Saturday, February 23, 2008

We're Not Kidding When We Warn You

It's almost Theisman-esque, although not quite Cisse-esque (Warning: also gruesome). But after the jump is a picture of Arsenal's Eduardo da Silva and a picture of what used to be his ankle.

The challenge from Birmingham City's Martin Taylor didn't look that vicious in real time, but the look on Eduardo's teammates' faces (particularly Cesc Fabregas) immeditately told the story of how bad da Silva was hurt.

A furious Arsene Wegner declared Taylor should never play football again. That's probably a bit harsh, as again, in real time it didn't look intentionally vicious. But it's a pretty grim reminder, especially to casual soccer fans, who look at people sliding into each other then scream, "Get up you pansy."

These are big, fast, strong men, who are wearing very little protection on their bodies. A couple of cleats at the ankle, and it could be the end of what seems like an extremely promising career.

[Update: After a couple of hours to sit with this, it actually seems worse. And maybe Wenger was right. Live, the challenge didn't look too vicious, but that was one angle, from a distance. These two pics here and here tell kind of a different story. In one Taylor looks like he's aiming for Eduardo's shin and in the second, he looks pretty self-satisfied with his handiwork. So fuck that guy. And the FA should come down harsh on him and manager Alex McLeish, who clearly thinks the only way to compete with Arsenal is through rough play and cheap shots.]

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Wearing Those Colors in South Central Will Get You Shot

There's a Championship this weekend.

The FA Cup? Nope. The Premiership? uh-uh. The Champions League? No, sorry.

And damn Hirshey for beating us to "The Sippy Cup."

No, it's the Carling Cup and it features a Chelsea team that has played maybe two quality opponents in the past two months (and are 0-1-1 in those matches) versus the cock and balls (aka Tottenham).

Word on the street (and by 'street' I mean a few blogs) is that Spurs fans are paying around £600 for tickets whereas similar seats in Chelsea sections are going for £200.

That tells me one thing.

Jesus, people are willing to pay a lot of money for a largely meaningless match.

I guess if you haven't won anything of note since, what, the '91 FA Cup (and I'm not going to go look it up because A) I'm not allowing Tottenham to take up more of my time and B) this is a blog and, as such, almost encourages lazy journalism) then you get a little desperate.

If you barrack for Spurs, that's probably a nice looking hooker you could get for £600 instead. At least then, you'd know what it's like to score. Although 'nice looking' and 'hooker' might be mutually exclusive in England.

This week's fixtures from on-high:


Bonus League Cup score. Take it to Vegas...


...and see if they even give a shit about this match.

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Chelsea's bank balance is fun

Remember when I stabbed you in the back so Roman could bring in his boyfriend? Yeah... good times...

[On a slow news day, you take what you can get]

Chelsea FC, the team I lovingly remember as the team that broke football*, is in the news again for their remarkable finances.

Yesterday saw the club release their financial results, revealing a record group turnover but also a 75 million pound loss for the year before June of 2007. D'oh.

In spite of this, they still expect to break even on schedule by the 2009/10 season, making the world erupt into laughter.

[* I will not digress from this even though Man Utd were the ones who paid 28 million for him in 2001... as Chelsea signed him in 2003 for 15 million anyway!]

Chief executive Peter Kenyon drank the Kool Aid, and it's tasting good:

"Our long-term target of operating profit break even by 2009-10 remains ambitious but we are determined to meet it or get as close as we can. In the meantime, we have made good on our pledges of last year, hitting all of our aims. We have expanded globally as a club, we have reduced our salaries as percentage of turnover, we have continued to be successful on the field, we have increased sponsorship revenue and we continue to invest in our academy and reduce our reliance on transfers."
They do have a lot of money coming in, but it's going to take quite some time to dig out of the hole that their absurd transfer market dealings have put them in.

Chelsea's transfer magic:
- 15 million on Nicolas "I have the attention span of about one season" Anelka
- 10 million on Chris "What the fuck happened" Sutton
- 15 million on Veron
- 16 million on Adrian Mutu
- 6 million on Glen "I love going out on loan" Johnson
- 31 million on Sheva
- 7 million on Khalid Boulahrouz
- 20 million on Ricardo Carvalho
- 9 million on Ivanovic
- 13 million for Paulo Ferreira
- 6 million for Geremi
- 17 million for Damien Duff

Chelsea will be "self-sustaining" at some point. Just not by 2009/10.

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Whoring Makes the World A Better Place...

...even if it does make the Baby Jesus sad.

But yours truly will be making an appearance on this podcast. Treehouse Fort is the creation of Tuffy and Suss- of Deadspin (in)fame and they have politely asked me on to talk MLS and EPL. It starts at 7pm (Central time I think).

I politely agreed, but neglected to tell them I will be a total fraud when it comes to analyzing the MLS' upcoming season*. On top of that, I have no idea what they will be asking me, meaning I can't even really put together a cheat sheet. So, if you really want to hear what a metaphorical deer in the headlights sounds like when asked to break down the Columbus Crew for the upcoming season, by all means, please tune in.

(*Only kind of true)

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Looking once more at the Gazza story

The story about Gascoigne being sectioned yesterday was incredibly sad to me, as it represented the lowest in a history of post-glory lows for one of my favourite all-time players. Some might blithely compare him to Maradona, except Gazza was big on the food and drink, less on the cocaine.

He represented the iconic image of a grim 1980s industrialist England, where beer bellies ballooned and a lingering depression held sway. Gazza was the bright spot for a nation, serving up memorable moment after memorable moment in an England shirt while single-handedly fueling the press with his drinking and off-field exploits. Towing the line between flawed and talented, Paul Gascoigne was England.

Now, he's in a mental hospital at age 40, and we are left to wonder how much more Gazza we will get.

My earliest memories of his playing career were when he moved to Spurs in before the 1988-89 season, apparently rejecting a move to Manchester United because Spurs bought a house for his struggling family [the claim was made in Fergie's 1999 autobiography].

He scored some cracking goals while at White Hart Lane, and worked well in a team with fellow England players Gary Mabbutt and Gary Lineker. In 1991, Spurs won the FA Cup [their last major trophy win] with Gazza scoring a phenomenal goal in the semi-final against Arsenal.

In the final, just weeks before a transfer to Lazio, he tore his cruciate ligaments in a tackle [the picture above, where he pretty much detached Nottingham Forest's Gary Charles from his left leg], and watched his club win the cup from a hospital bed.

Lazio came and went with little fuss, before a move to Rangers in '95 where he caused all sorts of headlines:

- he booked a referee during a game against Hibs... the ref dropped his yellow card and Gazza mimicked a booking when giving it back, and the ref immediately booked him for the display
- a memorable hat-trick against Aberdeen in 1995 to clinch the Scottish title
- winning the Player's Player of the Year and Football Writer's Player of the Year in 1996/97

Most notably for the 'Gers, he was targeted by the IRA for his flute celebration during an Old Firm Derby in January '98. The flute playing was a reference to the flute-playing of Orange Order marches, a prominent Protestant organization in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Celtic, the Catholic team of Glasgow, was royally pissed off, but it was the IRA that took the most notice, issuing death threats against Gazza that would plague him until he left the team.

The rest of his club playing and managerial career was sad, shortened by a number of injuries and addictions that led to him retiring in 2004 after trying to revive his career with Everton, Burnley, a trial at DC United, Chinese club Gansu Tianma, Boston United and a trial at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Iconic club achievements aside, his time wearing the Three Lions was legendary.

Who could forget the tears against West Germany in the Italia '90 semi-final?

Or the goal against Scotland in Euro '96?

In short, Gazza was all of us, at one time or another. Capable of the highest highs and the dizzying lows, his career has seen it all. From the fake breasts to the infamous dentist's chair incident and subsequent celebration, Paul Gascoigne's memory and personality are embedded in the national psyche.

Let's hope this latest incident with his mental health is a turning point, and not the opening lines of his obituary.

The Best of Gazza:

More articles:
Simon Barnes on Gazza [The Times Online]
The Life and Times of Paul Gascoigne [The Telegraph]
50 Great Moments in the Life of Paul Gascoigne [Blue Kipper]

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Brave Bolton Beat Their Way Through the UEFA Cup

Maybe the Madrid police were angry over the boring defensive style of football employed by Gary Megson?

The only thing more shocking than Bolton's aggregate win over Atletico Madrid yesterday was the fact that the Spanish police battered the away supporters. From most of the reports, it sounds like young, over-eager police were to blame. It's amazing that Bolton would engender any sympathy, but the whole situation started off weird what with Atletico posting Bolton's travel itinerary on their website. Violence against traveling supporters is happening more and more when English teams visit the continent, and it is rarely English hooligans to blame but rather ill-trained police. As usual, the talk is about learning from the police mistakes and making sure it doesn't happen again. It nonetheless sounds like Bolton have a right to feel aggrieved.

More importantly, however, is the fact that Bolton Are Useless (tm) managed to advance in the UEFA cup on a 1-0 aggregate. Bolton were clearly helped by the fact that Atletico's star striker Sergio Aguero was suspended for spitting in the previous UEFA match. Atletico have also been on a dismal run of play and have managed to drop league games lately in that catastrophic manner that Spanish teams are so capable of. If any team has the ability to frustrate a team into submission, it surely would be Useless Bolton. So, yesterday, Uselessness won out in a battle over Self-Destruction, and a few Bolton supporters were beaten for no good reason at all. When Bolton play, don't we all really lose something in the end?

(pics from and the bbc)

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Inevitable Letdown: Bayern-Aberdeen Liveblog

After last week's draw, Aberdeen travels to Munich this time to take on Bayern. Bayern hold the cards in this match up with a stronger team, 2 away goals and home field advantage. I'll be with you here until it gets to be too much for me, an Aberdeen fan, to bear.

image from

After the jump, some liveblogging. Feel free to join in my misery and send me emails to
71.00 Goal Podolski. Now I get to stop paying attention, as well.

Nope. I'm calling it for this liveblog. If you want updates, go here. Thanks for stopping by. We'll do this again sometime, maybe for something I don't have to watch on a computer.

It looks like the feed just came back. Fingers crossed.

Feed gone again, possibly for good. Mackie booked for dissent. I wonder why?

Maybury over from 35. Shot looked good, but always just high.

Back with a better feed. Son is waking up. More interruptions to follow.

Kick Off
Still no video. Will be stealing from other sources until I can see it myself.

Rangers tied it up in the 85th. Looks like they are going through.

Player seems to be giving me problems again. Hope to be back on it soon.

Halftime 2-0
Well, it could always be worse. Two goals off of setpieces give Bayern the lead. Both of the would have been saved if Langfiels spiked his hair with some strong gel. Beyond that, Aberdeen has, as could be expected, given up a lot of shots, with a couple of them threatening. Langfield has been superb when the ball is not going to the high center of goal.

Aberdeen need 2 to tie it up overall. I think they can sneak one in, but two is asking too much. Settle in, I'm getting some pizza, and be back in 15 minutes.

Lucio ( I think) off the post after a Langfield save. No injury time.

Kahn takes a back pass and almost lets it roll in goal. More for show than anything, there was no real danger.

Nicholson gets a yellow for dissent after the Bayern defender falls over Mackie and Makie gets called for the foul.

I take it back. Aberdeen has had their chances. 2 goals would bring extra time (3 goals and weep with joy). It's not black yet, but it's not looking good. Sagnol rolls around on the ground.

No way back now. Walker fires over from 35.

Van Buyten scores off the free kick. Langfield has whatever the opposite of a 5 hole is above his head. Two goals he should have saved. 2-0

Aluko gets a yellow after the German dives after taking two more steps. Who was it that did that horrible dive against Celtic last year? Some Italian. This was the same.

Just saw the Leverkusen mention. I was thrown because I did not see the stripes. Don't they usually wear stripes? And 5-0, wow.

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd bet this ref was a crushed Real Madrid fan back in '83. Every time Aberdeen get forward, a defender goes down and gets the call.

Ottl's well struck shot from 25 easily saved.

Aberdeen are very much showing that they only have 3 in the back giving up lots of shots, but thankfully only one goal. I wish that 5 in midfield would get ahold of the ball more often.

A bit of sustained pressure by Aberdeen yields a counterattack for Bayern. The cross is headed behind by Considine. Van Buyten's header off the corner goes to Langfield.

End to end now. Luca Toni passes Zander Diamond and gets saved by Langfield on a 20 yard shot.

OOOOHHHH. Darren Mackie gets behind the defense, goes far post, and misses by 6 inches. Kahn was beaten, but to no avail. Aberdeen are finding space in the back of Bayern.

Aberdeen have a weak penalty claim denied.

The German onslaught has scaled back. More of an even game in midfield at this point.

Langfield redeems himself with a big one on one save on Altintop. Rebound shot goes wide.

Aberdeen is getting the wrath of the Spanish referee. Another talking too but no card. Bayern shoot weakly, and are in control.

Thanks to LB for the lineup update. Ribery has had a thigh strain, I believe.

Maybury pulls down an attacking Kroos 25 yards out, gets a yellow. And goddamn, Lucio scores on the free kick, right over Langfield's head. Embarrassing. 1-0.

According to SKY, Bayern are all over Aberdeen early. Podolski has already hit the bar and Aberdeen are backed into their own end. This will be ugly. Like Scotland playing the return leg against Netherlands in WC 2006 qualis ugly.

Alright, I have picture.

Aberdeen is banged up again heading into the match, missing 4 first teamers. Bayern is a little better off than last week, but they are still missing Ribery. Starting Podolski over Klose seems to be a strange decision, but who am I kidding, he's still better than anyone on Aberdeen.

Crap. Looks like we're not on here. Hold on while I try other options.

15 minutes until kick
. I'm watching an old match where Levante (I believe) are demolishing Galatasary 5-0. Does anyone know when this match was? It says live, but I am sure it is not.

Aberdeen (3-5-2): Langfield, Considine, Diamond, Maybury, Foster, Nicholson, Severin, Aluko, Mackie, Miller, Walker

Bayern Munich (5-3-2) Kahn, Sagnol, Lucio, Van Buyten, Jansen, Altintop, Ottl, Van Bommel, Kroos, Toni, Podolski

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Gazza pulls a Maradona, goes batshit insane

Paul Gascoigne has been taken against his will to a mental institution after being sectioned following a presumed altercation at the Malmaison Hotel in Newcastle overnight.

One of these men is a drunken, red faced twat. The other is Gazza.
Photo courtesy BBC

After the jump, pure, wild speculation on what happened.

The way I see it, only one thing could have happened. Gazza, tired of being an international punchline for wasting his talent while in search of birds, drugs and drink had decided to turn his life around. He had gone to the Malmaison for the most upscale AA/NA meeting on earth, because as everyone knows, Newcastle is where the posh junkies are. Being rich, he was able to fly through all 24 steps (12 on each side) in a single day. Jubilant, Gazza reemerged into the Newcastle night.

Oddly, the moment that Gazza was leaving the hotel, Vinnie Jones emerged Omar-style out of a shadowy alley and started heckling him. Vinnie told Gazza that he needed to apologize for allowing Jones to catch a chill years before when Gazza refused to lend him a sweater. Gazza blanched, and told Jones to forget it, as Vinnie would have just stretched the neck out. Jones started to walk off, passing Gazza, but left him with a final reminder of who owned the power in the relationship.
Gazza, recalling the pain from early in his playing career that caused him to go off the tracks back then, went wild. Details are sketchy at this point, but he may have turned into a giant, radioactive wolfman who started attacking the hotel. Witnesses say he appeared to be trying to punch the building into tiny bits when the local police got involved. After a barrage of bullets and billy clubs, he morphed back into naked Gazza. He tried to slink off, but was then arrested and remanded. Video of this part of the night can be found below.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Who's scaring who?

I always figured that Almunia had a bad dye job. But perhaps the bigger problem for Arsene and Co. is that he has found himself dealing with more ethereal pursuits?

So it seems that our Favorite Keeper for the Gunners bought a house, that may have some problems. No, not your run-of-the-mill Spurs fans urinating in the garden like most folks have to deal with. No, it seems as though Almunia owns a haunted cottage. It seems as though this was known before they bought the place, and the apparition in question appears as a monk.

One night, we were sleeping and my wife suddenly woke me up with a shout. She said there was this monk-like figure with a candle in his hand. She was in bed, next to me. I didn’t see him but I was s*** scared.
Are we sure that wasn't the gardener sneaking over for a little of the old extra work? It doesn't seem to matter, just the thought of a spectre has spooked him. It's also taken to turning up the stereo (no word on whether on what the music of choice the ghost has).

You noticed I didn't say "castle." He's just the keeper, mind you, and doesn't have the dosh to afford a full-on castle. However, if it was Henry, he would have had the castle that would be infested with the visions of slow-moving Spaniards, but Henry would have still missed them.

Good Luck to Arsenal in their match this afternoon with AC Milan in the Champions League. Hopefully this sort of distraction will not keep the boys from rolling along.

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The Good, The Bad, The WTF

This week, my friends, we get to ogle a true retro shirt. As an added bonus, I'll link to the eBay auction going on right now. That's right, it's a two-fer, one part "OMG!", one part "I want that", until it combines into "OMG I want that!" I promise that I am not the seller. (I like Schalke, not Werder).

So, as Joe Elliott once said

Step inside.
Walk this way.
It's you and me, babe.
Hey. Hey.

This beauty comes from the 1990-91 season, if this listing is to be believed. I suppose it could be a shirt that brings back good memories for a longtime fan, as they won the DFB Pokal that season. That title propelled them into the old Cup Winners' Cup, which they won in 1992. You think that would bring in more than $3.78.

Maybe it's the design. I don't really know how Werder's shirts looked before 2004, but this color and design screams "washed dollar bill" to me. Plus, and I'm just guessing here, I think this shirt is itchy. Doesn't it look like it would irritate your neck? And you just know that polyester blend will have that smell. I can't describe it well, but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Old sweat and burnt plastic, I think.

For me, I guess, when it comes to Werder shirts, Give me the orange ones. It may be my Miami Dolphins allegiance, but I want one of these to sport around town. Besides, if you have a jersey like this, there should be no need to make an away shirt, right?
Images from the ebays (obvs) and

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Kenyan Football officials don't check their due dates

Have you ever been late paying a credit card bill? Health insurance premium, even a magazine subscription? Well, the Kenya Football Federation [KFF] knows what that's like, except in their case, they forgot to pay their national dues.

Just four hours before an African Champions League match between Eritrean champs Al Tahrir and Kenyan champs Tusker, the Confederation of African Football [CAF] called off the game because the KFF had not sent in their $6500 subscription fees, and suspending the KFF from all continental club competitions until the matter is resolved.

Not only that, but Tusker spent close to $60,000 preparing the game-that-never-happened. D'oh.

The Kenyan government's Commissioner for Sport, Gordon Oluoch, is pissed, saying that the KFF knew the ban was coming and still went ahead with pre-game arrangements:

"What is more baffling is to let the Eritreans stay in Kenya for a whole week under such circumstances. The most honourable thing to do is to resign and let those who want to run the sport do so."
KFF's secretary general, Sammy Obingo, is adamant that he sent in the check on February 11th, although the CAF could not verify that they'd received it. In the meantime, Obingo's planning a trip to Zurich today to meet with FIFA regarding the matter, and he is confident that Tusker will be reimbursed.

Pressure is mounting for the Kenyan soccer chiefs to resign following the disgrace, but KFF chairman Mohamed Hatimy is playing a stout defense:

"We paid the amount in full on Feb 11 and yet we were still barred from playing. Rwanda, which was also barred by CAF, were allowed to play after confirming they sent in the money to CAF."
Damn Rwandans. Always catching those lucky breaks.

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Zidane should try 1-800-FLOWERS instead

Zidane's headbutt: effective in person, not on the phone

Zinedine Zidane is world-famous, even infamous in some circles for his iconic headbutt in the World Cup Final less than 18 months ago. However, he's still not famous enough, as he found out when trying to call the injured Ronaldo, a former teammate at Real Madrid, in a Paris hospital.

Why? Because the hospital operator had no idea who he was.

From the story at

Zidane yesterday rang up the hospital that Ronaldo is staying at in order to speak to his old colleague and friend.

When the hospital telephone operator asked who was calling, incredibly the name Zinedine Zidane was not recognised by the employee, thus the 1998 World Cup winner was not granted permission to speak to Ronaldo.

It's embarrassing and hilarious at the same time. I can only imagine that the telephone operator is a distant cousin of Marco "Who, Me?" Materazzi.

Get well soon, Ronaldo! Hopefully only nine-to-twelve months more before we'll see you back on the pitch.

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Avram Grant receives envelope of powdery death

And no, that's not urine in her glass

Avram Grant, already an unpopular man thanks to the dour brand of football he's brought to Stamford Bridge, just reached the upper echelons of unpopular with the news that death threats for Avram were sent to Chelsea's training ground.

According to the BBC:

A note addressed to Grant was opened by a member of staff. It was found to contain anti-Jewish insults as well as claims that the powder was lethal.
Police were called to the facility in Cobham, Surrey, and later found that the powder was harmless. Threats were also made to Avram's wife, Tzofit, a well-known personality back in Israel.

Detectives are still trying to figure out motive and a source for the package, although it's believed that the real crime is why this wasn't sent to Frank Lampard instead. You know, because he's crap and all.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Adriano Escapes Lengthy Ban, Thanks to Zidane and Big Mama

Last time we checked in on Adriano, he was facing a 120- to 540-day ban, which would have lasted the remainder of his loan spell at Sao Paolo, for head-butting an opponent. The Emperor got a reprieve Monday when a tribunal ruled that he used his head to push, not butt, and handed him a two-match ban.

Adriano's lawyers used the totally awesome Zidane headbutt video in his defense, but you know what really helped? His mama.From the report:

Adriano's mother Rosilda, who raised the former Brazil international in one of Rio de Janeiro's toughest neighbourhoods, appealed to the tribunal members for leniency in a television interview shown before the hearing.
Rosilda also baked cookies for the tribunal and promised that the boy's going to get a whooping tonight when he gets home.

Anyway, here's to all the mamas out there:

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Scotland Round Up

There is a certain team in the SPL that makes it impossible for me to focus on that league, as they have fallen into an embarrassing 8th place. Nevermind that they pulled some midweek European heroics, losing 3-1 to Hibs is a disgrace. At least, thanks to Gretna, relegation is not a concern.

Instead, I will be using this fortnight's post to concentrate on the lower divisions, shaking out who is likely to go up or down. Also, as the mood strikes me, I'll add in some good trivia about the clubs in question.

Scotland's senior professional leagues are broken into four divisions, with the Scottish Premier league at the top of the ladder, followed by Divisions 1, 2 and 3. Like England's Premier League and Championship, the SPL is a different legal entity than the league structure below it. It was formed in 1998 to keep a greater proportion of revenues among the top flight clubs. Not so egalitarian, is it?

Looking to break into the money-spinning league are a couple of First Division squads. With 25 out of 36 rounds played, Hamilton Academical leads Dundee FC by 4 points. St. Johnstone are a further 6 points back and unlikely to push the other two. Hamilton and Dundee will meet two more times within league play, including what may be a deciding match on the last day of the season. Hamilton have only been in the top flight twice, both times relegating after one season back in the '80s. Dundee fans are much more used to being in the SPL, their team was most recently there in 2005, and they probably can't wait to renew that cross-street rivalry with Dundee United.

While there is only one promotion into the SPL, the rest of the leagues act a little differently. In Divisions 1 and 2, the 10th place team goes down automatically, replaced by the 1st place squad of the lower league. The 9th place team enters into a playoff with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place teams from below. Stirling looks to be a strong bet to go down out of Division 1, but only have to make up 5 points on Morton or 6 on Clyde to ensure survival. Those two also have to worry about the playoff spot along with Livingston and Partick Thistle (nil).

Speaking of Livingston, the Daily Mail had an interesting article on a UK lottery winner who lost his fortune after investing heavily in the club. Should make all of you Ebbsfleet people wary. Unless that's what you think he deserves for supporting a club that changed cities like an American Professional team. Who do they think they are, MK Dons?

Set to move up from Division 2 is Ross County, the club with the largest catchment area in the UK. They hold a 6 point lead on Airdrie United with two games in hand. Joining Airdrie in the playoff spots are Raith Rovers and MJD's favorite club, Peterhead. It's a tight race for those playoff spots, though, as Brechin City and Alloa Athletic are just a point out. Alloa's most capped player of all time is Jock Hepburn, who earned one for Scotland a long time ago.

At the bottom end of Division 2 lie Berwick Rangers. Berwick are the lone foreign club in the Scottish league system, as they are located, for the time being, in England. I say it that way becuase it seems that the citizens of Berwick would like to relocate themselves into Scotland. This wouls be at least the 14th time the town has changed sides. Make up your mind already Berwickians, you're all like a teenage cocktease,

"Yes. No. Maybe. No. I'll let you go anal. Nevermind, I won't. How about we cuddle instead?".
Cowdenbeath hold the negative playoff spot, with Ayr and Queens Park in their sights. Now, since I've named every club in the division, you can surmise that this will be a good, and exciting, league to keep your eye on.

Finally, in the Third Division, East Fife has all but locked up their promotion. They hold a 20 point lead at this point and could conceivably promote by the Ides of March. Montrose, Stranraer and Stenhousemuir are in the playoff spots with Arbroath and Elgin City just outside. Last season Elgin City set a UK-wide record by starting off the season by losing to every other club, consecutively, in the league. They passed East Stirlingshire by the end of the season, though, so it wasn't completely devastating.

Stay tuned because on Thursday I will be (everything else permitting) liveblogging the heartbreak of being an Aberdeen fan watching the Bayern Munich return leg. At least until it gets too unbearable to watch anymore.

image from reese.angela's Picasa page. Her Scotland collection is pretty good.

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TWAG: More Lies I Believe

I have witnesses.

Okay, witness. But before the ball was even kicked I said to Tuffy—yes, the Tuffy of Deadspin commenter pseudo-fame—"I have a bad feeling about this."

I should qualify, my bad feeling was more of a "It's 2-1 late and United gets a goal against the run of play to salt it away 3-1" kind of bad feeling. I really wasn't prepared for the absolute emasculation of Arsenal at the hands, or more accurately, the feet of the Mancs.

If my feeling had been that bad, I never would have bothered to get out of bed. Instead Tuffy and I were seated in the back room at Ginger's in Chicago with fear, loathing. and sweaters.

It's become my default viewing locale. It's not a chain and it's close. And the waitresses have started to recognize me enough to call me "Sweetie." What's not to love?

This: there was a $10 cover. Not the bar's fault I know, but, the staff originally had told early arriving patrons—otherwise know as masochists Liverpool fans—that the United v. Arsenal match was only going to be on in the two back rooms (the bar is laid out almost like three separate rooms). This makes some sense as anyone can walk in to the front of the bar, so to have the game on there, Ginger's would have had to charge cover to anyone who came in. Not that there is any clientele walking into the place at 11 am on a Saturday who isn't there to watch fütbol.

So Tuffy and I had given up our prime seats at the bar and ended up in the back corner of the back room.

This was bad for two reasons:

1) The ambient temperature in the back room is about 20 degrees over the outside temperature. It was single digits on Saturday morning.

2) All of the good TVs are in the front room. It's almost all flatscreens up front. The back two rooms? Well they would have been kickin' in about 1985.

Of course not long after uprooting from maybe the two best seats in the bar, staff or management realized their grave error of their strategic ways and made the whole bar United v. Arsenal friendly.

I'd say things were starting off bad, but, like I said at least twice now already, I had a bad feeling before I even walked into the bar. So I saw it coming. Kind of.

What I didn't see coming that morning was the Liverpool loss to Barnsley. Worse I barely saw it at all. For some reason all but one of the maybe 6 small TVs in the back room was turned to the SPL. There is also a projection TV back there, but it's fuzzy and the color is washed out. It's like watching TV through a screen door.


So, the entire back room is focused on the one little TV.

We're cold. We're out $10. And we're all squinting at stoppage time at Anfield on this one small TV that has the bottom left corner of the screen washed out.

This was actually the high point of the morning.

I think the Mancs were mainlining Adderall in the locker room right before kick (you know while their grounds crew was watering the pitch... wtf?). At the same time, the Gunners were getting their pre-game pep talk from Franz Mesmer.

From first touch almost it was clear Arsenal was toast. And from a viewing perspective, there were two things that made this not the worst morning of my Newish Year.

1) It was over after United's second goal in, what, the 17th minute. This totally took the winds of taunt from the Red Devils' supporters sails. Really, who has the energy to laugh for 73 minutes?

2) As bad as I felt, every time I went to the bathroom I felt better.

Let me explain. I ordered coffee and had about 7 cups of it by half. That'll start to run through you after about cup number 3. So I had to go pee at least three times in the second stanza, but it wasn't the peeing that made me feel better, no.

There were two poor bastards sunk into a booth in the middle room. Every time I went to the loo, I looked straight at the two saddest of sacks ever seen since Phyllis Diller's boobs shuffled off this mortal coil along with the rest of her body presumably.

This isn't about another shot at the UF Scousers. It really looked as if the lifeforce had been sucked out of these two gentlemen, like someone hooked them up to that machine in the Princess Bride. They were lifeless, with only cheap pleather seats to help them fight gravity. As bad as my morning was, there was no way it was within 7 orders of shit magnitude of theirs.

For my beloved Gunners. It was bad. Really bad. Not losing to Barnsley bad. But still, really bad. At least I can delude myself with 10 solid rationalizations:

1) Sagna would not have had his wallet, girlfriend and pride all stolen by Nani the way Hoyte did. In fact if Barcary had played, I'm pretty sure that two of the crosses from which United scored wouldn't have even made it into the box.
2) That's the worst Gallas has ever played in an Arsenal jersey. He can't possibly ever play that poorly again.
3) Eboue and Toure weren't back mentally from the Cup of Nations where defense is totally an optional skill to employ.
4) The Eboue-on-Evra red card doesn't get flashed at any stadium named Trafford, new or old.
5) Lehmann played keeper. He sucks.
6) Rooney was well-rested after his suspension. This isn't likely to be the case when the two sides meet in April as United has more fixtures than the Gunners to play between now and then.
7-10) Some other things that I barely believe, but I believe enough to say that Arsenal wins the rubber match (the draw in October felt like a win) 2-1.

It's sheer coincidence that it's the same score that Barnsley beat Liverpool by.

Swear. To. God.

My brining it up one more time just for havin' a laugh, less of a coincidence.

But still, mark it down. I want there to be witnesses.

Read more on "TWAG: More Lies I Believe"...

Counterpoint: Gerrard's going nowhere

As David Brent once said, "A good idea is a good idea... forever."

Except when it isn't.

When it comes to ideas, ones that aren't utter crap (examples of utter crap ideas being New Coke or the 39th int'l PL match) generally fall into one of three categories: Those who are ahead of their Time (anything Nikolas Tesla conceived), those whose Time have arrived (Obama for President), and those whom Time have left by the wayside (The Pet Rock).

Now, the very idea that Liverpool Football Club would sell its captain, generally recognized the world over as one of the top midfielders in today's game (by rational peoples and those not under the delusion that Frank Lampard is a better player), would be complete poppycock. But, since this mind-boggling scenario actually almost came to pass some three years ago, it would have to be classified within the latter of the categories.

Yet, just like it was back then, it's still an absolutely crap idea.

Like his talents, the problems with selling Steven Gerrard are numerous.

Generally speaking, big football clubs do not attempt to gain success (i.e. silverware) by parting with their best player. Why? Because, making your team worse does not tend to make your team better. And, teams who aren't winning silverware are unlikely to start winning silverware when they become markedly worse then they were when they already weren't winning silverware.

I know it's a tricky concept, but I've got faith that even an Evertonian can grasp it.

Liverpool (of which I am obviously a fan and will often refer to as 'we' from here on out) are not in the habit of selling our star players for a handsome profit. We're Liverpool, not Tottenham. Regardless of present stumbles, we're not a feeder club for 'bigger' fish. (As Carra would say, 'Who's bigger than Liverpool?') Regardless of current debt, we don't value success on the books over success on the pitch. We're already one of the world's top clubs because we have a history of success & silverware. And, you don't enjoy either without having incredible talent on the field.

Name a top, ambitious European club, in recent modern football, who has sold a star player (in their prime and not because of a personal falling out... I'm looking at you, SAF) and gone on to win more trophies in the immediate future.

I'm not going to wait for you to Google it, either.

Did you say United and Beckham?

Get out. Right now. No, really...

Milan sold Shevchenko and went on to win the 2007 Champions League. But, Andriy was on the doorstep of 30, an age at which strikers generally tend to begin their descent. While success post-sale isn't improbable, as exceptions to the rule must exist, most team's cupboards are not over-stocked with so much talent as to survive a major defection.

What's that you say? You actually have the nerve to doubt Gerrard's credentials? You think he's over-rated? You don't actually rate him at all?

I won't make a rash statement such as 'he's the best player of his generation' or 'England's best talent', but to dismiss his obvious talent(s) is pure folly. No player is perfect and Stevie G certainly has his share of foibles (let's be honest, he's taken a few dives in his day... but he's no C Ronaldo). But, when the conversation turns to which players you'd built a starting XI around, he has to be on that list. A true box-to-box midfielder, comfortable on both sides of the ball, he can tackle with the best of them at one end (or anywhere) and crash into the box to net a breath-taking match winner on the other. He most certainly rates as one of the most talented and industrious midfield players (let alone, attack-minded central midfielders) playing the game today.

There are those who would argue that selling Stevie G would provide LFC with a finanical windfall that would allow them to go purchase more talented players.

How much would Gerrard realistically fetch in today's market?

On the very highest (and improbable) end, maybe £30m - £35m? How many world-class talents can you buy with that? Any proven talent of that level has a price tag that starts after 20 large. Fernando Torres cost Liverpool upwards of 26 million. So, with the money you receive from sending Captain Fantastic on his way, you'd basically be swapping him for another big name and have roughly ten million pounds left to buy another Ryan Babel (but, not even). Unless, you're Professor Wenger and can pull another talented teenager out of your hat.

But don't take my word for it (cue 'Reading Rainbow' theme song here)... Scouse, born and bred, Lingering Bursitis puts it even more succinctly:

"We don't need the extra money, we don't need to rebuild from scratch, and regardless of if we got 40 million pounds+ for him, which we could then use to fix several key areas, are there really any guarantees that such a videogame-esque gamble would amount to anything?"
There are those who would argue that Stevie G is actually the root of Liverpool's problems (and having won every medal except one, that could only mean 'inability to win the Premier League'). They say the team depends upon him too much, but his emotions are too mercurial and his moods affect the team's overall pysche and disrupts its consistency.

Well, he most certainly does affect the team's psyche. With match-winning goal after match-winning goal, with inspirational performance after inspirational performance, the team definitely depends on him and responds to his efforts. That's why he's our captain. No one player is perfect -- everybody will have off-days. But, I know he's ready to play for the club, shirt and fans each time he laces up his boots and each time he takes the field, anything is possible. So, I'll take the good with the bad, the wins with the losses and the beauty with the warts.

Every club should be as lucky to have a Steven Gerrard; A player who came up through the ranks, who is a local boy, who understands what the club means to the fans and understands its history. How many top clubs have a player of his magnitude, his talent, his importance that IS a fan of the club, that IS from the immediate area? Do you have any idea how big of a deal it is that two of Liverpool top players are Scousers like Gerrard and Carragher? Because, if you don't understand what that means, then you should just go back to rooting for Chelsea.

Lingering Bursitis breathes another breath of fresh air into the argument...

"Selling Gerrard is wrong because it does nothing to fix the problem at the club. It solves nothing, while simultaneously ridding us of our best player, our talisman, and one of the last remaining Scousers we actually have on the team. It'd be the death of the old guard, the death of the club's attachment and vestiges to the local area, and it would be the most cynical move, motivated purely by money.

For branding it's terrible, and really, it makes us just as bad as the other Big 4 clubs, particularly those in London, who have long since traded all sense of their character and history for a bunch of over-priced, over-paid mercenaries who couldn't give two shits which shirt they're wearing as long as they're making 50 grand a week."

To have seen him progress from a talented teen plagued by back and groin problems into the next potential England captain truly has been special. My only hope is that after seeing him hoist trophy after trophy, we'll see him raise that elusive one in the none-too-distant-future.

Alfred Whitney Griswold once said "The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.” Selling Steven Gerrard is a bad idea. Like my colleague has already stated, Liverpool may have its problems but those problems aren't going to get fixed by selling #8.

A better idea is to buy and cultivate more players with Steven Gerrard's talents (and El Nino's!).

Read more on "Counterpoint: Gerrard's going nowhere"...

Team Beckham Has Another Recruit

Real Madrid midfielder and former David Beckham teammate Jose Maria Gutierrez Hernandez, better known as Guti, is getting all sorts of play in the Spanish media. And, by play, I mean pictures of open-mouthed kisses with other men splayed across the tabloids (that's him on the left, I believe).

Guti is married to Arancha de Benito (and many more NSFW photos can be found on a Google image search) but she has said they are “tak[ing] a break” from their eight-year marriage.

Let’s all be honest here, this really isn’t news in the United States except for the tenuous David Beckham connection. Plus, it’s not like this guy has come out of the closet like John Amaechi and who knows it could just be a photograph of the traditional Spanish cheek-kiss greeting that makes it look like it’s got some hot gay tongue-action.

I’m not here to judge, but let’s be clear about one thing, this is all a result of David Beckham’s influence. He led Guti down this path and he will lead Landycakes down the same path (although, some would argue he is already there…not me of course).


Read more on "Team Beckham Has Another Recruit"...

Point: Stevie G Should Consider Walking Alone

Even I must admit, this just doesn't look right.

There are rumors coming out of Italy that Inter is planning to bid for Steven Gerrard in the upcoming summer transfer window. What coincidence! Inter just so happens to be Liverpool's opponent in today's Champions League matchup!!! Of course, this is no coincidence, and the rumor is nothing more than typical tabloid tripe.

That's too bad, because Liverpool will be better off without Gerrard.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't think Gerrard is the source of Liverpool's ills, nor do I think getting rid of him would suddenly improve the play - Rafa Benitez is the chief culprit and he has to go, no matter what the Kopites believe. I also recognize that Gerrard has saved Liverpool's skin many a time, and that he and Fernando Torres have carried the club this season.

Gerrard is unquestionably the most talented Liverpool player of this era, and I understand that Istanbul in 2005 wouldn't have happened without Gerrard. But those are precisely the reasons why observers can't see that he's one of the reasons for LFC's current malaise, and that selling him would be a positive step forward.

Now, let's think this the Moneyball way. Does this player bring enough positives to outweigh the negatives, not just in terms of his own play, but the play of the team as a whole? More crucially, can this player's net contributions be replaced by a less costly replacement?

Well, I'm too lazy to pull up the OPTA ratings (and stat-o-phobes would dismiss any statistical analysis out of hand anyway), but Gerrard is not a very efficient player. Yes, he does do a lot with the ball, but that's partly the result of his dominating the ball. Think Allen Iverson - his high scoring is the result of his high-volume shooting. On the other hand, while his long shots and crosses can be deadly, he loses the ball too easily and doesn't put the ball on target often enough.

Contrast his play for Liverpool with his play for England, with whom he has had to share the possession with Frank Lampard and David Beckham.

Also consider his positioning, specifically his unwillingness to track back on defense. He spends most of the match between the halfway line and the opposition 18-yard-box, which is fine when he was partnered with a ball-winning specialist like Momo Sissoko on your side, but when paired with Xabi Alonso or Javier Mascherano, deep-lying midfielders who can initiate attack, his insistence on staying forward either leaves too much space between the midfield and the defense line or stunts the play of his midfield partner.

Simply put, he is, the arsonist and the fireman, as economists like to say. He's hailed as a hero because he comes out at opportune moments and puts out fires (ergo, fireman), but the fires are created partly because of the way he plays (hence, arsonist).

So let's ask the two questions. Does his work as fireman outweigh his damage as arsonist? I'm willing to believe that Gerrard's net contribution is positive, though I'm not completely convinced. Is he so inefficient that his net value could be replaced by a cheaper alternative? Yes, and selling Gerrard would not only free up funds for wages and purchases, but also improve the productivity of his existing teammates.

The last time Stevie G was the subject of serious transfer speculations was in 2005. Two months after he declared, "How could I leave after a night like this?" on the pitch in Istanbul, he rejected a £100,000-a-week offer and announced that he was leaving Liverpool. In retrospect, moving on would have been the best thing for both the club and the player. Liverpool could simply blame the "the money", and rebuild the team around Xabi with the increased transfer kitty, while Gerrard would have learned a great deal from playing in a system that's not built around him.

If the summer of 2005 happens again, Rafa, or whoever replaces him, should wish Stevie luck and thank him for his services to the club, take the offer and quietly thank his lucky stars. It would be the best thing for everybody, whether they know it or not.

And lest anyone forgets their history, let's look back - quick, guess what happened the seasons after the following players were sold abroad: Kevin Keegan to Hamburger SV in 1977, Ian Rush to Juventus in 1987, and John Aldridge to Real Sociedad in 1989? Yup, Liverpool won the League in 1978, 1988 and 1990. The point isn't that selling Gerrard in 2008 will lead to Liverpool winning the Prem in 2009.

No, the point is that no player is bigger than the club and LFC will live on, with or without Stevie. And the club should never let sentimentality get in the way of sensible decision making.

Read more on "Point: Stevie G Should Consider Walking Alone"...

Asian youth soccer tournament not so youthful

Two crooks spoiling the broth...

Everyone remembers Danny Almonte, right? The kid who blew away the opposition at the Little League World Series in 2001, only for the world to discover a few weeks later that, well, he wasn't that little.

Now, it's the Asian Under-16s football tournament's turn to take the Almonte spotlight, with the news that North Korea, Iraq and Tajikistan have been fined and booted from the competition for doing exactly that: Pulling an Almonte.

According to the Reuters report, the players were caught during the qualifying rounds last year, as the Asian Football Confederation used MRI scans to determine the ages of players [if only the Dominican Republic would do this for baseball, so we could finally find out how fucking old Julio Franco is].

Reuters also reported that five other countries -- Bhutan, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan and Macau -- were also fined the $4,000 for the same offense, although none of them qualified.

I'm just impressed that they can pull this tournament off. I also never knew Iraq had an U-16s football team, let alone a footballing infrastructure. Perhaps Dubya should point to this fact next time anyone asks about cutting and running.

Read more on "Asian youth soccer tournament not so youthful"...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Don't forget

Oh, and don't you lot start either. You haven't exactly got much to shout about.

Man Utd 4, Arsenal 0
Goals: Rooney 16', Fletcher 20', 74', Nani 38'
Sent Off: Eboue [ARS] 49'

Read more on "Don't forget"...

What the fuck just happened?

It only took an eight-hour shift propped up at the Kinsale bar for me to seriously question my team. I've been a Liverpool fan from birth [which seems like an eternity ago now, some 26 years on], and Saturday was difficult, on the verge of becoming a habit.

We've had bad runs before, many of them happening in the Premier League against our biggest rivals, but Saturday? Saturday was a different story.

[Apologies, but I took too many hyperbole pills this morning... let the exaggerations continue]

A home game in the FA Cup, against a team some 36 places below us in the domestic standings: Barnsley, a team with only one away win in 16 attempts this year.

And in front of 42,499 fans, we lost.

Despite an avalanche of opportunities, the lads couldn't get it done, even once Captain Wonderful was summoned from the bench 20 minutes from time out of sheer desperation, a move akin to throwing up the Batman signal or invoking the Nuclear option. Ryan Babel, our most enterprising player, was pulled in favour of perhaps the least enterprising player on our squad, the dour Harry Kewell.

Crouch and Kuyt wasted several opportunities, and as a team, we hit the crossbar twice, had five attempts cleared off the line, and were bested at every junction by a third-string Barnsley goalkeeper who was brought in on loan from West Brom just two days before the game. And then, after an obvious penalty shout was waved away, their captain wins the ball back inside the Liverpool half and scores the winner from the edge of the box.

Disney couldn't have written a more syrupy story if they tried.

So where does this leave us? Where does this leave my team?

This is certainly the worst run I've seen from them since my childhood. I don't remember a more lackluster side since mid-90s, the days of Roy Evans and his "Bootroom Boys". We had the young local nucleus of McManaman, Fowler, Owen and Jamie Redknapp, but they were surrounded by the likes of Mark Wright, Rigobert Song, Phil Babb and Oyvind Leonhardsen. That's when we became the "Nearly Men", winning only a Carling Cup in 4 years of competing, and it's a tag that's become heavy around our necks.

We have enjoyed European success since our last EPL trophy, but if we're being honest, we ARE the Nearly Men. That is our burden, our name, our unshakeable identity. A lifetime of finishing 4th or 5th is what we have to look forward to, and when trophies are already difficult to come by, losing to scrappy minnows like Barnsley doesn't help matters. In this year's FA Cup, we struggled and strained to beat Luton Town, Havant & Waterlooville, and now this.

Never forget, gentlemen. February 16th, the beginning of the end for Rafa Benitez. That's the only way I can objectively look at what happened, to embrace the Buddhist principles of living in the moment and karma, and thinking that some good will come from this unspeakable bad. Rafa Benitez' rotational algorithms and astral projections will prove his downfall, although his unflinching stubbornness and failure to learn from past mistakes are going to contribute.

Even the Yanks are smart enough to see that losing at home to Barnsley isn't a good thing.

Our players are worried, the experts are worried, and I can only hope that any retributions or executions that happen over the next few weeks are swift, bloodless, and decisive.

And we have Inter tomorrow? We have to win that if Rafa has any chance of saving himself, but really: FUCK. Don't wake me until June.

The Stats from Saturday:
Corners... Liverpool 15, Barnsley 3
Goal Attempts... Liverpool 33, Barnsley 11
Shots on Target... Liverpool 20, Barnsley 7
Goals... Liverpool 1, Barnsley 2

Read more on "What the fuck just happened?"...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

UF 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: Top Ten hated players.

Extra bonus for you, dear reader, uncensored emails with votes and comments by every participating UFer.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo
2. John Terry
3. Ashley Cole
4. Frank Lampard
5. Landon Donovan
6. John Obi Mikel
7. Rafa Marquez
8. Marco Materazzi
9. Wayne Rooney
10. Torsten Frings

We sure do hate Chelsea, don't we?

And now, the emails.

Lingering Burstitis:

1. John Obi Mikel - fuck this dude to high heaven. He's a dirty player, moans incessantly to the refs, gets away with murder on the pitch. That, and he's only 20 years old, which means we'll have to fucking deal with his bullshit in the EPL or wherever for at least another decade. Can't stand the guy. Wish Crouch had ripped him in two with that karate kick.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo - ugh. I am jealous of his talent, I am sickened by the fact that he plays for Man U, and I long for the day he gets hurt.
3. David Beckham - he would be higher, but he's competing with a lot of fucking hate already. Plays the media better than he plays in the MLS, forever running his mouth for good and bad, inspired by money and promotion, and has lost a lot of his fucking talent. If the game were just 90 minutes of free kicks, he'd be immortal. However it's not, and he is pretty fucking useless otherwise.
4. El Hadji Diouf - parlayed one good game in a World Cup into a high-profile move to my club, where he proceeded to change hairstyles more than he scored goals. Then, he somehow managed to find another EPL team to take him, and he's continued in the tradition of being fucking terrible.
5. Tim Cahill - he's a douchebag, and he plays for a team I hate more with every passing second.
6. Ashley Cole - he's worn the colours of two teams I hate. Oh, there was some sex thing, too.
7. Landon Donovan - fucking wuss. Tried to make a name for himself in rough-and-tough Europe, but boo hoo it was too hard, so he fucked off back to MLS where he peddles his mediocre skills and still gets endorsements. Loves to disappear when it counts.
8. Titus Bramble - it's hard to hate such a dunce, but that goal against us almost fucking killed me a while back. He's a muppet in football boots.
9. Frank Lampard - Ghost Dad in midfield. Only reason he scores goals is because he takes penalties that his team didn't earn. A fucking huge waste of time.... disappears more from games than grass stains.
10. Andrei Shevchenko - I was so fucking happy when you missed that penalty in Turkey. Eat shit and die, you overpriced 5-goal-a-season scorer.
1)c ronaldo
3)j terry
4)cashley cole
5)michael owen
6)p robinson
8)ronaldo (fat one)
9)D Kamara
Badly Drawn Boykins:
1. Mikel John Obi - First of all, pick a name - you were born John Michael Nchekube Obinna. Second, learn how to tackle properly. Third, what a dick.
2. Stephen Hunt - What a dick.
3. Brave John Terry - What a dick.
4. Frank Lampard - What a dick.
5. Rafa Marquez - What a dick.
6. Luca Toni - Get up, you pussy.
7. Pippo Inzaghi - Maybe not a dick, but he's definitely one of those players who are infuriating to play against, but would happily have on your team.
8. Rivaldo - What a dick.
9. Lothar Matthaus - What a retired dick.
10. Ashley Cole - What a dick.
The NY Kid:
1. Marco Materazzi - do I really need to rehash my reason?
2. Ronaldo (the Portuguese Diving Cunt)
3. Cashley Cole - you fucking useless mercenary twat
4. Frank Lampard - a complete waste of supposed "skill" and completely useless in midfield
5. Landon Donovan - seriously, sack up you nancy-boy
6. Jens Lehmann - has given me too many near-heart attacks with his howlers at Highbury/Emirates (and he's back for a little while, YAY!)
7. Wayne Rooney - what a disgusting little troll
8. Tottenham Hotspur (except Pascal Chimbonda and Gareth Bale, for some strange reason)
9. Donadoni - my first true footy hate
10. That douchebag in my rec league who amasses 3-4 red cards every year but never gets permanently kicked out
Precious Roy:
1) Torsten Frings: Hey, old grudges die hard. I'm shallow that way.
2) Rafa Marquez: Thought I might be the only one, but nope.
3) Jared Borghetti: I'd hate him more if I didn't think he wasn't useless now
4) Cuauhtemoc Blanco: Anyone noticing a leitmotif?
5) Frank Lampard: Fuck that guy
6) Ashley Cole: I hope his gets the HIV.
7) Sylvain Wiltord: Ref should have blown the whistle long before he scored to tie Italy in the Euro 2000 final. Dick.
8) Wayne Rooney: Ugly as fuck. Stupid pick-up lines. And he's probably already cut more ass that I ever will. I wouldn't be so upset about that if he weren't such a twit on the pitch.
9) John Terry: See "Frank Lampard"
10) Mark Viduka: I probably wouldn't have remembered what a dick he is if someone else hadn't had him on their list first, but they did. And I'll hate a foreigner over Landycakes any day.
1. C Ronaldo -- Because he's such a supremely cocky douchebag, I wouldn't feel the slightest twinge of regret if I got the chance to mow him down, end his career and deprive the world of such an awesome talent.
2. John Terry - You're rich, you can stop cutting your own hair. I'd take up officiating just for the chance to bust him wide open with a Glasgow Kiss the second he and his cockknocking teammates swarmed me to argue a call.
3. Gary Neville -- Because he's fucking Gary Neville.
4. Diego Maradona -- Die already, you bloated sack of coke & snot residue.
5. Frank Lampard -- #1 for breaking Xabi Alonso's ankle... #2 for getting much too much credit for all his 'goals'.
6. Oliver Kahn -- I could break a few fingers, force his retirement and move to Germany to live like a Konig.
7. Raphael Marquez -- Because he's the captain, all my hatred for the Mexican nat'l side gets heaped on head, therefore ruining his hair and whatever lame-ass headband he's wearing.
8. Arjen Robben -- Constantly under sniper fire, even his receding hair line irritates me.
9. Rivaldo -- I'm not sure why he drives me up the wall, but he does.
10. Claudio Reyna -- Sure the guy had talent, but his lack of on-the-pitch leadership in the US captain's role irritated me to the nth degree. Plus, he's a Sicknote.
1. Ashley Cole - Cunt
2. Robbie Savage - Even on Derby, still a cunt
3. Robbie Keane - Unbearably crap
4. Gennaro Gattuso - Dude just seems like he beats up kindergarteners
in his spare time
5. Steven Gerrard - I know this is blasphemy in these parts but I'm
sick of how he always manages to somehow "earn" free kicks just
outside of the box
6. Fat Frank - For being fat, and ugly
7. Brave John Terry - For being a prick
8. Sheva - For being the nadir of outrageous transfer fees
9. Cristiano Ronaldo - For being a whiny priss
10. Darren Bent - Get Bent (I don't really hate him that much, just
enjoy saying that)

1. John Terry. Always a douchebag, he solidified this position for me
after he ripped a swapped shirt out of the hands of an Andorran player
in the tunnel after England performed miserably. It takes a real
fuckwad to do that to an amateur player. I sometimes wish that kick
to his head had done just enough brain damage to rob him of his
abilities on the pitch but nothing else.
2. Leonardo. That elbow to the head of Tab Ramos still stays with me.
USA had a shot that day, but without Ramos, they went limp.
3. Daniele DeRossi. Similar to above, but not as vicious of a player.
4. Fabien Barthez. He bothered me since I first saw him winning the
Champions League with L'OM. I hated his stupid floppy hair (back when
he had it), but more for his short sleeved keeper shirt.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo. True Story ahead--I was out at a rock show with
my wife on Friday night. I was wearing an Aberdeen shirt because they
had performed so admirably the night before. A guy approached me and
asked if it was an Arsenal shirt. I answered him, explained which
club it was, and why I had chosen to wear it that night. He
recognized that a draw with Bayern was huge, and started telling me
about how the day before he had run into problems while wearing a C.
Ronaldo jersey. I nodded, smiled politely, and tallied his score.
Doesn't know that Arsenal almost always wear white sleeves (except in
the recent Redcurrant season). Wears a C. Ronaldo jersey. Is gay (or
Bisexual--he was confused) with "poet" tattooed on his arm. Went to
Bob Jones, Was "blessed". He scored enough points for me to not give
him a link to this site. In all honesty, the only one that mattered
was that he wore a C. Ronaldo jersey.
6. Wayne Rooney. I liked him until he moved to Man U from Everton.
It wasn't that it was Manchester United, honest. It's leaving your
boyhood club to go to a club that is inherently more likely to win you
titles. Okay, it was because he chose United. That, and he has the
face of a Greco-Roman wrestler
7. Matterazzi. All you need to know are in the fan compilations up on
youtube. Dirty, and a liar about it, to boot.
8. Landycakes. Whenever a USNT thread pops up on hattrick,
non-Americans like to chime in and tell us how Landon Donovan is our
best player and they never understand why most American soccer fans
don't like him. Yes, he is a good player who has pulled off sompretty
important goals in his career. But, we like players who challenge
themselves. We like players who push themselves to get better
everyday. It's part of the Puritan work ethic that is instilled in
this country. We really don't like it when our great talents decide
they are good enough. Iverson got ridiculed for his "Practice?!"
speech. Landycakes could have easily replaced "practice" with
"Europe" in that speech, and let Americans know how he felt about
challenging himself. And that catching the kiss and putting it in his
pants goal celebration is just damn gay.
9. Joe Cole. Anytime he loses the ball, his immediate reaction is to
chase the guy down and foul him from behind. Wears his damn shorts
too tight as well. I don't really want to see any of that, thanks.
10. Roy Keane. Like Joe Cole above, he was big on retribution.
Unlike Joe Cole, he was up front about it, and thus garners my
respect. If he had been like, say, Materazzi, this guy's a #2 for

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