Much in the same way as the rumours about the Ark of the Covenant and the Lost City of Atlantis, there have been whispers in the corridors of the Portland Building and the Trent Café about a special wheel. They say it can make arbitrary judgements about the weekend’s sporting action. They say no-one can argue with it because it’s a wheel.
Well ladies and gentlemen, Impact has acquired it, and will be spinning it every week to cast a glance back at the weekend of sport and decide who has impressed and who has had a shocker. Let us present…the Wheel of Sportune.
Italian Rugby – After a first ever victory over Ireland in the Six Nations, Italy finished fourth in the final standings, behind third-placed Scotland only on points difference. There was a feeling pre-tournament amongst seasoned rugby lovers that this could be the year that the Azzurri confirm themselves as a genuine Six Nations force, and the Italians let no-one down.
Captain Sergio Parisse was predictably at the forefront of everything positive, and whilst his importance to the team was shown by their poor performances during his ban, several other players performed admirably – notably Alessandro Zanni, Andrea Masi and Martin Castrogiavanni.
Rafa Nadal – Almost a year since Nadal played last played a hard-court event, and still in the early stages of his comeback from a serious knee injury, the Spaniard capped a superb Indian Wells with victory in the final over Juan Martin del Potro. Nadal described the win as “one of the most emotional of my career” and it confirms the Spaniard as the man to beat yet again at the French Open in May.
Freddie Michalak – This may seem an odd choice for a man widely regarded to have had a disastrous Six Nations, but this was the weekend where scrum-half/fly-half/maverick/liability Michalak found a way to perform at his best – by getting into a fight with another player! A lacklustre first-half display was followed by a much improved second-half showing after the Frenchman engaged in a tête-à-tête with a terrified Stuart Hogg, who presumably didn’t realise Michalak could connect with a conversion, let alone a punch.
Callum McManaman – Checklist for your first start in the Premier League. Assist for the opening goal? Check. Put in an impressive performance and almost score? Check. Commit a horror tackle and become widely vilified amongst the majority of people watching the game? Check. Despite Wigan boss Roberto Martinez’s protestations that McManaman”has not a nasty bone” (who ever has?), the young striker will have his card marked by referees for a long time to come.
Sebastian Vettel – Throughout qualifying for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, Vettel and Red Bull looked unbeatable, with at least half a second on everyone else. This was confirmed by a stunning final qualifying lap that saw the German 0.68 seconds ahead of the nearest non-teammate. So it was huge surprise when the car struggled for race pace, and Vettel would have been both furious and worried to see the ease in which title challengers Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen went past the Red Bull man. Tyre management has been mooted as the most likely cause and this should be solved relatively simply, leaving Vettel clear to mount a fourth title campaign.
Simon Brodkin – The man behind the really, really, really funny Lee Nelson’s Well Good Show took to the Goodison Park pitch in the pre-game warm-up to pretend to warm up with the Man City players. Until he got arrested, that is. Brodkin ran onto the field as another of his comedy creations, footballer Jason Bent, and proceeded to run up and down the touchline, much to the confusion of the City players. I guess if he’s being talked about now then the stunt was a success, but then again he’s still a terrible comedian.
The Wheel of Sportune will roll back into your lives again next week. Keep your eyes peeled…