Saturday, July 12, 2008

FA Cup of British Rock - Round of 16 / Match #2

These are the ground rules: 16 teams, each represented by a musician or band who happens to be a supporter. You, our fair reader, vote on who advances. Use whatever criteria you wish: favorite team, favorite band, prettiest uniforms (looking at you Elton), etc. Ballot stuffing is not encouraged, but will be tolerated, because we’re just as corrupt as the real FA. Voting for the Round of 16 will close on Sunday, July 20.

Here’s our next match-up features two singers who rose to fame at the height of punk:

Punk godfather John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten), former rat exterminator and lifelong Arsenal supporter

- versus -

Essex boy and spasticus autisticus Ian Dury, the man who embodied West Ham United

With both the Sex Pistols and PiL, John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) did what he could to tear down staid, English establishments: proving that anyone could form a band, releasing “God Save the Queen” (from her fascist regime) to commemorate the Queen’s jubilee, inspiring a million bands to form in his wake, falling out with Malcolm McLaren when it was clear that Lydon was merely being exploited, quitting punk to form the dub-based and influential post-punk groups Public Image Ltd. Whether you find Lydon either groundbreaking or tedious, at least the man has been completely consistent throughout his long career, which is more than most musicians can achieve. It’s just that England was such an easy target and provided such fertile ground for quasi-anarchist social commentary. But, there is just one institution that Lydon respects, and that is his beloved Arsenal. Here he was speaking on the subject last year.

For most Americans -- unless you spent the late ‘90s reading copies of Mojo and Select Magazine like yours truly -- there is a decent chance that you’ve never heard of Ian Dury. You could also maybe argue that there are much more famous West Ham supporters. But, for my money, no one embodies West Ham United more than the late, great Dury. Having developed polio as a child, he merely incorporated the disability into his persona as he crooned in his thick Essex boy accent. Dury rose to fame in the late ‘70s as part of Stiff Records, which would also produce Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, the Damned and Madness, although Dury’s style was totally unique and not totally wedded to punk -- more biting social commentary over pub rock / dancehall music. Sadly, Ian Dury passed away in 2000 from cancer, but he continues to have a small yet devoted following, even if Dury’s only impact on American shores was his hit “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll.” Some things just don’t quite translate across the Atlantic, just like the way that West Ham United’s working class history is somehow purely English. To prove the point, here is Dury and his backing band the Blockheads’ “Clever Trevor,” perhaps in tribute to West Ham legend Trevor Booking?

And now, you get to vote who advances to the next round...

You can still vote on the other match: Man U/Stone Roses v. Watford/Elton John

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Backpasses: Pic for the ladies

Hleb to Barcelona. London too chaotic for him. Looks for calm nightlife in Spain [AFP]
Tottenham to sign Luis Garcia. He'll be good cover when Keane goes to Liverpool [The Sun]
More hand-wringing on the Blanco incident [Big Soccer]
Justin Timberlake loves soccer. In a very "I'll watch it if it's on" sort of way [The Red Card]

More junk if you click this link:

Another Best Eleven list. Which teams and leagues did the goalscorers in Euro 2008 come from? [The Best Eleven]
A modest proposal from The Sun. Let's give Blatter the boot [The Sun]
English bookie refuses to honor winning bet from Euros [The Sentinel]

And, finally:
English fans abandoning the EPL for the Bundesliga. Check out the discrepancy in ticket prices [Soccer Fanhouse]

Read more on "Friday Backpasses: Pic for the ladies"...

Breaking News: Guzan Gone

Although it has been rumored that Chivas GK Brad Guzan was going to Aston Villa of the English Premier League, Sideline Views reports that its source has confirmed the rumor.

Good for Brad. Hopefully he has a successful international career like other US keepers before him.

Update: Soccer by Ives and the LA Times are all over this story, too.

Guzan leaves for only $1.5 million, although he was out of contract this winter anyway. That just means one less place for Benitez to flog Carson to for extra cash.

Read more on "Breaking News: Guzan Gone"...

FA Cup of British Rock: Round of 16 / Match #1

These are the ground rules: 16 teams, each represented by a musician or band who happens to be a supporter. You, our fair reader, vote on who advances. Use whatever criteria you wish: favorite team, favorite band, prettiest uniforms (looking at you Elton), etc. Ballot stuffing is not encouraged, but will be tolerated, because we’re just as corrupt as the real FA. Voting for the Round of 16 will close on Sunday, July 20.

Here’s our first match-up:

The Stone Roses, that Madchester baggy band who rose to fame circa 1989, representing Manchester United.

- versus -

Elton John, ducksuit-wearing pop pianist, as well as lifelong supporter and chairman of Watford.

If the Stone Roses never existed, someone would’ve invented them: Rising to fame despite having a lead singer who can’t really carry a tune (still to this day, God bless him!) thanks to attitude, a tight rhythm section, a mercurial guitarist, and a sound that crossed over from rock to dance just as piles of E were landing on English soil. And then it all went horribly wrong: lingering legal problems with an old label and hard drugs led to a massive delay of their follow-up Second Coming (which, in retrospect, isn’t as bad as advertised at the time), by which time Brit Pop had passed the Roses by, leading to a still-lingering feud between childhood friend Ian Brown and John Squire. But the Stone Roses were always about the collective experience, such as 75,000 signing “This Is the One” as Manchester United come out at the beginning of matches. And, a very little known fact about the Stone Roses is that in the early ‘90s their bassist Mani was once caught on TV spitting at Gordon Strachan, who had left the Reds for Leeds United (I looked for footage to no avail). Although, now it looks like they’ve kissed and made up and Mani claims that he’s a Celtic fan – probably spending too much time with Bobby Gillespie. In any case, Manchester United are hardly ever underdogs, but the Stone Roses were, and if not the Stone Roses than Man U would be stuck with Mick Hucknall.

Okay, despite the embarrassing ducksuit, Elton John deserves props for being one of the only 70s/80s pop musicians to actually age gracefully. I mean, can you imagine Billy Joel hanging out with Eminen, Timbaland and the Scissor Sisters? Not very likely. Sir Elton might be most famous for that maudlin post-Diana “Candle in the Wind” business, but just try listening to "Rocket Man" or "I'm Still Dancing Standing" [ed: oops! I quit for a reason] a couple times without it being stuck in your head for weeks. And then, to his greatest credit, Elton John took the reins of Watford FC starting in 1976, and guided the team from the then-fourth division all the way up to a few spells in the top flight. As the club’s honorary “president for life,” Sir Elton still regularly attends games and even gets actively involved in the club from time to time, such as when Al Bangoura was threatened with deportation. Yes, the bitch is back, indeed!

And now... You decide which team will advance to the next round.

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Neil Adams Answers YOU -Part TWO.

Oh you've been waiting... I can tell. I can smell your excitement wafting through my ethernet cable. You got a taster and you want more... And you shall have it.......

I asked for questions to pose to ex-Norwich wing king and current Radio Norfolk commentator Neil Adams and you flooded my inbox. We had some good un's (and some duffers too!)
In part one Neil satisfied your insatiable appetite for behind the scenes footy information and I teased you by splitting this interview into two parts. Well the wait is over.

Lets crack on...

Matt wanted to know.....Neil. When at away games, do you have to stay in the stands to take Canary Call, or is there a press room like at Carra Rud? Canary call is a phone in show on BBC Radio Norfolk. Fans call in to air their opinions and quiz Neil on the match.

Neil...At home at Carrow Road we commentate from just above the tunnel as most people will know and then for canary call I make my way up into the corner between the snake pit and the Barclay end to the studio. Away from home we get allocated press box seats and we sit with all the other guys who are commentating. After the game finishes the press box empties and I sit where I am. I am normally alone in the stand.
Matt also wanted to know......(its related so he gets to ask two) Can you recall a favorite argument with a canary call fan?

Neil...Yes I can. A guy called Barry called 4 years ago at Millwall. I had a good debate with the guy who was adamant that I used to go and watch training every day and his bone of contention at the time was that Norwich weren't scoring many goals from set pieces. He said to me "why aren't they practising set pieces on the training ground" and I said to him I don't know because I don't go and watch and he was insistent that I did. After about 3 mins I ended up calling Barry stupid and the call has sort of made it into Norfolk folklore and made it onto websites.

Neil sitting next to Radio Norfolk's Roy Waller.

Want to hear 'stupid' Barry's call? At U.F we NEVER disappoint..Here it is....

Matt had one final request and because I am a good egg, I caved like Eduardo's ankle and let him get one last question in....

Matt....Can you tell my girlfriend to leave me the hell alone when the football is on the radio? (and I mean ALL the way through to Chris's manager/player interviews at the end)

Neil...Matt's girlfriend should leave him alone as it's fantastic that people listen in all over the globe, we sometimes get calls from people phoning in from other countries and if someone is that keen on Norwich City and has taken the time at any time of the day or night to listen to canary call then their wives and girlfriends should leave them alone.
Hear that woman? Leave Matt alone! I understand Matt's dilemma... That's why I lock Mrs Bigus in the basement on Saturday mornings.
Goat asks...(hope it's clean!) Since you are here in the US, perhaps you can tell me what you think of soccer in this country--both MLS and the national team (if he thinks of them at all)--and why many Brits seem to look down on US soccer fans (although it's quite understandable why the look down on American soccer players).

Neil...I am actually going to watch L.A Galaxy next week. I am not really qualified to comment on American football but by all accounts it's not great. There are more and more British players coming over here, maybe they are chasing the dollar, but apparently it's not great (how right you are sir!) which is a shame. It's a big sport and hopefully it takes off over here.
Precious Roy asks...Since he does radio in Norwich, could you maybe ask him to get us Alan Partidge's autograph? (oh Roy, Roy, Roy...)

Neil...Apparently Steve Coogan modeled his character on somebody from Radio Norfolk, nobody is officially owning up but we have all got our ideas.

Eladio asks...As a former player, what are your thoughts on foreign ownership, of not only EPL teams, but Championship and lower levels. Does that affect players at all, or is it just something for the fans and media to whinge about?

Rich foreign folk.....Yay..or neigh?

Neil...There are two interests for players. How much are they getting paid and are they getting picked in the team. They are well aware of whats going on off the field but it doesn't affect them. They want to be picked and paid well. Most British people turn their nose up at foreign investment but that's the way it's going. If people are going to come in and put money into a club and make it better, buy better players, better facilities then you have to embrace it.

Eladio ...also wanted to know..If, at the end of your career, you felt you had 1 more year left and the only team offering him a contract was Ipswich, would you have played for them?

Neil....Never in a million years..Once you have played for Norwich you can never play for Ipswich.

You are never forgiven! Judas Marshall made the move.

Finally, earlier this year Glenn Roeder took exception to a comment Neil made on the Radio about Darren Huckerby's absence from the team. Roeder made his feelings towards Neil very clear and very public. This resulted in Neil being let go from coaching the NCFC under 14 here is the question that many(7) of you wanted aksed...

NY Kid... How do you feel about Glenn Roeder?

Neil ......To be honest with you I am not happy with him at all. I believe in treating people how they treat you and I believe in respect and I don't think the manager has shown me a lot of respect, I don't think he was honest or truthful with me with the reasons he gave when he told me I would not be coaching at the Norwich academy any more.

I said at the end of our meeting, and I made no bones about it, Norwich is my club and I hope he does fantastically well with the club this year. I don't personally respect him, I hope he does well and the team does well, but its all about results and if Glenn Roeder gets results then everyone will say that he has done a fantastic job but personally we don't see eye to eye at the moment.


Many, many thanks to Neil for his time and a heavy pat on the back to all of you for submitting some smashing questions.


Up the City!

Read more on "Neil Adams Answers YOU -Part TWO."...

If This is Modern Slavery, Then Shackle Me up!


Cristiano Ronaldo has told Portuguese television that he is in, like, total agreement with the Seppsis Screed on modern football's transfer "slavery." The United (for now) star took a moment's break from his never-ending Portuguese vacation to stand firm along side the fascist mutt that runs world football.

In typically eloquent form, Ronaldo told a reporter from his home country, "You know what I said, what I want and what I would like. I agree completely with the president of Fifa."

I suppose Crissy is simply pushing for his own ends. And like we said yesterday, ain't nothing wrong with that. This is a mean little world we live in and you need to get some while there's some to be got.

But for some perspective, follow us after the jump... and enjoy a brief photo essay on the difference between "football slavery" and actual fucking slavery. Classy stuff, you'll enjoy!

Football slavery

Actual Fucking Slavery

Football Slavery

Actual Goddamn Fucking Slavery!

Alas, modern footballer's slavery

And the real thing

Congrats Seppsis, you've made Joao Havelange seem like a progressive...

Read more on "If This is Modern Slavery, Then Shackle Me up!"...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thursday Backpasses: All Cuauhtemoc, all the time

I'm not breaking any confidences in saying Cuauhtemoc Blanco is an asshole. MLS aren't helping matters in possibly breaking the law trying to keep his shenanigans away from the intertubes. We here at UF are actively seeking submissions of what the pendejo did both on the pitch and leaving it on Tuesday night. Vids, stills, stories, whatever, we'll take it.

For those not in the know:
Chicago Tribune's article on the aftermath [Chicago Tribune]
There is a tape out there [Red Card]
But MLS, possibly illegally, is sending takedown notices [Dave's Football Blog]

Other non-Blanco stuff after the jump

Kentucky ODP coach arrested for soliciting underage oral sex online [WLKY]
Real Salt Lake to host 2009 MLS All-Star game [The Canadian Press]
Darren Huckerby signs on with San Jose [Soccer by Ives]

And, finally:
If you ever wanted to be like us, but successful, ESPN wants YOU to write for them. Hope you write better than whoever prepared this release [Soccernet]

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Announcing the FA Cup of British Rock!

July is the cruelest month for football, with no international tournaments and no league matches, just the occasional Steve Sidwell signing. Never fear, we at UF have gotcha covered. Beginning tomorrow, we will be holding our very own football tournament (of sorts) titled:

The FA Cup of British Rock!

What the hell is this that you speak of? More exciting details after the jump.

Okay, the concept is really quite simple. Sixteen teams, each represented by a known supporter who happens to also be a musician or band, each battling it out to be crowned the FA Cup Champion of British Rock. (So, purely by example, you might have Tottenham Hotspur represented by Phil Collins.)

And that’s not even the best part: YOU get to decide! Yes, by taking advantage of the greatest boon to interactivity and democracy in the history of the Internets, we’ll set up polls to let you, our loyal readers, decide which team advances.

The Round of Sixteen starts tomorrow, with all the polls open for around a week and a half. Then there’s the Quarterfinals, Semis to follow, and of course the Final match! If I have calculated correctly, this behemoth of British rock and football should be over at the beginning of August, just in time for the English league season to begin.

Sure, this is a lot to absorb, but trust us it’ll all work out in the end.

Long live rock n’ roll (and football)!!

Read more on "Announcing the FA Cup of British Rock!"...

Breathe easy League Two, there's no relegation this year

Oh, whoops. My bad. The above statement is not meant to include Luton Town or Bournemouth. You two are going straight down without a fight. This, of course, is only if everything plays out the way the Brit media are leading me to believe.

Point One: Luton are to start the season 30 points in the hole. That's ten wins just to get where 22 of the other 23 teams are starting. Which leads me to
Point Two: Bournemouth, having failed to approve the Football League's preferred steps out of administration, are likely to be hit with a 15 point penalty this season. Usually, when a British team goes into administration, the team is hit with a ten point penalty. Bournemouth took that penalty last season, so they are likely to see the larger Leeds-sized penalty this year.

But, as Leeds proved last year, a large penalty at the start of the season is by no means going to automatically lead to relegation. So why am I so down on these two clubs chances? History, sheer history.

For the last six seasons, the lowest level of English League football has relegated two squads. In that time, the number of points collected by the 23rd place squad are: 42, 36, 49, 38, 45, 48. That's averages out to 43 points, and that's still being relegated.

For Bournemouth to achieve 43 points, they would need to actually amass 58 points in the season's 46 games. 58 points in League Two last season was good for 15th place. That is definitely doable for a club who made that amount in League One last season, before being deducted 10 points for administration. However, this will be a club with more financial restraints this season, so bear that in mind.

For Luton Town to hit 43 points, they would need 73 points in total. The equivalent point total would have just missed the playoffs last season. Ouch. They had 43 last season in League One, before their own ten point deduction. To say that things look bleak for the club that was in the top flight 16 years ago would be an understatement.

Of course, this is all reliant on the clubs not successfully appealing their penalties. If Bournemouth do, in fact, receive the 15 point deduction, they will be hard-pressed to fight it. Luton Town, as well, would seem to be in quite a pickle. Ten points of the deduction dome from agent's shenanigans, while the other 20 come from their financial status. It is believable that Luton may be able to get five points back, to make the financial penalty equivalent to Leeds last season, but any more than that is unlikely.

So, rest easy Exeter City and Aldershot Town. Last year's promotees will have a bit easier time of it. Notts County and Chester City, 21st and 22nd respectively last season, also look to have another season to turn around their fortunes and stave off non-League status for at least one more year.

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And More from the Mad Blatherer

We have already touched on Sepp Blather's remarks on the Cristiano Ronaldo transfer saga, which is turning into a nine-act play from some college student, and I have to say I agree. Blather is just a self-important blowhard that likes to hear himself talk and see his name in the paper. He really lives by the adage of "any press is good press" even if it makes him look like a drooling imbecile.

Not only has he compared Ronaldo's situation to modern slavery, which I might add is a slavery I wouldn't mind being a part of, but he also popped these kernels of wisdom for us on women's soccer, gays, US soccer and xenophobia (thankfully compiled by Times Online):

Blatter offers an insight into how women's football could be made easier on the eye. “They could have tighter shorts,” he said.

Foot-in-mouth time

* In an attempt to raise the game's profile in the United States, especially with television networks, he has another brainchild - two halves could become four quarters.

* Size clearly matters, so why not raise the bar ... literally? Blatter suggests the goals should be half a metre wider and 25cm higher.

* Blatter again in choppy waters. “There are gay footballers, but they don't declare it because it will not be accepted in these macho organisations,” he said. “Look at women's football - homosexuality is more popular there.”

* He rules that clubs field no more than five foreign players. Agreed by Fifa, yet opposed by the Premier League and European Union, whose laws it would breach.

Blather infuriates me to no end. Could he just shut up and fade to black for the world of soccer? Please.

Read more on "And More from the Mad Blatherer"...

Is There No Cure for this Seppsis?

"Send this man off!"

Krill-eating Fifa president Sepp Blatter offered his token bloviation on the l'affair Cristiano Ronaldo yesterday and wouldn't you know it, he's sided with the old Generalissimo's favored side.

In an unsolicited, unnecessary, and wholly unnerving statement, Blatter compared football's transfer system to "modern slavery."

It's tempting to smack Sepp around for the base stupidity of such a remark, but there's more at stake here. Ronaldo's departure from United, should it go through, would set a potentially devestating precedent for the club game. No one put a gun to the lad's head when he signed his deal at Old Trafford and as such, no outside pressure should fall on United when the player starts begging for his "dream" departure.

Blatter's motives in pushing for this particular move are shady at best. His logic is downright porcine... get that next swig at the trough, all else be damned.

More on this traveshamockery after the jump.

According to the BBC, Ronaldo is currently in the midst of a deal that runs until 2012. It is a long deal, fashioned no doubt in the hopes of keeping twinkletoes from reaching the European equivalent of what Americans call "free agency" before his 27th birthday. The so-called "Bosman trasfer" rule allows players at the end of a contract to sign where they please.

Of the Bosman effect, Seppsis says:

"I think in football there's too much modern slavery in transferring players or buying players here and there, and putting them somewhere.

"We are trying now to intervene in such cases. The reaction to the Bosman law is to make long-lasting contracts in order to keep the players and then if he wants to leave, then there is only one solution, he has to pay his contract."

So to translate, Blatter is unhappy with the fact that teams are inclined to sign their players to longer contracts as a means of keeping them off the open market. He is beside himself that individuals choosing to break their deals are made to pay their way out of town. And finally, he believes that the stated "comfort" of a given athlete at a given club should influence whether or not he is made to honor his deal.

Now, I understand that football's attitudes toward player movement differs in a cultural sense from what we are accustomed to in the States. Players are generally allowed to pick and choose their fates. Rarely is a transfer made without all parties consenting to the terms. Compare that with Major League Baseball, where most guys could be shipped off to Kansas City and not have single word to say about it. Surely that is more akin to "slavery" than what goes on in football?

The trickle-down effect this fiasco could have on the lower level clubs, like the minnows at Norwich City, is equally disturbing. How will the these sides cope with their homegrown and budding young stars-- many of whom have been in their system since the age of 9(?)-- leaving for their own Tottenham Hotspur "dream moves?" If the be-all, end-all of all transfer rows is the boyhood jerk-fodder of the player, it is truly doomsday for the other 95 percent of clubs in England, The Continent, and the world.

Allow Bigus to lay it out, as only he can:

The shear stupidity of [the Baltter] comment astounds me. This fat sequacious douche bag should not be allowed near FIFA. The knock on effect of what he is suggesting would ruin the game and hand power to greedy overpaid footballers. The lower leagues would constantly be faced with players demanding moves and higher salaries.


Read more on "Is There No Cure for this Seppsis?"...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wednesday Backpasses: I'm as drunk as a ref right now

Becks checks out some dames in LA, again [With Leather]
Speaking of tattooed morons, Rooney got another one. It may as well have been a dunce cap [Telegraph]
Which footballer scored 24 goals in four games? The Guardian will tell you [Guardian]

More after the jump

C. Ronaldo probably pissed away his chance at the Ballon d'Or with his performance at the Euros [SI]
Ronaldinho is not going to the Olympics after all [Bloomberg]
David Trezeguet quits French squad because Domenech was retained [Soccernet]
McClaren makes moves at FC Twente [Setanta]
Arbitration helps Tottenham screw over Crystal Palace [Guardian]

And, finally:
US Open Cup semis set. We are one step away from my dream DC United-Charleston Battery final [US Open Cup]

Read more on "Wednesday Backpasses: I'm as drunk as a ref right now"...

You Hear That?... That Was My Skull

Quick quiz (ooh, and it's a video Daily Double):

This ref:

A) Suffers from some sort of palsy.
B) Couldn't get better work after his role as Corky in "Life Goes On."
C) Is totally wasted.
D) All of the above.

Wish it were D, too, huh? I totally want to live in a world where Chris Burke is a soccer ref.*

Anyway, would it help if we told you this happened in the former Soviet Republic of Belarus?

Yep, he's drunk. Or so say the newsreaders in this version of the clip.

The most staggering thing about it (and yes, we're all about bad puns here at UF) is that, from the looks of the players warming up around him, he appears to be reffing an U-13 match. Maybe Arsene slipped him a Mickey at half.

I'm not entirely convinced it's not back pain (or maybe he's just 'tarded... it's okay my first wife was a 'tard, now she's a pilot). Really, who leans that far back when they are schwasted?

Personally, eh, don't see what the big deal is. It's not like anyone would notice a difference in the quality of officiating if most of them were loaded. Plus, let he who wouldn't start pounding a few cold ones at the break if he'd worked 247 Belaussian youth games cast the first stone.

[*Ed Note: Turns out that Burke, according to that IMDB page, is an usher at a Catholic church near his home, which, given the amount of activity in a Catholic mass, makes it in some ways not all that far off from reffing soccer]

Read more on "You Hear That?... That Was My Skull"...

The Good, The Bad, The WTF

The first professional soccer match I attended was back in 1985. The home team was this week's subject, Dundee FC, and the away team was Aberdeen. The memories I have of that match are sparse. I think it was a 1-1 scoreline, but I am not sure. I remember we stood in actual terracing behind the goal, which was actually pretty cool. Also, there were a shitload more fouls than I had ever experienced watching American college soccer, or even the odd NASL match.
All of that preamble to say that I once saw this team in action, and remember their kit from that time well due to Mike Pringle, the lone Dundee fan in my class. He wore their shirt a lot, when he wasn't wearing Iron Maiden T-shirts. It was a nice look, with a navy blue shirt with red and white accents and white shorts. This week's shirt is not so great.

From this small picture, you may think that this is a black-ish shirt with some odd white wavy coloration. Oh no. This is a now much darker blue shirt with white script--of all the names of that year's season ticket holders on it.

The best part? The fact that the shirt almost certainly contains some misspellings of the team's support. I don't think that Richard Gibsonv exists, but Richard Gibson V, that I can believe.

Also, there are some rather interesting names here. At the bottom of this picture:
one can find the name Calum Piggot. Now that is an awesome name. It just rolls off the tongue. Mr. Piggot. C-Pigg for short.

All in all, this was a sentimental idea gone horribly wrong. I don't think that it is any coincidence that, of the small number of these theoretically produced (only given to the season ticket holders), so many show up on the ebays. Only four hours left to secure one of the five available in this auction, so get cracking.

Read more on "The Good, The Bad, The WTF"...

...And now for something completely different

For most boys of a certain age, there was a time just before hair started sprouting out of interesting places that several things took on vast importance. These things included sports and Monty Python. I am guessing that Andrew, one of our loyal readers, looks back at that time just as fondly as yours truly, because he pointed out that tWWL’s Soccernet is promoting some sort of hybrid between football and John Cleese called The Art of Football from A to Z.

Interviews with the world’s greatest fans and players – from Pele, to Platini, to Wim Wenders of all people – and lots of good British humor in a delightful romp from the A to Z’s of football. The couple clips on the website make this look hilarious, perfect viewing for the summer doldrums. Look, they even show the fantastic German versus Greek philosophers 11-on-11 sketch from Monty Python!

Click on the What’s On tab and it appears that this new show is currently playing on ESPN Classic! Fantastic! Who cares if the program is actually a couple years old. It’s John Cleese, and other famous people, talking about football! And it's funny! But wait, what’s this? Oh.... it’s only playing on ESPN Classic England.

Yes, that's right. No John Cleese for the Americans. While there are rumors of ESPN Classic U.S. being turned into ESPN3, all futbol all the time, a scan through the current schedule on ESPN Classic reveals such exciting fare as reruns of Stump the Schwab and Arli$$ (both possibly the worst shows to ever grace American television sets). C’mon the World Wide Leader, you couldn’t pony up the cash to license this John Cleese program for the United States?

After all, if Americans know anything about Great Britain, it’s John Cleese – I mean, Monty Python, Faulty Towers, Fish Called Wanda, even a turn as Q in a couple of James Bond movies. What better way to introduce futbol to a wider audience? And why promote a program on that Americans can’t even watch?

In the meantime, we'll just have to make due with the following:

He's not pining! He's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! He's expired and gone to meet his maker! He's a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed him to the perch he'd be pushing up the daisies! His metabolic processes are now history! He's off the twig! He's kicked the bucket, He's shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

Read more on "...And now for something completely different"...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tuesday Backpasses: Screw you, Fark

Barcelona president, having just survived vote of no confidence, decides to resign [Goal]
UEFA Cup set to rebrand. "Europe's NIT" is our suggestion [Canadian Press]

Trifecta in play, and closed--people hate on the MLS
Philly's stadium will not help the local community [Delco Times]
I hate Bleacher Report. Bleacher Report writer hates the MLS in general [Bleacher Report] BONUS-His profile says he works for MLS
MLS to tap into Gambian pipeline of talent. I know the article doesn't hate on the league, but come on. Gambia, really? That's the best you can do, MLS? [Boston Globe]

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DC United pwnz the Nationals

In the capital of this great nation, a new saying is taking hold. No longer does one say, "As American as baseball and apple pie." Nope. Now one has to replace "baseball" with "soccer". The TV ratings bear it out.

Nielsen Media Research reports that, in the 2.3 million households designated to be in the DC area, DC United matches are watched by more people that Washington Nationals games. DC United draws an average 0.5 rating, while the National have averaged 0.39. Before we get all uppity that the tide has changed, United's ratings equal out to 11,500 households and the Nationals get 9000. No world changing numbers there.

Unlike the WaPo columnist who had to add an update to placate frothing Nats fans, we will just let the numbers speak for themselves. On TV, in DC, United are better watched than the local baseball team. And that's change we can believe in.

I'm ü75, and I approved this message.

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Loose Lips Sink Marginal Young Football Careers

Thank god for football. Without it, we might still be caught up in the insane notion that the English are even a modicum more intelligent or classy than us, Il Brutto Americani.

I understand that your average professional footballer has never been held in high regard by the Limey intellectual classes, but the actions of this blustery young buck, Ashley-Paul Robinson-- formerly, reports have it, of Crystal Palace-- are worthy of a special note.

Defying the impossible standards of the 21st century athlete, Robinson has managed to captivate us with the particular indiscretions that led to his summary dismissal from Neil Warnock's Championship contenders.

The highly-rated-enough-to-get-a- clandestine-call-from-Fulham winger went behind the backs of his bosses at Palace for a workout with Bullard and the Boys, hoping for a transfer push into the top flight. Nothing wrong with that of course, it's the nature of the game. But there was one other issue...

More concerned with Pussy Galore than pulling off a 007-esque sweep into Craven Cottage, Robinson delivered a running Facebook status commentary on his trials.

From Saturday:

"Ashley-Paul is goin fulham on monday. If i pull dis off im on dis ting."
From Sunday:
"Ashley-Paul is travling 2 Bath With Fulham Fingers Crossed.(Im lukin 2 Get Sum Tips Of Jimmy Bullard He's ON DIS TING NO HYPE LOL"
And finally, after the milk had spilled, no crying:
"Ashley-Paul has been very naughty lol!"
LOL indeed, mate!

Said Neil Warnock, after expressing his disgust and releasing the 18-year-old: "We feel it's probably better that he looks elsewhere to further his career."

MySpace, perhaps?

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Neil Adams Answers YOU! - Part 1

Last week I offered you all a super chance not to be passed on.

The chance to quiz ex-Norwich player and current BBC radio pundit Neil Adams. I received over 40 questions - some of them even 3-parters! We didn't get through them all and some of them were... well... poo. But the great news is that many of them were excellent, and Neil answered those over a few beers with his old mate Bigus last Saturday night.

He offered his thoughts on current training methods, reminisced on THAT penalty miss and told me what he thought of Glenn Roeder.

Part One is waiting after the jump.

Neil (second from the left) with some NY Canaries last Saturday. Sorry for the blurry picture, Sergio from Keeley's was obviously drinking on the job!

Let's get started:

Kopper asks: How much coin do you think a mid-table championship team needs to spend to make consistent promotion pushes, assuming a slightly better rate of return than, say, Peter Grant?

Neil: I think if a team wants to get out of the Championship, you have to be looking at about 6 million at least. That's the ballpark figure for me. 6 million quid, and you'd be looking to get at least 4 decent players. As an owner, if I gave my manager 8 million and he didn't get me into the top 2, I would be disappointed, so 6 to 8 million.

Lingering Bursitis asked: Neil, who is the best manager you have ever played for, and why?

Neil: Players will usually tell you that the best manager they ever played for was the one that picked them all the time. I was fortunate to win the Premier League, as it is now, with Everton.

Howard Kendall was fantastic. I think his main strength was his man management, the way he kept the players that weren't in the team involved in the squad. I have played for managers who have got their 11, and if you are not in it, then you are an outcast.

Howard Kendall kept a group of about 20 players, bearing in mind this was in the days of one sub, all involved and rotated, which was unheard of and steered the team to a title. Bear in mind Liverpool were winning the title for fun then and using 30-40 players, I think he used 22 the year we won it.

Another one for me was Mike Walker, a manager who was very underrated. He was tactically excellent. He was the only manager I have known to play 3 center-halves and a sweeper, which was never done before, during the European run. He was another one who kept the training ground happy, he was very clever, and I think he should have done a lot better than he did. He was an excellent manager.

Kopper asks: Who is going to step up to be the clubhouse leader at Norwich City now that Dion has gone?

Neil: Difficult one... it would have been Huckerby for me, but Huckerby is out of the building now so to speak and looking at it now, they are thin on the ground for leaders. Gary Doherty is an experienced player but he is not a great talker. You are looking for players who are going to push and pull players around the pitch. I would be struggling to find one at the minute. If you are looking for experienced leaders at the moment then there aren't any there. Hopefully some can be brought in.

Lingering Bursitis asks: You played for Everton, Stoke, Norwich and Oldham... Who had the biggest dressing room clown and who was it?

Neil: Everton was fantastic, I was a young kid when I went to Everton, I was 19 years old. Everton at the time were the equivalent of Manchester United now, probably one of the best clubs in Europe. The dressing room was fantastic. I was fortunate that Adrian Heath was an Everton player, we both lived in Stoke-on-Trent and traveled up to Everton every day. He took me under his wing.

The dressing room banter at the time was phenomenal. Players will always tell you that the dressing room will get you half of the way there, obviously you have to have the talent or you won't do it. Adrian Heath was a joker but there were several of them. Oldham was the same, when we got out of the Championship at the time and into the Premiership. Joe Royle knew we liked to go out and have a beer and a laugh and a joke, but he kept an eye on it. He let it go because he knew what it did for the dressing room spirit. Any team that has a bond in the side as we had at Everton and Oldham has a good chance.

Adrian Heath..Dressing room joker!

Neil was a penalty specialist and only ever missed once...With that in mind The NY Kid wanted to know: Looking back, how much does the one penalty miss bother you considering that you could have had a perfect record?

Neil: It kills me to be honest. I take a big personal pride, as anybody would do, in success. It wasn't a great night for me, it was one that will be forever etched into the memory. Swansea away...I missed the penalty and literally 30 seconds before the end of the game I smashed my collar bone and had to have an operation the next day. I don't make excuses, but it was the only time I took a penalty and missed a penalty wearing rubber studs, I also had a cough and a heavy cold.

I didn't take the penalty as well as I should have done. The keeper saved it and I would be lying if I said that it doesn't grate, it would have been fantastic to have gone through my career without missing.

Ian wanted to know: Does Norwich have a shot in hell of getting promoted this year, or are they doomed to a life of Colaship mediocrity?

A repeat of 2003-2004?....

Neil: As we speak, I wouldn't hold any hopes out for them to make the top 6 based on last season's performances, but there are rumors of a takeover, a big Norwich businessman putting money in and if he does, then it changes everything. Wipes the slate clean. If there is money for Glenn Roeder to spend, then yes, you would expect Norwich to be up there competing.

If it doesn't happen then with the squad they currently have, it will be difficult to make the top 6.

Keith asked: As a professional player, how do you maximize training time, so as to maintain a high level of match fitness without burning yourself out over the course of a long footballing season?

Neil: It's difficult, but try to bear in mind that professional players train between 2, 2-and-a-half hours a day. It's difficult to burn out.

This is something that grates on me because I don't believe in the "burn out" theory. 10-15 years ago, players were playing 60, 70, 80 games a season and yes, the game is a lot faster now than it was but, if you look after yourself and you get adequate rest, and you treat your body right, and you eat and drink the right things, training shouldn't really be a problem. It's the best job in the world and if players look after themselves, then they should be ok.

Goat wanted to know: Neil, did you ever shag a model?

Neil: Bearing in mind my wife is about ten feet away from me, I'll go with a diplomatic "no comment" on that one.

Andrew asks: What's the biggest difference between playing in the First Div/Prem and playing in the Championship?

Neil: Pure and simple. People talk about the pace of the game. That's a misnomer. I think you will find the pace of the game in the Championship and the Prem are the same. Football is a quick game.

The massive difference is the quality. If you give the ball away in the Championship, you'll get it back after five or six passes. You give the ball away against a Premiership side, and you might not get it back, and it might cost you a goal. I found the biggest difference is not in the pace but in the quality and technique of the players. If you watch Premiership football, the players are technically excellent, if you watch Championship football then maybe one, two, maybe three in the team are technically excellent, the rest are not.

U75 said: Were there any days where you said to yourself, "I have no desire to put on that ugly kit ever again."? (Sorry Bigus!)

Neil: Absolutely not! There are millions of players who play every weekend who would give their right arm to play professionally. Players get paid well. There is one player, I wont name him, he was an excellent Norwich City player but he didn't like the game and I said I don't understand why you don't love the game and he said, "Well I am good at it and I do it for a job." (Sorry readers.....He will remain unnamed. I will take his identity to the grave with me, unless you get me drunk or corner me at George Keeley's.)

Spectator asks: At what age did you realize that you were talented enough to make a career out of playing football?

Neil: I thought my chance had gone! When I started, you had to be associated with a club at about 14 years old. That's when clubs could take players onto schoolboy terms. I missed the boat. I got my lucky break playing for a local side who got drawn against Stoke City in a local newspaper competition and that was my route into football. I saw many players that were as good or better than me never make it. You need an opportunity. Fortunately, I took mine. I thought I was a good player but I thought my chance had long gone.

Spectator also wanted to know (greedy info pig): Who was the opposing player you most despised?

Neil: I didn't despise anyone, but if you talk about the most difficult opponent I came up against and I despised him because he was so good, it would be Kenny Sansom, the Arsenal left-back. I came up against Sansom more often that not at the beginning of my career, and he was at the peak of his. He was the England left-back with about 80 caps and basically he was far too good for me. I always hoped I would get a chance to play against him 5-6 years on when I was more established, more of an experienced player... and I did. Kenny was at the end of his career playing at Everton and I was playing for Oldham in the Premiership and I scored two goals and it sort of put the cards straight. I caught him at the end of his career when I was at my peak and I turned the tables.

Kenny Sansom......Tricky fella.

That's it for part one, blog fiends, I hope you enjoyed it.

Part Two will be up on Thursday, when Neil reveals what he thinks about Glenn Roeder and recalls his favorite radio phone-in argument with a fan.


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Newcastle United falls into the hands of terrorists!

Newcastle already has a known terrorist, of course

UPI reports today that Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is close to selling his team for $600 million. The potential buyers are a family who run a very successful building firm in the Middle East. Oh, and their name is bin Laden, do you think that will complicate matters?

Yes, it seems some members of the extended bin Laden family have taken a shine to the possibly-soon-to-be-renamed St. James' Park. Nevermind that this is a family who had long since disowned their infamous cousin by the time 9/11 happened, the Toon Army is not happy about it. One fan asked, "Will he really be prepared to sell the club to the family of a terrorist?" Apparently, yes.

Or no, depending on whom you believe. The Guardian reports Newcastle have put the kibosh on bin Laden rumo(u)rs. What the club have not been able to shoot down, as it were, are rumo(u)rs that Ashley is looking to offload the club he acquired only last summer. US firm InterMedia Partners said late last week that Newcastle had approached them with a $850 million asking price. IMP turned them down, saying they had no interest.

So, if the club is in fact on the market, why wouldn't Ashley sell to a firm looking to develop the area around St. James' Park? According to various biographies, Ashley is not a lifelong Newcastle fan, just some rich guy who picked up the club because it was available. Why would he be worried about the atmosphere around a town where he does not even live? I'm guessing he's not, it's just that the offer wasn't as high as he would like.

I'll tell you this, though. If the sale goes through, there is no way anyone is getting on this BE plane. "Hey look. Ours is the plane named after the manager of the club that the family of that terrorist owns". Highjackings galore, I tell ya.

In the end, though, I'm calling shenanigans on the story. Since Osama bin Laden is a known Arsenal supporter (I know, we can't control everyone), and his family have long since disowned him, I think they would launch a bid for Tottenham instead. Unless, of course, they found that operating a local Saudi club would be more likely to take home meaningful silverware.

Thanks to Bigus for the photoshop

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Transfer Rumours: Liverpool

Alright, rabble rousers, settle down. Considering that almost every comments section descends into a cacophony of Aston Villa v. LFC mud-slinging, I expect this to be no different.

It's my beloved Liverpool's turn, and this transfer season is already rather insane.

First, we have the Gareth Barry saga. What a soap opera this is turning out to be. Both sides playing the PR game and sticking to some seemingly useless guns as his price tag rises incrementally with every passing day.

I've seen Brett Ratner storylines that are somehow more fulfilling than this.

My attempt at a simplified timeline:

- LFC offer 10m or so. Villa say no.

- Villa say LFC offered only 4m plus a "mish-mash" of players. Scott Carson weeps at the thinly-veiled insult, for his family knows his gloves are no mish-mash, no sir.

- LFC offer 12m. O'Neill tells 'em to fuck off.

- LFC offer 13m. O'Neill doesn't answer his phone and keeps playing My Little Pony instead.

- LFC offer 15m. O'Neill rolls his eyes and goes back to eating stem cells on dry wheat toast.

- LFC offer some cash plus Crouch, Finnan, and someone else to make the total cash value somewhere close to 15 or 16m. O'Neill yawns, gives the finger, then settles back down on his couch made of human bones to watch Dream Team re-runs.

- O'Neill remarks loudly that it's 18m or sod-all for Gareth Barry. Rafa cries, moans, begs, wonders whether the club can stump up the cash. Meanwhile, he plots how to offload Crouch and Xabi for enough dough to seal the deal.

Somewhere near Birmingham, O'Neill laughs maniacally in his underground bunker, and Randy Lerner seeks young boys online with whom to commit sexual atrocities.

(Did I do alright with this timeline? I think I managed to successfully avoid personal bias)

In successful transfer news, we have signed Philipp Degen on a free, a Swiss left/right-back who played exactly 0 minutes in Euro '08, and the impressive-looking Andrea Dossena, a left-back from Udinese who has been playing well in Serie A and will prove to be very, very useful in that backline. And don't forget 17-year-old Danish striker Nikola Saric!

Outside of that, we've finally shipped off Harry Kewell to Turkey, a move that's upset a number of people considering he's now playing for the team whose fans were involved in a stabbing that killed 2 Leeds United fans when he still played for the Yorkshire club. Oops. Forgot about that one, didn't you, Harry?

John Arne Riise is off to sunny AS Roma for 4 million, and the Xabi-to-Juve talks are quickly becoming as protracted as the Barry will-he, won't-he debacle. So the thought goes, we need to sell Xabi and Crouch in order to finance a move for Barry and/or others, so let's see what happens. Oh, and Anthony Le Tallec's finally off the books for good, to Le Mans for 1.1 million.

There have been rumours about Bentley, Downing, Espanyol winger Albert Riera, David Villa, David Silva, and a whole slew of others. So I pose to you: what's the deal? What's going to happen, and which rumours are absolute pants? Who will be in Liverpool red next season, and who'll be stuck somewhere else wishing they were?

Have at it in the comments.

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The Pot Calls the Kettle "Berlusconi"

The White House press briefing book for the G-8 summit in Japan has offered a too-honest-for-comfort biography of Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi. The AC Milan owner/ Media Mogul/ Politician/ Convicted Perjurer is named as "one of the most controversial leaders in the history of a country known for government corruption and vice."

As you might imagine, the prickly Italian press has taken exception to this passage, among others. The Bush people apologized promptly and have since gone about spearheading a wonderfully impotent new climate change bill.

In all, it's been a good few weeks for the Prime Minister, first the Italian senate passed the "Berlusconi Bill" and now the shopboys (cheers bigus!) at Chelsea have reportedly offered 75 large for Kaka. If accepted, the sum should be enough to cover Berlusconi's legal fees for the last fortnight in May.

For more on why some White House intern has collected his or her last travel stipend, please follow along...

The briefing book distributed to reporters at these events is usually fat, drab and full of maps and excerpts from the attendants' pertinent speeches. The biographies are akin to what you might find in your favorite club's yearbook. Something like... "When Arsene isn't scouting out France's finest U-11 talent, he's playing tummysticks with the lads at the academy." Fluffiness.

Berlusconi was the target of some heavier stuff. He's characterized as "a political dilettante who gained his high office only through the use of his considerable influence on the national media."

It gets better as the note goes on:

"He is a businessman who was considered an amateur in politics but used his influence on the media to gain his premiership, which he lost in 2006."
"He is despised by many but respected by some for his bella figura [beautiful image]."
I take umbrage only at the former claim. Certainly Berlusconi did not use the media alone to achieve his place. Bribes, blackmail, and threats of physical violence to be imparted by the thugs in his employ certainly played a role. Not to mention his success in resurrecting that little footie club in Milan. He named his political party "Forza Italia" for shite's sake.

Quoteth White House spokesman Tony Fratto:

"We apologize to Italy and to the Prime Minister for this very unfortunate mistake … The sentiments expressed in the biography do not represent the views of President Bush, the American government, or the American people... Italy is a close friend and ally of the United States, and as anyone who has covered President Bush knows, he holds Prime Minister Berlusconi and the Italian people in the highest regard."
Added President Bush, in a direct message to his Italian counterpart: "I like your style, Dude."

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Not a good way to wind down after Euro '08

In serious news for just a moment, it appears that Turkey has more to grieve than their last-minute defeat to Germany in last month's European Championships. Over the weekend, the head of the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), Hasan Dogan, died of a heart attack.

While eating dinner with national coach Fatih Terim.

Dogan took the job in February and was in charge for their biggest success on the world stage outside of the 3rd place in Korea/Japan '02.

Sepp Blatter's eulogy was, to my amazement, well-written:

"We will remember his vast experience and know-how, his determination to develop the game as well as his unique personality. Being a thorough idealist Hasan Dogan managed to position not only Turkish club football but also the Turkish national team on an international level in only a few months at the helm of the TFF.

We will retain fond memories of an accomplished leader and an extraordinary man whose great human qualities ensured that he left an indelible mark on the game of football, not only in helping to develop football in Turkey but also around the world."

There's really no joke here, folks, just the impermanence of life rising up and reminding us of its presence yet again. Terim's a phenomenal, charismatic leader, but the TFF is going to need something equally headstrong to take the national team and the domestic league further in the future.

With Aragones coming to manage Fenerbahce, they're looking good at club level, but someone has to fill Dogan's shoes fast before the national side flounders.

Any takers?

I'd be remiss if I didn't note that McClaren is sadly unavailable.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Monday Backpasses: A little more on the dick move

As an addendum on the previous post, it seems that Motherwell was originally contacted by Sevilla (who lost Puerta in similar circumstances), and they offered to play the stand dedication match. However, as it transpired, Villareal's schedule (such as it was) fit better with Motherwell's plans, so the two clubs signed contracts on the game. Also, it is rumored that Villareal pulled out of the match because they had scheduled a more lucrative friendly instead. One would have to wonder if such a friendly would take place given the scrutiny the Scottish press has given Villareal's decision.

Links after the jump.

Match-fixing scandal in Italy? Huh. Never woulds thunk it [International Herald Tribune]
Also in Italy, the referee pool for Series A and B has been reduced [ANSA]
German box office receipts down 50% last quarter. Some soccer tournament blamed [Variety]
AS Monaco interested in a couple of Americans you may have heard of [Soccer Times]
Fluminense players can't take the ribbing after losing Copa Libertadores final [Reuters]
The Best Eleven take the time to list the world's shortest professional footballers [The Best Eleven]

And, finally:
FlyBE launches a "Kevin Keegan" airplane. Here's hoping the pilots don't quit mid-flight []

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Villareal: Kings of the Dick Move

You know what a Dick Move is, right? It's one of those things where someone does something so outlandish and without regard to anyone else's feelings or safety, that you cannot help but to let your jaw drop and say, "Wow, what a Dick Move."

Example 1: June 28, 1997. Mike Tyson, feeling that Evander Holyfield is getting away with headbutts in their boxing match, decides the only way to show his displeasure is to take a chunk out of one of Holyfield's ears.

Example 2: From Urban Dictionary's entry: Tom and Bill were both interested in the same girl at the bar; when Tom falsely insinuated to the girl that Bill had erectile dysfunction, that was a Dick Move.

Example 3: Villareal, scheduled to play a friendly at Motherwell, for a friendly where the main stand would be rededicated to former captain Phil O'Donnell, decide it's not worth the bother and pull out. And they did so by email. Now that's a Dick Move.

For those not in the know, that would be the Phil O'Donnell who collapsed on the pitch last season and died before the night was out. A man whose passing hit many in the SPL hard, including his nephew, who was on the pitch at the time.

So, yes, Villareal are dicks. They are doubly dicks for using email to cancel the match. There are a few things which you absolutely do not do by email. We've collected some of them for you below.

1. Pull out of a meaningful friendly.
2. Write "I'm pregnant and you are the father"
3. Break up with a significant other.
4. Fire someone from their job.
I am sure that we missed some, so feel free to add those in the comments.

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Starving at The Emirates

This picture must be at least 3+ years old.

Summer workouts may be just a couple days old, but Arsenal's Pranging Pederast of a manager is already in Boxing Day form.

He was telling anyone who would listen this weekend that stadium debt amassed during the construction of the Emirates will force Arsenal to sell their best players every off-season for the next two decades.

The club is paying off a £24 million per year mortgage on their 80,000 seat corporate bowl.

Choice Arsenisms after the jump...

These comments were all reported across numerous media platform:

Mr. Wenger, the floor is yours...

“If they are bad ones, they stay and, if they are good, they think only of leaving.”

"The strategy of the club is to sell every year and to buy less expensive players."

"We manage at Arsenal to maintain all our football ambitions - national and European - while having to free up - for 17 more years - an annual surplus of £24m to pay for our stadium."

"The club's strategy is to favour the policy of youngsters ahead of stars and to count on the collective quality of our game."

“If I had the power to change anything basic in football, it would be the transfer system which makes mercenaries of players.”

And an old classic, from after that game:

from Jan. 22, 2008:

"The score is very brutal, but doesn't reflect what I've seen on the pitch... The first shot on goal was a goal. The second was an own goal. The third was straight after half-time... After that, the game was over and they could focus on defending well and catching us on the break. I don't give too much meaning to the scoreline."
Instant Classic.

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