FOOTBALL: THAT WAS THE WEEKEND THAT WAS

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The Independent Online
Good boys

THE PREMIERSHIP'S

LEADING SCORERS

Ian Wright

(Arsenal)

Premiership 17;

Coca-Cola Cup 5; Europe 2. 24

Robbie Fowler

(Liverpool)

Premiership 12; FA Cup 1

Coca-Cola Cup 5; Europe 3. 21

Alan Shearer

(Newcastle)

Premiership 20; FA Cup 1

Coca-Cola Cup 1; Europe 1 23.

Fabrizio Ravanelli

(Middlesbrough)

Premiership 10;

FA Cup 3; Coca-Cola Cup 7. 20

The first week of February 1979 will always be remembered as a ground-breaking time in English football; the moment the prophets of doom proclaimed would be the beginning of the end.

Just three weeks after West Bromwich Albion broke the pounds 500,000 barrier with their British record purchase of the Middlesbrough striker David Mills, Birmingham said they will let their England star Trevor Francis go - for pounds 1m.

They found takers in the Nottingham Forest management duo of Peter Taylor and Brian Clough, who were so busy with a team challenging for honours on four fronts that they resigned from their duties with the England Youth team during the course of the negotiations.

The deal went through on 8 February. Forest paid pounds 975,000, but the newspapers decided that the 10 per cent levy on transfers and eight per cent VAT took the deal over the pounds 1m mark.

By the autumn the gloom-mongers were not alone in perceiving that the game had become consumed by market madness.

In August, Manchester United paid Chelsea pounds 825,000 for Ray Wilkins and it seemed only a matter of time before the Francis record fell. It lasted until 5 September, when Malcolm Allison spent a total of pounds 1,437,500 to secure the services of Steve Daley from Wolves. Three days later, Wolves used their windfall to bring Andy Gray to Molineux in a deal finally calculated at pounds 1,469,000.

"There is a danger of the whole set-up going berserk and the game being ruined," Bob Paisley said on the eve of the Wilkins transfer. Given the Gray record has now been multiplied 10-fold, one wonders what he would make of things today.

THE SEASON'S RED AND YELLOW CARDS

1 Leeds United

Two bookings in two matches for new signing Molenaar

2 Middlesbrough

Ninth caution of the season for Emerson

3 Chelsea

Three more see yellow at Tottenham

4 Arsenal

Nine yellow cards in last three matches

60

1

54

0

52

4

MISTAKEN

IDENTITY

Les Dennis

Dave Bassett

Evidence has emerged that laugh-a-minute Crystal Palace manager Dave Bassett may owe his ready supply of one-liners to a double life as a comic and TV game-show host, going under the stage name of Les Dennis. "At the end of the day it's up to Craig Brown - and he's already got 40,000 Jocks telling him what to do!" joked "Harry" when asked about David Hopkin's international prospects on Saturday. Hilarious.

Take a bow

THE PORTUGUESE FA

For showing the progressiveness so many of its equivalent governing bodies lack: professional matches in Portugal over the weekend featured the use of substitute cards to show how much stoppage time would be added to the normal 90 minutes.

Red card

BRIGHTON FANS

Whose feelings towards the club's chief executive David Bellotti are understandable, but whose conduct at away grounds - Mansfield Town's Field Mill on Saturday was the venue for their latest attempts to disrupt a match - is in danger of costing them sympathy for their cause.

Missing person

Jordi Cruyff (Manchester Utd)

A two goals in two games start to his Premiership career must seem a distant memory to United's pounds 1.4m signing from Barcelona, who has faded into the background at Old Trafford. He has not started a match since facing Leicester more than two months ago, when some fans gave him the bird. Saturday's appearance on the bench was a first sighting since 8 December.

Watch out for...

Lee Hendrie (Aston Villa)

Not put off by being sent off on his debut last season, the 19-year-old midfield player has forced himself back into Villa's plans with some outstanding reserve team form. Lee, whose Scottish cousin, John, recently joined Barnsley from Middlesbrough, made his fifth entry of the season from the substitutes' bench on Saturday, having earned his third senior start in the Cup at Derby

PREMIERSHIP TEAM OF THE WEEK

MAIK TAYLOR

Southampton

GARY NEVILLE

Man Utd

PAUL McGRATH

Derby

GARY BREEN

Coventry

IAN NOLAN

Sheffield Wed

LEE BOWYER

Leeds Utd

DAVID BECKHAM

Man Utd

ROBERTO DI MATTEO

Chelsea

JUNINHO

Middlesbrough

DUNCAN FERGUSON

Everton

ALAN SHEARER

Newcastle

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