Saturday, November 1, 2008

Question of the Day

After a devastating draw to rivals Tottenham midweek, Arsenal shat the proverbial bed today against Stoke City 2-1. Arsene sat Van Persie and Walcott and had a listless display in the first half. The second half wasn't much better after the first 10 minutes. Stoke City did what every lower tier Premiership club does to Arsenal--tackle hard and intimidate the fancy lads.

Arsene tried to inject some life into the game bringing on Walcott, who should have started, and Van Persie. It didn't work. Then Van Persie, against form, wasn't injured but received the boot after a stupid tackle on the keeper.

Arsene appears to have lost the ability to corral his young and talented squad properly. If the Gunners fail to qualify for Champions League play next year, is Arsene's job at risk?

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EPL Open Thread: Abigail Clancy's Half-Wonder Woman Costume

I managed to climb out of bed this morning on the west coast after a long Halloween night to discover that most of the games are late today. Hallelujah!! (Or Halloweenja?). My wife and I went out as Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse and lived up to their reputations. Abigail Clancy, she showed up as half of Wonder Woman (the bottom half) and Eve (the top half). How lucky are we?

Anyway, lots of action today so enjoy the hangover and some footie. Feel free to play in the comment sandbox below.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Backpasses: Devilock!

What better band to link to tonight than Misfits in all of their live/messed up glory? Okay, Samhain maybe, but I never got into them.

Speaking of horror shows, apparently it was quite the scene in the Arsenal locker room on Wednesday night [The Sun]
Which led Adebayor to wish aloud that he had left over the summer, because he's not getting any silverware in North London [BBC]
A possible reason that Becks is going to Milan? His endorsement income is way down, and he may be looking to pick it back up [SI]

MLS Rumors lets us know that the people behind Miami's MLS bid have a site up [MLS Rumors]
The website itself. Odd integration of Florida International onto the page, though, gives me pause. Is this legit? [Miami FCB]

And, finally:
The Big Lead, great guys that they are, seem to not have our site bookmarked. Compare and contrast.

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Former Norwich man admits to 'match fixing'

Former Norwich forward David Nielsen has admitted to 'match fixing' in his native Denmark. The Danish F.A is investigating.

Nielsen, who is now 32, told Danish TV show LPS that he 'threw' a game while playing for AaB against former club Copenhagen in 2004. Neilsen blamed gambling debts for his actions.

"This was during a period when I had just been involved in a playing scandal and had gambled a lot of money away, so when I got the chance to get some money back again, I took it,"-David Nielsen.

AaB lost in the Cup Final to FC Copenhagen in 04. The Danish F.A are investigating Nielsens claims.

Nielsen played for Norwich between 2001 and 2003. Initially he joined the Canaries on loan, scoring 5 goals in 5 games. The move from Wimbledon was made permanent in 2002. Neilsen scored 14 goals in 58 appearances for Norwich.

He is currently on loan at Stromsgodset in Norway.


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Colaship Review- Jekyll and Hyde edition

It's good! Iwelumo finds his finish as the Swans back line practice the Y.M.C.A

Well it has been a strange week in the league that matters, no not the Tippeligaen... although the race between Viking Stavanger and Rosenborg for the Norwegian equivalent of Liverpool's coveted fourth spot is a good 'un! And what about Ham-Kam? Shocker!!

Of course the league that matters is the Coca Cola Championship! Join me after the jump for some very scary results indeed. Must be Halloween. Talking of which I am dressing up as Maradona. I'm going to head over to the party at the St George, English ex-pat bar and rob a bunch of Englishmen, then obtain a healthy coke habit, drink myself into rehab and beg for a job managing Argentina, then hopefully I will jump from a tall building while CNN films LIVE from a chopper. That last part is role-play. A little fantasy never hurt anybody.

Welcome, welcome one and all, yeah it's Friday and it's Halloween but stick with me for a bit, it's been a bumper week in the Championship, with all teams playing two games in 4 days.

Lets start with league leaders Wolves. Yeah that's right, they are back on top. It appears that the stuffing they received at Carrow Road did them a favor and they got their shit together, starting last Saturday with a tasty 3-2 win at Watford. Iwelumo got them going after just one minute to prove he has put that nightmare sitter at Hampden park way behind him. Wolves followed that win with 3 points at home to the Swans on Tuesday, with Ebanks-Blake bagging a brace. Talking of the Swans, the loss to Wolves won't hurt too badly, seeing as the plucky Welshmen were still celebrating three points from last Saturday when they rolled over Southampton three zip.

So if the coin chucking warblers of Wolverhampton are celebrating at the top again, who is second? It's a real yo-yo race up there. Wolves, Bongo, Wolves, Bongo... Bongo gave up the top spot this week after losing on Wednesday to Q.P.R. - life without Dowie ain't so bad, 'eh? In fact it's a little prettier! The hoops also took a point from Reading last Saturday and two good results will have Gareth Ainsworth campaigning for the managers gig full time.

Di Carmone celebrates his winner for Q.P.R

Reading have dropped off the top two after a miserable week. Failure to beat Q.P.R was followed with defeat at BURNLEY. Jesus. Bloody Burnley! Oh wait, they are now 5th. Crap... God I hate Bloody Burnley (After Wolves and Ipswich of course). Norwich head to Turf Moor this weekend and if you thought Reading were pulling a Jekyll and Hyde act you aint seen nothing. We (and by we I mean the mighty Canaries, the one and only Norwich City) chased our performance of the season against Wolves with a last-minute winner at home to Donny Rovers before letting Derby take advantage of us on Tuesday. Not even a struggle (maybe a brief 'no'), we were cheap. All yours Mr Jewell, we know you like a bit on the side! We found ourselves two-nil down before deciding to claim some self respect. At one point in the second half we were a post away from levelling the game, but alas, we let another in and copped a beating. Lord knows who will show up at bloody Burnley but If I was a betting man I would plump for the foaming rabid madmen who will run around with no sense of purpose. Is that Jekyll or Hyde? I never can remember.

Bloody Burnley are on a good run currently. Since their draw with Bongo a couple of weeks ago, they have beaten Coventry and Reading AND nicked a point at the Valley where Charlton are looking a little ropey. Burnley are claiming that Robbie Blake's lucky underwear is the reason. They also think they will beat Norwich 33-0. Idiots. This kind of attititude needs immediate punsihment. Come on City!!!! Back to Charlton briefly, 2 draws in a week means they have taken just 2 points from the 12 on offer recently.

Cardiff are this week's big winners. 3 points at Forest was followed up with a home win against Blackpool. They all count! Two goals in the last seven minutes in that one has seen them hit the heady heights of third place. Don't get carried away yet Cardiff fans, there's a long way to go and a lot of grounds to visit to cause trouble!

Basement dwellers Forest had a rare victory this week. They won 2-1 at Palace on Tuesday night to climb off the bottom. They are still 6 points from safety but a win is a win and maybe the confidence they will have gained will help them push on. Then again, they have to go to Derby before hosting Bongo, oh dear.

Let's stay with Forest briefly. There has been some mystery surrounding Andy Cole. Has he left? Did he come back? No one is saying but Andy, sorry Andrew, is a little peeved at being left out of the team. And so he should be. In the last 11 games he has scored NO goals. Does manager Colin Calderwood know what he is doing? The man played for England for Christ's sake!

You watch, I have just cursed myself. He will be at Norwich by Monday. Shit!

Southampton have slipped into the bottom three after taking just one point from this weeks games. They followed up the defeat to Swansea with a point at home to Coventry. Their replacement outside the relegation zone is Barnsley, they bagged 4 points this week. A win over fellow strugglers Doncaster and a point at home to high-fliers Bristol City. As for Donacaster, they have lost 9 of their last 10 and have not won since the 30th of August. Poor buggers.

Well that's this week's roundup, tomorrow will see another bumper round of fixtures. Norwich are at bloody Burnley, Cardiff host leaders Wolves, Q.P.R get to stuff Ip..Ip...the scum at Portaloo Road and Bristol City play reading for third place.


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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday Backpasses: Happy birthday, fatty

Diego Maradona turned 48 today. Guess it's only fitting that he shares the day with Devil's Night.

Speaking of Diego, a former Napoli chairman says that Maradona pretty much coached the team for years [ANSA]
Some insight on how, and with whom, Maradona may run things [Soccernet]
Ugh. Another day, another soccer coach story [Press-Enterprise]

And, finally:
Mike Georger dug this up and sent it in. Soccernet's targeted ad system may need a little tweaking.

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The Best Goal From Yesterday

Lest we get too caught up in an awful Spurs team managing a draw from their hated rivals Arsenal and Arsenal's awful showing on defense, I offer to you fair readers the best goal from yesterday. And, no, it's not David Bentley's.

While some are calling it one of the greatest goals in recent Premiership history, I would have respond to any such claims with a resounding no. Bentley's goal was fun and unusual, but it was a result of luck and of course some skill but it was certainly not the best goal of year or even the week. I would give that honor to Kieran Richardson over the weekend.

Now the best goal of yesterday didn't happen in the EPL, so follow me after the jump to see the epitome of a great goal...

It occurred Ligue 1 Nantes v. Olympique Marseille off the talented left foot of Nantes player Remy Mareval.

Now that's class. Unstoppable class.

Hat tip to Goat, I believe, for the link.

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Miracle at the Emirates: Spurs Strike Back!

Now this is the Tottenham I remember! It's amazing how a team can, in the course of four days, go from being physically incapable of scoring a legitimate goal to popping off four on the road. In a derby. Against a stalwart Arsenal defense (ho ho!) Granted, they're still shipping them left and right, but that's OK, this is Spurs after all. How about the fight in 'Arry's Boys?!?

If ever a game was over with a half-hour to play, this was it. Adebayor punched home Nasri's chip and it was like Arsene yelled out "Feu!" The place cleared out fast, Spurs and Scum alike.

For more on why the early birds might have done better to stick around a while, follow me (to the video!)...

Spurs keep their derby unbeaten streak alive. Ten months and 18 days since last loss, at Chelsea, on Jan. 12, 2008. Last home derby loss: Sept. 15, 2007

Watch Arsenal v Tottenham in News Online | View More Free Videos Online at

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No coach please coach!

Sheffield Wednesday players have been asked to dig deep for the trip to Crystal Palace this weekend, a sure sign that the credit crunch is taking effect outside of the Premier League.

Wednesday's players didn't fancy the 4 hour trip down the M1 by coach this weekend so they requested that the squad take the train to Laaaaandan instead. 'Sure' said Wednesday bosses, if you each pay thirty quid. Now, thirty smackers is nothing for a professional footballer but Wednesday's unwillingness to spend 480 pounds on train fare for it's first team to get to Laaaandon 2 hours earlier is a sure sign that the Yorkshire club is in a monetery muddle.

Wednesday are currently in limbo after Geoff Sheard's takeover hit the buffers yesterday. I am sure today's news of their travel trouble will not be welcomed by the club who made a statement last night claiming that they were actively seeking investment. The Owls have dropped to 18th in the Coca Cola Championship after a bright start which included victory over their cross-town rivals Sheffield United.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday Backpasses: Trees Lounge was depressing

Hey, Arsene and Cesc, keep your frakking mouths shut [The Sun]
Cruyff, van Persie and Bergkamp talk footie [Telegraph]
Dammit. I'm never becoming a soccer coach. It's the new ice cream man.
Proof 1 [] (a repost, but with new, more disgusting, details)
Proof 2 [9 News]

And, finally:
Breathe easy, EPL fans. Russian oligarchs are so over your league's charms [Yahoo!]

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Ligue 1 Mid-Week Review

All but one of the matches during this mid-week tilt took place on Wednesday, but it was one of the clubs in the Tuesday match that takes this week's "image honors" (what, you haven't noticed that a different club logo appears each week?). Bordeaux destroyed Le Havre 4-0 to briefly go top of the table.

Tuesday, October 28th:

Bordeaux 4-0 Le Havre - In a match that pitted a club unbeaten in their last 7 (Bordeaux) against one who had lost 6 of their first 10 (Le Havre), the outcome was never truly in doubt. In the 4th minute Cavenaghi fired barely over the Havre crossbar and the pressure was on. Cavenaghi was busy again in the 15th minute, forcing Havre GK Revault into a nice save. Bordeaux finally broke through in the 30th minute when Gouffran played Bellion through, and the resulting shot deflected off a defender and into the net. Le Havre had their best chance in the 39th minute, but Faure shot wide. Bellion (once again assisted by Gouffran) struck to complete his brace in the 47th minute, but was denied his hat-trick in the 57th when Revault made another brilliant save. The rest of the match belonged to Chamakh, who hit the post and then assisted on goals from Cavenaghi (72nd minute) and Wendel (80th minute).

Wednesday, October 29th:

Caen 1-1 Nice - In another example of parity in Ligue 1, the clubs were relatively even on shots (18-17) and fouls (18-17), and the match ended in a draw. Nice had the first opportunity of the match, but Hellebuyck was denied by Caen GK Plante. Nice GK Letizi was then called upon to make saves on Savidan, and then Nivet (who sent the rebound over the bar). Savidan finally broke through in the 67th minute on a well-struck header, only to see Remy salvage a point in the 84th minute on a PK after Bamogo was brought down in the box.

Grenoble 0-0 Lille - Although Lille was clearly dominant in this match, they were unable to put the ball in the back of the net and were left with only 1 point. Lille had their first opportunity early, as Balmont struck the bar in the 4th minute. Grenoble GK Wimbee was kept extremely busy throughout the rest of the match, as he made saves on a 30-yard strike from Debuchy and a screaming Obraniak free-kick in the 26th minute. It was not until the 58th minute that Grenoble had their first chance, put Batlles put his shot right at Lille GK Malicki, who stopped Batlles again in the 80th minute to preserve the tie. Obraniak got one last chance for Lille, but Wimbee responded well once again.

Le Mans 0-2 Auxerre - Auxerre for their first win in 4 matches, and sent Le Mans to their 3rd home defeat of the season thanks to a brace from Oliech. In the 35th minute Kahlenberg sent an excellent through-ball forward and Oliech finished cleanly. Only 4 minutes later, Oliech intercepted a poor pass from Keita and did the work himself to seal the win.

Monaco 3-1 Nancy - Monaco were on a string of 5 matches without a win, but Nancy had won only 1 match all season and they showed why today. The story for Monaco was the aggressiveness of Park, who had his first shot cleared off the line early in the match. Park's second shot, in the 32nd minute, forced Nancy GK Bracigliano to give up a rebound and Nimani slotted home the second chance. Bracigliano then stopped shots from Pokrivac on either side of half-time, but the third shot was the charm as Pokrivac sent in a screamer on a free-kick in the 64th minute. Although Hadji pulled a goal back for Nancy in the 76th due to defensive sloppiness, Licata secured the 3 points for Monaco in the 87th minute. Freddy Adu watch: Languishing on the bench for the entire match.

Nantes 1-1 Marseille - Despite being dominated in shots (3-17) and possession (27%-73%), Nantes managed to hold on for 1 point. This match had a little bit of everything, as Nantes GK Heurtebis was kept busy and Nantes had a player sent off. The first real action of the match did not come until late in the first half, when a short clearance on a corner allowed Mareval to blast home a shot into the upper 90 for Nantes in the 44th minute. The second half saw Heurtebis makes saves on Ben Arfa and Kone, and then things got strange. During the last 20 minutes of the match, Marseille increased the pressure in an attempt to salvage 1 point in a match where they should have had all 3. They were rewarded in the 78th minute when Samossa played a brilliant through-ball for Kone, who left Heurtebis with no chance at a save. In the 80th minute, L'OM were given increased hope when Bekamenga, who was already on a yellow card, was sent off for a deliberate handball. Despite the 1-man advantage, Marseille could not score again, coming close only once, when Heurtebis made an acrobatic save on a Cana header to the far post.

Paris Saint-Germain 0-1 Toulouse - PSG had not lost in their last 4 matches, but an inceasingly dominant (in the Ligue) Toulouse was lucky to take the 3 points. After PSG GK Landreau came out of his 6-yard box for a corner in the 65th minute, his defender Camara sent a perfect header back into his own net. The rest of the match was characterized by poor play on both sides, with relatively few chances on goal.

Sochaux 0-2 Lyon - In another typical Lyon effort, the Ligue leaders won despite uninspired play. This match didn't get interesting until the second half, the opening goal coming from a beautiful long-range strike by Benzema in the 66th minute. Play then got somewhat chippy, with Delgado (Lyon) picking up a yellow card in the 79th minute, and Perquis (Sochaux) acquiring a yellow card in the 80th minute. Unfortunately, Sochaux also had Dalmat sent off with a straight red card in the 80th minute for a very poor challenge on Pjanic, and Perquis was sent off for his second yellow (for making an unsuitable gesture toward the referee) in the 94th minute. In between those red cards, Delgado managed to score the 2nd goal for Lyon (92nd minute), making him this week's "Goal-scorer to get carded" award winner.

Valenciennes 0-0 Rennes - Valenciennes had suffered 5 defeats in a row, but pulled off a draw against Rennes, whose GK Douchez was the busier of the two. Douchez was called upon to make a great save on a header by Bisevac early in the match, and stopped him again in the 67th minute. Valenciennes GK Penneateau was only troubled once, although the brilliant long-range strike from Lemoine crashed against the bar.

Saint-Etienne 1-4 Lorient - In another match with counter-intuitive statistics, Saint-Etienne outshot (11-5) and out-possessed (68%-32%) Lorient, but it was the latter club who made their chances count. Morel opened the scoring for Lorient in the 20th minute, but Gomis equalized in the 32nd minute when his header bounced against the crossbar and came down across the line. The rest of the scoring took place in the second half, with Robert scoring a brace (56th minute and 70th minute), and Ayew ending the scoring in the 89th minute when Saint-Etienne GK mistakenly sent the ball directly into his path for an easy finish.

So, after Matchday 11, the top of the table looks like this: (1) Lyon on 24 points from a 7-3-1 record and a +8 goal differential; (2) Bordeaux on 21 points from a 6-3-2 record and a +8 goal differential; (3) Toulouse on 21 points from a 6-3-2 record and +2 goal differential; and (4) Marseille on 20 points from a 5-5-1 record and a +7 goal differential.

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EPL Open Thread

What a treat! Less than 4 days after a round, we get another one. It's like Christmas come early! Well, 3 days early. And on a Wednesday.

Full slate of EPL (not counting Newcastle and West Brom, who 2-1'd it yesterday), but still plenty of intrigue, like how Spurs will use their new-found Redknapp Power at the Emirates, and just how well Liverpool will fail to convert their momentum from the Chelsea match as they host Pompey at Anfield (who have their own brand of New Manager Power too!)

Oh, and Aston Villa will play someone.

After the jump, the fixtures. Comment away!

Arsenal v Tottenham
Aston Villa v Blackburn
Bolton v Everton
Fulham v Wigan
Hull City v Chelsea
Liverpool v Portsmouth
Man Utd v West Ham
Middlesbrough v Man City
Stoke City v Sunderland

I predict the following:

Draw, Home Win, Draw, Away Win, Away Win, Home Win, Big Home Win, Away Win, Draw

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The Good, The Bad, The WTF

While searching out this week's shirt (a process that takes minutes a week to complete), I was struck by the badge for TSV 1860 Munich, especially for its similarity to the logo of a certain beer. Löwenbräu, to be exact. Not that I've ever tasted the stuff, though I do seem to remember certain members of my extended family drinking the stuff back when I was but a young'un.

Anyway, you can imagine my delight when I then discovered that Löwenbräu was a long-term shirt sponsor for the not-as-decorated-as-Bayern squad from Munich. I literally lifted an eyebrow in joy.

This shirt comes from the 1992-93 season when 1860 Munich promoted from the third division to the Second Bundesliga. Considering the club was a charter member of the Bundesliga in 1963, such a jump can hardly be considered a triumph. Still, promotions make people happy, as long as they forget what happened to get them so far down in the first place.

As to the shirt itself, it's a failure, but not by much. One tiny difference (well, maybe two), and this shirt would have been a winner.

The lesser of the two tiny changes mentined above would be to script the shirt sponsor a little better. That font, in black, fades into the stripes of the shirt. I realize that it's probably a corporate copyright, but maybe something different should have been tried. Oh well.

The greater change would have been to fire whoever went to some trendy friend's house, looked at the recently redecorated bathroom and thought to himself "That's it! I'll use a sponge effect on my shirt designs for Lotto." Asshole. Strong stripes make this shirt a winner. Sponge-painted stripes make baby ü75 cry.

Yes, I like the big round team logo on there. In truth, I would make one more change and center it to enhance those Löwenbräu beer bellies that it would cover, but as a design, I think it works. It's different enough from the badge that the club can get away with it.

It really is just too bad about the sponging effect. Otherwise, this shirt could have joined the slim "WANT" pile. Instead it goes with the "WTF were they thinking?" group.

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Thoughts on Maradona

Alright, so we're all a little excited and frightened about the news that Diego Maradona might well become the next manager of Argentina. How on earth did this happen? It's a perplexing announcement, to say the least. We kicked it around this morning, and after the jump, a few thoughts from everyone on surely the best managerial rumour in years.

Bigus Dickus:
The appointment of Maradona is a disgrace. The man is a cheat. He believes cheating is part of the game and that it should be encouraged under the name of "cheekiness". He should have been banned after the 'hand of god' incident in 1986, as he robbed 52 million people in that game and instead he was celebrated. Says a lot for the people of Argentina. That incident ruined my entire summer that year and forced parents to explain to children that cheating brought victory.

He brings the game into disrepute. He will surely be a bad example to young Argentines like Gago and Messi. Watch them become cheat's also. The AFA should be ashamed of themselves. Maradona ruined his amazing skills by robbing opponents and he still believes that cheating is right. He is bad for the world game and quite honestly it's a shame he is still with us.

This quote sums it up: "It was my hand (but) no, I don't think it was cheating. Cunning, cheekiness, craftiness, but not cheating." - Maradona.

The Likely Lad:
Everyone thought Klinsmann was going to be a disaster, and while I'm not going to compare the two temperamentally, I think you could see a similar hosing of the expectations. Yes, he's going to do some weird shit. Yes, his press conferences are going to be clown shows. And without a doubt, he will completely alienate one or two important players. But guess what, I think he'll bring out the best in some guys you didn't think had much to give. As for Messi, unless Maradona kicks him in training-- and that's not impossible-- he'll be fine.

Final Verdict from the Lad:
Safe Choice? No. Potential for entertainment on and off the field? Staggering.

I refuse to believe this Maradona business. It must be April 1st somewhere. It's nonsense. It's crazy. Argentina is a proud footballing nation. Always one of the top five teams in the world. They play with power and beauty. They have the best kits in international football. And they make the English absolutely insane (the English blame Maradona for his "Hand of God" goal in the '86 Cup so that they don't have to watch Maradona's second - and winning - goal in that match.). In fact, this would only make sense if the Argies were concerned primarily with making the English insane. And they aren't.

Anyhoo, the notion that Argentina would hand over their national team to this fat, drug-abusing, deluded, utterly inexperienced manager is not just crazy...I refuse to believe it. It can't happen. Has Lute Olsen taken over the Argentine F.A. and chose Maradona because he can't get Mickey Mouse on the phone? It would be like the Lakers replacing Phil Jackson with Dennis Rodman. Would you believe that if you read it?

Precious Roy:
There is no way this doesn't end well. Because if through some crazy underhanded shenanigans by the Gods this works and he pilots the Argies to victory in 2010, then hey, who couldn't win with that collection of talent? So yeah for Maradona. But the far more likely outcome that this goes the way of Isiah and the Knicks, holy shit is it going to be an entertaining freak show. A that's a win for the entirety of the non-Argentine football loving world. Brilliant job by the AFA.

Scene: Maradona, Messi, Riquelme, and Tevez are on a football training
ground in Buenos Aires. Translated from Spanish (natch):

Maradona: Yeah, so, okay boys, gather around, stop dribbling that football. Let me tell you about the Hand of God at the 1986 World Cup.

Riquelme: Coach, but shouldn't we start preparing for our next qualifying match against Venezuela?

Maradona: Am I not the football coach?? I am teaching you how to win. (sniff) Right, so, the Hand of God, I was down there in the penalty area, those slow English defenders Hodge and Valdano are trying to cover me and....

Messi: But coach, we should really be working on our set pieces now, right? The game is in two days.

Maradona: (sniff) That's it! Messi, you're benched for the game.

Messi: But coach!?! I'm the team's best player.

Maradona: No, I am the best player on the squad, and I'll be taking your place. Now, more importantly, the Hand of God. Right, so, I'm down there in the English penalty area, I get past Hodge and Valdano, and then there's just the goalie Shilton to beat. That's when I lift the ball up, and then, knowing the ref was some stupid Tunisian...

Tevez: We know, coach, you used your hand. You've already admitted it. Now, look, we all want to get back to practicing for the big game. At this rate we won't even qualify for the World Cup!

Maradona: Enough! I can't believe that I can't even finish the story of the most miraculous goal ever scored without you little shits interrupting me. You are all benched! I'll play all 11 positions myself. Get off the pitch, get out of here!


Looks like the Argentine FA is making the same high quality decisions as the country's incompetent Presidential duo. I can see them wanting to instill a certain level of passion or desire in the players, but installing Maradona as coach reeks of desperation. And unlike Klinsman, Diego doesn't strike me as a coaching innovator full of new ideas and tactics. Instead, he is someone who wasted his athletic gifts and nearly died due to drugs and alchohol (in Buenos Aires the cocaine is named after Diego).

It's hard to imagine the players taking Maradona seriously as a coach, even if they revere him for his past accomplishments. The only way this works is if they put someone like Sergio Batista, who led the U-23s to the gold medal this summer, as the #2, and let Maradona spend his time sparring with the media and getting inside the head of Messi.

Seriously, though, this reeks of desperation.

Moonshine Mike:
The pressers will be the best thing to happen to football. I expect a sex scandal, a betting scandal, and a drug scandal, in that order within 18 months if not from him, then from folks he has hired.

The Fan's Attic:
There is no way this doesn't end well for us, Unprofessional Foul. Maradona is batshit insane. Maybe he can manage, but I doubt it. His press conferences and sideline antics will be worth the price of admission. If he succeeds great, he'll be even more insane. If he loses spectacularly he'll probably a little less insane than if they won. It's a win-win for the soccer snark business.

However, I firmly believe this will actually kill Maradona. I don't think his body can take that stress, especially if it doesn't go well. If he dies of a heart-attack on the sideline, I will not be surprised. It will only serve to make him a greater soccer god in the minds of Argentinians and I can't fault somebody dying while participating in something they truly love.

In short, this will be a giant mess of Maradona.

If this comes to pass, it will be a lot of fun to watch. I think, though, that Maradona will do a better job with the team than Domenech has in France. While that may seem like apples and oranges, I say that the insane guy without real coaching experience is going to screw up less than the insane guy who thinks he knows what he's doing.

In all, his style will be the bluster of Mourinho, but without the results.

The only acceptable way (and likely) way for Maradona's tenure as the Argies' manager is on the sideline from a massive coronary.

The NY Kid:
Is Maradona capable of running the Argentinian national team? I guess that depends on the availability of an all-you-can-eat buffet on the sideline and all-you-can-do cocaine on the team bus. While a fat, coked-up Maradona would certainly be an entertaining option, I would argue that it is also the only way that he can be successful. I mean, would you want a hungry, fiending Maradona considering strategy and formations? That's how we ended up with the 4-5-1! Sure, it will likely lead to a heart attack on the sideline, but if it also results in victory in South Africa I'm sure the rest of the country won't mind.

What do you all think? Inspired push for glory, or sad, desperate PR move that could ruin its best players of the current generation?

Speak your mind in the comments. Further dramatic scenes like Spectator's are welcomed.

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The Adams Family.

Former Arsenal Captain Tony Adams has taken over at Portsmouth but will his players request a move? I am sure his chairman is delighted that he has publically given them an out! Join me after the jump to look at the Pompey gaff-er's first press conference.

There he sat, Pompey's new boss for his first press conference and his first managerial post in the top flight. He has been at Portsmouth as a number 2 for just long enough for Peter Storrie to forget his disastrous spell in charge of Wycombe Wanderers between 2003-04, a spell in the lower leagues that Adams will be glad is far behind him. In that time, he took Wycombe from the top of the table to the bottom and League 2. Oops.

So what's the first issue Adams addressed as he enjoyed the limelight today? That of his players and their allegiance to former boss Harry Redknapp. Adams warned his former mentor Harry Hotspur to keep his grubby hands off his players in January. A good move. Well done Tony. Then he said this...

"If anyone wants to go I’ll let them. I want players who want to play for us. If they don’t, it’s no good in the long run making them stay.” -Tony Adams, today.

NOOOOOOOOO! SHHHHHHH! What have you done! You just told all of your players they can leave if they want to, that's what. The warning to Spurs is now useless. What a gaff. A gaff of Wycombe-esque proportions. Surely if a big club comes in then the players WILL want to leave and off they will go, granted their move with a polite wave from the manager. Adams might as well rip up the contracts today.

Now, I am not Nostradamus but I can see a raid coming in January. Spurs need a central midfielder and at least one forward. Diarra, Crouch and Defoe will surely be on the shopping list and other teams will also now be adding Portsmouth players. As long as they want to leave of course. Jeez. Maybe Adams should just swap out the OKI logo on the team shirts for a 'FOR SALE' sign.

Adams has no managerial experience at this level but he will need to learn fast, as this isn't League 1. I do wish him luck, he was an excellent player and great asset to England. I can't help thinking however that his lack of experience with the press, as well as with the players, will come back to haunt him.

This position may have come too early for Adams and Portsmouth fans will certainly be nervous.


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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday Backpasses: no pigs heads available?

Joey Barton had bottles thrown at him while warming up on weekend. We struggle to care [BBC]
SAF invites Blatter to an old man bitch-off [Soccernet]
Adriano dropped by Mourinho [SI]
More bothersome chants, this time with a Welsh twist [BBC]

And, finally:
Look, one can argue back and forth whether or not soccer will "make it" in America. Call me crazy, but I think this is a good sign for the sport stateside [Perez Hilton]

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Dispatches from the Relegation Zone: Redknapp Revolt Edition!

Yeah, we're still down in the gutter, but Hot Damn, I think I can see me some stars! Harry Hotspur has been on board just four days and already a calm has come about the club. Is this normalcy? The manager actually speaking to the press for a couple minutes after the match. Glory! David Bentley on the right? Audere est Facere! Shirt numbers for the Ramos Five! The Redknapp Revolt!

I haven't been this excited since... oh dear.

False Dawn? It was not eight months ago that Spurs fans, journos, and impartial observers off all stripes were fairly convinced that Ramos had us headed for big things. The Mourinho/Wenger comparisons, fanciful even at the time, were propped up by that magical Carling Cup run.

I maintain that Ramos was the best man to lead the team against Chelsea at Wembley, and for that alone all Spurs fans should wish the wispy Spaniard safe travels home. (Comolli: Drive your Peugeot into a ditch.)

But the world seemed to conspire against him after that brilliant February night. League and UEFA Cup dreams died grisly deaths (though, if Jenas knocks home his PK in Eindhoven... ugh) and by the time Keane and Berbatov had defected the team was a shambles. That's not to say some of us weren't complicit in this mass pre-season delusion, but sitting here, now, the absurdity is obvious.

So with Redknapp now in charge, Spurs have a proven communicator. A fella known for building his players up-- a welcome change from a guy who quite literally stripped some of them down. As for results? Lesson learned. Let's just say it can't get much worse.

Arsenal tomorrow. Take something there and we might be onto something...

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Love your club over the king? This way to jail.

Moroccan King Mohamed VI

FC Barcelona has some dedicated fans, but I think Yassine Belassal is the strongest one yet. He's looking at jail time for his expression of love for the blaugrana.

In Morocco, the phrase "God, The Nation, The King" is a common expression, for it encapsulates the three things all Moroccans must love and respect. It's rare for people to speak out openly against the current monarch, King Mohamed VI, but those that have end up in jail, and young Mr. Belassal has recently joined them.

Yassine, an 18-year-old schoolboy, came into the classroom and altered the phrase written on the blackboard to read "God, The Nation, Barcelona", and it became so much more than detention and extra homework.

It is unclear whether the court felt the problem was about the football club or the inference against the king, but Yassine is currently sitting in jail awaiting resolution. Barcelona have appointed a lawyer to look into the legal fine print to see whether the boy can be helped under the letter of Moroccan law.

Based on the precedent set earlier this year, it's not looking good -- Fouad Mourtada was jailed for 3 years after creating a spoof Facebook profile for the King's brother. A blogger was also jailed in 2008 for speaking out against the king on his website, but he was released and cleared upon appeal, giving some hope to Belassal and his family.

So to summarize: love your club, but don't love it like this in a country that's still coming round to the 21st century. I hope this one works out in the end.

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Shun-Celtic Cashamora

Celtic Midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura is set to quit Scotland FOR JAPAN at just 30 years old. Join me to speculate why, after the jump.

Nakamura currently has a ankle injury that is strapped before every game and the Japanese middy fears that his career could end short if he continues to play in the wet conditions that Scotland offers him weekly. Of course we all know that it doesn't rain in Japan.

But it will this week! Why would he be playing injured? Surely Celtic would rather have a fit Shunsuke, no? Even with the expense of a lay-off for treatment?

So is the weather the real reason or does Shunsuke want out Parkhead? Could the team in his desired destination be offering him lots of money? Nothing screams ambition like a move to the Yokohama Morino's right?

"I want to play football for a long time but at the moment my right ankle is giving me problems. I have to get it heavily strapped before every game I play in. I want to be the best I can be and I'm not able to do that right now. It is frustrating."
- Nakamura yesterday.

Oh, so he wants to be the best he can be! Then the J-League is the right place. After all, Gary Lineker thought so didn't he? When Nagoya Grampus Eight offered him a handsome salary and gave Tottenham 5 million smackers back in 1991. Nothing like a final pay day to bring out the bullshit, regardless of the language it's spoken in.


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It's your round Robo... hey, where'd he go?

Footballers, they are flashier than the northern lights at times. Driving around in their Ferarri's, strutting down the street in those expensive clothes. But wait: one of them likes to save money on his shopping and keep those pennies tucked away, even if it means lining up for TWENTY FIVE minutes!

According to the Daily Mirror , one Robinho was out shopping in Harvey Nic's the other day and spent 700 quid on some new togs! Nothing unusual there you say, footballers, pfft. Probably dropped that lot on a pair of undies with brown checks on 'em (not the kind Kelly Pavlik was wearing last Saturday night after his run in with Bernard Hopkins).

Not so! No frivolous spending here, Robinho has a keen eye for a bargain and spotted that if he applied for a store card he could save a whopping 50% on his fancy pants. Wowser. According to the Mirror the speedy forward stood in line for 25 minutes to seal the deal, 'bout as much time as he needed in the second half to bang away his second and third goals against Stoke this weekend.

Could Robinho be nothing but the tight bloke down the pub who sneaks off to the lavvy when it's his turn? Maybe Robinho is feeling the pinch of the impending credit crunch. 180,000 bucks a week only goes so far right?

- Bigus.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Backpasses: Waaaaaaaahhhhhhh

When did British fans get so uptight? I can only imagine how much they would cry as away fans at a KU football game.
Wayne Rooney makes Everton fans cry by kissing his Manchester United badge [Soccernet]
Celtic fans continue to get wound up by a "Famine Song" [BBC]

Anyway, other stuff below.

Ljungberg to Seattle. Book it. Done [Soccernet]
Sucks to be a female Colombian U-17 selection [Oregon Live]

MLS three-fer:
ESPN hates MLS [Soccer America]
Greg Lalas writes as Beckham's jilted bride. "No, it's okay. He's an ass. I hope he goes. Good Riddance. Don't show your face around here anymore! *breaks into sobs*" [SI]
Greg Lalas on MLS positions within the EPL (SI,B!) []

And, finally:
If you haven't seen it, go check out Kieran Richardson's goal against Newcastle. Then come back and let us know what expletives flew out of your mouth when you watched it [101 Great Goals]

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If Your Blog Alias Is 'Wandering Bear' Do Not Read This Post

Or if you are a Liverpool fan in general, you might want to avoid the jump. Really, because, even though it might seem like I'm piling on, I'm not. That's why I'm giving you fair warning.

You're a Red and you're on Cloud 9? Great. Stay there, because after the jump you'll be no better than Cloud 8. I'm not kiddding. Stop. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Anyone else who wants to see something mildly amusing. Click away.

So after Arsenal nearly shat the bed yet again—and yes, they've only lost twice this season, but it was to Hull and Fulham and they also gave up early soft goals against Bolton and Everton to cut out their work—on Saturday against the Hammers, I went perusing the Web of World Wideness to read about the match. I came across a wire service account—who exactly it was, I don't know as it's uncredited, but they feed Soccernet, The Irish Times, The Daily Mail, ITV Sport, and a host of other places—with this opening paragraph:

Arsenal capitalised on a poor weekend for title rivals Chelsea and Manchester United to secure maximum points from a hard-fought 2-0 win at West Ham.

Ouch. Liverpool's win at Stamford Bridge was barely two hours cold and some poor stringer didn't think they were a title contender even though they were, you know, on top of the table.

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So lost in all of the hoopla this weekend—the quarter-season title tilt in the EPL, Ramos out at Spurs, and a nutty Atlético Madrid league match for the third straight week—was the fact that MLS' regular season ended yesterday.

What's not as interesting as who finished first (congrats to Sigi and the Crew) is who finished last. Yes, it was the LA Galaxy. Or at least the rest of the legitimate soccer-loving world thinks so. Here's the MLS table from the Guardian. Notice the Galaxy in last place with the fewest points and the worst goal difference.

Compare that with MLS' own official table. See, the Galaxy aren't the worst team in the league. They still suck and are missing the playoffs again, but at least they are looking down on someone.

MLS is actually right. Go figure that the league would get their own standings correct. The tie-breakers can be found here; and sure enough in this cockamamie league, the first tie-breaker isn't goal difference, but head-to-head results. The Galaxy beat San Jose 2 of 3, so they get the pwnage. "Woo! We're only thirteenth." Congrats.

The funny part (to me anyway) isn't that the Guardian is wrong, but that it doesn't even occur to them that MLS would use something beside goal difference as the first tie breaker (it actually doesn't occur to them that they would use anything besides a single table either). But the Guardian isn't alone. On Fox Soccer Report last night (October 26), when they put up the Western Conference standings, they too had the Galaxy in DFL. On 33 points. Behind San Jose on goal difference.

Two more things. The man who was going to bring soccer to the American masses? His regular season finale wasn't even broadcast in the native tongue. No, not Algonquin or Cherokee or any of the like but the only outlet showing the match yesterday was Telefutura (on my non-HD TV anyway, I don't know if HDNET was running it). That's doubly embarrassing when you think it might be Becks' last game with the Galaxy.

There is the rumored loan to AC Milan. There is also the rumor that Milan would be cool with making that loan permanent. Now the latter seems very unlikely as the former is seemingly slightly less likely than it did just last Friday. But, it's not out of the realm of possibility.

Just a thought: Why? Clearly, Milan would do it to sell a boatload of Beckham jerseys. And Beckham wants to do it to stay on Capello's radar for England's national team as things creep toward South Africa in 2010 and he creeps toward Bobby Moore and Peter Shilton. But Kaka, Gattuso, Flamini (dead to me), Ronaldinho, Pirlo... shit, Becks is in the running with Seedorf and Ambrosini to see who's the sixth best midfielder on that squad.

And it's not like they can sub him in and out for dead ball situations (sub in sure, but that means he really only valuable late in matches when Milan is trailing).

So Becks continually reaffirms his commitment to the Galaxy but if he didn't come back, would it really surprise anyone? The Galaxy have already made their money back in spades (probably... remember the $50M a year figure was based on his cut of contingent revenues and his straight salary was $5.5 in base), and might be better served by getting on with rebuilding the team. And Beckham might be better served getting on with his self-serving national team ambitions. He's not the player he was. If Milan truly want him, then why wouldn't the Galaxy say "Arrivederci"?

[Update: Ha ha Soccernet, too]

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Give me a while to calm myself. Did that really happen yesterday?

The short and sweet answer is "Yes, it happened and deservedly so." While I've fallen off the Benitez bandwagon several times in recent months, he's finally shown he can get it done against those big clubs that traditionally embarrass and humiliate us. His tactics were king. His players were heroic.

I need to lie down again. I will go through this game later, much to your disdain. After all, I get the overwhelming impression that people are a lot more tolerant of Liverpool when they're losing and continually finishing fourth. This year, it's different. Maybe second!

MOTD highlights below the jump. My gushing rhetoric will follow later on.

Seriously, we just beat Chelsea. At home. First time in 86 games that anyone has done that.

Watch Chelsea v Liverpool in News Online  |  View More Free Videos Online at

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ligue 1 Weekend Review

This week's matches had it all: goals galore, penalty kicks, plenty of cards, and a heated competition for the "Goal-scorer to get carded" award. The big result goes to Paris Saint-Germain, who knocked off L'OM and prevented them from going top of the table.

Saturday, October 25th:

Auxerre 0-0 Lyon - Continuing their recent poor run of form (relative to their past performance, at least), Lyon were unable to take more than 1 point from Auxerre. Despite taking 17 shots and having 11 corner kicks to work with, Lyon only managed to put one shot on goal. In the 8th minute, Keita chipped Auxerre GK Riou but the shot hit the crossbar and went over. After that it was all Auxerre, all the time and Lyon GK Vercoutre (filling in for Hugo Lloris who was out with a throat infection) was kept busy. Auxerre's best chance came in the 64th minute, but Jelen hit the post from 12 yards out.

Le Havre 2-1 Valenciennes - With this win, Le Havre move ahead of Valenciennes at the bottom of the table, providing them with some hope of avoiding relegation. Valenciennes opened the scoring in the 1st minute when Bangoura picked off a poor clearance and sent the ball into Pieroni, who sent his bicycle kick into the goal. Lesage equalized in the 24th minute, and Pieroni almost put Valenciennes back on top right before the half. Lesage then continued his good form early in the second half, when he dribbled through the defense and took a scorching shot that bounced in front of Valenciennes GK Penneteau and went in. Pujol almost equalized again for Valenciennes, but his shot hit the crossbar. Minutes later Pujol volleyed a shot for their final chance, but Havre GK Revault made a brilliant save to preserve the 3 points.

Lille 2-2 Caen - Lille outshot Caen 18-8 (5-4 shots on goal) and outfouled them 29-17, but it was not enough for the win. Lille took most of their shots from distance, and the danger came entirely from Cabaye (who hit the crossbar once and placed a second shot inches over the same) and Obraniak (who had a brace on goals in the 9th and 39th minutes). Caen did their work in the second half, with Ben Khalfallah assisting on goals to Seube (46th minute) and Savidan (64th minute). Obraniak almost secured the 3 points in injury time with what would have been his hat-trick goal, but Caen GK Plante made a brilliant save.

Lorient 3-0 Nantes - In a match dominated by Lorient, the latter club got their second win of the season. They started the pressure in the 8th minute with a free-kick from Abriel, followed shortly by a diving header from Cicini which required a great save from Nantes GK Alonso. Abriel also forced Alonso into wonderful saves on 2 shots in quick succession, and he finally broke through in the 31st minute. To complete his day, Abriel assisted on the other 2 goals, to Morel in the 55th minute and Gamerio in the 77th minute.

Nice 2-2 Bordeaux - Bordeaux out-shot and out-fouled Nice, but the clubs could only play to a tie after some strange activity on the pitch. The action was end-to-end, and started with a brilliant free-kick from 30 yards in the 10th minute by Wendel which beat Nice GK Ospina. Cavenaghi continued the pressure, and Ospina made a great save in the 15th minute to avoid going down 2-0. Fae almost equalized for Nice, but his shot was blasted off the crossbar. Bordeaux finally got their second goal in the 58th minute when Placente earned a PK and Cavenaghi calmly stepped up to slot it home. Ospina kept Nice in the game with saves on Olerton and Chamakh in the 70th minute, and Nice pulled 1 goal back in the 84th minute when Mouloungui put in a cracking header. The comeback was complete in injury time when Ducasse was called for a handball in the box and Remy scored on the resulting PK in the 93rd minute. Cavenaghi wins this week's "Goal-scorer to get carded" award due to pulling off the difficult feat of being yellow-carded in the 58th minute, the same minute in which he scored on his PK.

Rennes 2-2 Le Mans - In an extremely even match that saw 5-4 shots on goal, 14-14 fouls, and 8-6 corner kicks, it was only natural that the end result was a draw. Gervinho opened the scoring, putting Le Mans ahead in the 11th minute, but Briand equalized in the 15th minute when he lobbed Le Mans GK Pele. Le Mans then upped the pressure, with Cerdon forcing Rennes GK Douchez into a difficult save in the 26th minute. The pressure paid off in the 34th minute when Mangane was called for a handball in the box and Coutadeur scored on the resulting PK to give Le Mans the lead. Pagis rescued the point for Rennes in the 78th minute when he slotted home an excellent cross from Wiltord.

Toulouse 0-0 Monaco - In yet another boring match starring Monaco, neither club looked as if they wanted to win. Toulouse dominated, but managed as many yellow cards (3) as they did shots on goal. Gignac almost started off the match brilliantly for Toulouse in the 1st minute, hitting a low shot that forced a good save from Ruffier. The Monaco GK was called into action again to stop a free kick that was headed towards goal by Cetto. Nimani provided the best chance for Monaco in the 88th minute, forcing Carrasso into a save. Gignac had a chance to take the 3 points for Toulouse in injury time, but his shot hit the crossbar. Freddy Adu rode the bench for the entire match, looking dejected.

Sunday, October 26th:

Nancy 1-1 Sochaux - In a bit of a snoozer, Nancy and Sochaux (two of the worst teams in Ligue 1) could only draw for 1 point each. Sochaux got on the board first when Dalmat scored in the 18th minute, and it was not until the 74th minute that Nancy was able to equalize through Fortune (not luck. That's the dude's name).

Saint-Etienne 0-2 Grenoble - Ligue 1 newcomers Grenoble got the derby win against Saint-Etienne despite being outshot 16-8 and only having possession in 38% of the match. The first goal came early, when Moreira blasted a shot which deflected off Saint-Etienne defender Benalouane and into the net in the 3rd minute. From that point on, Grenoble GK Wimbee was kepy extremely busy, forced to make saves on Gomis, Gilgiotti and Dernis, as well as an impressive double-save in the 40th minute. Grenoble almost scored their 2nd goal in the 66th minute but Romao crashed his shot off the bar. They eventually got the second when Dja Djedje sent home a well-struck header in the 82nd minute.

Marseille 2-4 Paris Saint-Germain - L'OM dominated the match statistically (24-8 shots on goal; 60%-40% time of possession), much as they have throughout the Ligue 1 history of both teams, but in the end PSG was able to notch only their 5th win ever against Marseille. Once again this match saw goals come early, as Rothen sent a cross off a corner in beautifully to the box and Hoarau headed it home in the 10th minute. Marseille struck back in the 21st minute when PSG GK Mandanda had some miscommunication with his defender and Niang was there for the easy finish. Valbuena then put L'OM ahead right before half-time when Mandanda gave up a rebound after a save on Kone. Soon after the start of the second half, Luvindula equalized for PSG when he chipped Mandanda. Cheyrou almost returned the lead to L'OM in the 70th minute, but he hit the bar, and it was PSG who went ahead in the 77th when Rothen hit a screamer from a 35-yard free-kick that went into the net untouched. Hoarau completed his brace in the 83rd minute to ensure the 3 points.

So, at the end of Matchday 10, the top of the table looks like this: (1) Lyon with 21 points on a 6-3-1 record and a +6 goal differential; (2) Marseille with 19 points on a 5-4-1 record and a +7 goal differential; (3) Le Mans with 18 points on a 5-3-2 record and a +7 goal differential; and (4) Bordeaux with 18 points on a 5-3-2 record and a +4 goal differential.

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Liverpool v. Chelsea Open Thread

It's 6:49 in the morning for me, I am not going to say much other than it is already 0-1 Liverpool. I'm tired but this is a nice way to wake up so far. Most of the UF New York City contingent is at a bar right now, bastards.

Enjoy the remainder of the match.

Chelsea: Cech, Carvalho, Bosingwa, Terry, A. Cole, Deco, Lampard, Malouda, Mikel Obi, Kalou, Anelka

Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio, Arbeloa, Alonso, Riera, Masherano, Kuyt, Gerrard, Keane,

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