Last on MOTD: Pepperoni Phil

I DID enjoy the story Hull boss Phil Brown told a few weeks ago about the headset problems he had when he was Sam Allardyce’s assistant at Bolton.

Brown told how he used the headsets to communicate with Allardyce during games, only to get a crossed line one afternoon, and find himself speaking to a chap trying to order a pepperoni pizza.

(Although Brown failed to elaborate, I’m guessing he didn’t dash from the Reebok Stadium, leap on a motorbike and try to deliver one. Although if he did, it might explain why Mario Jardel was so lardy when he played for Bolton.)

Brown has kept the headset, which he now uses to communicate with his assistant Brian Horton, who sits at the top of the stand during Hull’s games. (And if you ever decide you want a change from listening to your assistant, Phil, you can always retune to Fearne and Reggie’s Request Show on Radio 1. Or, if you find that kind of thing a little too exciteable, try the Jazz Library on Radio 3.)

The Hull manager swears by his headset, although it doesn’t seem to have helped much of late. Brown’s team have managed a grand total of two wins in their last 20 Premier League games, and are not too far above the relegation zone. If their form doesn’t improve quickly, then I reckon Brown will have to give every single Hull fan a free garlic bread.

Last night’s final match: Hull 1 Newcastle 1
Commentator: Dan O’Hagan

Hull had been last on Match of the Day only once this season before last night: their 1-1 draw at Blackburn in August. It’s a sign of how long ago that was that Kevin Keegan was still Newcastle’s manager then.

I’m not sure who Newcastle’s manager is now. One manager left. Then an interim manager came in. Then the interim manager became the permanent manager until the summer, then he took ill, and now Chris Hughton is running the team.

Hughton, I feel, should have some long-winded title with lots of brackets. He remains, for the time being, the first-team coach. Except that some sources, such as the Press Association, refer to Hughton as the caretaker manager. And he has an assistant, in Colin Calderwood. Who was, until Christmas, himself a manager, at Nottingham Forest.

Now I know how Patrick McGoohan felt when he was trying to figure out the identity of No 1 in The Prisoner. I have a horrible feeling that, a couple of games from the end of the season, I’ll discover that I was Newcastle’s manager all along.

Joe Kinnear’s continuing absence from the touchline meant that there was no chance of a repeat of his extraordinary confrontation with Brown during January’s FA Cup third-round replay at St James’ Park.

The two men went eyeball-to-eyeball, and very nearly forehead-to-forehead, after Brown took issue with Fabricio Coloccini’s agricultural challenge on Daniel Cousin. There were no such flashpoints yesterday.

Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper had declared this the most important match of his career in the build-up, which doesn’t say an awful lot for the 1999 FA Cup final. The match certainly didn’t live up to Harper’s billing, as Steven Taylor equalised after Geovanni had given Hull the lead – and that was that, really.

We are no closer to discovering if Hull will pull away from the relegation battle, or if Newcastle will stay up.

But it was very entertaining watching Gary Lineker attempt to prise something passing for an opinion on Newcastle out of Alan Shearer after the highlights.

Shearer chooses his pronouncements on Newcastle with a diplomatic care that would impress Bill Clinton. No, actually, thinking about it, even Clinton would have been more forthcoming on the Toon’s plight than Shearer was.

“We keep saying they’re too good to go down, but they’re not getting the results,” was Shearer’s offering to the watching public. At that moment, I switched off and decided to order a pizza from Phil Brown instead.


1. Fulham: 9                                      (GD: +1; CD: +1)
2. Wigan: 7                                       (GD: 0; CD: +2)
3. Middlesbrough: 7                           (GD: 0; CD: +1)
4. West Brom: 6                                 (GD: +1; CD: 0)
5. Capello: 4                                     (GD: +1; CD: +4)
6. Arsenal: 4                                    (GD: +1; CD: 0)
7=. Blackburn: 4                                (GD: 0; CD: 0)
7=. Bolton: 4                                                 (GD: 0; CD: 0)
9. West Ham: 3                                 (GD: 0; CD: +2)
10=. Newcastle: 3                              (GD: 0; CD: 0)
10=. Stoke: 3                                       (GD: 0; CD: 0)
12. Gubba: 2                                            (GD: +2; CD: +1)
13=. Hull: 2                                     (GD: 0; CD: 0)
13=. Sunderland: 2                           (GD: 0; CD: 0)
15. Manchester City: 1                     (GD: +1; CD +1)
16. Portsmouth: 1                             (GD: 0; CD: +1)
17=. Everton: 1                                (GD: 0; CD: 0)
17=. Tottenham: 1                           (GD: 0; CD: 0)
19=. Aston Villa: 0
19=. Chelsea: 0
19=. Liverpool: 0
19=. Manchester United: 0

GD=Gubba difference
CD=Capello difference

(NB: Teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference: the number of times a team is last on Match of the Day with Tony Gubba commentating. If they are still level, they will be separated by Capello difference: the number of times a team is last on MOTD with Fabio Capello present.)


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