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Roker Ramble: Ecuadorian banned for ‘using a corner flag as a spear’!

Managers who don’t give credit where it’s due, why Jose is tired and why Eddy Jones still loves him. Liverpool’s secret weapon, Sol Campbell - misunderstood genius, and the team analysis that everyone’s been waiting for. It’s the Roker Ramble.

FIFA via Getty Images

So, I sat and watched the Carabao Cup Final, and apart from a brief glimmer in the first twenty minutes and a bit of a glaring miss from ‘Wham-Bam Aubameyang’, Arsenal were never in it. By the second half, City were the only team dreaming of legions of fans clutching their sugary sports drinks in Thailand, and it’s their name that was etched onto the cup that Pep has described as ‘the one that everyone forgets you’ve won’ – or words to that effect. No need to go get carried away there, Pep.

But then what got to me were Arsene Wenger’s comments. He’s always had shockingly one-sided tunnel vision, but would it kill him to come out for once and admit that they were beaten by the better side? He never gives an inch when he’s lost and it’s never the fault of him nor the team.

Arsenal v Manchester City - Carabao Cup Final
‘You were lucky bonny lad....’
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

By coincidence I later watched the Fulham v Wolves game, and Nuno Espirito Santo was forthcoming in his praise of Fulham;

I’ve no complaints about the result – they were better than us and deserved the win.

Now... did that hurt? You could argue that Wolves are so far clear at the top of the table that he was being magnanimous, but even if he was, it’s refreshing to hear someone at least pretend to speak openly and honestly.

Wenger was last year’s man last year and should never have been allowed to sign a new two year deal. They may well go out of the Europa League to AC Milan in the next round and won’t qualify for the Champions League on league position. A loss in revenue of close to £100 million over two years has got to be prompting the most lacklustre board in the Premier League into some sort of action. And whilst they’re having a clear-out, they should get rid of major shareholder Stan Kroenke as well for his views on trophy hunting. Otherwise they’re doomed, I tell thee - doomed!

Arsenal v Aston Villa - Premier League
No arguments here...
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Jose is not big on magnanimity when he loses either. Luckily he scraped a victory against arch-nemesis Antonio Conte so he could afford to be magnanimous in victory.

I thought he was looking tired though - I think the pressure’s starting to get to him. People are having a pop at him for not getting the best out of Paul Pogba so I attribute the bags under the eyes down to late nights watching re-runs of Juventus games whilst frantically humming ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria’.

Hopefully he’ll get it sorted before people start asking why he’s not getting the best out of Alexis Sanchez either.

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier League
Where do I want to play? Somewhere else.
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

But he has one admirer – Eddy Jones, England Rugby manager and self confessed fan of what’s being called ‘José Mourinho’s best kept secret’. Not the one where he dresses as a Mexican wrestler and can be seen at Haringey dog track on the night before games, but, the theory of “tactical periodisation”.

I’ve never heard of it so I looked it up, and it’s a training method that originates from Oporto, which Jose explains as follows;

We can differentiate among traditional analytical training where the different factors are trained in isolation, the integrated training, which uses the ball but where the fundamental concerns are not very different from the traditional one; and there is my way of training, which is called Tactical Periodization. It has nothing to do with the previous two even though many people could think so.

And that’s probably why it’s his best kept secret - no one has a clue what he’s talking about.

In the aftermath of the Chelsea game, Jose was quick to point out that victory over Chelsea perhaps wasn’t that ‘special’, and that the Liverpool game coming up in a couple of weeks time was the one that everyone was waiting for.

Southampton v Liverpool - Premier League
And he’s gone in a mo....
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

He may have a point - Liverpool seem to be coming good at the right time, with no real visible damage from the sale of Coutinho, and a front three who’ve got 63 goals this season between them. Mo Salah alone has averaged a goal or assist every 64 minutes this season, and led to the best comment of the week on Football Focus – announcing an interview with Salah, they said they had ‘one man who went to Mo’.

Well I liked it. And after their victory over West Ham, Jurgen was suitably gushing not just about his front three but about his full-backs, Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

FC Porto v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg
Unfortunately his rendition of ‘Saturday Night Fever’ left something to be desired....
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Now I have to confess, Klopp’s comments quite often lose me completely, and I’m never sure if it’s me being thick, his command of English or what. But we started off okay;

It is one of the most important positions in world football now because they are defenders but also attackers...

So far so good.

Trent is very offensive orientated, fantastic crosses, good footballer. He has this little bit of street kid. If you see his crosses, they are a little bit dirty.

Nope, there we go... what the hell’s he on about? Why didn’t someone at the press conference ask him to define a ‘dirty cross’? I watched the whole game and apart from David Moyes’ ludicrous comments about getting something from the match, I couldn’t see much wrong, dirty or otherwise with any of it. It must be me.

Liverpool v West Ham United - Premier League
Talk dirty to me....
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Also confusing me this week was Sol Campbell.

All I know about Campbell since he stopped playing is that he wants to be a manager. He’s wanted to be a manager for what seems like forever, and the fact that he’s not a manager is not his fault.

The latest club where he’s not going to be a manager is Oxford United, who if I remember correctly even gave Mark Lawrenson a shot at it, so they can hardly be called choosy.

Boris Johnson Attends A Vote Leave Rally In London
Spot the odd one out. Tougher than it looks isn’t it?
Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images

However, this is where I get confused, because on the one hand Campbell came out and described himself as ‘one of the greatest minds in football and I’m being wasted because of a lack of experience.’

I normally get wasted due a bad day at work and a fight with the wife, but he may well be right. I know for sure that I’m not one of the greatest minds in football, so I’m not one to judge. However, I then read two further interviews with Campbell, one in which he stated;

Well, I need a job to get experience. I don’t want to go too low that it’s a struggle, and I don’t want to go too low that I’m under someone and thinking: ‘What am I doing here?’

And another in which he said he would go to lower club and work unpaid because;

...he could figure out what’s required to make a success of managing a League One club in “two or three games” because “it’s not like it’s rocket science’’.

So I can only conclude that his lack of success in landing a position is that most of us are confused because we don’t have one of the greatest minds in football – perhaps the guy should start dumbing-down to accommodate the rest of us.

For many a week now I’ve been carrying out analysis on one of the most pressing questions in modern football – which club uses the most hair product in live games? I thought I had it nailed. Forget your dandruff shampoo or embarrassing Liverpool male grooming ads, which team actually delivers where it matters – on the pitch.

Willian wins the Carling Premier League Goal of the Month Award for January 2018
...and it’s never had a comb through it.
Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for Premier League

And it had to be Chelsea. I mean Willian looks like he could slip into the Jackson Five seventies line-up without putting a strand out of place, Morrata’s hair shines with a lustre that would distract fillies at Newmarket, and don’t get me started on David Luiz.

I would’ve put money on it being Chelsea – but I was wrong, and I was put in my place by the one man who should know – my barber. Apparently the team famed for using the most hair product, and which is well known throughout the profession is... Luton Town. You read it hear first.

And finally, from South America (again), where defender Angelo Preciado was banned for ‘using a corner flag as a spear’. His coach leapt to his defence – and said that the spear was ‘‘...out of character’’.

“He’s really been maturing’’. You think?

Probably been putting a few dirty crosses in as well.

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