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Roker Ramble: “I’m now focusing on Dry February... January has been a long lost cause!”

The beautiful game and how its passion, honour, integrity and humility keeps me going.

“Ow... keeper, is this yours?”
Bottle O’ P*ss

Last weekend I did nearly twenty hours of unpaid overtime to fix a cock-up at work, during which time my car was stolen, so you can understand my relief was tangible when the Sanchez – Mkhitaryan deal finally got over the line.

It must have been awful for these two, not knowing if they were going to play for ‘the clubs of their dreams’ or not, and it was heart-warming to see Alexis Sanchez don the famous red strip for the first time and express his overwhelming emotions by sitting at a piano and bashing out Glory, Glory Man United.

Except he didn’t. It was complete bollocks – only a moron would be taken in by that PR crap, and is that what it’s come to? Has football turned into a cheap, tawdry circus by the marketing suits with an eye on the Far East?

Well, yes - United were revealed this week as the richest club in the world again, so if Sanchez pretending to play the piano sells shirts in Shanghai, then there’ll be plenty more where that came from. Personally I’d like to see him take the banjo part from Deliverance... I feel it would be so much more appropriate.

Manchester United Unveil New Signing Alexis Sanchez
Oh shut the f**k-up
Photo by Manchester United/Man Utd via Getty Images

‘Micki’ Mkhitaryan (as he’s known to almost no-one) meanwhile is holding up the better side of the deal according to Arsene, who completely nailed the situation by coming out with:

It is not that we are only losing a player, we are gaining a player as well.

... at which point I was left trailing in his dust, but he went on:

Henrikh is a very complete player. He creates chances, he defends well, he can absorb distances…

Whoa – sod football, this guy should be in The Avengers – he can absorb distances!

There you are, standing in Mongolia minding your own business when word reaches you that the aliens have attacked New York (again) – none of your jumping on the jet to blast your way over there, just get Mickey to suck up those miles to Grand Central Station and ‘Biff! Blam! Just doin’ ma duty Ma’am.’

Marvel Universe Live! Age Of Heroes World Premiere - Arrivals
Not sure about the costume ‘Distance Man’
Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

Good news for England’s World Cup squad this week with the news that Joey Barton is eligible to play again from June 1st.

Suspended for placing illegal bets on 1260 matches, Barton was on Radio Four this week to claim that betting by footballers was ‘culturally ingrained’ and ‘that 50% of players could be banned’.

No sh*t Sherlock – but you got caught. How smart does that make you?

Middlesbrough v Burnley - Premier League
I’m sent off? You wanna bet?
Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Also caught was the Boro fan who pee’d into the QPR goalkeeper’s water bottle and threw it back on the pitch. Well, he wasn’t taking the piss.


OK... please yourselves...

What struck me – not the water bottle obviously - was the fact that he didn’t get arrested for peeing in the bottle... he was arrested for throwing an object on the pitch.

Does that mean it’s not illegal to pee in a bottle? And, just to let you know, if this was radio, I’d have Message in a Bottle subtly playing in the background as this was read out.

Celebrity Sightings in New York City - November 22, 2017
And then he picked up the can and it just went everywhere....
Photo by James Devaney/GC Images

Despite Wenger’s efforts, the best (most unfortunate) quote of the week came courtesy of Alan Pardew following the West Brom v Everton game in which James McCarthy broke his leg in two places in an horrific accident.

Salomón Rondón was visibly upset by the incident, and after the game, Pardew tried to sum up his contribution:

That’s showing in his performances, he’s fighting for everything and things are breaking for him.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has rejected the chance to manage Scotland and instead, has opted to sign a new contact with the province. First of all, how long has this been going on? Didn’t he almost resign after the international friendlies in October, and was offered the Scotland job soon after?

Czech Republic v Northern Ireland - 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier
Scotland? Don’t think so, just can’t get a hang of the accent...
Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images

Is this the pace at which these people work? Jeez, half the Premier League clubs have changed managers since October - what have they been doing all this time?

And in the end it looks like he decided to stay with Northern Ireland because they offered him more money, which doesn’t reflect particularly well on him, but is even worse on Scotland. They choose the guy they want to take the country forward, but won’t compete financially with Northern Ireland to get him?

They’ll end up with Malky Mackay, mark my words. And anyway, I don’t think it was just money that drew O’Neil back to Norn Ireland. I think as soon as Martin O’Neill realised that the best that was on offer was the Stoke job, and turned them down to sign a new contract with the Republic, Michael O’Neill’s overwhelming sense of symmetry kicked in and he just knew that there had to be two O’Neill’s managing the Irish national teams. It’s just nicer that way.

First game? Sorry, no idea.....
Photo credit should read GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images

Talking of which, Ryan Giggs finally got what he wanted by landing the Wales job, and he doesn’t have a match until he’s been in place for about three months - and since they haven’t qualified for the World Cup it’s probably going to be September before his first competitive game.

What a job – even if he’s a complete disaster and get’s sacked after three games, he’s still got twelve months as an international manager on his CV. And it never did Mark Hughes any harm.

Another of the class of ‘92 to land on his feet is Little Neville, who yesterday was given the England Women’s managerial position.

It’s an important role because the England team have a fantastic platform to build on, and having made a real balls-up of the sacking of the previous manager, Mark Sampson, this was an appointment the FA had to get right.

Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League
No, I applied for mine...
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

They put the job out to tender, by all accounts received several reputable and highly qualified applications, only to ignore them all and turn to Little Neville, in what was described as: form of positive discrimination – the FA has refused to let Neville be held back by the fact he has never managed a football team, or by the fact he didn’t apply for the job.


Meanwhile, Hi-Ho Silva became Heave-Ho Silva after Watford tired of Marco Silva’s sulking and showed him the door. And, read it and weep Scotland, within hours they’d appointed Javi Gracia, who no one has ever heard of, probably doesn’t speak English and I’ll bet, didn’t apply for the job.

I’m now focusing on ‘Dry February’. January has been a long lost cause.

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