Arsenal 2 (Van Persie 74, Gallas 84) Hull 1 (Barmby 13)
(FA Cup quarter final)
In the early months of the season, I had a lot of time for Phil Brown. He was sending his newly promoted team out to attack, which was proving incredibly fruitful for Hull, as they shocked team after team to move towards the top of the league. While things were going well, he seemed to be enjoying himself, and it was good to see a new face on the block. Even when they’d beaten us in the league, I couldn’t help but admire how they went about the game.
And then a few months ago, it all started to unravel, starting with the ridiculous marching of his players over to the fans at half time of a match they were losing heavily to Man City. At the time, I thought his actions smacked of self importance, that he was trying to make a name for himself rather than do something that might help his team. Bear in mind that after such an unexpectedly fine start to the season, his players deserved a lot more respect than to endure a very public humiliation.
Since then, he has apparently been modelling himself on a cross between Sam Allardyce and Jose Mourinho, but completely missing in both cases. While Allardyce’s teams are canny enough to foul eighty times a match to break up the flow without attracting too much attention from the referee, Hull don’t have the personnel to do the same job. Their time wasting antics were almost laughable, so obvious were they in their execution. Even Mike Riley eventually noticed, and that really is saying something.
As for the Mourinho comparison, it isn’t a compliment. Brown seems to have seen the likes of the former Chelsea manager, and the impact they’ve had by being controversial, and is attempting to mimic to promote his own image. Now, after every game, he complains about all sorts of conspiracy theories, with last night’s continually changing story the pinnacle. His desperation to look good in front of the camera even stretches as far as a ridiculous coat and a desperate grooming of his hair, caught by the Setanta cameras moments before his post match interview.
So, on to his accusations. Unless you’ve been living under a rock today, you’ll know that he has accused Cesc of spitting at his assistant manager, Brian Horton:
“I was there and I witnessed it, he spat at my assistant manager down the tunnel. That is their club captain, hopefully he is proud of himself. He spat at his feet.”
Cesc, for his part, has strenuously denied the claims:
“I categorically deny that I spat at anybody after the match. I have never done this in my whole career on the pitch, so why would I do it when I am not even playing?”
“I can understand the frustration of losing a game to a dubious goal, that has happened to me many times in my career as well. But this is not the fault of me or any of the Arsenal players.”
I know who I believe, and it isn’t down to bias. The trouble with Brown’s story is that it hasn’t been in the slightest bit consistent. Initially, he was claiming that Horton had told him about the spitting, and that it happened on the touchline. Which, as I’m sure you could deduce, would’ve been caught by at least five cameras. Funnily enough, nothing has surfaced.
So now, all of a sudden, not only did Brown witness the ‘event’ first hand, but it has moved to the tunnel, which places a cloud of ‘his word against mine’ speculation, since cameras are not allowed there. How very convenient. The Mail have bought it hook, line and sinker, and have been condemning everyone from Cesc to Wenger to every foreigner in the land ever since.
By the time he came out with the accusation, he had already lost any credibility with a quite ridiculous rant about Myhill’s yellow card:
“Mr Wenger decides to join in and the result is my goalkeeper getting booked in the second half. Arsene Wenger got my goalkeeper booked. You call that good management? He was complaining about time-wasting.”
Or maybe it was your goalkeeper’s blatant and repeated time wasting that got him booked, for time wasting? The clue is in the name. As for Wenger, he has every right to bring it to Riley’s attention, especially as he is such a hopeless referee that he seems oblivious otherwise. Would you have sat back silently, thinking ‘Ah well, maybe the ref will notice later in the game’? Thought not.
Brown was obviously frustrated at our fortunate winning goal, where Gallas was standing in an offside position and the linesman presumably assumed he received the ball from a Hull player. But frankly, when you score in the opening fifteen minutes and then proceed to waste time from that moment on, a loss is exactly what you deserve. Was the winning goal lucky? Of course. Does shit happen in football? Very much so.
For a long time it looked like Hull might win for the second time at the Emirates this season, when Barmby’s innocuous looking shot ballooned off Djourou and lobbed Fabianski in the first half. But after the break, we saw a different Arsenal, with Arshavin again pulling the strings. Eventually, it was his intelligent cut back after good work from Bendtner that saw Van Persie score yet another with his ‘chocolate leg’.
So we’re off to the new Wembley for the first time, and for a juicy looking semi with Chelsea. It should be about that this morning, but somehow Hull’s petulant and vain manager has averted eyes to an incident that it very unlikely to have happened.
I was really enjoying Hull’s first season in the Premiership, but frankly, their breath of fresh air is beginning to go very stale.