Then Saturday Comes… the half decent football blog


Champion’s League Special: Chelsea not included
February 25, 2009, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog
Should Rafa should have gone down the Mike Ashley route of dressing up like the fans?

Should Rafa should have gone down the Mike Ashley route of dressing up like the fans?

IS RA-FAIL JOINING BIG FAIL SCOLARI ON THE SCRAP HEAP?

Bookmakers have stopped accepting bets on the next boss to be sacked after being flooded by bets on Rafael Benitez from tipsters ‘in the know’.

The odds on Benitez not being Liverpool’s manager at the start of the 2009/10 season have been slashed to just 2/5 by Sky Bet.   It seems that not even the excellent 1-0 away win over Real Madrid will save Rafa’s bacon, and he is all set to joing Big Phil as another midseason Top Four casualty.

To be honest, I have little sympathy with either.

Rafa and Scolari have done very little to get their heads around the Premiership.  They are either  two of the most stubborn managers in the world, or they abjectly fail to have any sort of ‘Plan B’ heading into Premiership games, treating them almost as an afterthought.

However, Benitez has the knack for pulling out the ‘big’ win that distracts  from the poor results that surround it.  Maybe that will happen this time as well.  To win at Real Madrid may be like Jonny Sac’s acceptance of Ralphie’s apology in The Sopranos – a huge public act just in time to avoid a pending bullet.

The only ‘big’ manager who has had his head screwed on this year has been Alex Ferguson.  Despite regressing from the halcyon days of the last three years, the Red Devils have trundled their way to a barnstorming lead at the top of the Premiership.

Although their defence has been phenomenal, don’t buy into the Manchester United hype.  They are the best by a long way, but this team would lose to their 2006-07 and 07-08 counterparts.  The Old Trafford boys have failed to hit the attacking heights enjoyed when Ronaldo was at his pomp, and Berbatov still seems a poor man’s Tevez.  Nani and Anderson have still failed to turn into players that will win a title, and games are still being won by the same players as 5 years ago (Rooney, Ronaldo, Giggs, Scholes).  How many 1-0 wins have they enjoyed this season?

The buck has to stop at Rafa for failing to improve to reach Manchester United’s dip.

Top by a fair few points, he decided to sell Robbie Keane and Jermain Pennant, presumably to make a point that they were players brought in by others at the club.  That would be fair enough if he bothered to look for replacements.  Instead he didn’t, and a club on the verge of a multi-billion pound takeover moronically exited the transfer window two attacking players not for financial reasons, but so Rafa could prove his point.

I’d say he underlined his point with home draws with Fulham, Stoke and Everton (twice).

The man was incredibly patronising in refusing to sign a contract only offered him due to sucesses in 2005.  Although they have enjoyed some good cup runs since then, he’s had enough time to stamp an imprint but, to my eye, they still have the exact same problems.  No wingers and not enough goals.

Should he go, who will replace him?  Kenny Dalglish is currently 3/1 favourite with Paddy Power.  Hmm smells a bit like Kevin ‘Messiah’ Keegan’s return to Newcastle… I’m sure Fergie wouldn’t dread that.  Surely you would wait for Mourinho in the summer.


Kolo and William's half-time activities spilled over into the second half

Kolo and William's half-time activities spilled over into the second half

PROFESSIONALISM THE ARSENAL WAY

Arsenal have often been accused of not realising they are a football team.  The identity of the club often errs towards that of a bunch swanning prima-donners who would be happier at the Royal Society For The Performing Arts than in a chaotic sporting arena.

Never was that case clearer than when their two centre-backs failed to report for duty in the 1-0 Champion’s League win over Roma.  William Gallas and Kolo Toure trotted back onto the field after the second half had got underway.  Neither bothered to ask for the ref’s permission, but only Toure was penalised (as Gallas was tying up his shoes).

Toure’s excuse after the match was that he always has to be the last to leave the dressing room, and his defensive partner was still receiving some treatment for an injury.  So he decided to wait until Gallas could get on before turning up for the second half.

Amazing professionalism!

The centre-backs are by definition the backbone of a team.  Even if just for a couple of minutes, taking both of them out due to a silly superstition is bizarre.  To do so in a Champion’s League knock-out game is outrageous.  To do so when conceding an away goal is catastrophic is an adjective I haven’t learnt yet, but it’s very strong.  A less verbose man would swear, but that would give the shambolic Toure the moral highground, something I cannot abide in this instance.

Although I am glad they won and want them to progress, it really would have been justified if Roma had scored and won the tie on away goals.  Supporting a rubbish club like Leicester, it is very frustrating to see the flippant attitude ‘top’ teams have.  You can guarantee that if Scunthorpe did that trick against Rotherham in the LDV Vans Semi-Final, they would have conceded at least four goals.

Football, unlike Slumdog Millionaire, is a cruel business where scummers prosper.


Is that Adriano or Ibrahimovic behind the mask?

Is that Adriano or Ibrahimovic behind the mask?


STRIKERS ANONYMOUS

Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher’s house was robbed while he was in Italy preparing for the game against Inter Milan.

However, the real thiefs were the Inter forwards, who gave the best impression I have seen of a clueless and lazy strikeforce since the days of Akinbiyi/Benjamin at Filbert Street.

The English champions went to the San Siro with the game-plan Jose Mourinho predicted; defensive and conservative.  A 4-5-1 formation favouring  midfielders who prioritise ball retention over ambition.  However, it soon became apparent that such measures were not needed, as Inter Milan actually seemed to be pretty rubbish.

Manchester United dominated from the beginning.  Every Inter move broke down, often by the abject Sulley Muntari panicking into losing possession.  However, he could perhaps complain that the two lumps in front of him were also to blame for his lacklustre performance.

Adriano and Zlatkan Ibrahimovic are two of the most lauded players in the world, but they are also perhaps the most frustrating.  It was strange to see a team managed by Mourinho seemingly soley reliant on a moment’s inspiration from the admittedly highly talented strikers.

There was no graft, no desire to get into space or chase lost balls.  And this isn’t on the level of Alan Shearer punditry love for ‘desire’, ‘heart’ and other such buzz words.  They really were dreadful, completely disinterested in the game going on behind them.

Of course, this blog is partly inspired by my latent hope that sod’s law means they will turn amazing and both score double hat-tricks in the return leg.  The dread of a filthy quadruple is becoming all too realistic…

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Oscar frenzy hits the world of football
February 22, 2009, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog

Firstly, can I take a moment to apologise for this frankly lacklustre post.  I’m afraid I’ve not seen or played any football in the last week and I don’t really know what’s going on.  Still, perhaps this lacks-a-daisical approach will usher in a new rock ‘n’ roll approach to sports journalism the world over.  Enjoy my words, dear reader.


Christiano with his gongs for Best Theatrical Performance and Best Supporting Actress (mehalolz)

Christiano with his gongs for Best Theatrical Performance and Best Supporting Actress (megalolz!)

The Football Oscars

Oh lordy lordy, it’s the time of the year when everyone gets excited about films. It has always baffled me why millions of people get over-excited about what a handful of execs think… surely films are made for the public, and therefore the best films in the world are the ones that put the most bums on seats(especially Terminator 2).

Obviously we all know who will win what tonight (film = Slumdog, actress = Winslet etc), but oh my gosh wouldn’t it be topical to relate footballers to the film industry!

There is a certain level of theatre about professional football.  Games are played in front of a live audience, fans are given an intermission in the middle of the show, and increasingly music and videos are used as a crutch when the action isn’t living up to its billing.

The bigger teams have their own stations with hours of programming to fill.  Although I’m sure Big Brother star Bubble has many fascinating insights into the wacky goings-on at Stamford Bridge,  it’s surely only a matter of time until producers start commissioning programs with footballers as the stars.

Who wouldn’t want to watch Amir Zaki and Mido in a remake of Peep Show?  How could anyone change the channel when the music for Fireman Sam Hamann starts?  What on-screen magic would be delivered by Knowing Me Knowing You With Alan Pardew?

The players are used to theatrics, here’s the productions I expect to see commissioned by the ‘Big Four’ next season.



star-warsChelsea in Tsar Wars

Jose Mourinho as Luke Skywalker:

Roman Abramovic as Darth Vader

Ken Bates as Chewbacca

Ray Wilkins as R2D2

Ricardo Cavalharo as C3PO

Frank Lampard as Jabba The Hut

***

***


pulp-fictionManchester United present Pulp Fiction

Wes Brown as Jules

Wayne Rooney as Butch

Dmitar Berbatov as Vincent Vega

Alex Ferguson as Marsellus Wallace

The Auld Slapper as Mia Wallace

***

***

elephant-manLiverpool perform The Elephant Man

Dirk Kuyt as Joseph Merrick

Fernando Torres as the kindly doctor

Rafa Benitez as the tyrannical circus owner

***

***

***

***

***

batmanArsenal bring to you The Dark Knight

Robin van Persie as Batman/Bruce Wayne

John Jensen as Commissioner Gordon

Manuel Almunia as The Joker

Theo Walcott as Robin

William Gallas as the policeman who gets poisoned

George Graham as the dodgy Mafia Boss

 

 



The Curious Case of Benjamin Beckham + Leicester’s love of score draws
February 15, 2009, 4:08 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog

BECKS IN L. SCOTT FITZGERALD TRIBUTE SHOCKER!

jumping on the Benjamin Button Oscar bandwagon?

David Beckham: jumping on the Benjamin Button Oscar bandwagon?

David Beckham has become a real-life Benjamin Button.  In joining Milan, he seems to have got 5 years younger in 5 weeks.  In the week that he became England’s second-most capped player, he is refusing to rest on his laurels and is preparing to take part in his first Milanese derby.

It’s probably right for me to use the public watchdog role afforded to me by this blog to look into the Beckham comeback a little closer and work out how he turned the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel to reality.

After the 2006 World Cup, the permanently injured David Beckham was cast-off as a ‘past it’ who could no longer play at international level.  Metertarsals were being popped at too high a frequency, and he was sent out to pasture.

Dropped from the England set-up and sent out to quasi-retirement at MLS soccerball franchise LA Galaxy, old Goldenballs was perceived as becoming a side-show attraction.  The lack of knowledge of the American leagues made people feel that he had gone down the same route as Iron Mike Tyson; a former sporting icon who is now dossing around as a Vegas side-show in one of Donald Trump’s plazas.

Even when Steve McLaren relented and called Beckham back to the England squad, it had the feeling of a nostalgia novelty.  Sure, we all knew that ‘natural successors’ Aaron Lennon, Jermain Pennant and Shaun Wright-Phillips couldn’t actually kick a ball high enough to constitute a real cross, but Becks was only back for the short term.

It was seen by most as just another example of ‘Second Chance Stevie’, a hapless manager pottering around cap in hand to players who were in the international wilderness (Sol Campbell, Jamie Carragher, Paul Scholes, Emile Heskey).

Becks considers ways to cover up those aging locks

Becks considers ways to cover up those aging locks

When D-Beck played that return game, he did look like a man who shouldn’t be playing at the top level.  Not in terms of skill (his return finally brought many crosses for Peter Crouch to constitute a threat in the box), but in terms of his once acclaimed looks.

The winger sported the kind of haircut formerly reserved for Italian strikers losing in League Cup Finals for Middlesborough 10 years before.

Fast forward to 2009, and two of football’s most succesful conservative managers are organising their plans around the same fella.

AC Milan’s Carlo Ancelotti is begging the tight-fisted AC Milan board to plump up £10m to splash on a player who will be 34 by the end of the season.  Becks also holds a special place in the Fabio Capello-inspired England ‘revolution’ .

The route cause of all this hoopla is D-Becks’ apparently great form in Serie A while on a loan from the yanks.  I must admit not to have seen a minute of him playing in Italy, so I can’t really comment on that.  However, it does seem to make sense that he could dominate that league.

Italian football is based on technique and grit rather than speed and agility.  Games are played at a slower pace, affording players more time on the ball and rewarding intelligence on the pitch over athleticism.

https://i1.wp.com/i38.tinypic.com/2uoqh5x.jpg

This match has probably happened by the time you read this, and Beckham has probably disgraced himself with a pathetic performance, resulting in the above article serving as a public reminder that I am not really a qualified football journalist...

For that reason, there really is no sense in thinking that this ‘new’ Beckham will transfer back into the international set-up because he is good in Serie A.  He will still have the same limitations (not being able to beat a man) as he did in that post-World Cup backlash against him playing. However, the truth is Beckham has not beaten a full-back for pace since 1997, and that was against Mike Whitlow.

His game has never been about pace, it is about vision, ball retention and set-pieces.  All of those skills will improve if he stays at Milan.  And for the record, he should never ever have lost his place in the England squad, irrespective of playing for LA Galaxy or not.  I can understand why he could have lost his place in the team, but there is no way that Beckham has been outside the best 23 English players at any point in the last 10 years.

As an aside, I’m sure you all realise that another L. Scott Fitzgerald novel was ‘The Great Gatsby’, whose central theme was the corruption of derams by the empty pursuit of money.  By leaving the Galaxy, Beckham’s life is turning into an homage to the jazz age author.


MOB WARFARE

Leicester fans take to the streets

Leicester fans take to the streets

League One pace-setters Leicester City have started to stumble at the Walkers Bowl recently, following successive 0-0 draws with Oldham and Brighton respectively.

Despite being 10 points clear of the play-offs, these results have seen an increasing number of morons booing at the full-time whistle.  Sadly, some seem to have got that Manchester United mentality whereby anything other than a win constitutes going into ‘crisis mode’.

At least that’s what I thought until this weekend.

With five minutes to go in the game against Swindon Town, we were heading to our first league defeat in 19 games.  The crowd were growing increasingly impatient, bemoaning any  misplaced passes and groaning at the slightest mistake.

Of course, I know that moaning at football matches is all par for the course, but the negativity of Leicester fans to a team flying so high at the top of the division is hard to comprehend.

Anyway, back to the Crisp Bowl.

As the clock hits ’86’ we are creeping ever-closer to the defeat that would mean just 2 points gained from the last 3 home games – relegation form (if you forget the 2 away wins that came between those results).  Then comes salvation, through the glorious figure of Andy ‘The’ King.

Kingy found himself in some space in the box, and with a deft outside-of-the boot finish, took his tally up to 11 goals for the season.  The last few minutes played out uneventfully, and Leicester left with their third successive home draw.

However, unlike those Oldham and Brighton games, the chorus of boos was replaced by hearty applause for a hard-won point.  Whilst a 0-0 constitutes a terrible performance, 1-1 is for some reason a triumph.  The fact that we had got a point by scoring was something to be applauded, while getting one by not conceding a goal was something to bemoan.

I didn’t listen to the radio phone-in that night as I already knew what the callers would be saying.  I guess I should be thankful that my walk home was not interrupted by Leicester chizzits with flaming torches, and I live in perpeptual fear for my safety after that next 0-0 home draw.



Dreaming of a reunion with Jose, Kayak-gate and Car-loss Tevez
February 10, 2009, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog

K

Kayser Jose and the rest of the Usual Suspects

1. ADIOS BIG FAIL SCOLARI, WE HARDLY KNEW THEE

It pains me to begin a blog on the same tired stories trotted out on the back pages of Fleet Street’s finest – what a poor way to make the most of a medium with no worries of libel or slander.  Still, there are some events that are big news that can’t be avoided, and Roman The Reaper’s scythe has fallen once again.

Yup, Big Phil Scolari is gone. The managerial merry-go-round has started to spin, but a ‘top four’ job never quite gets as much craziness as you would like.  Due to Red Rom’s past favouring of foreign managers with no substantial link to the English game, the majority of people linked to the job won’t upset the Premiership applecart.  To be honest, it is more likely that a Hiddink, Rijkaard or Mancini will get the nod rather than big Stevey Bruce.

However, the obvious hope for anyone not directly influenced by Chelsea is that Jose Mourinho canters back into town.  This blog would certainly be more regularly updated if The Chosen One were to return.  It is unlikely, and of the usual suspects it looks like this time Guus Hiddink will get the chance to take over at Chelsea (for about 6-8 months).  We can but dream for Jose’s return.

As for Scolari, I’m sure he isn’t bothered in the slightest.  He was rewarded 6 months into a pathetic job with a £7.5m pay-off and you can guarantee will walk into a top job in sunnier climates in the summer.

Do not put any stock in the hype and hoopla of the Premier League marketing campaign – it seems to be a badge of honour for foreign bosses to be sacked from posts in English football.

“Mr Ramos, I hear you have got 2 points from 10 games at Spurs… would you like to take over at Real Madrid?”

“Oh don’t worry about losing 8-1 to Middlesbrough and getting sacked by Manchester City Svennis… would you like to take over Mexiceo?”

“Forget about all that hooplah at Watford, it’s about time you came back to your spiritual home and managed Juventus, Signor Vialli!”

OK, well the last one isn’t as true as I’d like, but I couldn’t think of a third example and I damn well won’t spend more than 2 minutes thinking of something to back up my case.  But my case remains, that foreigners don’t perceive a managerial axing in England as proof of a mistake.

In reality, I would like to think that these foreign bosses come in and have a ‘sack race’ to see who can make off with the most amount of money for the least amount of service.  I don’t buy that smartly dressed Portugese fella at QPR for one minute.


Why park a bus infront of the goal when you can park a kayak?

Why settle for putting a bus in front of the goal when you can park a kayak?

2. BEWARE THE LESSON OF KAYAKS

Onto the real action, League One.  This weekend the high flying Blue Foxes were pitted against promotion rivals Oldham Athletic.

The real story came in the 52nd minute, when Oldham goalkeeper Greg Fleming was sent off.  In true lower league football fashion, The Latics had failed to name a sub keeper, so an outfield player had to take place between the sticks.

Step forward Dean Windass.

Yup, Premiership striker  Windass took his place ‘in net’ (as northerners say) to face the most potent attack in the division this season.  In true Roy Of The Rovers fashion, the on-loan Hull player kept a clean sheet, much to the shock of Foxes fans.

Well, to the shock of all but one fan.  Unsurprisingly in this increasingly self-centred blog, that fan was me.

As soon as Windass put on the gloves I regailed a story about how, at the height of my intra-mural university football career, we had faced a team with a bloke in a kayak in goal.

My team (Pipe Down FC) were pretty good, we had just won our division that year (if memory serves), and entered into a charity six-a-side competition.  Anyway, we were drawn against the Kayaking Society, and some wag (presumably from a boarding school) thought it would be a hoot to play the roal of goalkeeper whilst in his little kayak.

All the kayak crew thought this was a great idea, a veritable hootenany if you will.

Anyway the game kicked off and quickly something became abundantly apparent – we could not play football because there was a man in a kayak in the other goal.

Gone was the inctricate passing, the flowing two-touch samba football that made Pipe Down FC such a force to be reckoned with.  Instead, we lumped the ball at the goal as quickly as possible every time a player came into possession.

After five goalless minutes, it became increasingly embarrassing that we were being held by a team with a bloke with a paddle in goal.  We started playing with a higher tempo, rushing to get the ball in the net without realising you still have to get into a goalscoring opportunity.

Lo and behold, exactly the same thing happened with Leicester City.

Instead of a kayak was Dean Windass.  By putting their most iconic player in goal, no Leicester City player, fan or manager could get around the fact that it was Dean Windass who was between the sticks. Dean Windass.

The same team that had scored 4 away at Walsall just days before became reduced to a collection of morons, ploughing their head down and running into defenders who happened to have the audacity of standing between them and the ‘sure fire’ shot that would fly into the net due to the impractical goalkeeper.

The other tactic was just to shoot from 50 yards.  This idea obviously didn’t take into consideration that Mr Windass, although a striker, is still a professional athlete.  Facing him was perceived by most Leicester players as playing against somebody who had no grasp of how to get in the way of a ball.  “Yeah, it’s 45 yards from goal but don’t worry, he’s a striker normally so chances are he’ll just fall over and it will go in.  No worries.”

As it was, Leicester City followed Pipe Down’s precedent and failed to ever fashion a real chance.  Neither of us could get over the fact that we were not playing against a real goalkeeper, and it affected our similar ambiant breed of football that the fans loved us so much for.

Sadly, Pipe Down also conceded a late goal on the counter attack and we lost 1-0 to the Kayakers.  Many therapists have said I should let it go, but the nightmares are still relentless.


Tevez loses his wheels

Hollywood was quick to make a bio-pic of the Tevez tragedy

3. A PUN MADE IN HEAVEN AS TEVEZ LOSES HIS WHEELS!

The final story after that epic is simply an excuse to throw out a pun, but the story was too perfect to ignore using it.

Manchester United soccer star Carlos Tevez has had his £140,000 Bentley seized because he does not have a full UK driving licence, police said (source: BBC).

Truly, it is a story concocted by the pun gods.

Still, Ashton Kutcher played him in the film, so at least Car-Loss got something out of the troubles caused by his motor vehicle.  Hopefully the scar won’t put Demi off, they’re one of my favourite Hollywood mismatched age couples.



The itv brain trust, transfer-gate and here comes windass
February 5, 2009, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog

itv1. Bouncing Back with ITV

Something great happened last night: ITV royally screwed up its coverage of the biggest moment of the football season so far.

After 119 minutes of a tight-edged Merseyside derby  in the world’s oldest cup competition, the match was heading towards penalties.  With a minute to go, a ball is knocked into the Liverpool half, and then ITV’s feed cuts to a commercial.

Thousands of stressed scousers and millions of neutrals were bemused as to what was happening, and why they were watching an advert for TicTacs rather than the end of the game.  When that commercial was replaced by one with people fighting in a factory, most probably thought they had missed the full-time whistle and the match had already gone to penalties.

But it hadn’t finished, and it wouldn’t go to pens.

The audience was then thrust back into the game, and low and behold, Everton were celebrating their unexpected last minute winner.  I’m sure the Everton fans ‘watching’ on TV were scizopherenic between being delirious over grabbing the winner over their rivals, or whether they were disgusted at ITV for censoring that epic moment.

Now to call that disgrace a ‘great’ event must seem quite ridiculous, but to borrow from Commissioner Gordon from ‘The Dark Knight’, the darkest part of the night is before the dawn.

Ever since I can remember, people have criticised ITV’s football coverage, but this will hopefully be the ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’ into forcing them into some real action to resolve the obvious problems in their sports coverage.

Much of the criticism comes from their obvious desire to offer a broad analysis of football to people who don’t really understand it, or care for it.  They are chasing the interest of the bored housewife rather than the husband who actually cares.

They don’t always show team line-ups, and almost all of their ‘highlights’ include nothing more than goals (and maybe one shot of somebody tripping over).  Their Champions League commentary is not only biased, but the commentators seem to know nothing about the foreign teams/players.  Naked players were shown live in the dressing room after the Histon-Leeds hame this season.  None of these things happen on the BBC or Sky (… or even the fledgling Setanta).

It is an institution perfectly summed up by the disturbing memory of Andy Townswend’s Tactics Truck.

However,up until now the problems have been shrugged off, with viewers just tutting ‘ah this isn’t as good as the BBC’.  Hopefully this shambles will bring about some institutional changes.

It really wouldn’t be very hard.  Replace Steve Ryder with James Richardson.  That’s an instantly inquantifiable increase in quality.

On Jimbo’s panel you could, shock horror, go back to employing proper journalists (any of the Guardian Podcast would provide infinitely more insight than the buffoons currently employed). And if you want to have footballers on the panel, and they certainly do have a role to play, why not pick oplayers who actually had some character rather than a line of grinning cliches.

Of course, if I was writing my blog back in the 1990s I would probably have predicted a similar revolution after Big Ron said ‘them things’ about Marcel Desailly.

But what should prove to ITV that now is the time to ring the changes comes from the full-time summary from the cretin who commentated on that Everton-Liverpool game.  As the teeange match-winner trotted off the pitch with his matchball, Clive Tyldsley announced “remember the name Dan Gosling – a name not even well known in his own household until tonight.”

Yup, the same Dan Gosling who was a first-teamer for Championship team Plymouth Argyle.  As featured every Sunday morning on ITV’s flagship football show all last season.

If even the commentators aren’t watching the product, something really needs to be done.  Just make James Richardson the Head of ITV Sport and give me a job on the panel (needless to say I’ll have the last laugh).



Arsene Gets His Arse Shaving

Arsene Gets His Arse Shaving

2. Oh God, Not Another Tevez

Here we go again!

Yup, another Premiership team have completed a mysterious signing of a foreign superstar in a deal that seems to be about as legitimate as a £30 note.

Andrei Arshavin has finally signed for Arsenal, after about 4 years of transfer rumours, and the move went right up until the end of the transfer window.  Actually it went until after the window shut, then it smashed the window, climbed back in and papered up the cracks with selotape.

Firstly, the transfer was done after the deadline finished.  When Arsenal eventually pip Aston Villa to 4th place (on the last day of the season after Villa players get food poisoning, a la Spurs in 2006), you can bet that Martin O’Neill will raise a stink about the legitimacy of Mr Arshavin’s registration at The Gunners.

Then will come the inquest, the preliminary hearings, the judicial hearings, the civil hearings and ultimately the coronary report.  It will be just like West Ham vs. Sheffield United vs. Carlos Tevez.  Being a football fan is starting to become like studying for a law degree.

“One Lord Deyning, there’s only one Lord Deyning”.

The other thing that really worries me about this transfer is that another Russian with controversial tax poilcies and ties to the Moscow Mob has arrived in England.  Now many of you may think that is xenophobic, but you have clearly not watched this (from 20 seconds onwards).

Abramovic… Arshavin… Pavlyuchenko… Teddy from Hang Time is gonna get ya!


Dean's Windy Ass

Dean's Windy Ass

3. I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of League One!

Oh yes, this isone of the calender days in Leicester City’s first ever League One season – the day some celebs come to town!

Every Leicester fan has loved this year.  We have a good young team playing the best football ever seen at the Walkers Stadium (although to be honest that 8 year lineage hasn’t seen much good stuff).

However, there is still a bit of you that misses the thrill of playing against a big player.  Well this weekend we get that buzz of playing against a couple of strikers who are quite big professionally, but very big bodily.

Former top-flight fatties Lee Hughes and Dean Windass will waddle into the Walkersbowl for the top-of-the-table clash against sixth place Oldham Athletic, and Sky TV cameras will be there to see it all.

This match will be a great test for our youthful centre-backs.  If we end up playing in the Championship next year, we will be pitting our wits against players like Hughes and Windass – footballers who have played at the top level, but are now a little too fat/mental to grace the Premiership.  This will probably be the match to unleash Wayne Brown, a man who apparently claims that after he shaves at 9am he has a full beard by 5pm.

Kick off starts at 5.20pm, so I guess if nothing else we will see what time Browny gets up in the morning.  If he is clean shaven, he is a slovenly fellow who awakes from his slumber past mid-day.  Oh how his mother must blush as he bounds down those stairs in the mid-afternoon.  If he has a beard then he must have awoken at 6am for a brisk 6 mile jog before cutting logs for firewood etc.

Anyway, with regards to what’s happening on the pitch, us Leicester fans are confident going into every match nowadays.  It’s very surreal compared to years gone by, when I would be preparing my excuses on a Thursday rather than pondering when the centre backs wake up/shave.

If The Foxes win this weekend, we will be on 70 points, which last season was good enough to qualify for the play-offs.  With 16 games to go, the supporter’s club chairman today said we can still get promoted even if we’re on relegation form.

We’re really tempting an even bigger cock-up than ITV in the FA Cup, aren’t we…



A TRANSFER WINDOW SPECTACULAR!
1. SPURS ZOMBIES BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE BY ‘ARRY THE OCCULTIST

s

Tottenham Lolspurs

Darren Bent will be feeling like that kid going to a school reunion dreading seeing his old bullies.  Although Jermain and Robbie were small, they were always more popular than Little Darren and he always felt worthless around them.  And now they’re back.

Tottenham Hotspur’s increasingly dozey boss ‘arry Redknapp celebrated the transfer window by staging a ‘Class of 2007 Reunion’.  Presumably he hopes some of Martin Jol’s actual management will still be in these players’ bones, and the reunion will see them flying up the table back into the 5th spot that was deemed sackable for the affable Tony Soprano lookalike.

Sadly for ‘arry, and therefore happily for any football fan with a sense of decency, no reunion works like that.  People try to replicate a nostalgic past that never really happened, and it just becomes weird and awkward.

In the year since Defoe and Keane left, old playground victim Darren Bent has started to finally come out his shell.  This season he has a respectable 9 goals from 22 games (despite people telling him he’d never get on with that strange Russian exchange student).

A change in headmaster saw some early excitement (… chips are back in the canteen!!!), but now something terrible has happened.  The old bullies are back in town.

Mr Ramos’ strict rules saw pranksters Robbie and Jermain leave the club, but now they are back and it’s going to get just as bad as it used to be for Little Darren, who is right back to sitting on a wall with all the girls while all the boys play football.

He’s a British version of Skee-Low.

However, it won’t get be the same as it was back then for Darren and his Spurs teammates… it will get worse.  ‘Arry Redknapp has fallen into the old trap of buying players who are too bad for the teams just above them.  Cudicini, Chimbonda nor Keane arrive in any semblance of form, and it will be very hard for them to rejuvenate this sorry Spurs team.

Admittedly Palacios is a good player, but anyone can see that they need a player who will sit and sweep up behind the spineless Tottenham midfield.  Down the road, Roy Hodgson has just brought in Olivier Dacourt at Fulham.  That would have been a perfect, common sense player that would do a  job in a midfield devoid of professionalism since Michael Carrick left.

Spurs have got so scummy that I actually want Manchester United to beat them in the Carling Cup Final.  I am embarrassed to call them my former colleagues, and no amount of courting from Mr. Redknapp will bring me back to the club.

Sorry, ‘arry, there’s no fee for me to pull a Robbie Keane.  My life has moved on.


shay-given2

Che Given

2. SHAY’S ‘NOT A MENTALIST’ REVOLUTION

After all that negativity I need to bring some positive thetans into my vessel, as my scientologist friends would say.  Obviously, I could talk about Leicester ’16 games unbeaten/13 points clear/4-1 win away from home’ City, but that would be too easy.

Instead, I will take a moment to laud Shay Given for his 11 years of fantastic service to Newcastle United.  Now every wideboy in the country is saying ‘yeah, about time he went somewhere decent’, but to be fair to the often deluded Magpies fans, they were a top-4 club for many years in the Premiership.

It’s not like Given has been a diamond in the rough, as many pundits seem to be insinuating.  He has played in FA Cup Finals, the Champions League and numerous UEFA Cup campaigns.

Of course, unlike so many other players would do, he has stuck with the club after they dropped down the table and appointed increasingly awful managers.

Robson –> Souness –> Roeder –> Allardyce –> Keegan –> Kinnear (!)

What makes that list all the more amazing is that every time the managers’ contract has been terminated: the change has been actively desired by Newcastle.

Before this section rambles any further, this reflects so well on Given as he has always been a consummate professional, despite the obvious mentalists in charge of his club.  Given is one of the few players who is respected accross the board by every football fan.

He has never been the ‘top dog’ at Newcastle (Shearer, Owen), but he fits into the kind of ‘second hero worship’ that Gary Neville, Frank Lampard and Jamie Carragher enjoy.  However, unlike these three, Given is not hated by other teams as much as he is loved by his fans.

So what is it that made the Irish stopper different?  Well, this is quite the conundrum, as he seems to lack the normal criteria for those few football figures who transcend into widespread popularity.

He doesn’t strike me as a warm, friendly fella like a Bobby Robson.  He’s not a crazy prankster (Jimmy Bullard).  He isn’t even a likeably shy person (Paul Scholes).

Really, all Shay Given has is that he is a normal person.  Not in the ‘boy next door’ cliche, but rather he is just not a moron.  Having shared a dressing room with Alan Shearer, Craig Bellamy, Tino Asprilla, David Ginola, Albert Luque, Lauren Robert, Stephen Taylor etc for over a decade, Given has started to look like a comparative saint.

Now that he is at a club with a (suspected) rapist, I guess he’ll become seen like an immortal superhero.  The world will become undone by the pressure of unwavering love for Shay Given, a normal man amongst a sea of morons and scumbags.

Start dusting off the sword, ma’am, Shay will be getting knighted in the summer.



Kasper Schmeichel The Ghost

Kasper The Ghost Schmeichel

3. THE BBC FAILS ITS PUBLIC SERVICE

Shay’s move to Eastlands had an unexpected consequence: of exposing the British Broadcasting Corporation for the fraudulent conglomerate it is.

The BBC pride themselves on providing a full interactive service for all of Britain’s lovely citizens.  However, on transfer deadline day one of those taxpayers was let down: Kasper Schmeichel.

After Shay Given signed, it became obvious to the Man City keeper that he wouldn’t even get a game in training, with Joe Hart now manning the ‘subs’ goal in practise games.

Admirably Kasper decided to engineer a transfer away from the club.  Less heroically, he sought the move by calling the BBC sports desk and asking them to forward any information regarding goalkeepers leaving their club, so he could pester them about the job vacancy.

I know Kasper is used to getting his job through other people (see Schmeichel, Peter), but it seems a bit low to do such things.

Anyway, regardless of his motives, the policy was not the best way to get the move.  As the transfer window shut at 5pm (or 12pm midnight if you’re Arsenal), old Kasper was still at Man City.

Anyone seeking to register their disapproval for the BBC’s failures to help Kasper out of his malaise here; complaints@dailymail.co.uk.