That was the weekend that was

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Italian media call off the dogs - well, for now ...

So. The vigil has ended. Dennis Bergkamp exists and there are two goals in Arsenal's statistical records to prove it. As Ian Wright, staunchly loyal, almost put it: let the knockers knock no more!

Soon, maybe, the 646 minutes the non-flying Dutchman needed to relaunch in an Arsenal shirt will be a forgotten number, as perhaps will 139, the days that passed between his last goal for Internazionale - only his 11th in 52 Italian matches - and Saturday's double.

But the Italian media might still take some silencing. They have had it in for Dennis for a long time. When, on his arrival here, he described English football as "the football that inspires me most, with the accent on attack, not on defence like in Italy" he might just as well have suggested they all meet at dawn, with pistols loaded.

"The words are already being thrown back at him," reported La Gazzetta dello Sport this week, unable to contain their mirth at his inability to breach even Hartlepool's defence. "Hartle-fool," the paper chortled, reproducing one of Wednesday's headlines and reporting how fans chanted "Quanti soldi sprecati" (what a waste of money).

For now the heat is off - but that might be bad news for another summer export, Forest's largely invisible Italian, Andrea Silenzi. The black number in his case is 190 - the days elapsed since his last competitive goal, for Torino on 19 March.

Turn back

the clock

Bobby Robson, Ipswich's 37-year-old manager, appeals to the Football League to have the game replayed.

Amazingly, on the same day, a header by Jim Storrie bounces out of the net in a Second Division match at Leicester and no goal is given.

"The laws are quite categoric," Eric Howarth, the League's assistant secretary, says. "The referee's decision must stand." In both cases all protests fail.

Freestyle Freestone

Les Sealey stayed on the West Ham bench against Everton on Saturday, his services required neither in goal nor elsewhere - but his emergency duty as a striker against Arsenal put a new slant on the three substitutes debate. Premiership managers remain divided over whether to have a back- up goalkeeper among them or to risk doing without - this weekend, 13 of them put safety first but five were prepared to gamble.

Maybe there will be a rush to find goalies who can play outfield. Jose Luis Chilavert, of Paraguay, scored with a free-kick last season and, naturally, Colombia's Rene Higuita has been known to go up field and score.

But there are possibilities nearer home. At Swansea, Roger Freestone takes the penalties. "We had a bit of a problem with penalties last season," their chief executive, Robin Sharpe, said. "Then one day Roger, who is a bit larger than life, said `I'll take them'. So far he's scored three out of three."

Deehan's comeback

What do unemployed football managers do on a Saturday afternoon?A little scouting (and touting), perhaps. Or hang around the house getting under everyone's feet. Or, as in the case of John Deehan, casualty of Norwich's relegation from the Premier League, quietly reinvent yourself as a player.

On Saturday, the 38-year-old former Aston Villa No 9 was turning out for tiny Wroxham in the Eastern League. "I did a piece with the local paper, talking about what I was going to do, and the Wroxham manager contacted me to see if I fancied playing," Deehan said. "There are a few ex-Norwich players there and it is great to be involved again. It helps me to stay in shape. I've had a bit of a hamstring so I came off after an hour yesterday but I'm determined to do 90 minutes eventually. I probably haven't done that for five or six years."

With Deehan's assistance, Wroxham beat struggling Cornard 4-1.

Red card

Disgruntled of


Everyone saw it was offside - every man and his dog saw it shouldn't have been allowed. We didn't deserve to lose to Arsenal in our last home game and we didn't deserve to lose today

Take a bow

Mark McGhee

The soporific nature of Scottish football is clearly having an enervating effect on the Rangers keeper, Andy Goram. Perhaps, as a means of enlivening the tiresome weekly grind towards another championship, a strategically placed mirror would provide a welcome jolt to those weary retinas. As goalkeepers' jerseys become ever more ludicrous, Goram's chosen attire even eclipses Jorge Campos's emetic collisions of fluorescent hues.


Fact and fiction from the Sunday papers

Faustino Asprilla, the Colombian long hunted by Leeds, could be on his way to Newcastle, according to the News of the World, who claim that Kevin Keegan has agreed to meet Parma's valuation of pounds 6.5m for the 25-year-old striker. Leeds, the same paper says, are interested in the Portuguese international Paolo Futre.

Also in the News of the World, Paul Peschisolido, Stoke's half-Italian, half-Canadian striker, is wanted by Foggia, who are ready to spend pounds 1.5m. The only snag is he would have to live apart from wife Karren Brady, who will not quit her job as Birmingham's managing director.

Blackburn, ready to raise their bid for Coventry's Paul Telfer to pounds 3.5m if a story in The People is accurate, are planning a pounds 1.5m swoop for the Crewe midfielder Gareth Whalley, according to the Sunday Express. The People says Coventry's manager, Ron Atkinson, would spend some of the Telfer cash on Richard Shaw, the Crystal Palace defender rated at pounds 2m.

Promotion-chasing Leicester are supposedly in pursuit of the Derby winger Paul Simpson (Sunday Express) and Celtic's Tony Mowbray (People) to go with Gothenburg captain Pontus Kamark, signed for pounds 850,000 on Saturday.