Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Billy on the Box: Jamie gets booked as referee takes the Mike

Robin van Persie attempts a Paul Hardy-esque back flick that conjured up memories of the 1989 Irish Cup Final for many viewers. Well, maybe one or two...
Robin van Persie attempts a Paul Hardy-esque back flick that conjured up memories of the 1989 Irish Cup Final for many viewers. Well, maybe one or two...

With it being a Sky Super Sunday there was obviously a lot of time for talking and presenter Ed Chamberlin was joined by Graeme Souness and Jamie Redknapp, and an old and dusty looking object.



No, not David Pleat, but the first set of rules published by the FA in 1863 and there to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the organisation. Jamie looked very confused, but then someone explained to him that it was a book and his panic diminished.

Thankfully he didn’t try to colour it in but if you needed someone for the job then Jamie and his Magic Marker would seek the help of Luis Suarez who, according to Jamie, was ‘an artist: he paints pictures on the football field’. Indeed, his black and white work has received rave reviews.

But this was a day for Reds and for some balance Gary Neville was in the commentary box beside Martin Tyler but there were a few neutrals around too.

We panned into the crowd where we focused on England boss Roy Hodgson surveying the action although the dark, shadowy figure beside him was a bit sinister.

It turned out it was Jose Mourinho, although he looked more like a cross between the Grim Reaper and Paddington, although if he was the latter he’d have been raging to find that the marmalade sandwiches had been replaced by prawn.

He was on a spying mission for Madrid, we were told by Tyler, as the Special One skulked inside his hood like a moody teenager who’d just had his scythe confiscated. Then again, what exactly did he expect him to be dressed as — a Flamenco dancer, wearing a sombrero and carrying a stuffed donkey (or Stewart Downing as he is better known)?

Balance was the key on the Beeb too later that evening when MOTD2 popped up with the highlights in the capable hands of United fan Mark Chapman with Colin Murray busy at the darts and Gabby Logan away filming for her new primetime ITV series ‘Celebrity Buckaroo’.

For some reason they decided we needed some build-up to the match. Why do they persist with this? Surely they must know that anyone with even a passing interest in footy would have known the score of the game almost eight hours after it was finished?

“It’s geography, politics, music, a canal and football — a century and more of history, a rivalry that’s a way of life; Manchester United against Liverpool a fixture so big that Mourinho has come to watch it,” he said. Well, it is a special one.

The next clash was billed as being pretty special too, although more for the officials than some of the players, as Man City travelled to Arsenal and Vincent Kompany got sent off for cruelly kicking the ball with a perfectly timed tackle.

It made for a pleasing — and long overdue — return to form for Alan Hansen, ably assisted by Peter Schmeichel, as they collectively scratched their heads wondering just what referee Mike Dean had seen to send off the City skipper.

“I cannot for the life of me see how he can be sent off. What’s he supposed to do?” he begged, and no doubt with the decision now overturned we’ll see the ref given a good talking to.

What’s that? They’ve taken the linesman off because he dared to suggest the City players should go and applaud their fans who’d paid £62 for the great working class escape that is a footy match?

But even more incredible was Neville’s choice of Man of the Match in Danny Welbeck. No doubt his father, Stan, a bomb disposal officer from Cullybackey, would have been very happy with the decision but it was more baffling than Deans’.

Hopefully, the FA will throw the book at him, but only after Souey has read a couple of chapters out to Jamie.

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