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Football Round-up

Danny Moran replays the North West weekend football highlights

Published on August 24th 2009.

Football Round-up

‘Two footed’ may not be quite what it used to be in this age of microfibre balls and air retention systems - but it was the essence of Michael Owen’s debut strike for Manchester United, as the champions finally found their scoring boots against Wigan. The former Liverpool man tucked a deft left-footed chip inside the far post after being put through by Nani to score a signature goal after Rooney and Berbatov had both filled their boots in the second half.

At the time of writing Everton and City have agreed a fee for Lescott of some £22m

For his own part Wigan keeper Chris Kirkland appeared to go into a Ritchie Tenenbaum-like meltdown, watching a succession of balls drift past him and into the net thingy. The keeper’s nightmare culminated in a 90th minute free kick which Nani lobbed into the side of the goal he had obligingly left exposed, having seemingly arranged his defensive wall as if expecting the young Portuguese to shoot with his other foot.

At the KC Stadium Bolton bossed Hull City for an hour before conceding to Kamel Ghilas and then rolling over to allow their tummies to be tickled. Much the same happened to Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn Rovers at the Stadium of Light, with Kenwyne Jones bagging two after Gaël Givet had opened the scoring against Sunderland.

To watch Big Sam on Match Of The Day afterwards was to witness a man seeking answers from a raincloud, as the former Bolton boss verbally rolodexed 90 minutes of Job-like misfortune in a crisp 45 seconds to camera: possession squandered, chances missed, goals disallowed, penalties denied. A new £6m Croatian striker (Nikola Kalinic) who seemed unable to kick, let alone hit the target.

“It’s a cruel league to play in,” sighed Allardyce.

It is indeed, and for abject cruelty one might look no further than Mark Hughes, whose Manchester City allstars lumbered uncertainly towards a berth in the top four after a 1-0 win over Wolves.

On the pitch, Hughes’ plastic galacticos continued to gel like cheap Bostik as Bellamy stepped down to practice his golf swing on the touchline and Tevez set up Adebayor’s second goal in seven days.

Off the pitch, Hughes was merciless in his sympathy for David Moyes, a man he has destabilised publicly to the point that Moyes has reportedly considered his position.

“We have been criticised, at times correctly, at times unfairly,” quoth Hughes of the Joleon Lescott transfer saga in the weekend’s papers. “That won’t stop, but for us it's just a case of getting on with it. We are comfortable about how we do business. We try to do things in the correct way and some of the reaction from some quarters has been quite predictable.”

All of which is chilling doublespeak for ‘talk to the hand’, of course. At the time of writing Everton and City have agreed a fee for Lescott of some £22m. If that’s the way Hughes is going to wield his new found market position then the bigger boys may well have to sit up and take notice.

Sunday saw further delirium at Turf Moor as Burnley’s honeymoon continued with a 1-0 win over the Toffees, Robbie Blake again in the thick of it, providing the shot which Wade Elliott was able to convert in the 34th minute.

Liverpool, no doubt still smarting from their opening day defeat at Spurs, play Villa tonight at Anfield. Rafa Benitez will be hoping that news of an impending civil suit against Steven Gerrard will not change the mood music for the Kop icon.

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