Heroes & Villains: The excited new boy and the gobby chairman
FourFourTwo.com Editor Gary Parkinson nominates the weekend's winners and sinners in the top flight
Everton's manager has advocated a 20% pay cut for "everyone" in the Premier League, in order to address spiralling finances and reduce ticket prices for increasingly hard-up fans. Some suspect an ulterior motive from the comparatively underfunded manager of the cash-strapped Toffees (whose league attendances have started to dip below 30,000 for the first time in decades), but after a generation of widespread fiscal irresponsibility Moyes' words have a weary wisdom beyond dispute.
Five shots on target, five goals, three wins for Fulham. His latest triplet blast, a perfect hat-trick of header, right foot and left-foot-while-falling-over, was greeted with the sunny smile of a man enjoying his football Ã¢ÂÂ and what's even better is the willingness the Russian shows to get involved with team-mate, whether being determined to set up Andy Johnson or one of the first to congratulate fellow goalscorer Clint Dempsey. Maybe the nouveau-riche neighbours' unwelcome deadline swoop for Bobby Zamora was a disguised blessing.
You wouldn't want every Premier League game to be like the Tyne-Wear derby, but it was a visceral pleasure to watch, especially for the neutral. Testy but tasty, it had it all Ã¢ÂÂ dozens of shots, penalties scored and saved, red cards before and after the whistle, a late equaliser from a local lad, and a sterling refereeing performance from Mike Dean.
Yeah, him. Backed in the boardroom, derided in the stands and ridiculed beyond, the Scot continues to keep his reflective head above the relegation Plimsoll Line. True, it was only Wolves' Craven Cottage collapse that lifted Rovers above the dotted divider on goal difference, but the man written off more times than a stock-car banger continues to get results. Well, itÃ¢ÂÂs either him or the Blackburn players have the deepest reserves of self-belief and pride in the entire league.
Kept Arsenal in the game at Anfield, not least with his penalty save, then said with the commendable honesty of the genuinely relieved that "We were really lucky. We got away with murder at half-time because in the first-half we got killed all over the park." Props too to Robin van Persie, scoring two goals on the day his picture adorns the new issue of FourFourTwoÃ¢ÂÂ¦ although in fairness we could probably have released that mag most weekends and he'd have helped with the publicity.
So the old boys finally got rid of the anguished young manager, after what has felt like a season-long campaign of confrontation, argument, off-field undermining and on-pitch underachievement. But like privileged prep-schoolkids bullying a substitute teacher in the run-up to their exams, their childish webellion could bounce back like a brick on elastic. For a start, some say the boot-wearing bovver-boys dislike interim coach Roberto di Matteo even more than they disrespected Villas-Boas, so they'll have to put their faces straight before rescuing cup campaigns against Birmingham and Napoli. More importantly, with a resurgent and resilient Arsenal occupying fourth place, who's going to end the season singing "Thursday night, Channel Five"?
Since the 5-0 win over Newcastle had football media types clambering over each other to anoint Redknapp as England boss, Tottenham appear to have been writing a Things Not To Do In International Football manual. First, you fail to impose your class on minnows in should-win games (the 0-0 at Stevenage). Then, using entirely questionable tactics, you humiliatingly throw away a lead in a crunch game (the 5-2 loss at Arsenal). Finally (in this weekend's 3-1 loss at home to Manchester United), you get your bravehearts to play above themselves but then get clinically picked off by a better team. Actually, that's exactly what England do. Sign him up.
Having picked up five wins in 10 games over Christmas and January by playing a fluid 4-5-1 showcasing the attacking elan of Mark Davies and dogged midfield diligence of Fabrice Muamba, Coyle's gameplan at Manchester City involved marginalising Davies to the wing and relegating Muamba to the bench in favour of recently-signed centre-back Tim Ream Ã¢ÂÂ played out of position in midfield. Coyle will never be as unpopular in Bolton as his predecessor Gary Megson, but he appears to be trying his best.
Worst. Tackle. Ever.
Never one to keep his counsel or decline an interview, the chairman charged to the airwaves after Wigan's defeat by Swansea to tell the nation that he would be taking Roberto Martinez to task. "I will have a meeting with him on Monday morning and ask him some questions about the performance and his selection," blustered the sportswear salesman. "We had three quality players on the bench and I want to know why." The man who bankrolled Wigan's rise has the right to ask the question, but not to undermine his manager at a crucial point. With the four teams above them facing off next week, Wigan have a great chance to vault up the league Ã¢ÂÂ but first Bob Martin must meet the boss while the players either wonder or snigger.