Football took centre stage this weekend and repaid our attention with a gluttony of goals.
Sir Alex Ferguson demanded an immediate response from his team after last week’s 6-1 annihilation at the hands of Manchester City, and although Manchester United beat Everton 1-0 on Saturday their performance was far from convincing. Everton received no United backlash at Goodison Park and it was the home side who controlled long spells of the game, but for all their possession David Moyes’ team failed to threaten the United goal and Javier Hernandez’ 19th minute tap-in proved decisive.
Manchester City heaped more pressure on Wolves manager Mick McCarthy by beating the West Midlands team for the second time in four days. City’s 3-1 victory takes their goal tally to 36 in just 10 Premier League games. Owen Coyle is another manager who might not make it to Christmas as his Bolton side fell to their eighth defeat of the season away at Premier League new boys Swansea. The 3-1 loss ensures Bolton remain in the relegation zone. Wigan keep the Trotters company in the bottom three after losing 2-1 at home to Fulham.
In League One, Oldham were involved in their second 3-3 draw of the week away to Carlisle, Bury lost 2-1 to Stevenage, while Rochdale succumbed to Leyton Orient at home, losing 2-0. Elsewhere, Stockport were knocked out of the FA Cup in the opening round losing 1-0 to Southport.
England’s cricketers finally tasted success in the sub-continent. It may have taken until their final game and it may only have been in the Twenty20 version of the sport but it was not meaningless as the victory keeps England on top of the 20 over world rankings. Kevin Pietersen was back to his masterful self knocking 53 runs off just 39 balls to help England ease past India’s modest target of 120.
In rugby league, Wigan’s star full-back Sam Tomkins helped England kick off their Four Nations campaign with a comfortable 42-4 victory over Wales. His four tries embellished a score line which was marginally harsh on the Welsh, and England will have to improve if they hope to compete with New Zealand and Australia.
Hero: Sam Tomkins
His four tries in England’s opening Four Nation’s game against Wales equalled the tournament record and there is growing speculation of the Wigan full-back following in Jason Robinson and Andy Farell’s footsteps by switching codes.
Villain: Carlos Tevez
For the second weekend running Carlos Tevez is cast as the villain. Unable to accept his punishment for resuming to warm up, Tevez is now allegedly suing Roberto Mancini for defamation of character.
Upset: Adam Johnson
The term ‘upset’ in sport generally refers to an unlikely victory, a David beating Goliath moment, but as there were none of any substance this weekend I have decided to apply it in its more literal form. Adam Johnson has been in fine scoring form recently for Manchester City yet he still can’t get in Roberto Mancini’s first XI and rumours of the two’s strained relationship are becoming more prevalent.
Winner: England (cricket)
After a dominant summer at home where the test and one-day sides dispatched India with ease, followed by a whitewash in the reverse 50 over series in the sub continent, England needed a victory if only for morale. Their win in the Twenty20 match provides just that and also keeps them astride of the world rankings.
Loser: Owen Coyle
Universally acclaimed as one of the Premier League’s best young managers last season, Coyle is now in danger of losing his job. Bolton have won just two of their ten games losing the other eight and languish in 19th position. Those eight losses have included Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea but also Swansea and Norwich and thus the pressure grows on Coyle.
Performance: Nemanja Vidic
‘Fantastic’ was the adjective deployed by Sir Alex Ferguson in his assessment of the Serbian’s return to the United starting line up. Vidic’s return coincided with a United defence which dealt comfortably with Everton pressure for most of Saturday’s game. There is the impression that a defence with Vidic in is less prone to capitulation as one which contains Rio Ferdinand.