Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Despite a £100,000 fine and the promise of more punitive punishment to come, one can’t help but feel Alan Pardew is an extremely lucky man. For at what other institution would the evermore ornery antics of a senior employee be tolerated than at the never-ending punch line that is Newcastle United Football Club?

In fact, so in keeping with the club’s tradition of unedifying buffoonery was Saturday’s head-butt by Pardew on Hull City’s David Meyler, that it’s easy to imagine owner Mike Ashley drunkenly high-fiving the Toon boss when next the pair meet up over a game of BlackJack in the after-hours East End casino where their professional (as it were) relationship was born. (more…)

The term ‘crashed and burned’ may seem quite apposite in describing David Moyes’ disastrous spell at the Manchester United helm, but at least one aspect where Moyes’ tenure differs from airline doom is in the need to locate a black box. For never have the causes of a managerial casualty been so quick-to-hand, with entire forests-worth of paper being sacrificed in the name of the blame game. From the sacking of the coaching staff to the attitude of the players, from Moyes’ inexperience to the Glazers parasitic ownership of the club, for once it is failure, and not success, that has the surfeit of fathers. (more…)

 “When I grow up I want to score an injury-time overhead kick to win my favourite team the championship!”, said the first kid.
“When I grow up I want to make a last minute penalty save to win my team the cup!”, said the second kid.
“When I grow up I want to take two minutes over a throw-in, thus ensuring the ball is in play for the least amount of time possible and thereby ensuring the opposition have less time to create chances, whilst also giving my teammates ample time to get behind the ball!”, said the third kid, before receiving a thoroughly deserved kicking from the other two.

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"Talking nonsense? Me?!"

“Talking nonsense? Me?!”

There are certain managers for whom every public utterance is scrutinised, dissected and happily challenged by the frothing wolves of a media pack all too eager to sink their teeth into any perceived contradictions or mistruths. For the modern-day football manager the media are every inch as formidable an opponent as the identity of the man in the next dugout, a foe to be taken lightly at their peril. For every manager that is, except Jose Mourinho, for whom every laughably absurd and self-serving address is treated with as much deference and sincerity as though it were delivered from a mount in the Middle East a few millennia ago.

In fact, it’s difficult to think of a more prolific expounder of nonsense in the world of football than the Portugese for whom every campaign can be filed into one of two categories; the successful ones and the ones in which he was cheated. For in Jose’s world there can be no other explanation for short-comings. Eliminated from the Champions League at Camp Nou? Clearly the referree’s fault and not the person responsible for playing Robert Huth up front. Lose a Champions League Semi-final against a Liverpool side costing a fraction of his own team? Clearly the fault of the linesman and nothing to do with his own side’s failure to resister a single attempt on target over 180 minutes against a defence containing Djimi Troare. Unable to budge Barcelona from their perch? Why, a Uefa conspiracy, of course, and nothing to do with an inability to get the best out of the most expensively assembled side in the history of the game. (more…)

A fan gets some early practice for Euro 2016

A fan gets some early practice for Euro 2016

“There’s less than a minute to go. Christian Mouritsen, the Faroes workhorse lone attacker – just one of many heroes tonight – brings the ball into the corner to eat up a few more precious seconds. He shields the ball from Philipp Lahm. Frustrated, the German captain kicks out at his opponent and the assistant flags for a free kick. Surely this will be the last kick of the game? IN FACT THEY WONT EVEN GET TIME TO TAKE IT!! THE FAROE ISLANDS ARE GOING TO EURO 2016 AT THE EXPENSE OF THREE TIME WORLD CHAMPIONS GERMANY!!”

In the category of ‘Sports Commentary We’re Most Likely To Hear in 2015’ the above would probably nestle somewhere alongside, “….8,9,10 and Mayweather is out for the count! And who would have thought it would be octogenarian funnyman Ronnie Corbett who’d bring Floyd’s unbeaten run to an end?!”

So unlikely is either scenario that the average bookmaker would probably offer similar odds on both. But leaving a discussion on the pugilistic merits of cardigan-wearing diminutive comedians to another day, let’s just deal with the first of the far-fetched hypothetical upsets. (more…)

"Go on, just one impertinent question. I dare you!"

“Go on, just one impertinent question. I dare you!”

Football journalists up and down the country can be forgiven for thinking they’re living in a parallel universe over the next few weeks as their erstwhile bully-in-chief, Sir Alex Ferguson, dusts off his charm and happily sits through interview after interview, as he attempts to shift a few extra units of his much-anticipated follow-up autobiography.

For twenty long, gruelling – not to mention humiliating – years, the football media fraternity was on the receiving end of one Ferguson shoeing after another. From the weekly ‘hair drier’ treatment to outright threats of violence; from being banned from Manchester United Land and effectively starved of a living to being routinely dismissed as ‘a bunch of fuckin idiots’, it’s fair to say that were the UK football media a dog and Ferguson its owner, the former United boss would have served at least a stint or two at her Majesties pleasure for cruelty to animals. (more…)

Liverpool's fame is far greater than the current team merits

Liverpool’s fame is far greater than the current team merits

 

Liverpool’s recent pre-season tour of South-East Asia and Australia perfectly demonstrated the paradox in which the Merseysiders currently exist. For whilst the lucrative four-match tour may have provided the club with a welcome reminder of the enormous global popularity they retain, with fans snapping up every available ticket to cheer on their beloved team from the stands, down on the pitch the body language of their want-away star forward Luis Suarez spoke volumes of just how far the team’s on-field stock has fallen in recent times. The club as a brand can rightly claim to reside among the game’s elite but the same cannot be said of the team, where a succession of mid table finishes have firmly established the Anfield side among the distant second tier of the Premier League. (more…)

Coming to a Ground Near You?

Coming to a Ground Near You?

A world without war; Sky Sports News free of hyperbole; a corrupt-free FIFA – next season’s Premiership promises to trump all of the above in terms of the unimaginable: a Premier league campaign with no Alex Ferguson.

So large has Ferguson’s shadow loomed over the landscape of English football that the great Scot’s departure from the Manchester United hotseat has ensured next season promises to be the most open title race for years. Ferguson’s retirement, it can be argued, will affect the hopes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal just as much as United themselves.

In truth Ferguson’s departure couldn’t have come at a worse time for the great soap opera that is the Premier League. With more and more of the games top stars choosing to ply their trade in Spain, Italy and nouveau riche France and Russia, the last thing the English game needed was to lose it’s JR Ewing. Whether one regarded Ferguson as the greatest manager in the history of the game or a manipulative bully, constantly found out in Europe, there’s no denying the Scot was compelling viewing. (more…)

"I Know, I can't believe it either!"

“I Know, I can’t believe it either!”

Anyone looking to measure the contribution made by foreign managers to the Premier League would do well to avoid the LMA (League Managers Association) roll of honours- a list with as much of a cosmopolitan feel as your average BNP rally. Since its inauguration in 1994 only one manager from outside the British Isles has been acknowledged by his peers as that season’s highest achiever, with Arsene Wenger winning in 2002 and again in 2004.

By contrast the annual bauble has been collected by an Englishman on a record seven occasions, with Danny Wilson, Peter Reid, George Burley, Roy Hodgson, Frank Clarke, Alan Pardew and Steve Coppell all receiving higher recognition from their peers than the likes of Jose Mourinho, Roberto Mancini, Carlo Ancelotti and Rafael Benitez – all of whom won either domestic or European trophies during their time in England. It’s an extraordinary statistic when one considers that none of the aforementioned Englishmen have so much as a league cup between them. (more…)

A Toffee Once Again....?

A Toffee Once Again….?

So, the enigmatic, talismanic figurehead is no more. The faithful have lost their guiding light, their man of the people. What will the future hold now? If, indeed, there is a future…..

So voluminous and earnest have been this week’s obituaries for Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United career, one could be forgiven for drawing parallels with a South American country that’s lost the most charismatic and beloved President in their history. But unlike former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez’ heartbeat, the Rooney Saga goes on and on….

When tasked with producing Rooney-related tattle, the media rarely feel overly taxed, such is the bounty of scurrilous rumours and hearsay upon which they can draw to post copy every week. Whether the gossip is football themed or of the more personal nature, (Rooney and his fashion designer wife Coleen seem to enjoy permanent residence inside the pages of the glossy mags), Brand Rooney never appear far from the public’s minds eye. (more…)