The manager of Pope’s Newc O’Rangers has, historically speaking, been prone to the odd emotional outburst. Take the way Jock Wallace used to rhapsodise about the Battle Fever. Or the manner in which Walter Smith would give journalists beneficial advice, rhythmically peppering his kind suggestions with words like “eff” and “jeff”. Or the elegant grace with which Graeme Souness would plant his studs in an opponent’s fruit bowl, or upend urns of hot water before being offered out by the tea lady for a square go. Volatility seemed to be part of the job spec.
But times change, and current incumbent $tevie Mbe is cut from a markedly calmer cloth. As long-time followers of Liverpool will attest, when things go wrong, his go-to response is to stand around frowning quite a lot. That’s been his stock reaction to adversity as a manager, too, and on the whole it’s stood him in good stead. However, everyone has their tipping point, and his tinderbox was finally located on Wednesday night when Alfredo Morelos was brought down by Livingston keeper Max Stryjek, only for Alfredo Morelos’s Reputation to get booked. It was a clear penalty, and those words may have been among the colourful assortment that fell out of Mbe’s face when he ran on the pitch at half-time to question the actions of referee John Beaton in Smithsonian style.
Beaton has clearly been watching how the officials in the Premier League comport themselves, for he waved away Mbe with the kind of high-handed disdain that would make Mike Dean look like a half-cut rag-week student offering charity cuddles for 50p. Two yellow cards in quick succession meant Mbe had to watch from the stand as Morelos gained 87th-minute vindication to put O’Rangers within four points of One In A Row. Should the SFA decide to process the referee’s forms quickly, Mbe may also be forced to watch from the stand when his team rock up at Queen’s Celtic Park on 21 March hoping to throw an ever-so-slightly-combustible title party. Not ideal, but at least he’ll get a panoramic view of the 22-man-plus-benches brawl when it inevitably breaks out.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Well done … c’mon Crooksy, can you open the legs son? Go on. Go on … ooh, go on then. Now then, Freddie. Make a name for yourself, make a name for yourself. No. Keep going … ohhhhhhhh” – now we’ve transcribed this, it reads like something from Weird Uncle Fiver’s newest subscription service. But it’s actually former Miller John Breckin’s co-commentary as 10-man Rotherham break away and score a 97th-minute winner at fellow Championship strugglers Sheffield Wednesday. It’s the real good stuff. Unless you’re an Owl, mind.
Football Weekly, on a Thursday, but not ‘Extra’. Blame a Friday pod. Here you go.
“I will admit I am a simple man. After all, I read The Fiver every day. So might I suggest a simple solution for offside. Seeing as we play football, why can’t the offside rule be feet? At the moment, if your eyebrows are too long or your sleeve is fluttering in the breeze, you’re offside. As I said, it’s a simple solution but I don’t think the rule makers like it simple any more” – Larry Jones.
“Never mind the pitchside effing and jeffing on the TV (yesterday’s Fiver). There was plenty in front of my TV last Sunday during Palace v Fulham” – John Thompson.
“Chris Wilder on the sidelines shouting ‘Bashy!’ (yesterday’s Fiver). That’s as good an excuse as any to re-watch the brilliant Kids in the Hall sketch with a guy yelling ‘Lopez!’ at an empty house. Enjoy” – Mike Wilner.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Phil Chisnall, who in 1964 became the last player to be transferred directly between Manchester United and Liverpool, has died aged 78.
This season’s Women’s FA Cup will resume later this month after a pandemic-enforced shutdown, while Liverpool’s Big Cup last-16 second leg against Leipzig will again be in Budapest.
Newcastle’s players and staff have been reminded of the need for discretion after details of some heated training-ground shenanigans between Matt Ritchie and Steve Bruce were leaked.
Neil Warnock, who once planned to retire aged 55 and is now 72, will be extending his stay in charge of Middlesbrough for another season. “When you read the news nowadays, there’s always somebody popping their clogs younger than me,” he declared. “I don’t want to die on the job, if I’m honest, so I’d like to finish on a high and I would like to see a little bit of what me and [wife] Sharon love.”
And that coffee waste kit didn’t help calm things between Forest Green and Colchester last weekend; the pair have been charged by FA suits with failing to control their players during some scenes that everyone no one likes to see. Always risky with caffeine after 3pm, in our experience.
STILL WANT MORE?
Boca, Brighton and barbecues: it’s Alexis Mac Allister getting his chat on with Jacob Steinberg.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s music festival guest turn, plus Gennaro Gattuso and Lorenzo Insigne losing the run of themselves. Another quiet midweek in Serie A, as Nicky Bandini explains.
Andy Hunter sets the scene for Liverpool 0-0 Chelsea.
Remembering West Ham’s unlikely title tilt of 1985-86. By Steven Pye.
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