The Offside Treble – England’s woes continue, Louis van Gaal’s last minute signing and Gary Lineker’s potential mid-life crisis

You know the drill by now! This week Jen Offord takes a look at a typically miserable England performance, a certain Colombian striker's last minute arrival in the Premier League and a daring foray into the world of facial hair by one of football's favourite presenters.

Statistical Significance

Football seems to have become a bit predictable already in this new season, though some of this week’s wholly predictable stories took place outside of the Premier League in England’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Norway.  Having recently been announced as new captain of the National team, Wayne Rooney led the England boys to the kind of tepid win which, if I were using weather as some kind of metaphoric indicator of the quality of the game, I’d be describing that kind of late September/early October mild, pissy, grey drizzle. You know, you’ve worn a duffel coat because you’re not quite out of summer mode and you’ve forgotten how to layer effectively, so despite the blandness of it all you’re actually sweating a bit.

Everything about the pre-match build up was geared towards the kind of mediocrity England fans have come to know and not even bother to hate, rather shrug off nonchalantly. Approximately four people turned out to Wednesday’s match at Wembley Stadium, with England boss Roy Hodgson arguing that Euro qualifiers against Switzerland, San Marino, Estonia, Slovenia and Lithuania, as well as Norway, are unlikely to draw big crowds given the quality of the teams. Perhaps it’s time that we lump England in the same category. Hodgson, however, says not so, and don’t try to blind him with statistics, either – you wouldn’t like him when he’s blinded by statistics. Partly because it apparently makes him quite angry, and also because he starts making really bad arguments about how it doesn’t matter that England only made two shots on target when they had so much possession – Shots on target are overrated anyway, right?

Jen's estimated attendance of four people at Wembley doesn't seem far off from this photo

Jen’s estimated attendance of four people at Wembley doesn’t seem far off from this photo

The Tiger Who Came To Tea

In more now predictable news, Manchester United continued to spend lots of money as the transfer window closed this week, in the wake of yet another rubbish performance at the weekend, drawing 0-0 against Burnley.

Described as “a tiger who can tear up defences”, Man Utd have signed Radamel  Falcao on loan for one season from Monaco, for £6m with an option to buy him for a further £43.5m at the end of the loan. He’s getting paid £265,000 per week, apparently, so I expect manager Louis Van Gaal will be hoping to see a return on one of his many investments pretty soon, not least because he’s already spent quite a lot of bolstering his flailing squad, also chucking £13.8m at Ajax this week for Dutch international, Daley Blind.
Still, they made a couple of quid (£16m, in fact) on Danny Welbeck , who leaves Man Utd this week for Premier League rivals, Arsenal. Having been with the club since the tender age of eight, former coach Mike Phelan believes that Welbeck’s departure marks something of an identity crisis for Man Utd, though perhaps the move will pay dividends for the National team, as Welbeck now joins England teammates, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott, to name but two.

There is no denying that Falcao's signature is a very expensive risk, for such an injury-prone striker

There is no denying that Falcao’s signature is a very expensive risk, for such an injury-prone striker


Anchor Man

Finally, making its debut on last week’s Match of the Day, Gary Lineker’s goatee is to be sent back to the changing room for an early bath after just one outing. It’s not Lineker’s first foray in the dark arts of experimental facial hair, having rocked a Gary Neville-inspired “Iron Filings” ‘tache back in 2011, much to the amusement of all human beings. This amusement was echoed across the Twittersphere during Saturday’s show, but with support from wife Danielle who thinks the “Robin Hood look” is a strong one, we await his next appearance with breath that is baited.

The Gary Lineker goatee in all its glory

The Gary Lineker goatee in all its glory

Read more from Jen Offord here!

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