Early Doors

Worst. Miss. Ever

Early Doors

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Arsenal's penalty that never was against Liverpool drew a predictably furious reaction from Arsene Wenger last night.

Referee Pieter Vink somehow missed an obvious foul on Alexander Hleb by Dirk Kuyt, thereby denying the Gunners a possibly match-winning spot-kick.

"There was a blatant penalty right under the eyes of the referee. That has happened a few times now and that makes it hard to accept," Wenger fumed.

"He was five yards away from Kuyt and didn't give the penalty. It's difficult to understand, frankly."

Strangely, Wenger offered no such condemnation of Nicklas Bendtner, who failed the task of doing absolutely nothing at all.

The lumbering Dane inexplicably intercepted Cesc Fabregas's goalbound shot about a yard from goal. Even if he had put it in, which he didn't, he was offside. Had he merely stepped aside - goal.

It surely ranks as the worst 'miss' of all time, because he didn't actually have to do anything.

As blunders go, Bendtner's was in a different stratosphere to Vink's, and yet all his manager could do was offer a meek shrug and describe it as "unlucky".

The point, of course, is that people make mistakes, whether players, referees or managers. And these mistakes obviously alter the course of matches.

In Early Doors's experience, it is the team that stops bleating and gets on with it that usually prospers. Not making goalline clearances for the opposition helps, too.

Incidentally, Early Doors fears it may do somebody an injury if it hears another manager or pundit go on about how different the Champions League is to the Premier League. Not when it's Arsenal versus Liverpool, it isn't.

"Ah, but the pressure is so great in a knockout competition - one goal can make all the difference," they say, stroking their beards and completely neglecting the existence of domestic cup competitions.

And that is as opposed to the league, of course, where it takes three or four goals to win a game and no pressure exists at all.

It's a game of football. Strategy should be exactly the same as for any match - score more goals than the other team.

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While English football whipped itself into a frenzy over just how darned good it is, Chelsea were in the process of losing to unfancied (well, not in Turkey) Fenerbahce.

To compound their embarrassment, the home side's equaliser came from a bloke who was once the prize in a soft drink competition.

Brighton brought Colin Kazim-Richards in 2005 with the £250,000 awarded to a fan by a purveyor of carbonated beverages, who will remain unnamed as Early Doors doesn't like to needlessly plug multinational corporations.

Anyway, the Coca-Cola kid has since found his way to Fenerbahce and even the Turkish national team despite having an Antiguan father and hailing from David Beckham's 'manor' of Leytonstone in London.

Having sensibly decided that Colin is not the kind of name a Turkish international should sport, he has taken the 'so good they named him twice' route and now goes by the moniker 'Kazim Kazim'.

He still sounds like he has stepped straight off the set of EastEnders, though.

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Hot on the heels of yesterday's musings on the fleeting nature of beauty, Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed how he used to be "small, feeble and had crooked teeth" before he took the Joan Rivers route to improving his looks.

"I'm a bit vain, I admit" he said before revealing that bears like to do their dirty business in the woods. "I've had a few cosmetic things done and like to change my hairstyle.

"It would be hypocritical of me to say I think I'm ugly," he continued, momentarily distracted after catching a glimpse of his face reflecting off a spoon.

Although the work to fix his teeth is described as 'secret', Early Doors distinctly remembers him wearing train-track braces for a season or so - and as any tortured teenager will tell you, such contraptions are all too visible.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "There's no doubt that Ronaldo has quality but it's also true that he has a big head. Some of his little tricks in the middle of the pitch were unnecessary and he needs to show some respect to his opposition. You can bet that we will have something to say about it in the return leg." David Pizarro reckons Cristiano Ronaldo could need plastic surgery on his shins after the second leg against Roma.

TANTRUM OF THE DAY: Frank Lampard's quite spectacular hissy fit when substituted against Fenerbahce, which saw him kick out at a bottle of water and chuck his training top to the deck. A model professional.

FOREIGN VIEW: More mischief-making at Spanish rag Marca, who quote Real Madrid's sporting director Predrag Mijatovic as saying he was in Rome on Tuesday to thrash out deals for midfielders Daniele De Rossi and Alberto Aquilani.

TALKING POINT: Several intriguing suggestions for potential academies, mainly used as vehicles for vicious personal attacks, such as this from grahamnpotter: "The Robbie Savage Soccer School for underachieving poseurs. He has all the attributes required; ridiculous girlie haircut, in love with himself and an unshakeable belief that he is better than anyone else thinks he is."

rachael_blah plagiarises from the film Zoolander - but in a good way: "How about the 'David Beckham Centre For Children Who Can't Read Good and Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too'?"

First prize goes to vincentvegaman for this: "The Stan Collymore Soccer academy, rubbish facilities, but it'd probably have a car park to die for."

COMING UP: Didn't we used to have about eight teams in the UEFA Cup? It's just Rangers to be going along with now as they take on Sporting Lisbon at Ibrox at 7.45pm. Minute-by-minute comments of that one, plus live scores and scorers from all the evening's action.

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