Early Doors

Hughes after Wenger crown

Early Doors

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Arsene Wenger better watch out, there's a new kid on the

For years now the Arsenal boss has been the undisputed king
of myopic and incomprehensible defending of the seemingly indefensible.

Seen through Arsene's red and white-tinted spectacles, no
Arsenal player can ever be guilty of any wrongdoing, no matter how obvious it
appears to the neutral.

Alex Ferguson often shops at the same ophthalmic emporium,
but it is Wenger who holds the crown that is in danger of being wrested from
his clutches by the increasingly short-sighted Mark Hughes.

To many observers of Sunday's Manchester derby, Craig Bellamy was in the
wrong when he delivered a swift slap to the chops of a pitch invader and told
him, non-too politely, to leave the playing arena.

Clearly, Bellamy wasn't the only one in the wrong - the
invader shouldn't have been there in the first place - but Hughes's Wenger-like
refusal to admit his player's guilt
is shocking.

"All Craig has done is go over there and tell the guy
to get off the pitch," said (a presumably bespectacled) Hughes.

"The guy made an aggressive move towards him and Craig
wanted to get him off the pitch.

"Craig just put a defensive hand out to push him away.
You can never be quite sure what is going to happen in those situations."

No, you can't. So, instead of letting the stewards do their
job - which they were in the process of doing - Hughes seems to prefer the more pre-emptive attack-as-the-best-form-of-defence approach. A bit like a Kevin Keegan side. Or even a
George Bush administration.

Either way, it doesn't work.

Wenger saw the imminent challenge from Hughes last week
when, in the aftermath of Emmanuel Adebayor's stamp on Robin van Persie, Hughes
asked for the Togo
striker to be "cut a bit of slack".

Wenger responded with: "You can ask 100 people, 99 will say it is very bad
and the hundredth will be Mark Hughes."

Amazing foresight for a man so short-sighted, really. A week
later and pretty much everyone but Hughes thinks Bellamy's reaction was out of line.

City have decided not to take any internal action against the striker, and it
will now be up to the FA to reprimand him, should they see fit.

- - -


Leeds v Liverpool

Arsenal v West Brom

The rest of
tonight's Carling Cup action

Sevilla v Real

Racing Santander v Barcelona

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