Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Billy on the Box: Boys in blue given a really tough time in north London

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 07: Manchester City fans celebrate as Joleon Lescott scores their first goal during the FA Community Shield match sponsored by McDonald's between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on August 7, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Picture the scene. North London. Two warring factions doing battle; the noisy upstarts rising up against the powers-that-be in an effort to create a new world order, only to find themselves put in their place by a Nani.

The Metropolitan Police are believed to have drafted in Julie Andrews to boost their forces citing that if it worked at Wembley, why shouldn’t it work elsewhere in the capital?

Against a backdrop of mayhem and thuggery (no, not Gary Neville) football returned on Sunday. That’s real football, not silly pre-season tournaments or friendlies, as while the Community Shield may mean very little, it’s as close as we’ve had since Barcelona ran riot a few weeks ago.

I’ve been longing for Jamie Redknapp’s groin-achingly straining strides to fill the screen with their strange hypnotic presence, although once again the Sky caption writers have been at their work.

Up came Jamie’s name and not a sausage. Up came Gary’s and under it ‘won 15 major trophies, including eight Premier League titles’. Harsh, they could have pointed out that Nev missed out on the 2006 GQ Best Dressed Man award, won by a Mr Redknapp of London.

It didn’t shake ‘Arry’s’ boy as he hit back with an early contender for the ‘you don’t say’ prize with ‘I think at times we get accused of over-emphasising the Premier League.’ No, I won’t have that.

Ed Chamberlin, whose caption should read ‘not Richard Keys’ continues to be the frontman who isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions as when Gary commented that new United signing Phil Jones is ‘gold’.

“What do you mean by ‘gold’?, he pondered. Now, thankfully Gary counted to ten and didn’t reach over and thump him but soon we were with Martin Tyler and Ray Wilkins, the latter officially the world’s nicest man. He’d give a petrol bomber a light.

“It’s great to have football back, I’ve missed it terribly. It’s been great to see England play their cricket, but football is finally back,” he said and we all nodded. It’s been 71 days, Ray. Hearts have had about 12 managers since then.

Things on the pitch weren’t so nice, certainly there was little charity about as things got a little heated.

“It’s a reaction, young children are watching at home and they don’t want to see it,” added Ray, not knowing that they were too busy making chainmail hoodies to notice.

Half-time and somehow City were two goals to the good, the second scored, according to Jamie, by Jacko. We haven’t seen him since Brush Strokes but if you’d had Elmo in goals he would have made a better effort of saving it.

Or as Ray had said ‘I think the young man will be rather disappointed by that’, while Fergie sat on the sidelines with the word ‘Taibi’ roaring through his head.

Thankfully for Geoff Shreeves’ sake United pulled it out of the bag thanks to their Nani and meant that he escaped the wrath of the red Knight when he broke the cardinal rule — asking a tough question.

“Was the goalkeeper at fault for the second one,” asked fearless Geoff and promptly ignored but undeterred, he asked again and this time was told ‘it bent a little bit, he was going back on his foot, so it’s difficult to say’. Or ‘yes’ would have done.

But it was the Devils who had the last word with the boys in blue having to give second best. They’re in for a tough time getting on top, and it won’t be easy for City either.

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