F.A. Cup

5 things that we didn’t learn from the weekend

Manchester United vs Manchester City – did that game actually happen?

Roy of the Rovers would have struggled to come up with a story like this. After a weekend of speculation about Wayne Rooney’s future, Manchester United announced shortly before kick off that their former midfield maestro Paul Scholes had answered the call of his club and come out of retirement until the end of the season. Are Manchester United really that hard up or has Scholes still got something to offer?

City dominate the first 10 minutes and then Rooney scores and kisses the badge. A couple of minutes later Vincent Kompany gets his marching orders for a reckless challenge and United surge ahead to a 3-0 half time lead, which should have been greater still.

The most bizarre aspect of this day however, was the second half of the game. If you didn’t know better, you would swear that it was Manchester City who had the numerical advantage, such was their dominance in that period. United, retreated, unsure of their talents and too scared to play the United way and gain real vengeance for their Old Trafford mauling with a hefty win. Instead they went into their shells and clung on against ten men. Absolutely bizarre. Despite Manchester United winning the game, Manchester City probably came out of it with more credit for the way they fought back against an unrecogniseable second half Manchester United team. Those who think that Manchester City will win the league will hardly have been swayed by this performance. Manchester United were brilliant in bursts but seem to be going through an identity crisis. At least Manchester United fans can console themselves with the win and the quote from their hero that he wants to stay at United for ‘a long time’ . As for Manchester City, they won’t feel sorry for themselves for long after this performance.

Are QPR nuts?

Neil Warnock is an excellent coach and his dismissal from QPR says everything about the modern state of football. Gone are the days of loyalty and patience. Now football is all about money. A few bad results and directors get twitchy, worried that their investment is about to suffer. Sad days indeed. Neil Warnock would have built something solid given more time. He also likes progressive attacking football. If Mark Hughes comes in QPR fans can expect a prolonged period of studied pragmatism to replace the adventure that Warnock garners.  These days, money has become more important than attractive football. Football is no longer art but business.

Does Torres need a move?

The 4-0 scoreline against Portsmouth was very flattering for Chelsea but it would be a tad unfair to pinpoint Fernando Torres for their typically tame performance. Indeed, he set up a couple of goals and didn’t play too badly. But Fernando Torres looks, for all the world, like the next Andriy Shevchencko. Torres’ problems are no longer physical but psychological. He may well go on to score hundreds of goals for Chelsea. Age is still on his side. But, more likely, he will have to find a new club and a fresh start if he is to resurrect his stuttering career.

Are the days of the giant-killing over? 

Ok so Wigan got beaten by Swindon and non-league Wrexham got a draw away at Brighton but, by and large, the favourites all won through to the next round of the FA Cup. We all love a giant killing but, with the chasm in football between rich and poor greater than ever, we see less giant killing these days. At the end of the day, the romance of the cup is all about the underdog, the David and Goliath scenarios, and perhaps this is why the FA Cup has so little cache these days.

Will Scholes succeed?

It was an unbelievable turn of events. Last week a veteran Thierry Henry re-signed for Arsenal but that story was dwarfed by Paul Scholes announcing yesterday  that he will play for Manchester Untied until the end of the season. It was great to see the Ginger Prince back in action but he tired badly after 10 or so minutes and was also partly culpable for the second Manchester City goal. Whether this move turns out to be representative of the current desperation and demise at Manchester United, or yet another masterstroke from Sir Alex Ferguson, remains to be seen but Scholes will have to train hard if he wants to get match fit again. Ryan Giggs is older than Paul Scholes but is a freak of nature. Scholes looks as if he will struggle to make an impression and talk of an England return is typical of the crazy and dream like tone of the weekend action. Football eh? Blinking Heckers like!

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