Then Saturday Comes… the half decent football blog

September 23, 2009, 5:32 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog

Just one month into a suspiciously long five-year deal, Solzil Jeremiah Campbell has decided to suddenly quit Notts County.

The scenes are remniscient of Campbell’s infamous half-time resignation from Arsenal during a Premier League game against West Ham United.  Ever since that unprofessional display, questions have surrounded Sol’s mental state and ability to handle the pressure of playing professional football.

Sol Campbell Leaves Notts County

All of this seems a crazy accusation to throw at someone who has played football (to an excellent standard) at the highest level.  Why would someone who made two successive World Cup Best XIs leave fourth division Notts County because of stress?

So why has he quit?

There are three possibilities.  The first is too libelous to be published, but Sol’s private life has long been a subject of public intrigue and can easily be found with a quick google search.  It’s entirely plausible that the defender is bored with being plagued by rumour and insinuations, and has decided to up sticks and finish his career abroad, away from the unfortunate whispers about what he gets upto behind closed doors.

Again though, that seems quite an unlikely turnaround.  Although Campbell is prone to some outrageous short-thinking gaffes (as Spurs fans will attest) he seems a fairly bright and intelligent man, and he must have been able to understand the gossip-mongerers would follow him, no matter which division he’s playing in.

More likely is the ‘big time Charlie’ syndrome.  Although Sol had some experience playing against teams in the bottom division, he would only have done so in ‘electric’ cup matches.  Playing the ‘baddy’ for a decade in Giant Killing matches must leave an intrigue over the romance of playing for the ‘little’ team.

Big Sol's smile got quickly turned upside down at Meadow Lane
Sol’s smile turned upside down at Meadow Lane

Yet anyone who follows the lower leagues knows that when the cup games aren’t there, that exciting atmosphere isn’t either.  Maybe Big Sol rocked up at Morecombe for his one and only game and realised that a match flatter than a steam-rolled pancake isn’t comparable to the bright lights.

The final hypothesis for Campbell’s latest act of disloyalty is that it dawned on him that he made a genuinely bad decision.  This seems to be the most plausible explanation, especially considering Notts County’s Executive Chairman Peter Trembling’s press release;

“We obviously wish Sol the best with the remainder of his career and hope that he is able to obtain a place where he can play at International level ahead of the 2010 World Cup.”

Although most would rightly scoff at the notion of Campbell playing for the national team in the next six months, it’s not the most crazy thing in the world.  Again, he was in the last two World Cup Best XIs, and with neither Upson or Lescott impressing in recent games there’s still some room for a centre back to get into the reckoning.

Campbell claims he had offers from five Premiership clubs, and Newcastle United also courted him publicly in the summer.  If then it is an unsurmountable task to get back in the national team, it is definitely still plausible that he can have another couple of years playing against international standard players in the league.  If Sol has decided that he made a genuine mistake we’ll see him moving back to the upper levels of the game in January

Whether it turns out he’s been disloyal, short-sighted or he is indeed crazy, all three of those things were the case when he walked out of Highbury at half-time in 2006.  And he still managed to squeak out three excellent years at Portsmouth, so what’s to stop it happening again?


Let’s kick wrestling into football
September 20, 2009, 7:53 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog | Tags: , ,


Woof! Eight games into the season and the Premiership’s already making King Saul look like Neville Chamberlain. In a bid to fit in with the new rage filled football climate, that will be the last academic metaphor in this piece.

Instead, we will indulge ourselves with the precious metaphor of professional wrestling.

For the sake of all those precious Arsenal kids, wouldn’t it be better if all of football’s meanies had a big old wrestling bout rather than sitting around waiting for a sly kick at a head?  I propose we get all the tension out the way in one bone-crunching night of mega-violence.

That’s right, it’s time for the first ever Then Saturday Comes Wrestlemania.  We’ll slap the main protagonists up in spandex and let them resolve their differences the old way

It’s how Americans work out their differences, and hopefully all this soccerball anger will be exercised and we’ll all be singing Ant and Dec by tea-time.

Booked on the card are six feuds that would be better served in the wrestling ring than the football field.  So less of the talking, let’s get to the violence…



oneill vs reo coker

The first battle of the night is the one that erupted on Aston Villa’s training park this week.

Nigel Reo-Coker is (alleged) to have gone a bit mental when teenager Fabian Delph refused to return a pass.  Presumably weeks of pent-up aggression at losing his place to the talented youngster got the better of NRC, and he lashed out at the protege.

Understandably angry at the scenes, strict disciplinarian Martin O’Neill sauntered over to break up the fight only to (allegedly) be struck by Reo-Coker and wrestled to the ground.

Nigel was sent home from training… where he silently plotted for the upcoming battle.

The fight itself was a short affair, with Crazy Eyes Martin O’Neill utilising his uncanny knowledge of mass murderers to vanquish his foe.  The Northern Irish manager used a combination of Hindley, Huntley and Shipman tactics to embarrass his much younger opponent to get a comfortable victory.






This one’s got more history than a 70-year-old prostitute.

The seeds started back when Bellerz celebrated leaving Newcastle by texting club captain Alan Shearer and telling him him “Your legs are gone. You’re too old. You’re too slow”.  Shearer was apparently fuming, and didn’t TB on this occasion.

After leaving The Toon, Craigy rocked up at Liverpool where he proceeded to hit team-mate John Arne Riise with a golf club due to a karaoke dispute.  Riise was apparently fuming, and didn’t join the squad for any future vocal performances (not even on SingStar).

Finally, CB32 had a bout of fistycuffs with a supporter after today’s Manchester derby as he was leaving the pitch.  The fan was apparently fuming, and didn’t catch his train home to Surrey that evening.

The fight itself would be tough to call.  Obviously, Bellamy would disperse with the Manchester United supporter pretty easily.  The Red Devils’ faithful proved themselves to be a spent force when they failed to beat that lovely, lovely Glazer fella.  Therefore, the Plastic Manc would be first eliminated.

Shearer would enter next, and be far too keen to get his hands on little Craig.  Big Al would surely blow out another cruciate ligament as he dashed to grab Bellerz (presumeably that’s why he never bothered running in the last 2 years of his contract).  As the bald legend lay prone, Craig would eliminate him.

Finally though, it’s time for Bellerz to face Norweigian warrior John Arne Riise.  Anyone who’s ever seen his free kicks will know there’s some power in those legs.  One kick up Bellamy’s arse would send the little scumbag out flying out the ring and into the fans, where he would (finally) be lynched by a public that has run out of patience with his little rat antics.  After losing his limbs, Bellamy would be unable to get back to the ring before the 10-count elapsed.





wenger vs allardyce

One of the big money fights.

Allardyce and Wenger have been ideological enemies for a decade, which is probably inevitable when they represent a very stereotypical Frenchman and a very stereotypical Northerner.  Although Allardyce is actually a Brummy, there’s no doubt he should have been born in Burnley.

‘Big’ Fat Sam’s thuggish Bolton/Blackburn teams have long been maligned by Arsene, who crafts a team as whimsical as his spinning bow-ties.  However, much like his players, Wenger doesn’t have the stomach for a fight.

The match itself would be an embarrassing affair, remniscent to playground  bullies everywhere.  Fat Sam qould quickly lock Arsene in a chinese burn, parading him around the ring in a headlock and forcing him to punch himself in the face while saying “why are you hitting yourself?”  The end would come when Arsene runs away from the ring and looking for a teacher to complain to.

Inevitably though, all he runs into is the other bullies, and messrs Hughes, Megson and Bruce give him a pile-on that he will never recover from.





andy goram

After that brutalising contest, it’s time for some comedy relief.  This will come in the form of Footballing Scizophrenic Andy Goram fighting himself in a thrilling encounter.

After it was reported in the press that Goram had a mild form of the mental illness, fans responded with a chorus of “Two Andy Gorams, there’s only two Andy Gorams”.  Despite my reticence at laughing at people with genuine health problems, I’d have no problem booking this inevitably engrossing encounter.

Sadly, the match would not last long.  The barrel-chested (aka lardy) keeper would knock himself out with one large punch to his head.  Unable to beat the 10-count, the match would have to be deemed a draw.  Of course, the merits of whether there was one, two, or no winners would bring about an academic debate that makes Schoenberg’s cat look like Henry’s.





rvp VS adebayor

After that folly, we’re back to the real disputes.  And what is more news-worthy than the rematch from  last week’s one-sided encounter at the City of Manchester Stadium.

In that bout, Robin van Persie limped away with ex-team mate Emmanuel Adebayor’s footprint on his skull.  Rather than reacting on the pitch, RvP went into his shell while Adebayor banged in a goal.

After the game, the whimpering Dutchman produced a lame press release saying; “I am sad and disappointed by my former team-mate Emmanuel Adebayor’s mindless and malicious stamp on me during today’s match.”  Quite noble, but hardly fighting words.

Sadly, this lack of killer instinct would prove his downfall again.  Just like when he played second fiddle to the Togolese striker when they shared the same dressing room, RvP would fail to make his impact in the fight.  He’s shown himself to put his head in dangerous places, and this match would end with another swift boot to the Dutchman’s cranium.






rafa vs fergie

It’s time for the main-event.  The bout the fans paid to see: Alex Ferguson against Rafa Benitez.

Despite the fact neither man manages the team that will win the Premiership this season (that’s Carlo Ancelotti), they seem to have been butting heads constantly ever since last season’s Facts-gate.  It’s only right, therefore, that we get them to settle their differences off the pitch and in the wrestling ring.

Manchester United supporters would inevitably moan about the bout, as is their nature.  But in this case they may have a point: their gaffer is a couple of decades older than Liverpool’s.  Don’t believe the George Foreman hype, that could make a big difference.

However, Fergie is a retired professional athlete whilst Rafa is a retired waiter.  Therefore, the FA were happy to sanction the fight.

The resulting match would inevitably be a cheat-fest.  Both men would resort to hitting the other with chairs and baseball bats as the referee’s back is turned, only to claim innocence and bleat to the fans about the other ‘lacking respect’.

This would go on for about eight or nine hours, before everyone finally left due to a lack of interest at the tediously repetitive scenes.





Kanye West…

Serena Williams…

Emmanuel Adebayor…

What do they all have in common? Yep, that’s right; they’re all bla…tantly in need of anger management classes.

When Adebayor made it 3-1 against Arsenal, it was the most symoblically important goal of his new club’s history.  The comfortable lead proved they can hang with the big boys, and most crucially that they are a genuine challenger for the title.

However, rather than basking in the love of his own fans he chose to run 150 metres to get in the faces of the Gooners fans, and basked in their anger (see above).

Much like Serena and Kanye, he chose a very public platform for public relations suicide.

However, while his American counterparts’ actions were embarrassing, they did at least indicate a passion for their profession.  Williams desperately wanted to get through to the US Open final, and Kanye West was arguing for a fellow professional.  However, both were completely unprofessional in their way of going about it and ended up looking like common thugs.

As a brief aside… what money on Kanye going on a rehab stint for a ‘drug addiction’ and then returning in six months time, re-embraced by Middle America for changing his ways?  It’s the usual approach, and if it worked for Eddie Murphy, Mel Gibson & Hugh Grant it can work for anyone.

Back to the soccerball.  What makes Adebayor different from Serena and Kanye is that his actions were fuelled solely by hatred.  In celebrating in the face of his former fans, Manu showed that his football is more about making others lose, rather than winning himself.  That’s not what sport should be about, and it’s a shame that such great athletic abilities are wasted on such a clearly negative person.

It also proved to the Manchester City fans that what the Togolese cares most about is beating Arsenal, not his new club doing well.  Much like when Gary Neville embarrassed himself and those thick enough to defend him by gloating at Liverpool fans when Manchester United beat them, Adebayor showed himself to be completely devoid of any class or dignity.

He also summed up his waster personality with a disgusting stamp on former team-mate Robin van Persie’s head, which while not life-threatening left the Dutch forward with a bloody scalp.

It’s safe to say he’s lucky Patrick Vieira didn’t resign for Arsenal, because had he been on the pitch Adebayor may not have left it alive.

Gooners fans were furious at Manu's career change

Still, at the end of the game Adebayor was triumphant.  Not only that, he scored a goal (a fantastic header that he turned into a footnote due to his ridiculous celebration).  Sometimes it seems like football’s just not fair.

But then you think that if the Manchester City striker is this consumed with negativity and hate when he is at the peak of his career, just imagine how myopic he will be when he’s in decline?  Or in his 40s?  Removed from the spotlight and the chance to bask in the public’s anger, Adebayor will have a slow and consistent decline.  I’m not one for schaudenfreude, but in this case I’ll relent.

Emmanuel Adebayor, you’re a bad egg and I don’t like you one iota.  Until you announce it was all drug related, check yourself into rehab and then win I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.


Are UEFA & FIFA trying to kill English football?
September 3, 2009, 5:13 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Platini: more or less obsessed with toppling England than Napoleon?

Platini: more or less obsessed with toppling England than Napoleon?

Chelsea have been banned from all transfer dealings until January 2011, after FIFA found they had tapped up French youngster Gael Kakuta.

A report into their pursuit of the unknown winger prior to his 2007 transfer suggests the London club told him to end his contract with Lens and move to Stamford Bridge.  I’d imagine a huge number of transfers happen this way, but for some reason Chelsea have been targeted as the most naughty of all boys and can’t play in the transfer market for two years.

The move has left two schools of thought; those that are laughing at Chelsea’s ironic status as Premiership paupers, and those who believe the international football organisations are setting out to curb English dominance of European football.  Personally, I subscribe to both theories.

Firstly, lets get the conspiracy theory out of the way.  Ever since Norweigian ref Tom Henning Ovrebo masterminded Chelsea’s loss to Barcelona last season, it has seemed that English clubs have received some very peculiar treatment from international football authorities.

After three English teams qualified for last seasons Champion’s League semi-finals, UEFA President Michelle Platini openly accepted that he hoped Barcelona would win the tournamet “for the good of the game”.

This year, Arsenal have been outrageously hit with a two-game ban for Eduardo, imposed due to a rule which does not exist, has no previous precedent and that UEFA have admitted will not be thrust upon any future players found commiting the same offence.

This embargo is further proof that English teams receive extreme punishment from the authorities.  It’s hard to say otherwise, seeing as countless other teams have been found guilty of (but not punished for) tapping up players in the past.

Naturally, we’re all waiting to see what creative ways FIFA or UEFA come up with for curbing Liverpool or Manchester United in Europe.  A retrospective ban on male pattern baldness would neuter Rooney’s threat, while suspensions for unprovoked self-defence is the best way to get rid of that pesky Gerrard fella.

The next angle to come at the whole affair is, quite naturally, to laugh at Chelsea.  It’s hard to shake off the sense of schaudenfeude that a club that bullied the transfer market for so many years has now essentially been expelled from the playground.

"Big issue?"
“Big issue?”

Chelsea’s already ageing squad will not be title challengers in two years time.  By the end of the embargo their number of players aged 30+ players will be outrageous (Cech, Terry, Cavalharo, both Coles, Ballack, Lampard, Anelka, Drogba etc).  This would obviously be a great thing for their younger players such as Daniel Sturridge and Stoch The Dwarf, but a lot of pressure will fall onto Frank Arnesan.

Has he really been producing good young players?  Now it’s his time to prove it.

Finally, it should be noted that The Blues still have a chance to appeal, and the embargo will probably be revoked.  It’s no great surprise that the ban came the day after the transfer window shut, meaning they can appear to have been reprimanded but the whole shambles will be resolved by the time the January transfer window opens.

Chelsea insist they will “mount the strongest appeal possible” and say the sanctions are “totally disproportionate to the alleged offence”.  I must say, I agree with them.

Past precedents suggest they will eventually have it quashed.  The Swiss club FC Sion had a similar embargo imposed on them for tapping up an Egyptian goalkeeper, and it was swiftly reversed after they appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Hopefully that will happen again here.  After all, where else would they spend all of that Adrian Mutu windfall that will be coming their way?

(Kiddy) Fiddler On The Roof
September 1, 2009, 5:34 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog | Tags:

So the first truly mental thing to happen in the Premiership unveiled itself last weekend.  And bizarrely, Arsene Wenger appears to have come out of it fantastically well despite acting a little bit silly.

With ten seconds remaining in the match between Manchester United and Arsenal, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was sent to the stands for having the temerity to be moderately angry about his team’s last minute disallowed goal.

Sadly for Mr Wenger and the hapless officials, there was no way for Arsene to get to the stand.  Instead, he had to climb up onto a roof above the dugout where he tried to watch the rest of the game.

In reality the incident was actually good for Wenger and his unquenchable God complex.  The messiah-like pose he pulled out in front of the baying Manchester United scumbags was legendary, and sums up his whole character; definitely mental, but strangely likable.

As for the fans behind him, they are a disgrace.  For about 10 years fans have sung the ‘pocket of sweets’ song to the Arsenal boss.  In case you’re wondering about the filth Wenger has to put up with, here’s a traditionally Irish Manchester United fan to fill you in on the witty banter from the Old Trafford terraces this weekend;

Lovely stuff.  He never reacts to it, and compared to Alex ‘I fear for my safety at the Emirates Stadium’ Ferguson you never hear anything from him about it.

Now at this junction I’d like to admit that I roped you in to this article with a pun about paedophilia.  But before you criticise me, at least that was a fantastically witty pun.  So for this I grant myself immunity.  The chants Wenger has to put up with (and does so extremely admirably) are neither fantastic nor witty.

It seems strange that Sol Campbell can receive so much support after the disgusting racist chants at Spurs last season, yet Wenger’s continual battle against morons goes un-noticed.  I’m not saying Manchester United (or any other club who subject managers to such abuse) should receive a punishment, but how about just getting a representative to come out and say the chants are disgusting would be a good start.

Even Harry Redknapp did that about the Campbell chants.  In this case, if Bobby Charlton came out and said “stop being idiots, he’s a real person” maybe the nonsense would subside.

Until that day, Wenger will have to put up with a baying pack of idiots behind him at most away games.  And hopefully he will continue to not rise to the bait and stand up to them, quite literally in last week’s case.  And if you’re reading this Arsene to show you how much I like you here you are dressed up as a children’s TV favourite.

That’s all for now, I’m a busy boy.