‘Rafa Out!’ Benitez in trouble before Chelsea kick a ball
Premier League talking points: Wenger and Benitez get rough ride from fans; Rooney slams Man U defence
WHO would be a football manager? One Premier League boss was reminded at the weekend that good will from a pair of significant wins lasts less than 90 minutes, while another faced demands for him to be sacked before his first match in charge of his new club had even kicked off. Meanwhile, Manchester United showed that a porous defence need not prevent you reaching the top of the tree.
WENGER ON THE DEFENSIVE
The dreaded grip of pressure tightened around the shoulder of Arsene Wenger during Arsenal's goalless draw at Villa Park. The Frenchman, who had earned breathing space with two wins on the trot including a 5-2 defeat of rivals Tottenham, faced chants of "You don't know what you're doing" from Gunners fans. Confronted about the chants after the match, he struck a defensive note, saying: "Look, I have managed for 30 years at the top level, if I have to convince you [a reporter] that I can manage a team, it would be an insult to you." With a £40m transfer kitty reportedly available to him for the January transfer window, significant changes to his struggling team could be just weeks away.
'RAFA OUT' - BEFORE A BALL IS KICKED
Wenger's woes were as nothing compared to the hostile reception new Blues boss Rafa Benitez received from the Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge. He faced a chorus of jeers and abusive chants from the moment he appeared in the dug-out for the tie with Manchester City, which also finished goalless. 'Rafa Out' banners were brandished by Chelsea fans, who remain furious at the appointment of their former adversary from Liverpool. "If we start winning games they will come on board and see I try to do my best," said Benitez after the match, but his thoroughly unconvincing team had shown little sign of returning to winning ways.
ROONEY LASHES LEAKY LEADERS
Despite Manchester United moving to the top of the table, striker Wayne Rooney argues his side have to improve - particularly at the back. United have lost three games and conceded 18 goals this campaign. Remarkably, the league leaders have a worse goals against tally than any other side in the top six. "I don't know why it is but it's happening too many times," said Rooney of their tendency to concede goals. "We need to just go out now and try to get the early goal. As soon as we get a goal, the team settles down and the game settles."
HAMMERS CHANTS COULD SPARK PROBE
The Football Association could launch a new investigation into racism after some West Ham United fans sang anti-semitic chants during their side's clash with Tottenham Hotspur. Just days after Spurs had faced similarly abusive songs in Italy, Hammers fans sang: “Adolf Hitler’s coming to get you” and taunted their rivals over the stabbings in Rome, chanting: “Can we stab you every week?" Both sides' managers preferred to focus on the match itself, which Tottenham won 3-1, bringing to an end a run of three successive league defeats and lifting them to seventh in the table.
'CHOPPER' LEADS SEXTON TRIBUTES
Tributes have been paid to the former Chelsea and Manchester United manager Dave Sexton, who has died at the age of 82. Sexton led the Blues to victory in the 1970 FA Cup and won the European Cup Winners' Cup the following year. He also managed the England under-21s. Chelsea legend Ron 'Chopper' Harris said: "He used to spend hours on the training field. He was the best coach I ever worked with. I've got some great memories." The FA's director of football development, Sir Trevor Brooking, said: "It is a sad day for English football. Anyone who was ever coached by Dave would be able to tell you what a good man he was but, not only that, what a great coach in particular he was."