Then Saturday Comes… the half decent football blog

When Irish eyes aren’t smiling (they are alarmingly myopic)
November 30, 2009, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog | Tags:

What the Irish FA seem to think happened

In a fantastically bitter move, the Irish FA have farcically requested that they be allowed to enter the 2010 World Cup as the unprecedented 33rd team.

Ireland had a lot of sympathy points to bask in after Thierry Henry slapped the ball into William Gallas’ face to allow the French to unjustly progress during their World Cup Qualification Death Match. Yet they are now doing their level best to erode those feelings of solidarity from the footballing world by acting like the most angry footballing entity since Jens Lehmann.

First of all, they should not qualify because although they were treated unjustly they were never robbed of a spot in the tournament. At no stage during their qualification match against France were they ever actually in the lead, yet the way they are collectively winghing you would think that they were 3-0 up before Thierry Henry started to grab every football he saw and throw it into Ireland’s goal (while also breaking Shay Given’s jaw with a Stone Cold Stunner).

Such a thing never happened, sadly.

Instead, Ireland were battling bravely against a French team struggling to find form. If that’s a reason to deserve qualification without actually achieving it then there are probably a good dozen teams that could argue they deserve to be at the World Cup simply because they played at a competitive level against someone who has actually successfully qualified.

Secondly, and more importantly, there is the question of a precedent. If FIFA were to accept that Ireland were cheated by poor officials, then any football team anywhere that is ever privy to a bad decision by a referee will simply be able to whistle at Sepp and the game will be cancelled.

This could hurtle us towards a sport where the game is played on the pitch and the trophies decided in a courtroom.

Alternatively, we could be treated to a series of rematches from contentious games. Who wouldn’t pay to watch “England vs Germany… the 1966 World Cup Revisited”?  After all, it was a dodgy decision that turned the game.  And I’m sure ESPN would be interested in showcasing the match.

Of course, England would only start with 9 men due to Alan Ball and Bobby Moore’s permanent inavailability – The Daily Mail should give them the David Bentley treatment. Call yourselves patriots?

Sadly, Germany’s players are all probably as fit as a fiddle because they were created during the Nazis’ Eugenics experiments. The Deutscheballers would probably win this rematch comfortably.

And for that reason, and many more, I hope the Irish fail in their outrageously illogical request. Compared to the bonkers idea of awarding sympathy places at the World Cup I would much rather see sights like the below one that sparked the controversy.

If you don’t agree with the Irish FA that the above happened I would like to formally challenge you to a fight, because even if I lose it I will get the WBO to overturn the decision and I’ll be Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Eat that haters!


Ashley Cole stars in the Ex-Factor
November 29, 2009, 6:33 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog

Ashley doing his best Carlton Cole impression

His wife may be synonymous with the X-Factor but Ashley Cole showed he has got some Ex-Factor himself, after putting his former club Arsenal to the sword today.

The Chelsea full-back was instrumental in setting up the two first half goals that gave them his side a fully deserved 3-0 victory at The Emirates, making the usually unbreakable William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelan look like Jedward.

Cole put in a great all-round performance, forcing Arsene Wenger to reshuffle at half-time and throw on Walcott to try and test Cole. He didn’t and the England full-back put in an exemplary performance before hobbling off with a knee injury on 68 minutes.

However, in tomorrow’s newspapers you aren’t likely to read about his role in the win. If he is mentioned at all it will probably be in the gossip pages about some sort of a controversy that he chose to watch Strictly Come Dancing instead of X Factor this weekend.

"Haters gonna hate"

"Haters gonna hate"

Ashley, or Cashley as he is known to morons, is one of the least liked footballers in Britain, with more press coverage to his off-field antics rather than his consistently excellent on-field performances.

Exactly what makes Cole such a hate figure isn’t too obvious. There isn’t much to like about him, but there doesn’t seem to be much out of the ordinary to dislike about him either.

True, he has plenty of bad attributes, but they aren’t exclusive to him.

For example, he has a silly famous wife (like David Beckham), he has cheated on said silly famous wife (like Beckham) he has rubbish tattoos (like Beckham), he has fallen out with the manager who gave him his career (like Beckham) and he has engineered a move to another club (like Beckham).

Yet unlike Beckham, Cole suffers from tremendous hatred from football fans. It’s a strange state of affairs. Especially when you consider Ashley Cole is the one who doesn’t have stupid haircuts – maybe that is the variable that makes him so much worse than Lord David.

Alternatively, perhaps he just has an intangible X-Factor that just makes him really , really annoying.

Loving Fat Frank and other international casuals
November 13, 2009, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog | Tags: ,

frankly lampsInternational football, who needs it? Yeah, it’s great for two weeks every other year, but other than that it just gets in the way of the proper fun. Still, at least the pros are doing their best to make the week as fun as possible before the inevitably drab games kick off.

Firstly, where better to start than old Fat Franky Lamps. FL7, as nobody calls him, managed to get injured while sitting on a plane to Dubai, where England are inexpicably playing Brazil tomorrow.

The bakery fan apparently tore a thigh muscle due to the strain of sitting in an economy class seat. That seems quite unlikely, but I did myself receive a bizarre ankle injury from sitting at a desk for too long a couple of weeks ago. So apart from the multimillionaire success side of things, me and Lamps are pretty similar beasts.

In previous updates I may have drifted into a sea of hypothetical injuries, such as Ossie Ardiles choking on a glowstick or other such frivalities, but not these days. Sadly the game has been upped and there is a better blog than mine in town, called The Long Ball Tactic. Give it a read, it tends to be much more engrossing than this hastily assembled tat.

Getting onto more tangible matters, the first round of the World Cup qualifiers are booked for the weekend. To be fair this is genuinely exciting stuff, and is the best international football gets outside of the proper tournaments.

Sadly, FIFA decided to quite openly fix the draw through their inevitable decision to seed the teams once it became likely that one of the big guns wouldn’t make it. Therefore we have been denied potentially mouthwatering tie such as Portugal vs Russia.

That said, I do think that Ireland and France are probably quite well balanced. If you hadn’t watched much football since Euro 2008 you may think France will wipe the floor with the Irish. Indeed even in personnel the Champion’s League regulars such as Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry and Eric Abidal would on paper destroy Premiership dogsbodies such as Glenn Whelan, Keith Andrews and Kevin Kilbane.

However where Trappatoni is succeeding for the Irish, the painfully inept Raymond Domenech is floundering for the French.  While Ireland play as a team, France stutter as a collection of undisputably talented individuals.

“It’s a tight one for sure so it is.”

Evidence of this difference in outlook is apparent from the (apparently real) documents leaked online earlier this week. I have to say I doubt they are genuine, but if they are there is no way anyone could begrudge the Irish of a victory and a place in the World Cup. The competition would, without doubt, be more fun with the Irish than the French.

Check out this correspondance;

My heart says Ireland will win, but my head says France.

Qualifier predictions (over both legs)
France beat Ireland
Russia beat Slovenia
Portugal beat Bosnia
Ukraine beat Greece

Red Nev: A frustrating man
November 6, 2009, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog | Tags: , , ,

Gary Nevil

Britain's most annoying person ever and Jeremy Beadle

Gary Neville is a lot of things: a footballer, spiteful, 30% moustachieoud, lonely, evangelical and infuriating.

However, could we now add cheeky prankster to the mix?

After 15 years of winding people up for being a jumped up yet watered down Mancunian version of Arthur Scargill, Neville Sr has annoyed countless football fans across the country with his pathetic efforts to prove how much of a “red” he is.

Needless to say, nobody doubts how much he was when he wrote “UNITED” in 15 foot flowers infront of his house, as was exposed on Google Earth.

He has danced in front of Man City fans and goaded Liverpool supporters after home wins.  He has organised a media boycott (and apparently almost a full walk out) from the international team because the press had the temerity to criticise Rio Ferdinand for missing a drugs test.

Such incidents, plus the continual banal chatter you’d expect from an institution of one of the most arrogant institutions in the world, made him a hate figure all over the country.

However, with one comment I have decided that maybe, just maybe, I am starting to warm to him.

His accusation that Manchester United fans’ appaling hooliganism at Oakwell in the Cup game against Barnsley was probably the best footballing wind-up since Peter Kenyon professed his love for Chelsea after leaving Neville’s beloved Red Devils.

Here’s what Gaz had to say about the incidents that saw Manchester United scumbags throwing missiles at stewards, looting catering facilities and scaring the staff so much they felt the need to lock themselves in a cupboard until the police arrived.  This is not hearsay – the club have graciously admitted their fans were in the wrong and have agreed to the £10,000 fine.

Still, here’s what their club captain had to say about the shameful events.

“United fans got boisterous. They do. But anything that happens with us gets blown out of proportion.”

Amazing. Even in the most pure evidence of MUFC fans acting like the arrogant scumbags they are so often accused of, Gary thinks they are still the bastions of footballing righteousness.  After all it was only little old Toby Tyke FC, hey Gazza?

If only such approaches were taken about other footballing hooligan incidents.

Kenny Dalglish on the Heysel incident: “Yeah our Scouse boys get a bit lairy and chased after some foreigners. That’s what they do!”

Bobby Robson after John Barnes got bananas thrown at him: “Yeah, our English fans are racists. That’s what they do!”

Gary Galatasary on the Leeds stabbings: “What of it?  Our ultras enjoy a good murderous rampage. That’s what they do!”

I can’t believe Red Nev (as he no doubt loves to be known) really believes that the Manchester United fans were doing nothing at all.  If someone had the temerity to treat the hallowed staff at Old Trafford in the same way, I genuinely think Gary might cry.

No, I believe Gary has seen this as his way of remaining relevant.  He knows he can’t hack it on the pitch so has decided that instead of being a dispicable scummer on it, he’s going to court controversy off it.

Here’s more evidence to my theory;

Well congratulations Gary, you’ve accomplished your mission of becoming a media wind-up merchant.  Now why don’t you retire, get a job on Talk Sport and spend all your days on the wind-up.

Also we wouldn’t be able to see your attempt at a ‘tache.

Also someone might actually call you.

Also you couldn’t be as crap there as you are on the pitch now.

Also Phil was always a better player as well.

Also David doesn’t miss you in Los Angeles.



I’m sure you’re all pooped out from all that trick or treating, but TSC has teamed up with DJ Spoony and Frankie Boyle to bring you a quick review of what some of the footballing world’s most gruesome managers got up to this “Devil Day”.



How low can you go, say how low can you go?



“Me go up the road? You’re ‘avin a giraffe, guv!”



paul hartAfter all that lovely dancing,  there’s only one place to move; the change of fortunes on the south coast since Avram ‘Toad of Toad Hall’ Grant sauntered into town.

Indeed it is quite befitting that on Hallowe’en weekend we should focus on three of the most gruesome faces in football; Steve Bruce, Paul Hart and the Avramanator.

Since Grant dropped his kippah back at the south coast club, they have moved from relegation certainties to a team which looks good enough for a mid-table finish.  Sure, maths geeks may point at the table and note that Pompey are still bottom of the pile, but I disregard their input with the subtle arrogance of bestowed only by portly boys who follow soccer on their respective tellyboxes.

Portsmouth’s successive 4-0 thrashings of Stoke and a frankly scizophrenic Wigan Athletic team were results that have been coming for a long time.  Their new signings have bedded in well (even Kevin Prince Boateng!), and they seem to have uncovered something of a gem with this Dindane chap, whoever he is.  The changing point was obviously the win away at Wolves, and it’s no coincidence that Grant’s return to the dressing room came just days before that result.

Big Av, as he lives to be called, has been a roaring success wherever he has plonked his ample backside in the Premiership, but he still suffers terribly from what used to be known as “Roy Hodgson Syndrome”.  The Oliver Holts of the world will never look favourably on him; you can just imagine The Fat Sweaty Mess Of A Journalist (aka Martin Samuel) tutting ironically as he wheezes out of breath throughout a passionless press conference.

When he does show some emotion he is similarly mocked, for the frankly iconic knee-rocking celebation on reaching the Champion’s League final.  The fact his pose looked a little doddery compared to the admittedly debonair Jose Mourinho was never lost on the press while the Gravanator barked orders at Stamford Bridge.

Yet when he left, Chelsea went to pieces.  “Big” Phil Scolari was exposed as a crackpot, and was sacked within weeks, and the Stamford Bridge club went from 2nd in Europe to 3rd in the Premiership.  All the while, Avram still got no job offers or praise.

Hopefully his return to the set-up at Pompey will rejuvinate the club.  Although it still rancours with me to call them a Premiership club when the likes of Leeds, Newcastle and of course Leicester City sit in the lower leagues, Portsmouth deserve Premiership football more than the likes of Hull, Wigan or the deathly boring Birmingham City.

A good word should also go into Grant’s boss, Paul Hart.  He may have overseen the terrible start to the season but he never panicked and went mental at the pressure (see Brown, Phil).  In Hart and Grant Portsmouth have got two respectable senior figures and will probably do what seemed impossible a couple of weeks ago and beat the drop.

For the record I’m tipping Hull City, Birmingham and Wolves for the drop.