What we’ve learnt this week

Wayne Rooney isn’t the stupidest England striker, hurrah. The Scouse maverick’s potty mouth antics at West Ham have earned him a two-match ban, which will see him miss the all-Manchester FA Cup semi-final. But his four goals in a week have softened the blow. The same can’t been said about Peter Crouch whose sending off was the start of Tottenham’s own horror film ‘The Madrid Massacre’. I’ve never seen Crouch win a slide tackle ever, so why try it (twice) at the Bernabeu in your club’s biggest match of the season?!
 
After watching this week’s Champions League quarter-final first leg at Stamford Bridge, one questioned popped into my head – if Fernando Torres is worth £50 million, then just how much is Ryan Giggs worth in today’s crazy transfer market? While Torres petulantly toiled (and dived), the Welshman was making the game look effortless, even at the age of 37. His surge past Jose Bosingwa and perfect pull-back for Wayne Rooney to net United’s winner, demonstrated that he has lost none of his cutting edge for delivering in the biggest of occasions. And at West Ham on Saturday he was arguably the best player on the pitch… playing at left-back! He rolled back the years to give Gareth Bale a reminder of who the real Welsh wing wizard is, assisting Javier Hernandez for United’s fourth. Even after 869 appearances, 158 goals, 11 league titles, 4 FA cups, 4 League cups, and 2 Champions League titles, Giggsy still has it.
 
Attack is the best form of defence…even in European competition, with a total of 37 goals scored in the eight midweek matches. Three of the Champions League quarter-final first legs ended in high-scoring wins, while the other saw Manchester United take a vital 1-0 away lead against Chelsea, as Fergie finally decided to play away from home with two strikers! And it was a similar story in Thursday’s Europa League clashes with Benfica, Porto and Villareal also racking up huge first-leg leads. More of the same next week please.
 
Good news for everyone in football, despite Arsenal’s best efforts last month, it turns out Barcelona do have some defensive fallibilities. They may have beaten Shakhtar Donetsk by a handsome margin, but the Ukrainians created several good opportunities, and the scoreline could have been far different. It no doubt gave Jose Mourinho plenty of food for thought, with potentially four season defining clashes with the Catalans on the horizon. Over to you, Special One.
 
And finally, the Football League are run by idiots. This week, both Hereford and Torquay were docked points and fined for fielding unregistered players in their match on February 1.The two League Two sides missed the midday deadline for player registration on the previous day. Fair enough you would think, except Hereford, who are 19th, were deducted three points, and seventh-placed Torquay, just one. To give the two clubs different punishments for the same offence is ludicrous, and could drag Hereford back into the relegation mix. It’s a decision as nonsensical as Piers Morgan’s popularity.
 
James Riley

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