Squarefootball Diary; Gers Joy; Roy's Revival


Stephen Orford

Due to the mild irritation of his disability Stephen Orford has never kicked a football in his life. However, he is a serious asset to any editor looking to comply with equal opportunities legislation....
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Squarefootball Diary - Sunday March 16 2008

To the assumed dismay of Richard Scudamore et al, the handing out of silverware in Scotland is more important than the Premier League.

Therefore, the diary is sad to report that Rangers have cause to get out the polish once more after beating Dundee United on penalties to win the CIS Insurance Cup at Hampden Park. Twice the United dream looks like becoming a reality as first Noel Hunt and then Mark De Vries give their side the lead, only to be pegged back on each occasion by goals from Kris Boyd. It is also Boyd who converts the decisive penalty in the shoot-out following misses from United’s David Robertson, Craig Conway and Lee Wilkie aswell as Rangers’ Jean-Claude Darcheville and Lee McCulloch;

“It's never a satisfactory way to finish a game but it's the only way we can do it.” explains Gers manager Walter Smith;

“When it comes to the last penalty, there is no-one better to take it than Boyd.” he argues, with more than a hint of hindsight.

Meanwhile Dundee United manager Craig Levein is understandably downbeat;

“Twice it looked like we were going to clinch the game and we were hit by real body blows.” he points out;

“We hadn't weathered a storm, it was more like a slight downpour and then out of the blue we made a couple of mistakes and were cruelly punished.”

OK Richard, now we’ll talk about your Premier League. The very modern clamour for the glory of finishing fourth takes a decidedly red turn, as Everton fail to close the gap on Liverpool after going down 1-0 at Fulham. Former Toffeeman Brian McBride heads in the winner on 67 to give the Cottagers a relegation lifeline;

“We have never been very good at Craven Cottage and this was the same.” admits Everton boss David Moyes, though nobody would have argued had it been Fulham boss Roy Hodgson making those comments. Instead the former Inter Milan manager remarks;

“The goal was vital. For us the difference between one and three points in the match was everything.”

It’s easy to see why Hodgson has a varied and impressive managerial CV with shrewd comments like that.

Fulham’s win is bad news for both Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers, who do battle at the JJB Stadium. Emile Heskey’s first half-volley is enough to lift Steve Bruce’s side to a dizzying 12th in the table, and is all the more remarkable for having been achieved with ten men for all but the first five minutes following Jason Koumas’ reckless challenge on Gary Cahill;

“I think that because of the climate we are in, it is leaving the referees in a difficult position.” says Bruce on the sending off. Perhaps he might like to move his side’s games to a different climate, then? Have a word with Richard.

Bolton boss Gary Megson has a doctorate in stating the bleeding obvious;

“We've rested players midweek for this game and clearly it hasn't worked because we didn't turn up or start well.” he states, perhaps now wishing he had not subjected the under-14’s to a UEFA Cup tie with Sporting Lisbon.

Finally it’s the turn of the fancy dans, or more specifically those teams going absolutely nowhere be it upwards or downwards. Robbie Keane puts Tottenham ahead against Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium before being substituted and throwing his training top to the ground in a manner befitting a frustrated show pony.

By that time the distinctly offside Stephen Ireland has already drawn City level, and it is left to Nedum Onuoha to score his first goal on 72 to give Sven’s men the win. The distinctly not offside Darren Bent appears to equalise late on, but presumably the assistant referee refuses to believe his own eyes and raises the flag in any case;

“We had some weeks where we were a little bit flat but I hope this is a turning point.” offers Sven, while all the attention from the Spurs camp is on Keane;

“It just shows he wants to stay on the pitch. That's the type of character we want at the club.” claims assistant boss Gus Poyet, although the kit man may disagree;

“We need to make sure we kill off games. We were complacent.” adds Poyet laughably.

Rochdale remain in contention for a place in the League Two play-offs after beating Accrington Stanley 4-1. Dale still sit five points off the top seven, but crucially have three games in hand on many of the teams above them.

By Stephen Orford

17 March 2008

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