Angry fans

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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. This week why players have writing on their hands; the big clubs and their debts; Chelsea defending the Scolari way; Van Persie and the referees; Wigan small club and small-town mentality; Drogba’s 100th goal in 200 appearances; relegation battle already decided; sanity check for Pompey fans; La Liga a procession; will Brown burst into song; Nani, Valencia and Berbatov unconvincing; Arsenal find their keeper. And Phil Dowd!

The Letter of the Week goes to Tim Devlin of West Cork. Get in touch with your postal address and our magnificent prize will be winging its way to you before you know it.

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LIAM, come here. What’s with all these professional footballers who seem to have the Book of Psalms inscribed along their inner arms? Craig Bellamy? Half the Stoke team? What is all that writing? The opening two lines of Clayhanger? The introduction to The Mabinogion? An extract from Dubliners? Or are they like that guy in Memento who had to tattoo his memories on his body in order for him to recall them? What’s your theory Liam?

Daniel Scully, Waterford, by email

OUR SHOUT: Probably an aide memoire along the the lines of 'must avoid tatoo parlour when drunk'.

LIAM, take a look at this quote from a so-called big frankfurter in the Bundesliga: “Does it makes sense that Manchester United has debts of 650million euro and Chelsea 700m euro? In the most recent Champions League semi-final, there were three teams standing on the pitch with debts exceeding €1.5bn euro. What if that were only half a million instead?”
Setting aside the fact that the Chelsea debt figure is wrong (€350m, which Abramovich owes to himself) why do these Eurocrats (including Platini and Blatter) never, EVER, mention Real Madrid who have borrowed hundreds of millions from banks and building societies to fund their spending. European football administrators will never have any real credibility until they are more even-handed in their criticism.

Tom Moloney, Dublin, by email:

OUR SHOUT: Always nice to hear from our friends in Barcelona.

GOOD to see at the weekend that Chelsea haven’t forgotten everything that they learned under Luis Felipe Scolari. Their defending for the three goals they conceded against Wigan was right out of his coaching manual.

Dublin Blue

OUR SHOUT: That'll teach them not to have written his instructions on their arms.

WHAT’S so wrong in what Van Persie had to say about making it clear to referees when he’s been fouled? The previous week Redknapp was saying that Robbie Keane should make it more apparent when he’s been fouled if he is to get the penalties he deserves. Wasn’t Van Persie simply making it clear that he does exactly that? The likely outcome, of course, is that he will get fewer spot kicks awarded on his behalf in the future.

Tim Devlin, West Cork, by email

OUR SHOUT: When even the tv camera can have difficulty discerning the fine line between gamesmanship and cheating - or the cause and effect of "minimal contact" and "going down in the box" - you can hardly blame a striker for seeking to maximise whatever tiny advantage might accrue. So credit Van Persie for an attempt at honesty even if he probably did generate more light than heat, but, today, I'd sooner credit him for that splendid goal against Fulham. Berkampesque or what? Anyway, our Letter of the Week prize goes to Tim.

I WOULDN’T say I was Phil Dowd’s biggest fan, and sending off a goalkeeper is always a serious decision, but I think he got it spot on when he dismissed Petr Cech. A clear goalscoring opportunity was denied when Rodallega was brought down. It’s tough that he misses the Liverpool game, but hey, that’s life.

Anfield Red, by email

OUR SHOUT: I'm sure your heartfelt sympathy is much appreciated down in west London.
GREAT victory by Wigan, but the usual useless turn-out by their rugby league-loving supporters. Away end sold out, huge gaps on the terraces which should be occupied by home fans. Small town team, and small-town mentality. If they can’t get it up for the first proper victory over a top four club there’s no hope for them.

Anthony Delaney, Clonmel, by email

OUR SHOUT: What was that scoreline again? Oh yeah. Small town team 3 Small minds 1.Red card for Mr Delaney.

WIGAN deserved all the headlines this weekend, but it’s worth noting also that Drogba scored his 100th goal in less than 200 games. Only Fernando Torres has a better contemporary goals-per-game ratio. Thank goodness those two haven’t sloped off to Spain.

Sean Dunleavy, Dublin, by email

OUR SHOUT: Ah, give them time.

CREDIT to Ancelotti for showing that he can lose, as well as win, with dignity. No moaning about the referee, and no reluctance to offer his opponents their due measure. He may find it's a quality that doesn’t go down well with his boss though.

Pat Keating, Limerick

OUR SHOUT: And we may find the gaffer himself singing a rather grumpier tune if Wigan proves not to be a one-off.

PORTSMOUTH, Hull and Burnley. Is this the first time the relegation battle has been decided before October?

Alan Colgan, Dublin, by email

OUR SHOUT: Perhaps it might be worth remembering that, this time last year, Hull were looking odds on to win the League, the Champions League, the FA Cup and the Grand National. So a bit early to be making rash predictions - although Portsmouth are obviously doomed of course. Speaking of whom...

SULAIMAN al-Fahim says he’s going to spend £10m in January on either new players or a new training ground for Portsmouth. Given that they are going to be down by then perhaps he should be concentrating on next season rather than recruiting a bunch of Redknapp-style mercenaries who they are going to carry, at a cost, into the Championship with them. Too little, too late

Dennis Greene, London, by email

DID the free health examinations made available for men of a certain age before the game at Fratton Park also include sanity-checks for those people going to watch Portsmouth in the first place?

Liam Foran, Cork, by email

OUR SHOUT: Since when has anyone ever accused any football supporter anywhere of sanity? A gross slur, sir!

FOR one moment, when Phil Brown said in his post match interview, that “things can only get better” I feared he was going to burst into song again and reveal that his part-time job is as a backing singer in an D:Ream tribute band. What’s going to be next in his repertoire (Search for the Hero Inside Yourself, by M-People.

Niall Joyce, Dublin, by email

OUR SHOUT: Surely you should know by now that's there's never a frown with golden brown.

UNITED may be back at the top but am I the only supporter who finds the work of Nani, Valencia, and Berbatov entirely unconvincing? Despite that win at Stoke I find them poor substitutes for Ronaldo and Tevez, and if it wasn’t for Ryan Giggs (again) we could have been struggling here. Berbatov has to be the laziest €32m player in the history of the game.

Red Devil, Limerick, by email

OUR SHOUT: True. Top of the table. How much more pain can you take?

HAVE Arsenal finally found a goalkeeper to replace David Seaman. Vito Mannone’s performance at the weekend was truly outstanding.

Liam Molloy, Carlow, by email

OUR SHOUT: Always nice to hear from Mrs Mannone.

TRAPATTONI’S contract extension – good news or not Liam?

Sean Byrne, Limerick, by email

OUR SHOUT: Good news. Short of Stan-like catastrophe, international managers should always get at least two campaings.

MILLWALL? How can they protest about the decision to charge them for the trouble at last month’s Carling Cup game. I suppose that all those seats that were torn out in the Millwall end all suffered simultaneous system collapse? And as for West Ham arguing that it was only a minority of fans that was “appalling” I thought I saw several hundred beer-bellied Irons on the pitch that night.

Peter Hennessey, Kildare, by email

OUR SHOUT: Spotters badge for you Peter, and a free copy of Green Street for your troubles. Did you know that the ancient enmity between West Ham and Millwall has its roots in a dock strike years ago? I offer you than information for free. All part of the service!


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