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All Things Footie | Monday, January 28 | Jordan

Money For Nothing

Firstly I'm going to get Jamie Carragher's moment of madness off my chest. In my opinion his act of unashamed stupidity was no better than Eric Cantona's infamous kick at an abusive supporter. I would even go so far as to say that Cantona was more justified — at least he knew he attacked the right person. Carragher could have hit a child in the eye, or a pensioner does it matter? the point is he could easily have caused serious damage to a perfectly innocent party. The idiot that threw the coin is of course partially to blame, but in no way can this excuse Carragher's behavior.

I somehow doubt that Carragher will receive comparable censure to Cantona though, he's not French is he? For the record I also think that Carragher's act is just as bad as anything John Terry and Frank Lampard have done — the coin throwing incident also tells us something about the player's ability to conduct himself in the proper manner on the field.

No surprise that the self-obsessed idiot Gordon Taylor has called for more protection for players, with barely a comment on Carragher's behavior other than an appeal not to punish him more than for his sending off. I'm not too convinced about the sincerity of the Liverpool player's apology either, compare and contrast if you will…

“He let himself down, his team-mates down and his club down and I've told him that”
— Phil Thompson

“I let the club, the fans, my team-mates and myself down”
— Jamie Carragher

Clearly words from the heart. At least it shows he listens to his manager.

As for the other sending off's I thought Martin Keown probably deserved to go. You could (if you were a cynical old dog) say he sacrificed himself knowing that Owen would reach the ball, and seeing Wright in no mans land. I personally don't think he would be that stupid and although Owen did react to the faintest of touches, that's all that it takes.

I thought Dennis Bergkamp was very unlucky. Mike Riley had build up a head of steam and had gotten it into his head that the game was about to descend into an orgy of studs up challenges and if he was lucky, he may even get to send Patrik Vieira off. If you watch the incident (slow motion or TV speed) Bergkamp was about to challenge Carragher, when the Liverpool man played the ball. As Bergkamp was changing his footing to turn and chase the ball Carragher pulled his feet out of the way. I can't remember whether he made a big deal of it (I don't think he did) but Bergkamp certainly didn't make contact with him and I don't think he ever intended to. Very harsh.

Diego Forlorn

The Uruguayan must have been a bit puzzled watching his chosen team play the circus act in front of the side he snubbed. That's not to suggest for a moment that he would be having second thoughts about his move to United. I'm sure a more weighty pay packet and a house in a slightly less arctic location are very welcome; an opportunity to form a partnership with Ruud Van Nistelrooy, play in Europe and the big boon of a squad place at United — a guaranteed place in the International team (ask Gary Neville about that one.)

Just as things looked like they were getting better for the Champions, they have to play a decent team and a tricky cup tie; d�j� vu anyone? It's do or die for United now, the defence really are going to have to stop making a mockery of the team if they want to win anything this season. It's quite a unique situation in recent times, teams are often weaker in one area of the pitch but never has the contrast been as great as it is at Old Trafford right now.

Beckham, Giggs, Veron, Scholes and Keane are five of the finest midfielders in the world and contrary to popular opinion they've not been playing badly this season. Van Nistelrooy has proven to his doubters (me included not many months ago) that he can score goals and his teamwork and dedication has been second only to Roy Keane. The problem is that for all those players' hard work breaking down defensive teams, and picking locks with some stunning passing and moving, the defence is barely Premiership standard.

For every great United goal this season there has been a defensive disaster, for every clinical finish by Van Nistelrooy there's been a fluff by Blanc or Barthez, the togetherness of the midfield is perfectly contrasted by the profound inability of anyone to communicate at the back. Teams in the first division genuinely do have more solid, talented and hard working back lines than Manchester United — West Bromwich Albion for one (you can't argue with only 18 conceded in 30 games, just 7 at home.)

Other notable results include third division Cheltenham overcoming division one high flyers Burnley 2-1, Manchester City overcoming Ipswich 4-1 in an enjoyable game last night and West Ham coming from a goal behind to draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. West Brom will be happy with their efficient 1-0 win over Premiership Leicester City and how much did we all want Peterborough to beat Newcastle? Not that I have anything against Newcastle, but the sight of Barry Fry running down the touchline after David Farrell scored a wonderful equaliser, was a true FA-Cup moment.

Some tasty ties in the next round, I'm looking forward to Keegans return to St James' Park and Walsall against Fulahm at the Bescot stadium. Here's a round up of the fifth round ties;

Tottenham Hotspur
or Bolton Wanderers
v Tranmere Rovers
Newcastle United v Manchester City
Arsenal v Gillingham
or Bristol Rovers
or West Ham United
v Preston North End
Middlesbrough v Blackburn Rovers
Everton v Crewe Alexandra
Walsall v Fulham
West Bromwich Albion v Cheltenham
To be played on the weekend of Feb 16 - 17

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