In this edition of Said & Done we look at the big talking points of the last week. With Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney causing a stir with his elbow, Chelsea’s Ashley Cole shooting a work experience kid and Birmingham City defeating Arsenal in the League Cup final.
After Wayne Rooney’s elbow on Wigan Athletic’s James McCarthy there has been a huge call for the United striker to be banned by the FA after referee Mark Clattenberg only gave a free-kick for the incident. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was quick to defend his player saying “There is nothing in it. You have asked the question because it is Wayne Rooney. The press will raise a campaign to get him hung by Tuesday or electrocuted or something like that. It is unbelievable. Watch the press. It will be interesting to see it.”
It was a smart move by Ferguson as it was obvious that such an incident to go unpunished would rightly be picked up by the football media. Since then Wigan chairman, Dave Whelan has criticised the FA for hiding behind their own rules by not punishing Rooney.
“Something is wrong when a top international like Rooney is seen doing something like this, as clear as day, and is allowed to get away without being punished,” he said. “If it was any other club or player, you can bet your life he would have been sent off. But officials seem intimidated by the words ‘Rooney’ and ‘United’.”
However, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand responded on his Twitter page by saying : “The referee and FA have made their decision… it’s gone now, you can’t change it so let’s all move on now. “The FA ‘bottle’ it with Man Utd is all I keep hearing/reading…. well you never said they ‘bottled’ it when I got a 4 game ban last season.” Ferdinand received an extra game band after appealing against a violent conduct charge against Hull City last season.
The FA are subject to showing double standards, when Ben Thatcher’s shocking elbow challenge landed Pedro Mendes in hospital he received an extended ban (and rightly so) despite only being booked during the game. These types of challenges need to be dealt with or we might see more incidents like the one suffered by Iain Hume who had a fractured skull after an elbow from Chris Morgan.
In one of the most bizarre news stories was the shooting incident at Chelsea’s training ground in which full back Ashley Cole shot a 21-year intern worker with an air rifle. Probably overshadowing the Rooney incident in the last day there is even an animated video of the incident by a Taiwan broadcaster showing Cole shooting a gun although actual reports of what really happened have been kept within the club. Chelsea manager, Carlo Ancelotti said on the incident “He always had very good behaviour here. Now we have to move on. Who didn’t make a mistake in his life? The mistake was that the gun was here in Cobham. We didn’t know the gun was here.”
Twitter has provided some light hearted humour about the incident, some of my favourites have to be ‘Once a Gunner, always a Gunner’ and ‘It’s the last time any of the Chelsea Lads will ever joke about Ashley Cole having a tiny weapon!
Arsenal’s chance of winning their first trophy since 2005 was crushed by a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Birmingham City at Wembley. Despite Captain Cesc Fabregas and the pacey Theo Walcott missing the game through injuries, the Gunners were still hot favourites to defeat the Blues and finally get the trophyless-stint off their back.
However, Birmingham City came with a game plan and put in a rather decent performance if you don’t mind the odd long ball or five. The use of tallest striker in the Premier League, Nikola Zigic, caused the Arsenal defence problems all game. But it was a mistake by keeper Wojciech Szczesny and defender Laurent Koscielny that let the on loan Brum striker, Obafemi Martins to tap in a 89th minute winner. It was a very different display by the pair that appeared so solid against Barcelona in the Champions League recently.
The match reminded me of the 2002 League Cup final between Blackburn Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur in which Rovers won 2-1 despite Tottenham being hot favourites to lift the trophy. Credit is due to Birmingham City however who finally got their hands on their first piece of silver wear since 1963.