NOT the hardest word, apparently

Being based in the north-west, inevitably a number of work colleagues support Manchester and Merseyside-based outfits. We’ve got the City/Utd Derby on Sunday, so friendly battle lines have been drawn between some.

It’s worth a Greggs’ bacon barm to me if City prevail – and conversely the buns are on me if we don’t. Draw no bet, in case you’re interested. Greggs then understandably fear a stalemate. First-quarter profits are on the line.

As for actually committing a couple of quid on the outcome, I reckon City have looked a tad under par in recent outings. If Utd can take a leaf from Tottenham’s book (the one they use against City, and virtually no-one else), then a score draw is the value for me, at around 11/2.

Ahead of that there’s been lots of chat in the office, understandably, about that clash at Goodison the other day. Referees’ supremo Mike Riley phoned Everton manager Frank Lampard, and Chairman Bill Kenwright, apologising for the non-award of a late penalty against City. This could conceivably have helped the Toffees to secure a potentially vital point.

As to the decision itself I’m with most of the rest of humanity in thinking it should have been a penalty-kick. Rodri leant quite clearly towards the ball, and for me that wiped out any possible benefit of the doubt stuff.

Given the green/red guidelines within the new handball interpretation it seemed to me that the lion’s share of the contact between ball and Rodri’s arm happened in the naughty red area, but a wee bit certainly in the less hazardous green.

As I said, what swung it for me was the movement of his arm. That leaning motion. What I do have a great deal of trouble coming to terms with though is this business of ringing Everton to apologise. Every club in the Premier League has had unfathomable, and frankly unbelievable VAR episodes to contend with – some more than others.

Is this a new thing – a Monday morning retrospective, where howlers from the weekend are going to be apologised for? If so, fabulous. If it’s an isolated attack of conscience, or similar, then no. You can’t single out one against the dozens of others. No way.

Some bright spark leapt on to Twitter and immediately posted more than a dozen comparable c*ck-ups that as far as I know received no such consideration. I’m at a loss really to figure out what was different about the Everton debacle that we’ve not seen before, sadly, at several venues.

Let’s see what the weekend brings – it might indeed become a ‘thing.’ Wouldn’t that be unmissable?

Monday’s apology, with Mike – soothing tones of Elton John in the background, with Mr Riley proving it’s not really the hardest word, and all that. Reckon he could be a pretty busy fella.

Latest Premier League odds, with Betfred – Title, Top 4, Relegation, Top Scorer, To Stay Up, Top 6, Bottom Half Finish, Top Half Finish

Alan Firkins