Manchester United's indulgence of Wayne Rooney shows a change of tact
What was the most surprising part of Wayne Rooney's cameo appearance at the Liberty Stadium against Swansea City? The positive reception from travelling United fans despite the submission of a transfer request and a myriad of reports regarding his future? His two assists and general effectiveness after a summer dominated by injury? No, more the fact he was on the pitch at all. Rooney may have laid on goals for Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck but his reaction to both efforts, where he refrained from celebrating with team-mates, and all-round demeanour and intensity was of an individual who is past caring. Whether he wants out or is frustrated at no longer being the central figure at Old Trafford is irrelevant, the fact United have indulged him for so long is remarkable and represents an emphatic change of direction just weeks after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Big Sam changing the definition of the 'West Ham way'
The much famed 'West Ham way' has dogged Sam Allardyce since his appointment at Upton Park. Even in winning promotion via the play-offs and then achieving a 10<sup>th place finish in the Premier League last season, the boss has been inundated with complaints over his side's style of play. His label for those moaning supporters? "Deluded." Allardyce claimed that swashbuckling style of play was linked with losing football, however he may require an alternative definition after West Ham dazzled on their way to beating Cardiff City. Joe Cole's turn and shot can be described as anything but agricultural while the passing move which led to Kevin Nolan's late goal was as fine a team goal as you'll see this season. Granted, the frame of Modibo Maiga and Andy Carroll suggests route one is still plan A but a one-trick pony The Hammers are not.
Gabriel Agbonlahor can be a different outlet for England
Roy Hodgson had us flicking through the England record books a week ago in search of four more inauspicious strikers to have been selected for an international fixture in the modern era. While we might ridicule the selection of former beetroot factory worker Rickie Lambert, elsewhere Hodgson's forwards are looking ever-so formulaic. You can throw a cap over Danny Welbeck, Jermain Defoe and even the omitted Daniel Sturridge; at least Lambert provided something different. In Gabriel Agbonlahor, who tore Arsenal to shreds at the Emirates Stadium, would offer something different. The 26 year still possesses outstanding pace but five years on from his England debut has drifted into the international wilderness. "If he plays like that and keeps that form I don't see why he can't go to the World Cup," Villa boss Paul Lambert said. Quite.
Ian Holloway changes tact in attempt to deliver survival
Holloway's, albeit it entertaining, footballing blueprint saw Blackpool relegated in the 2010/11 season. In his second attempt to conquer the top flight Holloway has a Crystal Palace side possessing a totally different set of credentials. It took until the 66<sup>th minute for Holloway to alter the Palace system despite being outplayed for long-periods by Tottenham. Furthermore, his refusal to start with Jonathan Williams points towards a cautious approach. The best promoted teams are able to provide goals with a tinge of defensive commitment and this Palace side, much like Blackpool, are too much of one and not enough of the other.
Gylfi Sigurdsson aims to fill Gareth Bale void
With Clint Dempsey having been discarded and Gareth Bale drifting closer to a move to Real Madrid, Gylfi Sigurdsson has free-reign in the Tottenham attack. Nacer Chadli and Aaron Lennon appear the candidates for the wide positions so the Icelander is likely to have a spell in his favoured position behind the front-man and at Selhurst Park typically flourished. The ex-Reading and Swansea City man would have been forgiven for asking Andre Villas-Boas for asking why he was brought last summer after a campaign of being thrown from pillar to post. Of his 48 club appearances, 27 were as a substitute. With Bale and Dempsey not around he has the opportunity to be the number one foil to Roberto Soldado and spearhead the club's Champions League challenge.
Jose Mourinho returns with old habits
Chelsea supporters need not chant the words of their much-fable manager now that Jose Mourinho has returned to the Stamford Bridge dugout. Managers would quiver with fear upon hearing such words from the Blues parishioners, and normally the writing was on the wall. The question is, whose name do they chant when Mourinho fails? On Sunday we got a taster of what the Portuguese boss brought to west-London in his first spell. Brief-thrills but centrally a style of monotonous football which is equal only to watching paint dry. There was much to remember from Mourinho's first spell in English football; you wonder how many Chelsea fans remember that aspect.
Rickie Lambert's week to remember ends on sour note
It was Roy of the Rovers stuff at Wembley as Rickie Lambert crowned his England debut with an emphatically finished winner against Scotland. Upon returning to club duty he finished his 32<sup>nd consecutive penalty with aplomb as Southampton beat West Bromwich Albion. Despite comparisons having been drawn with Grant Holt Lambert has seemingly begun this season like he ended the last, with international recognition to boot. On Sunday evening, Lambert will have seen the news that Saints had made another summer signing in the form of Pablo Osvaldo, another indication of the club's new era. While he will hope to partner the Argentine he must be wondering when his own replacement is due at St Mary's.
Ross Barkley is the heir to Steven Gerrard on Merseyside and for England
Carrow Road played host to the old adage regarding the fulfilment of the potential of an English footballer. Ross Barkley took that particular step on the opening weekend with the performance of the day in Everton's 2-2 draw with Norwich City. The most impressive thing about the performance of Barkley, who suffered a broken leg in three places just three years ago, was his physicality at the age of just 19. The Spanish and Dutch conveyor belt of talent tells us technical ability is seldom supplemented by physical stature; Barkley is England's exception. His penetrating runs, ability with two feet and able technique make him the heir to the throne of Steve Gerrard. England awaits.
Simon Mignolet heroics papers over long bedding-in process ahead
The Belgian enjoyed the great transition from villain to hero within the space of 90 minutes on his Liverpool debut. Flapping under high Stoke crosses Mignolet was looking a shadow of the goalkeeper who was a rare highlight of Sunderland's disastrous campaign last year. His late penalty save from Jonathan Walters and subsequent stop from Kenwyne Jones thrust him into the limelight but it only worked to paper over the cracks. Like with many Liverpool players at the start of last term, Brendan Rodgers' demand of playing from the back haunts those individuals short of being twinkled toed. Mignolet, replacing one of the best distributors in Pepe Reina, almost consigned his debut to unsalvageable with a series of close shaves. His Liverpool induction will be difficult to pass.
Newcastle's thread-bare squad a cause for concern
There is little doubting that Alan Pardew knows his best Newcastle XI. Whether a truly convincing link exists between that knowledge and success is difficult to pinpoint but the Magpies boss knows who he can rely on. Scrape below that first-team surface though and what remains is the most convincing argument that Newcastle can expect a season of struggle. After Yohan Cabaye was omitted due to a bid from Arsenal and Jonas Gutierrez because of injury, the half-time withdrawal of Yoan Gouffran and then Hatem ben Arfa exposed a wafer thin Toon squad. Having a lack of options amid an injury crisis is understandable, but with just three first-team players out, Newcastle have few excuses as to why their squad is so devoid of depth. The last time such radical cut backs were made, Championship football soon followed.