It's a funny old game...

Published: Monday, 29 May 2017

It was Jimmy Greaves who coined the phrase 'it's a funny old game'. A bit like a few other football cliches - 'sick as a parrot' - which Phil Thompson is to blame for - it's over worked and had its time. But, every now and again it best sums up certain situations.

So, after a miserable season, ruined by the uncertainty over Arsene Wenger's future, this dignified man wins the FA Cup for a record 7th time. His team didn't just win it, they won it with all the qualities that have so often been missing from their game - oh, and a huge slice of luck, which every successful team needs.

Let's deal with the luck. Alexis Sanchez handled that ball. Fact. There is no other conclusion to come to. Quite simply Anthony Taylor didn't see it. If he had - he would've given Chelsea a free-kick. Here's what Gary Cahill had to say about the incident. 'It was incredible. I spoke to him (the ref) at half time and he was adamant he kneed the ball through'. Case close. Taylor didn't see it.

And Ramsey HAS to be offside as Sanchez scores. Thibaut Courtois this time 'Ramsey is clearly bothering me. If he's not there I can run out and get the ball before Alexis does. But because he's standing there, I stop, thinking he's going to collect it and shoot. As does the defence. He clearly interrupts the game for me and is taking part in active play'. Correct. It Ramsey continues to leave the box as he was initially doing, he's fine, but the moment he turns to try and play the ball he's offside because he becomes active. He's affecting the play. Case closed.

Having said that, the last word on that incident has to go to Cahill. 'To be honest, Arsenal were better than us. We can't hide behind the first goal'. I love the big guy. He was my player of the season. He was awesome all year long and this isn't the first time I've found myself complimenting his honesty. He's a natural and fine successor to John Terry as Chelsea's leader.

How sickening was it to hear Antonio Conte trying to defend Victor Moses though? No Antonio, he wasn't 'tired'. He cheated and rightly got what he deserved. On this one - well done Antony Taylor. I've had this argument with Ruud Gullit many times - where is the boundary between 'good play' and 'cheating'. In Italy - as Ruud would say 'the land of theatre, opera and drama' what Moses tried to get away with is seen as 'good play'. They don't understand our dislike of incidents like that. More than anything, that explains Conte's reticence to criticise Moses, but the more he works in our league the more ridiculous he'll realise his post match reaction was. Gullit, by the way, deplores what Moses tried and I like to think it's because he's been around English football a lot longer than Conte. Having said that, had the ref given a pen and Chelsea had scored, how many of their supporters would've been condemning Moses? For them it would've been in the 'good play' category! We're all the same.

Oh, I'm in complete agreement with Tony Cascarino this morning. Never mind man of the match, Per Mertesacker should be named as a Arsenal's player of the year. He was awesome. If the win transformed Arsenal's season - and it did - then Mertesacker had more influence on that season in that 90 minutes than anybody else. Case closed.

For Wenger I was absolutely delighted. He's unique for many reasons, but largely because he's been transformed down the years from somebody that didn't see anything into the most articulate and honest manager working in England. Ask him a question - he'll answer it. You might not agree, or like the answer, but he'll tell you what he thinks. He's so refreshing to listen to, not hiding behind a different language and talking absolute bollocks like so many more of them do. No, like all of them do. I'm tired of post match interviews with foreign coaches because they offer nothing, tell you nothing, arrogantly look down their noses at reporters with a sniffy air of contempt or laugh inanely. Must do better guys, or don't bother.

So what next for Wenger? My mate John Cross has never wavered from the view that he stays. I conducted a less than scientific Twitter poll Monday that was entirely inconclusive!  My feeling is that Arsenal fans have turned their anger away from Wenger towards 'Silent' Stan and I understand why. The scrap behind the scenes that cost Arsenal David Dein's clever countenance, won't go away. Kroenke won't sell his majority shareholding - ok - but why not try and work WITH Alisher Usmanov instead of against him? Can you imagine what a force Arsenal would be then?

I still think Sanchez is Man City bound this summer and that will be a blow. Arsenal will need big money to replace him. They need big money to be one of the top 4 again and they need to do that before they can mount a title challenge again. It's back to the future guys.  

Two last things - I don't buy into this ridiculous theory that Chelsea were tired. They played less games than any other side in the top 6 this season. Tired? How come?

And I'm sure you're all still scratching your heads wondering why I blamed Thommo for that daft cliche 'sick as a parrot'. Ask him. He'll tell you they were words he muttered after that European Cup defeat inflicted by Forest - 2-0 at the City Ground and the 0-0 at Anfield. I stopped him in the tunnel for an interview afterwards - he was in bits and it was just about all he said. 'Sick as a parrot'? I didn't get it then and I still don't - but ask him - I'm sure he'll remember! It's a funny old game......