After a totally uninspiring international break we are back to the hype that is the Premier League.
Martin Tyler started the Manchester derby by telling us it was to Jose and Pep’s credit that they had played down their rivalry. The rivalry that Sky had been peddling all week. The rivalry that probably didn’t need playing down because it didn’t exist.
In the end, when it came to the battle of the egos, there could only be one winner. Mark Clattenburg.
The game was exciting, full of incident and totally dominated by Man City. Their first goal epitomised everything Pep stands for as Kolarov hoofed the ball upfield, Itchy Knackers nodded it on and Prince Harry nipped in to make it 1-0. Pep turned triumphantly to the stands and gave a wave to the quietly nodding Dave Bassett.
Harry then returned the favour by passing the ball off the post to Itchy Knackers for him to make it 2-0.
With City apparently running away with it, up stepped Juliet Bravo to make the game interesting. Every pass by him was met with such excitement by the commentary team one wondered if they were involved in some form of mutual pleasuring.
When he dropped a clanger, and dropped that clanger right off the £50m head of John Stones for Zlatan to score it was almost as if Jim White had written the script.
When Rashford came on in the second half all of Sky’s dreams had come true. Rashford who scored a late winner against City last season, Rashford who had scored a 95th minute winner against Hull a fortnight ago. Rashford who had scored 12 goals for the England boys team last week. Rashford who was guaranteed to score.
Except he didn’t.
It finished 2-1 to City.
Harry Kane has obviously had his banjo out and has been practicing hitting a steer’s rear as he finally got off the mark against Stoke. Someone must have had a word and reminded him that scuffing corners and toe ending free kicks into Row Z is not befitting of and England centre forward. At least not since Michael Ricketts played in 2002.
Whilst I don’t have any time for Stoke, I quite like Mark Hughes and on Saturday he totally lost his blob, throwing his tampons onto the pitch and being sent to the stands as Spurs romped to victory. As entertaining as Stoke have been in a long while.
Sunday was uneventful and Monday brought us the match everyone had been waiting for, Sunderland v Everton.
I’ve mentioned before that I have a soft spot for Everton. After sitting in the home end at Goodison years back, attempting to be undercover, I was outed halfway into the first half. Instead of giving me a clip like might happen at some grounds, they laughed at my pathetic attempts at hiding my Mackemness and took me for a pint at half time. Add in the Peter Reid connection and them also having arrogant neighbours with a sense of entitlement then you can see how we would get on.
Nothing strikes fear into a Sunderland fan more than facing a striker going through a goal drought. We’ve always been accommodating in building up their confidence and so it proved last night with Lukaku netting a hat trick after misfiring for half a season. As predictable as it was disappointing.
Sunderland’s tourist board should really cash in on this phenomenon. ‘Not scored for months? Get yourself to Sunderland, it’s guaranteed.’ A slogan that would get stag dos coming from all over the world.
After taking a thumping the last thing a football fan wants to hear is that it is only a game. It is likely to result in ‘only a punch on the nose’. Last night was a reminder that it was only a game.
Sunderland were led out by five year old Bradley Lowery who is suffering from neuroblastoma and his family are trying to raise £700k to send him to America for treatment. Sunderland fans are well aware of this brave young lad and have been fundraising for some time but the wider world may not have known about him. The online campaign has picked up a bit and to the Everton fans’ credit, they bought straight into it and did everything they could to help. He was still relatively unknown elsewhere.
That all changed last night in front of the Sky cameras.
He looked a little bewildered by the attention, the same level of bewilderment that our defence showed in the second half, but he kept it together and despite Lukaku’s hat trick, he was the real star of the show.
The exposure will obviously have helped but I don’t think anybody was expecting what happened next. After the match Everton pledged £200k to the cause. An absolutely tremendous gesture. If they’d done it for one of their own fans you would be impressed but to do it for one of ours backs up what I’ve always thought of them. I’ve also read on social media this morning that an individual Everton fan has pledged £25k. Football fans get a lot of stick but when it comes down to it, we are just one big community and Everton should be really proud of what they did last night.
You can also help Bradley’s campaign by visiting http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/displayCharityCampaignPage.action?charityCampaignUrl=justonepound or texting BRAD02 £1 to 70070. You can change the £1 to any donation of your choice.