Not only was there the Premier League, in all its glory - if that is the word, and we all know it isn’t - there was the delightful FA Cup, giving us the chance to revive a few cliches and also discover the glory of Robbie Savage as a nation. It will define 2014, like one of those really bleak episodes of Coronation Street where one character has an epiphany while another dies next to him in a barely lit hospital, on Christmas Day. And you know what else will define 2014? Why, the following list of annoyances, of course.
Wayne Rooney the unstoppable machine
In most walks of life - though some reading these words may vehemently disagree - if you cannot do your job to an adequate standard, the accepted procedure is that you are turfed out to try somewhere else. It’s not pleasant, but there you go. Life is appalling and that of course extends to the workplace. Except, that is, unless you are Wayne Rooney. Not content with returning to Manchester United for the derby last Sunday, and ending his side’s undefeated run they had established in his absence, he also took to the pitch against Crystal Palace.
Crystal Palace are managed by Neil Warnock and are struggling. The two are very possibly linked. Therefore, after their ‘spiritual victory’ against Manchester City, you would expect that United would shift the ball quickly to make sure they opened up the gaps against a defensive Crystal Palace side and make light work of their opponents. The whole side failed, and relied upon Juan Mata, who was on the subs bench in order to make room for club captain Rooney. The Rooney who last week was up until all hours with Ed Sheeran a few days before the derby, having apparently been injured.
But although the whole side failed, only Rooney has been getting worse with every single game he plays, and yet only Rooney appears to have his place in the side without having to try for it. This morning, when you get to the office, just stop trying. Stop trying for five straight years. According to Rooney, that’s absolutely fine.
He will never learn.
Against Anderlecht, Arsenal managed to concede three consecutive goals to go from 3-0 up to 3-1, 3-2 and finally 3-3, in a triumph of defining exactly what modern Arsenal now consists of. Last season it was tempting to bet on Manchester United to win a game against almost any mid-table team, when they were managed by David Moyes. It felt like they could not possibly get any worse, or could not continue to underperform for so long. A lot of handsome football journalists lost a weekly tenner like that, and a lot of handsome football journalists haven't forgotten it.
Which is why it now seems much more sensible to learn the lessons of last season. A team that is currently without hope of any kind of improvement on the horizon. That is Arsenal. Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil aren't going to stop them conceding goals to Swansea City. Copy a handsome football journalist and direct your fun tokens to Arsenal becoming ever more vincible.
5 Things We Learned From Swansea 2-1 Arsenal
Jose Mourinho gives Brendan Rodgers a pass
Jose Mourinho in England, the first time around, was a beautiful thing. In tandem with Alex Ferguson, he vaccinated Arsene Wenger into irrelevance, and Rafael Benitez often mislaid his dignity when he became flustered by the naked contempt and aggression he received from the Chelsea manager. Now he's back, and he has Brendan Rodgers to compete with, and yet... he leaves him alone.
Rodgers is an excellent coach, still with a bright future as a manager, but he is intensely mockable. We must all pray for the two of them to fall out. The lack of linguistic or actual fisticuffs is galling.
5 Things We Learned From Liverpool 1-2 Chelsea
Going in ‘two-feeted’ on Robbie Savage
Robbie Savage, according to some who have met him, is an utterly nice man, and is magnanimous in the face of those who mock him. As a studio pundit and talking head, he performs about as well as anyone else. He makes bad jokes and he recycles inanities, presumably meeting the expectations of his producers. It’s the convention of football, and there’s no hint that will change any time soon, even with the electrifying personalities of European football experts increasingly occupying screen time.
But Savage’s performance on Friday, as Warrington took on Exeter in the FA Cup, cannot be missed. A risible performance, where simply saying the correct words, he had in his head, with his mouth, was beyond him. If you cannot speak and make sense from the start of your sentence to its end, then with the best will in the world, you cannot do the job adequately.