The addition of a whopping seven minutes of added time in
Manchester United's derby win over City at the weekend served mainly to give
conspiracy theorists yet more ammunition in their assault on the Premier League
Seven minutes of time added on for a game which was devoid
of any major injuries or stoppages does not, on the face of it, seem to add up.
Compare that to the second half of Chelsea's game with Spurs, during which
Sebastien Bassong and Didier Drogba were both stretchered off, three further
substitutions were made and two goals were celebrated. Total injury time? Under
nine minutes, just two more than at Old Trafford.
It certainly seems black and white: United are cheats, mind-controllers
and in bed with everyone at the FA.
Early Doors loves a good conspiracy. Just not this time.
The official line is that the intended four minutes became
seven because of the length of Craig Bellamy's goal celebration and the
introduction of Michael Carrick as a replacement for Anderson during time added on.
Michael Owen struck the winner on 95 minutes and 25 seconds
- just one second over time if those two interruptions are taken into account
(at least according to the Match of the Day gofer who timed the whole thing
and whose information ED is heavily relying on).
United's celebrations - lengthy to say the least, as a fan
invaded the pitch, got a clip round the ear from Bellamy and was escorted away
- then sent the time ticking over the six minute mark.
The final whistle was eventually blown at 96mins 58secs, but
considering there was barely any further play after the winner went in, it
seems the officials just about got it right.
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Given that we've already seen dive-gate, stamp-gate and
celebration-gate in what has so far been an explosive start to the new season,
it comes as no surprise that a few more can now be added to the list.
Neither does it come as any surprise to see the two names involved
in the latest unsavoury incidents - Bellamy and El Hadji Diouf, serial
offenders the pair of them.
Bellamy is facing a police investigation for his best Brian
Clough impersonation on that United fan while cops have already spoken to Diouf
about an alleged racist comment aimed at an Everton ballboy.
Clough may well have been dubbed a national hero for
clipping a Forest fan round the lughole all
those years ago, but Bellamy is unlikely to enjoy the same reaction this time
round. Not even in Wales.
And if the allegations aimed at Diouf prove true ("F***
off, white boy" is what he is said to have shouted at the boy, who failed
to return the ball quick enough to him) there really is no defending the man. He
has a long, ugly rap sheet - uglier even than a Joe Calzaghe tango - but racist-rant-at-a-small-boy-gate
could prove to be a new low for him.
The suits at the FA, who are likely to take a dim view of
both incidents, will certainly earn their crusts this week.
All that is missing is a deliberate handball scandal and a
controversial goal celebration to complete a weekend to forget within what was
actually a weekend to remember. Hang on a minute, what was that about Emmanuel Eboue?
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REBIRTH OF THE WEEKEND: David Nugent rose, phoenix-like,
from the ashes of his Portsmouth career to grab
two goals on his home debut for Burnley. But surely
talk of a place in Fabio Capello's World Cup squad is a little premature.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: "Sometimes you have a noisy
neighbour. You can't do anything about that. They'll always be noisy. You just
have to get on with your life, put your television on and turn it up a bit
louder. Today the players showed their form. That is the best answer of all."
Alex Ferguson isn't kidding anyone that he lives in a semi in Stretford.
FOREIGN VIEW: Emmanuel Adebayor's behaviour last weekend
proved every player has his breaking point. And so it seems do referees.
Swiss whistle-blower Massimo Busacca has been forced to apologise
for sticking his finger up at fans who insulted him during a Swiss Cup match
between third division FC Baden and first division Young Boys.
"I let myself get provoked by the verbal insults of the
fans and was dragged down to making an unsporting gesture," said Busacca.
Busacca, 40, who refereed last season's Champions League final
and Manchester United, has been an international referee for 10 years and
officiated at the last World Cup.
COMING UP: Paul Parker will give his verdict on the weekend
action, we'll have a fantasy report and maybe even a podcast later on, if the
bloody thing works.