Then Saturday Comes… the half decent football blog

Andrei still the belle of his imaginary ball, geeks & fox cubs
December 21, 2008, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog

1. Etymologically Mysterious Midfielder Really, Really Wants A New Job


Reports in the weekend papers suggest that Andrei Arshavin has requested to come over during the Russian winter break to check out the training facilities at Spurs and Arsenal.

Since Euro 2008, the comically named midfielder has constantly been running his mouth over a move to one of the biggest clubs in the world.    The self-promoting Russian has flapped from self-righteous comments of “I will be moving to the one of the top Premiership or La Liga sides” to “I think Arsenal are the team for me”.  He even fantastically ruled out a move to Spurs as they’re not in the Champions League… much to un-interested boss Juande Ramos’ surprise.

However, not a a single club has ever expressed a genuine interest in signing Arshavin.  No bids have been made, despite the clubs who have the resources to do so spending their summer openly courting similar players; Man United (Berbatov £30m), Liverpool (Robbie Keane £20m), Man City/Chelsea (Robinho £32m), Spurs (Modric £16m).

Has a player ever publicly sought after a move without any clubs actually making a bid for him before?  He seems a bit like a delusional tramp asking to take sports cars for a test drive.

Before March 2008, only the most hardcore Football Manager geeks would have heard of the comically named midfielder.  You would hope that if any club was to part with millions for his services would base it more on those dozen-or-so games. Otherwise the lessons of Liverpool signing the Senegal World Cup 2002 team have been worthless.

Thankfully, the Houllier effect was not repeated in the summer.

The clubs didn’t bite at Arshavin’s bait-laden rod.  Not a single team made an offer for the self promoting superstar, who had to embarrassingly skulk back to Zenit St. Petersburg for the start of this season.  I’d imagine the scene at their first training session was more cringe worthy than something Larry David, Ricky Gervais and Christopher Guest combined could come up with.

However, in two weeks the transfer window re-opens and surprise, surprise, Arshavin has started at it again, courting London’s elite clubs with pleas to come over for trials.

At the end of January I should imagine that Arshavin will finally get his move, and I really do hope he proves to be a flash in the pan.  The fans of Spurs/Arsenal/Man City will treat him like the second coming.  However, what they are spending £20m+ on is questionable.  All I know is that they will be getting a remarkably disloyal player who, despite being 27 was a complete unknown a year ago.

2. Lassana Is L’Answer


In a comlpete contradiction, I am very impressed with how Lassana Diarra is going about his career.

By taking one step back and joining Portsmouth last year, Diarra has seen his career sky-rocket, culminating in a presumeably money-spinning move to Real Madrid.

Not happy with sitting on the bench at Chelsea, Diarra engineered a move accross London to Arsenal, where he was offered the opportunity of an extended run of games.

However, Wenger’s promise didn’t come to fruition, and Diarra was left to watch the immovable Flamini-Fabregas midfield from the sidelines.

Rather than sitting around collecting his wages, Diarra engineered a quick transfer to the unfashionable south coast, where he linked up with the uber-unfashionable Harry Redknapp in the endearing quest for regular matches.

Over the last year Diarra featured regularly for Pompey, starting 34 games.  By taking the ‘step back’ of leaving Arsenal, Diarra has won an FA Cup, broke into the French national squad and quadrupled his value (£5m to £20m) in just one year.

Wayne Bridge, Ben Foster and Jermain Pennant should be embarrassed at the comparative stagnation of their career in the same period.

If you’re still not convinced about Lassana, check out this Youtube video and tell me how he’s not a legend.

3. Can I Have Your Number, Please?


There was some unnecessary excitement amongst Stattos everywhere at the unveiling of David Beckham’s new number.  Yup, it looks like DB23 will become DB32 during his spell at The Azzurri.

At the unnecessary press conference marking this unremarkable news, Goldenballs was asked: “What is the significance behind your new squad number (32)?  Is it because it is the inversion of your current number, 23?  Is it your age?  Is it to celebrate the year that Hindenburg invited Hitler to form a government in Germany?”

Beckham’s deadpan reply… “it was just the lowest number available.”


Still, there are some mental football squad numbers out there, so maybe it was worth the prodding by the press scrum.  Shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia, here are the five weirdest squad number quirks;

5. Andreas Hertzog wore the number 100 on his 100th international match as he was the first Austrian player to win 100 caps

4. Jesus Arellano, when playing for Monterrey, wore the number 400 in 1996 to celebrate the city’s 400th anniversary

3. Hicham Zerouali was allowed to wear the number 0 for Aberdeen after the fans nicknamed him “Zero”

2. In 2003, Vitor Baia became the first player to wear 99 in the final of a major European competition

1. Ivan Zamorano was allowed to use the number 1+8 for Inter because the number 9 was being used

Who would have thought footballers would be such a bunch of geeks?!?

4. Doing It For The Kids


Finally, I’m sure you have been waiting on tenterhooks for the latest Leicester City news.

Well, this weekend we maintained our dominant position on top of League One, with a festive fairytale of a 4-0 win over fellow promotion rivals Peterborough Town.

For the first time in years, Foxes fans won’t have to tolerate corny club MC Alan Birchenall‘s quips of  “oh Santa all I want for Christmas is three points”.  Ho ho ho indeed.

Thankfully we’ve got bags of them, and are on target for the most number of points we have ever amassed in a season (103).  However,the best thing about our League One adventure not been the results, but rather watching youngsters into proper players (instead of just slugging them in when injuries have left the squad depleted).

At the back, our first choice back five has an average age that would make Arsene Wenger blush.  Keeper David Martin (22) sits behind Kerrea Gilbert (21), Jack Hobbs (20), Joe Mattock (18) and old man Tasho Tunchev (27).  Together they have formed a defence that has not only conceded the least in the division, but also improves with every game.

Midfielder Andy King (20) started the season so tactically inept that was a liability.  He followed Matt Oakley around like a lost puppy, looking like he’d rather hide in his more established shadow than get stuck into the game.  After a sustained run in the team, he has improved inquantifiably.  In the last 9 games he has scored 5 goals, and has been named in the last three League One Team of the Weeks.

Finally, all the headlines have quite rightly been going to Matt Fryatt (22).  Fryatt has banged in 23 goals this year, and is currently on for a comfortably 40+ haul this season.  Compare that to his measly sum of 2 goals last term, and you realise just how much he’s come along.

By any cynical measure it’s been a bloody good season in League One.  However, two massive tests are coming up in the next few weeks.  Firstly, we have to hope our players are not snatched by the bigger boys from the division above (Doncaster, Barnsley, Blackpool, oh my god) in the January transfer window.

Secondly, we have a FA Cup 3rd Round tie at home to midtable Championship team Crystal Palace.  Notwithstanding the excitement o the return of Neil ‘Colin’ Warnock, this weill be the first time to see whether this new breed of Leicester City will be able to compete if we get back up to The Championship.

At the moment we are looking like a team that should get promoted.  Lets just hope events over the next month don’t destabilse the good work done so far.


1 Comment so far
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The King stay the King.

Comment by Nev Ironmonger

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