I tell you what VAR needs to review: Christmas trees being put up in November.
I need a world where Mike Dean is barreling into people’s front rooms and drawing a rectangle in thin air if 3-year-old Billy from Cheshire even thinks about putting tinsel on his windowsill.
I want to see Stockley Park getting into verbal brawls about whether Dave from the north-east dared to play Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ in November or if his shuffle button simply screwed him over.
Newborn Debra in Cornwall? That’s a three-match ban for watching Elf. Old dear Debra in west London? You’re getting two-footed for crying at the John Lewis ad.
In fact, such is my outrage, I’m going to start setting off fireworks on October 5, go into work dressed as a zombie in mid-September and rattle through chocolate eggs as New Year is declared.
Ok… wow… I really am worked up, but at least I’ve had the football to stop me from rugby-tackling – verbally, of course – the neighbours for blaring out Wham! as though we’ve travelled three weeks into the future.
Football and festivities
Besides, the people of the UK should know that it’s not bunging reindeer antlers on your dog or shamefully binning your child’s terrible DIY bauble that marks the arrival of the festive season… but the Premier League winter ball.
Now we’re talking, right? That beautiful fluorescent delight is the greatest thing to happen to yellow spheres since the sun and if we had space for it in the latest round of the GMS Awards, we’d celebrate it in no time at all.
So, while I will December towards me for the sake of my sanity and anger management, be sure to celebrate another week of football that’s been just as crazy as the country’s premature Christmalation.
GIVEMESPORT Awards #7
You can check out our 17 winners in categories ranging from player and game of the week to the Roy Keane and Sunday League Awards down below:
Goal of the week
Riyad Mahrez vs Zimbabwe
It might have been a week since Mahrez scored this bonafide Puskas Award contender during Algeria’s 2-2 draw with Zimbabwe, but we’re still not over this joyous flurry of excellence.
The Manchester City star went viral for capitalising on a lightning-quick counterattack in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier that saw him produce an astonishing scorpion-kick first touch out wide.
That’s not to mention adding 10,000 cherries on top with a Ronaldo chop and fake shot that had the defenders baffled in the penalty area, before slotting the ball into the net with a sumptuous finish.
Player of the week
There have been some serious contenders for POTW, we’re not going to lie, so the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Ferran Torres and particularly Erling Braut Haaland can count themselves as unlucky here.
But I’m sorry, Lukaku has been an absolute tour de force this week and scoring twice for Belgium during their impressive 4-2 UEFA Nations League victory over Denmark was just the beginning.
When Inter Milan found themselves 2-0 down at home to Torino on Sunday it was the former Manchester United striker who turned things around with his second masterclass of the week.
Lukaku bagged himself two goals, a poacher’s finish and cool conversion from the penalty spot, before providing assists for Alexis Sanchez and Lautaro Martinez to seal a stunning 4-2 comeback.
Manager of the week
They say you should only use the bus for essential journeys in lockdown and nothing could have been more essential for the ‘Special One’ than getting one over his arch-enemy Pep Guardiola.
There’s just something about second seasons that brings out the genius in Mourinho and his throttling, suffocating display against a City side that produced far more shots on goal was a ‘park the bus’ masterclass.
Despite only having 34% possession on their own turf, Spurs romped their way to the Premier League summit courtesy of goals from Heung-min Son and Giovani Lo Celso either side of half-time.
It’s still early days, but Mourinho masterminding one of the world’s best coaches in spite of all the claims he’s past his sell-by date suggests Tottenham could be genuine title contenders in 2020/21.
Game of the week
AS Monaco 3-2 Paris Saint-Germain
Ligue 1 looked to be resembling, well, Ligue 1 when PSG were romping their way into a 2-0 lead away to AS Monaco on Friday night with Kylian Mbappe scoring a fine solo goal and a penalty.
In fact, the French champions could have been 4-0(!!!) up at the break if it wasn’t for VAR denying Mbappe his hat-trick and Moise Kean a goal of his own. But that was when things changed…
Niko Kovac made the inspired decision to introduce former Chelsea and Arsenal wizard Cesc Fabregas at half-time, who proceeded to flip the game on its head with an absolute footballing clinic.
The World Cup winner turned provider for the second goal of Kevin Volland’s brace as Monaco drew level, only to complete the dramatic comeback by holding his nerve to score an emphatic penalty.
Outrageous skill of the week
Alvaro Morata vs Germany
To be honest, I feel like we haven’t talked about Germany getting trounced 6-0 by Spain enough in these awards, but Las Rojas supporters are going to have to settle for this showboating moment.
Morata has looked like a player reborn since going out on loan to Juventus and showed just how much confidence he’s playing with by dishing out an outrageous skill on the man who’s replaced him at Chelsea: Werner.
Blues fans must have been cringing as the Spaniard, who flopped so spectacularly for them, dished out a roulette so filthy on their current number 11 that he probably returned to London without his soul.
Trezeguet vs Brighton & Hove Albion
It’s actually been quite a calm week if you’re one of those diehard fans who needs a blood vessel stitching back together whenever you see a dive because our winner is, admittedly, a bit of a reach.
Besides, there will be plenty of fans who will disagree with my selection of Trezeguet, who initially won a penalty for Aston Villa in stoppage time against Brighton, only to have VAR break his heart.
But I don’t care whether the rule books say it should be a penalty, Solly March could have tackled the lovechild of a china plate, iPhone screen and my physique as a 13-year-old and none of them would have broken.
Stranged punditry of the week
Danny Murphy on James Rodriguez
Let’s all take a moment to appreciate Match of the Day pundit Murphy bizarrely remarking that Rodriguez was: “a bit of an unknown to some teams at the start of the season”.
To be fair, Danny, I had no idea that James Bond had married every Liverpool fan’s favourite former Argentine winger either, even if taking the latter’s surname does take away from his catchphrase a little.
Maybe if I hadn’t been in a coma during the summer of 2014 I would have known that they tied the knot as well and quite why the womanising, murderous spy is relevant to Everton, I have no idea.
Ok, p***ing about aside, I’m pretty sure in this age of technology that Premier League sides had a gargantuan idea about an ex-Real Madrid and Bayern Munich star with a World Cup Golden Boot…
Disasterclass of the week
Refereeing in MLS penalty shootout
I don’t even know where to start with this chaos. So, instead of me even attempting to vaguely articulate this bonkers, anarchic shootout that lasted TWENTY THREE MINUTES, let me give you a timeline:
1. New York City miss penalty they needed to score to stay in the play-offs
2. However, Orlando’s number one was off the line when he saved it, leading the referee to give him a second yellow card and order a retake
3. Orlando boss Óscar Pareja got so ahead of himself that he ran down the tunnel celebrating and needs fetching
4. Referee accidentally allows Orlando to make a substitute mid-shootout to bring on their back-up goalkeeper
5. Officials finally realise the gaffe after minutes of deliberation, forcing outfield Orlando player to go in goal
6. New York score, then former Manchester United man Nani misses for Orlando
7. But Orlando’s outfield goalkeeper, Rodrigo Schlegel, then saves New York’s next penalty
8. Orlando proceed to wrongly celebrate winning the shootout after getting their maths wrong
9. Thankfully, for everyone’s sanity, Orlando do indeed then win the shootout by scoring their next spot kick
Tweet of the week
Mesut Ozil vs Piers Morgan
Since Ozil has been inexplicably evicted from Arsenal’s Premier League squad, the German midfielder has changed careers to become a Twitter admin with some admittedly amusing results.
However, Ozil’s mid-game Arsenal updates peaked when he got himself into an unexpected war of words with Gooner Piers Morgan that nobody saw coming – and there was only one winner.
After Morgan replied to Ozil tweeting: ‘Let’s gooooooo’ to mark kick-off at Elland Road with ‘I wish you would, Mesut’, the Arsenal star went for the jugular by hitting the journalist where it hurt.
The World Cup winner currently has in excess of 150,000 ‘likes’ for teasing Morgan about the alleged phone-hacking scandal, probably earning him the biggest cheer he’ll get all season.
Craziest bet of the week
Dean Henderson’s family
We’ve seen a few wholesome cases of the families of footballing hopefuls betting on their genetic prodigy to make it big over the years – and the story of Henderson’s folks is more than deserving of this gong.
It emerged that after the United shot-stopper made his England debut during the 3-0 win over the Republic of Ireland that his mum, uncle and nan had bagged themselves a handsome payday.
It was his uncle who pocked the most, though, taking home £12,500 after backing his nephew to play for the Three Lions when he was just 14 years old and plying his trade at Carlisle United.
The Sunday League award
Crazy wind during Croatian game
Now, fear not, we’re not claiming the Croatian first division is tantamount to Phil and Graham stumbling around a field on Sunday morning with enough Carling in their stomach to open a brewery.
Instead, while the beauty of Sunday League is chalked off for lockdown, we couldn’t help drawing comparisons between Sibenik v Gorica and the sort of hurricane-like game we’ve all played in at some point.
You know, when the wind is so horrendous that either the right or left winger can essentially pitch a deckchair and sip a Mojito because the continents will have moved by the time the ball reaches them.
Such were the galeforce conditions that if they had one of those ball trackers that they do in golf coverage, each cross would have looked like a massive Nike tick, banana or leaning palm tree.
Fan outside Turf Moor
This week has marked the turn of ‘I’m a C-Lister in Wales’ and one of the amusing moments to emerge from Ant and Dec’s sex dungeon was Jordan North declaring in utter fear that Turf Moor is his happy place.
Naturally, that prompted every club who has ever won at Burnley to produce the same old tweet, but one reporter went one step further and tried to ride the trend by stopping people outside the ground.
Instead of speaking to rosy-cheeky, lollipop-holding youngsters declaring their love for Turf Moor, he was instead confronted by an elder gentleman rolling up in his mobility scooter like something out of a Dr Dre video.
In a moment of internet history, the cruising rap icon of the north-west declared that he was ‘bloody miserable’ because the ‘pubs are shut’. I’ll raise a toast to that… oh wait, yeh, I see what he means.
The Roy Keane award
Flamengo player’s crazy haircut
There’s been more than a few howlers in the footballing world this week and I’m not talking about the one that’s been shaved in the head of Flamengo’s Michael. Don’t worry, I’ll see myself out.
The Brazilian forward went viral this week for a bonkers haircut that includes a wolf howling towards the moon complete with tree and birds that will leave Keane having a full-blown existential crisis.
If this had happened in the United squad 15 years ago, Michael would have been left hanging from the wing-mirror of the team bus by the hairs of his -uhum, yeh, you fill in this bit – instead of his scalp.
Urban Dictionary of the week
Word: Zlatan (verb)
Definition: To achieve something that shouldn’t be possible at one’s age
In a sentence: Oh mate, you should have seen Auntie Mable Zlataning at the weekend. I s*** you not, I was doing the dishes and saw her execute a double back-flip with perfect dismount before taking the washing off the line. It was like seeing Simone Biles in the flesh.
Man Utd penalty of the week
Bruno Fernandes vs West Bromwich Albion
Do you know what? Whether Christmas trees are going up in November or December, the world is in lockdown or has complete freedom, we can at least guarantee that United will win a penalty.
Yes, that’s right, it’s good to have at least one thing you can rely on in life and just like clockwork, United had the ball on the penalty spot for yet another week and it was Fernandes who assumed responsibility.
However, the once unflappable ‘penalty merchant’ has been a little wobbly recently and saw his initial effort palmed away by Sam Johnstone in a similar vein to his miss at Newcastle United.
But like the drama at PSG, Fernandes was let off the hook as VAR (very aware of rubbish) noticed that Johnstone had marginally left his line to make the save – and the retake was duly converted.
Managerial innuendo of the week
“He was injured in a dangerous area, he came back and played for 50/55 minutes and then was injured again.”
Woof, steady on, Pep, I’m not sure Sergio Aguero appreciates his shortcummings in the bedroom being aired in press conferences.
TV Burp award
Most accidentally-televised police drugs bust of the week
Geez. Kevin De Bruyne has been so undercover in the police’s war against drugs that he became one of the best footballers in the world to achieve it, now that’s some serious dedication.
Who’s kidding? Go enjoy Xmas
If you’ve made it to the end – geez, I pity you – then I have a confession to make: I don’t actually care that people are starting Christmas so early. I know… everything you thought you knew was a lie.
Like a completely-forced plot twist in a rubbish movie, I’ve been leading you on the whole time and it’s down to the fact 2020 and all its madness has changed my mind on the whole Xmas debate.
Look, we’re all in lockdown at the moment, so why not claw some happiness back towards us when there’s been so little of it this year and nothing gets people smiling quite like the festive season.
After all, while you’ve likely been knitting a two-kilometre scarf or sensually massaging a banana bread, I’ve equally been traipsing through hours of press conferences looking for the most sexually-suggestive managerial quotes.
So, yeh, who am I kidding? There can be few more wholesome, uplifting and anomalously-cheery activities right now than spreading the happiness of Christmas – as well as watching the footy, of course – a little earlier than usual.
Besides, there’s no ‘no’ in Novem— ah s***.