Friday, 21 December 2007

To all my readers....

may you have lovely christmasses, and new years, if indeed you follow these traditions...

hope your teams wins, and I'll be back to update here once the hurly burly's done- whenever that is...

felices navidades!!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Johnny Evans arrested for rape at the Man Utd

christmas piss up. During questioning with police Johnny allegedly commented.
"I can't remember raping her ." Before adding "I was pissed."

When asked whether they were either witnesses or could provide an albeit other Manchester players present said "I can't really remember. I saw him talking to her earlier in the evening but after that it all gets a bit hazy. Sorry, but I was a bit pissed."

"Was thing is certain." Johnny told our reporter. "I definitely wouldn't have done it if I'd been sober. I'm no rapist like."

The case continues.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

an important question

Has David Gold, esteemed chairman of Birmingham FC, the Sunday Sport, and Ann Summers, cloned his own cock?

with all the talk of failed take overs at B'ham it is easy to overlook such important matters.

Also has David Gold's wife Jacqueline (pictured) double penetrated herself with the aforementioned clone of David Gold's cock?
Or do they own cloned cocks from any current B'ham players. forsell's fossil, for example.
The mind boggles. I wish it didn't.
check out david's 'rags to riches' story here . He started his fortune selling buttons in his front room. This was shortly before he realised that there was more money to made taking photos of tits and putting them on every page of a tabloid newspaper. Buttons or tits? Tricky.
Nowadays David spends his working hours between tits, sex toys and lingerie, and football. A combination that captains of industry in days gone by, Wedgewood and Arkright for example, wish had occurred to them.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Capello it is then.

And the BBC are already leading pieces about him to the music from The Godfather. How long till we have Sopranos Style Special on Football Focus then? With him and his exclusively Italian backroom team, as it is referred to, all sitting round the table eating pasta, fucking off, forgetabouting it.

Silliness aside I do have one reason to harp on about the lack of an englishman in the coaching set up. This is that Capello, as great a coach as he is, and may be, will only ever have an eye on short term objectives as this is how he will be judged (and ultimately determine how much he is payed). So his interests in producing national youth coaching programmes, or a footballers finishing schools, of the sort that any "root and branch" examination would produce, would seem fairly limited. Why should he care about the national game in ten years time? Chances are he will be long gone by then, having spectacularly failed or delivered. Unless the implementation of any long term schemes is demonstrably in the short term interests the chances of any manager, judged on short term achievements, starting them are next to zero.

This is of course why Trevor Brooking has his job in the FA. To look after stuff like this. I imagine though, unless the national coach is behind you, using all the machinery of that office, starting long term schemes of the sort suggested is difficult. Not in the least because they tend to be pricey. And long term investments with little or no return are risky and traditionally avoided by money men. Better invest 6 million on someone that can be fired tomorrow, than 20 million on a project that will fester on even if it fails. And will cost you more even if it proves successful.

So, for now england have Capello, the 'authoritative godfather of Italian football', and his team of what the media will no doubt dub in time as back office 'hit men'. Long live the unstoppable cliche machine. Long may they prosper. Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Not so interesting fact: Capello in Italian means hat.

Friday, 14 December 2007

"we have the technology

so why not use it." amazingly this was not said by [insert name of any football pundit] but by Winston Churchill. And he was not talking about video refereeing at the time either, rather using the then newly developed chemical weapons against the Arabs who were uprising in the middle east and making life difficult for the West. You see, technology is not always a good thing. It depends on the integrity of those who use it. Which brings me to the use of video technology in football. Presumably referees, whose decisions are questioned, and every mistake scrutinised, are reluctant to handover their authority to 'technology', or to put it more accurately, a third official who would have access to video technology. They argue it would slow the flow of the game, and undermine the authority they do have with the players. firstly, the flow of the game is interrupted anyway when players huddle around the ref, and try to bad mouth him into a favourable call. Secondly, why would asking for definitive evidence diminish, rather than increase, players respect for the ref? Surely calls for certainty and clarity, and the notion of proof, work to calm inquietude.

for example, a ball is cleared off/just over the line. The attacking players celebrate, the defenders appeal. The ref looks at the linesman. The linesman looks at the ref. And it appears that both were obscured or blinked at the crucial moment. A referral to a third official at this point would please everybody. As well as lead to a great moment of drama. Sure, there are a few technicalities to sort out- but the principle seems sound enough.

Also, following on from this, I'd also oblige referees to face the media after a match. And explain their thinking around key decisions. If for nothing else than to see Mark Clattenburg sweat a bit.

Basically more transparency in the refereeing system leads to more confidence from the players, more confidence from the fans, and this, ultimately, makes life better for the referees, and for the game.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

the arch-angel beckham davidino, wow

a beautiful picture. Even though it won't get me wearing designer white brief pants. Let me explain. I don't spend too much money on things like underwear and I imagine Armani won't come cheap. Briefs are uncomfortable. I feel all sweaty and achy after an hour or two stiched into them. Also, white is just not practical.

Culturally this is quite an intersting image. Not so much in itself- it is just a bloke in well fitted underwear. But that it made the front page of The Sun, with the headline SwollenBalls. This is the first time in my memory that a semi naked man has been on the front cover of a tabloid, as far as I remember. Admittedly though I am not a regular reader of the tabloids so I could well be wrong. It all goes to show the increase in the cult of male beauty.

A little bit on the semanology (or should that be semenology) of white underwear too. White makes us look pure and divine at the same time. So basically it makes you gives off a classical virginal aura, which works against the carnal temptation of the flesh. A saucy juxtaposition. But this kind of unbridled encouragement of male lust is quite a new thing in dominant popular culture. It is usually pushed back in an effort to repress homosexuality, and keep women in their place. Heterosexuality is widely applauded though, and jeered on with photos of nude women at all angles. And as feminists have been saying for years it encourages the objectification and commodification of the body. As this trend develops expect more young men to have surgery and take steroids.

I'm not going to pontificate further on this. As I don't really care. Also because, as I read somewhere else, media analysis is the most pointless passtime in the world, save knitting.
Meanwhile, thanks to throughball for this, buy some of Beckham's half eaten food.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Imagine the scenario

It is the next world cup and after a good qualifying campaign England are unlucky to be drawn against Italy in the first round group stage. New coach Capello, who was initially supported by both press and public after some encouraging and sensible displays, is suspected of divided loyalties. He denies this but unfortunately, after an unexpected draw against, dunno, Nigeria, England need at least to draw against Italy in order to qualify for the knockouts. England produce a typically lacklustre performance and an in form Italy win. There is post match suspicion and dissatisfaction with the team selection. Capello cannot see off the accusations of conflict of interest, or even match fixing in some quarters. The public turn against him. the Sun turns his face into a Pizza. The Star accuse him of WW2 style betrayal... the FA are forced into a making a popular decision. ... "say what you want about mclaren" people will say. "but at least he was one of our own."

Now repeat the scenario for Lippi. Magnify the loathing by ten with Klinsmann who is transformed into a plate of saurkraut. Or airbrushed into leiderhosen.

What odds Martin O Neill now then? Or even Alan Curbishley... ?

Interestingly Mourinho's arrogance, self confidence, and familiarity seemed to lift him above silly hypotheticals like this- and he wanted to appoint an English assistant, unlike Capello.

Monday, 10 December 2007

chant of the week

#they're going to fuck you in the showers# villa fans to harry redknapp.

In fact any chant that mentions bumfuckery- the act that dare not speaks its name, is value. I remember #posh spice takes it up the arse# being dished out to the tune of bread of heaven anywhere beckham played. I wonder if US Soccer fans sing anything similar?

Meanwhile Sam Allardyce must be a happy man right now. and not since the heights of the blairbrown feud has the nation been so gripped with a power struggle. Can't see Allardyce offering to resign before the end of next season to see off criticisms though. Or leading us into war on the back of a pack of lies. Neither can I see Shearer trying to justify imprisoning people without charge for almost three months. Although I think he might play up his Britishness like Brown does. There however, the non existent similarities end.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Everton won

A scrappy goal from Cahill (again) saw off the russian champions Zenit St Petersburg. Elsewhere in the Also Ran's Cup Carpathia Dynjastic Molotov drew 0-0 with Thesalonika Majorettes somewhere in Eastern Europe.

Well done Everton, a long cup run is long overdue.

Meanwhile, in the premiership Newcastle staved of the mispalced sacking of Sam Allardyce with a 1-1 draw with Arsenal. Perhaps he will eventually see off the naysayers and prove that there is life away from Bolton for his formula of 'don't give an inch, don't do nothing complicated' style football. The result induced a howl of machiavelian rage from Alan Shearer as he drunk until late in the bar that bears his own name.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Prince Harry's Cock

my last three posts have mentioned quantum mechanics, statistics, and circular wave theory algebra. Or something like that. Heady stuff for a football blog. I think I might be in danger of isolating my audience, especially since Jason has been on holiday and not visited as much.

Therefore time for something viceral. Upandcoming premiership star Ashley Young has videoed himself wanking then sent the said video to a beauty technician (what is the difference betwen a beauty technician and beauty therapist!?) he had just met online. Silly boy! Said beautician then cashed in and sold the story, and some pics, to the tabloids, who, as ever, only ever publish stories that are demonstrably in the public interest.

It is not all bad for Young. She described his cock as "like a baby's arm clenching an apple". So while his reputation for sexual propierty is in tatters his manhood is now perceived in high national esteem.

This is part of a great tradition in professional football sex scandals. My theory is that since these young men cannot indulge in the normal UK passtimes of getting leathered, battered, and sticking drugs down the neck, like any healthy 20something would do, they revert instead to wild casual sex, of the sort that leaves most regular tabloid readers frothing in morally indignant jealous frustration. Therefore giving us all lots to laugh at while selling more newspapers. Nothing makes Rebekah Wade happier than a footballing sex scandal, apart from, of course, a royal sex scandal. Which brings me to my spurious post title. Written solely to shock and pull in the curious. Imagine for instance if Prince Harry photoed his cock and sent a picture of it to his hairdresser. That would definitely be news....

Read a fuller article on sistersite sniffing the touchline.... over there>>>>> recomended

Meanwhile I promise not to mention wave consciousness collapse, or the prime number continuum.

Sam Allardyce

has the full support of his players. He also has the support of Arsene Wenger "to turn things around you need time." That's him fucked then. Once you start needing the full support of your players, or other managers, your position is fatally flawed. In fact any statement of support is really an attack. As to offer support is to recognise weakness and nobody likes to be led by the weak.
It is the same in politics. "the deputy prime minister has my full support" really means "the deputy prime minister needs my support" ergo "I will fire the deputy prime minister soon".
Like this just drawing the attention to something, putting it under scrutiny, forces that which should be free in flux, into consequence.

This post has nothing to do with either football or quantum mechanics, however much I try, does it?

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Best Travelling Fans

anyone can tell you that Man City have the most fortress like stats this season- this is no small part no doubt due to their fans. Well done fans. But which team has the best travelling support?

Now to work this out it is no good looking just the number of away wins- as this only favours the top 4 who traditionally win more games away. But instead to look at the number of games won away while lost at home. Like away away difference if you like. On this basis Portsmouth enjoy the best travelling support.

This has a flip side- Pompey may have the best travelling support but oddly following this pattern they have the worst worst home support too- as Portsmouth have won more games away than at home this season. How can this be?

All goes to prove that making judgments based on the strength of statistics is a risky business. Lies, damn lies and all that.

Monday, 3 December 2007

good article here

the inside track (or at least a good spectator seat) on football corruption.

Euro Draw

the euro championship was drawn at the weekend.

First an explanation of the maths system used to choose the groups.


x^2 + 2xycos(2pi/n) + y^2 = 1 1 / 2pi/n \ --- ( 1 + ----------- ) n \ sin(2pi/n) /
f(x1,x2,..,xN) = PROD (xi + xj) i<>j N[k+1] N[k] 1 N[k] d[k] - D[k] ------ = ---- - ---- = ---------------- D[k+1] D[k] d[k] D[k] d[k] x(u) = - -- / 1 - ( ----------------- ) 2u / \ u sin(u) + cos(u) / _ _ 1 1 y(u) = -- ----------------- - cos(u) 2u _ u sin(u) + cos(u) _

Simple. No?

Or to put it another way

Group C- Italy, France, Romania, Netherlands.

newcastle shennanigans

Something is rotten in Denmark. Or, more accurately, in Newcastle.

1) Racist axe murderer's brother, and 10 man brawler, Joey Barton says the Toon Army intimidate him.

not sure about that one. ...

2) Mike Ashley is apparently losing patience with Sam Allardyce. As, apparently, are some of the players.

Or put another way- a group of players, who have never won anything, are bitching about a manager who has never won anything. This is all part of the continued juxtaposition between Newcastle's belief and reputation as that of a big club, and the reality of that they are a club that has not won anything for a very long time indeed

Now, Allardyce may look like shrek's dad but, compared to Sammy Lee and Megson, he looks increasingly like a miracle worker at Bolton. And since his record is at least as good as his predecessors Roeder and Souness surely he should be given a little more time. But with the full PR machinery of management hungry club legend Alan shearer briefing against him I would not fancy his chances to withstand another defeat.

Meanwhile, anyone fancy a pint in Newcastle Legend Shearer's bar?,,10278,00.html

Friday, 30 November 2007

Was anyone actually surpised when

they heard Harry Redknapp had been arrested? I mean, the fact that he looks and talks a bit dodge, and has the gene splice of a PI, a used car salesman, and a sniffer dog, is why we like the chap afterall. He somehow fits into our idea of what a football manager should be like. And wide. God is good ole 'arry wide. "the p'lice confiscated the wifes' compooter. I bought her it last christmas, and the silly mare only learned to turn to on last month. The rozzers won't find nufink on there. Nufink." Ok, he might not have said silly mare. What you might note here is that I wrote Harry's words in the vernacular. Like BBC writers do when they do scripts for gritty police dramas where people say guvnah, or guv, when talking to their boss. While the failure to do this gentrifies speech, the act of doing this seems a bit patronising really. But how else I am going to capture how Harry Redknapp talks when it is how he talks that endears him to us?

Also arrested was Milan Mandaric. Who, before getting into football, had a career as a"Lord Of Illusion " on late 1980s kids' cartoon Defenders Of the Earth. De-fen-ders. Sorry, I've been waiting for a chance to get that gag in for ages and no talk of magic at Leicester City was going to do it.

Not overly talented journeyman Faye has also been arrested. Ensuring he'll be remembered more for his agent fees than anything he'll ever do on the pitch.

As I was out the country last year the whole saga pertaining to the Panorama documentary passed me by. I reckon that anyone charged on the basis of the charges mentioned on the programme will use the fact that it was broadcast as as a defence should they ever face trial though. I mean, it does prejudice them a bit doesn't it? At least their lawyers will say so. This will lead to fun come jury selection when they are trying to avoid bias.

"did you ever see the panorama programme?"

"do you support either Leicester, Portsmouth, Newcastle, West Ham, Southampton, or any other team that has anything to do with the accused?"

"how about any team that regularly plays against them"

"do you like football in any way shape or form?"

Basically only those completely unexposed to football will be able to reach a neutral decision. Which means only my mate Steve who doesn't own a telly, and a scottish hermit, will be eligible to stand on the jury. And the government will use this as an excuse to introduce the no trial by jury for fraud cases law. A law they have been trying to introduce for ages because they think that juries are too stupid to understand complex financial matters.

Of course not. The jury will only be asked, for example, to disregard what they may have heard about Harry Redknapp already. To which the people will reply "who is Harry Redknapp?"

Like my girlfriend did when we were watching the news last night.

also rans' cup

Spurs beat some obscure team last - Alamaty Jazzprov, or something.

Bolton drew . So far under Ginger Meg they've lost 3 drawn 6 won 1. I would call this flatlining- with the occasional heartbeat to stop them falling into limbo. Scrap they do but I'll put my reputation on the following. Quick demise in Europe next week. Last day of the season fight for survival next May. Given that this will be away at Chelsea everyone will predict relegation. But they will draw. 1-1. And thus surive by a solitary point when equal points would have sent them down on goal difference. How about that then?

Thursday, 29 November 2007

November Football Digest

OK- a month is a long time in football. Here is the footballsinotmygod football overdose 5 minute month. Written in five minutes! Might take you less time to read...

In case you missed it the european qualifiers have been on. And while Wales and Ireland battled for respectability and talked more about the future of the game in these countries the other home nations all came close to the panacea of qualification, and, probably for the first time ever, all of them missed out. Even England. It was a roller coaster month, as it always is with England. First England were IN if they beat Russia. Then after losing they were OUT unless Israel beat Russia. Despite the vaguely anti-semetic conspiracy theories that tried to suggest differently, that revolved around the fact roman abramovic is rich and jewish, england were IN the competition once more after Israel duly did beat Russia when Steve Mclaren was in the toilet. Now England only needed to beat Croatia but couldn't on behalf of some of the most inept tactical decisions ever made by an England manager so England are OUT. IN-OUT-IN-OUT and they do the hokeycokey and they turn around. The national soul searching began and while some thought that foreigners were dangerous everyone else thought that the kids need more coaching. The nation wonders who will be the next coach. Martin O Neill is declared the early front runner.

Scotland meanwhile, after beating France TWICE in their campaign somehow contrived to lose their last two games, against Italy, and, most frustratingly, Georgia. Northern Ireland would have sprung the upset of upsets but lost to Spain.

Meanwhile in the champions' league- Man U Chelsea, and Arsenal looked good. Liverpool looked rubbish and out until they knocked in a record 8 goals against Besiktas. In the UEFA also Rans' Competition Everton and Spurs enjoyed themselves and Bolton somehow drew against Bayern Munich.

In the premiership, well, nothing to unexpected much except Man City are somehow still in the top 4. And Bolton celebrate their first win under Megson- a win at Man U. Derby lost, and lost badly, continually, and eventually sack their manager.

Also out is Steve Mclaren, clearly, and Wigan sign Steve Bruce as coach from Birmingham, who upset Scotland and sign Mcleish.

Last I heard Sam Hamman and Peter Ridsdale had somehow led cardiff to the brink of administration, and, proving that evil does exist, Harry Redknapp, coach of Portsmouth and potentially of the rudderless England, is arrested on charges of corruption. And that is that. What have I missed?

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Mourinho for England?

this would clearly be a good thing. Let us look at it a moment. A successful coach. Knows the English game and players. Intelligent and media savvy. Has the sort of face that is not easy to transform into a root vegetable. And, unlike Klinsmann, he is not German. Ialso think fellow Portuguese Scolari would be a good option but he has one big disadvantage- he doesn't speak English, which would seem a prerequisite for this post.

Mourinho does have one big factor going against him. I don't think he'll be very cheap.

The Champions

Cristian Ronaldo may well look like the sort of guy you would avoid on holiday but nevermind. That goal of his last night was sublime. This got me thinking- how nice it would be if Ronaldo played for Lisbon. A player of his talent playing for his home side. Having spent some time in Argentina I can tell you that this is why it is so great to watch Boca Juniors. The connection the players have with the fans, and the sense of shared passion. Everyone is banging this drum right now, from the bloke down the pub right up to Platini and I hope the Premiership pick up on its beat. No-one really expects them to put cap foreign players, no-one really expects overnight changes, no-one really expects them to spend more money in the long run. Nearly everyone though would like to see more local lads playig for local teams. And all this will take is just a bit more investment in coaching at the grassroots level. If the big 4 start the rest will follow. And that, I promise, is the last time I mention the matter for a while. Even I am bored of it now.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

poor auld scotland

one minute you are in the realms of the improbable, winning against France, trying to trump Inguhland and make it to a final, and the next, minute your manager is hop skipping it down to Birmingham for 30K a week. In fairness to Birmingham this looks like a good move. They've offloaded Bruce to fellow strugglers Wigan, and picked up an excellent coach in the process.

Mcleish follows in Mark Hughes' footsteps here and opts for the glam of the premiership rather than the heroics of leading (or almost leading) a celtic nation to a meaningful stage of international competition. God hughes et al came close. That John Hartson chance....

I was tempted to say however how this illustrated a wider trend in the West of a greater sense of affinity with corporations, and brands, than to the values and nostalgia embodied and protected by states, but I'm afraid we will have to leave that sociophilosophic hot potato for a day when I can be bothered to think. Not sure if this is the right example of it either.

Platini has spoken

not that anyone will pay any notice in the UK- as he's french i'n't he.

He has one good point though. That while there are over 95 French and over 95 Brazilian players registered to play in the Champions League there are only 45 English players. Therefore "at the highest level" England lack choice.

As I have said before I do not suggest limiting the number foreign players, and I don't think Platini is suggesting we challenge European law either, but what this points to is a lack of coaching at the "grassroots level" in the Premiership. Not enough talent coming through. It is a case of coaching-coaching-coaching. As I have also said before. That is, is you give a fuck about these things.

great article on football and Iraq

here at the culture of soccer site

check out my comment too...

Also Iraq were drawn into their world cup qualifying group yesterday. And I wonder where they will play there home games. Indeed, if it is safe to travel there. If it is safe, and this can be demonstrated, it is real feather in the cap for the USUK. "Look at the free and democratic Iraqis playing football without a care in the world." Then again, if a bomb goes off it would be most revealing. I also wonder what the national stadium will be called?

the Bush Bowl- surely not. Tommy Franks Stadium- too no.

the Free and Now Democratic Iraqi Peoples Stadium, maybe.

The Sunni Shia Peaceable Republic Stadia.

Post Saddam Arena.

Non Secretarian Fantasy Field

the It Was Not About Oil Field

the We are not As Fucked now as we were before HONEST! stadium.

Enough of this high satire, I'm off for a ciggie...

Monday, 26 November 2007

flair play

5 points win by 3 clear goals or more, 4 points 2 clear goals, 3 points 1 clear goal, 2 points score draw, no score draw 1 point

Arsenal 41
Man U 39
Liverpool 36
Chelsea 35
Portsmouth 35
Man City 33
Blackburn 32
Everton 30
Aston Villa 30
West Ham 29
Newcastle 23
Tottenham 22
Fulham 19
Bolton 16
Midlesbrough 14
Reading 13
Sunderland 13
Wigan 12
Birmingham 10
Derby 8

In the real premiership Bolton get their first win under Megson, finally bucking the drawing habit, and Everton combine great attacking football, using routes 2,3,4, until 7 with business as usual route 1 grittiness. If they can keep that up expect great things. Derby lost against Chelsea- but that is hardly news. Man City are still top 4- so Sven Goran Eriskson's sense of vindication must be most self satisfying. The mid table is crowded, and in many ways the UEFA cups spots give everyone else something to fight for, we should be grateful for that.

Rodney Marsh and John Barnes

both on the sharp end of democracy's tedium, on the same night. How's about that for a coincidence?
In case you live on another planet, out of the UK, don't own a telly, or spend much time in front of the thought substitute box then a little explanation. John Barnes (a naturalised Jamaican best known for dazzling form on the wing for Liverpool, and less so for his country, a bit like most the current England squad) has been on Strictly Come Dancing. Reality show cum primetime light entertainment extravaganza where fading celebs shimmy in a grandiose dance off. And the public vote to keep their favourites in the show. Rodney Marsh (an Englishman best known for his bruising displays for club and country, and witless commentary) has been on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!. A rainforest themed medieval dungeon with celebrities and premium rate phone line voting. The public lost faith in both these ex-footballers simultaneously it seems. Maybe a subconscious backlash from England's European failure.
I imagine Rodney and John meeting in the grey hades like limbo between Telly and the Real World, and stopping for a chat.

"Rodney, you got voted out too!"
"That's right John- the public have spoken."
"You look thirsty after being in the jungle Rodney. Would you like some isotonic lucozade- it gets rid of your thirst. FAST."
"thanks John. I'd forgotten that existed. Its weird here in limbo innit?"

All a bit Beckett meets the 3am girls this.

I'm off for a coffee...

Thursday, 22 November 2007

I feel prophetic, although Mclaren's sacking

is hardly a surprise.

As I sat down with a pasta bake to watch the match last night the writing on the wall began to loom larger and larger. "England to Play in a 4-5-1" I heard. Bad, I thought, but not terrible. "England always play better in 4-4-2" I told my girlfriend. Hang on- Mclaren was then on telly saying "we are playing in a 4-3-3". What were these mysteries? Joe Cole upfront, a wingforwardkindathing. And Shaun Wright Philips too.
Then came Steven Gerrard's interview "the formation is just pre -match gossip" he declared. I was stunned. It seems tactics is something Team England don't talk about. Or formations. Just the media. He then went on to add, somewhat contradictorily. "we are really confident playing in our new formation we've been practicing it for a ages, well, a couple of days." But what formation was it? As it turned out it was a 4-5-1 becoming 4-3-3, described today as a 4-1-4-1 in today's papers, which, with the wing backs charging forward was a 2-7-1 at times last night. When it resembled anything at all. Usually the team reverted to picking the ball up just over the halfway line and trying to bang it in long to Crouch. It was the worst I have ever seen England play, ever. Even worse than the "just hit it long for Big Les" misfits of the Graham Taylor epoch. Ineffective up front, disorganised at the back, confused in midfield. A tasty looking Croatia dined on them in the rain.

Mclaren for his efforts gets a 2.5 million pay off to fuck off. Nice.

Wales however did really well. 0-0 against Germany. good one boys.

All the home nations and Ireland are left with the dilemma now of who to cheer on come the championships. I think I will plumb for Sweden, Spain, and Holland. Well, why not?

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Freddie Shepherd is poised

to take over another football club, so my sources tell me. Shepherd was the manager of the oft professed "big club" Newcastle Utd, and after selling his megasized portion of the team for 37,000,000 english sterlings he is now on the look out for another club to buy. As Shepherd himself freely admits he hates "soft southern twats that talk posh like and sound like a bunch of benders" and will therefore be zoning his sights in on another club to the north of Nottingham. Shepherd himself has never ventured south. It seems that not only do Southerners talk funny, "but don't put gravy on their chips" either. "I can't stand it down there." added Shepherd. "Its too hot." Leeds, Bolton, and Derby therefore, are all on Shepherd's hit list. As most the people that live around there pronounce bath 'baath' instead of 'barth'.
If I were a Leeds fan Shepherd's interest would bother me. Shepherd is something of a tabloid favourite, and not just because he fills the fat and northern stereotype role. Also because of his penchant for brothels and brashness. By brash I mean rude. Tact has never been his strong point. "I wanted to fire him while he could still remember my name" he famously may as well have said after sacking an ageing, though still iconic, Bobby Robson in 2004. "But I don't want to be remembered as the guy that shot Bambi." Being controversial does not exclude you from being an able chairman however. And in fairness Shepherd did make money for Newcastle, in excess of 8,000,000 english sterlings during his tenure, albeit that this is 4.5 times less profit than his predecessor Hall. What makes him unqualified to take over a club like Leeds however is that he has no experience running things on a tight budget. Splashing out an average of 10,000,000 english sterlings pounds a season on new players. And as chairman of the geordie cash cow he has always been able to spend his club further from trouble when needs be. Attracting big names like Shearer, Owen, and, well, um, Hugo Viana. With Leeds still shuddering at the Ridsdale effect Shepherd is the last thing they need. Without the gate receipts of one of the world's most ardently supported clubs to fall back on god knows what Shepherd would be capable of. Apart from isolating his fan base, something he has done with startling regularity at Newcastle. Either way, expect him to buy Bolton cheap if they go down this season.

Monday, 19 November 2007

would you trust this man?

Would you sleep with this man? He looks like he might need to revert to rape. Meet Aresenal's latest big shareholder.

After one nation socialism was rolled back in the USSR a generation of KGB affiliated robber barons helped privatise the bits of the Russian economy that were still delivering. Thus denying vast swathes of the Russian populace of taxation revenue, and making the Forbes list practically overnight. While we in the west would commonly refer to this as being a gangster, a more popular euphemism as far as Russia is concerned, especially because of the huge potential for business with western banks, is progressive. Just ask Condoleeza Rice.

Since harbouring lofty political ambitions is a rather risky aspiraton in Russia these days (it always has been, actually) the best bet for multi-billionaires is to get the hell out of Russia and find somewhere safe to hide their embezzeled millions. If football had been then as it is now Al Capone could have ended his days with the terraces of say, Loftus Lane, singing his name, rather than watching re-runs of Ice Station Zebra in Alacatraz. How different would the world have been then? We would never have had Brian De Palma's Untouchables. Sean Connery might never have won an oscar. Kevin Costner might never have made the big time.

Welcome to the premiership Mr Usmanov.

is it unfair to notice the likenss between

Mark Hughes and that Tobin bloke?
Probably bad taste too. Nevermind.

So- who still thinks Steve Mclaren should be sacked if InGERland win, even draw, on Saturday? What is the sound of sports writers backpeddling?

For my part I can only echo mark Lawrenson in saying that England managers should only be given 2 year tournament to tournament rolling contracts from now on.

Mclaren also gave me a horrible mental image in his post Israel match interview "I'd just slipped off to the toilet when I heard my boys cheering".

My immediate quesiton to that would have benn "What was it steve, number 1 or number 2? Or were you trying to hold back stress related vomit with your head in the bowl?"

The image of Steve Mclaren pissing is bad. The image of him shitting unbearable.

Enough, for now, of this schoolboy humour. I'm off to make paper aeroplanes and twang my ruler as if it were a catapult.

Friday, 16 November 2007


Ok- I think I finally fathomed it all out. How to synthesise the idea of flair and the problems of cash in the game.

The problem lies not with the structure or the management of the game, but with the game itself. I propose therefore that the game should be played according to Kropotkin's ideas of mutual aid.

As many players as is comfortably possible take to the pitch. Instead of participating in an anachronistic game based on the tentets of unresolved superiority the players will instead endeavour to co-operate as much as possible with flash passing and solid technique. The idea being to score as many beautiful goals as possible. As there are no sides the value attributed to the goals, decided by loose freeformed committee of those involved with the game, will be evenly shared between all. Eventually, with the passing of time, the idea of goals themselves, as representatives of competition, will wither away, as will the boundaries of the pitch, and the time constraints of the game itself. Games will last where, and when, the players choose. There will be no division between spectators and players. Tournament, kick around, and practice, will all be as one. There will be no league.

Of course many people will hanker nostalgically for the game of yore. For the cut and thrust and end to end nature of football. In order to catharsise the demons of competition and capitalism the reactionaries will therefore form a Sealed Knot style football re-enactment society. Games like Germany 1 England 5 will be played out as truthfully as possible- with some participants taking the role of players, and the less skillful acting out the role of the crowd. After the games, as a testimony to society's rejections of its old values, effigies of Roman Abramovic, and Sepp Blatter, and David Beckham, will be burnt.

This last bit, in particular, sounds like good fun. Not sure if Kropotkin would approve though.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

proposals for the game:

This week Gordon Brown had discussions with the Premiership regarding the state of the UK game. I was tempted to say Gordon Brown ‘waded into discussions’ but haven’t because this makes football sound like a pub brawl. And it isn’t. Presumably he wants to ensure that “BRITISH players play for BRITISH teams in a successful, and globally competitive, BRITAIN”. Or something like that. Who can blame him. He’s the Prime Minister. It is his job, as he sees it, to crank up the populist rhetoric. I do wish Gordon Brown would stop shouting words like BRITAIN and BRITISH though, as it makes me feel edgy. Like Oswald Mosey’s heavy mob could come bursting into the flat at any moment and start demanding that my girlfriend jumps on the fist plane back to South America.

Gordon Brown is on safe territory as a football friendly PM. Football being Europe’s social cement and everything. If, as I suspect, the national team starts performing better, which it has to sometime, and premiership teams devise better youth and coaching programmes, which they should do anyway, then he can claim part of the credit and his reputation will be swept up in the sense of glory and mild euphoria that flows from successful sporting enterprises. If, on the other hand, nothing much happens, well, at least it looks as if he tried.

Politicians of course love sport, it connects them to the so called common man and aggrandises them simultaneously. Sportsmen and managers love politicians too, because, ultimately, politicians allocate funding, and set tax friendly laws for rich people, and sport always requires either one or the other. So while the Premiership may say that it is apolitical and does not welcome meddling from politicians, and would prefer to self regulate, expect at the very least a bit of two way lip service from both parties as football’s role as a highly entertaining thought-stultifyer of the masses carries on unabated.

Ideologically it would probably be better for us if football went back to being the national pastime rather than the national obsession. If it were a diverting amateur pursuit that eased regional and national tensions rather than a mega-global entertainment industry. Then of course the tax revenue from the game would diminish and the treasury would be poorer, the standards of the game would slip, and the national prestige and social cohesion arising from all this would slip too. We would finally have our priorities right however. As this is never going to happen though let us look at things as they are a bit closer.

Paul Parker, I could just about remember him, was on the record saying nasty things about overpaid foreigners today How the Premiership is not the best league in the world, just the best paid one. If you extrapolate any racistish sentiment from his comments he has point. If you want football to operate in what is, rightly or wrongly, identified as the national interest, as opposed to the interests of the filthy rich corporations that embody it, then there should be structural changes.

Let’s float a few speculative proposed changes and ideas into the box then. Sorry for the heavy handed haphazard metaphor there. Unforgivable.

1) Teams to take a more active role in community coaching. For the FA to pay for professional coaches, and ex-players, to work alongside school and local youth teams. Not as a one off, but regularly, week in, week out.

2) For all European club youth teams to consist of a large majority of national players, and, if they wish to recruit from abroad, to properly pay back the system that grew the talent. Effectively contributing to the game abroad, rather than just signing the cream of the crop. The same incidentally should apply in other industries. If the NHS benefits from recruiting foreign nurses they should pay back the third world states who have paid for their education.

3) Any proposals for limits on foreign players to be outlawed and the basis that they are silly, and illegal.


4) For all European teams to put a limit on transfer fees and wages. No-one, know matter how clever there feet and short the career, deserves to earn more than £50,000 a week. This would calm the transfer market, and increase interest in recruiting homegorwn talent… I’m open to being given a convincing moral reason why anyone should be allowed earn more than 50K a week. But I suspect that it does not exist.

OK- let’s see how we get on with those for now. But one last thing- should England qualify all this talk of improving the game will fade away, and in a few weeks we will be told how the game is in its rudest ever health, thanks to the money in the game.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007


The curse of Ridsdale stikes again.

"A High Court hearing scheduled for next week that could determine the future of Cardiff City has been postponed until next month. The Swiss investment bank Langston is seeking £24m it claims it is owed by the club as part of a deal struck when Peter Ridsdale took over from Sam Hammam. Although Hammam has regularly acted as Langston's "intermediary", he refuses to confirm whether he has a formal connection. Langston has applied for a summary judgment which, if successful, would tip the club into administration, but Ridsdale is privately confident the club will succeed when the case is heard in early December."

The guy's record is a nightmare. Leeds Meltdown. Barnsley Meltdown. Cardiff Meltdown. His record for financial incompetence is as certain as Ken Bates' for financial impropierty. What I love is the statement "Ridsdale is privately confident" , I am sure he was privately supremely confident that Leeds' debt would not spiral to £103 million too.


Was chatting with a friend of mine yesterday regards the concept of the flair play league. He thought goals should be worth two points if they were scored from outside of the D, sorry!, area. Great, I thought, more so called 'speculative' efforts from outside of the box then. After this I watched the news for a bit- with all this Burmese struggle for democracy, and Middle Eastern instability, I thought it was high time for bit of Dragons' Den, followed by Gordon Ramsey, followed by the end of IACGMOOH. I synthesised a temporary version of reality that was somewhere between all these intolerable horrors. Then I slept.

Right, where were we? That's right. Football. After lots of careful thinking on the subject of moneyca$h in the game and foreign players I have finally reached the decision on which I base my awesome opinion. Caps, quotas, grassroots investments, all well and good, or even less so. But, you know, like, fuckit, why not just sit back and let it all happen, and let them all get rich. Really, fucking, rich. They are footballers, they are the men who run football, they must deserve it.

A bit later on, once I've finished the filing, and pant kicked this apathy into touch, I'll come back and let you know all about other revolutionary ideas that will shape modern football.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Flare Play/Flair Play league

See orignal article here For the uninitiated- WIN BY 3 CLEAR GOALS=5, 2 CLEAR GOALS=4 1 CLEAR GOAL =3, SCORE DRAW=2 NON SCORE DRAW=1.

In the realife premiershp this week- Chelsea fans must have had a pang for the Special One following a 1-1 with Everton who are still having a love affair with Cahill, Sven Goran Erikson concretes his defensive paranoia after being whooped by Chelsea, and Villa fluke it passed Birmingham proving that there is no substitute for bad luck. Unforutunately for Steve Bruce Birmingham are nowhere near the to good to go down catergory. Arguably Bolton are, and their veneer of respectablity under Gary Megson continues. Poor wretched Derby have problems at the back, problems at the front, and aren't too good at holding midfiled possession either. They continue to look a class below the rest ;-(. Spurs were unlucky not to win 8-0 aginst Wigan.

In my invented league it all looks like this...

Man U 39
Arsenal 37
Chelsea 31
Liverpool 31
Portsmouth 31
Man City 30
Blackburn 30
West Ham 27
Everton 25
Aston Villa 25
Newcastle 23
Tottenham 20
Fulham 17
Midlesbrough 14
Reading 13
Sunderland 13
Bolton 13
Wigan 12
Birmingham 10
Derby 8

Friday, 9 November 2007

The Women's Game and Homosexuality

I went to see England's women play a few years back. Against Germany at Selhurst Park. It was good fun, a sunny day, we went to Witherspoons before thematch, and lots of kids were there cheering. The tickets were cheap.

Unfortunately Enguhland lost, but you can't have it all. It won't be the last time England lose to Germany. After the game my flatmate (hi Andy *waves*) said "the problem with the women's game is that they only ever score scrappy goals." Which while there is an element of truth to it is rather harsh I feel. All this got me thinking about why the women's game is so much less popular than the men's.

The women's game is still developing, as every pundit always says. This is not to say that women can't play, or even that they are unskillful. Far from it. But rather that watching women play football is not yet impressed on the psyche. We have been watching men play football, and getting all boisterous about it, for generations. You could even go as far as to say that watching men play football is a huge release of repressed gay energy. I have no evidence of this other than basing it on something Freud wrote, and I am sure the claim would be fervourently denied by the majority of supporters. But there you go. By this logic supporting the women's game, by men supporters, would all be about releasing pent up straight energy, only that heterosexulaity is generally not repressed in our culture (or any culture except maybe the Spartans) , in fact it is actively encouraged. And since women's football is all about skill and tactics, not lap dancing, there are other better ways to cum into your socks if you are repressed, like porn or polegirating.

The suggestion of Sepp Blatter, a few years back, that women should play in bikinis is not really helpful. And not to be taken seriously. The best bet for the game to enter into public consciousness would be more time on TV, and, for school kids to play the game together. Unisex games up until the age of 12. That way we would get used to watching women play from a young age. The men's and women's world cups could be held simultaneously. With the women starting the week before, and the knockouts being held on the off days. This would place the game on the same cultural parallel.

So, in defence of the women's game, I think it is a welcome development, and nothing hinders our enjoyment of it other than in-built cultural prejudice. Or, more debatedly, that all men fans are secretly gay and just like watching the boys. ...

Vote on the poll over there >>>>>>>>

Mclaren to be sacked!

Probably. Apparently the FA will meet up on November 22nd for an emergency meeting, and thrash out the details of his severance package then. Probably.

In defence of his boss used car salesman Terry Venables said "If the FA is convinced it has someone better who will instantly transform us into World Cup winners then fine, but it must make sure it comes to a decision for the right reasons not just because it seems right at one particular moment. "

I agree. A decision of this magnitude should not be based on one particular moment. It should be based on a range of factors. Losing to Russia is one. Losing to Croatia is another. Drawing with Macedonia is yet another. Failing to qualify is an important one, should, as I suspect, it comes to that. The fact that he was always a lousy candidate for the job in the first place should really be taken into account too.

Enguhland may have under-achieved under Sven, Keegan, and Venables, but at least they had a major competition to actually under achieve in.

Guess the headlines game!

OK- I haven't read the sports' headlines today. I'm guessing though that somewhere you will have something along the lines of Toffees Win Nuremberg Trial. *google searches*.... ah- here we go "BLUES WIN NUREMBURG EUROTRAIL EURO TRIAL.

I get 1 point.

To the next round...

My guess for Spurs: Winning in the Holy Juande Land
And Google says: 1474: Accompanying Don Juan de Gusman, Pêro returns to Portugal. .... sees the conquest of Muslim Africa as a means of winning back the Holy Land. ...

Nothing for me there then, so far just the 1 point.

Last go.

My guess for Bolton: Bolt From the Brink
And google says: Bolt on superlens gives microscope nanoscale vision tech 22

As someone who has followed them with morbid fascination this season I was pleased to see Bolton pull out a draw against Bayern Munich. It seems Gary Megson has developed a habit of drawing, which, to put in context, is better than developing a habit of losing, but not as good as developing a habit of winning. And how about that for a bit of original sports' analysis!

At least though I can predict 1 in 3 headlines correctly. That is better than Nostradamus.

Thursday, 8 November 2007


I have my 'first exchange' link interweb social protocol agreement/non-binding contract. I've been tapping up other interesting football sites. This is good, as a few external extra links here will mean I feel less like I am SHOUTING INTO THE SPACE INHABITED BY MY EGO, and Jason (see comments), and a few others, sometimes. Apparently this means I will also have "authority" on technorati too. Then, who knows, maybe notablity on wikiepedia. I've also added a link to the Guardian, as a gesture towards stating thte fucking obvious.

Talking of SHOUTING and EGO Alex Ferguson's Man Utd had a great result last night. As a monkey high up European Football's evolutionary tree this is just what you would expect. Arsenal had a lesser night. All part of the buddhist cycle I guess. Proving of course what a useful thing a Sporting Almanac Of The Future would be, like biff got in back To the Future 2/3(?). Ninguna persona would have predicted a 0-0 between Arsenal and Sparta Prague after the 7-0 rout of their previous encounter, not without prior knowledge. Or considering Arsenal made 8 changes to their squad (almost changing the entire squad) could they be accused of pulling a 4th round Carling Cup can't be fucked/doing a Davydenko?

GASP- you read it here first!


Good article on Steve Mclaren here

My comments on it are- The fact that Steve Mclaren was evidently never up to the job has nothing whatsoever to do with his ginger hair. The same can be said for Gary Megson at Bolton. If ever there was a man whose reputation outweighed his actual achievements (midtable obscurity and one, wow, Carling Cup) it is Mclaren.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Contrasts/opposites/ying and yang

Chelsea and Liverpool. Liverpool are to Chelsea's 0 goals last night what Chelsea's 0 goals are to Liverpool's 8. What?! What is the sound of one hand clapping again?

Forget politics. These results tell us how long a week is in football. On Saturday Liverpool where "in the midsts of at least a mini crisis" and Avram Grant was 'beginning to make Chelsea play again' (as if Chelsea had ever stopped playing!) Now it is all change. Surely Roman Abramovic has had words. "I don't want to see that again Avram. Not 0-0. Never again. Never in Europe. Do we understand each other?" In fact I am sure Roman Abramovic has unusual features in his house/mansion/palace in volcano crater. Features like a pits of sharks and piranhas, trapdoors, and diamond cutting laser beams.

But to speculate in the non-fantastical for a moment. Will Liverpool reach the next round. They have been here before of course, needing to win there last three games to qualify for the knockout stages. They duly won all three of them, and went on to win the tournament. History then, tells us that Liverpool will be fine. Especially with an 8-0 wind in your sails and just two more wins to go. But then history can tell you nearly anything you want it to if you look hard enough at it for long enough.

Recommended Read

OK- I haven't actually read this, but since a friend's brother wrote it I said I would plug it. With that said I am going to read it. It sounds good, in that jumpers for goalposts kind of way.

"stuck for a xmas present for that football loving relative? why not buy my brother's brand new book 'from sheffield with love'?released to tie in with the current 150th birthday celebrations of the world's oldest football club sheffield fc, it's a rollicking romp through the growth of football in victorian times, facsinating and irreverent, charting the development of association rules and its birth in the english public schools and sheffield factories.*every page is packed with at least one potential football quiz gem.
cheapest place to order it is from (free p&p).'from sheffield with love' by brendan murphypublished by sports books. £8.99
go on!

* the works team of the factory where our dad worked and where me and brendan worked in summer holidays once reached the fa cup quarter finals, losing to west brom. while wearing long johns and caps. crikey!"

Monday, 5 November 2007

Also correcting the BBc (again!)

Non football related this one. As I was reading the BBC website the other day I noticed that they branded the Uruguayan Tupumaros as a "violent Marxist" group. This is erroneous. So I sent the Beeb this letter. "I was reading your country profile on Uruguay. Generally speaking it is a good overview. I must object however to the description of the Tupumaros as "violent". The Tupumaros were famously non-violent, although they did perpetrate illegal and unlawful acts. The British ambassador Geoffrey Jackson, kidnapped by the organisation, is a sound witness as to their non-violence. Perhaps the phrase "unlawful Marxist" would be be better. I think when discussing these matters it is important to distinguish between revolutionary organisations that use violence against the general population and those that don't (even though they may commit crimes in the name of their cause). If we fail to make this distinction we end-up branding all radical groups as "terrorists" and risk justifying the unjustifiable and disproportionate. This is of particular importance when writing about Latin American history. " The website now reads "urban Marxist". Which should well be down to my letter, I think/hope. As director generals have resigned over lesser erors obviously offending the queen is more important than accurately describing Latin American history. Of course "urban" does not really mean anything in this instance. It is a geographical term not a sociological term. Even if it conjures up borderline legal/shadowy activity. Or groups of kids in Dalston litening to to MOBO award nominees. There is also no information on the tupumaros activities either- how they used to rob banks and give money to the poor, rather like Robin Hood. Imagine for example if the Merry men were described as a "rural anarchist group", when we all know they are folk heroes. Notions of neutrality and objectivity depend on context and ideological convenience, so it seems. Hamas for example "are described as a terrorist organisation by the US, EU, and Israel." The Israeli government is not. Despite the fact that both kill civilians in the course of military operations. Traditionally this was down to the fact that the Israeli government is legitimately elected, but since Hamas were given a democratic mandate by the Palestianians the distinction remains. This confirms what we already know. What constitutes terrorism is dependent on the ideological and tactical concerns of those in power. Semantics are important. The West, and its allies, are engaged in a War On Terror. Yet what this means is woefully loose. The plurality that makes up the mass mind falls into line, or at least silence, behind the definition. The electorate are left dumb as to the real military objectives of the foreign policies they are responsible for franchising. The media, our representaives of free speech, limit our capacity for independent thought through "good journalistic practice". To quote Ian Hislop, who I have always secretly thought was a thoroughly good fucker- "if this is democracy then I'm a banana."

Flare/Flair Pay League Update

See orignal article here

The biggest difference here is that Man Utd are top, after a couple of more emphatic results earlier in the season. Despite scoring more goals overall Arsenal need a big win or two to close the gap. Judging by Alex Ferguson's reaction this weekend I am sure he believes his team should be top. Don't worry Alex, in the world of footballisnotmygod you have a two point cushion.


Man U 35
Arsenal 33
Blackburn 30
Portsmouth 29
Man City 29
Chelsea 29
Liverpool 27
Everton 23
Aston Villa 22
West Ham 22
Newcastle 21
Fulham 17
Tottenham 15
Midlesbrough 13
Reading 13
Wigan 12
Sunderland 12
Bolton 12
Birmingham 10
Derby 8

Friday, 2 November 2007

Minister Sutcliffe defends his position

Gerry Sutcliffe today defended yesterday's comments made against footballers wages, and ticket prices,,2203910,00.html, saying "I am a government minister, one of the most powerful men in the country, I was dining with saudi princes just this week, all at the taxpayers expense, and not even I can earn the kind of cash John Terry can. It is outrageous. A politician in his pomp is nothing compared to a footballer. A nurse is to a politicain what a politician is to a footballer. He almost earns more in a week than I claim a year in expenses (£148,111). The difference is close to what we pay a year to teachers. How is that fair?" He then went on "Thinking about it it probably was silly that I made these comments at all. I mean, although what I am saying is true it is obvious that the tabloids are going to jump all over my back about this one. The singling out of John Terry was an error. The guy is England captain, a national hero. If I had said instead that footballers earn too much money, and not cited John Terry as an example, everyone would probably have agreed with me. At least now though I got my name into the papers. Everyone knows who I am now. No-one gave a flying fuck before."

(source not given)

One last thing. Is it just me or does anyone else think that John Terry has a passing resemblance to the child catcher in chitty chitty bang bang?

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Last night

rather than tuck myself up, with the works of Robert Frost, to read about the Triple Godess, the blessed mooncrone, my girlfriend and I watched the National Television Awards instead. The only thing that got read was teletext, when I checked the Carling Cup scores. First, as this is a football blog, let me give you the lowdown in typical News In Brief Style.

...Everton last night scraped through to the last eight of the Carling Cup after a hard fought win over League 1 Luton. Despite making all the running the Toffees were unable to break a down a dogged and determined Luton defence until Tim Cahill, still returning from injury, converted Thomas Gravesen's extra time corner for a late winner. The win ensures Everton will play one of their Premiership rivals in the next round...

Enough of that. If you want more I suggest you head elsewhere. Now, the NTA awards!

The biggest shock of the night was Ant and Dec winning the the Best Presenter Award, despite the fact that they are clearly two people. Surely the award they should have won was the Best Presenters' Award. They obviously enjoy a a relationship of symbiotic dependency to such an extent that they are no longer seen as one person. Their consciousnesses merging into one sentiency, Burroughsesque, the one fading to insignificance without the other. Every time I see Ant and Dec I am unable to forget the image of Duncan from Byker Grove (played by one of them, Dec, I think) being brainwashed by a Tai Chi instructor. Maybe this layed the spiritual groundwork for his later soul convergence with Ant/PJ.

Trevor Mcdonald, hosting the affair, revealed a hitherto concealed lightness of touch. He deserted his sombre catastrophe announing sobriety for an all togehter more open and approachable style . He even gave the audience a cheeky wink at one point, when talking about the news at 10 being back in the New Year. This switch to panache light was a bit disconcerting. Like John Motson suddenly revealing a hidden talent as a childrens' entertainer.

Eastenders won best soap. Their new producer mumbled incoherently in the background to Dot while stumbling around like an overgrown toff. He looked thoroughly flumoxxed by the whole hoo-ha.


Back to the football however: teletext reported on Bolton's match by writing "Gary Megson enjoyed his first defeat as Bolton manager" Like he was some kind of maschocist who contrived to lose whenever he could. Looking at this record that would explain a lot.

There was no giant killing in the cup last night, although the Foxes and Luton both came close. But then, even if a smaller club does somehow manage to invert the form book, it is a case of winning the battle and not the war. There are always giants. Not just in football too, in all of life. Any Iraqi can tell you that.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Tip for the Carling Cup

Luton has a nice airport. Handy for cheap flights to Spain. Other than that it is a boring, horrid, town. Too far away from London to be cool. Too close to benefit from being out of it. It is a dreary suburban netherworld where tossers live. No wonder then that they are hoping for a good run in the Carling Cup. The second most pointless competition in domestic football, after the vase.

Everton's cup form is very dicey too. The attritional style football lends itself well to beleaguering league campaigns but less well to the cut and thrust of cup competition. Added to that Everton are also in the UEFA Also Rans and so a trifront campaign might well be beyond the limits of what is still quite a small squad. Luton are also playing at home. 1-0 to Luton after a dull hardfought borefest is the prediction. I am being a bit harsh on Everton here. Hiding my passion for them behind cynicism. Mcfadden is a flair player, and he is flickering encouragingly. Arteta is positively shining. Tim Cahill is back too.

This prediciton of course covers me emotionally for all eventualities. If Everton win I am happy. If Everton lose I am still happy as I am proved to be right. Peter Cook used to employ a similar logic betting against Spurs everytime they played.

The Carling Cup of course is part of a great tradition in football sponsorship in as much as it is sponsered by a brand that has nothing whatsoever to do with the idea of excercise. Mcdonalds, Playstation, and Coca Cola form the rest of the canon. While associating with the vitality, heroism, and excitement, that is football, these brands want nothing more than than for you to grow fat and old and broke having spent all your money on junk food and wasted your life sat in front of the idiot box. Well, I call that wasting, others of you might call it coping. Others yet might call it enjoying the trappings of modern Britain.

Before you all rush off to William Hills and stump up a proportion of your hard earned salary/unemployment benefits on a Luton win remember two things. Luton are 49 places below Everton in league placings. And the last time the two teams met Everton won 4-0.

HYPOCRISY ALERT: I might be carrying adverts for coco-cola by this time next week ;-)

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Brazil to host the World Cup

Coming as it did from a shortlist of 1 this is not the most unexpected story of the decade. Even the week. But things being certain there will be caipirianah, beach, and bikinis a plenty, come 2014. Tudo bem! Let the overfinacing of new football stadiums begin. Let the cleansing of the slums commence. If the Brits think redeveloping Hackney for the Olympics is costly just imagine applying the same principles to Rio. If we thought the new Wembley stadium deal was a bit dodge just imagine how much money will be skimmed off the top in the world's second capital of corruption? As many Latinos will tell you, 'all politicians are corrupt'.

Project developers and bankers active in the region are no doubt already smacking their lips at the juicy backhanders, and price inflations, on offer.

Wise career gamblers of course have probably already placed a bet for Brazil to win el mundial 2014 outright. With them being the 5 times world champions at home it seems worth a punt.

Monday, 29 October 2007

the Ipswich phenonema

One minute you're singing "we are the tractor boys", or something inane like that, and pulling one over Milan in the UEFA cup, then before you know it you are staring the championship playoffs right in the face. Bolton could well prove to be this year's Ipswich.

There are two crucial differences of course. The first taking the sullen, sulky, profile of Nicholas Anelka. Ipswich were not blessed with an embarresment of riches up front. But if Anelka turns out and plays week in week out, and "does what everybody knows he can do" then things might not appear so bleak after all.

On the other hand the second difference is the coach. Ipswich were guided by the reliable, occaisonally brilliant, George Burley, Bolton are lumped with Gary Megson. Megson's problem is not that he's a "ginger headed twat". That is just gingerist prejudice. It is more that, statistically, he only wins roughly 2 out of every 3 games. Reduce that by half for the premiership. That makes Bolton relegation fodder, or thereabouts, after the start they have had to the season. Given this record it seems that lots of Bolton's hopes rest with Nicolas Anelka this season.

The other big difference between the two teams, that will have no bearing on where they finish this season, is that Ipswich in their day attracted lots of neutral support. They are rural, and little, and nice, and play 'good' football. They even won the fair play league. Only Norwich saw fit to hate them. None of these could be accurately levelled at Bolton.

Ugh! while typing this just imagined Delia Smith and Sam Allardyce in the sack. I need to go and bleach my brain now.

Flair/Flare Play League Update:


Man U 33
Arsenal 31
Blackburn 29
Man City 26
Liverpool 26
Chelsea 25
Portsmouth 24
Newcastle 21
West Ham 20
Everton 19
Aston Villa 18
Tottenham 13
Fulham 13
Reading 13
Wigan 12
Sunderland 12
Midlesbrough 11
Bolton 11
Birmingham 10
Derby 8

In this sorry excuse for a world football seems more trivial than ever. It must be worse for Derby fans though.

Friday, 26 October 2007

What do Jurgen Klinsmann, Paul Gasgoine, and

Dean Perret all have in common? That's right. They are all Spurs signings. They all cost 2 million too. Martin Jol signed the latter.

Now I don't follow Spurs, I don't even follow football properly. So Perret could be turning out to be this season's revelation for all I know. But maybe here we have the architectural seeds of the reasons behind Jol's downfall. Spurs have not bought at all well as of late.

A diverting curry

While I am sure all none Everton fans would be thrilled to read a protracted match report on last night's Also Ran cup I will instead tell you all about the curry I cooked.

It turned out to be a slightly acidic madras/methi. Prepare the sauce as follows:
1/2 tsp of fenugreek seeds
about 10 split cardamon seeds
2 tbsp of madras mild curry powder
2 tbsp of paprika
ginger shavings
a touch of grated nutmeg
1 clove of garlic (could put more)
black pepper
1 chopped onion
1 large sliced carrot
3 chicken thighs
800ml of homemade chicken stock

Quite tasty it was too. I am sure however that curry chefs would snigger at this blatantly amateur effort. But over the course of time the recipe will be corrected and perfected. Any curry tips greatly appreciated.

Meanwhile Everton won 3-1 . The second half was exciting. Anichebe scored. Despite having a tricky foreign sounding name the Channel 5 commentators didn't call him Anchovy this time.

But just how meaningless is the UEFA Also Ran's Cup? (e.g. 3rd round tie: Reykavik Ladies vs Interpunk Bucharest), Yet, while it is regularly jeered and derided I note how few English Teams have won it over recent years, and not for lack of trying either. I recall how some idiots said "look how well Middesbrough are doing in the UEFA, of course Steve Mclaren is ready." If Mclaren could not even lead his team to glory in UEFA how was he ever ready for England? Surely a prequesite for international coaching should be that you must actually have won something, anything, at domestic level (apart from the Carling Cup). Hang on a sec...

Unable to organise my thoughts and say anything meaningfull about meaningless, relative meaningless, or the meanigfulness of meaninglesness, what we'll call the meaningfulality scale, I will instead end this piece with a heavy handed, haphazard, comparison. The UEFA Also Ran's Cup is Brighton Pier to the Champion's League Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The pleasure beach has the highest rollercoaster in Europe you know.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

When England are playing well:

when England are disappointing: en-guh-land.

For my part I only ever support England once Wales have been knocked out of the major tournaments i.e.always by the start of the the tournament proper. This means I miss out on the plunging all consuming lows that reach most international supporters. The closest I have ever come to it was when Wales were knocked out by Russia in the play-offs a couple of years back. Knocked out by Russia. There could be a mini-trend developing here.

Of course I support England and Wales jointly in the cricket as they have the same team, and only ever support Wales in the rugby. This is because English rugby players strike me as insufferable gits, and the Welsh are mostly all good comprehensive school lads, like myself.

What does all this prove? Other than that I am a bit of bi-partisan cunt. That nationality is a movable feast of course, like political or sexual persuasion. Oddly enough nationality is more flexible than team loyalty. While no-one really minds if I'm supporting England or Wales, or perversely both, or even if I become Uruguayan. But if I were to switch alliegances from Everton to say, Man U, that would mark me out as some kind of weird traitor.

Amazingly these kind of things do happen. I once met a lifelong Millwall fan who swapped sides. To Chelsea. "Millwall" he said, "were too boring." And that they were "painful to watch". Everyone he made the mistake of telling about this were aghast. General concensus was that if someone stuck his head on a pole in tower bridge it would be no bad thing (he was not just a footballing turncoat but also worked in IT). Knowing Millwall fans maybe someone already has.

John Barnes

John Barnes' run on Strictly Come Dancing will mirror that of his Enguhland career. Lots of promise, two good feet, but ultimate disappointment after flattery to deceive.


Striclty Come Dancing has much in common with football of course. Mincing primadonnas vaunting in fame's misdirected spotlight. Both ballroom dancing and football are the social cement that glue us in our mundane shaped cages. That said both are more compelling than a car crash. A beautiful car crash. The beautiful game.

The big 4

If you keep the Shift key pressed down when typing that phrase you get "THE BIG $". Co-incidence?

I am not believer in the myth of the big 4. Not a fundamentalist believer anyway. There was a time not long ago when Everton and Spurs boasted elite gold card membership to the big 5 (or BIG%). Then Arsenal were inpenetrable, then it was never, shortly after the deification of Alex Ferguson, that anyone could ever challenge the supremacy of the big 2 (BIG"). Then Liverpool won a unique (not meaningless, surely) quadruple .

Finally Roman Abramovic arrived with his literally billions and everyone predicted a thousand year reich at Chelsea.

Now, a good way into the season, we have Man City in there mixing it at the top. We will have to wait until the end of the season of course but remember that not too long ago Everton did the same, before predictable annilihation in Europe. (I am not going to mention Leeds, out of respect for those that have passed away).

This is not to say that the big 4 are not better than the other premiership teams at the moment. Over the course of the season they take more points off each other, and throw away less against the lessergods. It is just that they are not as untouchable as is made out. The big 4 will not be the big 4 forever. This period of dominance will last for probably just a few more seasons. Admittedly a few seaons is a long time in football years. It is an era.

This myth of big 4 omnipotence is the fault of sports commentators and pundits. The narrative dictates of sport require that you need elites, underdogs, plucky contenders, and also rans. Hovering around like cliches in archetypal fashion. Womens' tennis is a great example of this. Graf and Navaratolova were invincilbe, who the fuck was Zina Garrison though, or that weepy Novotna. Seles was all set to dominate forever, oh no, we actually mean that little swiss miss Hingis, we mean the Williams sisters and Davenport are too strong, no we mean THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! oh. Robust competitivivty is simply not as interesting a concept as elites vs the rest. It removes the notions of triumph and dominance that make sporting stories pull at our primeval heart strings. To a point.

There are actually elites in sport. This is most apparent in the gap between the Premiership and the lower leagues. Earnings being the most telling example. The law of the market dictates that this creates a gulf in terms of quality.

So to see it in a biblical sense, returning briefly to my theme of fundamentalism.
Money begets earnings, earnings beget quality, quality begets elites, elites beget sporting narrative. A narrative which, by the way, everyone says they are bored with. As we want the teams in lower leagues to have a chance to make it all the way to the top, for Port Vale to pull one over Man U, or for Grimsby or Stoke to give a hiding to the Gunners. For Leeds to make it back into the Premiership. Fairytale land innit? The current Premier league financing system just doesn't permit it. (Well, maybe Leeds' wish might just come true).

The only way to bring about a change of this magnitude would be to radically redistribute football's wealth. For all the teams, across all leagues, to take an even percentage of the premiership pot. And European earnings. Let me just say that this is never going to happen. Although we might eventaully see a little more cash flow the way of the Championship, to even things out a little.

Staying in the realms of the fantastical though. What would happen if football added a more, uh, Marxist style of wealth redistribution. Undoubtedly there would be more grassroots investment, more homegrown talent and homespun support as a result of the inevitable dip in foreign transfer fees. We would see an awful lot less of lazy milionaire footaballers. That phrase really should be an oxymoron if it already isn't. Lazy and milionaire should never be seen together in the same sentence. We'd see less European success but more international achievement. And if this was combined with European labour laws being lifted for football, as does seem plausible, football would have a free moving paperless workforce exisiting in an absolute meritocracy. A totally level playing field (or should that be pitch). There would be no more big 4 (BIG$). In this way football could propose a revolutionairy economic alternative. But, as we kow, this ain't ever going to happen. Secretly we probably like the big 4 anyway. It gives us a sense of injustice and something to carp on about.

There will be some of course who say that these ideas are not just pie in the sky, but that they are plain unsound. We would just be rewarding mediocrity they would say. But, in a world where a filthy rich Stan Collymore was once caught dogging, a russian gangster nad Thai humanrights abuser are hailed as saviours, and lots of twats with good hand to foot co-ordination but limited social skills lounge around in swank luxury palaces banging page 3 girls (I guess, sometimes, maybe) would rewarding mediocrity really be such a bad thing? At least the best managed clubs would succeed and have their day of glory. Not just the best managed clubs that have the most money. The two do not always reflect one another.

All this brings us to the real reason why the big 4 are, right now, the big 4. It is very simple. They are the richest and best managed clubs. Newcastle, Spurs, and especially Leeds can tell you that money ain't everything.

Little known fact: Karl Marx (pictured above) was a regular at North London derbies

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

A lump in his throat

"At the moment I'm just swallowing it all as part of the humiliation. That's something one has to take in. "

These words were not uttered by an Iraqi detainee during yet another round robin excercise in torture and humilation at the hands (and other body parts) of the American and British forces. Indeed no, the realities of this situation scarcely ever reach our over-sensitived ears. They were in fact said by none other than Jans Lehmann, Arsenal's reserve goalkeeper. Shortly before he went looking for another toy he had discarded from his pram.

In other news Lehaman is the only ever goalkeeper ever to lose his place to a player whose name is partial anagram of a metallic element. Almunia.

Actually, is aluminuim a compound or an element?

Other players whose names loosely resemble elements and compounds include Carbone, Cole, and a number of Da Silvas.

The Flare/Flair Play League

It may border on the obvious. Even the axiomatic. But football can be boring. And not only because it is often sole topic of conversation between most males aged in between the 12years-80years bracket. As Pele says "the game needs goals", and as a physical contact sport defensive or negative, play is often unduly rewarded in scrappy 1-0 affairs or 0-0 at home contests.
It seems strange that while fans love teams that play exciting football UEFA or similar have so far found no way to commend it. Only the laughable Fair Play league makes any gesture towards it.
In light of this I have devised the Flare/Flair Play League. It does not yet reward flashy back heels or stepovers but attacking teams are allocated more points than those organised, yet dull, outfits that always seem to feature in the UEFA cup places come the end of season.
By this reckoning my team, Everton, would not be enjoying lofty pretensions. George Graham's Arsenal would have had a lesser dominion, and Kevin Keegan's Newcastle would probably have won the Premiership. We would hold that man in much higher esteem if this had been the case. Maybe this woudl be a good thing. He always struck me as more likeable than idiot. At the very best he would be a likeable idiot that once won the Premiership. It still recognises defensive superioty by only rewarding extra points for games one by clear goal margins. It works like this:

Under this system the current premiership looks like this (I think, my math might be skewiff).
Arsenal 29
Man U 28
Blackburn 26
Man City 26
Liverpool 24
Portsmouth 23
Newcastle 21
Chelsea 20
West Ham 19
Aston Villa 17
Everton 15
Totenham 13
Wigan 12
Middelsborough 11
Fulham 11
Sunderland 10
Reading 10
Bolton 9
Derby 8
Birmingham 7

Under this system most games would become much more attacking affairs. And it is likely that the yawn-induding Italian style football would become a thing of the past and there would be less sleepy end of season fixtures. Above all it is fair. Winning a game 4-0 is much harder than winning it 1-0.

A question for Spurs fans. If Totenham were sitting pretty in mid-table would Martin Jol still be about to be sacked?

P.S. In my work induced haze I cannot remember which version of flair/flare to use when describing flamboyant skill and panache. Hence the slash in flare/flair

"clattenburg is a c*nt"

David Moyes didn't say. Although he may as well have. I am sure he thought it. And it seems secretly a lot of people think so, hence the sidelining of Clattenburg this weekend.,,2197244,00.html. This is really the least you could expect because, as far as I know, WWF wrestling manuveures are not permitted in the Premiership, even if they are performed by Jamie Carragher. And two footed challenges should lead to straight reds. Even if you are Dirk Kuyt.
The phrase "Clattenburg is a c*nt" has a nice ring to it too. Granted it is not the most articulate statement ever penned. And it lacks degrees of philosophical depth. But it is aliterate. And it has a certain poignancy.

Ugliest Premiership Team

Professional footballers of course get all the luck. Talent, money, fame, and looks (um, actually,no). While the creamiest and most drooled over of our demigods grace the tabloids and glossies, and bag the the best of the B-List, lots of footballers would struggle to pull in a dark night at Ritzies. Or they would if their bank balances were diminished to the levels of us mere mortals.

This was brought to my attention last night while my girlfriend and I watched Man U thrash Sparta Prague. "Rooney is a monster" she gasped. "He looks like a baby troll".

"Ronaldo has a wicked and arrogant look" she said before adding "like the kind of guy you'd avoid on holiday."

"What about Rio Ferdinand?" I asked her.

"He is ugly too. But there could be something noble about him."

"Yeah, he does a lot for the kids. " I told her. Well, he might do, as far as I know. A little something for the kids of Moss Side and Newham.

Gary Neville of course was injured. So we couldn't recoil at him too. Indeed, there is a rolecall of fug-ugliness at Old Trafford. It has grown and become more apparent in the glamour vacuum created post-Beckham. So, if there were a competition for the ugliest team in the premiership, Man Utd would get my vote. You woud not catch me sucking Darren Fletcher's cock. (admitedly it would take an unlikely turn of events for this to enter the realms of desirable possibility, for either party) .

This of course is an opinion piece. Based on nothing more than my girlfriend and I's jabberings during a predictable match on a Tuesday night. I have not done any scientific research into Premeirship asymetry. So, if there is an uglier Premiership side out there, feel free to prove the matter.