Chris Lakey: Schteve’s shurely having a giraffe...
PUBLISHED: 12:35 28 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:36 28 September 2018
I do lists. And memos. Lots and lots of lists and memos.
My email box is full of things I have sent to myself before I forget them.
I’ve never reached the stage where I have woken up in the middle of the night and written down some inspirational words that turned out to be the lyrics to Hey Jude or Hotel California.
It’s stuff that is important to me, but perhaps mundane in the bigger scheme of things.
This week’s theme has been ’things that get on my wick’.
I know where it came from - Norwich City’s win over QPR at the weekend.
I watched the game on TV and was impressed with what I saw. I thought City were dominant, they handled QPR’s early second-half revival and the anticipated kitchen sink job at the very end. Teemu Pukki’s goal decided the game - a cross from the left got a bit of a touch and Pukki knew what to do, adjusting his body position ever so slightly and then chesting the ball home. The Sky commentator and his expert summariser, whose name escapes me but who may have been Don Goodman, posed the question, ‘did he do it on purpose?’ It was clear from the first viewing that it was deliberate play from a clever player, and after a replay or two the Sky chaps finally agreed.
That, I thought, would be the end of that. But then along came Steve McClaren.
The QPR boss had every right to be a bit down on things given his side had been in good form after a poor start to the season, but he rather ruined the moment in his post-match interviews.
“It was a horrible game, not even a proper goal. A ricochet off Leistner’s toe and then chest and in,” he said in that stilted way of his. Remember the two Amsterdam police officers on the Fast Show who spent their time smoking illegal substances in their cop car? Remember how they speak and then read McClaren’s comments in the same way. It makes them as laughable as they truly were.
I know a few people whose accent has changed after living overseas for a while - I have never known anyone to spend three years overseas and, seven years later, still have a touch of Dutsch about the way they schpeak.
McClaren really got on my wick with his comment. Not a proper goal? Who defines proper goal? Should they be disallowed? If it had been scored by a QPR player would it have been proper?
I always thought the media savaged him unnecessarily as the Wally with a brolley, but I see it now. He brings it upon himself and is regarded by many as a laughing stock.
Anyway, my McClaren TV rage had just about cleared when up popped another serial offender in the ‘things that get on my wick’ category: Ashley Young.
As I watched Manchester United drift towards another ignominious defeat (at home to Derby in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday) I couldn’t help keeping my eye on Young and his antics. The man appeals for everything to be in his favour. Every single thing. He fouled David Nugent – very clearly kicked his leg. The ref blew for a foul and Young jumped around as if he had been the victim of the biggest injustice since Harald Schumacher took out Patrick Battiston at the 1982 World Cup... and wasn’t even booked.
Young slapped his head with the palms of his hands in disbelief. The replay was unnecessary but, just in case, proved beyond doubt he had clearly committed an offence.
Young is a mouthy individual who somehow got a gig at the World Cup... and is still playing for Disfunctional United.
His behaviour made me wonder what would happen in a match in which there was no referee. As a young teenager I used to play football in Wisbech Park five nights a week and we didn’t need a ref – and I don’t recall us ever moaning at a decision. We just got on with it. I wonder how long a game between two top teams would last without an official... minutes, I’d say, before hissy fit stopped play.
Footballers like Young and managers like McClaren make fools of themselves and the game.
Daniel Farke doesn’t appear to be a greedy bloke. He hasn’t got much in the way of resources to think about in building his squad, but you have rarely, if ever, heard him moan about it.
Guess we are lucky in a way that he is happy with his lot and just gets on with the job – it just means that when a plan comes good, it feels all the better. And at the moment, it’s coming good. City are on form, they’re playing well and they are playing the way he wants them to play. The round pegs are slotting into round holes and the fans are behind him and the team – have a look at the turnout at Wycombe on Tuesday ... unbelievable.
Farke has even avoided that old chestnut, the selection headache. He has Teemu Pukki ripping it up in the Championship – the Finn has scored five league goals this season; he’s made 12 appearances for club and country, in all competitions – and scored in eight of them.
On Tuesday he was given a rest, and Jordan Rhodes took his opportunity with both hands, scoring a hat-trick in the 4-3 League Cup win at Wycombe. Some will be asking whether Farke has the aforementioned selection headache to deal with ahead of this today’s home game against Wigan. Does he play both of them. Does he start Rhodes? Does he start Pukki?
The answers are likely to be: No, no and yes.
He could play both, but he won’t, because that is not his way of playing – and when it has brought you a run of six games unbeaten – the last four all wins – it would seem implausible to try and make an argument for it.
Barring injury or mishap, Pukki starts. It’s simple. And not just simple, it is easy. The ‘selection headache’ doesn’t exist because Rhodes has been around long enough to know the score. As he said, Pukki was the first to congratulate him on his hat-trick. This isn’t a rivalry which could cause unnecessary division in the camp. This is a team ethic which has clearly come to the fore in recent weeks. It is what Farke is trying to engender in his squad. It shouldn’t go without mention that it is also probably the reason another striker, Nelson Oliveira, isn’t mentioned in this debate.
Farke wants unity on all fronts. Any dissenting voices are unwelcome.