Wally of the Week: A baffling pundit, a hopeless manager, and a ridiculous decision

Wally of the Week

Don’t you just love the international break? The void of Premier League football has been filled with goalless World Cup qualifiers and meaningless friendlies. But, believe me, the past week hasn’t been without controversy or incident as one of the most outrageous refereeing decisions saw a home nation knocked out, a managerial casualty and one attention-seeking pundit making thoughtless comments. It’s the shortlist for Wally of the Week.

3. Chris Sutton

A man who could make this shortlist every week with the nonsense that he spews on a regular basis but this time he’s taken it a bit too far. Don’t get me wrong, Ruben Loftus-Cheek was very impressive on his England debut against Germany on Friday night but sometimes you have to sit back and allow these players to find their way without being too overhyped. Sadly, the world we live in includes a man called Chris Sutton. The former Norwich, Blackburn, and Celtic (an illustrious career I know) striker is a regular on BT Sport’s coverage of Scottish football, offering his views in order to upset as many people as possible. After Loftus-Cheek’s performance against Germany, Sutton blurted out that the youngster was already better than Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas, a man who has won almost everything there is to win and dominated his last game for the Blues against Manchester United. I don’t quite see the reasoning behind Sutton’s claim and I think I’m in the majority there.

2. Gian Piero Ventura

If you haven’t heard of this man, he’s the bloke responsible for Italy’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. He took over after Antonio Conte’s departure as manager of the national team and took the side through the World Cup qualification stage. They finished second in their group, behind Spain, no shame there but their defeat to Sweden in the play-offs has been mocked and ridiculed by the world of football. The Bianconeri failed to score against the Swedes over two legs, going down 1-0 on aggregate thanks to Jakob Johansson’s goal in the first leg in Stockholm.
While the game was drifting along at 0-0 at the San Siro, Ventura was shown asking Daniele De Rossi to warm up and come on but De Rossi, fuming at Ventura, asked his boss why he’d bring on a defensive midfielder when the team were in desperate need of a goal. De Rossi pointed at Lorenzo Insigne, also on the bench, as if to say; ‘bring him on, he can win us the game’. And De Rossi had a point. Ventura refused to bring Italy’s brightest attacking spark off the bench and the game ended goalless. Ventura had his Roy Hodgson moment – resigning moments after the final whistle before he was pushed.

1. Ovidiu Hategan

This Romanian referee is probably the most wanted man in Northern Ireland at the moment. During their World Cup play-off first leg against Switzerland at Windsor Park, Hategan gave an utterly baffling decision that ended up sending Northern Ireland crashing out. Before the penalty incident, Northern Irish fans were getting frustrated by his tendency to give very soft free kicks (mainly in the away side’s favour). But that frustration turned to anger and confusion when Corry Evans was adjudged to have handled a ball that hit him A) on the shoulder and B) from close-range. The home players and crowd were amazed by the decision and the referee had seemingly been persuaded by a couple of Swiss players who appealed for handball. It may be the fact that FIFA are based in Switzerland or the fact that the current president is Swiss but something just doesn’t seem right about all this. Switzerland squeezed through to the World Cup finals after a goalless second leg but it will be Hategan who will be remembered for his remarkably incompetent decision.