Wayne Rooney? This is your life. He scored a sensational volleyed goal yesterday against West Ham United.
Of course, immediate comparisons will be made with David Beckham’s long distance lob against Crystal Palace.
My vote goes to Rooney, who never controlled the ball, but volleyed it, after a lovely little nudge on his opponent. Becks had the ball at his feet and was under no pressure, waltzing in midfield. “Incredible!” “Astonishing!” That’s what the commentators said. F****** brilliant! Oh, but not on the telly can that be said.
Arsenal will be seen as English Premier League Champions-pretenders this season for one reason. Against other top four teams they have been given a royal tonking by the other three when paying at their grounds. Yesterday, they suffered 6-0 to Chelsea, but had been roasted 6-3 by Manchester City and 5-1 by Liverpool. That big loss spoiled Arsene Wenger’s 1000 EPL game as their manager.
But, the match was also memorable for a refereeing howler. Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain dived and handled the ball on the goal line, but a bizarre case of mistaken identity meant that his team-mate Kieran Gibbs was sent off instead. Referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot for a penalty, but sent off Keiran Gibbs, rather than Oxlade-Chamberlain, who could be seen on television vainly telling the official: “Ref, it was me!” Do I really want ‘to go there’ and say, “We know they all look alike?” No, I’ll let Marriner stew on the skewer for a bit first.
Refereeing decisions. I may have to start a petition to see if FIFA will review refereeing decisions in a transparent fashion. But, the no-men of Zürich are not easily persuaded to do things that are sensible for ‘the beautiful game’. They argue that ugly is pretty, in the sense that “mistakes are part of the game”. Well, yes, if you allow them to be and do not use simple means to correct them.
A report from last year, highlighting refereeing incompetence, could easily have been written this past weekend. I’ll keep hammering this topic, hoping that like many a real person, FIFA will feel the sting of shame. But, I wont hold my breath. After all, we’ve got the murky World Cup bidding process to occupy them. What is it about organizations based in Switzerland that makes me feel a bit queasy when thinking that transparency is not high on the agenda?