MEET THE NEW SPURS, NOT THE SAME AS THE OLD SPURS
A different referee, less out of puff, might have sent off Steven Bergwijn for shoving Caglar Soyuncu in the chest after play-acting for a penalty towards the end of the match between Leicester and Spurs on Wednesday night. But thankfully – although Foxes fans are permitted to demur – Jon Moss, blowing hard after 93 minutes of non-stop action, had little appetite or energy for digging deep into his pocket for the red card, and merely brandished yellow instead. Cue the most preposterous stoppage-time turnaround since Mario Balotelli teed one up for Agüeroooooooo. If only Martin Tyler had been commentating.
Bergwijn, off the hook, went on to score a 95th-minute equaliser, then 80 seconds later – which is not a lot of time when you factor in relieved celebrations and other associated fannying around before the restart – rounded Kasper Schmeichel, who had already started moaning at possession-shedder Youri Tielemans, and slotted home the winner. A comeback that was nothing short of heroic, although Leicester’s collapse was, how shall we say, a little Spursy. Mind you, there was plenty of BrenDNA in there too, when you consider Liverpool’s 2014 title challenge, Leicester’s attempts to qualify for Big Cup, and everything the Queen’s Celtic achieved under the master toast-and-tea-fuelled tactician in Europe. It’s almost as if a pattern is emerging.
So with the concept of Spursiness having finally been consigned to history, surely to be replaced in the vernacular by Rodgersesque, it was an almost perfect night for Antonio Conte. He maintained his unbeaten Premier League record as Spurs boss, saw his team leapfrog arch-rivals Arsenal in the table, and despite some understandably wild touchline celebrations, his new lid – a centre parting with subtle quiff that replaces that trademark Beatles ’63 fringe – stayed resolutely in place. The Conte revolution continues to gather momentum, then. Failure to build on this astonishing never-say-die result would be, how shall we say, Brendandelic.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Nobody can come away thinking that Shaun Harvey runs the club. Shaun Harvey has got a very big part to play in a lot of the significant decisions that are made, that is my role looking after Rob and Ryan’s investment into the club and trying to deliver for them against their mission statement” – look who’s getting his third-person on. Yes, the former Leeds and Football League chief suit is working as strategic advisor to Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney at Wrexham, and wants you to know that he’s not looking to undermine current chief suit, Fleur Robinson.
“I had not known about Frank Worthington’s signing for Liverpool (picture caption in yesterday’s Fiver), and looked it up. And what an astounding story. After Worthington failed a medical for high blood pressure (which he attributed to anxiety following the death of his father), Liverpool sent him away for a week of relaxation in Majorca before retaking his medical. The Huddersfield Examiner reported that the trip consisted of, after Worthington died: ‘Seven days of carousing, which involved two Swedish blondes, a night with Miss Great Britain, a casual encounter at the airport with a woman whose name he didn’t catch and a night with a young Belgian beauty. He retook the medical. His blood pressure was even higher. A bemused Shankly cancelled the deal and sent his mother some flowers.’ Different times” – Michael Hann (and 1,056 others).
“Following on from yesterday’s Fiver about Comoros, did you realise that a lot of very poor Africans across the continent cannot watch Afcon or World Cups (nor qualifiers for both and CAF club competitions) on their local TV channels but only through very expensive paywalls, often from Qatar. Many go and watch in cafes or through pirate online sites, but a lot more people just don’t watch any of it. When football is your only way of escapism, this really and truly sucks. That just doesn’t make any sense to me. Where people hardly earn enough to eat and educate their kids, no one will pay so much to watch football. I am pretty sure the broadcasters don’t need so much money from African audiences to watch their national teams play on an international stage, it really should be free” – Slim Chaabane.
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NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Former Brazil forward Robinho has had a nine-year sentence for the rape of a young woman upheld by Italy’s top court.
Player-hoarding establishments will have to tweak their strategy once regulations capping the number of international loans in and out at one club come into force in July.
Speaking of Chelsea … they may be forced to leave at home any players not vaccinated against Covid-19 for the second leg of their Big Cup last-16 tie at Lille in March.
Brentford’s Thomas Frank is feeling funky after their 3-1 home defeat against Manchester United. “If you look at the overall performance over 90 minutes there was only one winner, and that was us,” he fumed. “It’s a miracle they were not 2-0 down at half-time.”
Egypt are into the Afcon last 16 after beating Sudan 1-0, while Guinea-Bissau’s hopes are over after losing 2-0 to Nigeria.
Barcelona want rid of Ousmane Dembélé before the end of January. “It is obvious the player does not want to continue and is not committed to our future,” sniffed club suit Mateu Alemany. “In that scenario, he and his [Mr 15%s] have been informed that he should leave immediately.”
Norwich keeper Tim Krul faces a spell on the sidelines with shoulder-gah, with Angus Gunn to start in Friday’s relegation showdown with Watford.
Leeds striker Patrick Bamford has also suffered a fresh foot-knack setback.
Caretaker Everton boss Duncan Ferguson is demanding full commitment from his players after Rafa Benítez’s sacking. They would do well to give it to him. “I am getting among the players and telling a few home truths because the past has not been good enough,” he roared. “They should run themselves into the ground.”
And Bristol Manor Farm manager Lee Lashenko has been banned for 12 matches by the FA for confronting and abusing a referee after their FA Trophy loss to Paulton Rovers.
STILL WANT MORE?
Enter the Ralf-shaped universe at Manchester United. By Barney Ronay.
Where will Ben Brereton Díaz rock up next? The Mill has the latest.
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