Saturday, February 9, 2008

Andre Bikey Bowls Over His Competition

It wasn't really his competition. It was a medic attending to one of his Cameroonian teammates in the waning moments of its African Nations Cup semifinal victory over Ghana. I have no idea what was going through his mind, but one thing is for sure--he will miss the final against Egypt because of the redcard received.

[h/t Deuce of Davenport]

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The EPL May Want to Rethink Its International Game Strategy

As previously reported, the EPL (suck it, Barclay's) hopes to embark on an international three-hour-tour with League games. The referees for these matches may want to have a world with the league if any games are scheduled in southeast Asia. In Thailand, a referee was assaulted after the team took issue with his calls.

A Thai soccer referee was beaten up by an entire team after sending off three of their players during a match to decide promotion to country's second division, local media reported on Friday.


The angry players charged into Prakong's dressing room at the stadium in Ayutthaya, north of Bangkok, and started to kick and punch him. They dispersed after police fired gunshots into the air.

Don't let Chelsea know that these sorts of actions are tolerable on the road. Who knows what will happen? The refs should start arming themselves.
Update: More evidence of southeast Asia unruliness.

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Friday, February 8, 2008

I Realize This Sounds Like I'm Whinging

I'm sure there is all kinds of hand wringing going on at Anfield. Yep, Rafa, bummer to lose your best player ahead of maybe the biggest match of the season. Sorry those mid-season friendlies only seem to adversely effect your squad. But in the interest of equal time, let's look at the body count at Arsenal.

Rosicky is out.
Flamini left the France A game against Congo with "stiffness."
Senderos suffered an MCL injury against Engerland
Almunia first had a finger injury. Now he's got a virus. He's out (And Jens had a massive blunder in Germany's win over Austria).
Denilson has a hammy.
Abou Diaby was injured at Citeh last week.
Toure and Eboue are both in Ghana for the 3rd place Cup of Nations game.
Van Persie is well on target to miss half a season for the 2nd straight campaign.

I count nine.

That and the Gunners host Blackburn, maybe the most physical team in the EPL, a style Arsenal has difficulty with. Injuries are part of the game, and having depth is a sign of a well managed organization, but Arsenal has been patching together a backline for the better part of a month. And they have a BRUTAL 10 days ahead of them (Rovers, a healthy United squad, and Milan who are going to have Pato and Kaka back).

So, yeah, Reds, sorry to hear about your shoes—no really, I am as I desperately want you to beat the crap out of Chelsea—it's just that my rooting interest is about to take the pitch having lost 18 feet.

Not saying. Just saying.

Here are this weekends scores.


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How dare they!

The lord of all football and the prime mover of every playing field in the universe today declared that the Premier League were bang out of order for not talking to him before publically declaring an interest in playing games abroad.
How dare they! Do they know who he is? How was this possible that Sir Whingy Face the overlord of all things obicular was not consulted for his opinion. I for one call for an immediate inquiry followed by 100 lashes across the back and a smack on the bum for any underling found guilty of such arrogant actions .

Well I hope that this little tirade reported on the bbc football website slips under the skin of the real folks in charge of the Premier League. If so I should imagine that Sir Given Right's red devils will be plucked from the 'hat' to play Tottenham in Timbuktu. Or maybe Fulham in Fallujah. How about Bolton in Banghazi. Oh how great would the world be if FA Cup games were played abroad. Sir Alex could even lick his lips at the thought of Notts County in Niamey.


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Chelsea: still a dilletante club

The "braintrust"

You know that uncool guy at the club/bar/underground S&M dungeon who is there solely due to the size of his wallet, but pretends to be a regular? That’s sort of like how Chelsea are currently pretending to be a properly run football club and not the toy of an egomaniac Russian billionaire.

Peter Kenyon was quoted in a Bloomberg (no link, sorry) article to the effect that Chelsea are trying to be an actual business and reign in their wage bill.

Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Chelsea has shaved 6 percentage
points from its salary costs since July and will meet a target
to reduce payrolls at the London soccer club to 55 percent of
sales, Chief Executive Officer Peter Kenyon said.

Team payments to players have shrunk to ``about 70
percent'' of revenue, from 76 percent in fiscal 2006, Kenyon
said in an interview at Claridge's Hotel in London last night.
Wages at the club rose to 114 million pounds ($222 million) from
108.9 million pounds in the year through June 2006.

``We've got strict objectives in terms of where we want to
get to and they are 55 percent of our turnover represented in
wages,'' Kenyon said at a London Chamber of Commerce and
Industry dinner. ``That's our target, which we're comfortable
we'll get to.''

Later on in the piece, Kenyon also mentions how Chelsea have more or less balanced the books in terms of transfer spending over the past year. But it’s hard to square the logical business talk above with persistent rumors floating around that Roman and Avram want to buy Ronaldinho for 60 million pounds. Ronaldinho could join some of Chelsea's other shrewd transfer bargains, like Sheva and Ballack. Don’t they realize that Brazilians age in dog years? Exhibits: Adriano, Ronaldo. Letting Ronaldinho run wild with notorious boozers like Joe Cole is not going to help with that spare tire.

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If you've ever played the highly addictive Football Manager, you probably quickly learned the following:

  1. It kills your social life
  2. It's scary good at predicting super stars (playing as Tottenham, I picked up Bojan from Barcelona's youth team before I had ever heard of him after a scout recommended him)
  3. It's annoying playing English clubs since you can only select 5 subs instead of the 7 that's the norm on the continent.
Well, rejoice, because #3 is about to change - English Premier League clubs will be able to name seven substitutes in league matches next season.

This is great news for the Arsènes and the Avrams and the Alexes who will have to make fewer tough choices come selection time, but surely smaller clubs will benefit too. As the rules are currently, you have to sacrifice tactical flexibility for emergency situations, or vice versa. 1 goalkeepers + 4 field players are simply not enough to provide cover for your starters.

The rule change, however, won't do much for your social life of the Football Manager addict. For that, you'll have to go cold turkey. Believe me, I've hit rock bottom once and I'm never going back, if I can help it.


Football Fashion Week 2008

You might not have noticed, but 2008 is an even-numbered year, and you know what that means, right? Your national team is getting new uniforms! And the past week being the first FIFA international date of the year, we got to see what national teams will be wearing from now through 2009. Let's take it manufacturer by manufacturer.

Puma: Thanks to its African strategy, you've already seen Puma's 2008 designs at the African Cup of Nations. The look is pretty plain - you've seen one, you've seen them all, just different colors filling the template. The only one of note, Italy (top), has gone with a lighter shade of blue than the previous, World Cup winning model. Not terribly exciting or off-template, but I'm glad they did away with the gold numbering - one of the shittier uniform trends of the past few years, I think.

Umbro: The recent Nike acquisition does this thing with England, where the white home jerseys are released in odd years while the alternate red jerseys are released in even years. They figure the home whites would be big sellers no matter when, but they can capitalize on the build-up to a major tournament like the Euro or World Cup to sell the less popular red jerseys. Which is fine, except of course, England's missing out on Euro 08. That doesn't stop Umbro from releasing the new red shirts, which England wore for Fab Cap's England managerial debut.

I have a feeling opinions will be split over the shoulder stripes but I for one like it. It's reminiscent of the old Admiral kits (sans exposed thunder thighs). Extra points for doing away with gold numbers.

adidas: Can't say I was a huge fan of adidas's 2006 look, since they tended to be a little too busy visually, so it's nice to see they've gone with a simpler, but still modern design.
Take Japan, for example. The 2006 unis on the left had stripes in all directions on a purple-blue base. The 2008 design stripped it down completely, going with a calmer shade of blue, and a slight touch of yellow for accent. I approve.

Germany's 2006 uniform wasn't all that bad, and I'm not sure if the new design is an improvement. I do like the emphasis on black, and how the front number fits inside the chest design - there's something Bauhaus-ish about it.

Though the most notable change for adidas in this cycle isn't the design template, but the uniform colors. It used to be that you didn't fuck with national team colors too much, even the away colors, where you'd see more varieties at the club level. But France, which usually wears all-white when not wearing blue, has come out with a red away kit.

For the same reason the Giants look silly in their red alternates, it doesn't look right for Les Bleus to wear rouge.

What does work better is Spain's new gold away kit, a departure from their usual all-white alternate. Looks downright regal, I say.

Nike: Last, and possibly least, the evil empire. Their 2006 range was actually pretty well designed, going for classic looks than the post-modern adidas range. They stayed with the plain look, so while there's not much to like, there isn't much to get excited about either.

As you can see with Brazil, there isn't a huge change, though I'll miss the Madras collars on the 2006 design. USA went through a more dramatic change, and I think it's a step down.
The vertical stripes gave the USMNT a unique look without getting too tacky. The new design is just too.... blah. Finally, Netherlands made a major change in their away kit, ditching the quasi-retro white with diagonal stripes, and going with a quasi-retro light blue with horizontal stripes.
It's not a bad look at all, and probably the most streetwear-worthy of all the new releases.

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

The EPL packs its bags for a vacation!!!

Depressing, jaded, inevitable, much like the thought of another Jamie Kennedy movie. The news came out this morning that the EPL is considering adding an extra game to the English season, with that magic 39th game being played somewhere abroad. Magic. In other news: nothing is sacred.

The powers that be are hungry and aroused at the thought of football's globalization in branding, with this news serving as surely the first point in a long list of wacky, zany ideas to follow. As it stands, the 10 games will be scheduled so as to avoid any two of the biggest 5 or 6 clubs facing each other [presumably in the hopes of setting up a series of 4-0 wins], and then cities around the world get to bid [rather ambiguously] for the right to host.

Sure, it makes fiscal sense, as Mihir Bose points out:

"The growth of the Premier League has been impressive in the last 15 years thanks to the sale of television rights in this country, but now the market in the United Kingdom is becoming saturated and it is the overseas market which is now the big target area."
but what it's come to? Overseas television rights are big business, but the concept of bringing the sport to peoples' doorsteps is a little cynical to me. Remember when the Giants and Dolphins "played" at Wembley Stadium? Or preseason NFL being hosted in Japan? Oh how they clamored and shouted for the chance to see superstars play for 4 drives before ceding way to the walk-ons!

Unsurprisingly, the Football Supporters Federation has jumped all over this story, and surely not just because they think it's an early April Fool:

"The FSF has no doubt whatsoever that the vast majority of supporters are against this, and believe it would drag the Premier League into the realms of farce. When this ludicrous idea was first mooted in October last year, we ran a poll here on our website and a huge majority of supporters - 80% who took the trouble to vote - were in complete opposition to this.

Are we going to see local derbies played in a foreign country thousands of miles away? Are supporters supposed to accept missing the biggest games of their season because it's being played on the other side of the planet? Let's face facts, the sole motivation for this is the Premier League to make more money - aren't they making enough already? This displays a complete disregard for the proud traditions of the English game as well as a crass lack of consideration for football supporters in general."

Couldn't have put it better myself, really.

There is a famous saying that I'll probably butcher right now, but it essentially says that the minute you start to fail is the minute that you stop being yourself, and this is what it seems the EPL is doing. It's taking our product and removing from it the very thing that matters: the people who've spent lifetimes supporting, cheering, investing in it.

Bringing a game like Bolton vs. Blackburn to Bangkok is going to demonstrate nothing, and prove even less, the only beneficiaries being the players' passports and the EPL's ridiculously swollen coffers.

Surely, it should not be countries paying for the privilege of hosting Middlesbrough/West Ham? Shouldn't the EPL be begging the world market and paying them for the chance to take part?

I feel like the EPL makes more than enough money on simply broadcasting the game abroad, and the idea of puppeteering the teams and players on a world stage is ludicrous. Of course, we knew this day was coming, but at what cost?

Thankfully, the lefty Guardian blog agrees with me to a point. Read it up, and offer your equally-depressing visions for the EPL's future in the comments section.

When will we see cheerleaders? TV time-outs? American players? [joke on the last one... sorry folks]

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Choices, choices.

When I first heard about and signed up I was very skeptical to say the least. By now you all know the deal, right? Thousands of fans ponied up 35 quid and we all now own Ebsfleet of the mighty Blue Square Premier League (the old Vauxhall conference).
We will pick the team, choose the board and have a say on all of the decisions that come along when running a football team. It's been a long time since I signed up and very little seemed to happen. Until now...Hurrah!

Yesterday I voted on two crucial issues. Firstly on how many of the new 'owners' should sit on the board? The more the merrier I said. 11 its is. I Cant wait to see how many of my co-owners also plumped for the maximum number. Surely that makes the most sense?

Secondly I had to decide on the new kit. As you can see from the picture above there was a variety of choices. Especially when the fleet are on the road to Stevenage. We don't want all those boinging boro fans laughing at our boys do we? Hell no. So away shirt one was out. Its very nice if you are playing in 1946 and like polo mints. Out too went the Inter Milan rip off. I can hear the songs now as our 5th tier strikers bang one shot after another over the bar and the stand into the car park. "Inter Milan yer having a laugh" or maybe "You're not Inter in disguise". No no no. Strip 3 is definitely out of the question. That leaves strip 2. Not controversial at all. In fact I think its quite nice. I am a little worried that my fellow owners and I may not see eye to eye. So I ask you, the loyal UF readers to help ease my worries.

Did I do good? What would you have gone for? Leave a comment and let me know.


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Wednesday, February 6, 2008


The new US shirt drives the cougars wild

Tonight, the US Men's National Team plays host to El Tri at Houston's Reliant stadium. Is the US going to continue its recent run of domination over the Mexicans? Or will Hugo Sanchez's boys actually beat the Americans for the first time in seven tries? Pointless nationalism after the jump.

Tonight's friendly, which is rapidly becoming an annual tradition (and excellent money spinner for US Soccer), features CONCACAF's two best teams for what seems like the 1,000 time in the past couple of years. Then again, beating Mexico never gets old. The big story is the debut of a new generation of players on both sides. The Mexicans called in Dos Santos from Barcelona and Carlos Vela from Osasuna (he's Arsenal property). The US counters with Michael Bradley, who has been out of his mind at Herenveen, Freddy Adu, and Jozy Altidore, the Haitian sensation. Sadly Bob Bradley did not leave Landon back home in California to work on his tan. This should be a really exciting game, as both teams have more or less a first choice starting XI. The crowd will likely be overwhelmingly pro-Mexico, but I think the US continues its domination with a 3-1 win.

Oh, and the best news of the night by far is that the moronic tandem of Dave O'Brien and Eric Wynadla have apparently been replaced by J.P. Dellacamera and John Harkes. So hopefully there won't be any comparisons of corner kicks to Manny Ramirez home runs over the Monster tonight.

For more pregame hype, check out these links.

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Someone Really Will Work For Food

Could I change but one letter, this might be one of the better headlines ever: "Germany's Fanz to coach Cuba free of charge"

Still, phonetically, it's pretty awesome: German fans are going to call the shots in Cuba, and the Cubans aren't even going to charge them for the privilege. Awesome.

Eh, maybe not.

Instead, Reinhold Fanz, coach of German club Bonner SC (oh, again, just one letter and this would be so much more amusing) will manage the Cuban national side in exchange for only his living and travel expenses.

For those not in the know, Bonner SC is not in the Bundesliga. It's not even in the sequel, Bundesliga II: Electric Bugaloo. Bonner has subsisted in tier III and IV for most of its existence (1965). It even made a brief visit to Verbandsliga Mittlerhein (V) in 2000-01.

Nicht kann Deutsch, but I'm thinking Verbandsliga translates as "very bad liga."

Anyway, Bonner has put that sordid mess behind them and lifted themselves back to Oberliga Nordrhein (IV). Yipee.

One of three things is probably true here:

A) There's not much upward mobility for coaches stuck in the 4th divsion of German football.
B) Cuba really is a socialist workers paradise, or
C) Fanz truly does love his job so much, he's willing to do it for free (Suckers, Bonner!).

I suppose those options are not mutually exclusive, but anyone who has actually been to Cuba can assure you that B is not the case. That said, if Fanz has any kind of nest egg built up from his playing and coaching days in the mutterland, he is going to live better than you and I can ever imagine.

Cuba is swimming with drop-dead model-quality gorgeous women, who will happily give themselves up to you for the price of dinner and a few drinks. It sounds a bit sordid, but A) it's not a straight cash transaction and B) how is that any different from what happens in the US of A? Or how is it different other than the fact that it runs pennies on the dollar?

It could be a self-defeating proposition though. The appeal of a foreigner to a Cuban woman is that he represents a means off the island. Fanz isn't going anywhere, but his reward is that he gets to coach the 71st FIFA-ranked team in the world. And he'll get nothing (and like it apparently) for his efforts.

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From Russia Without Vodka

The Russian National Team does not have a friendly scheduled during this international week, but its pre-season training camp will certainly provide a stern test for the team. Guus Hiddink, the team manager, is holding the camp at a five-star luxury resort in Turkey. The resort has free drinks for all of its guests but the Russian team is not allowed to take advantage of the benefits. Hiddink's decision has the Russians talking and setting back any progress on Russian stereotypes at least 15 years.

"It certainly wouldn't have been possible under Hiddink's predecessors in the national team, and in the old Soviet days, it would be unthinkable to do such a thing," a source within the Russian FA, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters.

"Then we would lose a few of the players for sure. Also some of the coaches would find themselves incapable of holding any kind of training."
Hiddink, thankfully, doesn't buy into these stereotypes. But, curiously, still insists on the rules, not even bending them for Yuri Zhirkov, who took time off from training to get married. Although, Hiddink apparently isn't forbidding the horizontal mambo.

"I got to spend one day with Inna before she went back to Moscow," the 24-year-old said with a deep sigh.

"It's pre-season training, so everything else must wait. Inna knew beforehand she was marrying a football player."

Ah, yes, the life of a professional footballer. They never have sex with hot women.

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The Good, The Bad, The WTF

It is no stretch to say that the North American Soccer League had an odd history. For every relatively successful franchise like the New York Cosmos, there were numerous failures. Littered among these failures are names such as Rochester Lancers, Philadelphia Atoms, San Diego Jaws and Team America (fuck yeah!). Not all of these failures have receded from the public mind, though. There is a team that played one season, finished last in its conference and folded that is still remembered for what may be the worst uniform of all time. That team is the Caribous of Colorado.

Now, If you have ever done any kind of search on ugly uniforms, no matter what the sport, this shirt should definitely have come up.
If anyone ever asks you why soccer never caught on in the US after Best, Pele and Beckenbauer came over, all you have to do is show them this image. Colorado tried to make their fans think they were going to a goddamn rodeo. My question is, how the fuck were the players not too embarrassed to take the pitch in these monstrosities? I guess that sometimes, a paycheck is a paycheck, and you just go collect it.

What about safety issues with that (ugh) fringe? When I was playing youth soccer at about this time, you couldn't have so much as a string friendship bracelet on for fear of injuring yourself, your opponent, the mascot, overhead birds or anything else within a five mile radius. Here we have fringe which, when applied liberally to your opponents face, could cause them to choke and die! It's ridiculous, I tell ya. I don't think it's any surprise that this is also the generation that marketed Bag o' Glass as a kid's toy.

Before I go, I would like to say, that I do like the image of the buck carrying the soccer ball in his antlers. Though, I must say that either that's a small deer or a huge ball. Did that have something to do with the altitude of playing in Colorado? Oh, and here is the only 'net shot of these shirts in action, in a game against the Portland Timbers (no MLS for you!).

images courtesy and

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Scotland Round Up

That picture up there? That's the earliest surviving map of Great Britain. England is pretty recognizable and Wales is more or less correct. On the other hand, Scotland is crudely rendered like the earliest cave drawings of an erect penis. Just thought I would share. No allegory there whatsoever. Nope.

The fixture list in Scotland this weekend was jumbled by fifth round ties in the SFA Cup. There was intrigue before the weekend fixtures even began, as the SFA had to sort out the fourth round result of Brechin City-Hamilton.
Midweek, Aberdeen was told that their tie against Brechin was postponed, because the aforementioned match needed a replay after Brechin fielded two ineligible players. Aberdeen protested the postponement because their fixture list is full with upcoming Euro and League Cup ties. The SFA assented and did the sensible thing, removing Brechin City from the Cup. In the Fifth round tie, Hamilton outplayed the Premiership hosts, losing (thankfully) on a Zander Diamond 62nd minute goal.

Aberdeen's prize for advancing is a home tie hosting Celtic. Not exactly the draw one hopes for. Celtic slammed Killie 1-5 on Saturday and look to be in great form chasing Rangers for the title. The only other cup tie that was decided over the weekend saw Queen of the South defeating Morton 0-2. Replays will be necessary for Hibs-Rangers, Livingston-Partick Thistle (nil), and St Mirren-Dundee United, all nil draws. Surprise, surprise, Motherwell-Dundee and Ross County-St Johnstone were called off because of weather.

In the First Division, Hamilton Academicals have opened a five point lead on Dundee for the lone promotion spot to the SPL. Stirling looks dead in the water at the foot of the table, with Clyde and Morton losing the race for the negative playoff spot. The Second Division shows a close fight at the top with three points separating three squads. Ross County currently holds the top spot, but are being chased by Raith Rovers and Airdire United. At the bottom, Berwick Rangers (they're in England, BTW) are 13 points adrift. Berwick will be replaced by East Fife who hold a commanding 21 point lead at the top of Division Three.

That's it for me, I'm going to try to find a Sopcast of the Aberdeen-Dundee United League Cup semi. Come on the Dons!

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Drogba Unwilling to Sit Through Time-Share Presentation

Didier Drogba was the 2006 African Footballer of the Year and after a stellar campaign the past Premiership season with 33 total goals for Chelsea and the EPL Golden Boot, Drogba looked fit for a repeat performance. Yet, it appears the Confederation of African Football had different ideas.

Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba did not win the 2007 African Footballer of the Year award because he refused to attend Friday's ceremony in Lome, the team spokesman said on Monday.

Jean-Claude Djacus said the Confederation of African Football (CAF) had planned to give the award to the Chelsea forward but decided not to after he said he would not travel to the Togolese capital to collect it.

The CAF awarded Mali International and FC Sevilla striker Frédéric Kanouté with the award instead. Kanouté collected his award along with a free 3-day vacation to one of three wonderful locations--Johannesburg, Darfur, or Ouagadougou--with airfare and lodging included.

Drogba's refusal to attend is not without reason. His team, Côte d'Ivoire, is in the middle of the African Nations Cup in Ghana and had a quarterfinal match on Sunday against Guinea. Flying to another country (albeit a nearby country) two nights before a big game doesn't seem like the greatest idea. Who were the geniuses that thought that it would be a good idea to have the awards ceremony during the largest African tournament?

[Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images]

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The Latest And Longest Weekend Review Ever

See that. That's a guy in a Chrisitano Ronaldo jersey. Obviously. What you probably can't tell from the shitty phone pic is that he's wearing a Boston Red Sox hat. Look at the size adjuster on the back, if that were at all legible, you'd see there are indeed two little red socks stitched into the tab.

Is there any clearer way to announce to the world that you are a frontrunning douchebag than to couple your man love for the pink-wearing Portugese national with a wikked retahded hat?

Anyway, that guy sat quietly next to me for 94 minutes during the Spurs v. Man U match on Saturday morning. And we did not say word one to each other. Nope, not a word. I knew nothing about him. And he knew nothing about me. He probably thought I was a Spurs fan because, well, I was pulling for Spurs.

This is not something I would normally do. In fact, that roughly two hour span was like maybe chemically engineering New Years a little too much and ending up in a BBGG foursome. You probably know you are going to feel creeped and weirded out when you wake up the next morning and realize that you were that close to another naked and aroused man, but hey, there's also two naked chicks there, so, eh, what the hell.

Not that I would have any idea what that's like at all. No way.

But there I was, parked at the bar at Ginger's and pulling for Tottenham. Why? Well, Arsenal had already handed SGE and Manchester Citeh their first home defeat of the season, so a Man U loss would leave the Gunners three points clear.

And, shit, I think I'd consider voting Republican if it meant Arsenal winning the Prem this year. All I had to do was hate Spurs a little less than I hate the Mancs for 90-plus minutes. No problem. And so it was, Berbatov deservedly put Tottenham up 1-0. And I had Mr. Hat to my left, oh, and another obnoxious Red Devil to my right.

The irony being the dude on my right, with every touch, every whistle, every call, and every non-call... "Fuh, fuckssake." "Ah wot the fuck?" The whole match long. Mr. I've Got A Ronaldo Kit? Not a peep.

The morning only got better when the man who was a Spur not 48 hours before, Jermain Defoe, leveled Portsmouth with Chleasa. Do I dare dream the near-perfect morning? There's nothing schade about schadenfruede when it involves Chelsea and Man U giving up points at the same time.

Three minutes of stoppage time were added and at 94:00 on the clock, United lined up for a corner. The only person close to marking Carlos Tevez was also wearing a red jersey and on the match's final strike United leveled.

Goddamit. Tottenham can't even defend a corner. Dicks.

But the Tevez goal sent my leftorium denizen into a rapturesque series of shouts.

At first I thought he was screaming: "Kitson, Kitson..." Which would have been really fucking peculiar because Dave Kitson plays for Reading.

After about a half dozen shouts in, I realized Ronaldo Red Sox didn't have Tourette's and was saying "Get some."

I've been a sports fan my entire life. I've been to a Final Four, a World Series, a World Cup, two college Football National Championship games, and a myriad of other non-championship events. Never have I ever heard anyone say anything as patently stupid and meaningless as "Get some" in celebration.

But that wasn't even the best part. Amidst the barrage of "get some" after "get some" he turned to me and shouted, "Fuck you."

Whoa, slow down there, chief, all I had done was pull for Spurs. And even that was slightly painful for me, so it was pretty muted. Apparently pulling for anyone besides the Mancs is worth a big fat "fuck you" to a Red Devil.

Anyway, what's the lesson in all of this?

Sometimes people are exactly what they seem. I took the phone pic of the dickweed's shirt and hat about halftime. Then I actually felt a little guilty for being so judgmental about someone I had never even spoken to. Turns out, when you wear a Ronaldo jersey and a BoSox hat you are wearing your entire personality on your sleeve (and head). At the 94th minute I felt more stupidity than guilt.

And the guy on my right? Save for his impartial observations, he seemed pretty cool. Turns out he was. We had a little chat after the match. He said "Well played." I said "I'm not a Spurs fan" and we exchanged some mutual respect for how good our respective rooting interests are.

Yep, sometimes your prejudices are 100% correct.

There's also a fun addendum to the story. What Mr. Dickhead McDouchetool doesn't know is that he also sat next to me when the Gunners pulled even at the death to salvage a draw at the Emirates the first time United and Arsenal squared off this season. And Saturday, with him next to me, United gave up two points on a draw at White Heart Lane. So every time you sit next to me, dude, the Red Devils draw. I'll take having your front-running, stupid-expression-shouting, get-up-earlier-and-shower-next-time ass sit next to me every day and twice on Sundays; and you can scream "Kit-son" all you like because the end result is 2 points less for United.

Oh, and fuck you Keane. You were alone in on Van Der Saar with space and time and you chipped it right at him.

Anyway, less turned out to be more and we were right, there was less scoring. Both for me and the teams in the Prem.

Blackburn 0 - 0 Everton
Tottenham 1 - 1 United
Fulham 2 -1 Aston Villa
Wigan 1 - 0 West Ham
Portsmouth 1 -1 Chelsea
Reading 0 - 2 Bolton

Get Some!
Birmingham 1 -1 Derby (0-1)
Newcastle 1 - 1 Boro (2-2)
L'pool 3 - 0 Sunderland (3-1)

Hey clown, we're 2 points clear
Man City 1 - 3 Arsenal (0-1)

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Security, Please Escort the Freckled Man off the Premises

You know that guy at your office? The one who was fired three months ago, but keeps showing up anyway? He'll come in unannounced, gives unsolicited advice to his replacement, gives lectures about "that's not the way we do things around here", and otherwise acts like he wasn't fired for turning everything he turned into crap? You know that guy? Of course you don't! Because that guy would have to be pretty delusional to think anything he says would be taken seriously.

Unless of course, you happen to work at the Football Association and "that guy" is Steve McClaren.

He thought he'd be ever so helpful to his much, much more qualified replacement, telling us Fab Cap must (must!) hand the captain's armband to John Terry. If you feel like you've read this post before, it's because, well, you have. He just won't shut up!

Look, I'm not going to take anger management advice from O.J. Simpson, nor will I take pointers from Alan Greenspan on how to manage the interest rates, and Fabio Cappello certainly won't take anything Second Choice Steve says without a grain, nay, a sack of salt. And really, John Terry? The same Terry who missed the match that essentially got McClaren canned, but was fit enough to start 3 days later for Chelsea? That's some serious commitment to the national team, right there.

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African Cup Semi-Finals nailed down.

Egypt - Angola played a great match, and reaffirmed my belief that good ball can be played in the African Continent. Upstart Tunisia suprised Cameroon by scoring twice to tie the match, only to lose in extra time as Cameroon pulled it out. Excellent Monday action.

Monday's Matches

Egypt 2 - 1 Angola Angola lost this with defensive errors. The first being the hand ball which allowed for the Rabou PK. Man U's stud Manucho sent in an equalizer, before a miscue from the Angolan defense allowed the go ahead goal. I watched a large portion of this match at work, and it was some very back and forth balling. Made up for yesterdays' dogs. Egypt now gets to match up with Ivory Coast.

Tunisia 2 - 3 Cameroon

This one even topped the earlier match. Cameroon struck first scoring two goals, the second a free kick by Geremi that seemed to cinch the game. Newcastle can use you back in the lineup Geremi. But not so fast. Tunisia struck back and played an almost manic style of play, first with a free kick by Ben Saada, and then Chukhaoui equalized with an amazing handling of the cross. Tunisia was then spent, and hoped they could withhold until the penalty shootout phase. But no such luck. Two minutes into extra time, Mbia came through with the go-ahead score that would send Cameroon into the Semis, where they will face host Ghana.

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Benayoun avoids suicide bomber in home town

According to reports in the news today, Yossi Benayoun narrowly avoided a suicide bomber during a trip home to visit family in Israel.

From the Guardian article:

"Yossi came to visit his parents who live nearby," said his agent, Ronen Katsav. "It is a small place and he heard the explosion and the gunshots. He was inundated by phone calls from friends asking him if he was all right after the event. He is fine and will take part in the international game."
He was about five minutes' walk away from the attack site in the southern town of Dimona with his family, preparing for an exhibition friendly against Romania tomorrow.

There's no joke or upside here; just a reminder of how everything's intertwined. Life doesn't stop for sports, and more often than not, the converse is true too. It's all part of the same, big picture, and a story like this just reminds you of that.

After the jump, a video of Yossi's goals for Liverpool so far this season.... excuse the bad music.

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Monday, February 4, 2008


Apologies for the non-existent showing today here at UF. Several of us are under the weather after that Super Bowl thing last night, and the celebration/commiseration that immediately followed. We will be back to regular programming tomorrow. I promise.

After the jump, a video of really nasty tackles.

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That should be Swahili for "BEAT DOWN." Which is all you can say about Sunday's matches. There was nothing pretty about the outcomes, they seemed to be decided before the matches started. Nigeria were flatting than a warm guiness in the summer sun, and Guinea thought it was a friendly and brought their practice squad. That's the only way I can explain it. Or that Cote d'Ivorie are just that damned good and the level of play in Africa experiences a big drop off that they can't even fill out a 8 team bracket?

Sunday's Matches

Ghana 3 - 1 Nigeria

(called off for a Professional Foul)

Nigeria came out playing flat, flatter than I expected. For such an important match, they seemed to not be able to string passes together. Ghana had the crowd, but more importantly, they wanted this match more. They had to, going a man down with Mensah being sent off in the 20th minute. You know it's bad when the Nigerian Goalie apologizes for the Eissen goal. Which was a beauty by the way. The country has rallied around the Nigerian team, complete with their new name of Super Chickens. Indeed.

Cote d'Ivorie 5 - 0 Guinea

(Chelsea's best?)

The Elephants came out and rampaged. Poor Guinea, but the middle of the first half, it was obvious they were outmatched and were being outplayed. That was when Drogba picked apart their defense like he was giving clinics on how to run and shoot. After that the rout was one. The last few goals were very nicely executed, but they were against a beaten down and worn out Guinea defense, and they were just piling on at that point.

These were the beatdowns on Sunday, and not the American beatdown (which never happened).

Monday's Matches

Tunisia - Cameroon - Monday Cameroon advanced the last time the cup played, and then lost in a penalty shootout with Cameroon when their offense seized up. Eto'o will be marked heavily by Tunisian's defense, who will be tasked in keeping them in line.

Egypt - Angola - Monday Egypt feels confident now that they are back at full Strength. The question is if the Pharoahs can keep things rolling or will this plucky Angolan team pull out another sleeper victory.

Here is hoping these matches are a bit more exciting.

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

UF's Weekend Poll

Once a week, we poll ourselves to find answers to the burning questions of the football world. We are, of course, experts in the field, so the results can be taken as definitive. This week: Who are the Top 5 players you'd most like to have in you squad?

#1 Steven Gerrard. Definitely more than just a Scouser homer pick, right? Lingering Bursitis sets us straight- "homer pick, maybe, but when your team needs a big goal, he comes through with it. Won the CL in 2005 by dragging the team on his back, and that FA Cup Final win vs. West Ham was all Stevie G too."

#2 Cesc Fabregas. Arsenal's wonderkid midfielder comes through in second. With the top 2 picks, it's obvious that the EPL really is the best league in the world. According to Ian, his appeal lies in that he is "still really young, but doing a damn good job in the midfield against players that are all bigger than him."

#3 Lionel Messi. Like Fabregas, he's young, but unlike Cesc, he's Argentinian. Don't ask me what that is supposed to mean. According to email transmissions from ü75, Messi has a "ginormous upside", and that's much better than a ginormous backside.

#4. Cristiano Ronaldo. Easily the most hated on man in any email conversation we have. The only people who seem to like him are Manchester United fans and people who have him in their fantasy squads. The nicest thing we can say abput him is that he doesn't dive quite as much as he used to.

#5. Juan Roman Riquelme. The third set piece specialist to show up on the list, Riquelme squeaks in at the fifth position. His shots baffle keepers, and he is "the reason Boca will win the Clausura" according to one UFer who actually follows that kind of stuff.

Others receiving more than one vote: Ribery, Drogba, Henry, Kaka, Essien, Beckham
Others receiving one vote: Totti, Pirlo, Torres, van Persie, Thuram, Agbonlahor, Nakamura, Altidore, Dempsey, Tim Howard, Heather Mitts, Cannavaro, Bojan, Pato, Micah Richards, Walcott, Ashley Young, Inzaghi, Convey.

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African Nation knockout stage

This was going to go up yesterday, but I spent the day playing landlord. We'll try to wrap up the teams heading into the knockout stages, some random bits of knowledge about the matches so far, some picks from the unprofessionals, and a look at today's matches.


Semifinal Stages

1) Ghana - Nigeria - Sunday, 2/3
4) Tunisia - Cameroon - Monday 2/4

2) Ivory Coast - Guinea - Sunday 2/3
3) Egypt - Angola - Monday 2/4

Fellow Predictions

We trolled ourselves for predictions on the semi-final matchups, and the winner. Here is a short condensed view of this.

Fan's Attic:

Ghana - Cameroon
Ivory Coast - Egypt

Ghana - Ivory Coast

Ghana - Tunisia
Ivory Coast - Angola

Ivory Coast - Ghana

Ghana - Tunisia
Ivory Coast - Egypt

Tunisia - Ivory Coast


Ghana - Cameroon
Ivory Coast - Egypt

Cameroon - Ivory Coast

Sunday's Matches

Ghana - Nigeria Home favorites Ghana are playing for pride, but the Nigerian president has assured victory, so we can only assume something strange will happen. One of those African rolling blackouts perhaps? A 419 scheme gone awry? One can hope it's interesting. We however, love the Black Stars mostly because they have a better name than anyone else in the tourney.

Ivory Coast - Guinea Guinea has a slightly weaker team with captain Balde is questionable with an injury. Working against Guinea is a man named Drogba, leading the charge for the Elephants. I don't see how Guinea can keep up with Ivory Coast.

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