Sam the Eagle and a camera-shy Rowlf (left of pic) promote the new Muppets film.

Steven S looks back on seven days of sackings, swap deals and children upping the ante….

Can we now finally please stop all the handshake talk nonsense that has been dominating the football back pages, the apologies are in, the scandal is over and it’s time to get back to the football.

Except when it is a 7 year old upping the ante. The Aston Villa mascot has had plenty of time to study and practice the art of the non-shake before his team’s game against City and he executed it to perfection with superb comic timing not missing a beat. Villa chiefs have since been very keen to tell us that he was ‘overawed’ by the occasion but we could tell he meant it – neither he nor his father have issued an official apology since. (see bottom of page)

Staying in the Midlands, well Mick won’t be anymore, the news of Mick McCarthy’s sacking hit the headlines earlier in the week followed by a mild hint of surprise. The 5-1 thrashing at home to local rivals West Brom was the final straw, shipping four goals in the last 30 minutes as the team seemingly gave up. His straight forward Yorkshire approach to the media has won him a lot of friends yet his side have continued to plummet toward the bottom of the Premier, so the pressure has been mounting for weeks.

Alan Curbishley is the man leading the pack looking to replace him yet it is the usual stock of managers that will offer little more than Mick was able to. Wolves find themselves in position of needing to push on into mid table much like Stoke, Bolton and Sunderland have achieved or remain a yo-yo team keeping their heads above water for a couple of seasons in the top flight before dropping back to the Championship. It’s a bold move by their chairman Steve Morgan that will either be astute or a disaster come May and one designed to ensure they at least stay in the Premiership next season.

Saha so good at Tottenham as Louis bagged a brace on his debut at home to a tired looking Newcastle.

Tottenham director Sir Keith Mills told us that no approach had been made by the FA only to respond to ‘Arry’s comments on working the role part time. Despite the obvious public campaign to get him into the England job we have a feeling that he will prefer to stay with Tottenham; let’s not forget he has never had a team with so much talent in a position to build towards a title within the next year or two.

In press conferences he has been telling us how great Lampard and Gerard still are whilst offering the suggestion that Paul Scholes would not be out of place in the Euros, which may just be a very clever way of removing the idea of how he would build for England’s future. He can’t read or write but he sure knows how to think on his feet.

Saha so good at Tottenham as Louis bagged a brace on his debut at home to a tired looking Newcastle, who looked in desperate need of Tiote and Cabaye to get a foothold in the game. Meanwhile Mr Pineear arrived back at Goodison and took only a matter of minutes to wipe away some of the animosity carried over from his departure and recent return.

Swap deals are always thrown around during the transfer windows, fringe players are locked into larger deals that sex up the transfer gossip. The problem is, they never, ever actually happen. Whilst the Saha/Pineear trade was not an official swap, it’s as close as we’ll get to one and potentially season changing transfers for both players and clubs.

The Tasmanian Devil that is Carlos Tevez flounced back into town determined to wind up his manager, fans and anyone associated with the club. The sad fact of this whole episode illustrates how footballers and their agents continue to rule the game, regardless of the strength of will displayed by City during the whole affair. In the end, they have had to backtrack and recall a player that is seemingly unsellable and put their faith in his ability to help them secure the title, which is a sorry state of affairs. At the very least we can all smugly laugh if the nightmare comes true.

AVB has not warmed to the media and more crucially with his own fans.

Chelsea and Arsenal head into the FA Cup 5th Round this weekend with mounting pressure on both managers as the target of fourth place hangs over their heads to defining seasons and probable futures at their respective clubs. AVB was candid enough to admit the rumours of frank words being exchanged in a ‘clear the air’ moment within the squad, also confirmed by Drogba. AVB has not warmed to the media and more crucially with his own fans but his position is compromised sandwiched between an egotistical squad and demanding owner.

Wenger had seen his team start to pull their form back together with two consecutive wins in the Prem only to be let down by the players away to Milan. In a season of infamous records for the manager, he has now overseen the clubs heaviest defeat in 114 years (the club has existed for 126) and now their biggest ever European defeat. Yet they remain in strong contention for fourth place in the Prem which is more of a damning indictment of the quality of the league right now, rather than Arsenal’s consistent performances.

The Manchester teams secured important away victories midweek as they started their Europa campaigns and you get the feeling that they would both dearly want to win the competition. United have a group of young players needing that first trophy to instil the Fergie Belief, something the classic Ronaldo team achieved first in the Carling Cup. City’s need to grow their brand across the world and an impact on any level is needed at this time to ensure the ‘project’ brings some sort of real return.

The Premiership takes a rest whilst the FA Cup attempts to excite Premier fans around the country, who having been fed on a diet of full fat instant replays, analysis and scandals prepare themselves for another dose of Keane, Southgate and Chiles.

The Saint & Greavsie petition starts on Monday.