clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Roker Ramble: Another bat-sh*t mental week in the footy world; Wenger for the Antiques Roadshow?

Wenger says farewell to Old Trafford, the FA want to get in deep with a US billionaire, Stoke’s retirement home for lost players, the relegation starts to get exciting and David Moyes may have a windfall. It’s the Roker Ramble!

Manchester United v Arsenal - Premier League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Any day now Arsène Wenger will announce that he was actually born a Targaryan and will shortly take up his rightful place as King of Westeros. If not, then he better come up with something fast because he’s quickly running out of the things that keep him gainfully employed - games.

This weekend was his final trip to Old Trafford and the melodrama was thicker than a docker’s sandwich. José went on record to say that he wished he hadn’t been such a b**tard towards Arsène in the past:

There are little things where it would be obviously better without them, some gestures, some words would be better without it. I feel better now without it, no doubts about it.

Thereby both apologising and consolidating his knowledge of pronouns at the same time.

However, given that he’s labelled Wenger both as a ‘voyeur’ and a ‘specialist in failure’ in the past, and that Arsène had reciprocated by labelling him as ‘stupid’ and ‘disconnected with reality’, there was the possibility of late handbags at the Theatre of Dreams.

But not so - and just in case, there was Sir Alex, who in his day had had a few well chosen words to say about his Arsenal counterpart also, both to keep the peace and offer a retirement present to his former adversary.

Manchester United v Arsenal - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It was apparently an engraved vase - there was no mention of what the engraving said, but I would imagine it was something along the lines of:

Well, at least now you’ve got a pot to piss in.

And despite being in a situation all of his own making, I do feel a bit sorry for Wenger. Apparently the Arsenal board, who finally found a pair from somewhere, started building the management structure to replace him whilst he was still there. It reminded me of a time I worked at Lumley Brickworks and stories were rife of the wives of the nightshift who would swap beds and houses when their husbands left for work in the evening.

He could go into showbiz – he could replace Ant in Ant & Dec, although Arse & Dec might need a little polishing. He’s a shoe-in for Antiques Roadshow or anything on day-time TV that requires a minor celebrity with a pulse. Failing that, he should go on tour with Sir Alex just telling football anecdotes - they’d make a fortune.

Manchester United v Arsenal - Premier League
“My agent wants me to go on Tipping Point...”
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

But he’s adamant he wants to stay in football. I think he’s got a lot to offer, but maybe not as a manager - I don’t think he could start again from scratch. I would love to see him head up an enquiry to investigate/bring down FIFA, but given that they’re only answerable to themselves, I’m not sure where he’d get the authority from.

In which case he should gather the great and good around him and set up an alternative global footballing body in direct competition to FIFA, with England as the first nation.

Not that the FA could organize a queue in a takeaway. They’re considering selling Wembley Stadium to Shahid Khan, owner of Fulham, for £600 million, despite the fact that it cost £753 million to build. That’s the sort of business acumen that made Sunderland the economic powerhouse that it is today.

Why does he want to buy it anyway? He’s not going to get Fulham to play there, because they’ve already got a ground down the road (which is very nice). No, he wants it for his NFL team, the Jacksonville Jaguars... who play in Florida...which is at the end of the Great West Road. And then some.

AFC Championship - Jacksonville Jaguars v New England Patriots
His business portfolio also includes a moustache wax company and Poundland.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Which doesn’t make any sense to me... but he’s an American billionaire so must know what he’s doing, right?

(Where have I heard that before?)

He explains the logic:

The stronger the Jaguars are in London, the more stable and promising the Jaguars’ future will be in Jacksonville.

There you go – obvious really. He also wants it to host the Superbowl, which is without doubt the biggest event on US television, and from a technological perspective there’s no reason why the Superbowl shouldn’t be played in London.

But - what about the time difference? We’re five hours ahead of the east coast, so an evening kick-off would be okay for football fans in Boston and Florida, but what about the West Coast? A kick-off at three in the morning in London with a crowd of 386, half of which have already passed out, is not exactly the dynamic that the event is famous for. And the game is played in late January/early February - who’s going to have a BBQ in the dark in Wembley car park in February? I don’t know, these US billionaires - they’re a tricky bunch.

Wembley Stadium
“Anyone got a torch? I can’t see the ball...”
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

So, things are getting interesting down the bottom of the Premier League, and given that it was the lunchtime kick off on Saturday I found myself listening to the Liverpool-Stoke game on the radio.

When they announced the teams they said that Glen Johnson was ineligible to play against his former team – Liverpool. First off, the fact that Glen Johnson is still playing completely blew me away. I haven’t seen him or even heard of him since Tony Blair was playing keepy-uppy with Kevin Keegan.

Secondly, what sort of clause in a transfer contract states that you can never play against your former team? It’s been years for God’s sake, he should’ve moved to the MLS five years ago and be retired by now – Liverpool should have insisted that he did play, they may have got something out of the game.

Barclays Asia Trophy Training Session & Press Conference Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images

I also noticed that Stephen Ireland is in the Stoke squad – are they a charity or just following the David Moyes school of football selection that’s been so successful elsewhere? It’s no wonder they’re in the relegation fight – though with two last games against Palace and Swansea, there’s still a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Which is where Palace already are after a fantastic rescue job by Roy Hodgson. It would’ve been nice if he’d put the same sort of effort into managing England in a major tournament, but that’s water under the bridge. The best bit about Palace’s late success is the form of Wilfried Zaha, which makes every commentator sound like Alan Partridge having an orgasm when he scores:

...and it’…slips it through to...the cross comes in...ZAHAAAAA!

Elsewhere, Southampton won which meant Mark Hughes had to hug everyone after losing a drunken bet in the pub the night before. Huddersfield are looking dodgy with final fixtures against Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal – hopefully Arsenal are away and the Terriers can snatch a win on the last day, and West Ham continue to ship goals.

I may not be the only one to hope that West Ham go down but with fixtures against Leicester - who are rapidly sinking themselves under Claude Puel - then Manchester United and finally Everton, they’ll probably get the win that they need to keep them up.

And if I’m not mistaken, it’ll earn David Moyes the £2 million bonus he was promised for doing so when he signed on. I’m thrilled - it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Roker Report Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Sunderland news from Roker Report