The Palacios Show; Now Ramos is to Vamos?
Portsmouth 2 - 0 Spurs
It didn't work again with Spurs yesterday away at Fratton Park. The set-up to me looked, once again, unusual. Whispers are now circulating on whether it will be about time when Spurs chairman Daniel Levy calls time on Juande Ramos' White Hart Lane future as manager. For me, it's the selection of players within the formation that strikes odd. The back four was not stable and consistent with Vedran Corluka, Michael Dawson, Jonathan Woodgate and Benoit Assou-Ekotto. They were put under good pressure mostly in the second half and they struggled particularly down their right, Pompey's left, against Arsenal and Lens loanees Armand Traore and Nadir Belhadj respectively..
I would have preferred Jermained Jenas and Didier Zokora central, David Bentley right and Da Silva Melo 'Gilberto' (yet another in North London) left-midfield, pushing Jamie O'Hara up with Roman Pavlyuchenko. The Russian was battling on his own and getting little dividend. Ramos maintains Spurs played with one striker against Newcastle in the League Cup win in the week, albeit with a line-up that included Aaron Lennon, Ledley King and Gareth Bale. Lennon and Darren Bent were benched yesterday.
The Spurs fans made known their discontent at the substitution of Pavlyuchenko for Bent, as it seemed far more constructive to have both on with Spurs chasing the game. Crucially they had a penalty appeal turned down as Lennon crossed and the ball struck Lassana Diarra on the right hand, which was a handball and could have changed the ending of the game more in Spurs' favour. It was one of a handful of decisions that unfortunately were not rightly given over the weekend. Is it time for Ramos to go, already? No doubt the current position is precarious but Ramos did arrive on the back of a prosperous run with Seville. Does he have the credentials to pull Spurs out of the current rut?
The current climate about referees has been highlighted and produced a number of comments against the officials and their officiating. Notoriously the decision to give a goal in the Watford v Reading match last week when it seemed clear to all the ball went out for a Reading corner. The ref was Stuart Attwell who went on the advice of his linesman, but for me he should be positioned to see the ball bounce wide of the goal in the first place.
Everton v Liverpool: Fernando Torres had scored twice already before an Andrea Dossena cross went over Joleon Lescott and Dirk Kuyt, falling to Torres who scored from an angle. The goal was ruled out for Kuyt fouling Lescott, and at the time Lescott held his hands up briefly, but replays showed little to nothing of contact and Lescott had not made an attempt to jump for the ball in the first place to be hindered.
Tim Cahill's challenge on Xabi Alonso was not a straight red, but I wonder if, with the focus on Kevin Davies' challenge on Gael Clichy last week, and Emmanuel Pogatetz' on Rodrigo Possebon in the week, the referees were cautioned to give those challenges the sanction of serious foul play, as they could result in serious injury. Therefore the straight red. It has been mentioned that with Cahill not responding to Riley's repeated whistles and calls for him to return to the referee until very late, the red was for added dissent but I don't agree.
Man Utd v Bolton: Christiano Ronaldo comes inside from the right into the penalty box, he aims to go across the path of JLLoyd Samuel and the left back makes for me a superb interception on the ball. Ronaldo goes down and the penalty was given, by Rob Styles. Styles gave the penalty last season to Chelsea at Anfield for Flourent Malouda running onto Steve Finnan that resulted in a 1-1 finish. Here, Styles was perfectly positioned that the decision he gave must call into question the sharpness of his eyesight.
And Ronaldo did dive. I have Sky+ and the privilege of slowing down the viewing, watching Andy Gray on 'Super Sunday - The Last Word'. Mr Gray claimed the penalty was wrong AND Ronaldo did not dive, despite the many technological facilities at his disposal. Under Sky+, I saw Samuel tackle, get the ball cleanly or enough, Ronaldo goes to bring his right leg forward but then stops halfway (Samuel's limbs have not made contact with Ronaldo at all) and goes down. Now a few Utd fans I have heard from said Ronaldo did not appeal, but he didn't have to. Styles had blown for the penalty almost immediately. Further, he looked too embarrassed to appeal in case he was booked for diving.
Another factor is that Ronaldo does not look to skip over Samuel's tackle if he suspects he will get the ball past him and the defender will be late. Instead he goes to touch the ball past Samuel and then goes down, looking for the decision but then having realised Samuel got the ball decides to keep quiet.
Newcastle v Blackburn: Blackburn's free-kick over the Newcastle wall came to Christopher Samba, who headed it in. Samba was sticking out in an offside position, along with Matt Derbyshire, and when the Frenchman made contact with the ball, the offside was not given.
Portsmouth v Spurs: The handball against Diarra I already mentioned above.
Wigan v Man City: This was practically as big as the one at Old Trafford. Wilson Palacios goes into the City box on the attack and Javier Garrido makes contact, as you would do when challenging for the ball. It wasn't a charge into Palacios, more a shoulder-to-shoulder coming together, yet the Honduran then went down, twisting his body in gymnastic fashion with his right side going down first.
If Garrido had made such heavy contact against Palacios' right side, then the Honduran should have gone down over onto his left rather than his right. Very disappointing decision by Steve Bennett, even if he took counsel from his linesman.