Half-Wit of the Week

A Poor Italian Job Takes The Prize

And so the Premier League has come to an end. That leaves us with only the FA Cup final, Champions League Final and the World Cup to look forward to, it’s a tough life. As is tradition with this column, we don’t stop for end of season sentiment and crack on with the weekend’s gaffes. For the final time, a grumpy Italian, an England goalkeeper and an incredibly harsh referee compete for football’s most coveted prize.

3. Jordan Pickford

I know this is scraping the bottom of the barrel but the Everton goalkeeper hardly did his chances of starting in England’s opening World Cup game any good. Despite not being at fault for all three of the goals that the Toffees conceded, he didn’t cover himself in glory in either one. Manuel Lanzini sent one past the former Sunderland keeper with ease before Marko Arnautovic powered a strike straight through Pickford after the break.

Although Arnautovic’s effort had power, Pickford could only waver in its direction as it flew past him in the centre of the goal. Pickford would’ve been disappointed with himself for not stopping Lanzini’s second goal, getting a touch on his shot as it looped over him. Jordan Pickford has had a very good season in between the Everton sticks after his big money move from Sunderland, moving himself into pole position for England’s number 1 spot, but he won’t look back on this game against West Ham with any fondness.

2. Zbynek Proske

If you don’t recognise this name, I don’t blame you. But if you do, you either a very angry Irishman or a keen follower of the U17 Euros which are being held in England. The reason this man’s name has done the rounds this week is because of his refereeing decisions during Ireland’s quarter-final with the Netherlands in the U17 European Championships. The scene was Chesterfield’s glamourous Proact Stadium and the game between the two teenage sides had gone to penalties after they played out a 1-1 draw.

With the penalty score at 4-4, the Dutch had the chance to win the game from their fifth penalty. Ireland’s goalkeeper, Jimmy Corcoran, dived to his right to stop Daishawn Redan’s spot-kick and the Irish team celebrated the crucial save. However, Proske had deemed Corcoran to have encroached off his line to save the penalty and, when the penalty should’ve just been retaken, the referee booked Corcoran instead. This happened to be Corcoran’s second yellow of the game and the 16-year-old was sent off. One of Ireland’s defenders, Oisin McEntree, went in goal for the retake but couldn’t stop Redan finding the back of the net to send the Dutch through in extremely controversial circumstances.

1. Antonio Conte

Have you ever seen a more half-arsed job by a manager? Since falling out with the Chelsea board over a lack of support or quality in the transfer market, Conte has spent the remainder of Chelsea’s dire title defence sulking. The performances and team selection have gotten so bad that some Blues fans have questioned whether the Italian is sabotaging the team in order to prove a point or get himself sacked. Either way, he’s fallen out of favour with most of the Chelsea fanbase with his negative football and stubbornness when it comes to playing style and picking players.

Chelsea’s miserable season culminated in a humbling defeat at the hands of Newcastle at St. James’ Park. A double from Ayoze Perez followed Dwight Gayle’s opener to complete a 3-0 drubbing against a poor Chelsea side who didn’t manage an attempt at goal until after half time. Whatever the result in this weekend’s FA Cup Final against Manchester United, and you fear for Chelsea at this rate, you feel like Conte won’t be returning to take charge of the team next season.