Smudger Smith: Ferguson hands Manchester United midfield a licence to thrill

The Journeyman Pro

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The Independent Football

In a professional career spanning almost two decades, Simon "Smudger" Smith has played for over 67 clubs. The ultimate utility player, as his pace has diminished he has reinvented himself time and again, from poacher to holding midfielder, centre-back to goalkeeper.

In the week that saw the release of the new James Bond film, Sir Alex Ferguson chose once again to ignore the advice of Dame Shirley Bassey. Apparently diamonds aren't for ever as Fergie ditched the formation that has brought Man United so much success lately. Despite this, United scored twice in the first 15 minutes. It was a poor start from Chelsea and I haven't seen such a big hangover from Europe since the day after The Final Countdown went to No 1.

Chelsea came back strong and will be gutted to lose both the game and two players to red cards. I said last week 10 men can often play better than 11 but Roberto Di Matteo knew his side needed to find another gear so went to nine. Chicharito scored the winner again and you have to wonder, why always Pea? The Chelsea bossman is fearful of losing more than just points. RDM admitted he is worried about losing Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard. It's horrible when you feel someone is slipping away but it's imperative Bobby refrains from any late night texting as it'll only make the boys feel smothered.

Prior to his side's 2-2 draw with Liverpool, Everton top dog David Moyes said he feared "divers will turn fans away". I think it's great that after the Olympics Tom Daley and Co are achieving sell-out crowds, but feel that Moyesy should have been more focused on the Merseyside derby than the rising popularity of aquatic sports. No wonder his side started so slowly. Boo king Luis Suarez got a booking but almost had the last laugh deep into injury time. The Uruguayan looked onside but that's just one man's opinion.

Finally, hats off to world's greatest dad Gareth Bale for scoring on his return to Southampton and refusing to celebrate. I often wonder how I would react if I was in the same situation. Yes, I've played up front against former sides on countless occasions but so far the dilemma hasn't come up.

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