By Myles Palmer
NEWCASTLE play football.
Graeme Souness kicked as a player, but his Southampton played football and his Blackburn played football.
And he wants Newcastle to play football.
So I don’t think Newcastle will be as violent as Manchester United on Sunday.
The only kicker in their team is Lee Bowyer.
Souness will try a tactical approach. And that could give Arsenal problems.
THE BOLTON GAME was a shocker.
A pitifiul performance by Arsenal which confirmed that they will finish third.
Bolton was one of the most pitiful performances in eight years under Arsene Wenger.
The worst ever might have been Bayern Munich away, but Bolton was in the bottom five.
After Bolton, I won’t use the term “champions” again this season.
The manager has been betrayed by his superstars.
Arsene has his faults too, but I won’t enumerate those today.
Clearly, the players did not want Lehmann in the team, so he had to pick Almunia, who is not as good as Stack or Taylor.
He has been a bag of nerves since day one. He looks scared.
As Mitch said after Bolton, “Ammonia stunk the place out.”
TWO THINGS told us that Arsenal would not retain the title : their reaction to losing at Old Trafford and the Spurs game.
Arsenal were Rileyed out of a record 50 games unbeaten.
Referee Mike Riley had a shocking game that day. He was a disgrace.
United kicked and kicked and kicked and Riley allowed them to do it.
Jose Reyes was battered and butchered all through the game.
He was impossibly brave through the 90-plus minutes but his confidence was shattered by those assaults.
Reyes has never recovered from that trauma.
Rooney dived over Sol’s leg, conned Riley, and the game was lost to a penalty that should never have been.
Real champions would have come back and won the next three games, but Wenger’s galacticos do not have the bottle to do that.
AT WHITE HART LANE, they kept letting Spurs come back into the game before winning 5-4.
Champions don’t do that.Champions never do that.
So we knew they would not retain their title.
Chelsea went to Spurs and showed how it should be done. They beat Spurs 2-0. End of story.
WENGER has made his players world famous. He has made them multi-millionaires.
He has built them a luxury training ground.
They train on a perfect pitch with undersoil heating.
He has protected and pampered Patrick Vieira for eight years.
To keep Vieira, he made him captain, but he is not a great captain and never will be.
Wenger is a father figure who is as tolerant and supportive as a mother. He is a father figure who gives his players mother love. He does not punish, he forgives.
He has defended the indefensible again and again.
He makes excuses for them.
After Thierry should have slipped it past the legs of Canizares for 3-1, Wenger said, ”It’s my fault, I encourage him to go round the keeper.”
BUT HE HAS BEEN BETRAYED by an ungrateful team of pampered millionaires.
At Bolton, he could not motivate them.. His team did not play, so he was angry.
What manager would not be furious after a whimpering, fake performance like that ?
As you know, he called them all in one by one, apart from Fabregas and Freddie, and told them to start doing it.
That was just before he dropped Lehmann.
In hindsight, dropping Lehmann was wrong. Unless he could sign van der Sar or Abiatti or Hildebrand in the window.
SINCE 2002, the Vieira-to-Real Madrid saga has been a cancer within the club.
It became the longest-running farce in world football.
By the summer of 2003, I was sick of it.
By the summer of 2004 I had lost all respect for my favourite player.
As I always say, “They’re only footballers. You’ve got to remember that they’re only footballers.”
Now, in January 2005, I cannot recall the details of Vieira’s on-off-on-off move in June-July-August 2004, only that in mid-August I was on holiday in South Wales with my wife.
She had always told me about Neath and Mumbles and now we were driving west along the sunny coast road of the Gower Peninsula and I was in a happy-go-lucky holiday mood.
“I thought Mumbles was Michael Jackson’s chimp.”
“That’s Bubbles, you idiot.”
On Friday the 13th we came back to the Ramada-Jarvis hotel in Swansea after a gorgeous day at Rhossili Point and I put on Sky Sports News.
Vieira had said he was staying at Arsenal.
And Wenger said that the closer you get to leaving, the more you realise what you’re leaving behind.
At last, the saga was over !
The following morning I came out of the shower at about 8 a.m. and Jan was sitting up in bed.
“Put the telly on,” she said. “Let’s see what’s happening in the world.”
I said, “Vieira’s been sold to Real Madrid !”
Yes, that remark was flippant and cynical.
I had stopped taking Vieira seriously.I can only give people the love and respect they deserve. I can’t give them more just because they wear a red shirt with white arms.
THIS HAS BEEN a bad week all round.
Gooners are glum, anxious, depressed.
They hope Arsene will pick his best team against Wolves because the FA Cup is the only trophy he can win.
ROONEY wore gloves at Exeter. Is he from Senegal? Is he from Seville? I thought Rooney was a tough Scouser from a boxing family.
KEN BATES has bought 51% of Leeds. I had hoped the obnoxious Bates would vanish.
SVEN, a bungling groupie who cannot balance his midfield, is now talking about playing Shaun Wright-Phillips on the left, so he can keep his darling Beckham on the right !
GEORGE W.BUSH was inaugurated for a second term yesterday and I missed it.
I would have loved to have been there.
What a buzz it would have been to be that close to the forces of repression on their big day, to be there and see it and smell it and hear it and live it : sky full of helicopters, snipers on every rooftop, fear on the faces of jittery police.
And to go to the CounterInaugural Ball and party with the people who will never, never, never accept government by the rich for the rich.
One of my moles in Washington believes that Bush never really flew in the Texas Air National Guard in 1972.But he can’t prove that Bush clocked up his few flying hours in the back of a two-seater training plane.
IN SUM, a bad week.
Gooner gloom, manager betrayed, Rooney wearing gloves, Bates back in football, and Bush grinning after two rigged elections.
January 21st 2005.