Wally of the Week: Taxi for Pardew and a ruler for the VAR man

Wally of the Week

It’s been a while, Wally of the Week fans, but this week’s round-up of the wild, the wacky and the woeful is finally here. We’ve got a lot to catch up on such as events happening over in Barcelona involving a few of Pardew’s pals, the worst lines ever drawn and the angel who finally lost his rag in a ball of rage towards a cook.

3. Pep Guardiola

The Spaniard has built a reputation this season for being a tactical genius, having finally cracked the Premier League with Manchester City, and a passionate man who cares. We’ve seen his team talk with a ball boy and his rant at Nathan Redmond for not playing attacking football but this outburst at the glorious DW Stadium topped the lot. Towards the end of the first half of their Fifth Round FA Cup tie with Wigan, City went down to 10 men when Fabian Delph was sent off for a sliding challenge, despite getting the ball. Guardiola was apoplectic with the officials and took his frustration out at Paul Cook, the Wigan manager, as they walked down the tunnel at half time.

Thanks to the BBC’s tunnel-cam, Guardiola’s angry outburst was broadcast to the nation as he locked horns with Cook in a heated discussion. Eventually, Cook walked away back to the Wigan dressing room but Guardiola waited for the referee to come down the tunnel. The camera cut away as soon as he launched himself towards them, gesticulating wildly, furious at the red card decision. As the pictures went back to Gary Lineker and co. back in the studio, I liked to imagine Guardiola starting a full-on fist-fight with the officials before calmly returning to the dressing room to discuss tactics with his team. It was a bizarre moment for the Spaniard and it got even worse for him as Will Grigg’s goal sealed their exit from the competition.

2. VAR

Goodness me. The new technology meant to solve all these calamitous mistakes that referees make was at the centre of attention once again in the FA Cup. Manchester United were already 1-0 up at Huddersfield at the end of the first half before VAR took centre stage. Juan Mata broke past the Terriers’ backline and scored to double his side’s lead, the linesman kept his flag down after a tight offside decision so we waited for VAR’s verdict.

Whoever was manning the controls that evening must’ve had a few because the pictures we saw on BT Sport showed lines, meant to determine offside, drawn at the wrong angle and by what looked like a 3-year-old at nursery. In no way could they have determined whether Mata was offside or not but VAR corrected the linesman’s decision and disallowed the goal because of offside. To make matters even worse, replays showed Mata to be in an ONSIDE position when the ball was played so, basically, it all went from for VAR and those who support it.

1. Jonny Evans, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill

In what is one of the most bizarre news stories from the Premier League this season, four West Brom players allegedly stole a taxi in their mid-season trip to Barcelona. It’s bad enough breaking curfew when you’re on a professional visit abroad but to break the law is something else. These four players turned up in the early hours of the morning at their team hotel having driven back in a stolen taxi. What made it even more surprising was who turned out to be involved – the club captain, one of the most experienced players in the country, an England international and a player who’d served the club for the last eight years. Sometimes you just can’t excuse the actions of Premier League footballers. Pardew, being the absent-minded man he is, stripped Evans of the captaincy for just one game before handing it back to him almost apologetically for their game against Huddersfield on Saturday. At least they aren’t several points adrift at the bottom of the table, almost certainties for relegation with only three wins to their name this season… it could be taxi for Pardew very soon indeed.