The Likely Lads should dare do dream

Published: Tuesday, 27 December 2022

So where were we 43 days ago? Oh yes - Arsenal were top, 5 points clear of City. The Likely Lads had gate-crashed the new order and Spurs were making a habit of conceding the first goal in every gene they play  - then a second - before putting together storming second-half comebacks.

In the time the PL has been dormant Argentina have become world champions, Messi has joined the immortals, we’ve all witnessed the best WC of all time - and the greatest game of football we’ve ever seen.

When the PL resumed on Boxing Day the above had almost been forgotten and it was as if nothing had changed.

Spurs went one-down at Brentford - conceding the first goal for the sixth consecutive game. They then conceded a second - for the sixth consecutive game, before snatching a point and being a coat of paint away from stealing all three when Kane’s late header hit the bar. If they’d won it would’ve been harsh on Brentford.

The Likely Lads blew Leicester away in 45 minutes. Who is this kid they’ve got playing on the right of their mid-field? Is he related to Almiron? Wor Miggy is a man re-born.

I like what Eddie Howe said post-match ‘Newcastle fans can dare to dream - but we’ve got to stay focussed’. Why not dream? One defeat in 16 in impressive. So is they way they’re playing. I said before the resumption that I fancy them to go the distance better than Arsenal - and despite the Gunners’ win (in front of Arsene Wenger) I haven’t changed my mind. Newcastle look strong and they’ve got really good players to come back yet. I’m not saying they’ll win the title - with the resources City have they should win everything every season - but I’m pretty sure the Likely Lads can snatch a CL place. If they buy carefully in January - who knows? A title bid might just be on.

Just a word on Wenger’s return to Arsenal - that was really good to see. Perhaps the healing process can start in earnest now? Arsene has been an absentee by his own choice, but being forced out as he was at Arsenal wasn’t his choice - and I know from discussing his departure with him that it really hurt.

Liverpool were right back at it weren’t they? Keep faith in Nunez - I still believe he’ll go on to have a glorious Anfield career.

We’ll see how City and United react to the WC break later in the week.

I’m calling a truce with the PGMOL now that Howard Webb is in charge. Let’s see how things settle, but it was good to see VAR wasn’t overly busy on Boxing Day. Spurs could  easily have had a pen at Brentford when Mee and Kane got tangled up, but VAR was happy to go with the David Coote’s on-field decision. We were told that had Coote given a pen VAR wouldn’t have intervened either. Good. Let’s hope it’s a sign of things to come.

Mike Dean couldn’t resist getting busy at Palace. He spotted the ball brush Mitrovic’s arm before Ream scored Fulham’s second. Andy Madley looked, but wasn’t interested. Well done Andy. And Mike? We discussed this during the WC Mike.  Don’t get involved if you don’t have to. 😂.

How long has Frank Lampard got I wonder? I don’t blame him entirely for Everton’s awful season so far. What are they doing at Goodison? Haven’t they got £4m quid to turn their on-loan player of the season into a permanent signing? Conor Coady couldn’t play v Wolves for that reason. He’s on-loan from them.  He might not have made a difference to Everton  - but I fancy he would’ve done. If there’s one thing Everton can take from their miserable campaign it’s that they’ve been very good defensively. The trio of Coady, Tarkowski and Pickford have some well. If Everton don’t have £4m for Coady that tells me there are massive financial problems yet to be revealed.

I see Jesse Lingard has started whining about ‘broken promises’ at United. Shut up Jesse. You’re one of the luckiest players ever to have kicked a ball.

One last thing. Am I the only one that’s a tad uncomfortable about Ivan Toney continuing to play for Brentford whilst he’s facing 262 FA charges for gambling offences? 262 ffs.

I understand that any of us are innocent until proven guilty. I don’t know Toney - he strikes me as a good lad and he’s certainly a magnificent penalty taker. He would’ve scored v France if he’d been anywhere near the pitch.

But as we know - Gareth Southgate chose not to bring him to Qatar - and 24 hours after that decision was made the first raft of charges dropped. Co-incidence I’m sure 🤷‍♂️😂.

Anyway - innocent until proven guilty - but let’s get an outcome on this. 262 charges is a massive number. We don’t know the extent of the gambling nor the nature, but surely it’s not beyond the FA to bring this to a conclusion quickly ? I’m sure we’ll be told it’s going to take time for the defence team to out their case together, but I don’t believe Toney should be playing until there is an outcome.

I’m not condemning him. I’m uncomfortable watching him. If he’s got issues with gambling that might very well not be his fault. Gambling ruins lives - just ask Paul Merson. It’s an odious habit. Like smoking and drinking - it’s addictive. They’re both banned from advertising in football - so why isn’t gambling? It’s madness that we police footballers in the way that we do and yet promote the very thing that gets them into trouble. We’ve got to stop it. Ban gambling advertising

In the meantime a cloud of suspicion hovers over Toney. Sort it out guys. This simply isn’t good enough.