Saturday, October 25, 2008

Quitting comes easy for Harry.

                                                    Harry nose when to quit!

It's confirmed. Tottenham's new manager will be the 'king of quitters' Harry Redknapp. A hefty fee was agreed between Spurs top man Daniel Levy and Pompey's Peter Storrie on Friday (they kept that quiet) and tonight old Harry spills the beans. Join me after the jump for a look at the 'history' of Harry...don't leave early will you?

Champion quitter Harry Redknapp has announced that he will be Spurs new gaffer. The man to save the day and resuscitate Tottenham's cadaverous season. He told SKY Sports tonight that Porstmouth will receive 5 million quid in compensation for his extremely intriguing move to the scared shitless part of North Laaaandon.

"I love Portsmouth and I loved my time there, we had some fantastic success and I'd never been happier, but it's a great deal for Portsmouth, £5m for me, and it's a chance for me to get on and see what I can do. Once Tottenham came in and once the offer was made it was difficult for the club to turn down a £5m offer for a manager. The club were pleased to take it and hopefully people will remember what I've done there." -Harry Redknapp.

So It's a "GREAT "deal for Pompey, that's the slant. They wanted to sell me! Honest!

True or not, Harry is the new Spurs manager and it's a weird move indeed. Porstmouth are currently 7th in the table and the reigning F.A Cup holders. Spurs have 2 points, are 5 from safety and are rooted bottom of the Premier League. They are also bottom of their UEFA Cup table after Udinese rolled them over 2-0 in Italy on Thursday. Harry must like a challenge because this is the mother of all challenges. But this isn't the first time Harry has quit a team, he is starting to make a habit out of it.

Harry's first act of quittage was Bournmouth in 1992. He'd had enough of the limited resources and walked. Next Rednapp joined West ham as Billy Bond's assistant and took over the top spot in 1994 after Bond's resigned. After a falling out with Hammers supremo Terry Brown over some comments he made to a fanzine regarding Brown, Redknapp left West Ham in 2001. Pompey were next. After pulling a Houdini and keeping Pompey in the Premiership Harry quit in 2004 after falling out with (then) owner Milan Manderic. He joined rivals Southampton in a move that turned him into a hate figure for Porstmouth fans but in 2005 he pulled the old switcheroo for Portsmouth once again. Keeping the hate flowing on the south coast (It just moved east to west a bit). Moving to a rival once was unheard of, but twice? Harry sure is a quitter, but quitting is better than getting the old
tin-tack isn't it Harry? And that brings us to today.

Maybe Harry gets itchy feet? Maybe he likes money. I'll go with the latter, but it has to be said early, if anyone can save Tottenham from a drop into the Championship, it's Harry Redknapp. If Harry fails to save Spurs then he has proven that he can bring a team back up from the challenge that lies below (Porstmouth 2002-03). Maybe that's the key to Levy's move? Prepare for the inevitable while having a good go at surviving. Either way it's going to be a tough challenge. However, Harry Redknapp is a tough cookie. Spurs players certainly won't get an easy ride or the niceties of Senor Ramos and his European ways, oh no! And this is a wonderful opportunity to bust out one of my favorite you tube videos EVER.

So take that as a warning all you under achievers of Tottenham. Harry is in the house and he means business. Shape up or you'll be in the "facking reserves".


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Adios, Ramos... Hello, 'Arry

After an unwhelming start to the season in which they've claimed a whopping two points (from eight matches), Tottenham have (finally) kicked the chair out from under Juande Ramos. But, the former Sevilla manager isn't the only one looking for work, since Spurs have also fired their Sporting Director (Damien Comolli) and Ramos' two first-team coaches, Guy Poyet and Marcos Alvarez.

So, you ask, who will lead the team in tomorrow's struggle against Stupid Fucking Bolton? According to a press release from the club, the next poor bastards to try and (temporarily) guide Spurs out of their butt-naked last place position are development coach Clive Allen and youth coach Alex Inglethorpe.

And, in 'other shoe dropping' news, the call of London is enough to lure Portsmouth's Harry Redknapp into Spurs' semi-annual empty manager's position. (Word is it cost Tottenham 5M) While old 'Arry did an impressive number a couple seasons ago guiding Pompey to the Great Escape, surely the former West Ham man is biting off more than he can chew with this shit sandwich?

Then again, Spurs motto is 'To Dare is To Do'. And, considering they've done fuck-all so far this season, maybe it'll take a 'daring' move like leaving the south coast for fashionable London to shake things up and actually 'do' something (like win a match). You've got to think somebody will sort them out eventually.

Much more to follow once UF sobers up...

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The Geovanni Magical Mystery Tour Continues

No, that's not a picture of Bigus. It's Joe the pub-goer, who is thrilled about the run of success that his club, Hull City, is having in their first trip to the Premiership. After gaining promotion from the Championship thanks to a 1-0 playoff win against Bristol City, many had predicted that Hull would be sent right back down. We at UF predicted a little better. For now, Hull are doing quite a bit better than anyone predicted.

Hull City have started off their first season of top-flight football with 20 points from their first 9 matches on a record of 6 wins, 2 draws, and only 1 loss. This puts them at the top of the table after today. Given that Chelsea and Liverpool play each other tomorrow, there are two possible results for Hull: (1) Chelsea and Liverpool tie, leaving Hull in 3rd place but only 1 point behind the leader; or (2) either Chelsea or Liverpool win, leaving Hull tied for second place with the loser of that match.

Aside from the wonderful job that Brown, the gaffer, has done, the early success of Hull City can be attributed largely to Geovanni. After scoring only 3 goals in 19 appearances for Manchester City last season, the Brazilian has already scored 4 goals in just 7 appearances this season. His diving header against West Brom today came from an excellent bit of skill by Marlon King, but was an exhibition of Geovanni's lethal finishing.

Can Hull City continue to pull off both the big shock wins (e.g. against Arsenal), the sturdy away wins (e.g. West Brom), and continue to handle business through the end of the season? Can Geovanni keep up this goal-scoring pace? I'm not sure if either is possible, but being already halfway to the magical 40-point "safe from relegation" total, I think that we will continue to have fun watching this club move through the EPL (suck it Barclay's!).

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Backpasses: I can see my house from here

For anyone who watched the Furman-College of Charleston match on FSC tonight (which I am currently watching the replay of), I can tell you that the weather was probably even worse than what you saw. What a nasty, dreary day.

Another Middle Eastern owner in the EPL? [The Sun]
Rob Styles may quit refereeing over Beye's overturned red card [Daily Mail]
Seattle Sounders to hold open tryouts and make it a reality series [MLS Rumors]

Lionel Messi's brother arrested on a gun charge [Mirror]
Wenger does not like Gallas going being pictured with an unlit cigarette. Suddenly Joey Barton's looking slightly better as a youth role model [Soccernet]

And, finally:
Neven Subotic turned down by DFB. The possibility remains that he will turn out for US as a full international [Fan Nation]

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Why can't Iain Dowie keep a job?

The news has filtered out today that Iain Dowie has been sacked as boss of Queen's Park Rangers after barely five months on the job. It's the third job Dowie has lost since lying his way out of a successful stint at Crystal Palace. Why is Dowie having such a hard time keeping a job lately?

Interestingly, his stint in charge of QPR lasted just as long as his time in charge of Charlton in 2006--15 games. However, where Dowie was pretty bad at Charlton--17 points in those 15 games--at QPR he totaled 28 points in his tenure. In between, Dowie toiled at Coventry City for just under a year. There he earned 68 points in 49 games. (All totals include cup ties which have been given the standard three points for a win and 1 point for a draw)

So, is he a toxic personality? His sacking at Charlton was pretty much a given. The team was struggling early to stay up in the Prem, a goal it eventually failed to reach. At Coventry City, he was able to light an early fire under a poorly-positioned squad, but was eventually released due to differences of opinion between the board and Dowie. Which, if I remember my Queen's to American English translation correctly, means that he's a dick.

As for the QPR job, well, Dowie did not have a playoff place (at the very least) standing. As Bigus pointed out in his season preview, this was a team that was looking to buy its way back into the Premiership. Being in ninth place at the quarter-season pole did not make the bosses happy. Bigus should also be congratulated for stating the obvious--that Dowie is overrated as a manager and has done nothing to keep getting hired.

So, to summarize for the tl;dr crowd: Dowie is shit as a manger, and possibly an ass to boot. Also, he will have a new job by Christmas. The man must give a great interview to overcome that CV.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday Backpasses: Eduardo looks like he should have a mullet

Good news for Gooners. Eduardo only weeks away from coming back [Soccernet]
Joey Barton wants to be your kids role model [BBC]
Yet another arrest is Polish corruption probe [Polskieradio]
Aberdeen's Red Ultras suspended from flag waving after setting off smoke bombs [Evening Express]

And, finally:
Differing views on English nationalization
Arteta says no thanks [Soccernet]
Almunia says sure, why not? [Soccernet]

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Fight! Fight! Fight!

According to Soccernet, I missed watching one hell of a match last night. Palmeiras and Argentinos Juniors met in the quarterfinals of the Copa Sudamericana and boy howdy, was it great. Tight match, 2 red cards, and a fight afterwards. If only there were video. . . .

Of course, in the modern intertubed world, there is always video. Inside, I have posted not one but two of these wonders.

These are the longer highlights. Maybe you can guess why Palmeiras might have been a little angry at the end of the match. That first highlight is in the 17th minute. Palmeiras, in the green, look to have scored on a free kick. Not so, says the ref, who waved it off. Too bad for him, the ball was over the line. He will, at least, have plenty of time left in the game to redeem himself.

A couple of nice saves follow on the video, up to the 1:25 mark. Here, Palmeiras are rewarded with a PK, and it is not even a make-up call. However, even though a player is allowed to feint on a PK, if the ref feels it is unsporting, as last night's ref did here, it is a yellow card and the kick is retaken. Predictably, the second attempt was saved. It would seem that the ref has no qualms about the keeper taking a few steps off the line, though.

Shortly after, Argentinos take the lead after a nice bit of control and a volley from the top of the box. Escudero was the goal scorer. Full points to him for his climb-the-bulldozer-inexplicably-just-off-the-pitch goal celebration.

The final two highlights show Argentinos players making meals out of overzealous and pissed-off challenges from Palmeiras players. First, a player gets a second yellow for pushing his opponent after the Argentinos player kicked the ball away. While the push could have knocked over my 90-year old neighbor, it should no have hurt the Argentine. Similarly, the second red card looked worse at first blush than it did on replay. On replay, there was very little contact, and lots of falling after. There was intent there, sure, but the contact missed

The Soccernet article then mentions that there was a fight after the match between the two sides. I'm afraid this was, at best, a Jayson Blair level fabrication. I guess the internet equivalent would be Diggers submitting thoroughly misleading headlines in order to get Dugg. The video below shows what happened.

There was some Sharks v. Jets squaring up without the finger snaps, and a rugby scrum nearly happened, but in the end nothing really happened. The most menacing thing I saw was one guy took off his shirt with purpose. Thanks, Soccernet, for proving Georger right as to the level of your coverage.

2nd video cut down by splicd. If that service fails, the full youtube is here.

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UEFA Cup Open Thread - Updated

You were good when you wore this shirt. What happened?

[Ed. Note: I'm still in a daze over Beckham joining Milan after Christmas, so forgive the light, well, non-existent posting this morning. Thoughts on that at some point.]

See, I told you there'd be barely any goals in the CL yesterday. Tuesday stole them all, dammit!

Considering we have Villa and Spurs fans reading along, today is their day. All the big clubs are tucked up in bed after their big, important European adventures, and today, it's the kids' turn in Little Cup. To which exotic destinations will these brave clubs travel? What languages might they need to speak? Will we have heard of any of the teams they're playing?

(I could keep going, but I won't)

In light of David Bentley's "bit shit" comments last night, which surely served as the perfect digestif to Juande's long lunch spent staring into the abyss and drooling, we will have some fun watching just how Spurs manage to corral their flabby, directionless collective into a coherent 90 minutes in Italy. Or maybe Ramos will just use the opportunity to check out Serie A "wanted" ads.

After the jumps, lineups, fun, and your colourful comments. It's a good day to be alive.
Udinese v. Spurs
Udinese: Handanovic, Motta, Coda, Domizzi, Lukovic, Inler, D'Agostino, Isla, Sanchez, Quagliarella, Di Natale.

Subs: Koprivec, Sala, Ferronetti, Pasquale, Obodo, Pepe, Floro Flores.

The Serie A club known as the "Little Zebras" are at virtually full-strength, anchored by an alarming number of Chileans. Alexis Sanchez and Mauricio Isla anchor the midfield, and the strike partnership of Italian National side fringe players Antonio Di Natale and Fabio Quagliarella should thrive against the visibly-aloof Spurs back 4.

According to his wikipedia page, Di Natale is "well known known for scoring impressive goals." Considering the form of Spurs at the back this season, any goals he scores tonight will seem rather ordinary and run-of-the-mill by comparison to previous tallies.

Spurs: Gomes, Hutton, King, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Zokora, Jenas, O'Hara, Bale, Bent.

Subs: Cesar, Dawson, Gilberto, Gunter, Modric, Campbell, Giovani.

Gomes has been warned to not injure any of his own tonight, and we see rare starts for Assou-Ekotto and Jamie O'Hara. The center-back pairing of Samson-esque Woodgate and Samsonite-esque Ledley King should provide some comedy this evening. And yes, Ramos looks to be employing UF's favourite formation, the 4-5-1.
Other games tonight:
Aston Villa v. Ajax (kick off: 3.15pm ET)
Braga v. Portsmouth (kick off: 3.15pm ET)
Spurs are still losing 1-0 from a 1st half penalty given up by Gomes, which is a shame as he's been superb since. Jamie O'Hara did manage a rather Barton-esque feat of greatness in getting 2 yellows within a minute and taking an early bath. Close to the end there. 1-0 Udinese still.

Aston Villa v. Ajax

Aston Villa: Friedel, Luke Young, Cuellar, Laursen, Shorey, Reo-Coker, Petrov, Barry, Milner, Agbonlahor, Ashley Young.

Subs: Guzan, Sidwell, Harewood, Davies, Knight, Salifou, Gardner.

Expected line-up, right? O/U on number of misplayed passes for Reo-Coker currently set at 102.

Ajax: Vermeer, Silva, Oleguer, Vermaelen, Emanuelson, Lindgren, Sarpong, Vertonghen, Suarez, Huntelaar, Gabri.

Subs: Vonk, Van Der Wiel, Cvitanich, Leonardo, Sno, Anita, Schilder.
Braga v. Portsmouth

Braga: Eduardo, Frechaut, Moises, Alberto Rodriguez, Evaldo, Vandinho, Alan, Matheus, Aguiar, Renteria, Meyong.

Subs: Mario Felgueiras, Mossoro, Paulo Cesar, Jorginho, Stelvio Cruz, Cesar Peixoto, Joao Pereira.

4-5-1, probably? No clue. I hear Renteria is good.

Portsmouth: James, Campbell, Pamarot, Armand Traore, Distin, Davis, Diop, Hreidarsson, Little, Defoe, Crouch.

Subs: Ashdown, Utaka, Mvuemba, Hughes, Kanu, Belhadj, Wilson.

Nothing outrageous here either. Seeing a Traore in the starting XI is instant cause for concern. The Traores don't make things easy for their teammates, oh no sir. Little and Large continue to spearhead a decent Pompey attack.

Read more on "UEFA Cup Open Thread - Updated"...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday Backpasses: The gift that keeps on giving

What to read while Bigus is making up Becks in red and black stripes photoshops to piss off LB.

Montreal Impact >>>> NE Revs, DC United, Chivas USA [Football Cup League]
Tampa NIMBYs don't want a new Rowdies stadium []
An English girl fights to save her pitch from developers [This is Gloucestshire]

Judge throws out assault charge for player who punched an opponent during post-game handshakes [Times Herald-Record Online]

And, finally:
What is it with youth soccer coaches and sex charges?

HS soccer coach arrested in Chris Hansen-style sting [WNDU]
Youth soccer coach arrested for sexual contact with four boys [Newsday]

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CL Open Thread: Spartak London in action

After the goalstravaganza of yesterday, I'm sure we're in for a slew of cagey 0-0 draws. It's not like anyone's watching anyway.

Lineups and stuff after the jump. Maybe we'll see more sliding celebrations from the Dutch Sloth.

Today's schedule:
Bordeaux v. CFR Cluj, Group A
Spartak London v. AS Roma, Group A
Inter Milan v. Anorthosis Famagusta, Group B
Panathanaikos v. Werder Bremen, Group B
Basle v. Barcelona, Group C
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Sporting, Group C
Atletico Madrid v. Liverpool, Group D
PSV v. Marseille

Atletico: Franco, Seitaridis, Perea, Joshua, Antonio Lopez, Camacho, Maniche, Luis Garcia, Simao, Forlan, Sinama Pongolle.
Subs: Bernabe, Pernia, Heitinga, Raul Garcia, Aguero, Paulo Assuncao, Miguel.

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Dossena, Mascherano, Alonso, Benayoun, Gerrard, Riera, Keane.
Subs: Cavalieri, Aurelio, Pennant, Kuyt, Babel, Leiva Lucas, Darby.

Former LFC lads Luis Garcia and Florent Sinama-Pongolle starting for Atletico tonight, while super-goal hero Dirk Kuyt takes a seat on the subs bench for a bit.

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Terry, Carvalho, Bridge, Deco, Mikel, Lampard, Kalou, Anelka, Malouda.
Subs: Cudicini, Ivanovic, Di Santo, Ferreira, Alex, Belletti, Stoch.

AS Roma: Doni, Cicinho, Panucci, Mexes, Riise; Taddei, De Rossi, Aquilani, Brighi, Totti, Vucinic.
Subs: Artur, Loria, Perrotta, Tonetto, Montella, Menez, Okaka Chuka.

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The Good, The Bad, The WTF

I've held out as long as I can. This is one of those shirts that always exists right on the fringe of this weekly effort. Everyone knows that it is out there, but I just didn't want to acknowledge it. There are so many other horrors out there that needed to be seen. Sadly, none of them came to me this week.

Yes, it's the Arsenal away shirt from '91-'93. It's hideous. How so? Let me counts the ways.

1. First, the obvious. That green and yellow print. I have no idea where adidas pulled that idea from, but damn, is it ugly. Most of the time when I come across this shirt, I think "Flying V". But sometimes, I think it was inspired by African tribal design. Kind of like that 10-year-old tattoo you now regret.

2. The collar. If you are going to go with these colors in this pattern, don't spice things up with some red and black at the top. It's already bad, don't make things worse.

3. The sponsor. Once again, this is one of those times that the shirt sponsor gets hosed. On the red shirts, JVC was a nice complement to the rest of the shirt. Here, it is buried in pattern. Plus, they could have at least lined up the V so that it ran with the pattern.

4. That badge. Now, I'm no fan of the current Arsenal badge, with it's two-toned, halved background. But this badge was pure pansy, when it wasn't being too busy. If the club went back just the cannon, then I would be happy. Maybe with the AFC cannonballs on the side as well.

Of course, I'm not your head of household decisionmaker. If this is a shirt you have to have, even in a pretty small size, then eBay is the place for you.

Happy bidding, morons.

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Colaship Review - 3 Lita Special Edition.

Today I write this review with a smile and an air of cockiness. Today this review is filled with goals and lots of joy for Bigus and the fine people of Norfolk! I will wrap up last night's Coca Cola Championship action and look back at Saturday's action... follow me my friends!

Let's start with Wolves, shall we? I mean, they are top of the table. Oh wait... Newsflash, stop the ticker! They are no longer top!

What happened, readers? They came to Carrow Road and got bitch-slapped, that's what! Pinch yourself if you must, but it's true. My beloved Norwich City thumped league leaders Wolves 5-2 last night and finally found their scoring touch. Leroy Lita hit a hatrick and even winger Lee Croft popped one in!

5 star City

It's about time. Now that we've adjusted our goal radars and found the bloody thing, we need to make sure the scoring continues and we hit some form. Recent weeks have seen us lose to the odd goal while failing to convert any one of 5-6 chances a game. This was just the case last Saturday as we lost 1-0 away to Bristol City. Hopefully now we can push on and take the chances. If we falter at home to Doncaster on Saturday, last night's performance will be meaningless.

Alright, lets head elsewhere.

If Wolves are no longer top, who is? Bongo FC, that's who. They reclaimed the top spot after a very very very late winner from Gary O'Connor 4 minutes into injury time at home to Palace last night. The win followed up Bongo's point at Burnley last Saturday, and they're now 2 points clear of Wolves at the top.

Barnsley surprised neighbors Sheffield Wednesday last night as they creeped closer to safety with a 2-1 win. Hulme set them on their way early and Wednesday's Tony Mahon was sent off on 34 minutes before both sides converted second half penalties.

Blackpool followed up their dour draw with Doncaster on Saturday with 3 points at home to Derby last night. The Tangerines edged out Paul Jewell's men 3-2.

Bristol City have hit form again with a 2-nil victory at the Valley yesterday. At the start of proceedings in August, I said they would not repeat last year's excellent form and I thought they were starting to look dodgy after losing to Wolves and Sheffield United before the international break. How wrong I was. Last night's win, along with the 3 points they took at home to my lot at the weekend, has seen them jump back into 4th place. Meanwhile Charlton have lost two on the spin and 3 of their last 4.

Burnley are 6th today after a successful trip to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. They won 3-1 with goals coming from Duff, Blake and Chris Eagles. They took a point at home to Bongo at the weekend and they are certainly looking improved of late.

Forest remain rooted to the bottom after a 1-1 draw at home with Ip..Ip..Ip..them. They lost 2-1 at the weekend and it looks bleak for Forest. As for Ip..Ip..Them, last night draw was their second in a row after Swansea took a point at Portaloo Road 4 days ago.
Swansea and Q.P.R play out a goal-less draw last night

Elsewhere last eve, Plymouth beat Preston 1-0, Reading closed in on second place with a 2-1 win over Donny Rovers, Sheffield United and Southampton and Swansea and Q.P.R were all involved in scoreless draws while Watford and Cardiff shared a point in a 2-2 tie at Vicarage Road. Finally, did I mention Norwich beat Wolves 5-2?

Last weekend's results in full...

Sheff Wed 1, Sheff U 0
Bristol City 1, Norwich City 0
Burnley 1, Bongo FC 1
Cardiff 2, Charlton 0
Palace 3, Barnsley 0
Derby 2, Plymouth 1
Scum 2, Swans 2
Donny Rovers 0, Blackpool 0
Preston 2, Reading 1
Hoops 2, Forest 1
Saints 0, Watford 3
Wolves 2, Coventry 1

Click here for the full table or see our home page for the brief version. Another Coca Cola Championship round-up next Monday.

- Bigus.

Read more on "Colaship Review - 3 Lita Special Edition."...

He Said, She Said = Sad Child.

Cardiff diving sensation Ross McCormack hasn't seen his son in quite a while but it's not his fault... honest!

Scottish international McCormack signed for Cardiff this summer and has 8 goals to his name this season (one was a penalty after his dive against Norwich). He also recently made his debut for Scotland. Life must be good!

Well, not for McCormack's 2-year-old son Hayden.

In an interview with Wales on Sunday, McCormack blames his lack of contact with Hayden on his ex, Lesleyanne, stating that she does not like his new bird Courtney:

"Since Courtney and I moved to Cardiff, I have longed to have Hayden down to spend time with us. Initially we were staying in rented accommodation, which unfortunately wasn’t a suitable environment for a young child, so we have waited until we are settled into our newly-bought property before pushing for Hayden to come down to visit."
His ex has a completely different view of things:
"When Hayden was about six months old he said he was going to his mum’s for a break and he didn’t come back basically. I have told him that if he is home in Scotland he can come here anytime. Ross and his girlfriend are not the issue. This is about Ross and Hayden."
Who to believe, eh?

Maybe this will help. McCormack has twice been back to Scotland and twice failed to visit his son:
"I have only been able to travel back to Scotland twice since leaving for Wales in the summer, and both occasions were only due to international duty, so I was unable to see anyone, including Hayden, as I was in training."
Now, come on! What a load of bollocks.

It's actually quite sad. The poor professional footballer who hasn't got the time! The footballer who trains 3-4 mornings/afternoons a week and plays on a Saturday. The poor footballer on $20,000 a week.

Last time I checked, Scotland was not that far away from Cardiff! In fact, if Mr McCormack went here, he could discover 3 daily flights from Bristol (25 miles away) for only 64 quid! That's about 120 bucks. Or he could go here and choose from numerous flights leaving Cardiff International Airport for Glasgow on Flybe.

Alternatively McCormack could drive to Scotland. Cardiff to Glasgow is just 400 miles or about 6 hrs in the comfortable sports car he is likely driving!

As for the Scotland trip, if you asked George Burley if you can go and visit your son in the afternoons/evenings whilst you are with the national team I am sure he is not going to say no, is he?

To be honest, I don't blame Lesleyanne for not wanting Hayden to stay in Cardiff. Does she know McCormack's new squeeze? Or whether McCormack himself has any parenting skills? He buggered off when the boy was 6 months old. Hardly proved he is ready to cope, has he? We are talking about a 2-year-old here and old Bigus knows what's involved there as Bigus Jr is currently 2.

McCormack wants his son to be allowed to stay with him and is seeking legal advice, but what is clear here is that he has not been bothered to visit the boy since the summer. His excuses are pathetic and I am sure a judge will agree.

- Bigus.

Read more on "He Said, She Said = Sad Child."...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday Backpasses: Who's a good gaffer, then?

A look at the life of Rene Higuita, still playing for Deportivo Periera [SI]
Speaking of has-beens, Rivaldo promises to stay at his Uzbek club [SI]
Millenium Stadium has to re-turk their pitch because of parasites [BBC]

How do you teach foreigners football terms in the EPL? Plus, 'Arry uses Cockney rhyming slang on the sidelines [The Sun]
Levski, Leeds, And Russian smears [Guardian]
Nando doesn't want a big homecoming, he just wants to play [Guardian]

And, finally:
"Everyone knows management interests me" says the guy who had no interest last season [Guardian]

Read more on "Tuesday Backpasses: Who's a good gaffer, then?"...

Scotland Round Up

Thanks to a 1-0 away win, this column comes back. Inside, a look at the weekend that was in Scotland.

The weekend started out on Saturday with a 12.30 kickoff in Inverness. Just over 7000 fans showed up to see Caley Thistle host Celtic. Boruc was the early hero for Celtic, as his shot stopping kept the hosts without a goal in a frenetic, home-dominated, first half. Things quickly changed after the break. In the 48th minute, Lee Naylor crossed the ball in, and Scott Brown put it away. Less than 20 minutes later, Celtic struck again as Glenn Loovens redirected a Barry Robson cross. Caley Thistle replied quickly, but were unable to overcome the two goal deficit.
Inverness Caley Thistle 1-2 Celtic

The day's 3 o'clock kickoffs had no real top of the table implications, but plenty of bottom feeders looking to put some distance between themselves and relegation.

Hamilton hosted St Mirren, and for all the talk of their status as worst team in the league, the Buddies acquitted themselves well, scoring three times. Though not all for the same team. St Mirren took the lead in the 17th minute through Franco Miranda whose blistering shot came from outside the 18. Hamilton levelled 10 minutes later, when Jack Ross knocked a cross into his own net. St Mirren retook the lead before halftime, when Billy Mehmet headed home. The second half produced no more goals.
Hamilton Academical 1-2 St Mirren

Aberdeen took to the road at Falkirk and, as should be no surprise, took home all three points. Coming into the match, Aberdeen had two things going for them. First, they had taken wins in two of three previous away matches this season. Second, they have not lost to Falkirk in league in a dog's age. Still, it took Lee Miller heading in from Andrew Considine's cross on Aberdeen's only real chance to secure the win. The goal came in the 48th minute.
Falkirk 0-1 Aberdeen

The last of the three mid-afternoon kick offs seemed to be heading for a nil draw until Craig Bryson scored late into injury time. Motherwell had looked a good bet to hold on for a point despite being a man down for 25 minutes until Bryson slotted home a deflected shot from Jamie Hamill.
Kilmarnock 1-0 Motherwell

Sunday's game was an Edinburgh derby, as Hibs hosted Hearts. Hibernian started the game off brightest, and only needed 90 seconds to go in front. Steven Fletcher was the early goal scorer. Hearts replied five minuted before the break when Bruno Aguiar beat both the wall and the keeper. This was a spirited contest, with five yellow cards handed out, though no more goals were to come.
Hibernian 1-1 Hearts

There was one more match to be played, but Rangers-Dundee United was postponed on the news of the death of Eddie Thompson, United's chairman. The game has been rescheduled for November 4. United's next home match will be a tribute to Thompson. All seats for the match against St Mirren will be £5.

As far as the table goes, Celtic take advantage of Rangers' weekend off to build a three point lead at the top. Kilmarnock consolidate their third position, and Falkirk fall to the bottom, two points adrift of Hamilton. As for Aberdeen, 10th and climbing!

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Some People Are Never Happy!

What is it with Wolves fans? They are top of the league and they STILL boo their players! Some people are never happy. Know who else isn't happy? Wolves manager (and bendy nose specialist) Mick McCarthy.

Last Saturday Wolves beat Coventry 2-1. The win put them back on top of the Coca-Cola Championship where they have been sharing the top spot with Birmingham over the recent weeks. But Wolves' best start to a season in donkeys' years is not good enough for some. During Saturday's victory, Wolves fans booed Andy Keogh for having a bad day at the office. McCarthy says it was a small section. I heard different!

But this behavior just reinforces what Bigus already knows, that Wolves fans are prize morons and absolute idiots (they also like to throw objects at away fans). But I am not he only one with that opinion. Mick McCarthy wasn't very happy about it either. In the below interview yesterday he asks fans who boo to "stay away" and for fellow supporters to tell boo'ers to "shut their gobs"!

That certainly won't make him popular with the boo boys!

Later today McCarthy and Wolves travel to Carrow Road to play my beloved Norwich City. I am praying to the gods of football that we really give the travelling fans something to boo about, and resuscitate our ailing season in the process!

- Bigus.

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Attention: The Touchline is a Drug-Free Zone. Guns are Acceptable.

What you see above is NOT a soldier taking a relaxing break by playing some footy. No, my friends, that is the new kit for all youth teams in the Lubbock Soccer Association. Sure, it might make things difficult for the match officials to distinguish between teams if players on both clubs are wearing camo and body armor, but it's all about Safety First!

Last month, Melanie Hain had her concealed-carry gun license revoked when parents complained that her gun (not a euphemism) was clearly visible on her hip while she was watching her 5 year-old daughter's soccer match. On October 15th, common sense prevailed and the Lebanon County (PA) soccer (and gun-nut) mom had her license reinstated by a county judge.

Apparently having heard this patriotism-affirming ruling, Tye Burk (seen below) decided that he should bring his gun (for which he had a concealed-carry permit) to his child's soccer match at the Berl Huffman Athletic Complex in Lubbock, Texas.

In fact, Burke was so excited to be able to bring his gun to the game, that he demonstrated his enthusiasm by pointing his gun (again, not a euphemism) at the head of the coach's husband. It seems that at some point Burke became upset with his child's coach for an unknown reason (one would assume he was upset over playing time), and began yelling at the coach. The coach's husband, in turn, did not appreciate this and told Burke to pipe down. Tension escalated, and the husband pushed Burke, who responded in the rational manner and drew his weapon, pointing it at the husband's head. An off-duty prison guard tackled Burke before things got out of hand, and the pistolero was hauled off to the hoosegow.

Although this was only his first match of the season, Burke has started off poorly at 0-1 after failing to get a single shot on goal.

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Caption Contest Winner!

No I had not forgotten, but rather hoped that time would provide us with an obvious winner. You've all let me down again. I am not sure how much disappointment I can take, so that's why I asked Lingering Bursitis to select the winner of this one.

The winner of this one (as chosen by Lingering Bursitis) is: Bergkampesdios.

"Hava Nagila! Hava Nagila! Happy Yom Kippur, from Wayne & Stevie"

Well done fella. As always, your prize is free-speech.

A guest blog here on the greatest site on earth.

Please submit your offering to Let's hope it's better than your caption.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Backpasses: Those doughnuts get a thumbs up

Maradona wants to manage Argentina [AFP]
And he probably wants to stay away from Italy forever [The Star]
ESPN possibly pursuing Bundesliga rights, in Germany [Rapid TV News]

Is this hazing or training? []
Fear for the safety of the WAGs at WC 2010 [Daily Star]
Speaking of WAGs, Micah Richards does not share Rio's disdain for them [Manchester Evening News]

And, finally:
Becks isn't going back to the EPL, he's going to Serie A. Maybe [Int'l Herald Tribune]

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Markov A Good Coach?

Bulgarian Coach Plamen Markov today defended his decision to play Man City's Martin Petrov last week. But Mark Hughes is not a happy chappy after it was revealed that Petrov would be out for months with knee-ligament damage!

Petrov had only just returned from injury and was being eased into the team again by City's manager Mark Hughes. However this did not stop Bulgarian coach Plamen Markov from playing Petrov for 90 mins against Italy and from the start 3 days later (until he came off injured) against Georgia. That injury will now keep Petrov from Man City's starting line-up for months.

Petrov has been sent to see a specialist and Hughes is certainly not happy.

"He has ligament damage and the initial scans do not look good, Martin had 10 minutes in one game and 20 minutes in another before going to play his country. International managers are going to throw all of the players at their disposal on the pitch and the consequences from the player's point of view are not taken into consideration. " - Mark Hughes.

Markov's opinion on the matter is completely different, speaking to Bulgarian radio he claimed that Petrov was "fine" and had "no complaints." Markov is no stranger to controversy in the press; his appointment as Bulgaria's top dog was criticized as he seemingly lacked experience. He is now in his second spell as coach of the Bulgarian national team.

Markov: Managed second division teams before Bulgaria

The never-ending row over club and country rages on.

- Bigus/

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Home Sweet Home

Palestine will play it's first home tie in 10 years this Sunday when it's players take on Jordan at the newly renovated stadium in Ram.

Until now Palestine had played it's home games in Qatar and Jordan, but no longer. A newly renovated stadium in Ram awaits and FIFA's chief doofus Sepp Blatter will be there for the inaugural game this coming Sunday.

Recent World Cup qualification for the Palestinian team has proven tricky. They were recently forced to forfeit a game with Singapore as 18 players and officials living in the Gaza strip were denied travel permits by Israel after it had declared Gaza "hostile territory".

Speaking on Friday, FIFA spokesman Pekka Odriozola said "It is very important to FIFA that countries are able to play their home matches in their own stadium”.

Palestine are ranked 180th of FIFA's 207 members and their highest ranked position came in April 2006. They were then 115th!


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Plotting A Return?

He's only just arrived in Milan and already the special one is plotting his way back to the Premier League. But why speak up now?

Jose Mourinho has only been in charge of Inter Milan since June 2nd of this year but he is already telling reporters that he wants to manage in England after his Inter contract expires. Jose is not stupid, with big jobs in England up for grabs and compensation always negotiable, he is putting himself on the radar. But for what job? Spurs? Newcastle?

Maybe not...Who would want to take over at Spurs only to climb the plane to Doncaster. Maybe he is waiting for Sir Alex to retire. Mourinho says he is happy at Milan and he currently has them top of the league.

"I want to return to England after Inter. But I have a contract with Inter and I’m happy here, I’m in love with the English league and I’ll definitely return one day”

-Jose Mourinho.

But how 'happy' and how 'in-love'? We have heard words like this before, they mean nothing in this game. All that he has done here is make it known that he is open to a return to the Premier League and I for one would not be surprised if it was sooner rather than later. Surely he wouldn't be interested in the sinking ship moored on the Seven Sisters road would he? If there is anyone who would love to ride in on a white horse amid controversey, It's Mourinho.

Watch this space...But not that closely.


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So What Happened This Weekend?

Spurs in freefall, Liverpool continue their Great Escape theme, and Hull remain in the Top 4.

Arsenal 3, Everton 1
Three second-half goals for the Gooners were enough to put down the ridiculously short-handed Everton, who went ahead early thanks to Leon Osman. Nasri, van Persie and Walcott netted, all of them in a horribly stylish manner I'm sure. The match also saw allegations of missile-throwing against the home fans; you decide.

Aston Villa 0, Portsmouth 0
Two teams that clearly have no idea what they're doing. Both teams were less-than-impressive, and Pompey midfielder Sean Davis was unlucky to see red 10 minutes from time. Carew should have snatched all 3 points for Villa towards the end, but the point keeps them both in the top 7.

Bolton 0, Blackburn 0
Stupid Fucking Bolton, and Stupid Fucking Blackburn for not murdering them.

Fulham 0, Sunderland 0
Move on.

Liverpool 3, Wigan 2
I feel bad for Wigan, I really do. Thanks to two wonderfully ugly goals by Kuyt, the wizardry of Amr Zaki went home pointsless and distraught. Third EPL game in a row that an opponent has seen red for clattering into Xabi Alonso. You think they'd learn by now.

Man United 4, West Brom 0
I had bet on a 3-0 home win, but an 89th minute goal for Nani ruined it and gave me yet another reason to hate the Red Devils with every fiber of my being (as if I needed any more).

Middlesbrough 0, Chelsea 5
Much in the same way that Liverpool can't keep coming from behind in the last 15 minutes after a red card to win, Chelsea can't keep scoring 4 or 5 a game to win, can they? They are +16 on Goal Difference after just 8 matches. That's disgusting. Belletti's goal was also disgusting, in a good way.

Hull 1, West Ham 0
The feel-good story of the EPL season gets feel-goodier. This week, it was Turner's turn to deliver the magic normally reserved for Geovanni. Why oh why did you sell him, Man City? Idiots.

Stoke 2, Tottenham 1
Two Spurs red cards, a serious injury to Corluka caused by his own goalkeeper, and a Rory Delap goal not related to a throw-in. Ridiculous, really. Ramos better be packing his bags. Seriously though, they're playing some epically shit football lately. Darren Bent's goal was offside, and they coughed up two penalties. Bolton next week? Can you really bet on a Tottenham win?

[All vids from 101GreatGoals, who do the Lord's work]

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Cheer Up Spurs fans - Bohemian Rhapsody!

It was a bad weekend for Norwich, but and even worse one for Spurs fans this weekend. Their stinker of a season continues to pong up the football World and their fans surely need some Monday morning cheer. Well, here is something to make you smile. Join me after the jump for Bohemian Rhapsody (or Crowe Lee Deehan-Delap Sodje) sung using football players names only.

You either like the Danny Baker or you don't, but this segment from his Radio 5 LIVE show is good stuff. Stay with it, the end is VERY funny...Diarra, Bruce! Diarra Bruce!



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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ligue 1 Weekend Review

Lille had the result of the weekend, tying Lyon 2-2 (after gifting Lyon an OG). The rest of the weekend saw a good amount of scoring, with only one 0-0 draw, as well as the return of the "Goal-scorer to get carded" award.

Saturday, October 18th:

Bordeaux 2-1 Toulouse - The Gironde Derby saw a dominant performance by Bordeaux and the emergence of Gourcuff as a potential Ligue 1 star (finally). Bellion and Cavenaghi (who has been extremely dangerous lately) forced Toulouse GK Carrasso into some big saves early, and then never let up the pressure. In the 29th minute, Gourcuff sent the ball through 2 defenders with a back-heel pass to himself and fired the shot home. Bellion made the score 2-0 in the 40th minute and the rout was on. In fact, Toulouse only had one first-half chance, and Valverde made the easy save on Ebondo. In the 55th minute Gourcuff had his shot cleared off the line, preventing him from scoring a brace. Toulouse only pulled a goal back in the 92nd minute when Valverde spilled a corner right at the feet of Capoue.

Caen 2-2 Grenoble - In a very even match, it was bookend goals by Grenoble that allowed them to salvage a point. Arkour put them ahead in the 19th minute, but Caen equalized almost immediately when Battles was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area, with Savidan slotting home the resulting PK in the 24th minute. Florentin put Caen up 2-1 in the 58th minute, but Moreira gave Grenoble 1 point when he slotted home his shot in the 74th minute.

Monaco 1-2 Nice - In a match that Monaco dominated statistically (6-3 shots on goal; 59%-41% possession), it was Nice who made their chances count for the win. Nice got on the scoresheet early, as Remy assisted on a beautiful goal by Bamogo in the 9th minute. The remainder of the first half was a little chippy, as yellow cards were distributed to Diakite (Nice, 33rd minute), Simic (Monaco, 34th minute), Rool (Nice, 35th minute), and Apam (Nice, 45th minute). In addition to his yellow card, Diakite also took down Meriem in the box for a PK, which allowed Cufre to score Monaco's only goal in the 39th minute. The second goal for Nice came in the 57th minute when Fae was able to poach the rebound of a free kick off the post. Monaco became extremely frustrated towards the end of the match, resulting in a yellow card for Cufre (who wins the coveted "Goal-scorer to get carded" honors for the week), and a red card for Leko after a nasty clash with Modesto. Freddy Adu was subbed on in the 82nd minute for Monaco, but was fairly invisible.

Nantes 1-0 Saint-Etienne - Although they were dominated in time of possession (41%-59%), Nantes took their 3rd win in 4 matches. Their was plenty of excitement early, as Bekamenga (Nantes) headed just wide in the 19th minute, and an excellent Mareval free kick forced an even better save from Saint-Etienne GK Viviani. Nantes GK Alonzo was also called into action, saving a brilliant shot from 25 yards by Perrin and a header from Gomis. Bekamenga finally broke through in the 28th minute when he scored off a corner. The rest of the match was marred by 3 yellow cards to Nantes and 4 to Saint-Etienne.

Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 Lorient - Lorient last won on opening day, and that miserable streak continued on Saturday despite scoring the first goal (Saifi, 12th minute). Although PSG had more shots on goal (7-3), they looked suspect throughout the match. Pancrate was able to equalize at 1-1 in the 22nd minute, but Abriel put Lorient back on top in the 38th minute. They looked the better side until the 48th minute when their GK Audard sustained a hip injury and was forced to leave the match. Hoarau, who has been in excellent form lately, scored almost immediately after backup GK Cappone entered the match. The match remained tied until the 87th minute, when Arnaud slotted home the winner. Strange fact of the match: 4 of the 5 goals (the Abriel goal was the exception) were scored off headers.

Sochaux 1-1 Havre - This match featured the bottom 2 clubs in Ligue 1 and ended in an unsurprising tie. Sochaux had the more difficult trek, as they were reintegrating 6 players who were coming back from injuries. Alassane scored in the 45th minute to put Le Havre ahead, but Birsa equalized in the 72nd minute. Both clubs had chances to win the match, but both GKs made some excellent saves to preserve the tie.

Lyon 2-2 Lille - Lille got the most surprising result of the weekend, actually being unlucky not to win this match, which featured plenty of action. Early on, Beria forced Lyon GK Lloris in a great save, and Rami beat him in the 14th minute to give Lille the early lead. It was only an incredible blunder by Chedjou, who lobbed his GK Malicki for an own goal in the 22nd minute, that allowed Lyon to level the score. In the 62nd minute, Bastos blasted a free kick that bounced in front of Lloris and wound up in the back of the net. Lyon once again managed to pull level in the 75th minute when Grosso, returning from a 6-week layoff for broken ribs, got on the end of an excellent Juninho free kick. Benzema had a chance to win the game late, but Malicki made an excellent save.

Sunday, October 19th:

Auxerre 0-0 Rennes - In a match dominated by Auxerre, the end result was nothing but yellow cards (1 to Auxerre, 3 to Rennes), although Rennes managed to continue their streak of being unbeaten since the middle of August. Quercia forced a good save from Rennes GK Douchez in the 5th minute, and they continued to press throughout the entire match, later forcing Douchez to tip a Pedretti shot onto the post. Rennes did not get a shot on goal until the 36th minute, and was ineffective after that until the final 15 minutes of the game. During that time, Auxerre GK Riou made a good save on Thomert, and Rennes hit the post twice (Sow and Fanni).

Le Mans 2-0 Nancy - Although Nancy dominated the time of possession, holding the ball 60% of the time, it was Le Mans who had the most chances and made them count. The first goal came when Lamah sent in a poor cross that was pounced upon by Nancy defender Berenguer in the 33rd minute. Unfortunately, Berenguer mis-hit his clearance, and the ball went past his GK Bracigliano. After Lamah slammed home the second goal in the 66th minute, Nancy appeared to give up and the rest of the match was relatively listless.

Valenciennes 1-3 Marseille - L'OM completely dominated this match, and made Valenciennes look helpless from the first kick. Kone put Marseille ahead in the 13th minute, and they never looked back. Valenciennes had their best oportunity when Tiene beat L'OM GK Mandanda, but the shot came crashing back after hitting the crossbar. Young phenom Ben Arfa slotted home a second goal for the club in the 73rd minute and the match was all but over. Valenciennes pulled one goal back when Pujol scored in the 81st minute, but Kabore sealed the 3 points for Marseille in the 92nd minute.

So, after matchday 9, the top of the table looks like this: (1) Lyon, on 20 points with a 6-2-1 record and a +6 goal differential; (2) Marseille, on 19 points with a 5-4-0 record, with a +9 goal differential; (3) Le Mans, on 17 points with a 5-2-2 record, with a +7 goal differential; and (4) Bordeaux, on 17 points with a 5-2-2 record, with a +4 goal differential.

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