They say a moment of brilliance can decide close games, but so can some horrific blunders, moments of madness that tend to change the game for the worse.
Along with its collection of heroes, the game throws up its fair share of villains who did their best to help their team in a losing cause or at worst leave a bad taste in the mouth with their actions.
Here are the candidates from the past weekend’s action:
Ian Holloway was the first casualty of this year’s sack race, though the official release said that he had personally resigned. Martin Jol at Fulham was the undisputed leader though to be the second, and it came as no surprise really to find out on Sunday that the Dutchman had been sacked as manager of Fulham Football Club.
Chris Hughton and Andre Villas-Boas were also up there with the bookmakers, but it was clear to the watching public that Jol was by himself in a boat much farther ahead than some of his other counterparts.
For fans of the London club, the biggest worry this season has not been their dismal league position (they currently sit 18th with 10 points from 13 games), but more the lack of fight displayed by the players adorning the Fulham uniform. The all too common complaint has been the rather meek surrender of Fulham and to compound it even further, Jol’s rather stoic reading of the losses.
The sacking of Nigel Adkins last season at Southampton was met with much dismay as though the Saints were in the relegation scrap, the crowd loved the manager and the energy and fight that he and his players displayed through the losses. With Jol in charge, perhaps event the most optimistic of Fulham fans would have had a tough time believing they would survive relegation.
Jol simply had to go and I believe that Fulham Football Club will be better for it come the end of the season, regardless of their future.
Hugo Lloris & Kyle Walker
Tottenham needed a good performance after the 6-0 thumping at the hands of Manchester City the previous weekend. At home against the defending champions, Tottenham twice took the lead, only to be pegged back on both occasions.
Kyle Walker was hero and villain as he scored the first, with a bullet free-kick, though much of the blame should squarely go on the rather accommodating Manchester United wall that stood in front of his free-kick.
Walker though, returned the fare with much generosity, as his botched clearance turned out to be a precisely guided assist to Wayne Rooney, who made no mistake in front of goal.
For United’s second goal, Lloris’ failure to get to the ball on time led to him clipping Danny Welbeck inside the box to award United a penalty.
You could say that I’m being too harsh on Lloris, but as demonstrated by a fine piece on AVB’s high line some time ago, Lloris forms a crucial part of Villas-Boas’ plans at White Hart Lane.
The high-line employed by Spurs’ back-four means Lloris needs to be on his toes to rush out and guard the forward runners on through balls. It was for this reason that the France goalkeeper was indeed chosen by AVB, having displayed excellent prowess previously.
Of late, Lloris seems to have just gone off the boil that little bit, and that isn’t helping Spurs any length.
Barcelona rarely lose two games in a row. The last time it happened in the same competition was in last year’s Champions League where they were annihilated by Bayern Munich in both legs.
In the midweek game against Ajax Amsterdam in the Champions League, their loss was attributed to a lack of intensity, as pointed out by coach Gerado Martino and even some of the other players around.
In their defence, they are struggling with a whole host of injuries at the moment, including key starters Dani Alve, Jordi Alba, Victor Valdes and Lionel Messi.
As brought to the forefront during last year’s Champions League campaign, Barca are a very different beast when they are without Messi – they seems to lack a cutting edge despite hogging possession.
Athletic Bilbao on Sunday only had 38% possession, but had four more shots on goal than the Catalans. They also had six shots on target to Barca’s two. Bilbao’s midfield did a fine job of pressurizing the Barca players when they were on the ball, and physically outperformed their opponents.
Against Ajax, they were outdone by the sheer quality of the tempo at which the Dutch side played. So, Barcelona have lost two games in different fashion.
Tata Martino has infused a more direct style of play at the club since taking charge, but the problems of finding a breakthrough still seem to be affecting the club when going up against physically hard-working opponents. If Barca were to face Bayern on current form, a repeat of the 7-0 scoreline from last season would not be improbable.
He may be regretting that decision to go sliding for a few days as his red thermal tights – apparently velcro-coated – produced so much friction on landing that Robben was catapulted through the air before landing with an embarrassing bump.
Here’s a picture of the damage inflicted.Published 04 Dec 2013, 13:42 IST