Welcome to a new feature on Fred Stanley Sport, titled ‘The Weekend That Was’. Each Monday I’ll attempt to round-up the biggest stories from across the sporting world in a few brief paragraphs, with a focus on British centric action. So without further ado, lets get going..
Meet Anthony Taylor, the Premier League’s Worst Referee
Before you start thinking this paragraph is going to be an anti-Liverpool rant about how West Ham were robbed yesterday, let me tell you it isn’t. Rather I’m voicing my astonishment at the poor quality of refereeing on display from a man who has previous of making disturbingly poor decisions at Upton Park. Anthony Taylor was guilty yesterday of failing to see Andy Carroll’s foul on Simon Mignolet for West Ham’s only goal of the game, before he inexplicably awarded Liverpool a second penalty after Red’s full back John Flanagan was ‘fouled’ by home ‘keeper Adrian. Those two decisions were the biggest of the game and Taylor got them both wrong, which is simply too poor from a top flight official.
As I mentioned earlier Taylor has a history of ruining games at the Premier League level. Last season he sent Carlton Cole off against Everton for a raised foot that was a foul at worst, a successful attempt at controlling the ball at best. Later on in the match Taylor sent of Everton’s Darren Gibson for an identical foul, another terrible mistake, although by that point the Toffees had reversed a 1-0 deficit to lead 2-1. Anthony Taylor is not fit to referee in the Premier League and it’s about time he was held accountable for his shocking performances.
Sri Lanka Finally End World Cup Hodoo
During the noughties Sri Lanka had an unfortunate habit of reaching the final of major international tournaments without taking home any silverware. The 2007 and 2011 50-over World Cup finals were both lost by the Sri Lankan’s, as were multiple World T20 finals during the past decade. Yet the island nation were in inspired form yesterday as they overcame India, the heavy favourites for the game, in large part to some excellent death bowling that restricted their opponent to a below par 134/4 from their 20 overs.
One fascinating aspect of this result is that very few Sri Lankan players will participate in this year’s Indian Premier League as they attempt to focus on their upcoming test series in England, meaning that the T20 world champions will have few representatives in the format’s premier competition. Another fun little tidbit from the tournament: England were the only team to beat Sri Lanka during this years T20 World Cup. Does that make England, conquered by the mighty Netherlands, the real World Champions? Probably not.
Norwich City Were Absolutely Right to Sack Chris Hughton
When Norwich City took the bold decision to sack Chris Hughton late yesterday evening they inevitably received a large dose of criticism from the media and the footballing public in general. Sacking a manager is never a popular move in the eyes of the average football supporter and cries such as “give him time” are inevitable. But the pure fact of it is that Hughton and his side have not been performing at an adequate level this season, nor for most of the last campaign either. An 11th place finish in 2012/13 was achieved with a total of 44 points. Just three fewer would have seen them finish level on points with 16th placed Newcastle United, two places above the drop zone, and Norwich supporters themselves widely acknowledge that it was a false position.
This year Norwich currently sit 17th, five points clear of the relegation places but with four of their five remaining games coming against Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal they desperately need to beat Fulham next weekend. A win in that game should see them to safety but a defeat will narrow the gap between them and their opponents to just two points. Saturday’s meek surrender to West Brom clearly convinced the Canaries board that Hughton isn’t the man to get a result in a must win game and with the money the club invested on new players last summer seemingly wasted the former Newcastle manager can’t grumble about his treatment. With five games left the board decided they stand a better chance of survival without Hughton than with him, whether they’re right or not remains to be seen.
Mercedes’ Hamilton and Rosberg Go Toe-to-Toe in Bahrain
In a refreshing Formula One race in Bahrain Lewis Hamilton held on for the victory from his teammate Nico Rosberg, with the pair jostling for position the entire way despite being members of the same team. It was an exciting race made all the more so by the fact that Mercedes didn’t impose team rules on their drivers, a stark contrast to Red Bull who in previous seasons prevented Mark Webber from challenging Sebastien Vettel for supremacy. Hamilton now has two wins from three races and leads the way in the Championship standings, raising hopes that he can repeat his victory from 2008 and double his world title tally.
Roberto Martinez Makes His Manager of the Year Case
Many observers were critical of Everton’s hiring of Roberto Martinez last summer, mainly citing his relegation with Wigan during the last campaign. However they failed to note the lack of funds he was given and the clubs inability to retain key players, with his F.A Cup win over money-bags Manchester City at Wembley last May a fantastic achievement in itself.
Despite a negative net transfer spend yet again last summer Martinez has been able to position his Everton squad for a top four push and potentially Champions League football next season against all the odds, and Sunday’s 3-0 win against Arsenal demonstrated yet again the Spaniard’s tactical prowess and coaching ability. Leighton Baines wanted to move to Manchester United last summer and join former boss David Moyes; who’d have thought that once the England left back was made to stay that he’d potentially be playing against Europe’s elite while Moyes and co watch from the comfort of their sofa’s come the Autumn?
Have your say on the weekend’s action in the comments, or you can tweet @fredjstanley.