If you had to do the same again Fernandes - would you?

Published: Monday, 11 December 2023

What’s going on? It’s been another fabulous weekend of football - despite the best efforts of the operators of VAR to ruin it. I feel we’ve got to make that distinction now. The technology works - it’s the operators that are flawed. That’s it. No more on the subject this week.

So Liverpool go top again - for the first time since May 2022, when they finished a point behind City. And when they were really good. 

Do you remember the Covid season when they lost six in a row at home? None of us had ever seen anything like it. The wheels were well and truly off the Klopp bandwagon. He appeared bemused at times on the touchline back then. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking that it looked as thought he’d had enough.

But not a bit of it. What we now know is that he was actually planning on how to go again. The re-build has been seamless. Everybody at the club should take great pride in the fact that Liverpool 2.0 appear to be worthy successors to the title side.

Of course - there’s a long way to go, but this team has inherited one of its predecessors great strengths - they don’t know when they’re beaten.

I must admit I wasn’t convinced they’d kept the right one when they let Mane go. But they had. Salah has been enormous at the club. I hope he gets another title medal to leave with next May. Somehow finding a way to persuade him to stay, when he was nailed on to leave for Saudi last summer, was the best piece of business Liverpool did in the rebuild.

I want to mention Fulham this week. Marco Silva has done a top job at The Cottage. He was on his arse when Everton sacked him, but he hasn’t sulked - he got back at it and he’s another one that deserves huge credit for what’s he’s done.

Losing Mitrovic could’ve been a terminal blow to Fulham’s chances of staying in the PL, but they haven’t missed him. They’re banging goals in from everywhere now - as West Ham found out Sunday. As pleased as I was for Silva, I can’t pretend that I didn’t feel for David Moyes and his team. I’ve had a real soft spot for the Hammers since Moyes took over there.

Andoni Iraola (who?) is slowly proving a few of us wrong at Bournemouth. What a win that was at OT. It wasn’t lucky. It was throughly deserved and it could easily have been more than three.

Iraola has slowly put his stamp on the Cherries. It wasn’t his fault that Gary O’Neil was shabbily treated - and O’Neil is back in work with a much better job now - so we’ll cut Iraola some slack Pipes.

What about United? Everyone at the club has got a huge seven days ahead of them now. If it goes wrong - ten Hag could easily be out of work this time next week. 

Ten Hag is a busted flush, but I did feel for him as we watched him watch his captain rule himself out of the game at Liverpool. What was Fernandes thinking when he spat his dummy and went into the book with Utd three-down and with just seven minutes to go in the Bournemouth game? Fernandes was stupid. Getting booked when he did - moaning - was a dereliction of his duty to his manager and his club.

If he’d been complaining about a match-defining incident in stoppage time - ok. Not wise, but as we saw at City the previous week, it happens. Emotions can get the better of players. But that wasn’t the case this time. 

It’s inconceivable Fernandes didn’t know that getting booked meant he’d be suspended for the game at Liverpool. Impossible. So why do it?

I see my good mate Phil Nev reared up when I suggested Fernandes had done it on purpose - perhaps not wanting to be on the wrong end of another 7-0, on a ground where he manhandled an official last season - somehow getting away with it - and where he simply gave up desperately keen to get himself off the pitch as United imploded last season.

All those things were in my mind when I said on BeINSPORTS that Fernandes had got booked on purpose, but after what Phil said I’m happy to withdraw the allegation and apologise to Fernandes. Let’s leave it at him being downright irresponsible. Oh, and I read in the Mail’s Sports Agenda column today that Sunny Jim isn’t a fan either of Fernandes either - a view formed after that game at Liverpool. 

Fernandes is such a good player. If he concentrated on doing the opposition damage, with the abundance of talent that he’s got, he’d have far more impact on games - rather than falling over all the time and chipping away at refs. They’re onto him. Collapsing holding his shin or face doesn’t work anymore. The days when Fernandes, Pogba and Rashford were winning pens every week are over.

Spurs were good. Well - to be specific - Son was very good. Newcastle couldn’t handle him. Should we be worried about them? They look a shadow of the team that finished in the top four last season. All the same - I wish them luck in Europe this week.

After 15 games in charge at Chelsea, Pochettino has two points less than Graham Potter had 16 games in - anand that after a £1b spend. I don’t share the argument that he needs time. Big Ange got things moving at Spurs pretty quickly.  And Unai Emery turned things round at Villa the moment he walked in. What a week they’ve had. Onto them in a minute. Poch wants more players I see. Are you serious Poch? You can’t get a tune out of those you’ve already got. How many do you want? 

Villa have been brilliant these past few days. Wins over City and Arsenal in successive home games. Wow.   

I thought the win over Arsenal was the more impressive. Villa were really good the night they beat City. The champions couldn’t handle them, but they had to dig in to wrestle the three points off Arsenal. It was a very different win. And what a dignified celebration Unai. Just a fist pump - and a walk to the tunnel, where he later shook hands with everyone on the Gunners‘ coaching staff. That’s the way to do it. The Celebration Police were very impressed. 😂.

Finally…a word for big Dychey. The Toffees are out of the bottom three and the points deduction is all but forgotten. I’ve never doubted that Everton would be ok. They’ll finish 10th/12th-ish. Dyche looks so comfortable in their technical area. This time it’s the right man in the right place very much at the right time. Dyche could yet go on to make himself a legend at Goodison.