barton’s already had too much practice. Put him in against Ricky Hatton.

Dominic Breslin, Dublin, by email

OUR SHOUT: Am I the only one who felt let down by the big fight? After the hysterical reports from Upton Park, I expected a full-blown, knock-down, drag-'em-out rumble. Instead, all we got was a little slap to the face, the kind of thing that Cloughie used to do as a show of affection. And Griffin didn't even have the decency to collapse and roll around like he'd been assaulted to within an inch of his life. Frankly, I thought the whole thing was almost as naff as Tony Pulis' baseball hat.

HAS Arsène Wenger truly taken leave of his senses? If signing Andre Arshavin is the answer then it must be a truly awful question. Wenger didn’t like him in Euro 2008, and if anything his form has gone down since then. I’ve got a better suggestion for him. Sign Joe Cole. He doesn’t look happy at Chelsea under Scolari; he’s a Premier League winner, an England international, and he will dovetail well with Fabregas when the captain returns.

Cork Gooner, by email

OUR SHOUT: Having watched up-close when Arshavin was blowing red-hot at the Euros, I suggest that humble pie could yet be on the menu along with your festive left-overs.

LOOKS to me that Rafa is going to have the last laugh. He sticks with his rotation policy, drops Robbie Keane and even plays the up-until-now useless Lucas Leiva. Result -- a resounding 5-1 win at St James’s Park, a three-point cushion at the top of the league, which will probably go to six when Chelsea lose at Old Trafford in a fortnight. The man’s a genius!

Limerick Red, by email OUR SHOUT: Er, hang on - they were playing Newcastle.

DO footballers never learn? Why would Steven Gerrard want to be in a nightclub in Southport at 2.30 in the morning after a trip to Newcastle? I’ve got no doubt that he won’t have done anything wrong and it will be some Merseyside Busy out to make a name for himself.

Garry Doylan, Waterford, by email

OUR SHOUT: I totally agree Garry. Why a nightclub in Southport - Southport!?! - when Stevie G could have stayed over and had an even wilder time at a nightclub on Tyneside. Will they never learn is right.

SO Mike Ashley has taken Newcastle United off the market. No buyers then.

Stephen O’Reilly, Tipperary, by email

NEWCASTLE’S Mike Ashley needs to learn that no one is fooled by what businessmen say any more. The reason he can’t sell Newcastle United was that he was asking too much money for it; far more than his purchase price and his investment. No wonder Newcastle fans described his announcement -- which coincided with a tribute planned by fans for Bobby Robson’s 76th birthday -- as “the most unwelcome Christmas present anyone on Tyneside wanted." Ashley needs to get out; he’s a busted currency, and most of the Toon Army look forward to the day that he does.

Patrick McAllister, Cavan, by email

OUR SHOUT: I supsect they won't have to wait too long.

PAUL Jewell feels that he is “no longer in a position to take Derby County forward." Looking at his record since he took over (lowest number of points -- 11 -- in the Premier League, and taking the Rams to 18th place in the Championship) . . . could someone explain when he ever was? Yet this was a man who was linked with the Republic of Ireland job at one stage!

Noel Murphy, Dublin, by email

OUR SHOUT: Message forwarded to Giles and Dunphy.

WHEN Phil Scolari says that Chelsea have been “very good” at defending corners and set pieces this season he must be suffering from short-term memory loss. I seem to remember a totally unmarked near-post equaliser at Bordeaux which eventually ensured that they came second in their Champions League group and now face a difficult tie with Juventus as a consequence. They were also beaten at the far post by Cluj at Stamford Bridge. Fact is that without Terry and Carvalho as a central pairing no one takes responsibility for defending in that team. And that is going to cost them the league.

Patrick Keating, by email

OUR SHOUT: Just as well they'll have Terry and Carvalho back for the second half of the season then, right? And who will you blame then?

FULHAM were lucky to get their point against Chelsea given the number of opportunities that the visitors squandered, but you have to feel pleased for Roy Hodgson. Under Lawrie Sanchez they were a team destined for the Championship. Hodgson took a gamble in going to Craven Cottage, turning down a job with Internazionale along the way, and he’s got them playing well. He was a good shout for the manager’s job in Ireland and, who knows, he may get his chance at some stage in the future. We could do a whole lot worse.

Anthony Barry, Clonmel, by email

OUR SHOUT: Have out Letter of the Week prize for good words on one of the Premiership's more low-key and - no coincidence - admirable figures.

IS IT too early to say that the money spent on Dimitar Berbatov was an unnecessary extravagance? I don’t feel he has brought nearly enough to Old Trafford to justify a £32m outlay and we were hardly short of striking options before his arrival. United need three things -- a new right back; cover for Patrice Evra; an outstanding central midfielder and they will soon need to groom the replacement in goal. All of these problem positions could have been solved for the money spent on Berbatov. One great drag back on the byline doesn’t justify the investment.

Red Devil, Limerick, by email

OUR SHOUT: Nope, and aren't you glad you can turn to Mr Tevez.

LET me be the first to say that I don’t think Ricky Sbragia is the correct appointment for Sunderland, and Sunday’s performance against Everton just underlines that point. He, like Steve Clarke, has the air and demeanour of a caretaker or a second-in-command. I predict we will be revisiting this decision within 12 months.

Nick Mansell, Cork, by email

OUR SHOUT: That was quick. But then it's easy being the first to say anything - you just say it - so have a red card for premature dissing not to mention lack of originality.

WHAT was that Phil Brown show at Manchester City all about? What will be doing next? Lining the team up outside the dressing room with their hands on their heads. He was talking about the performance “not being good enough for a Phil Brown team.” The guy’s a tyro manager, not an international brand. And he should ditch the furry-collared flying jacket. Seems to me he’s beginning to believe the myth. And that is dangerous in football.

Tiger Tim, by email

OUR SHOUT: Next week: inspired by Stoke City, Phil takes his team into the centre-circle and goes fifteen rounds with every one of them. I'd pay to see it anyway.

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