I witnessed bizarre scenes at Valley Parade as Sheffield Wednesday made three substitutions in the first 17 minutes of a game.
Before the JP Trophy clash with Bradford, manager Gary Megson made everyone aware of his injury problems. He had eight players out and was forced to field 16-year-old Ayo Obileye whose last appearance was in a 14-0 pre-season defeat to Alfreton Town!
However, JP Trophy rules state you must field six recognised first-team players and the Wednesday side included experienced pros such as Clinton Morrison, David Prutton, James O'Connor, Jose Semedo and Nicky Weaver.
But within a minute, goalkeeper Weaver sprinted to the sidelines to be replaced - and Semedo and Prutton followed within 17 minutes. There were no injuries and it was very obvious that the move was pre-planned.
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Eyebrows were raised, but perhaps you have to put yourself in Megson's shoes. His priority is to get this sleeping giant out of League One and while he was full of praise for the competition and its sponsors Johnstone's Paint, he felt it was his duty to preserve his players for the league games.
He was up front, honest and broke no rules. However, I don't know if it was within the morals of the game.
His team were eventually beaten on penalties and his striker Danny Uchechi was limping for much of the second half because he couldn't be replaced. It reminded me of the time Jose Mourinho made three substitutions at half-time at Newcastle and then two players were injured and the goalkeeper was sent off after the break!
This is the 29th year of the Football League Trophy and as you get further it becomes quite exciting and quite lucrative. It's therefore important to a club like Bradford, who need the money more than Wednesday do, and they'll be pleased to progress.
They got 3,600 fans at the game plus some extra TV money, so they reaped their rewards for taking the competition seriously.
Di Canio bust-up
Over at Swindon, there are as many cameras pointed at the dugout as there are at the pitch - but that's always going to be the case with Paolo Di Canio in charge.
As a player he was a magician, but madness always comes with genius. We all remember the fantastic volley he scored for West Ham with both feet off the ground, but we all remember him pushing over referee Paul Alcock as well. We also remember him winning a Fair Play Award when he caught the ball against Everton.
I saw that internal conflict first hand when I played for Bradford in a 5-4 defeat to West Ham several years ago. Di Canio was brought down three times, but didn't get a penalty and the sense of injustice boiled up inside him to the extent that he wanted to come off. He's a guy that lives on the edge.
As a manager he has a fear factor because he's such a strong character and, as you can see from the video above, he was involved in a high-profile bust-up with his player Leon Clarke, who didn't want to come in for training the next day. I'm sure the player will feel embarrassed when he looks back at it.
Paolo hasn't done much wrong in that incident, he tried to take his player away down the tunnel to the dressing room but Clarke wanted to challenge the manager.
I'm sure Di Canio, a fantastic talent who played with the top players in England and Italy, is going to get frustrated when League Two players can't do what he wants them to do.
The team made a great start against Crewe, but have struggled since then and some of those frustrations have come to the surface. The 3-1 defeat to Southampton was in stark contrast to that 3-0 opening-day win.
Believe me, bust-ups happen all the time in the passionate game of football. Like anyone, I've lost my temper straight after a game and it's great viewing for the public and the media.
But like he was with the ball at his feet, Di Canio is box office viewing in the technical area and he has a chance to put things right in the game against Rotherham, which is live on Sky Sports this weekend.
What else we learned this week
There's life after ALF...As you can see from this video, Rotherham registered a 3-0 victory over Gillingham despite the departure of Adam le Fondre. Wednesday wanted him and I was surprised he went to Reading, but Rotherham have continued to do well in his absence.
I wish Colin Cooper all the best... I'm disappointed Bradford didn't offer him the manager's job. He won both games in caretaker charge and I'm sure there will be some bitterness at the harsh way in which he was treated.
Cooper still has an unbeaten record as manager... In three games as caretaker boss of Middlesbrough and Bradford he is yet to taste defeat. He's very passionate and knowledgeable and I'm sure he will go on to bigger and better things.
Jermaine Beckford is a very good signing for Leicester... As a striker who can play on the shoulder he's different to what they've got. Things are looking up after their win over Southampton.
Crystal Palace's home form could keep them up... just like it did last season. Everyone has tipped them to be in the lower reaches of the division, but they've had a fantastic start. They have a small squad and those points could provide a useful buffer later on in the season,
Jason Shackell could prove to be one of the signings of the season... The central defender from Barnsley has performed really well for Derby and has contributed to their 12 points from five games.
Be fearful of West Ham when they sort their home form out... they haven't won at Upton Park yet, but the 4-1 win at Nottingham Forest was my performance of the week.
Scott Parker isn't as big a loss as some might think... They've lost the Premier League's player of the year, but signed Sam Baldock to partner Carlton Cole and they have David Bentley, Matt Taylor, Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan, Henri Lansbury and Jack Collison in midfield. They look a more balanced side now.
Ryan Lowe has scored eight in his last nine matches... and has been rewarded with a move to Sheffield Wednesday. You have to wonder how Bury will cope without him?
Are you pleased with your team's business...? Fill in the feedback form below to tell me your views on the signings and sales at YOUR club.
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Danny Burke (Manchester United fan) says...
I am with Leon Clarke there. Di Canio has no right to be pulling at him the way he is. Clarke was on his way down the tunnel till Di Canio intervened. He could have waiting and been professional by doing it behind closed doors.
Posted 19:24 2nd September 2011
Dan Brennan (Sheffield Wednesday fan) says...
I think that Gary Megson has acted professionally and used his experience to make the right call. He stayed well within the rules and though it may not be 'morally' right, football is a business and his job is to steer Wednesday to promotion this season. I think he needs more credit for having an ounce of common sense!
Posted 20:57 1st September 2011
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