Monday, 25 May 2009

Punch drunk: Hull and Newcastle both deserved relegation for their dire last-day displays

Brown's Got No Talent: Phil's attempts at entertainment (and logic)
would have received the buzzer straight away from Cowell and co.

Has there ever been a more lacklustre relegation fight? Of the four teams still realistically in it with six games to go only eight points were won out of a possible 72. Where was the heroic scrapping? The to-and-fro of Premiership places? The extra-time goals? The goalkeepers coming up for corners? No one seemed particularly bothered.

The tame way both Newcastle and Hull succumbed to defeat on the final day, without any barnstorming-every-man-forward-in-a-last-ditch-attempt-to-salvage-Premier-League-status-and-zillions-of-pounds-in-tv-money finale, inevitably took some of the sheen off seeing Shearer’s devastated countenance (incidentally not too dissimilar to his expressions of ecstasy) at the final whistle.

In the climaxing round of matches last season Birmingham defeated Blackburn 4-1 and Reading thumped Derby 4-0 to do everything in their powers to stay up. That each result was ultimately in vain, as Fulham won 1-0 at Porstmouth to avoid the drop, will have hurt those clubs involved but validated all neutral fans’ belief that the Premier League was full of committed professionals with a desire to perform at the highest level.

Newcastle and Hull’s limp efforts were equivalent to an undercard bout between a pair of down-and-out boxers who traded the softest of sparring jabs before each comically stumbled over with one just about managing to stagger to his feet one beat before the ten count.

Unfathomably, Boaz Myhill even wasted time taking a kick as the final minutes ticked away.

But the way Phil Brown spoke after the final whistle helped us understand the managerial motivation behind Myhill’s time-wasting. In a post-match interview a beaming Brown left logic back in the same dressing-table drawer as his razor. “Both one nils went the right way for us,” he explained. His efforts to extract some sort of reason from his baffling statement proved slightly unconvincing. “It didn’t matter what we did, as long as the result at Villa Park went our way.” Err, no Phil. Even those who see Crayola crayons as edible treats could work out the Hull manager’s maths skills were lacking, and establish that a win for his team would render events in Birmingham irrelevant. With any luck the self-satisfied, look-at-me, wanabee pub singer will employ the same ill-thought-out tactics and take the club down next season.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

To gig or not to gig: Paddy Considine interviewed

Rock n roller: The man famous for Dead Man's Shoes
is now taking his career down a musical path

"Before I had a band I called myself Riding the Low," Paddy Considine growls in his elusive midlands accent, explaining the genesis of his recently-formed group's moniker. For a man who made his name in film - perhaps most famously as Richard in Shane Meadows' 2005 classic, Dead Man's shoes - this switch to music will come as a surprise to many. Yet Considine is at pains to impress that the area of artistic expression to which he has now turned his focus was within him all along. "After my wife bought me a guitar about 15 years ago I just started writing songs. I didn’t know how to play guitar but I learnt and started putting things together and ended up writing about 50 different songs and sketches, different bits and pieces. Now I'm at a point where I just wanna do what the hell I want."

History is littered with actors who've turned musicians with just as many singer/songwriters making the reverse journey; from Russell Crowe's 30 Odd Foot of Grunts to Keanu Reeves' Dogstar and back again with Madonna's numerous cinematic attempts. For the most part these film/music translations are failed - or at least short of the heights climbed in the initial profession - with only a few maintaining credibility in each domain. With this less than successful track record behind others like him, Considine reckons he's fighting a battle for recognition.

"People come to these shows and think, 'Oh it's Paddy Considine. It's the guy from Dead Man's Shoes, let's go'," he says. "Let's be honest, actors who say they're in bands, you know, the bands aren't very good. You know nine times outta ten the band ain't good."

While the motivation for people to attend Considine's musical performances may be rooted in his success as an actor, and not how the band would essentially want to attract fans, it unavoidably grants them a ready-made following nonetheless. But is this predicament a gift - with a level of interest acquired before any songs are played - or a curse - with a stigma attached that is difficult to get away from?

"It's inevitable people do come along for that reason," Considine concedes. "I'd be lying if I said people didn't come through the door at first and think, 'Here's the guy, will you sign this? Can I get an autograph? We've done a gig before and someone used a picture from Dead Man's Shoes on a poster. I said, 'Dude, you gotta get rid of that picture because it's the wrong message: we're a band. Don't kinda use that film angle because it's not there. It's non-existent when we play and sing all together," he says before struggling to verbalise the difficulty of coming to terms with some of the crowd's pre-gig expectations. "There's quite a satisfaction... It's like they're all dumbfounded when they say, 'We didn't expect it to be'... I honestly don't think they expect it to be any good; they think it's gonna be crap!"

It seems quality is the only way to persuade observers of his authenticity and generate a more genuine backing: "Now we're getting a following cause people are getting past that thing of 'it's an actor in a band' they actually just think, 'Fuckin' hell, we really like these songs.'"

Hailing from Burton-upon-Trent in Staffs, Considine made his name through a string of stirring - and at times disturbing - performances in highly-acclaimed movies. He starred as an Irish immigrant in 2002's Oscar-nominated In America; a psychotic killing-machine out to avenge his retarded brother in Meadows’ Dead Man’s Shoes (which he co-wrote); and a born-again Christian in the 2004 film, My Summer of Love, which was set and filmed entirely in West Yorkshire. He has also appeared as a Guardian journalist in Hollywood blockbuster The Bourne Ultimatum; as a comically inept small-town cop in Hot Fuzz and; and interestingly, due to its musical significance, as Rob Gretton, Joy Division/New Order’s manager in the fantastically trippy 24 Hour Party People. This year he played the police officer in charge of the 1980s hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper in the grim Red Riding trilogy. It was a performance which was sure to send a chill down the spine of anyone who lived in Leeds at the time.

At various times in his career Considine has also starred in a handful of music videos, most notably for The Arctic Monkeys' track Leave Before the Lights Come On and Coldplay's single God Put A Smile Upon Your Face. According to the actor these ventures came at a time when he hadn't worked for a while and was "skint, sitting around doing nothing." After receiving the treatment for Sheffield band’s video Considine decided a new one was in order. He wrote it and the whole thing was shot in a day or so. “It just gets you out of the doldrums a bit,” he says. “I've been offered a few stints but I wouldn't do any more unless they were for Riding the Low.”
While these projects came about through circumstance and weren't linked to his own musical efforts they still publicised his involvement with the industry. So, now that he could be required to act in his own band’s videos soon, what is their music like?

"I just think it's quite immediate,” Considine states laconically. “We did a gig the other week and a guy came up to us from the support band and said, 'You sound like you're some sort of American based rock aesthetic'. But that 90s indie rock place, that's where it comes from. It is lo-fi but it's not kind of twee. What we are basically is a rock 'n' roll band. Chris [Baldwin, guitar] likes the Smashing Pumpkins and Justin [Chambers, drums] like Metallica. All these influences seem to come in the room and, I don't know, it seems to work."

Considine says the initial spark of creation came from listening to American indie rock band Guided By Voices. "I really started to get into [songwriter] Robert Pollard's work. That was really the main inspiration for me getting up and wanting to start a band. It was like the punk thing. In 77 when people were saying, 'Man, I can be in a band. I don't have to have been playing guitar for years and know all the scales.' It gives you the courage to get off your ass and go and do something."

As well as starting the band Considine christened it. In fact the name can be seen as a symbol of relief from his films, a reaction against his acting career yet inextricably entwined with it.

"The name is from a fantastic book about Lee Marvin, written by his wife,” Considine says. “Marvin was an amazing, amazing actor. Reading it I found I was having similar symptoms to him. He would do a movie and when he finished he'd find it quite difficult to get back into normal life. Just because of the characters, just because film sets are not very normal environments to be in - it's quite concentrated. You're under the microscope for a couple of months and the rest of the world don't exist. You've got people around you all day then all of a sudden you go from that to being back at home again. You're relived but somehow there's an adjustment period where you start to feel a little depressed.

"I got it really bad after doing my first film, Romeo Brass [in 1999]. I remember reading this book and Lee Marvin having this same thing. He was talking to his psychiatrist who said, 'You should call that period in your life 'riding the low'.' It's when you should go out and do the things you wanna do. I just remember reading it and going, 'That's the name of my band', despite not having one at the time."

Considine seems fuelled by a desire to spread his talents, unfettered, across a variety of platforms, with originality and creativity being the driving factors. Yet this uninhibited abandon is something that, for him, public stereotypes can limit.

"I think there's too much pressure on people, there's too many restrictions. It's only other's cynicism that doesn't allow for people like myself to say, 'I wanna write this year. I wanna direct. I'm gonna be in a band.' I think people kinda see it like all this stuff's done on whimsy. Riding the Low's a part of everything. It's a part of anything I've ever done, anything I've ever written or anything I'm ever about to direct." He explains before adding categorically: "If something happened with Riding the Low and it took off tomorrow then I would have no regrets about never making a film ever again."

It’s intriguing to contemplate the comparisons between acting for a director in front of a lens and delivering a song on stage to a crowd of revellers; each is a performance requiring varying degrees of persona and characterisation. For someone who has done both, is there any overlap between the two?

"We're a band and it's truthful. I think that's the only thing that overlaps. When I act I try and find something truthful. It doesn't always make for spectacular acting all the time but it's truthful. It’s the same with the band. We're not bullshitting; we're there cause we mean it. I'm not in a band because I fancy bein' a rock star for the weekend and I get an ego buzz. It needs to be done.”

"Someone saw the band once and thought that I was acting. And then someone said, ‘You should do more acting on stage.’ And someone thought that I was doing it because I was gonna do a film where I play rock star. It's none of those. It's not an act. It's me playing these songs. Paddy Considine singing these songs. Just putting across some of the vibes about how I feel about these things. It's just myself, within this rock n roll package.”

Riding the Low come to Leeds to play The Cockpit on Saturday May 30 and Considine is anticipating a clued-up audience who will give as good as they get. "We're really looking forward to it. We've played a few times up in the North and the crowds have never had any inhibitions. We’re hoping Leeds is the same."

In terms of physical product and the band hitting the mainstream, Considine is uncertain. “We'd love to have something people can go away with at Leeds. We’ve released our own label and put together our first EP made up of gigs and that'll be available in shops but we haven't got a release date yet. We've got that creative control which is important. All we need is someone who can record us well. But we can do whatever the hell we want. We want the freedom. We don't want a record label to tell us to tick boxes.”

Can he see it becoming his profession?
"If the boys wanna quit their jobs and I wanna quit my job then we need to make money and that's the catch 22. I'm married with three children and I'm not gonna sacrifice the roof over their heads because I'm in a rock n roll band. I'm watchin’ my ass like everybody else is.
“We'd love to play these songs to big audiences if they caught on. Selling out is a teenage notion. We just wanna be a band. We've just gotta roll the dice on it a bit and see where it goes."

Originally published in Leeds Student on May 15 2009

Friday, 15 May 2009

Library fines still mounting

The University library continues to rake it in from slack borrowers and still tops the national table of fine collecting, Leeds Student has learnt.

In March we revealed how Leeds collected a staggering £360,000 from late returners in the academic year 07/08, about £12 for every student. Comparable nationwide data from a year earlier showed that Leeds beat closest rival Manchester to the top of the fines table by over £100,000. Manchester students would be handing over just £5 each on average.

We can now expose how the gap between the two table-topping unis last year grew to a whopping £160,000.

Claims that the cash flow from borrowers had fallen this year were met with sums that remained sky high, with a fall of just 9.5 per cent. The total fund from August to February still stood at a shocking £144,415, four times the amount fined by neighbouring uni Sheffield over the same period.

University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection Margaret Coutts defended the fees in our original investigation, saying that decisions made over fines were “student led”.

The original spike in fines from 06/07 to 07/08 was put down to a threshold rise, which allowed borrowers to obtain higher fines before having lending privileges removed.

“The threshold was originally introduced in consultation with students to prevent their borrowing being blocked too rapidly when using our self-service lending facilities in the evening,” Coutts said.

While the figures for the current year have dipped, they still represent a significant income from students who are already paying £3000 a year tuition fees with the results once more calling into question the fining system. While the Library maintains that “the sole purpose of Library fines is to prevent individuals from keeping books for unreasonably long periods and so disadvantage others who need to use them” the significant amounts repeatedly collected suggest the deterrent strategy is not working, with Leeds collecting far more than similar sized unis.

Leeds Student placed Freedom of Information requests with nearly all Russell Group universities, asking for the total amounts collected in fines by their libraries for 07/08 and for August 2008 to the current date. The responses saw Leeds clearly out in front.

For the academic year completed last summer Leeds received £359,229 in fines, followed by Manchester with £198,286.11. Nottingham, which houses the same number of students as Leeds collected just half as much in fines, with the total standing at £172,446. After this came Sheffield with £110,919; Liverpool received £106,059.93; Bristol collected £102,115; York took £99,331; and Birmingham claimed £98,357.93.

Leeds’ figures for the current year are equally as eye-opening. From August 08 to February 09 Leeds received £144,415 in library fines while from August 08 to March 09 Manchester collected £109,174.44 - 30 per cent less. Over the same period Nottingham took £74,893; Liverpool, £58,334.54; Bristol, £47,463; Birmingham, £47,115.84; York, £38,531; and Sheffield, £33,490.

The University of Southampton, the establishment Leeds University VC Michael Arthur attended as an undergraduate, failed to respond to the request and is now the subject of an internal review.

Originally published in Leeds Student on May 15 2009

Friday, 8 May 2009

The house that Zaman can't build

Demolition job: Residents were in uproar over Tariq Zaman's 'grand' designs

News that the landlord who legally owes thousands in unreturned deposits has been told he can't build his own palace is music to the ears of his former tenants.

Rogue landlord Tariq Zaman, former director of Providence Properties, has been refused planning permission to build a new luxury home in Adel due to the grand scale of its design.

Zaman, who currently has 17 County Court Judgements against his name, had applied to Leeds City Council for the go-ahead to demolish an existing four-bedroom dwellling on Dunstarn Drive and replace the 70s construct with a five-bedroom detached property complete with triple garage.

Zaman has been attempting to erect a new building on the site since 2006, having five different designs either rejected or withdrawn over the period.

According to Council public records obtained by Leeds Student, Zaman’s would-be palace was refused planning permission by the Local Planning Authority on the grounds that it “fails to have sufficient regard to the character and appearance of its surroundings”. The papers also detail how the proposal’s “innapropriate volume, scale, massing and design” would make the finished building “incongruous in its setting” leaving it the “dominant” feature in the area’s landscape and therefore “detrimental to the streetscene”.

It appears a resident backlash helped guide the Council’s decision, with 23 letters of objection from those living nearby being lodged. The complaints aired included suggestions that the proposed house is “out of character” with the area, that the scale and proportions put forward are “too excessive” and that the new build would result in the loss of an “attractive habitat, mature shrubs, hedges and trees”.

In an ironic twist, the house next door to Zaman’s property had its own planning permission granted a week after his latest bid was rejected, with construction work already underway.

Tariq Zaman’s dealings have been under the media spotlight since 2007 when he and Providence Properties - the letting agent he was listed as a director of - were accused of unfairly witholding an estimated £70,000 worth of students’ deposits.

17 separate households have taken him to court and won their cases, with judges ordering Zaman to pay the money back. In an episode of Watchdog aired in November last year Zaman brazenly dismissed the court’s rulings as ‘meaningless’ and to this date nothing has been returned.

Zaman was also in the headlines in February when he was implicated as being involved in the opening of the Student Property Shop, a new letting agent located in the same premises as Providence Properties, despite the owner denying any knowledge of who he was.

Tariq Zaman was unable to be contacted for comment.

Rob Damaio, Community Officer at LUU and campaigner for the return of deposits, was pleased with the decision, however it came about. “Having his planning refused is great news,” Rob said. “Though it was done for reasons of aesthetics, it does mean that Tariq is not going to be able to live a grand lifestyle, in a five bedroom mansion, whilst many tenants are still owed hundreds of pounds.”

Meanwhile, the Student Advice Centre has closed the book on Rory Aitken, the landlord who initially refused to pay back £30,000 worth of deposits to tenants. Aitken, dubbed ‘The Ginger Conman’ by the Daily Mirror, was the target of numerous campaigns and Leeds Student articles over the previous academic year.

Andrea Kerslake, Housing Specialist at the Advice Centre, was pleased with the figure eventually secured. “I have just closed the final Aitken deposit case and we obtained £37,464.08,” said Kerslake. “All but a handful of people got at least something back from their deposit. We would have liked the figure to have been higher but it is some £37,000 more than he was preparing to give back at the start. Thanks to everyone who helped highlight the issue.”

The news on Zaman and Aitken comes as The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) announces it is introducing a licensing scheme for its UK members and a code of practice for letting agents.

Espe Fuentes, a lawyer for independent advice group Which?, said: “We receive many calls from tenants who have issues with their landlords. Most are about poor living conditions and problems with landlords still not putting deposits into the deposit scheme. ARLA’s licensing system is certainly a step in the right direction to offer greater protection for tenants.

“At a minimum, we’d like to see all letting agents and landlords required to join a compulsory complaints scheme. Many people have suffered for too long at the hands of unscrupulous landlords and letting agents - it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

Originally published in Leeds Student on May 8 2009

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Irish PM legal battle causes resident woe

The Prime Minister of Ireland is at the centre of a dispute over the management of Carr Mills, the Leeds University halls of residence, which is having an effect on maintenance repairs at the complex and causing distress to residents.

Brian Cowen, the Taoiseach, is a member of an Irish consortium that owns apartments in the complex, which has become embroiled in a legal wrangle with the freeholders of the site located in Meanwood.

Among the accusations levied at the Irish owners, The Carr Mills Partnership, by Adderstone Group, the freeholders, is that they are illegally sub-letting the properties to the University. Adderstone are also threatening to take Mr Cowen and his fellow investors to court over non-payment of £100,000 in rent and management fees.

Over Easter a clutch of Irish papers reported on the developments with the Times revealing that Adderstone Group has written to Mr Cowen and his colleagues informing them: “Contrary to the terms of your leases you have sub-let without authority to the University of Leeds.”

According to the paper, Adderstone see this as “an irredeemable breach of covenant” and have told the investors legal action and repossession of property is a real possibility.

The Irish consortium bought the apartments from the developers of Carr Mills in 2005 with a view to sub-letting the apartments the University, maintaining management rights during this time. But formal written consent to go ahead with the letting was not recorded.

When the developer then sold to Adderstone in 2007 this discrepancy quickly became apparent.
Importantly, the new freeholders also took over management rights from the consortium. The Irish owners were keen to keep hold of this aspect of their investment, as it can be quite lucrative with managers charging high fees to residents for the upkeep of communal areas.

In late April, The Sunday Times reported how a student became trapped in a lift in one of the blocks while the emergency phone used to dial for help was dead. When Adderstone sent workmen out they discovered the Irish owners had changed the locks.

The inability for the freeholders to get into the property they manage proved the catalyst for the legal case launch, with the dispute becoming public in the last few weeks.

The company says that it has been trying to recover £100,000 in unpaid management fees and ground rent from the 38 investors who own the 48 apartments in the development, accumulated since it began managing the complex in late 2007.

Throughout this time the two companies have been arguing over who should maintain to buildings, leading to delays in repairs and upkeep. The disruption has been concerning for dozens of people living there, with one student telling Leeds Student of her plight.

Joanne Slack a fresher residing at Carr Mills said maintenance issues had plagued her first year living away from home. “The hot water first went off on a weekend before the Christmas holidays,” the Cultural Studies student said. “There’s no on-site office at weekends so we rang one of the wardens. Maintenance didn’t come until another couple of days after and because they couldn’t fix it straight away we were without it for quite a few days. I didn’t know why there was a delay.”

“It went off again when we came back after Christmas,” she added. “It meant we couldn’t wash up or clean ourselves for a week as we came back before term started.”

Problems for Joanne escalated before Easter. “The lighting in the stairway was off for a week. Every night that we came in we walked up the stairs and it was pitch black.”

“People went to the site office straight away to complain but it still took quite a while for it to get fixed.”

Residents and staff have since confirmed that the lifts were out of action for a large part of the holidays while the problem was being located and mended.

While any halls housing large groups of students is likely to attract problems, the length of time taken to fix issues at Carr Mills in the current situation is unique.

The legal case will be yet another headache for the University over the Halls, which opened in September 2006. In November Leeds Student investigated a series of muggings in the area around Carr Mills, which prompted the University to launch a bus scheme to transport residents home.

The difficulties throughout the year have led to Joanne questioning her choice of Halls. “I don’t think these are the best halls,” she said. “We’re paying a lot of money for them. There are things wrong with the halls that mean we shouldn’t be paying as much as we are.”

Joanne told us she is paying £3790 for her year tenancy. The accommodation website states that prices for the next academic year range between £4100 and £4250, representing an increase of approximately eight per cent.

The University has guaranteed its Carr Mills residents that their tenancy won’t be affected by the legal conflict.

“The University of Leeds leases a number of student flats at Carr Mills from the Carr Mills Investment Partnership and we currently have more than 200 students living there,” a spokesperson said. “Whilst there has recently been a dispute between the Carr Mills Investment Partnership and the property company the Adderstone Group, which owns the freehold of the site and also provides some facility management services there, we understand that both parties are working to resolve their differences.

They added: “Residential & Commercial Services manage and maintain one large building at the Carr Mills Site and respond to all maintenance issues that are reported or found during inspection as quickly as possible.

“We want to reassure those students presently living in the building we lease, that recent
disagreements between the University’s landlord and the freeholder pose no threat to their ongoing residence at Carr Mills.”

Speaking to Leeds Student yesterday a representative of Adderstone said that discussions were ongoing and that he was “hopeful the situation would be resolved quickly”. But he added that when lawyers were involved in a dispute of this nature time was often inestimable.

Originally published in Leeds Student on May 1

Friday, 1 May 2009

Hyde Park Picture House stages BBC first

The Hyde Park Picture House played host to Radio 5 Live’s Simon Mayo show, the first time it has been broadcast away from the BBC’s London headquarters.

Almost 300 people queued for nearly four hours for the chance to be in the audience for the programme’s Film Reviews segment, headlined by the popular critic Mark Kermode.

Airing every Friday, Mayo and Kermode’s dissection of the latest cinema releases has developed a cult following, regularly attracting over six million live listeners, while the podcast version is the most downloaded movie show in the country, hitting on average 134,000 subscribers each week. The pair are famous for jovial bickering and inventive games.

Kermode, who is also resident movie critic for BBC2’s The Culture Show and regular Observer contributor, was thrilled with the turnout:

“We didn’t really know how well it was going to go as we’ve never done the live thing before,” he said. “But it was incredibly successful and we were absolutely thrilled that so many people, with such a wide range, turned up.”

The pair, who had earlier been interviewed by LSRfm, were initially sceptical at how performing in front of a crowd on stage, rather than alone in a studio, would be received.

“It’s completely different when there’s just two of you sitting in a studio with a microphone in the middle talking to each other,” Kermode said. “You’ve got no real sense of how many people are listening.”

Throughout the hour-long output the audience were asked for their opinions on the highest grossing films that week. The quality of analysis offered was no surprise to Kermode.

“People were funny and witty and had intelligent things to say,” he said. “There was no delay; we trusted the audience and assumed they were up to speed.

“I’ve always been fairly knocked out by the standard of contribution from listeners’ emails. The idea of dumbing things down to be populist has absolutely no merit.”

Kermode, as famous for his opinions as his quiff, thought the listed building was an excellent choice of location for the inaugural roadshow event and advocated the wider consumption of art house cinema:

“It was a lovely place to start. The Hyde Park has a real sense of history and theatre – it’s such a fabulous building.

“I do think there’s something about in art house cinemas. People forget they used to call them picture palaces; they were a little bit like going into church.

“People didn’t go into them and treat them like they do now and just talk all the time and use their mobile phones; they treated them a little more respectfully. I think the place you watch a film actually affects your reaction to it.”

Show producers revealed to Leeds Student that the next outside broadcast would take place in Edinburgh in June, to coincide with the city’s famed film festival.

Originally published in Leeds Student on May 1 2009

Media turning a blind eye?

Wilson Palacios is a very lucky man. Or rather Cristiano Ronaldo is. Each player’s good fortune centres around a two-footed tackle the Honduran midfielder launched in the direction of the Portuguese’s knee-caps in the recent blockbuster at Old Trafford. The latter because he skilfully avoided contact; the former because he less-skilfully avoided any punishment from Howard Webb. A stern ticking-off for what can only be seen as a deliberate attempt to injure an opponent was all Webb deemed necessary.

That the man in charge thought it a minor offence is outrageous. That the player in question has avoided further condemnation in the mass media is even worse. Heaven knows headlines gave enough focus to another refereeing decision. The brilliant, title-defining comeback by United was to an extent overshadowed by a debatable penalty which provided the spring-board for the memorable turnaround. Webb was even forced to admit his 'mistake', saying it “wasn’t the best” decision of his career.

Why, if the media are intent on analysing every move a ref makes were they blind to Palacios’ potential career-ender? Just as Redknapp claimed the penalty changed the game irreconcilably, the lack of a red to Spurs’ most effective midfield player produced the same effect, earlier on in proceedings.

Ronaldo was rightly sent off for a similar tackle on Andy Cole in 2006’s derby match at Eastlands. Journalists churned out a massive amount of column inches of condemnation in the immediate aftermath. The reaction is notably muted on this occasion. We are left to wonder why that is.

In an interesting footnote, Paul Scholes wasn’t so blind. Within minutes of coming on as a sub he’d introduced himself to Wilson with the only way he knows how. Multiple times. If the man in the middle wasn’t going to enforce the rules, the Ginger Assassin was.