Saturday, May 10, 2008

We're Smarter Than Gillet and Hicks

The EPL (suck it Barclay's) season ends tomorrow, and Gillet and Hicks will have cemented their incompetence by having Liverpool finish with no trophies whatsoever (2 points to note here: (a) one could argue about how much influence Gillet and Hicks have on results on the pitch, but for purposes of this post just roll with me; and (b) this is not a dig at Liverpool, as my beloved Gunners have also won fuck-all this season). Unlike those two clowns, we here at UF know how to run a successful football club. Join me after the jump to see what I mean.

Several of us here at Unprofessional Foul are owners of a real football club. We have previously mentioned our involvement with Ebbsfleet United of Conference National (Blue Square Premier LEague) in England. Well, this morning the UF owners of Ebbsfleet United became champions, as the club defeated Torquay United 1-0 in the FA Trophy final at Wembley. After having a penalty kick saved earlier in the match, Chris McPhee slotted home a shot from close range right before half-time for the match-winning goal.

Ebbsfleet's keeper Lance Cronin responded well to the Torquay attack throughout the game, making several important saves, including one at the 6-minute mark of the match to keep the scoreless tie. Despite 3 yellow cards in the match (including one to captain Paul McCarthy in the 11th minute), Ebbsfleet continued to play aggressively on both offense and defense, with the result being a championship to end the season for manager Liam Daish.

In the end, an astounding 40,186 people watched our football club take home the hardware. It was a pretty impressive end to an exciting and unusual season.

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This Might Be One of the Funnier Things Ever

Fulhamerica play for their EPL (suck it, Barclay's) life tomorrow. And the baby Jesus must love the lads because, miraculously, they control their own destiny, although they are at Pompey while Reading get to play the Washington Generals Derby County, so they are by no means a favorite to avoid the drop.

But even if the Cottagers fall, they could end up in Europe next season.


Okay, by "could" we mean we're guessing at a couple of things without bothering to look them up because the thought of them adds just one more layer of delicious intrigue to the final week viewing of EPL football but it still doesn't seem entirely impossible.

Follow along after the jump as we walk irresponsibly through this.

Where Enlgand the country suck as football—enjoy that summer vacation, boys—their league teams are very nice in the way they go about their business. So the EPL has managed to earn another UEFA Cup spot by topping Europe's fair play (or is that Fair Play?) rankings.

Currently EPL Fair Play 5th placers Man City are the highest ranked team without a guaranteed spot in Europe.

The entire table can be seen here but it's not the soap opera that is Man City that's of interest here, or of interest to us—frankly we can't collectively bring ourselves to care much about Citeh around these parts save maybe for their sweeping of United—its the MLS East club sitting in seventh.

So the first thing we're too lazy to look up: Is it possible to jump .06 of a fair play point in one weekend? We could probably do the maths but that seems like a lot of work when this kind of wild baseless speculation is more fun.

But if that kind of jump is possible, Fulham could conceivably get to that last Fair Play spot on points.

Perhaps some loyal Svenites at Citeh are so upset with the way that Trashcan Sinatra has left the coach dangling, that they might be happy to pick up some gratuitous cards, harass the refs and the opponents, and just generally have a good old time dropping Fair Play points this weekend.

In that instance, assuming Everton sew up their spot, Fulham would be the highest ranked remaining Fair Play team left in the Prem.

What we also don't know is that if there is some provision stating that a club has to maintain its top flight status to keep the spot. But still, how awesome would it be if Fulham couldn't keep it up but managed to snake a spot in Europe next season?

Might almost taking the sting out of dropping. Okay, it won't mitigate a full £50M sting, but still, it's a decent parting gift.

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday Backpasses: Return of the Bowlcut

Noel Gallagher (remember him?) slams Thaksin Shinawatra. I wonder what Badly Drawn Boy thinks [BBC]
England pick up an extra place in UEFA Cup through Fair Play award [Soccernet]
That place likely to go to Manchester City [Guardian]
unless Fulhamerica can pip them at the post [Premier]

Liverpool transfer madness on the other side of the jump

Liverpool turn down $50 million bid for Gerrard. Morons [The Sun]
Liverpool think they will get $30 million for Crouchdinho. Super fucking morons [The Sun]
Porto tried to bribe referees when Mourinho was in charge [International Herald Tribune]
England lets Russians into country for UEFA Cup final in an in-kind trade. Blah blah blah. What it boils down to is that drunken, better-off Russians will be rumbling in Manchester with drunken Scots next week. Watch this space [UEFA]

Finally, a This Is Extra Time two-fer.
Someone wants to employ Vickie Beckham as an actress.
Flamini flips off Arsenal fans, as apparently is becoming the style for Arsenal players. At least, that's how we're reading into it.

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South Africa has problems beyond what you know already

A top South African female footballer was attacked, stabbed, gang-raped and killed two weeks ago in her hometown of Kwatema. While there is a good possibility that this was a random attack, many locals and activists are convinced that she was targeted. Why? Because she was a known lesbian.

Details (I cannot promise they will not be stomach-churning) after the jump.

Eudy Simelane was 31 years old, and a couple of years removed from her time on the national squad of South Africa. She was returning from a night out with friends when set upon by at least 5 teenagers. After the rape and murder, her body was left out in the open air. Five men have been arrested and charged with the crime.

On the surface, this may appear to be a random attack. It is difficult to hear about South Africa in the news without being told of its crushing poverty, the tensions that brings and high crime rate. So why are so many people convinced this was a focused attack on a lesbian? Well, it seems that one of the arrested was Miss Simelane's neighbor. Couple this with the information that lesbians in the area where Miss Simelane lived may have to endure "corrective rape", and the probability that her rape, at least, was not random goes up immeasurably.

"Corrective rape", as you may have guessed, is when a man rapes a lesbian believing that the experience will cause her to "be cured". In a country that has an HIV prevalence rate of 21.5%, such beliefs are deadly. Scarily, the rate of this disgusting and deadly crime is on the increase.

A quick search on the deceased turns up a host of sites that are following the news of her death closely. Many of these sites point to a movement, Campaign 07/07/07, dedicated to bringing notice to the world of the natures of the crimes against lesbians in South Africa. If this is something you can support, I urge you to look here. It's not the prettiest website, but it will give you the information you need.

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Final EPL Weekend Preview

Usually the final weekend in the English Premier League (suck it Barclay’s) is fairly noneventful as most things have already been wrapped up. In fact the title hasn't been decided on the final day in something like 7 years. This year is different. There really are very meaningful matches this weekend.

It is quite spectacular, really, how many things remain to be decided. All of the Champions League slots are filled–Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool (breathes sigh of relief for Liverpool)–and only one relegation spot has been determined, the honor of which is woeful Derby County–worst Premier League total ever, even if it claims victory over Reading this weekend (crosses fingers for Fulhamerica’s sake). But everything else remains, including the title.

After the jump, a quick rundown of the important matches, all of which are on Sunday....

Wigan v. Manchester United – The mangy Mancs can wrap up the title with a victory here no matter what Chelsea does, unless the Blues are able to make up the 16 goal goal-differential in its match plus whatever Man U’s is, provided the club wins.

Chelsea v. Bolton – The Abramovich’s need to win this match and get help from Wigan to pip the title at the post. Either that or beat Bolton 18-0 and have Man U win only 1-0. Now Bolton is woeful, but it isn’t Derby County.

Everton v. Newcastle & West Ham v. Aston Villa – The EPL UEFA Cup slot is still up for grabs. Everton is in the drivers seat as it is 3 points ahead of Villa. However, Everton has been in poor form having gathered only 6 points in its last 8 matches and Newcastle has seen a rebirth as of late with only Chelsea beating the club in the past 7 matches. Aston Villa needs to find its form again and soon if it hopes to catch Everton and probably say its prayers.

The Relegation Battle -- Portsmouth v. Fulham; Derby County v. Derby County Reading; Birmingham v. Blackburn

There is quite the fight for the final spot ahead of the relegation slots. Derby County already has its ticket to the Colaship, but Birmingham, Reading and Fulham all have a shot to stay up. I am pulling for Fulhamerica because there are 5 Americans on the squad.

Fulham controls its destiny and will remain up if it beats Portsmouth away. Reading faces Derby County so the odds are that Reading will get its three points, but it has been woeful as of late so there is a chance for Derby to pick up its second league victory. Birmingham is home to Blackburn and I fully expect Blackburn to win. Birmingham can survive only if it wins and the other two lose.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thursday Backpasses: Introducing the Victorian Beckhams

This is the earliest photo of an England National squad. The Daily Mail has the details.

Sepp Blatter approves of these women's uniforms. Marginally NSFW [The Sun]
Liverpool take their photo poses from the Phil Mickelson collection [The Spoiler]
Immigration officials to wannabe foreign footballers: "Speak English!" [Guardian]

More fun after the jump.

QPR boss leaves. Team rumo(u)red to be seeking high priced foreign coach [BBC]
Petr Cech still showing signs of brain injury. Thinks Chelsea play attractive football [The Sun]
Wigan player has bet on United winning the title. Nope, nothing to see here [The Sun]
Coldplay to sell Euros to American audience. Are you having a laugh? Is he having a laugh? [AP]
Seattle Sounders sign first player. Guess they couldn't find any Americans to fill that role [American Soccer Reader]
Times Magazine takes in-depth look at epidemic of knee injuries in girl's/women's soccer. [Times Magazine]

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Jimmy and Brian's Excellent Adventure at the Bottom of the EPL: Fulhamerica Hoping to Avoid the Drop


It would be a death-defying escape act, but Fulham have a chance to avoid relegation despite being in the drop zone since December. One need only look at this chart – during which Fulham earned only 6 points in December, January and February – and see the flatline to which the doctor should have long ago called the time of death. And yet, Fulham have three wins in their last five games, including key victories over Reading and Birmingham. What has triggered Fulham’s decent run of play lately? Arguably, it’s two words: Bullard and McBride.

You see, when your team is languishing at the bottom of the Premier League, and you are fielding short defenders, and you basically stink to high heaven, a couple of cagey veterans with fantastic workrates can be the difference between 16th place and 19th. It’s hard not to root for Bullard and McBride. They both came back from potentially career-ending injuries. McBride is in the twilight of his career, but has become one of the most beloved players at Fulham. Bullard only looks like he’s in the twilight of his career (amazingly, he’s only 29 years old), but his surgeon famously stated that his injury a couple seasons ago “looked like a bomb had gone off in his knee.” In other words, McBride and Bullard are the antidote for every preening EPL player making 75,000 quid a week.

Roy Hodgson’s kitchen sink strategy seems to paying off by rotating Erik Nevland, David Healy and Diomansy Kamara up front. And what of our fair Fulamericans? Well, Dempsey continues to start regularly and contribute, although I personally worry that he might have plateaued as of late. As for Bocanegra, he’s been on the bench a lot recently, which happened to have coincided with Fulham’s recent strong play. Draw from that what you will, but one has to wonder if there’s a future for Bocanegra in the Premier League, or if he’s destined to move to MLS soon.

Despite being 93 years old, Casey Keller has made a number of first team appearances, and surely his experience has helped settle Fulham. And then Eddie Johnson, who perhaps needs a full season before he can adapt to English football, or as I suspect really just isn’t all that good of a player - or, just doesn't have the work ethic to become one.

On Sunday, Fulham travel to Portsmouth, where a win would likely secure safety (as crap as Derby are, it’s hard to imagine Reading making up a six goal difference). A tie or a loss to Pompey would mean Fulham need help, and a lot of help, because as mentioned Reading play Derby and would surely leapfrog Fulham out of the drop zone. Birmingham play Blackburn, but they are behind by a point and the scenario is bleak for them.

So, for Fulham, it’s basically down to win and defy the odds. You would have to imagine that Portsmouth will not be up for the game, with nothing to play for except avoiding injuries going into the FA Cup final. Nothing should be taken for granted, however, especially at the ass-end of the league. At least Fulham have put themselves in a position to pull it off.

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An Education in the way of Hucks.

Earlier this week several posters on here responded to my blurb indicating that they had not heard of my favourite Norwich City player Darren Huckerby. It's been a sad week for me to see such a hero let go. New manager Glenn Roeder released him as part of his process of rebuilding the team to make it his. Anyway to keep it short, for those of you in the dark, let me turn on the light. Someone with lots of time on his/her hands popped this up on youtbe......


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When $300 Billion is Not Enough

Zimbabwe's Dynamos budgeted 300-billion Zimbabwe dollars (Z$) to cover the costs of its return leg of the African Champions League tie against Etoile Sahel of Tunisia.

And it's not enough.

Because of currency buying regulations and hyperinflation the team is unable to purchase enough US dollars to pay for the trip.

The current cost of the trip would be 10-trillion Zimbabwe dollars.

At the turn of the new year, the country's Central Statistical Office had officially announced that inflation had passed the 100,000% mark. And on April 4, the Zimbabwe Financial Gazette reported that, by February, it had jumped to 164,900% (And you thought W. couldn't fuck things up any worse).

Last week, when the country unfixed its pegged exchange rates, Zimbabawe's official exchange rate floated to $1US = Z$ 168,815,000 (that's $169 million if the zeros are confusing you), meaning the cost of the trip would be about US$50,000.

So it's not just that Dr. Evil is running the Zimbabwe FA, it's that the government is trying to run a country on Monopoly money. Ask Germany, it doesn't work. The irony being it's a Munich-based company that's literally printing the money to run the economy into the ground. The München-based company, Giesecke & Devrient is receiving more than US$700,000 a week for delivering bank notes at the absurd rate of Z$170 trillion a week.

Hey, at least the Germans have experience with this sort of thing. Thankfully Zimbabwe doesn't have an antsy megalomaniacal streak in them. So it's neighbors are safe.

Anyway, it's a bummer because Etoile Sahel are the defending champions and Dynamos hold a 1-0 lead after the home leg and if any club would have that kind of coin you'd think it would be one whose nickname is the "Glamour Boys". But even at 10-trillion, it's probably even outside the spending habits of Roman Abramovich.

Although if anybody else has 10-trillion dollars laying around and has always wanted to help out Zimbabwe, opportunity has met preparation.

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Rooney Family Jewels: The Female Kind

I always thought that once somebody in your family made it big, you wouldn't need or want to do something that may be considered, oh, I don't know...selling your body. I was wrong. Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney's cousin, Natalie Rooney, has new boobs and she wants everybody to know.

In fact, she's so proud of them that she wants to be a "glamour" model, which I presume in the Queen's English means she wants to be a nudie model. Good for her.
Her first pro gig seems to be in The Daily Sun (NSFW). She has done amateur work in the past, flashing (NSFW) at Coleen McLoughlin's (Wayne's fiancee) 21st birthday party.

Natalie augmented herself from a 34C to a 34F. God bless her. And is excited to show them off, which is probably to the dismay of Coleen, who is limiting the alcohol at her wedding because of Rooney's rambunctious and "unsophisticated" family, including Natalie and her gay tranvestite brother.

“If Coleen doesn’t like my new boobs, I’ll squeeze her head between them.


"I’ll soon be getting them out all over the place."

Ah, breast on face violence. My favorite kind of violence.

I must say she has a refreshing viewpoint on breasts, one I encourage other women to adopt. But not you Phil Mickelson.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wednesday Backpasses: Which is the favored Merseyside team?

Liverpool council approve LFC's stadium plans [Guardian]
Liverpool council oppose Everton's stadium plans [BBC]
Everton attempt to sign Michael Bradley, among others [Mirror]
Bradley would rather move to Germany. Suck it, Landycakes [Sky Sports]

Not a good day to be an Everton fan, then. After the jump, chicks, robots and Avram!

Derby fans named Prem fans of the year by Nuts mag. Hot chick pic makes the click worthwhile [Fanzine Fanzone]
Robot goalkeepers! [Earth Times]
Zimbabwe team faces Z$1,000,000,000,000 travel bill [Soccernet]
Scandal brewing in Belgium? [Belgium Studs]
Amaechi talks Fashanu. Someday Ronaldo will talk Amaechi [Voice Online]
Avram! is happy to step aside for Rijkaard [The Sun]
Finally, SGE may be Adu's new boss [BBC]

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Your Ronaldo Tranny Hooker Update Of The Day

It's widely known that Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldo was caught with some transvestite hookers recently. The exact circumstances of this encounter are not quite known. Ronaldo says he didn't know they were actually males and that they tried to extort him. The hookers, well, they first said there was sex that occurred and now they are "admitting" they lied about the situation...which led to this awesome headline...

Two of the three cross-dressing prostitutes involved in the scandal with Ronaldo have admitted lying about having sex and using drugs with the AC Milan striker.


Two of the prostitutes have now withdrawn their allegations, volunteering the information to local police.

Police inspector Carlos Augusto Nogueira said: 'There was no drugs or sex that night.

'They said that they invented it all because they failed to receive the money they intended as extortion.'

Who knows if they really were lying or if Ronaldo's check finally cleared. I'm going to tend to believe that they were lying and Ronaldo's check cleared. The man has pulled some incredible tail over the years and I have no reason to think he would be into tranny hookers. Not that it really matters to me, except for the jokes.

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The Good, The Bad, The WTF

Many of my blogmates and selected others have been clamoring for this shirt to be included since we began this little column. In fact, after the Arsenal "V-shirt", this has probably been the most requested shirt to get some column inches. Without further ado, and apologies to Bigus, let's take a look at the Norwich City shirt from 1992-94.

Interestingly, this shirt holds a dear place in the hearts of many Norwich City. Why? Well, this is the shirt with which Norwich had some of their greatest success. Fans new to the EPL may not believe it, but in the league's inaugural year, 1992-93, Norwich were a powerhouse. They stayed at or near the top of the table during the season, finishing third. Third place meant a UEFA Cup berth for the next season. During that cup, Norwich defeated Bayern Munich and made it to the third round where they were defeated by Internazionale of Milan. Impressive, no?

Such highlights, though, do not excuse the shirt. To be kind, it looks like what would happen if you left a yellow car underneath a tree full of sparrows for a week. Or maybe if Jackson Pollock had a yellow, green and white period, but without the imagination. (As an aside--did you know Pollock's given first name was Paul? If my name was Paul Pollock, I'd probably piss on canvas as well) Simply put, this is a retina-searing mess.

While I often endeavor to bring you listings on the ebays, I'll do no such thing for this shirt. You see, I'm on my wife's computer today, and if I break the screen by looking for large size images of this shirt, she won't forgive me. So you are on your own for that one, dear reader.

Before I go, and as an extra apology to Bigus, I leave you with some highlights of Norwich during this era. I dare not play the video myself for aforementioned reasons, so let me know how it goes.

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Whudafxup? Liverpool Edition

Two cunts and an Englishman in scarves

Alright folks, let's get this massacre out of the way today, in the wake of the alarming success/flame wars of the Arsenal edition.

It's no secret: my team is a fucking mess. Shambles. Trophyless again this year, coming so close to a CL final [only to be cruelly humiliated at Stamford Bridge, a cathedral of banality), and finishing fourth yet again. They don't make drugs or intoxicants potent enough to forget this fact.

We do have a shining Spanish star in Fernando Torres, who should give us the best years of his career, as well as our inconsistent but powerful talisman, Steven Gerrard. Outside of those two? We have precious little else.

The constant lineup tinkering and formation changing has led to mediocre seasons from a lot of players from whom big things were expected: Kuyt's heading into the summer as a glorified workhorse winger who can't cross, Pennant's speed always fails him on the final delivery, Babel has been potent but still needs to adjust to the game, and Xabi Alonso simply hasn't come back well from his early-season injuries.

The loss of Daniel Agger [fucking metatarsal injuries] proved to be a monumental hindrance and forced us to rely on an aging Hyppia at the back, far more than we would have hoped. Skrtel has acquitted himself admirably, but he's no Agger.

Add to that the Crouch fiasco; a great striker who scores goals whenever he plays, but he never ever gets the chance and is likely heading off in the summer to a team that will use him properly. I worry that the final nail in the coffin came last Wednesday, when a bereft-of-ideas Rafa used Pennant, Kuyt and Benayoun without even giving Peter a sniff of the pitch when we needed inspiration the most. I pray that he doesn't leave, but I'd be amazed if he puts up with the humiliation.

And then we come to the boardroom. What a fucking nightmare. Hicks and Gillett sparring at every opportunity, Rick Parry being threatened with the sack, and a bunch of Dubai moneymen with itchy trigger fingers aching to get their hands on the seat of power at Anfield. Benitez was royally usurped when the Klinsmann talks came to light, and it all adds up to a massive ship without any kind of rudder or stabilizing force.

So, long intro aside.... what the fuck do they do to clean it all up? Where should the rot be stopped first? Biggest transfer needs? Biggest wastes of space? New manager? New ownership? Where should they spend their money? Should we burn down the village to save the inhabitants? [I always fuck up that analogy]

Have at it, you filthy savages. Gooner fans, here's your chance to get revenge.

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Euro 2008 Preview: Portugal

Today, UF’s continuing Euro 2008 preview takes a gander at that smaller Iberian country, Portugal. In qualifying for the Euro Finals, Portugal was second to Poland in its group, winning 7, drawing 6 and losing only 1. The squad did have the best goal differential in the group. Joining Portugal in Group A are Turkey, Czech Republic and Switzerland.

In my Sweden preview I noted I had no real reason for selecting that nation to preview. There was a reason for choosing Portugal, however. Part of it was looking for hot women (NSFW) to post pictures of, but that's not the main reason. It’s a reason I hate, but I feel like I must come clean about it. After the jump discover the reason.

Cristiano Ronaldo. I am insanely jealous of this young man and I begrudgingly admire him. His talent is still expanding and he still dominates his competition. Yes, he is arrogant, but I am pretty sure I would have some arrogance if my skill was so apparent. Expressing this finally reminds me of Wes Mantooth’s opinion of Ron Burgundy:

From deep down in my stomach, with every inch of me, I pure, straight hate you. But goddammit, do I respect you!
Yes, he flops a bit, is petulant, whines and plays for Manchester United. But, I think even our favorite players do the same to some extent or another, except play for United, but their exploits help not hurt us. Watching him play is an exercise in fantasy—what will he do next?—will he do a cheeky backheel for a goal, a Ronaldo rocket, or is it something new we have never heard or seen? Who knows. It does make watching him a must each week. He is an amazing talent and for that I respect him.

For all of Ronaldo’s singular talent, it will not be enough for Portugal to win Euro 2008. Luckily for them, they oodles of talent elsewhere. Not just talent but “name” talent. Deco. Carvalho. Ferreira. Maniche. Nani. Quaresma. Name and expensive talent. I’d love to have Quaresma on Liverpool’s side.

All of this talent gives them a better than decent shot at winning the title (current odds at 8-1). But, it will be crucial that the talent plays well together as a team and not a side of 11 individuals displaying their respective skills. This will be the key to winning for the team, along with a strong defensive performance. Other distractions could be Manchester City’s pursuit of manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Obviously, I like their chances. Plus, Portugal made it to the quarters in Euro ’96, semis in ’00 and was upset by Greece in the ’04 finals. Logic would say that this progression should result in a championship. Logic can be wrong, but that’s beside the point.

Scolari hasn’t named his squad yet, but this is what I could glean from the internet:

GK – Ricardo, Quim (ha, what a great name), Rui Patricio
DF – Jose Bosingwa, Bruno Alves, Marco Caneira, Fernando Meira, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Jorge Ribeiro
MF – Raul Meireles, Petit, Maniche, Deco
FW – Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Hugo Almeida, Nuno Gomes, Ricardo Quaresma, Ariza Makukula.

(1) Could England beat this team? They lost to them in the World Cup and failed to qualify for Euro ’08. So, no.
(2) Can Portugal win Euro 2008? Yes. They are my pick.
(3) What is their pre-made excuse for not winning Euro 2008? Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s petulant and has a problem it seems stepping up in the big games. If this squad wins he gets the accolades and because he is such a transcendent player right now, he will get the blame.
(4) What is the biggest question mark surrounding their team? Can they play as a team?
(5) Who is their worst player? Cristiano Ronaldo. He is both the best player and can be their worst player. If he sulks and whines he can and will bring down his whole team.

Update - 05/13/08: Portugal has named its Euro 2008 squad. Surprisingly omitted was Inter Milan's Maniche, who was on the 2006 World Cup squad and the 2004 Euro runners-up squad.

PORTUGAL ROSTER:Goalkeepers: Ricardo Pereira (Real Betis, Spain), Quim Silva (Benfica), Rui Patricio (Sporting)Defenders: Miguel Monteiro (Valencia, Spain), Jose Bosingwa (Porto), Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea, England), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea, England), Fernando Meira (VfB Stuttgart, Germany), Bruno Alves (Porto), Pepe (Real Madrid), Jorge Ribeiro (Boavista).Midfielders: Raul Meireles (Porto), Joao Moutinho (Sporting), Deco (Barcelona, Spain), Armando Petit (Benfica), Miguel Veloso (Sporting)Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United, England), Simao Sabrosa (Atletico Madrid, Spain), Ricardo Quaresma (Porto), Nuno Gomes (Benfica), Hugo Almeida (Werder Bremen, Germany), Nani (Manchester United, England), Helder Postiga (Panathinaikos, Greece).

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tuesday Backpasses: Caution, nude pics ahead

No, not here. You'll have to follow a link. I'll go ahead and let you know, they are really not worth the trouble. Miss May would have done better to leave the unknown as unknown.

Really? This is the biggest story to come out of Olympic qualifying? Gratuitously NSFW [Silentpix (NSFW)] Really, it's NSFW. Don't blame me for anything that happens to you.
C. Ronaldo's "girlfriend" wears a bikini for you [Kickette]
Steve Bruce sells his soul for United [The Spoiler]

Less chicks, more sport after the jump.

Why two English team playing in Moscow is a bad idea environmentally[Daily Mail]
Spurs to build 50,000 seater. The way they are going, it will be the nicest ground in the Championship [Daily Mail]
Top 10 EPL signings this season. I wonder whoever could be #1? [The Sun]
Chelsea are rumored to have offered over $150 million for Messi. If they want an oft-injured striker, why don't they go after van Persie? [Bloomberg]
Capello sets his sights only so high [BBC]
Finally, Landon Donovan speaks [NYT Goal Blog]

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Whudafxup? Arsenal Edition

In a new series that I just decided to start, I would like to ask you, the readers, just what the f*ck is going on with some of the biggest clubs and players around the world.

For starters, Arsenal. They're near the top of the alphabet, so they get to be the guinea pigs this time around. Whudafxup with Arsenal? Seriously. Whudafxup? Wenger just let one of his brightest stars from this season, Mathieu Flamini, ponce off to Serie A where he'll enjoy more money and a much more leisurely pace. His midfield wonder, Fabregas, is off the boil a little bit, and they also face the prospect of losing Hleb, another bewitching option in attack. Plus, Adebayor has little to no help up front thanks to the general rubbish play from the Swiss Miss Nicolas Bendtner, and van Persie just can't stay healthy.

There is some off-field entertainment from Mr. Usmanov who's maneuvering in the boardroom to get enough shares so he can launch a formal takeover bid, and there's no guarantee as to how much money the tight-arsed Wenger will splash out on anyone who isn't French or under the age of 19.

In addition, their smarty pants managing director, David Edelman, the man who turned the club into a profit-making machine and was instrumental in their move to the new stadium, has shocked and stunned everyone in the boardroom by saying bye-bye as well.

So, what must be done? What must be fixed first? What is the squad lacking most? How do you feel about being owned by this?

Answers in the comments. This thread is open; fire away.

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Thanks for the memories.

So today is the day every Norwich City fan has been dreading. Glenn Roeder has flexed his managerial cock and used it to push legend Darren Huckerby out of the Carrow Road door. I said yesterday that I could see it happening. Roeder feels the need to make the club his. And boy did he just do that.

At 32, Hux was coming to the end of his career but not a single City fan will tell you that he is not good enough for the Championship. Just 3 days ago he shared a one two with Dion Dublin and fired a high shot past the flailing keeper. His last goal in the yellow and green.

Huckerby has always been a very strong character. A passionate one. This was part of his appeal to Norwich fans. He said what he felt and most of the time sounded like a fan. He heaped pressure on Peter Grant when he declared that "this is the worst Norwich side he had played in" and criticized the board when Dickson Etuhu, Yousef Safri and Robert Earnshaw exercised their get out clauses to leave the club.

Huckerby first hit the limelight at Carrow Road in 2003. He was a surprise loan from Man City. The very same day we also signed Peter Crouch and Kevin Harper. The three of them set us on our way to the title that year. Huckerby was a revelation, he tormented defences and the supporters quickly fell in love with his long runs and curling shots.

Huckerby's loan ended after 3 months. His big-mouth agent declared that he was too big for Norwich and would not be coming permanently. Hux silenced the fool and stated he had enjoyed his time with us and developed a special rapport with the fans.

Signing him was still a long shot, and the fans quickly realized that the idea of Huckerby arriving to wear a Norwich shirt on a long term basis was more of a dream than a reality. Delia Smith unveiled him on Boxing Day 2003. Happy Christmas. That year we won the title with 94 points. Huckerby continued to be outstanding. He was a perfect fit.

Today is not just a sad day because Hux is leaving but because the City never had a chance to say goodbye. A lot of the message boards are filled with anger towards manager Glenn Roeder. After Saturday's game he told reporters that he'd decided weeks ago who would be staying and who would be going. If this was true and he had already let Darren go, then he denied him his send-off in our last home game against QPR (A game that Huckerby excelled in) and again last Saturday in front of 5,000 travelling fans at Hillsborough.

NCFC Messageboard entry today titled: Roeder, Read This!.......

"You have just proven what a gutless, spineless person you are. Without getting into the wrongs and rights of whether Huckerby should be given a contract you have denied one of the greatest players this club has ever seen being given a proper send off by the fans.

You will never be held in such high esteem at this club as Huckerby, in fact you will never be respected by a significant number of fans as long as you remain at the club.
Thank you you for showing the fans and Darren Huckerby such contempt."

There could be trouble ahead!

Huckerby's goal at Wednesday was typical Hux. Fitting that he went out with a run, a returned pass and a thumping shot passed the goalie. I will miss his talent and fondly remember all of the goals he scored for City.
It's goodbye to Huckerby in Norwich but it may be hello to Huckerby here in the U.S. Toronto and LA made moves to sign him in January.

A move abroad is now likely for Hux, he has said on numerous occasions that he did not want to play for another team in England and would never run out against Norwich City.

Huckerby is a true legend. His amazing skill and loyalty will have him marked down alongside Kevin Keelan, Iwan Roberts, Ron Ashman and Martin Peters as one of City's all time greats.

Darren Huckerby made 203 appearances for Norwich City scoring 48 goals, not bad for a winger eh? Many were absolute gems. I will sign off with this one.


Read more on "Thanks for the memories."...

At Least His Nickname Isn't Eight Belles

For those of you who've never been to the Kentucky Derby, it's actually a full day with 12 races on the card.

The Kentucky Derby, the tenth of the 12, is just the only one people care about or watch, unless you are at Churchill Downs or live in Chicago where the weather is seemingly never going to be nice so you are stuck inside when it's May and still 40 and drizzly out giving you plenty of time to skip back and forth to the full coverage of Derby Day on ESPN.

What's this got to do with futbol?

The last race before the Derby is something called the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic because it's run on turf and it is fucking classic. Probably not, but there is half a million dollars at stake.

More importantly this year there was a horse in it named "Golden Balls." Yes, that is a horse whose moniker was inspired by David Beckham's nickname.

From the Handicapper's Edge

GOLDEN BALLS (Ire) (Danehill Dancer) made a big impression on us with a late-running tally in the La Puente S. last spring and seems poised for a breakthrough win in here. The James Cassidy pupil had an excellent tightener for this when a closing third in the Arcadia H. (G2) and could appreciate the added furlong in today's contest. The chestnut colt has been impressive in his morning drills and should be a solid price in advance of his first graded score.

Whoever wrote that probably needs to get laid. That last sentence couldn't be more laden with sexual innuendo. Although if you believe Posh, "Golden Balls" Becks really is hung like a horse.

Anyway, better to be smart. The winning horse in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic was named Einstein. And Golden Balls? He finished dead fucking last. This probably wasn't too hard to see coming for people who thought about it. See, the other horses were bound to be moving, and Golden Balls is really only effective on set pieces.

Still, probably not a good omen for his namesake. Then again, he's already in MLS. How much worse could things get?

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Your Ronaldo transvestite update

Two things we won't see together much anymore

Ronaldo's still suffering a bit from low self-esteem after his recent tranny hooker bust, but now the embarrassment is extending to his pocketbook and causing far more damage.

It appears that mobile phone companies don't like when you philander with ladyboys of the night, and Ronaldo's sponsor TIM has dropped the ailing striker from quite a lucrative deal -- $4.8 million a year!

If that doesn't stop you from blindly picking up girls with mustaches at dark, damp nightclubs, I don't know what will!

There's also a fair bit of blog speculation [Buzz Bissinger's favorite thing] that he might have endangered his lifetime contract with Nike, a good bit of business that is worth some $100 million over the course of his playing career. I for one would hate to see this happen. I was raised on a steady diet of Ronaldo wonder goals, and to think that one night of curiosity and homo-erotic madness could bring it all to an end.

After all, hasn't he been through enough? His leg is barely hanging together, his rehab is going slowly, and now he's losing money fast. It's almost enough to drive a man to drink...... or the warm touch of yet more prostitutes.

After the jump, some of those Ronaldo commercials with Nike.

Let's hope they're not the last.

Read more on "Your Ronaldo transvestite update"...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Monday Backpasses: Transfer Silly Season all over again

While some of us stew away at Flamini signing with Milan, we present a couple of other early transfer rumo(u)rs. Get to know this first guy. He'll be heartbreakingly leaving Arsenal in three years or so.

Hmmmm. He's African and playing in the French league. It's really no surprise that Arsenal would target him, is it? [The Sun]
Daniel Alves gets a huge payday with Barcelona [Transfer Market Web]

In other news
Avram Grant never, ever takes a good picture [Soccernet]
Man U players to get a half million dollars each to win the double. Is some American chairman trying to reignite the Cold War? [The Sun]
FIFA wants to know your opinion on MLS. It seems to be open comments, so you know what to do []

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A Pair of Golden Balls from Beckham

Just to piss Lingering Bursitis, our resident "Beckham is a wanker" guy, here is a video of the former England captain and current LA Galaxy captain bagging a pair of scores against Real Salt Lake this weekend. The first was virtually a set piece and the second was a set piece where a terribly out of position keeper gave up the goal.

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Championship ramblings as the curtains close.

Leicester and Stoke battle it out for survival and promotion.

"Thank F%&* That's over" said this Norwich fan.

Phew... That was my initial thought as we clinched safety at home to QPR in our penultimate game. This weekend's defeat at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday was to be expected and just about summed up our season. First half dominance and a collection of missed chances. The bags were packed and the minds of the players were already rolling down the runway at Norwich airport.

That was not not good enough for the 5,000 fans who went to Sheffield and it certainly was not good enough for Glenn Roeder. The gaffer at Norwich had already made his mind up weeks ago about who would stay and who would go after his first 6 months in charge. This did not stop him from keeping the players locked in the dressing room at Hillsborough for 45 mins as he let them know exactly what he thought about their last 45.

It will be a lively summer for the staff at Norwich and an interesting one for the fans as the front door is set to swing open and shut with more regularity than the managers door at Leicester. Roeder has stated his intent and has the balls to follow through. After Saturdays game he criticized fan favorite Lee Croft and took aim at missed chances and sloppy defending. The future's of 12 players will be decided this week but none more important than that of Lord Huckerby. He could move into Norwich Castle tomorrow if he wanted. He is already a legend. And that is why Roeder could swing his axe on Norfolk's favorite adopted son. That's the kind of move Glenn would make to confirm his status as the top dog at the pound.

I love Glenn's attitude towards each game but his 'one sheriff town' attitude could blind his decision when it comes to handing Hucks the contract he deserves. Starting eleven or not there is no player in a yellow shirt who can turn a game in one run or one who has the desire to win more than Darren Huckerby. I will be holding my breath this week as Hucks learns of his fate.

We started our year with excitement. A new dawn. Peter Grant had spent his money and the first time manager came to Carrow road with a fantastic reputation as a coach.

Unfortunately for us, he couldn't manage the ticket booth for a charity dunking stool featuring Avram Grant.

In came a whole host of Scottish Premier League players. Out went all ability to play football at this level. The new players from the SPL were rated highly north of the border (Brellier and Lappin to name a couple). Grant said he was getting value for money and signing some real talent. Roeder axed all but three.

All I needed to know about the SPL came fast, educated in a 10 game master-less-class. Grant had bitten off more than he could chew and spread his crumbs at the foot of the table. He learned the hard way that the SPL is garbage, poop, pony and highly over rated. The border should be locked to stop other teams from being duped into buying such dross. An army of talentless utility men made to look good by slow football. I apologize profusely to anyone who supports a Scottish team.

Not for the criticism..... but for having to watch such a farce. It's existence is a dereliction to the beautiful game. Only Chelsea bring more shame to the world of the inflated orb. I would rather have a team comprised of the Radio City Rockettes than of SPL players.

And to think how good it looks when you see that Setanta commercial... You know the one, featuring that catchy sound track. SPL players dance across the screen celebrating wonder goals in front of empty stands while you hear...."I think my mind is made start a revolution".... The SPL needs more than a bloody revolution. How about some evolution?

Don't get me wrong -- I really don't have any thing bad to say about GOOD Scottish players. I loved Bryan Gunn and rate David Marshal and Mark Fotheringham highly. Anyway, enough of this. Back to the topic at hand....

How ironic that the Guillotine dropped for Peter Grant at QPR after the City faithful in the School end were treated to one of the poorest performances ever by a Norwich 11. Roeder secured our safety two Saturday's ago..... against that very team. A better QPR in fact. Still Roeder's lack of time or knowledge in the Football League market came back to give us a scare and it went close to the wire. I had more than a twitchy bum for several weeks. In fact it was a full blown rash! Roll on next season.

The fizzy league...Competitive. But is it any good?

This year's Championship season was one to remember. Leicester were relegated with 52 points. Stoke were promoted with 79. Just 29 points from automatic promotion to Yeovil away. Norwich finished the year 15 points from the playoffs and 3 from the drop. Roeder's 1.4 points a game would have had us there if he'd been in charge for the first ten games. So is the closeness of the teams a sign that the league is at a new standard? West Brom are not that much better than Hull yet they are highly rated at this level. Any one could have beaten anyone this year.

Many may suggest that the league is slipping further away from the Premiership and The fact Bristol City are in the playoffs in their first year indicates such a theory. Next season's Premiership table will tell the truth but for now....I think there is validity to both stories.

While Watford, Coventry and Stoke adopted a boring long ball mentality which affected every team and game they participated in, teams like Hull, Bristol City, West Brom and Palace played their way to the top six with some nice football.

There were many Premiership loans on display indicating a lack of opportunity in the top flight for some very talented players:
- Frazer Campbell at Hull (on loan from Manchester United)
- Ishmael Miller from Man City
- Ben Sahar from Chelsea
- Ryan Shawcross from Man United

Just to name a few who had an impact this season. Their loss is the Championship's gain.

Even at Norwich our lineup was improved dramatically by Premiership loans. Ched Evans from Man City scored 10 and Chelsea's under 21 England international Ryan Bertrand impressed. Norwich fans want them both back next year.

While Derby's destruction indicates a weak Championship, Sunderland's survival and Birmingham's close proximity to 3 other Premiership sides entering the last hurrah of the 07/08 season offers hope to Stoke and the Baggies. It is also worth remembering that consolidating a long term future in the Premiership is not just about the quality of the players who carry you up, and it's cruel to judge the Championship using recently promoted teams as your grounding for such a thought. Birmingham and Derby spent an absolute fortune on entirely new line ups. They look nothing like the teams that were celebrating this time last year.

If the answer to the question was to lie at Carrow Road then I would be be firmly on the fence with another itchy bum. We played some awful football this year (improving dramatically under Roeder) but many teams played some great stuff. If you don't believe me then you can watch the playoffs this weekend. The FA Cup also pushes the fence in the direction of improvement. Three of the last four were Championship sides. Either way, the last day was extremely exciting with automatic promotion and relegation all decided in the dying minutes. That makes for a good league right there.

Stoke and West Brom reached the promised land and Leicester slipped into the Abyss known as League 1 for the first time in their history. They spent the most and signed 28 players. Who says money buys happiness?


Read more on "Championship ramblings as the curtains close."...

Arsenal's Got Your Hardware Right Here

As some Spurs fans are keen to point out, Spurs won a "trophy" this year. If Spurs are going to count the Worthlessingcarleague Cup, than Arsenal are surely entitled to count Lady Gunners' trophies. (Oh, and also the Arsenal Cup!)

That's right, the Arsenal Ladies -- who have already won the league title -- won the Woman's FA Cup 4-1 today to secure the domestic double for the third year in a row. This makes for 29 trophies in 16 years. Surely the kind of dominant performance that Wenger and the Male Gunners should emulate. (If I were Daulerio, I would have a pithy joke about balls to throw in here.)

And Flamini is sure that he really wants to leave Arsenal for Meelan?

Photo: Times of London

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Exeter City and the Thrills and Heartache of Non-league Football

(Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on this here blog, but I’m back, baby!) I’d now like to ask you to take a gander down a couple divisions of the English leagues. Keep going past the Premier League (suck it Barcleys), past the Championship (suck it Coca-Coca), past League One (such it Coca-Coca), past even League Two (suck it yet again Coca-Coca), until you are no longer technically in the English league but in something called the Conference League (suck it Blue Square Premier League). It is here that you will find my beloved Exeter City, who today will be playing the return leg of their playoff as they seek a well-earned promotion.

The bad news is that they lost 2-1 at home to Torquay thanks to a brutal 90th minute strike on Thursday. The good news is that the Conference League doesn’t count away goals, so they are still only a goal down on aggregate. The other good news is that, unlike the rest of English football, the BBC allows people to listen to the game online from abroad. Not much competition for licensing of non-league football, eh? The match starts at 2:30pm EST, with a link usually popping up somewhere on this here page.

So, what do you need to know about Exeter City? They are located in Devon, along the sunny (kidding) southwestern English coast. Their nickname is the Grecians, even though no one has any idea why. Their two biggest claims to fame are: One, being the first squad to play in South America, which happened in 1914. The second was their famous draw against Manchester United in the FA Cup, which happened a few seasons ago. Other than that, it’s been pretty much 100 years of middling lower-tier football, and God bless Exeter City for it. Oh, the other thing you need to know is that they hate Plymouth Argyle, so you had better not wear green to a City match.

The other interesting thing about City is their current ownership by a supporters trust. This was after their owners bilked the club in a fraudulent trading scheme in 2003 (they have since been convicted on criminal charges). Prior to this, there were rumors that Uri Geller (most famous for bending spoons) and even Michael Jackson (most famous for pedophilia and the Thriller album) were interested in buying the club.

As for the style of play of Conference League football, my friend Tim, who is a lifetime Exeter City supporter, described it as follows: It’s not that the players are absolute rubbish, but rather that they either have only one skill, or they have one glaring weakness. In other words, they are the kinds of gritty, one-dimensional players who rarely survive in the upper leagues, but who often thrive against lesser competition. (Tim also taught me the joys of drinking a concoction called an Armadillo, which consists of cheap sherry and cider. All I can say is that they make the long trek from London to Devon, well, fairly enjoyable.)

So, this afternoon/evening, at a grounds located in Plainmoor, Exeter try once again to climb back into the league. Last year, City made it all the way to Wembley for the Conference League playoff finals, only to be cruelly defeated by Morecambe. My prediction for today is 1-0 at the end of regulation, with Exeter going ahead in stoppage time. Then it's on to Wembley and hopefully promotion. C’MON CITY!

UPDATE: Well, my ability to calculate Greenwich Mean Time to Eastern Standard Time could use a bit of work, because it turns out the match has just ended and Exeter won 4-1 today to advance to Wembley! HOORAH! Exeter City will face either Cambridge Utd or Burton Albion, who play the second leg of their playoff tomorrow. HOORAH! WE ARE GOING TO WEMBLEY!

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TWAG: The Joy of Six (Instead of the Joy of Cesc)

Six. That's how many of us there were for the Arsenal v. Everton kickoff on Sunday morning.

It was an irritatingly early start time, but that's really how heartbreaking this season was? Only six people—plus two more who wandered in about halftime—could be bothered.

Hell, Everton even had something to play for. One point would secure them a UEFA Cup spot. There's also the Gunner's 50-something game home unbeaten streak at the Emirates.

And fuck, there are only two games left in the season, then there's no more Arsenal futbol for literally months. Christ, shouldn't we all be squirrels out there collecting the remaining nuts no matter how shitty they might be because there aren't going to be any more for a while?

If nothing else, it was a chance just to watch and enjoy football. There were no nerves because Arsenal weren't moving out of third place. It was a rare opportunity to watch without having an irrational emotional attachment to every cross, every clearance. Lehmann could let another soft shot roll between his legs, and it would simply be a humorous and apropos farewell.

Turns out, though, detached spectating really is not that fun, even less so when it is compounded by massive disappointment of what might have been. Okay, it's a little fun when you are beating the shit out of Derby in a 6-2 scorgasm, and making them pay for a your season of second-half failure; but a listless 1-0 win over Everton where Song and Traore are maybe the best players on the pitch isn't much reward for fandom.

This must be what it's like to be a Tottenham fan. Before the games even kick off it doesn't really matter if you win or lose because when all is said and done, you're going to end up someplace mid-table, give or take.

But the shit does matter (or rather "matter" in a very relative sense—I can maintain perspective). That's what makes it worth dragging our asses out of bed when sane people are still sleeping off their hangovers (note to any European readers: fuck, it's hard sometimes being a fan of this game seven time zones away). Yeah, I'm still pissed at the non-call and the call in the Liverpool Champions League matches. And I'm even more pissed off at the shoddy defense after Adebayor leveled, but what's the point if you're not going to have strong emotional reactions? Sometimes you can't bring yourself to watch, but you can't make yourself look away.

There's a reason they keep score. And a good one. Meaningless matches are hardly worth it. Sure it's football, but it's like having drunk sex with an ex that you don't give a shit about anymore. It's slightly better than going home and rubbing one out, but it's not even close to what it feels like when you are nuts about the other person.

Plus it was a pretty lackluster match on both sides.

The best moment wasn't even on the field of play. At one point the Setanta cameras showed Helb, Fabregas, Flamini, and Rosicky all sitting right next to each other behind the bench. A fucking world class midfield—at least two of which have probably played their last match as Gunners—and all of them spectators.

I'd put even money down the camera man was a United fan having sadistic laugh. And he'd be right to.

Arsenal won. Yippee. Had the Prem still been up for grabs, the Gunners would have found a way to squander the lead and draw, though. Maybe that's the silver lining, had they still been in it a Sunday draw might have sucked the life force right out of me. But it's more of a sterling than a Britannia silver. When the expectations were low—much preseason punditry had the team finishing outside the top 4—Arsenal played loose and they won early and often. They didn't even drop a match until December 9, to 'Boro of all teams.

It wasn't until they Gunners found themselves five points clear atop the table that they began to look like deer, or rather fawn, in the Prem headlights and reeled off consecutive draws against (God this hurts) likely relegation fodder Birmingham City, Villa, bottom-halfers Wigan, and 'Boro.

Seriously, we only took one of six points from fucking Middlesbrough this year? I hope Gareth Southgate still wakes up with cold sweats reliving his missed PK from the 1996 Euro.

Even with all those dropped points, with a win at Stamford Bridge and a win at Old Tratford it was there for the taking and it was theirs for the taking. Instead Drogba decided to show up for the second half and give the Gunners a big "fuck you" for a going away present and Owen Hargreaves hit a ridiculous free kick nobody was expecting him to even take.

Credit to them. They beat us when it mattered. But it's also clear this Arsenal team didn't know how to play under pressure. That and they had to play Senderos probably a little too much to make anyone feel good. Maybe even Philippe himself.

So that's it. Had you told me before the season started that Arsenal would finish third I would gladly have taken it. But with only Sunderland left on the fixtures, I'm anything but glad. I will probably sleep in next week no matter what time kick is.

After the other Sunday match, I wanted to make myself feel better by taking a shot at the people looking up at us. For completely arbitrary reasons a buddy of mine adopted Liverpool as his EPL team to follow this year. I applaud him for trying to get into futbol by having a team to follow, but I also chided him for his choice. When I cracked on his pick in an email by calling them Liverfouth (which I admitted stole from some blog), he responded, "And how much worse is that than Thirdsenal?"

Ouch. The truth does indeed hurt... but only until the 2008-2009 season starts.

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Congratulations Real Madrid and Bayern Munich

This weekend saw two of the big four European soccer leagues crown their champions. Bayern Munich reclaimed the Bundesliga title with a 0-0 draw with VfL Wolfsburg. The victory put the Bavarians 10 points ahead of Werder Bremen with three matches remaining. Real Madrid captured its second consecutive La Liga title with a 2-1 victory over Osasuna also putting it ten points ahead of its closest rival--Villareal.

The other two major leagues in Europe--Serie A and the English Premier League (suck it Barclay's!)--still remain up in the air.

Inter's loss to AC Milan keeps Roma in the title hunt and AC Milan in the hunt for a Champions League birth. And in England, Chelsea and Manchester United will likely go down to the last day to determine the champion. Provided Chelsea can put down Newcastle on Monday, which might be tougher than originally thought given Newcastle's recent run of luck. If Chelsea prevails on Monday, the two squads will be level on points with ManU having a significant goal differential advantage going into the final weekend.

Elsewhere, Bordeaux remains in the hunt trailing Olympique Lyon by two points in Ligue 1. Rangers are still in touch with title chances, but Celtic look likely to retain the title seven points clear with three matches remaining.

[Photo Credit: Yahoo! Sports]

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Newcastle Continues Its Winning Streak

Newcastle United had a rough patch this season, particularly the middle part where the squad won only 2 of 20 matches. Kevin Keegan was hired to right the ship during this stretch but he did not claim victory until his tenth match at the helm and going 4-0-2 since. This turn of fortune has left owner Mike Ashley with a lucky streak. Being British, he naturally headed to the casino to test his luck -- (because you know all Britons are degenerate gamblers allowing casinos to sponsor clubs) -- and lady luck was giving him a hummer to remember.

Ashley bet £480,000 on his lucky number 17 and when his ball nestled into that sweet little hole he bukkaked all over lady luck pulling in £1,284,00 for his bet. Ashley bet what was called a "complete"--explained below:

First, he bet the house maximum £2,000 on the single No 17. At odds of 35-1, it paid out £70,000.

Then he placed £4,000 on each of the four 'splits': that the number would be either 17 or the number immediately adjacent – 14, 16, 18 or 20. A total bet of £16,000 at odds of 17-1 means a win of £272,000.

He placed £8,000 on each of the four 'corner' bets – groups of four numbers including 17. A total bet of £32,000 at odds of 8-1, winning £256,000.

A 'street' bet that the number would be 16, 17, or 18. His £6,000 bet at 11-1 nets £66,000.

Two £12,000 bets that the number would be between 13 and 18, or 16 and 21. A £24,000 stake at 5-1 yields £120,000. £100,000 on each of the even-money bets: black, odd and between 1 and 18. £300,000 staked, £300,000 won.

£50,000 on each of the two 2-1 bets: the middle column on the table and the middle dozen numbers, 13 to 24. Total stake: £100,000. Total win: £200,000.

Well, that's just too complicated. Plus, Mike Ashley only went to school until he was 16 and is now reported to be worth £1.9 billion. Those two pieces of paper that I spent $200,000 to get sure seem like a stupid investment. I should have been betting on 17.

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Streaker Does Playboy: Still Not Nude

You may remember back a couple months when a "streaker" interrupted the USA - Honduras U-23 Match. I use the term streaker loosely since she really only looked like a woman on the beach with a USA flag as a cape leaving her bra and panties on. The streaker, Tiffany May, was arrested, ID'ed, released, and now, of course, is posing in Playboy [Slide Show]. It is the American way after all.
After the jump, more sexy...Update: Now with video...

Unfortunately, the only thing available online at Playboy is not much more revealing than the shot above. The site suggest there may be more provocative pics in the subscription portion of the site.
But, this is the internet, who pays for porn on the internet?
Certainly not me.
I leave it up to you fair readers to uncover the real pics.

Big hattip to The Offside Rules for finding the story.

Update: Lucky for you readers, I am a clever sonofabitch and figured out how to grab the video of the photoshoot and embed it here. Enjoy.

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