It infuriates me when people are judged on their appearance. Just because Rafa Benitez is a tubby mess, this does not give opposing supporters the right to abuse him.
The Aston Villa supporters went well over the top with their ‘Fat Spanish Waiter’ banner. Admittedly, he is carrying a few stone overweight, and he’s certainly Spanish; but his career as a waiter ended years ago, when he was fired for rotating the starters.
I’m not suggesting that all criticism is unjust; but it should only be directed at his tactical ineptness. Rafa made an error of title-blowing proportions last week when he replaced Torres with Ngog – while Keane and Kuyt looked on incredulously from the wings. You simply can’t put square pegs in round holes, as my three-month suspended sentence ultimately confirmed.
The Holte End have an understandable dislike of Benitez after his woeful handling of the Gareth Barry transfer saga. Courting a new player is a lot like investing in late night female entertainment — you’re asking for trouble if you just offer half of the fee plus Steve Finnan.
While Benitez miraculously clings on to his post, the equally inept Kevin Keegan appears to have parted company with Newcastle. Mike Ashley’s lack of ambition was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back – although a drunken Joey Barton was seen in the vicinity of the camel shortly before the injury occurred.
Keegan appeared to be tottering on the edge last weekend, when he berated the Arsenal players for their behaviour towards the recently imprisoned Barton. Gael Clichy did nutmeg the controversial midfielder, but Barton’s legs are spread so wide these days that it’s practically inevitable.
England are in much better shape under Don Fabio Capello. Capello is no respecter of reputations, as displayed in England’s last match where he bravely selected both Lampard and Gerrard.
Harry Redknapp quickly laid into Capello after that match, but he has retracted since. “I don’t even know what laying is,” claimed the increasingly twitchy soon-to-be ex-Pompey manager.
Capello is a definite personality. He once told Paolo Di Canio that his face looked like a penis. He could say the same about Joey Barton: after all, you are what you eat.
Fabio is probably grateful that Jamie Carragher is no longer available for selection. Fabio is used to dealing with a footballer who resembles a penis – he’s had no experience with a penis who resembles a footballer.
Even if Carragher hadn’t bottled out of international football, I doubt if Capello would have picked him. Fabio would have blanked him like he was a tax bill.
George Burley is something of an enigma. He’s a Scot who basically won the lottery when he was allowed to work in England, but he made the incredible decision to move back to Scotland. That’s like a blind man regaining his sight, then asking a cigar-smoking Joey Barton how his brother is.
Backing England against Andorra doesn’t appeal at the odds, and I can’t get excited about Scotland’s chances in Macedonia, so I’ll stake one point on Slovakia at home to Northern Ireland at 10/11. FIFA’s world rankings currently have Northern Ireland above the Slovaks, but I expect that to last about as long as Joey Barton’s pillow.