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Banners for Benitez just bananas

ESPN staff
March 2, 2013
A rare moment of imagination among Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge © Getty Images
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Banners for Benitez just bananas

Rafael Benitez told Chelsea fans they were "wasting their time" making banners to criticise him, so cue a whole load of new artistic efforts as West Brom came to town.

Some were your straight-forward, unimaginative "Rafa Out" efforts. "Interim, interim, interim" also showed all the creativity of a John Obi Mikel pass.

But, to be fair, there were one or two better efforts, not least "Rafa Benitez: We're just not that in-ter-im", which needs to be read in a thick scouse accent to truly get the full effect.

A baffler from Rafa

Benitez was asked directly in the week whether there was any problem between he and Chelsea captain John Terry. Benitez replied by saying: "No. When he's fit, he's training, he's fine. You can play him."

So we can only assume, given the fact Terry was benched again for the visit of West Brom, that he wasn't fit to start. Which begs the question: If he wasn't fit enough to start, why was he on the bench at all?

Tough Gigg

Sir Alex Ferguson has always had a turbulent relationship with the British media, even banning interviews on occasions, so it was no surprise that he took his chance to stick two fingers up to them on Saturday. After journalists across the nation had poured hours into research, tributes and homages to the great Ryan Giggs ahead of his 1,000th game, Fergie promptly left him out of his Manchester United squad to leave him on 999.

As a result, those same journalists will now need to come up with a whole new catalogue of features on the Wales international in case he plays in the next game. Or the next game … or the next game …

We'll be just champion

Sir Alex Ferguson clearly isn't as worried as Jose Mourinho about Tuesday's Champions League showdown between United and Real Madrid. Mourinho promptly rested the majority of his stars for El Clasico with Barcelona, leaving Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso and Co out of the starting XI.

Ferguson, meanwhile, facing the far easier (on paper) prospect of a home clash with Norwich, nevertheless started Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney in a strong United line-up.

He did, however, rest the dangerous Alexander Buttner.

Toffee stuck on 210

Poor old Tim Howard. He put together 210 consecutive Premier League appearances, taking him within two of Neville Southall's Everton record, but that dream died on Saturday when he was forced to miss the home clash with Reading.

Meanwhile, at the other end stood Stuart Taylor, who by contrast made his first Premier League appearance for 1,867 days. It showed, he let in three.

Happy Harry

Tough to know what will have pleased Harry Redknapp most on Saturday, the fact his team got three points, the fact it came against former club Southampton, or the fact it came as a direct result of his big decision.

Redders left Adel Taarabt out of the side in favour of Jay Bothroyd at St Mary's, and with 13 minutes remaining it became clear why. Bothroyd netted a priceless winner for Rangers, offering new hope that Redknapp and his car window might still be in the Premier League next season.

Should have Crouch-ed

West Ham suffered two injury blows in the first 10 minutes at Stoke, not only losing Joe Cole to what looked like a muscle strain, but also Matt Taylor after his head acted as the ball in a Peter Crouch scissor kick.

Crouch has something of a reputation for the spectacular, and as he turned his body for another such effort at the Britannia, the commentator yelled "CROUCH!" Unfortunately Taylor did not listen and was temporarily knocked out, forcing Sam Allardyce into early changes.

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