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Roker Ramble: The Secret to Success in football isn’t money - it’s having a baldy manager!

How the titles were won - and lost. Tired excuses from tired managers, bad refereeing, World Cup goalkeepers, and loose quotes in primetime. It’s the Roker Ramble!

Bristol City v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Sky Bet Championship
A little off the top perhaps.
Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

So, the club that spent the most money in the Premier League won the title. And, the club that spent the most money in the Championship also won the title. Now, I’m not Sherlock Holmes but there’s only one conclusion I can jump to given these facts - and that is that bald men make better football managers.

There can be no doubt – there’s hardly a follicle between Pep and Nuno and they’ve both nailed their respective leagues with four games to go. I rest my case. Of course money must have something to do with it as well, but it’s one thing to spend big - totally another to spend right.

Take the noticeably hirsute José Mourinho. Blew the bank on Paul Pogba and can’t get a tune out of him. Even went one step further to lure Alexis Sanchez away from City and he’s playing like a dog chasing a balloon.

True, Pep spent more at City, but he’s got a team that consistently looks and plays like a team, he’s improved individual players, has a happy dressing room and doesn’t have some overpaid prat with hair like a raspberry ripple flouncing up and down the pitch every week.

Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League
“Just can’t be arsed any more....”
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Not that it’s José’s fault - he could ‘smell’ the defeat to West Brom coming. He has a nose for these things, but as he said:

I know how to win. I believe in myself, but I don’t play.

That’s because you’re the manager bonny lad, you’re supposed to get old raspberry ripple to turn up every week. But he had more problems:

Probably because I won eight championships, I was not in the moon with the victory against [Manchester City]. It was only three points. That didn’t make me feel super happy and, in my opinion, it affected some of the people that were too happy. I have lots of experience because I won eight titles and I was not over the moon ... but I saw lots of people who were on the moon.

And you can learn a lot from a statement like that – firstly, José has won a lot of titles - I’m guessing eight, but don’t quote me on that - secondly, he hasn’t really got ‘the moon’ thing right and his PR person should gently coax him away from using it in further interviews. Thirdly, in his end of year appraisal, his boss - I assume he has one - should tell him in no uncertain terms what his bloody job is, and lastly he may want to consider getting a haircut before the start of next season.

Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League
Fifteen million quid a year and I have to put up with this sh***
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Side by side in the hairy stakes, Arsène Wenger is religiously practicing with his PR guru on how to get through an interview without using the phrase ‘crash and burn’, and it’s working with some more than suitable alternatives:

We had 70% of possession and were 1-0 up. You wonder how you can lose this game.

Well, you don’t if you watched it…

But losing like this is a worry character wise.

It pretty much sucks points wise as well.

At least he didn’t come out and tell us how many titles he’d won, but he does have an excuse for the fact that his team haven’t picked up a single point away from home in 2018:

It’s very difficult to combine the Europa League on Thursday night and the Premier League on Sunday afternoons.

Newcastle United v Arsenal - Premier League
And if the day ever comes when I get beaten by a short fat bald guy, then I’m gonna quit....
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

So much more difficult than combining the Champions League on a Wednesday with the Premier League on a Saturday then you’re saying?

Wenger’s body language and general demeanour seems to have changed of late. Perhaps he’s finally accepted the fact that he has to go over the summer, we shall wait and see, but either way it’s going to be an interesting close season.

But it’s not all over yet. This season could be the first I remember when all three promoted teams stay up. Newcastle are already safe, thanks to the win over Arsenal, and of course this prompted the inevitable questions to Rafa as to whether he’d still be around next season:

If everything’s right, we have a good opportunity here but everything has to be right. We have to be sure that, next year, we have the tools to compete at the level we want to compete at.

So that’ll be a no, then.

Newcastle United v Huddersfield Town - Premier League
“Kind offer but I’m leaving anyway”
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Hopefully, Huddersfield and Brighton have enough points and team spirit to survive tricky run-ins, because I think most neutrals would be happy to see the back of both Stoke and Southampton.

However, if Stoke do go down, there’s only one reason for it in the eyes of the chairman:

There has been nothing wrong with our performances but everything wrong with the officials and decisions at big moments.

Mmmmm – not sure about that one. I just think your time has come - you put your faith in hairy managers and now you’re paying the price.

And there’s been a whole raft of complaints against bad refereeing decisions recently, and rightly so. City were denied a legitimate goal which could have changed the result against Liverpool. I didn’t see the Juventus v Real Madrid game, but the very fact that the referee and his family received death threats afterwards probably means there was a dodgy decision or two.

Real Madrid v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg
So if you had to imagine a referee swimming in custard....
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

And we see decisions every week which when played back are shown to have been wrong. So, what I don’t understand is the up-in-arms animosity towards VAR – it has to be the way forward, surely? The problem is the inept morons trying to implement it in a way that has nothing to do with the customer experience and everything to do with an amoeba learning to play the trombone – it’s a non-starter for all concerned. Again, it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out at the World Cup.

Talking of which, I’ve shared my opinion of Chris Sutton before, both as a player and a pundit. His arrogance and manner really don’t belong in the media.

So, it’s a landmark day when I can come out and actually agree with him on something, and that is that Joe Hart must not go to Russia. We can take three keepers - Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope and anyone other than Joe Hart.

West Ham United v Stoke City - Premier League
He could at least try facing the right way.

There’s a body of feeling that Southgate should take him ‘for his experience’. Experience of what? Losing? Big points deduction from me if he’s on the plane, it sends all the wrong signals and I’d like to think Southgate is too savvy to fall for that one. Watch this space.

Finally, a classic quote from Ian Wright on Match of the Day when reviewing the Swansea game – especially the contribution from the Ayew brothers:

They know each other so well, they must have played with each other when they were younger.

He then sniggered in the background for the next five minutes, and to be honest I couldn’t blame him.