Saturday, October 4, 2008

Colaship Round Up - Destroyed Weekend Edition.

Andy Keogh gives Swansea's Gary Monk a hug. Ahhh.

Lots of exciting Coca Cola Championship action to report on from today, not all of it to my liking!




Lets start at Swansea where Wolves were trying to get back to winning ways after defeat during the week. Swansea's Jason Scotland had other ideas. His double secured a 3-1 win for the Welsh team and Scotland also saw a shot cleared from the line and one come back off the crossbar. Jordi Gomez set Swansea on their way after just 25 secs when he caught Wolves snoozing at the back to nip in and score. Andy Keogh replied on 16 mins before this tie became the Scotland show. Wolves have now relinquished their lead at the top of the table to Bongo FC who beat Q.P.R at St Andrews. A Kevin Phillips goal before the break was enough to win that one and see Bongo top the table with 23 points from their 10 games.

From the top to the bottom. In the weekend's basement battle, Barnsley stuffed Doncaster Rovers to lift themselves closer to safety. Donny Rovers took the lead through a Brian Stock penalty. Simon Davey must have put a rocket up Barnsley's arse at half time as they scored 4 times in the second period to leapfrog Donny at the bottom. Oh yeah, and they had ten men.

Lets stay at the bottom. Forest are rooted. Another defeat today at home to Palace. Goals at the start and end of this game did the damage. Ifill at the top after four minutes and ex-scummer Shefki Kuqi secured the points on 84 mins. That's SIX defeats and a draw for Forest in the last seven games and two wins in a week for Neil Warnock's men.

Plymouth Argyle just cannot stop winning. Since my lot done em at Home Park a few weeks back they have won four and drawn one. Today they hammered Sheffield Wednesday 4-1 to jump into the play-off spots.

Reading continued their impressive run, beating Burnley 3-1 at the Madejski stadium. That's 20 goals in the last six games for Steve Coppells goal machines. They have nearly caught the top two and sit third tonight with 20 points from their opening ten games.

Elsewhere Coventry battered Southampton 4-1 with two goals from Jay Tabb, and one a piece from their Leon's, Best and McKenzie (boooooooo).

Charlton beat Ip..Ip..Ip..them 2-1 at the valley in a game that featured TWO own goals. Cranie and Voltz finding the wrong net. Maybe a swap deal can be arranged?
Charlton 2 Scummers 1. Own goal extravaganza!

Blackpool and Cardiff shared the points in this weeks only draw and both goals came in the last seven minutes of this one, actually a little more. Alan Gow saved the tangerines blushes five minutes into injury time.

Watford beat Preston 2-1 and James Beattie got back to scoring ways at Bramall lane as Sheffield United beat Bristol City 3-0 to climb to fourth. Lots of goals in the Championship today and that leaves just one game to discuss. A result that ruined my day. In fact there is just one word suitable to describe how I feel after Norwich lost 2-1 at home to the ten men of Derby County today..and that word is GUTTED.

I just cannot work out Glenn Roeder. There is a chance that he is turning into Juande Ramos. We have no fit central defenders, except for on loan Tottenham youngster Troy Archibald-Henville. So the lad gets a game right? Wrong. The tall Spurs reserve captain wasn't even included in the squad as Glenn Roeder decided to play second choice left back Adam Drury alongside right back Elliot Omozusi. Then it should come as no surprise to tell you that Derby took the lead through a Rob Hulse header from a corner. Debutant forward Leroy Lita won a penalty after Derby keeper Roy Carroll was dismissed for bringing down the on-loan hit-man AND newest misfiring striker to wear yellow this season. Sammy Clingan scored from the spot and you would think that we should have gone on against ten men to bury this one right? Nope instead of claiming victory with a winner against a team desperate to leave town clinging to a point, a miscommunication between keeper David Marshall and his temporary center back Drury ended up with Nathan Ellington pushing the ball into a empty net.
On loan striker Leroy Lita and Derby's Jordan Stewart audition for Grease.

This Norwich team baffles me. When I look at the line-up I genuinely believe this is the best squad we have had for years. Even with key players like Stefanovic and Kennedy missing and the recall of Jonathon Grounds to Middlesbrough affecting the defence, we should still have taken the points today. Hardly the expected result for a team with Leroy Lita and Antoine Sibierski up front eh? And WTF is the Henville-Archibald situation all about? Roeder has called the kid 'raw' but at least he is a tall CENTER BACK. If the lad sucks enough to not get a chance when the four center backs in front of him are out of the picture, then he should not be here. Waste of wages and his time.
Jon Otesmobor is stretchered off at Carrow road today...last thing we need is another missing defender, John Kennedy and Gary Doherty are crocked, Dejan Stefanovic is banned and just this week Middlesbrough re-called laonee Jonathon Grounds as they struggle with injuries.

Roeder also left play-maker Wes Hoolahan out of the team today in a move that I can only think was designed to send the player a message after several sub-par performances. Something has to change for the better and soon. Our biggest demon right now is finding the net. Cureton and Lupoli were struggling so Sibierski arrived to help them out. Now Lita, and STILL we cant score from open play. if you told me at last year that we would have a front four of Sibierski, Lita, Lupoli and Cureton I would have told you to F@$* right off.


The situation at Norwich is extremely depressing and now we have a two week international break to spend pondering our dubious position, fourth from bottom. We need to get on a run and start finding the net soon or we will find ourselves in another relegation battle. No need to panic just yet though, the play-off spots are only five points away, but they were last season too... and we didn't secure safety until the penultimate game of the season.

Norwich City have scored just 8 goals this season

Click here for the latest table.

-Bigus.

Read more on "Colaship Round Up - Destroyed Weekend Edition."...

Kim Jong-ChILLin'



Even dead men love football! The Best Propaganda Team on the Internet is reporting that North Korea's Dear Leader (his words, not mine) has ended his month of seclusion to enjoy a spot o' footie in Pyongyang.


North Korean media says Kim made his appearance at the derby match between Kim Il-Sung University, which was celebrating its 60th anniversary, and Pyongyang University of Railways. (Spoiler alert: the school named for Kim's father, the "Great Leader" and very much dead "Eternal President" of the DPRK, beat the trainboys, 4-1.)

Announcement! Write-a-caption contest for the above photo. Winner gets a first edition UF t-shirt.


I'll go first: "Dammit, sitting with the visiting support again. Oh well, I'll have them liquidated at the half."

Read more on "Kim Jong-ChILLin'"...

Weekend Open Thread


I hope you have figured it out by now. There are games going on this weekend. Come here to talk about them.

Selected schedule, at your author's whim, after the jump (EDT, unless I screwed up the maths)


Saturday

10.00 Sunderland-Arsenal
10.00 West Brom-Fulham
10.00 Wigan-Middlesbrough
10.00 Norwich-Derby
10.00 Aberdeen-Hibs
10.00 Celtic-Hamilton Accies
12.30 Blackburn-Manchester United
4.00 Barcelona-Atletico Madrid



Sunday

8.00 St. Pauli-Alemania Aachen
8.30 West Ham-S.F. Bolton
9.00 St. Mirren-Rangers
10.00 Spartak London-Aston Villa
10.00 Manchester City-Liverpool
10.00 Portsmouth-Stoke City
10.00 Tottenham-Hull
11.00 Everton-Newcastle
3.00 Nancy-PSG

Read more on "Weekend Open Thread"...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Backpasses: I've had a few

. . . So I might not make any sense. Also, my son kicked the V button off of my laptop, so this could be a pain.

Federation Soccer hosted a roundtable, and your author answered for UF. I pissed one guy off, but we'll get to that later [Federation Soccer]
Dirty things going on with owner of Israeli club Beitar and, as wikipedia tells me, Portsmouth [AP]
Spanish player signs contract to play for nothing [BBC]

And, finally:
Real Madrid wants Agger. Resident Scousers pissed (in the American way, not the British) [Soccernet]
------------------------------------------
In other news, we're thinking up some shirt ideas, so if you have one, let us know. We promise absolutely nothing in royalties.

Read more on "Friday Backpasses: I've had a few"...

Nice To Meet You Too!




And all the world was blue...

To think we were all ready to downgrade the Newcastle story to Soap Opera status! You had current owner Mike Ashley getting photographed on a wicked NYC bender as the club was falling to pieces back home yawn... There was that poignant notice from post-bender Mr. Ashley about how he was going to sell the club to the first group to meet his price bo-ring!... Then some story about a Nigerian group swooping in to meet that offer (now I know where all my cabfare's been going!), but alas snoooze...

Then came along Gentleman Joe Kinnear. An Irish Spurs man as player (well he's still Irish), Kinnear had not spent a week as interim manager at St. James Park before providing the what really might be the greatest off-day press conference in the history of modern sport.

Hop the jump for the transcript. And remember, Kinnear will not actually manage a match until October 20. Seems the FA hit him with a two-game ban four years ago when he was managing Nottingham Forest. Gentleman Joe had been reported for calling a referee "Coco the Clown" during one of his last matches at the City Ground.

And did I mention he referred to Newcastle "star" Geremi as "Jeremiah" just after taking his new job.

Also, the beebs has the actual audio, though I'd recommend the Guardian edition-- Kinnear v. The Press as recited by Computers.


Ok. Here Goes. Personal favorites in bold! (I'm happy for you cos you get to read this right now.)

Joe Kinnear: Which one is Simon Bird [Daily Mirror's north-east football writer]?


Simon Bird: Me.

JK: You're a cunt.


SB: Thank you.

JK: Which one is Hickman [Niall, football writer for the Express]? You are out of order. Absolutely fucking out of order. If you do it again, I am telling you you can fuck off and go to another ground. I will not come and stand for that fucking crap. No fucking way, lies. Fuck, you're saying I turned up and they [Newcastle's players] fucked off.


SB: No Joe, have you read it, it doesn't actually say that. Have you read it?

JK: I've fucking read it, I've read it.


SB: It doesn't say that. Have you read it?

JK: You are trying to fucking undermine my position already.


SB: Have you read it, it doesn't say that. I knew you knew they were having a day off.

JK: Fuck off. Fuck off. It's your last fucking chance.


SB: You read the copy? It doesn't say that you didn't know.

JK: What about the headline, you think that's a good headline?


SB: I didn't write the headline, you read the copy.

JK: You are negative bastards, the pair of you.


SB: So if I get a new job next week would I take the first day off? No I wouldn't. If I get a new job should I call my boss and tell him I am taking the first day off?

JK: It is none of your fucking business. What the fuck are you going to do? You ain't got the balls to be a fucking manager. Fucking day off. Do I want your opinion. Do I have to listen to you?


SB: No, you can listen to who you want.

JK: I had a 24-hour meeting with the entire staff.


SB: Joe, you are only here six weeks, you could have done that on Sunday, or Saturday night.

JK: No, no, no. I didn't want to do it. I had some other things to do.


SB: What? More important things?

JK: What are you? My personal secretary? Fuck off.


SB: You could have done the meeting Saturday night or Sunday. You could have had them watching videos, you could have organised them.

JK: I was meeting the fucking chairman the owner, everyone else. Talking about things.


SB: It is a valid point that was made in there. A valid point.

JK: I can't trust any of you.


Niall Hickman: Joe, no one could believe that on your first day at your new club, the first-team players were not in. No one could believe it in town. Your first day in the office.

JK: My first day was with the coaches. I made the decision that I wanted to get as much information out of them.


NH: But why Monday, no one could believe it?

JK I'm not going to tell you anything. I don't understand where you are coming from. You are delighted that Newcastle are getting beat and are in the state they are? Delighted, are you?


NH: Certainly not. No one wants to see them get beaten, why would we?

JK: I have done it before. It is going to my fucking lawyers. So are about three others. If they can find something in it that is a court case it is going to court. I am not fucking about. I don't talk to fucking anybody. It is raking up stories. You are fucking so fucking slimy you are raking up players that I got rid of. Players that I had fallen out with. You are not asking Robbie Earle, because he is sensible. You are not asking Warren Barton? No. Because he is fucking sensible. Anyone who had played for me for 10 years at any level ... [but] you will find some cunt that ...


Random journalist-like onlooker: How long is your contract for Joe?

JK: None of your business.


Simon Bird (He's back. Love this guy...): Well it is actually, because we cover the club. The club say you are here to the end of October, then you say six to eight games which would take it to the end of November. We are trying to clarify these issues. We are getting no straight answers from anyone. How long are you here for. It is a dead simple question. And you don't know ...

JK: I was told the length of contract. Then I was told that possibly the club could be sold in that time. That is as far as I know. That's it finished. I don't know anything else. But I have been ridiculed. He's trying to fucking hide, he's trying to do this or that.


Here follows some meandering talk about actual football operations.

Back to the good stuff. Enter stage left: the worst press officer ever.


Steve Brenner (football writer for the Sun): We are all grown men and can come in here and sit around and talk about football, but coming in here and calling people cunts?

JK: Why? Because I am annoyed. I am not accepting that. If it is libelous, it is going to where I want it to go.


Newcastle Press Officer: What has been said in here is off the record and doesn't go outside. hahahahahahaaaa ahahahaha. Doesn't work that way big fella

Someone: Well, is that what Joe thinks?

JK: Write what you like. Makes no difference to me. Don't affect me I assure you. It'll be the last time I see you anyway. Won't affect me. See how we go at Everton and Chrissy [Chris Hughton, assistant manager] can do it, someone else can do it. Don't trust any of yous. I will pick two local papers and speak to them and the rest can fuck off. I ain't coming up here to have the piss taken out of me. I have a million pages of crap that has been written about me. I'm ridiculed for no reason. I'm defenceless. I can't get a point in, I can't say nothing, I can't do nothing, but I ain't going to be negative. Then, half of you, most of you are trying to get into the players. I'm not going to tell you what the players think of you, so then you try and get into them in some way or another, so I've got a split camp or something like that, something like that. It's ongoing. It just doesn't stop.


Someone: It's only been a week.

JK: Exactly. It feels more like a year.


Someone: It's early days for you to be like this.

JK: No, I'm clearing the air. And this is the last time I'm going to speak to you. You want to know why, I'm telling you. This is the last time. You can do what you like.


Someone: But this isn't going to do you or us any good.

JK: I'll speak to the supporters. (This is like Sarah Palin saying she'd rather speak "directly to the American people." It's code for "fuck you reporters, no more interviews!"0 I'm going to tell them what the story is. I'm going to tell them. I don't think they'll interpret it any different, I don't think they'll mix it up, I don't think they'll miss out things. I mean, one of them last week said to me ... I was talking about in that press conference where you were there, I said something like "Well, that's a load of bollocks ..."


Someone: "Bollocks to that" is what you said.

JK: Bollocks to that. And what goes after that?


Journalist: That was it.

JK: No it wasn't, no it wasn't. What was after it? I don't know if it was your paper, but what went after it?


Journalist: I don't know.

JK: It even had the cheek to say "bollocks to Newcastle".


Journalist: I didn't write that.

JK: That was my first fucking day. What does that tell you? What does that tell you?


Journalist: Where was that? Which paper said that?

JK: I've got it. I can't remember. It was one of the Sundays, not a Saturday. It was a Sunday.


Journalist: But you didn't say that to the Sundays, you said that to us. That was during the Monday press conference.

JK: I'll bring it in and show it to you. Why would I want to say that?


Journalist: Are you saying that someone has reported you saying "bollocks to Newcastle?"

JK: Yes. Lovely.


Journalist: I don't know who's reported that.

JK: I'll tell you what, I'll bring it in.


Journalist: That's obviously going to damage you. That's not a good thing. But I don't think someone's done that. We have to have some sort of relationship with you.

JK: So have I. But I haven't come in here for you lot to take the piss out of me. And if I'm not flavour of the month for you, it don't fucking bother me. I've got a job to do. And I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. I'm not going to spend any more time listening to any crap or reading any crap. Stick to the truth and the facts. And don't twist anything.


Journalist: You know, you know the game ...

JK: Of course I know, but I don't have to like it.


Journalist: Today we'll print the absolute truth, that you think we're cunts, we can all fuck off and we're slimy. Is that fair enough?

JK: Do it. Fine. Fucking print it. Am I going to worry about it? Put in also that it'll be the last time I see you. Put that in as well. Good. Do it.


Again, there's some actual football talk now to interrupt the fun.

Idiot Press officer: Let's get on to football. Let's have an agreement that everything said so far, if anyone has got their tapes on, it's wiped off and we're not discussing it.

Journalist: But that's what Joe has said he thinks of us.

IPO: I'm saying don't push it. Let's accept what's been said and try and move on.

Journalist: Move on to not doing any more press conferences?

IPO: No, to doing something now.

Journalist: What, one press conference only?

(Silence)

Now go towel off. That was a lot for one sitting.

Read more on "Nice To Meet You Too!"...

The triumphant return of the slightly-soiled UF Score Predictions Generator, EPL model



Due to some technical difficulties with the hardware (and the lingering malcontent of ex-Newcastle manager Kelvin Koogan loitering about), we shut down the UF Score Predictions Generator for a while, but, thanks to the unexpected surprise that was Koogan's wiring and welding skills, it appears to be fixed.

Thus, we can generate scores again, and marvel at just how wrong we are. Of course, in true UF fashion, we will hide the team names from the scores, so we can take all the glory if even a single one is correct.

I blame Koogan, but then again, who hasn't lately? One thing's for certain: if you see a comfortable home win anywhere in our predictions, it's probably Newcastle on the wrong end of it this weekend.

Take it away, UFSPG, EPL model!



1-1
2-3
4-1
0-0
0-2
3-1
1-1
0-1
5-1
1-0

There. Let's hope you're not betting on any of these.

Read more on "The triumphant return of the slightly-soiled UF Score Predictions Generator, EPL model"...

I'm the 'new Zidane'... No I am!



Ok... Bigus was reading the footy news this morning and he came across this little nugget:

Chelsea are trying to sign French midfielder Sofiane Feghouli, 18, who has been dubbed the new Zinedine Zidane. (Daily Mirror)
Hang about...I thought Chelsea already signed the 'new Zidane' when they nabbed 12 year old French schoolboy Jeremy Boga just two days ago. HE must be the 'new Zidane' surely. I mean, It says so here.

How many 'new Zidane's' are there exactly?



Well there's this one, Samir Nasri of Arsenal. He was dubbed the 'new Zidane' a year or so ago.

There is also this one. Bruno Cheyrou. Remember him Liverpool fans? Probably not. He was more Marco Boogers than Zinedine Zidane.

There is also this one, Yoann Gourcuff at Milan. This one, Adel Taarabt at Spurs and this one, Sebastian Giovinco at Juventus. Then there this one ALREADY at Chelsea. I'd say that Deco is more 'Deco' than Zidane but there you go.

There is also this one, Jeremy Menez and this one, nothing like giving a 7-year-old a modest target to aim for, eh?

I could be here all day. There are no less than 22 more I could link to. People are certainly not very careful when slinging around the name of soccer greatness. One who CAN claim to be the 'new Zidane' is this chap below, Mohammed Zidane...


The Egyptian Zidane - For more funny videos, click here

It's unlikely that this Zidane will become the old Zidane, inspiring claims of a 'new Zidane' leading to us all forgetting the oldest Zidane (Ronaldo anyone?) but at 22 he has probably got a shot!

I wonder how his headbutt is?

Right I'm off to see if I can find the 'new' Paul Gascoigne. Bigus likes any excuse to visit the pub.

-Bigus

Read more on "I'm the 'new Zidane'... No I am!"...

Skydiving and Sports Don't Mix



Call me sane, but, although intrigued, I have never seriously entertained the notion of skydiving. Unless the plane is going down or I'm invading England, there is absolutely no good reason to jump out of a plane 10,000 meters above the earth. According to one web site, the number of skydiving fatalities since 2004 is 302. In addition to the potential for dying, there is also the potential for idiocy, as these fellows can attest. Unfortunately, yesterday in France we saw a bit of both.



Last night, the French Under-18 international side faced off against the Ukrainian Under-18 squad at Saint-Denis-de-L'Hotel stadium near Orleans. The friendly was to be opened by 7 parachutists streaming into the stadium, with 1 of those, Sylvain Chabrol, delivering the match ball. Chabrol's parachute malfunctioned however, and he crashed into one of the stadium's floodlights and then fell into the crowd. Landing on top of two teenage boys who were spectators in the crowd, Chabrol was killed instantly, and the older of the two boys died later at the hospital in Orleans.

So clearly we have the fatal aspect of skydiving, but we also have the idiotic aspect. I mean really? Given the uncertain nature of the sport itself, is it worth it to have seven people parachuting into a (relatively small) stadium for a friendly between Under-18 sides? This is not the World Cup finals. It's not even the Loiret District (where the match took place) championship. I know that this is an international match, but it is one that is almost entirely insignificant other than for those playing in it. And believe me, I am sure that the players and their families/friends/supporters would have enjoyed the match all the same (well, obviously, much more given what happened) without the theatrics.

Now, I want to be clear here - I am not calling Chabrol an idiot. And the 17 year-old victim is clearly blameless. But someone made the decision to greenlight this spectacle, and now 2 people are dead because of that decision.

The Federation Francaise de Football has issued a statement of support for the family members of both victims and offered their condolences. In addition, there will be no matches played at all in the Loiret District this weekend. Finally, there will be one minute of silence at the beginning of the next round of matches in the Coupe de France.

It all seems a little hollow for a stupid accident that never should have happened.

Read more on "Skydiving and Sports Don't Mix"...

Deja Vu



So we are 6 games into the new season and Spurs' expensive new signings are stinking up the Premiership, Derby County-style. The stench is so bad that English newspapers have started to suggest that the manager is soon to be canned, and not only that! They have even linked a manager to the position who works for another club. Sound familiar?

As Sarah Palin would say... "You betcha!"


Let's go back exactly 12 months. Martin Jol was having a nightmare and the vultures were circling. Daniel Levy denied that he was interested in replacing Jol with one Juande Ramos. The papers knew what was going on, hell, Jol knew what was going on.

It's a good job that Ramos doesn't speak English as he is shortly to find out that he is no se necesita mas nada, that's surplus to requirements to most of us. So who does Levy have lined up? Maybe one Mark Hughes.

But wait... "Hell NO!" shout Spurs.

This morning they issued the following statement on the official Tottenham Hotspur website:

The Club largely refrains from making statements of this nature unless absolutely necessary in order to set the record straight in light of wholly inaccurate reporting.An article on the back page of this morning's Sun newspaper reports that the Club has made an offer to Mark Hughes to take over as manager during the forthcoming international break.This story is completely untrue and without foundation and the matter is being discussed with the publication.
Ok. Done deal. Naughty papers stirring the pot. Bad bad press. Don't trust them, lets move on...

Oh, hang on, no, lets zoom back in time... what's this I find from Aug 24th last year?
Daniel Levy finally offered Martin Jol his "100% support" yesterday but no sooner had he done so than his club, Tottenham Hotspur, were forced into another denial about an alleged rendezvous with a prospective new manager - this time, the former Real Madrid coach, Fabio Capello.

Levy has endured a torrid time since a delegation from his board of directors was caught meeting with Juande Ramos, the Sevilla manager, in Seville. Ramos said Tottenham had made him a "dizzying" offer to replace Jol, a statement of fact that Tottenham contest.

We have received a couple of calls about top managers but they have been told politely but in no uncertain terms that we are not about to change our manager," said a club spokesman.

Uh oh.. Get packing Juande. You know the drill. In fact, you devised the drill!

Now what can we learn from last years "situation"?

Well. Capello was mentioned and who knows, probably approached. Hughes may not want to leave Man City for Spurs, even if his new mega-rich employers try to push him as they look for an experienced 'top name' to spend their gazillions, but there is no smoke without fire. Hughes is merely last year's Capello.

One thing is for sure...No statement from Spurs can EVER be believed.

Spurs have spent plenty of cash and the fans honestly deserve better football. After all, Spurs are supposed to be a footballing side. The obvious difference between Ramos and Jol appears to be knowing where players belong. Jol did and Ramos doesn't.

When your manager buys one of the best right backs in the world (Corluka) and then states he may want to play him in central defence, the alarm bells should be ringing loudly. And what's with no English? Capello, Scolari, Mourinho, Benitez, Wenger, Fergusson (kidding) all learned the language necessary to to the job in hand. How can you bring success to a Premiership club when you cannot even be bothered to accelerate your learning to the point that you can communicate with your players without an interpreter?

Spurs need a manger who can take them seriously and the sooner they admit they are looking, send Ramos home and replace him, the better for all involved, especially the fans who have been teased constantly for years. Under Jol they were a decent Lasagna away from the Champions League and with Ramos they were given false hope with the league cup win over Chelsea during his honeymoon period. Today, they are in the worst position they have been in for over 50 years.

Juande (sorry) they may look back and sigh, but today, Spurs need to act and FAST. Last time I looked they were bottom and no one seems to be emulating Derby's disgraceful effort this year. Expect of course... Spurs.

-Bigus.

Read more on "Deja Vu"...

Your Favorite Soccer Sites

EPL Talk has a post asking its readers to list their favorite soccer websites...which is a really cool idea. We have our expanding blog roll over on the right, but we are always looking for new places to get soccer news and opinion.

So have at it...show us your's and maybe we'll show you ours. Our favorite blogs, we are not a bunch of Chris Cooley bloggers.

Read more on "Your Favorite Soccer Sites"...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thursday Backpasses: I didn't see an Ethan Zohn picture

The Offside Rules goes to Grassroot Soccer event against Hollywood United [The Offside Rules]
Zimbabwe Olympic Committee helps out country's Homeless World Cup team by donating kits, balls, and training aids. [ZBC News]
Theme of Dimitar Berbatov's first goal celebration yesterday? Embarrassment [Daily Express]

Maradona's daughter carrying Kun Aguero's kid in her belly [Goal.com]
MLS doesn't follow FIFA calendar because the powers that be are isolationist by nature [Dave's Football Blog]
Dean Ashton is really Mr. Glass from Unbreakable [Guardian]

And, finally:
10 (well, 12) teams who were too good to go down, but did anyway [Telegraph]

Read more on "Thursday Backpasses: I didn't see an Ethan Zohn picture"...

Colaship Roundup - Double Whammy!



On yer Bikey Wolves. Andre scored Reading's second Wednesday night.



It's Thursday and that that means the Colaship roundup is very late.. Or is it? There were games on Wednesday, so I held back. Get ready... It's the double whammy edition of the Coca Cola Championship roundup. Lets take a look at the Saturday AND Wednesday behind us. All in one big bumper roundup. Lets go.....



Lets kick it off with league leaders Wolves...Have the wheels finally fallen off? Unlikely, but a nice win on Saturday (2-0 over Bristol City) was followed up Wednesday eve with a 3 nil defeat at home to Reading. Reading have now won 3 of their last 4 and scored plenty of goals during that spell, fifteen! Which is why they were kind enough to send Norwich Leroy Lita yesterday morning. Thanks Reading! Coppell's men have moved into third place and just 3 points behind Bongo FC. Plymouth continue on a good run. They took 3 points on Saturday at home to Forest and drew 2-2 Wednesday night away to Bristol City. Before Wednesday, Plymouth had won three on the spin. They are up to 12th in the table.

Burnley followed up their win at home to Preston on Saturday with another 3 points midweek, coming from behind twice to beat Watford 3-2 at Turf Moor. Burnley are now fourth and must be experiencing the mother of all nose bleeds. They visit Reading on Saturday where normal service will be resumed and the cotton swabs will be put away.  That inevitable drubbing is followed by a visit from Bongo FC. Still...Nice to be fourth at least once this season eh Burnley?

Crystal Palace seem to be slowly improving. They followed Saturday's draw against the 'scum' with 3 points on Wednesday at home to Charlton. Neil Warnock's side have moved out of the bottom 3.

Talking of the 'scum', lets give them a brief mention. They stuffed Barnsley 3-0 midweek. Well done bitches.

Charlton seem to be in lots of trouble this term. Alan Pardew made it very clear at the start of the season that he was VERY unhappy with the fire sale at the Valley during the summer. The lack of new signings and the departure of several key players appears to have hit Charlton with a hammer. They have taken just 4 points from the last 18.

The weeks big movers are Sheffield Wednesday. They have won three of the last 5 with the only defeat coming away to Reading when they conceded 6! They must have taken that on the chin as they have nabbed 7 of the last 9 available points and sit in 5th place, one spot above cross town rivals Sheffield United. That doesn't happen often and I am sure they will be enjoying it! Wednesday visit Plymouth on Saturday before United make the short ride across town for the 'steel' derby. Grrrr...The 'STEEL' derby! Sounds like they should meet at the fountain in town for a rumble instead.

Lets stick with the 'steel' derby a moment (GRRRRR) . The blades have also had a good week. They beat Watford at Bramall Lane before taking the points from Doncaster last night. Lets face it, that's probably 3 of the easiest points (except Barnsley) they will play for this season.

Well ok..Lets get to Norwich. Where do we begin..Things were looking up after the win over Sheffield United but we went to Barnsley and played like a bunch of blind school girls. We must have sacrificed a lamb or a small child before the game as we left with an undeserved point and I am grateful for that. BUT the gods were certainly not looking down upon us on Wednesday night as we fell 2-0 at an empty St Mary's. Southampton fans should be ashamed of themselves. Just 14,000 (including the away fans AND apparently that number included season ticket holders who did not show!) were in attendance and that is AWFUL. Norwich appeared to be having the better of the opening exchanges (according to BBC Norfolk) but a Jordan Robertson thunderbolt from the blue left us trailing at half time. Then we can give the ref a round of applause for his superb performance in the second half, giving a penalty to the saints for a 'foul' at the edge of the box. The Southampton lad clearly dives into the box after he has pushed the ball away from the goal and Stefanovic, who pulls out of the challenge making minimal contact. Not to mention that three Norwich players are behind the ball anyway so there was no chance of a scoring opportunity. Game, set and match. Goodnight sweetheart. Referee Mr. Beeby should be kicking himself when he looks at the replay, but he wont as all refs think they are right ALL of the time and they are all PRICKS. To top this, he sent Stefanovic off with a straight red card (below) but refused to say why! He did it in the heat of the moment after Dejan threw the ball to the ground and that is no reason to produce a straight red.  Still,  you have to take your chances and we had many to take before the ridiculous red.
Derby come to Carrow Road on Saturday and three points are a must. We will be buoyed by recent good home performances and the arrival of Leroy Lita from Reading. He should start alongside Sibierski and I will be excited to see how that goes. BUT...Pizza Hut star and Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate has recalled Jonathon Grounds from his loan. Add the 2 game suspension that Stefanovic has received along with injuries to John Kennedy and Gary Doherty and we are left with nada, nichts, nein, nonka. NO center backs. Still Derby are toot and I will keep my fingers crossed for our front men to have a good day!

Finally Forest remain rooted to the bottom after 5 defeats and a draw in their last 6 games. Manager Colin Calderwood must be feeling the heat from the boardroom and he will need to turn the situation on it's arse soon. He spent the cash in the summer, signed Robert Earnshaw and Andy Cole and now he must get his side to perform. Cole has played just 3 times and Earnshaw has scored just 2 in 9 games. He is a proven net banger at this level so maybe he is not being given the chance to prove it!

Click here for the full Championship table.

Another fizzing update next week.

-Bigus.

Read more on "Colaship Roundup - Double Whammy!"...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday Backpasses: Rapping Ryan Babel


Ryan Babel freestyles in Dutch. With video [The Offside]
Elton John bothered by Watford's financial ways. Haven't bought enough wigs and glasses then, I guess [Soccernet]
Former Man U player and Aberdeen boss admits to losing £1 million gambling. Also includes a mealy-mouthed apology to Aberdeen fans which just doesn't cut it, asshole [Eurosport]
FIFA tells Poland to reinstate old FA boss by October 6, or face forced walkovers in World Cup Qualifiers [AFP]

EU to crack down on agents [Guardian]
NZ ref shows up at EPL match to observe, ends up being drafted after assistant referee goes off hurt [Stuff]
RvP and Sneijder are so not BFFs [Soccernet]

And, finally:
Robbie Fowler has the special touch [The Sun]

Read more on "Wednesday Backpasses: Rapping Ryan Babel"...

Mobsters Fixing Sporting Events... You Don't Say


A mildly successful soccer blog is passing along information found in an American-based sports publication that a leading Spanish newspaper is reporting that a Spanish judge has sent German prosecutors information suggesting Russian mobsters fixed last seasons UEFA Cup semifinal between Zenit St. Petersburg and Bayern Munich.

Okay, that's borderline plagiarism, but we couldn't resist piling on a couple of more parties given the opening paragraph of this report here in SI.com (a CNN Network Site).

The report is pretty thin on details but it mentions a taped conversation in which a "suspected" Russian mobster mentions a payout of 50 million of "an unspecified currency." A) Really, the SI link is so thin on info that if I quote (or paraphrase) much more of it, it will be reprinted here in its entirety. B) Let's hope for the sake of the fixee that the currency wasn't Zimbabwe Dollars, as about the time of the fixing was trading around ZW 250 million to $1 US.

Although maybe 20 cents is about right for a UEFA Cup semi.

Read more on "Mobsters Fixing Sporting Events... You Don't Say"...

CL Open Thread: Matchday 2, Part 2

Groups A, B, C, and D are in action today.

Let's see if Chelsea can avoid upstart CFR Cluj fresh off its upset of Roma.

Can Roma come back from it's Romanian beat down? You know the Italians hate the gypsies, right?

After the jump, the matchups and some starting lineups....follow along in the comments and keep us updated on the scores.

Group A

CFR Cluj - Chelsea

Chelsea - Cech, Alex, Bridge, Terry, Bosingwa, Lampard, Mikel Obi, Ballack, Malouda, Drogba, Kalou
CFR Cluj - Stancioiu, Galiassi, Muresan, Pereira, Tony, Cadu, Trica, Dani, Culio, Yssouf Kone, Dubarbier

Bordeaux - Roma

Group B

Anorthosis - Panathinaikos

Inter - Bremen

Group C

Sporting Lisbon - Basel

Shakhtar - Barcelona

Shakhtar - Pyatov, Ilsinho, Hubschman, Ischenko, Chigrynskiy, Duljaj, Shevchuk, Fernandinho, Srna, Adriano, Brandoa
Barcelona - Vadles, Pique, Puyol, Alves, Marquez, Iniesta, Yaya Toure, Keita, Xavi, Eto'o, Henry

Group D

Liverpool - PSV Eindhoven

LFC - Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Arbeloa, Aurelio, Alonso, Gerrard, Riera, Kuyt, Torres, Keane
PSV - Isaksson, Kromkamp, Salcido, Simons, Mendez, Amrabat, Brechet, Culina, Marcellis, Bakkal, Wuytens

Atletico Madrid - Marseille

Atletico - Franco, Pernia, Heitinga, Raul Garcia, Aguero, Maxi Rodriguez, Assuncao, Pongolle, Ujfalusi, Perea
Marseille - Mandanda, Taiwo, Hilton, Ziani, Cheyrou, Niang, Cana, Ben Arfa, Erbate, Bonnart, Valbuena

Read more on "CL Open Thread: Matchday 2, Part 2"...

The Good, The Bad, The WTF

It's that time of the week again. Time for a look at a best-forgotten monstrosity. I most say that I am a bit surprised at this week's entry. It comes from Edinburgh's Hibernian. Like Arsenal, Hibernian usually have a set look for their shirts. In Hibs' case, it means a green body with white sleeves. Unfortunately for them, they are also like Arsenal in that they occasionally go off the rails with their change strips. This shirt, from the seasons 1994-96, is one of those times.


First of all, let's go with the color choice. Your club's main color is green. You choose a change shirt with green and purple stripes. How does this make sense? Celtic do the same thing, sometimes having green and black stripes, instead of green and white hoops. It drives me batty, especially when these two play each other. Also, green and purple? Are you auditioning shirts for the Wimbledon Championships? Let's try a better combo.

Of course, as is usual, some of the blame lays squarely on the manufacturer. In this case it is Mitre. They sure do love those chevrons, don't they? They are all over the collar and the sleeves. And, if you check below, even in the sublimation. Yuck. And those buttons. Three rubber buttons that force the player to ask themselves to George Costanza question of how many to open. If only this were a Greek team, then no question would be necessary--all of them would be open.

Also, Mitre, what is the sublimated text that you can kind of make out in this picture?

"Hibees" is my guess, but why add it at all? What was the big fascination of doing this in the first place? My guess is that it was there, by all manufacturers, simply because they could. It's kind of like a infant's fascination with his genitalia. Once they find it, all of the sudden they can focus on nothing else. (your welcome)

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not let you know this beauty is for sale. Hit up the E-bays to find it. Truthfully, if one is a Hibs fan, this is a shirt from a pretty good era for the team. A third place finish and a semifinal run in the cup in '94-'95. What you lot (or my lot) wouldn't give for that now, huh?

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

Dispatches from the Relegation Zone: SPURS edition



You're traveling through another dimension -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of scoreless draws. A journey into a wasteland whose boundaries are that of Blackpool and Barnsley. That's a signpost up ahead: your next stop: the Relegation Zone!

It's really pretty simple when you think about it... stew on it... sweat it over... and wretch on the details. You take an average club, sell off its two best players-- the top two strikers and most creative men on the field-- and results are going to suffer. Who wouldn't see this coming? What kind of magical thinker could convince himself that moves like these wouldn't have a negative effect on the balance of his team?

Balance? The idea of it is at best a bitter abstraction at times like these-- sitting in last fuckin' place after more than a month of games. For Spurs, for the 2008-2009 Tottenham team, the time for concepts and theories and tactics is over.

There was a point in last friday's Obama-McCain debate when the candidates got into a brief exchange over the difference between a "strategy" and a "tactic." The twitching mongoloid from Arizona told 50 million viewers that his opponent didn't understand the difference. Obama insisted he did, and that McCain's beloved "surge" was indeed a mere "tactic," and certainly not a design for life.

War-Sport anologies may be trite, but so am I and so for that matter is this debacle of a football season. That said, let's jump right in. Juande Ramos is very clever tactician, with the exception of some curious work at Pompey this weekend, he usually brings on the right players, tactically speaking, at the right time. And to his credit, the moves get made on the hour and earlier, giving the sub time to work his way into the game. Where Ramos, the field general, and the chain of command have failed this season is in defining anything that could be remotely confused with a "strategy" for success.

Results come and go. Few humanoid teams in the past decade (well, maybe Martin Jol's Spurs... ugh) have put together more than a season or two of sustained winning; placing in the top 10; competing deep into cup competitions; nicking at the heels of a Big Four straggler. Lack of funds, the manager merry-go-round, and the general emotional instability of fans, players, and owners are usually to blame. It's hard to develop a team when its very DNA is called into question after a bad afternoon in August. But it is even more difficult, perhaps impossible, to do so when there is no understanding among the "brain trust" that one summer, or three players, or a new diet plan does not ensure continued quality. Results come and go. Quality is sustainable.


Shit. Football.

For Tottenham, beloved by us and ours for oftentimes shambolic displays of attacking and defenseless football, the latest tease began with the thievery of Ramos from Spain. The Sevilla man had a reputation for injecting his style into a side. The roster would surely turn over a bit from Year One to Two, but a "strategy" was now in place. Get "Ramos guys"-- big strikers, attacking fullbacks, a speedy winger-- and the program would take over. (Cue Rick Pitino: "See that door?? Dani Alves is not coming through that door!")

When there is a strategy and the players are purchased in accordance to its themes, the tactics become simple. They are written into the roster. But what has become more evident everytime this year's team steps on to the pitch is that they remain a slave to tactics. Matchups are assessed. Reaction is the rule. There is no best XI at White Hart Lane this season, just a team du jour. And no matter how clever the angles, it has been the same result. Adjust. Tinker. Rarely has this team played its own game, imposed their style (attacking? remember?) on the opponent. And on those few occasions, always the same problem. No one here can score a goal.


Pavlyuchenko scores in London! Presumably these two gave him plenty of time on the ball...



It really is remarkable... life here in the Relegation Zone. Six games played. Zero wins. Four Losses and two draws. In those six matches not A SINGLE legitimate goal. You know, goals! Like when a full back makes a run, drops the ball off to a midfield player who boots an inswinging cross into the box, where a striker awaits to level home on the half-volley. That's how teams score goals, I'm told.

Spurs, bottom of the barrel, have netted four this season, just three directed in by a carcass in a white shirt. There was the own-goal from David Wheater at Middlesbrough, the heinous giveaway by the Chelsea defense that set up Bent at the Bridge, Jenas closing his eyes and sticking his toe out at home to Sunderland, and the deflection off Bent's knee (he was looking off into space) in garbage time against Villa.

Oh, how far off this is...

Could this whole mess turn around with a good result next weekend? Maybe. Maybe Bent starts scoring some. Maybe David Bentley plays like the England player he's stopped ploclaiming himself to be. And maybe McCain staffers lose track of Sarah Palin at a Toys'R'Us and she gets devoured two limbs at a time by a pack of vengeful moose. Maybe...

A more Likely plan-- back to Spurs again-- is to stop and reassess. It may be early, but that's precisely the time when it gets late these days. Autumn is here and fleeting and Winter is sooner than we'd imagine. The days will be short real soon. So now is the time to confront reality. Tottenham is in a releation battle and should treat it as such. It is again, ironically as if it needed saying, the time for "tactics." That means fuck off with the UEFA Cup, and Carling and FA Cups. Move up. Stay alive. Score a goal.

The season starts now.

Read more on "Dispatches from the Relegation Zone: SPURS edition"...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Backpasses: There is nothing quite as bad as being in charge

. . . and out of the loop at the same time.

Joe Kinnear goes to run his first practice as manager, only to find the players had the day off [Soccernet]
Tim Cahill's red card appeal denied. Ha ha [BBC]
In other Everton news, Steven Pienaar arrested for assault on woman [Daily Mail]

Sven-Goran Erikkson thought the English talent pool was so poor that he wanted to naturalize some players [Soccernet]
Lalas gets a pie in the face. Wrong one, though [The Offside Rules]

And, finally:
The ten (eleven) most hated people in football. English-centric, but worth a look [Caught Offside]


Read more on "Tuesday Backpasses: There is nothing quite as bad as being in charge"...

CL Open Thread



Oh sweet tap-dancing Ronaldo, it's CL time again!

Some decent matches today, including Real Madrid's scramble right now to hang on to a win at Zenit St. Petersburg. If their defending skills were a TV show, they'd be cancelled after the pilot.

Will Man United draw once again? Will a French team win a game? Can BATE get anything at home to Juventus?

Snark and cheer along after the jump, along with the fixture list and selected lineups.



GROUP E
AaB vs. Man Utd
Villarreal vs. Celtic

GROUP F
Bayern Munich vs. Lyon
Fiorentina vs. Steaua Bucuresti

GROUP G
Arsenal vs. FC Porto
Fenerbahce vs. Dynamo Kiev

GROUP H
BATE Borisov vs. Juventus

=====
FULL TIME SCORE:
Zenit St Petersburg 1 - (Danny 25")
Real Madrid 2 - (Hubocan 6" og, Van Nistelrooy 31")
=====
LINEUPS:

ARSENAL TEAM TO FACE PORTO
Almunia, Sagna, Fabregas, Toure, Nasri, Gallas, Van Persie, Walcott, Denilson, Clichy, Adebayor.

MAN UTD TEAM TO FACE AAB
Van der Sar, Evra, Ferdinand, Ronaldo, Berbatov, Rooney, Vidic, Nani, Scholes, Rafael, O'Shea.

CELTIC TEAM TO FACE VILLARREAL
Boruc, Naylor, McManus, G Caldwell, S Brown, Samaras, Hartley, Wilson, Maloney, Nakamura, McGeady.

18-year-old Rafael makes his Man Utd debut, Gordon "The Ginger Midget" Strachan unleashes the awful 4-5-1 on Villareal, and Arsene Wenger's promised lineup shenanigans involve one change: Nasri in, Eboue out.







Read more on "CL Open Thread"...

In Poland, you just beat your troubles away



Don't mock the Plock


It's not easy being a football fan sometimes. When you're one of the better teams, you get the joy of winning most weeks, but even the best sides come unstuck from time-to-time, and suddenly you're the ones on the other end of a heavy defeat.

Well, in Poland, the remedy is simple: don't drink your woes away... just use your fists instead!

This past weekend, Polish First League (really their 2nd-tier division) high-fliers Flota Swinoujscie welcomed struggling Wisla Plock to town for a league fixture. As expected, Flota won the match comfortably, 4-1, and while the home crowd celebrated the beatdown, the small cadre of disgruntled Plock fans decided to vent their frustrations by hopping the fences and assaulting the Flota supporters. Makes sense, right?

Check the videos below: the first is mostly match highlights (flip to the last 35 seconds or so to see the trouble brew and unfold in full), whereas the second is the news report. All us UFers find it incredible that the visiting fans could have beat down the home fans like that!

Perhaps for Flock's next match, the fans should wear the kits and the players should take a rest in the stands. It might help them greatly.

5 goals, several punches, 27 arrested, and one hilarious story.





Read more on "In Poland, you just beat your troubles away"...

It's All About The Kids?



Is the spending over?

Are Chelsea starting to build a decent youth structure?

Recently Chelsea have have been highly visible in adding young players to their ranks and looking to the future. Is this a sign that Roman is no longer prepared to spend millions on overrated 30-somethings? Just maybe.



Currently Chelsea has several kids on loan and they are constantly linked with youngsters in the press these days. Yesterday there were rumors in Norfolk of an impending bid to steal the latest in a long line of promising keepers at Norwich, young Jed Steer. He was watched yesterday by Chelsea and United scouts.

I am not too worried about it to be honest as producing excellent keepers is something our academy is doing extremely well, but Chelsea's interest in Steer prompted me to see if there was a policy change on the horizon at the bridge. Is Roman losing faith in expensive imports? Has the notable increase in transfer fees and the arrival of other billionaire owners got Mr Abrahmovic worried?



Recently the signs of a flowering Chelsea youth system have been flashing brightly in the lower leagues. Ryan Bertrand, Jimmy Smith, Jack Cork, Slobodan Rajkovic, Lee Sawyer, Fabio Paim, Shaun Cummings and Ben Sahar are all out on loan.

Cork, Bertrand and Sahar in particular are held in very high esteem.

Bertrand (left, playing for Norwich) is a regular for his Country at under 21 level and Hull failed to sign the 19 year old left back this summer. He was loaned to Norwich for a second season.

Michael Mancienne and Scott Sinclair were both on loan in the Championship last season and this year they have made it to the first team along with young Welsh keeper Rhys Taylor and promising Argentinian forward Franco Di Santo.



Frank Arnesson's arrival from Spurs appears to be no coincidence in the emergence of a youth agenda at Chelsea, but it's not the immediate future that has been interesting Arnesson.

Further down the ladder, below the loanee's and the promoted talent there is a army of talented youngsters (15-17 years old) trying to impress.

The next crop of kids nearly ready to gain some experience at Championship clubs and emulate Sinclair's and Mancienne's (right, playing for Q.P.R.) path to the first team.

Of that next wave no less than 15 have represented their countries. Surprisingly this next wave includes 13 English boys signed from clubs such as Leeds to non-league set-ups like Sutton United.

Signing the best young talent when you are Chelsea appears to be easy however. We can all recall their controversial acquisition of Jon Obi Mikel and the suggestion his father was charmed with gifts. Ken Bates recently accused Chelsea of tapping up midfielder Michael Woods (currently in the reserves) from Leeds. One cannot help but believe Bates' claims as his experience at Chelsea would have allowed him unfettered access to the comings and goings of promising talent.

Just yesterday Chelsea signed 12-year-old French schoolboy Jeremy Boga. Boga has been called "the new Zidane" in his homeland, and after weeks of talks with the boy's parents, Chelsea reached an agreement for Boga to join them when he turns 16. Expect Boga's dad to be rolling down the King's Road in a Ferrari 4 years from now.

While Chelsea's financial muscle has allowed them to court many of the world's promising young talents they should be praised for the majority of their youth ranks being English. Arsenal has 12 non-British players currently in it's young reserves. The lack of top clubs producing young English players has been one excuse used for the many recent failures of the national team and it is refreshing to see so many lining up behind the Chelsea first team only a few years from possible Premiership starts.

Whether or not Chelsea have the balls to use them will become clear in time. Maybe they will just spend big again on 25 million pound foreigners but it is clear that the intention to develop young players is there. Watch this space.

-Bigus

Read more on "It's All About The Kids?"...

Mr. Wenger Does Not Have A Full Grasp Of English

In the 2003-04 season Arsenal went the entire League season undefeated sporting a 26-12-0 record. Henceforth that squad has been known as "The Invincibles" for good reason. It was quite the feat, but it seems that The Invincibles' manager, Arsene Wenger, and still Arsenal's manager does not quite comprehend the feat as he thinks his squad is capable of emulating The Invincibles.

The invincibles were an extraordinary team and I believe we are very close - I believe we have the quality to achieve that.


It is readily apparent that this year's Gunner squad will not emulate the invincibles after the shock 2-1 defeat to Hull City this past weekend.

I'll give Arsene the fact that English is not his first language, but he's managed in England for 12 seasons now. He should be able to realize that this makes no sense now that Arsenal has lost.

Read more on "Mr. Wenger Does Not Have A Full Grasp Of English"...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Backpasses: Referee madness

Rob Styles would like someone to apologize for him to Bolton [Daily Mail]
Mike Riley appeared to change his mind on Cahill's card when the Aussie would not come to him for admonishment [Soccer 365]
Dive of the weekend. No, not Ronaldo [101 Great Goals]

Newcastle's caretaker manager signed a contract until October 30. He has an old touchline ban that will expire October 20. Oops [Telegraph]
Iraq lose their World Cup Qualifying appeal to CAS [NYT Goal]
Robbie Savage, who pisses off new teammates by driving flash cars, may be going to the team who had Skint as a shirt sponsor (trust me, the English will get it) [Sky Sports]
Wenger hates the away goals rule, wants it changed [Guardian]
Germans. '80s to '90s. Hair [Bild]

And, finally:
Euros to expand to 128 teams, so that "the excitement of the groups will go on for longer" [Football Cynic]

Read more on "Monday Backpasses: Referee madness"...

RIP Futsal Fred

One of my daily reads is The Offside Rules, a blog with the straight dope on all things MLS. We certainly don't link to TOR enough around here. We should.

Today, TOR posted a little link that suggests the Hunt Sports Group may be interested in selling a share of the Columbus Crew to the consortium that was trying to bring MLS to Las Vegas. That's all good and may bring more rumors of club movement, but it's the takedown in the comments that is absolutely priceless.

I don't want to steal too much TOR's thunder so I will only tease it a bit.

Anonymous posted:


MLS will not be in Columbus in ten years time. In fact, I'd be surprised if the Crew exist five years from now. It's just too small of a market to 1) help the league's footprint and 2) be profitable. Enjoy the Crew while you still can Ohio.

Then anonymously named Futsal Fred angrily piped up with comments about Anonymous being anonymous, not knowing what they are talking about, and generally being reactionary.

Anonymous then wiped the floor with Futsal Fred's and then spit on his carcass. Not to reveal too much, but Anon. had a clinical, textbook combination on FF for the TKO and then took him out with a dirty Street Fighter finishing move.

Check it out. It's pure Awesome.

Read more on "RIP Futsal Fred"...

Barca and Espanyol Fans In Old School Video Game


The Catalan derby this weekend between Barcelona and Espanyol was a thriller. Barca pulled off the comeback win against a 10-man Espanyol after an 85th minute equalizer from Thierry Henry and then Leo Messi converted a dubious penalty kick (weren't they all this last weekend?) in the 103rd minute. (By the way, take a look at the shot graphic on that link, Barca outshot them 33 to 5.)

Yeah, that's right, the 103rd minute. Not a typo. Which gets me to the reason for the old Tank Wars graphic up top.

Seems during the match the visiting Blaugrana fans decided to turn the match into their own personal old-school video game as they tossed flares on to the home fans. Naturally, this did not go over well and ended up in the match being stopped for 8 minutes in the second half.

After the jump, see the video of the flare toss. The first is better than the second, and the end of the video has a nice chant with the word "Puta" involved, although my Spanish is about as good as Newcastle United's football team so I could be wrong.



Needless to say, the emotions were running high after the controversial match concluded after the witching hour. My parents used to tell me, nothing good comes from actions at that time of the night. I would submit to you that they were wrong because I get to read about these sorts of things from The Guardian Blog:

Way after midnight under the hulking concrete stands of the Lluís Companys stadium Barcelona's Thierry Henry shrugged, washing his hands conveniently clean, and Leo Messi beamed. Espanyol's broken players mostly bit their tongues and walked on by silently simmering, as the coaches Pep Guardiola and Tintín Márquez tried to impose peace. But few were having it.

Samuel Eto'o returned to the scene of the crime, glorying in it. The Espanyol president Daniel Sánchez Llibre spontaneously combusted. A kerfuffle broke out and suddenly Gerard Piqué was squaring up to an Espanyol director. "I don't want to call it a robbery because they'll charge me for it," snapped Sánchez Llibre, forgetting how much he liked La Liga when Espanyol were top. "This league is completely prostituted."
Puta, indeed.

Update: The Offside has another video of the flare throwing.

Read more on "Barca and Espanyol Fans In Old School Video Game"...

Setanta is Psychic



With so many footy matches every weekend, wouldn't it be great if you knew the results beforehand so that you could concentrate on watching the good ones? I mean, I probably still would have watched Arsenal-Hull even knowing the outcome, but that's just because I like to torture myself. But what if you could avoid the shit-tastic matches like Machester City-Portsmouth?



Have no fear! Setanta Sports TV network has the ability to predict the future, thus ensuring that you only watch the important matches. This past Friday, I received the following from Setanta in an e-mail:

Once tonight's presidential debate is over, switch your attention to the competition taking place in England. If you thought Obama and McCain were battling it out, just wait until October 26th, when unbeaten Liverpool travels to undefeated Chelsea for a clash of the titans, LIVE on Setanta Sports.


Wow! So Liverpool and Chelsea will both be unbeaten (and even undefeated!) on October 26th? They correctly predicted this week's results, with Liverpool beating Everton 2-0 in the Merseyside derby, and Chelsea beating Stoke 2-0. But I'm sure that Manchester City (v. Liverpool, Oct. 5th), Aston Villa (@Chelsea, Oct. 5th), Wigan (@ Liverpool, Oct. 18th), and Middlesbrough (v. Chelsea, Oct. 18th) are all very excited to know that Setanta thinks they have zero chance of winning those matches.

And now you can go out and bet everything that you have on those 4 matches! Thanks, Setanta!

Read more on "Setanta is Psychic"...

Scotland Wrap Up

Due to an outpouring of support (one guy at least), I'll be reviving my once-a-week look at fitba from the league to the north of the EPL. Skip ahead if you like, but know this is the only post for at least half an hour.

This weekend saw the seventh round of matches take place. Rangers entered the weekend with a three point lead over Celtic. No surprises there, then. Hearts were one more point back. Hibs, Killie and Hamilton filled out the Top Six.

Saturday saw a slate of five games, with the big one being Celtic hosting Aberdeen. Early season from has not been kind to the Dons, at least at home. They nicked a point off of Rangers, but lost their other three home matches. On the other hand, Aberdeen came in perfect on the road, and, at one point, looked to be keeping that intact.

Celtic had the much better start, putting pressure on the Aberdeen backline early. It paid off in the 14th minute when Aberdeen failed to clear their lines, and Jan Vennegoor of Hessleink (now and forever to be referred to as JVoH on this site) slammed home from 10 yards out. Aberdeen upped their game for the rest of the half, and looked the better squad at the break.

That continued into the second half. In the 57th minute, a run down the right produced a cross that Lee Miller flicked on. All the Celtic defenders had run to the near post, leaving Charlie Mulgrew alone at the back from 15 yards. His volley found the back of the net. Twelve minutes later, Mulgrew took a blistering free kick from 30+ yards and beat both the wall and Boruc to the near post. Celtic should have immediately replied, but a open header from three yards out was bounced over the crossbar. No matter, Celtic would break my heart soon enough. Substitute Scott McDonald scored seven minutes after his introduction, and JVoH scored when the ball squeaked under Aberdeen keeper Jamie Langfield and off the post in the 90th. In a game where the teams were pretty even, it was one heck of a letdown for the struggling Dons. 3-2 Celtic.

The other Saturday games, i.e. the ones I did not watch, were home wins as well and went like this:
Dundee United slaughtered Heart of Midlothian 3-0. As the BBC guy said, this was a shoot on sight from 30 yards game for the Terrors. A couple of those went in, courtesy of Conway, Daly and Robertson.
Falkirk scored five against Hamilton Academical, but only four of them were in the correct goal. Scott Arfield scored a brace for the Bairns. Hamilton, which started their SPL campaign brightly, did not look good at all, and only a 90th minute own goal spared them sole honors for the worst defeat of the week. 4-1
Motherwell edged out St Mirren 2-1, reversing a 0-1 deficit from halftime. St Mirren felt hard done by in the 70th when the assistant referee signaled that Franco Miranda had elbowed his opponent while jostling for a throw in. The referee produced a straight red for the offense. To be fair, though, Motherwell had already taken the lead by that point.
Finally, Inverness CT continued their fine early season run by defeating Kilmarnock 3-1. Killie scored early, but Caley scored two in the first half and finished the game off in the 81st, shortly after Kilmarnock had Fowler sent off.

On Sunday, Hibernian hosted Rangers, and Rangers were not very nice. Hibernian had the early chances, with two clear efforts being saved. Rangers scored on the half hour, as Kenny Miller headed home against his former team. Miller scored again 10 minutes later and Madjid Bougherra produced the final goal of the match on the 73rd. The scoreline flattered the visitors, as Hibs had many chances. But,as we know, chances don't count unless converted. Rangers retain the top spot 0-3.

Updated table (team, points, goal differential)
Rangers, 19, +10
Celtic, 16, +7
Hearts, 12, -2
Inverness CT, 10, +2
----------------------
Kilmarnock, 10, -1
Hibernian, 10, -2
----------------------
Hamilton Academical, 9, -2
Dundee United, 8, -1
Falkirk, 7, -2
Motherwell, 7, -3
Aberdeen (sigh), 7, -3
---------------------
St Mirren, 5, -3

Read more on "Scotland Wrap Up"...

Caption Competition-BJ Edition


Ok..Ok..So I obviously picked a duff image as last weeks efforts were..well lets just say CRAP. But a winner I must choose....



Well this week I was disappointed to say the least. All of you smart and funny footy fans and the best you could do was roll out one blow job joke after another...

The NY Kid said...
This is taking the "Respect the ref" campaign a little too far.

Goat said...
"You heard me. If you don't want a red card you know what you have to do."

American Villan said...
I'm going to call you 'Sepp' the whole time, is that alright?



Precious Roy said...
"No, you dummy. It's your hands that you're not allowed to use."

Mayor Menino said...
YOU get off your knees, YOU are blowing the game

Graceland said...
"Look, I'm doing YOU a favor. There's only one way you're going to score today."

I liked this one from Keith. "Gavin Mahon (pictured, kneeling) gets a closer look to research the claims of Coventry supporters(not pictured)"

But the winner by a country mile was Matt with this gem...

"QPR ref? You know...Quick Pecker Rub."

Well done Matt. You get to guest blog here at U.F. Please submit your best effort to Unprofessionalfoul@gmail.com

Another caption next week.

-Bigus

.

Read more on "Caption Competition-BJ Edition"...

A New York Yankee In King Arsene's Court

It's Monday morning and Bigus is still sleepy from a lazy weekend of watching footy, playing with Bigus Jr, napping and enjoying Smuttynose IPA a little too much (I have been re-born). I am certainly in no shape to offer you anything interesting today . That is why when my mate Scotty Olivenbaum told me he was stopping off in Laaaandan to watch the Gooners play Hull last Saturday, on his way to Switzerland (Go Rangers), I whiffed an opportunity. I aksed Scotty if he wouldn't mind taking a few notes between bevvies and writing up a report. This was Scotty O's first Arsenal game EVER and he should be held completely responsible for Geovanni's thunderbolt. Join Scotty after the jump for a virgin's report of the unexpected!





Let me first introduce myself to you fine soccer football
folks: I'm Scotty Hockey. I like hockey. A lot. But, I have always
held a passion for footy that usually concentrated itself upon the
almighty World Cups. After '94 I became a Dennis Bergkamp fan and a
year later, I visited London about the same time he signed with
Arsenal, so I became an Arsenal fan.

I always watched the Gunners from afar but I'll be honest, I am too
obsessed with hockey to call myself a Gooner. When the Rangers (the
New York ones) announced they would play in Switzerland, I figured it
would be a prime opportunity to stop in London and finally see an
Arsenal match in person. So I signed up for the membership, got myself
a ticket and went to Emirates on Saturday. Before you jump, yes, I am
apparently a jinx. My bad. But it was soooo good, let me tell you.
Instead of boring you with a blow-by-blow narrative, I will break it
down into bullet notes, since you don't know how I speak (rant) and
bullet points are just so much easier to read:

*See? You read this and it's a bullet point. Proving my point already ...

Ok, now, seriously, some observations and experiences:

*Before the match I heard a Hull fan say, in regards to being at
Emirates, "It beats going to Macclesfield, that's for sure." Let's
face it, these fans were just happy to be in London and their team had
nothing to lose, that should have been warning number one.

*Emirates, by the way, is just stunning. Granted, this is someone
coming off of seeing Barcelona lower themselves to play on the "pitch"
at Giants Stadium a few weeks ago, but it is a beautiful building with
gleaming green grass that would be perfect on a PGA Tour green.

*Somehow, though, the place had no pretzels. What the hell?? How can
you properly enjoy a pint (or three) without a pretzel???? Is it
because pretzels were German creations and, if not for us Yanks, you
would be German citizens? I didn't drink; I couldn't (but certainly
should have). And to top it off, instead of pretzels they served
doughnuts and Pringles!?!? I just don't get it.

*I also don't understand why, for all of the history of the club, the
most used chants by the fans were made up of repeating the word
"Arsenal" again and again and aaaaa-aaaaaa-gggaaaaaiiiinnnn.

*But at least there was some chanting, after hearing about the
Highbury Library, I expected a mausoleum but after some prodding by
the passionate away fans, the Gooners picked it up.

*It appears that hockey fans picked up an unfortunate trend from their
elder footy relatives - yelling "SHHHHHOOOOOOOOT!!!!!" anytime anyone
gets anywhere near the box, no matter which direction they are facing
or who is near.

*I mentioned 'elders' ... but there didn't appear to be many old
Arsenal fans. For a franchise that is over a hundred years old, the
stands were packed with legions of fans donning brand new kits. I
counted to JVC jerseys and a handful more O2s. That's it. Either
everyone has the money to buy new kits constantly, or they jumped on
the bandwagon with the undefeated season. Either way it isn't a good
thing. ('Throw back' is not something English people get. In fact wearing old jerseys
renders you open to utterings of 'gypo' as you pass your fellow fans in Tesco's. I have every Norwich home and away shirt since 1988. I could have bought something useful..I know-Bigus)

*That's another thing: the team should offer up some older kits - and
not just the 1989 redux. It's bad enough that I - a nonpracticing Jew
- picked the Gunners instead of the Yid Army, but I refuse to buy
something that outright supports hebe-hating Arabs. Call me racist -
I've been called worse by Islander fans - but I found their
announcement wishing Jewish supporters a Happy New Year amusing. Maybe
it was just because they asked the Jews who were going to celebrate
the holdday to give their tickets up to charity for free ...

(www.Toffs.com Here you go...Gypos!-Bigus.)

*Ok, back to football for a few. Oh Dennis, where have you gone?
Arsenal's set pieces sucked and they surrendered most of their corner
kicks by just tapping a short pass and dribbling in from the wing. How
dreadfully dull and ineffective, especially against a squad that
overloaded the box with smart defenders.

*Arsenal kept giving up space and field position and Geovanni
capitalized with an astounding shot (game highlights here).

*And thanks to the reaction of folks around me to the Hull goals, I
have successfully added the words "git", "slag" and "wanker" to my
vocabulary. Thanks guys.

Now don't think I have jumped ship, I haven't, but I'll end this
chanting along with the victorious fans: woa-oh, woa-o-a-oh, this was
the best trip I have ever been on.

Scotty.

Read more on "A New York Yankee In King Arsene's Court"...