x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Premier League best and worst: Mark Hughes lets his anger show

The Fulham manager took out his annoyance at Molineux on an unfortunate water bottle.

Mark Hughes takes out his frustration after seeing Brede Hangeland booked against Wolves on Saturday by kicking a water bottle. The Fulham manager’s actions would cause him to be sent off and he watched the rest of the game in the stand.
Mark Hughes takes out his frustration after seeing Brede Hangeland booked against Wolves on Saturday by kicking a water bottle. The Fulham manager’s actions would cause him to be sent off and he watched the rest of the game in the stand.

The Fulham manager took out his annoyance at Molineux on an unfortunate water bottle, writes Paul Radley

Best restraint

Javier Hernandez heads in an important late winner at Old Trafford, and Manchester United's players make a beeline to the corner for a celebratory bundle.

Always happy to celebrate his teammates' goals with just as much vigour as his own, Wayne Rooney arrives looking angry and is met with a face full of camera.

We have been here before. This could get messy. Mr Angry promptly fixes the viewer with an uncompromising glare, roars "Yes!" And then ... just carries on with the "yes".

There is nothing like a two-match ban and the realisation that some matches coming up over the next few weeks will really be worth playing in to focus the mind to the point where you will stop swearing.

Perhaps Rooney will still get banned, though, just for looking too moody.

Worst restraint

Rooney is not the first Old Trafford icon whose knack for sublime volleyed goals is matched by his habit of incurring the wrath of referees.

Mark Hughes, one of his forebears in the United front line, regressed to his glorious past on Saturday as he followed up a thumping finish by being sent off.

Hughes, the Fulham manager, saw red after Brede Hangeland, his centre-back, was booked for tackle that was no worse than many that went before it in a feisty meeting with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The Welshman, known as 'Sparky' in his playing days, took a wild swing at a water bottle on the edge of his technical area. His fury was exacerbated by the fact he missed first time.

When he then found his bearings and proceeded to launch the defenceless bottle down the touchline, he was handed his marching orders and sent to the stands.

Best duck-breaker

A once sought after striker with a penchant for wonder goals broke a long scoring drought in spectacular fashion on Saturday afternoon in London.

Simon Cox may not walk in the same circles as Fernando Torres, the Chelsea striker who is Britain's costliest player, but he still has a neat line in finishing. His volley for Swindon against Walsall in 2009 is must-see on YouTube.

Cox, who cost West Bromwich Albion 33 times less than the £50 million (Dh303m) Chelsea paid for Torres earlier this season, had never scored in the Premier League before this weekend's visit to Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs fans eyeing a valuable three points in the pursuit of Champions League qualification were probably not overly fearful when Cox was introduced as a substitute with a little over 15 minutes to go.

He was unrecognisable to most inside White Hart Lane, but they will remember the name for some while yet after his long-range curler earned a point for the Baggies.

Best tactics

Playing 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. Employing left-footed wingers on the right-wing, and vice versa. Nudging a corner kick out of the quadrant without anyone noticing.

Tactical innovations wait for no man, but it is reassuring to know that some of the most potent methods are the oldest.

Stoke City's main modus operandi of attacking: chuck it in the mixer and let the big blokes fight for it.

They have the players to fit the system. On Saturday, Rory Delap, the human rocket launcher, sent in one of his long throws with as much pace as a Roberto Carlos free kick.

So accurate was it that Kenwyn Jones, the towering centre-forward, might as well have been unchallenged as he headed Stoke into the lead against Aston Villa.

Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, has obviously hit on something. Not exactly rocket science, is it?

Worst penalty

Kevin Davies's attempt to put Bolton Wanderers 2-0 up from the penalty spot against Arsenal yesterday looked apologetic, and he had reason to be sorry.

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has had plenty of reason to doubt his beliefs, given the way his side's season has unravelled of late.

One thing he is unlikely to veer too far on, however, is his contention that his players are unfairly targeted by tough-tackling opponents.

He was given more fuel for his ire when Davies, the Bolton captain, flatted Alex Song with an unseemly tackle in the first-half at the Reebok Stadium. Davies somehow managed to escape any sort of censure, let alone a red card. Song was lucky to escape with tibia and fibula both fully functional.

The striker did say sorry to the referee, then later made amends with his muffed spot kick.

 

pradley@thenational.ae