Managers can’t manage masks, fans are finding new ways to hail their heroes, and Jurgen Klopp doesn’t like anything short of professionalism from his staff. Here are five football stories you might have missed this weekend...
Slaven Bilic needs lessons in how to wear a facemask
Saturday wasn’t one of Slaven Bilic’s better days. Following Kieran Gibbs’ sending-off shortly before half-time in West Brom’s 5-2 defeat at Everton, the Baggies’ boss was himself dismissed for asking for an explanation from referee Mike Dean.
But things didn’t exactly improve from there for the imposing Croatian. Having been sent to the stands for the second half, Bilic found himself in close proximity to the press box, and was forced to listen on as various commentators found increasingly damning ways to describe his side’s various shortcomings.
One of those was BBC Five Live’s Juliette Ferrington, who revealed on air that Bilic had repeatedly fallen foul of the Goodison Park stewards, due to his apparent inability to apply his face mask properly.
“Not only did he get sent off, but he kept getting told off by the stewards here because his face covering wasn’t fully covering his nose and mouth,” explained Ferrington.
Given his intimidating reputation, we can only imagine the arguments between the stewards as to which one would tell him he needed to get his mask on properly or get out.
James gets wined - if not dined - by Everton fans
There was a bit more of a celebratory feel for Evertonians after their impressive win against Bilic’s West Brom, as evidenced on the streets outside Goodison following the match.
With no fans being allowed into the ground for the time being, supporters have been forced to find more unorthodox ways to show their appreciation of their heroes, and a group of Toffees had a surprise in store for Everton’s star summer signing James Rodriguez as he drove away from the stadium on Saturday.
After pulling up in the road outside a pub full of football fans, James was encouraged to wind down his window so that one supporter could hand him a cheap bottle of Rosé wine, as a thank you for his inspiring performances against Tottenham and West Brom over the last couple of weekends.
The fan went on to blow James a kiss, but stopped short of passing over the four cans of lager he had dangling from his other hand. Maybe it will take a few more star showings from the Colombian before they are willing to part with the beer too. Either way, we hope for all concerned he was Covid-free!
Cengiz UnderTaken at Leicester
The big news in the transfer world this weekend was nothing to do with Gareth Bale or Thiago Alcantara, not Sergio Reguillon nor Diogo Jota. It wasn’t even Max Aarons being chased by Barcelona.
It was, in fact, the return of The Undertaker. Sort of.
We have all seen the shot of the WWE legend’s iconic retirement from the squared circle, when he placed his hat, cloak and gloves in a pile in the centre of the ring following his Wrestlemania 33 loss to Roman Reigns in Orlando, Florida. So when Leicester City’s official Twitter account sported a picture recreating the scene in the middle of the King Power Stadium pitch on Sunday morning, it got the Foxes’ wrestling-mad supporters particularly excited.
Within 30 minutes the club followed up with the news that they had taken Roma’s Turkey international Cengiz Under on loan, making the hashtag #UnderTaken the talk of social media. A smart move for the club, and a clever bit of work from the Twitter team.
Klopp stands no nonsense from his staff members
When Andreas Christensen was sent off for his perfectly-executed (rugby) tackle on Sadio Mane on Sunday, it felt like a huge moment in Liverpool’s quest to see off Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. So perhaps it was understandable if Reds supporters would have been celebrating the Dane’s dismissal.
However, Jurgen Klopp was far from happy with the exultations of one Liverpool staff member sitting in the stand behind the dug-out, when referee Paul Tierney eventually produced the red card. The German was quick to turn around and make his displeasure known.
Journalist Julien Laurens revealed on Twitter that Klopp bellowed, “Are you crazy? We never ever do that, ok?”
When pressed on the episode after the match, the Reds boss explained, “It was a member of staff and I told him already what I think about it and he’s good with that. But in the moment that’s something I don’t want to see.”
All’s well that ends well, though, and Liverpool’s Mane-inspired 2-0 win will have softened the mood between Klopp and his chastened colleague.
Intruders come in all shapes and sizes
Another week, another random delay to a football match. Remember last Saturday when Fleetwood Town fans chucked apples over the stand to cause a temporary suspension to their opening game of the season? Well this weekend we had an alpaca creating havoc at a non-league match in Wakefield.
Yes, you read that right. An alpaca.
The unlikely intervention came during the clash between west Yorkshire rivals Carlton Athletic and Ilkley Town, with players from both sides left absolutely bemused as the fluffy mammal came marauding across the centre of the field.
After forcing one Ilkley player into a quick body swerve, the alpaca stopped momentarily near the dug-outs, presumably in the hunt for some water or a spare half-time orange, before beating a hasty retreat.
Just more proof that amateur football sometimes provides entertainment you just can’t find in the professional game.