CHELSEA remain at the top, but their lead could still be clawed back by the team in second place – Hull City.
It is anybody’s guess as to which club’s manager will have spoken the most piffle by the end of this season.
Hull’s Steve Bruce was in excellent form on Boxing Day when he presented himself as the only person on this planet who did not think Sunderland should have had two penalties, for the most blatant pair of handballs outside of the Harlem Globetrotters.
But last week José Mourinho showed his class. The maestro’s supporters were worried sick that he might admit to Diego Costa deliberately stamping on the leg of Liverpool’s Emre Can – merely because Diego Costa had deliberately stamped on the leg of Liverpool’s Emre Can.
But they needn’t have worried because it doesn’t work like that.
José limbered up by saying that Costa’s stamp (plus another on Martin Škrtel) was “absolutely accidental,” rather like the “accidents” in November, when the loveable Spaniard kicked John O’Shea and forearm-smashed Wes Brown.
Indeed, apart from the ensuing ban for the stamp, a succession of these accidents has seen the sensitive striker collect 10 yellow cards this season. No other forward is even competing with him on this. Witch-hunt or what?
Aficionados of codswallop cooed with admiration when José then said: “I don’t know what you understand by a stamp.”
Ooooh! We can help José out there. Our dictionary says a stamp is to “bring down one’s foot heavily on ground or other object, such as Emre Can.” Alright, we added the last four words of the definition.
He continued: “Maybe you are already influenced by the ‘campaign’ on the television with certain pundits saying that Costa has ‘crimes’. He must be nuts the guy who says that.”
We can also confirm that stamping on someone is indeed a crime. At least it is in the street.
But who is the mystery telly person leading the imaginary conspiracy that has seen Chelsea plummet all the way to the top of the league?
José would only say: “I don’t know his name, because when I see him I switch off the television.” So we can narrow it down to either Ant or Dec.
All this galvanised the competitive Steve Bruce into an equally entertaining excuse before his side had even played their match against Newcastle. Any shortcomings would not be attributable to either him or his players. No way. It was all down to the gasman. The swine. Steve reckoned: “We’ve spent a fortune on under-soil heating, new pitches and all the rest of it.
“But we’ve got no fuel to it and the gas board has left a lot to be desired. We spent fortunes for this kind of situation and. If we hadn’t gone away (to Portugal), we’d have had nowhere to train.
“The training ground this (Friday) morning was unplayable, so we’ve had to come and use the stadium, which for a Premier League club is ridiculous.” You expect standards to be tip-top when you shell out big money. Or so says the man who paid £10m for Abel Hernández.
Steve’s post-match comments were of a commensurate level of ludicrousness. First he dealt with questions about his gormless full-back, Ahmed Elmohamady, who had punched the ball into the Newcastle net; the most blatant handball since – well – the one that Brucie’s son got away with on Boxing Day.
Steve claimed: “It’s a reaction. I’m not sure it’s cheating.”
Say what you like about him; he’s never afraid to be in a minority of one.
Was it also a “reaction” when Elmohamady then struck the classic footballer’s “what me?” pose, before risibly continuing to argue with the referee at half time? No one asked.
In a rare concession to reality, Mr Bruce added: “I have to say the officials, they got it right – which I was pleased about because even in the situation that we’re in, we don’t want to be seeing goals that are not worthy of being a goal.”
Heaven forfend. Although rest assured that if the officials had failed to notice the Egyptian’s cheating, Steve would no doubt have ordered his team to allow Newcastle to score.
He repeated his assertions to Match of the Day; that Elmohamady had “reacted” and that he wouldn’t want such a goal to stand anyway.
Back in the studio, Gary Lineker said: “Good honest words there from Steve Bruce.” Exactly which words did you mean Gary?
All this meant that Steve was only slightly behind José in the 2014-15 Piffle Championships. So what would the Chelsea man come back with?
As it turned out – nothing. As part of his latest huff over whatever it is this time, José refused to speak to the media following his team’s draw with Manchester City (contrary to Premier League rules).
Does this mean that José has a game in hand over Steve? We’re not sure, but this particular title race could go either way.