Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mark Hughes is not enjoying Valentine's Day

In the day's only Premiership action, Citeh lost to Pompey 2-0, perhaps condemning Sparky to the sack. His Wikipedia page says he is still employed, but that could change. So far all of the FA Cup games have ended in draws, and Chelsea and Watford are at nil nil in the second half. Elsewhere PSV is hosting AZ Alkmaar, and Barca seeks to continue their torrid stretch against Real Betis. Feel free to profess your love for Lionel Messi here.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Backpasses: He blew in Scotland. Then he got better

Record ratings for the US-Mexico match [NYT Goal blog]
Hurt feelings at Wisla Krakow-Spartak Moscow friendly match [101 Great Goals]
The next England shirt is fugly [Football Shirt Culture]

Another day, another NSFW list of Italian WAGs [WhyGo Italy]
Russel Brand takes a 5-year-old to Wast Ham match [Guardian]
Peter Kenyon duped on the radio [The Spoiler]

Gennaro Gattuso has an odd pregame ritual [Eleven Devils]

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UF Presents: Valentine's Day Love Poetry!

We hope you are enjoying today's special Valentine's Day festivities.

Although we have declared our undying love for Kickette, there is more where that came from...


Footie love we share
Handbags in our plot too
Us: dust-ups ends in red
You: Birkin bags in blue
For Valentines we choose you

--by the Fan's Attic

And, there's even more bad wonderful poetry below. After the jump you will see how our hearts overfloweth onto thyn keyboard to thee our poor, poor unsuspecting readers. Please try your hand in the comments, but trust us, the bar has been sent very high.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I'd like to mark you tightly
And come in studs up too.



A defensive master
although just a young pup
no one is faster
you always catch up.

I love thee Gael Clichy
even though I'm not gay
you in the back is just peachy
you save our arse day after day.

Remain a Gunner you must
playing at the Emirates
watching you I'm just
the guy who...

Never mind.

--by the NY Kid


Please, please, please Arsene
Sign some depth to the damn squad
And heal Rosicky

--by Precious Roy


I hate Arsenal
I fucking hate Arsenal
I hate Arsenal

--by Autoglass

Women like nagging.
Women are late.
Kick off's on time.
It's football thats great.

Football is honest
Football is true
I do love my football
except those c*nts in the blue

Its yellow and green.
that does it for me.
I do love my Norwich.
I'm sick you'll agree.

But City dont lie.
and they don't make you iron.
they just lose every weekend.
and leave you a crying.

--by Bigus


Nando, Nando, Nando,
your goals are so sweet
Nando, Nando, Nando,
your hair can't be beat
Nando, Nando, Nando,
please win us th'EPL
Nando, Nando, Nando,
I'd follow you into hell

Torres, Torres, Torres,
Liverpool's number nine
Torres, Torres, Torres,
With us, you sure do shine.

Now score some f*cking goals against Man United.

--by Lingering Bursitis

Hucker hucker be
I love thee
Your pointy spikey hair flows. down the touchline it goes.
Your goals to games tally is fine. Like the finest of fine wines.
You are a wing man.
To me you are the king man.

--by Bigus


Saturday morn at 7.30
Last night's drinking has got me in a haze
Fire up the computer
Searching for a feed as my eyes glaze
Hull City away to Pompey
I got to tell you it's my thing
Two teams in a 4-5-1
May sound dire, but it makes me sing

I'm an American fan
I'm an American fan
I'll watch about any match
Hope for a Spurs loss, natch
I'm an American fan

--by ü75

I wandered lonely as Robbie Keane
That floated on high o'er Anfield's 4-2-3-1
When all at once I saw a crowd
Celebrating another Gerrard goal.

Beside Stanley Park, beneath John Lennon Airport,
I packed my bags and fucked off back to Spurs.

--by Lingering Bursitis

My name is Robbie Keane.
I had a childhood dream.
To play for pool, I'm such a fool.
As dreams aint what they seem.

--by Bigus

The players stroll onto the pitch
We close our eyes and make this wish
Oh please, this match let there be
Not just one goal but two or three
The celebrations do begin
We hope our team will surely win
The whole time we never trailed
It finally ends, we have prevailed
We cheer and do our victory dance
On couches, wearing underpants

--by Spectator

And one more...


I'm sorry ginger pele
For calling you a c*nt
I was listening on the radio,
They said you caught him blunt.

And then I saw the replay.
Your genius was punished.
Its Andy D'urso who's the c*nt
His face should be demolished.

So sorry ginger pele,
for judging you too quick.
I will not do it anymore.
"He's off!'... Ahh Grounds YOU PRICK!


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Wookin' pa nub in all da wong paces

Suppose you are an English footballer. You have two things to do in life. You go to train for maybe a couple of hours in the morning, and then you spend the rest of the time wooing a female populace who all want to be WAGs. There may be some other incidental stuff, but that's the gist of it. The endgame in the WAG search is that you move her from the G file to the W file and spend the rest of your life tolerating each other as long as he makes money and she stays thin, just like the Beckhams.

Sometimes, though, that type of fairy tale ending just doesn't happen, and she ends up dumping you on the Facebooks while you are on loan in Wales.

Michael "D-Pack" Chopra has had a rocky season. He has spent time at both Sunderland and Cardiff City, with a second loan deal to the Welsh side completed just 55 seconds before the deadline of the winter transfer window. The word is that he will sign for Cardiff in the close season, and, well, that just won't do for his wife of seven months.

You see, Heather Swan is a woman of cultivated tastes. Such women cannot be moved out of Sunderland. Not only is she decently good-looking, she is also a Reality TV star. Top shelf stuff there lads.

Anyway, to the crux of the story. As Mirror wrote up yesterday, Swan notified the world of her intent to leave Chopra by changing her relationship status on Facebook to Single. It shouldn't have surprised the Bluebirds striker, as she had moved out after four weeks of marriage, but he still did not take the news well. His response was to cancel her mobile phone service.

Unfortunately, it was too late. If one were to blindly believe the wikipedia link above (and why wouldn't you?), Swan has already announced her engagement to another fella. I bet he can't wait for the month and a half of bliss to follow.

The best part of the article, for me, lies in the last paragraph. It seems that the only positive for Swan of the marriage was their one-year-old son. Now, I wasn't a Math(s) major, but I think that kid popped out well before the nuptials. Perhaps, instead, he was the best thing about the engagement. Either way, I hope that kid fares better than this one. Oh look, that dad's a Cardiff player too (and look at those late to arrive comments; We had not seen those). No hope for the kid then, I guess.

If you have been missing out on the Facebook fun, come join our group. There's some (not much) exclusive content on there, and you can play "guess which commenter is which" with the real names. No fair picking out which one is Mike Georger.

Spotted on Off the Post, a neccesary daily go-to site.

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Babies Having Babies

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and assuredly there will be some babymaking going on, or at the very least the act of and not necessarily actual babymaking. What's that have to do with soccer? Besides soccer being sexy and a good metaphor for a sex life because it often ends in scores of 1-0, it has to do with this young, very young, Manchester United fan who just became a father.

As seen in The Sun, Alfie Patten is a proud new father. Congratulations are in order because Alfie has managed to fertilize an egg before he grew hair down there. The boy is only 13!! Which means he was probably twelve when this all went down. The mother is 15.

I implore you to look at the photos The Sun has, it shocks the mind. Although, it only figures a ManU fan could be so foolish.

Read more on "Babies Having Babies"...

Up The City! I’m Begging You…

This week, my good mate, Bigus Dickus’ Norwich City Canaries head to Preston North End for yet another critical match in their drive to again survive to fight another year in the Football League Championship.

After Chelsea, there is no football club on the planet that I follow more closely. There is no football club who’s week-to-week fortunes affect my very happiness. Norwich’s relegation scraps have me on the edge of my seat.

Why do I care deeply about some two-bit Anglian club run by a drunk fry-cook and her incompetent boardmates? Because they are my Tortured Friend’s Team. Find out what this means after the jump…

Bigus is my good mate. We’ve shared many a fantastic evening. We wind each other up into a (mostly) friendly rage most every week talking football. And if you are a mate of Bigus’, Norwich City is in your life.

Norwich City are my cross to bear because they are Bigus’ cross to bear. Much like my wife has had to suffer the slings and arrows of being married to a Buffalo Bills fan – the foul moods, the exultation-followed-by-inevitable-heartbreak – I suffer with Norwich because I can’t stand the thought of watching my good mate’s team drop to (shudder) League One. The lad would be devastated. I can’t bear the thought of watching him endure such a thing.

So every week, like a Stockholm-Syndrome victim, I follow the ins and outs of Carrow Road. I check the table. I follow the transfer rumours. I try to figure out how in hell a club in Norwich’s position could possibly hire an utterly inexperienced manager at such a critical time. I do the points math. I try to figure out how many points Watford’s two matches in hand are worth.

I do this because Norwich are in my life as surely as they are in Bigus’ life. Last Spring, there were a group of us dying every Saturday as Norwich stumbled to safety. There were weeks when a critical Chelsea victory somehow mattered less to my state of mind than a Norwich away draw.

Now, you might think that I would hate Norwich for this. Hate them like I hate the demons that have ruined other friends’ lives. Demons like alcohol, depression or cancer. But I worship Demon Chelsea. I have a Blue fever to Bigus’ Yellow. I can’t help but sweat every result in the Canary saga.

England, too. Do you remember watching England with your English mates the last, say, 20 major international tournaments? Have you bought an England shirt in fellowship? Does the thought of PKs haunt your dreams?

Or do you have a Tottenham supporter friend? If so, nothing more need be said.

Who is your Tortured Friend’s Team?

How have you debased yourself cheering them on for your friend?

Read more on "Up The City! I’m Begging You…"...

Sick Love

Bigus is very tolerant in such a modern world. A world where almost anything is possible, but this story I share, is a shocker. This depraved, disgusting union, this filthy perverted relationship I read about this morning is just plain sick. Hold onto your stomachs.

Ipshit fan Simon Bardsley and Norwich fan Claire Hales are getting... MARRIED!

A horrifying sight if ever there was one.

WTF... does she know he turns into a vomit gargling trog at the stroke of midnight? Does she know that his disgusting stench will follow her around like a new puppy? Does she know that he is football retarded? Oh she must... but Claire doesn't care! That's because Claire is in love...Awwwwwww....(clank, bluuuuuuuuurh, wiping mouth, pushing bucket away)

The couple who met 8 years ago are getting married tomorrow. On Valentines Day.

Scummer Bardsley says "Settling down with Claire is the best thing that could have happened to me.” Ain't that the truth! This is like winning the lottery for a scummer, they usually have to settle for whatever creature the nearest farmer will breed for them.

Quick...Run before it is too late!

Miss Hales clearly needs some advice from Bigus if she is to make a go of this:

1: Never feed a scummer after midnight, The trog in him can turn violent on a full stomach.
2: He is going to want to take you shopping in his tractor. Insist he sells it for a car. This is how normal people hit the shops.
3: If you suspect he is having an affair, canvas the local livestock.
4: Avoid contact with him on Saturday's between 3 and 5 pm. This is when the average scummer turns into a complete gibbering buffoon. You won't understand a word he is saying. It may be upsetting.
5: End every argument with TWO-NIL, BINNER. It will put him in his place but may bring tears.

For history of his ancestry click here.

Good luck..You will need it, love!

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Elvis Costello was so right...

[Musical interlude]

... but it is a good place for a manager. After all, you get to marshal a decent-enough squad for seven or eight months before turning up at Roman's office for your giant severance package.

In fact, it's this wonderful business practice that's contributed significantly to the money mess at Stamford Bridge, with the news this morning that the Blues revealed a 65.7m pound loss ($95m) for the financial year ending in June 2008.

How many Andrei Shevchenkos would that buy?

Sadly, considering they announced losses of 140m back in 2004, it just shows that they're slowly getting better. But still, this is difficult terrain for a club and owner who were so used to being able to outbid anyone on a player at any time.

From the Beeb:

The BBC has learned that Mr Abramovich's investment in the club has reached £710m. He has now changed part of that investment from an interest-free loan into shares in the club, as a sign of continuing commitment to Chelsea.

The move will also help defuse European criticism that Chelsea is a heavily indebted business, says BBC business correspondent Nils Blythe. In another attempt to scale back its debt, the club is aiming to pay for any purchases this summer by selling players.

The club has also reiterated its intention "to require zero cash funding from the owner [Roman Abramovich] at the beginning of the financial year 2009/2010". Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon added: "There is no doubt that the positive upward trends of turnover and the continued reduction in losses shows that Chelsea is building a strong business base to build on in what will be challenging times. This is even more evident given that the results were adversely affected by the exceptional items."

He also said that any squad restructuring in the summer would be funded predominantly by sales, and that over the past five years the club had "consistently reduced our net transfer spend".

The BBC's business editor Robert Peston said Mr Abramovich and the club's executives were "doing what they can to transform Chelsea from a trophy asset that only a multi-billionaire could own into a something that might be describable as a business".
Still, we can point and laugh, right? Bringing in players on loan seems a long way away from the 25m and 30m price tags of Veron and Shevchenko.

23m pounds spent on severance for Mourinho, Grant and five other coaches lost in the year, and Scolari's losses are yet to hit the books, although it's in the range of 7.5m pounds. Hiddink is collecting 100,000 pounds a week until the end of the season, and that wage bill needs to come down somehow.

Will they able to remain a competitive Top 4 team while also trying to become a respectable business. If Roman has 10 quid left, he might wish to bet on "no".

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Happy Valentine's Day to Our Friends at Kickette!

Call it spur of the moment, or should that be "Hotspur" of the moment (har har har), but we decided that no Valentine's Day could go by without UF having a valentine. The way we see it, although a blog isn't really a person, a blog should still be able to have a valentine, right?

We could think of no blog more deserving of UF's heartfelt wishes than the lovely Kickette. Granted that the ladies behind Kickette are anonymous, much like us (and trust me, we are quite a sight to behold in person), but in our imaginations they have the looks of Sylvie van der Vaart and the brains of Frank Lampard.

So, we are happy to say Happy Valentine's Day, Kickette! May you continue to bring joy to our hearts!

(We also hope you like our special background for today. If pink is good enough for Oldham and Dean Windass, it's good enough for us!)

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Common People: Part II

Hey remember last week when Wayne and Colleen Rooney used a half-off voucher at a local eatery because they were such regular down to earth folks despite being worth £35M?

No? Well, here's a refresher.

Anyway, it turns out the Rooneys really are everyday people just like you and me. And to prove it, Colleen (that's the quartering back shot of her above) spent the night in a £2000 per hotel suite. Sweet.

Even better it caught fire.

Okay the story is just about how her hotel suite had an electrical fire (wow, that's a high power blow dryer). Despite the smoke and the flames, fortunately, no harm was done to either Mrs. Rooney or her stuff. But the article does mention the cost of the room. And that little tidbit makes a nice bookend to the story from last week about Wayne wanting to save less than £15.

In fairness, Colleen Rooney probably isn't ponying up the money for the suite. You are. Sort of. Follow us here.

Rooney was in London filming for a new reality modeling show. So the cost of the hotel was probably covered by the production budget. ITV spends that money. And when the show goes to air, they charge advertisers (hopefully) more than it cost to produce and air. That's how they make money. The companies advertising hopefully intend to sell products, and the cost of that advertising winds up in those very products that you buy. So, if you buy anything advertised on that show, you're kind of paying for her hotel room. More or less.

The Rooneys. They should be their own reality series. Do they have that yet? Because people would totally watch them drink and dance and screw.

Read more on "Common People: Part II"...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thursday Backpasses: Hope this makes up for it

Deuce wore some pretty sweet boots last night. If only they had 2-0 on there [The Offside Rules]
Tic-Tac recreate the Everton goal that was missed by ITV watchers in England [101 Great Goals]
Fernando Torres makes many ads, all bad [Anorak]

Didier Drogba does not respect the cleaning lady. In other news, being a home cleaner apparently pays well in London [The Spoiler]
Ugly footballers with hot WAGs [Uncoached]

13 hottest Italian-born WAGs. NSFW and no Mrs. Buffon. Apparently she's Czech [WhyGo Italy]

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If You're a Footballer, Resist Danielle Lloyd at All Costs!

As you can see from the picture above, Danielle Lloyd is rather attractive. She's also rather deadly, especially if you play the beautiful game (and we know from our WAG studies that the beautiful game often attracts the beautiful ladies).

In fact, she's bedded quite a few players, and, like all good girls, has written a tell-all book about it.

Three English publishers are currently battling it out for the rights to her autobiography, which presumably contains little more than bikini tips and information about various players' genitals, two things I'm personally not that interested in.

The article even gives a sample of her alleged flings:
- Armand Traore
- Teddy Sheringham
- Jermain Defoe
- Marcus "Not Darren" Bent
- Gerard Pique
- Ryan "The Dutch Walcott" Babel
- Jerome Thomas
- Jermaine "Madrid, or Portsmouth?" Pennant
- Carlton "Can't Control" Cole

The astute amongst you have probably noticed she's not quite at a full starting XI yet, and the team's looking woefully thin at the back.

Said a "soccer insider" (presumably, Kevin Keegan):

"Dani is the ultimate WAG and news of her book has sent shockwaves through the game. She knows exactly what goes on in the footballers’ inner circle and a lot of big stars are terrified they are going to be named and shamed."
I always like it when that happens.

In this day and age, you can never just have a one-night stand anymore, for fear it'll end up on Twitter, Facebook, or even in a 300-page book (full of words) written by a WAG in high heels and the world's luckiest ghostwriter.

Lesson learned, well-paid footballers. Lesson learned. Make sure that next time you take a girl home from the club, she's not carrying a notebook.

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Oh Boy, It's the Annual Deloitte Football Club Rich List!

If it's February, that must mean that the annual football "rich list" is out from Deloitte. You see, each year Deloitte compiles the publicly available gross revenues of football clubs and comes up with the aptly titled list. Here it is for the 2007-08 season....

1) Real Madrid: £289.6m
2) Man Utd: £257.1m
3) Barcelona: £244.4m
4) Bayern Munich: £233.8m
5) Chelsea: £212.9m
6) Arsenal: £209.3m
7) Liverpool: £167m
8) AC Milan: £165.8m
9) AS Roma: £138.9m
10) Inter Milan: £136.9m

According to the Beeb, "the other English clubs in the top 20 are Tottenham Hotspur (14th), Newcastle United (17th) and Manchester City (20th)."

The big news is that Real Madrid has displaced Man U, who were tops in 2006-07, but apparently dropped due to the weakening pound. However, the Daily Telegraph is reporting that Man U are about to announce that they are the first club with a yearly gross revenue over £300 million. The difference is due to their licensing deal with Nike, which likely isn't subject to public disclosure and thus not part of the Deloitte survey. For a point of comparison, the NY Yankees had gross revenue of 327 million dollars in 2007 (although that is expected to roughly double with their new stadium).

Meaning that, the rich continue to get richer.

(Also, I suspect that Arsenal at #6 is a bit misleading. It might not fully take into account the hit on the Highbury apartments with the downturn in the economy, and don't forget that Arsenal actually made money in the 2007-08 transfer market. In other words, this only shows that Arsene is a stingy bastard.)

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It's So On! High School Girls Game Turns into Brawl

What can turn a simple girls high school soccer match in Fresno, California into a brawl? All we know is that Reedley (pictured) and Sanger High Schools' match devolved into a "battle of the Joquian Valley." According to the latest report from the Fresno Bee, while investigation is still ongoing, the brawl led to one player being hospitalized, plus four players and two coaches getting ejected.

Reedley and Sanger are both near Fresno, in the heart of the truck farming valley, not even fifteen miles apart. The chain of events seemed to have been the following:

Two players tangled and fell to the ground. The Sanger player started punching the Reedley player about 5 yards from a referee. Benches cleared and several punches were thrown before coaches and administrators intervened.

After the fight, three Reedley players and one Sanger player were ejected.

An unidentified Reedley assistant also was thrown out, and Reedley coach Stan Kanawyer was ejected soon after for making illegal substitutions. One Reedley player who was head-butted during the incident did not return.
It's obvious they have not been watching their Premier League matches, because they would of learned a few tricks on throwing punches while "helping" the other player up.

Reedley has a match against Edison High this afternoon, while Sanger is playing at Bullard. Here's hoping that cooler heads will prevail.

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We're Not Above Stealing Images from Deadspin

While we agree with the sentiment, we don't need to stoop to the level of the Mexicans. Oh wait, we didn't throw urine bombs on the pitch.

By the way, not sure if anybody remembers this, but after the US v. Mexico World Cup match in 2002, the ABC cameras caught this great shot of a fat and unhappy Mexican in his El Tri kit and oversized sombrero. It was maybe the funniest thing I've ever seen on TV after this and the Christopher Guest / Martin Short Men's Synchronized Swimming short, which apparently the YouTubes doesn't allow. Anyway, if anyone can turn up a a pic of that Mexico fan I'd be indebted to you forever.

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Kinky King Charged

You may remember that Boro/Hull/Watford loanee extraordinaire Marlon King was arrested while playing for Hull, for alledged assault on a woman while partying in London's Soho area. Well King has now been officially charged with sexual assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Also, as the details of King's late night faux-pas come to light, I can reveal that the bar King was in at the time of the incident is a well known strip club. No, Bigus has not been there, but I did work in Soho for 12 years and know of its existence!

But alas, all good things come to an end....A quick look at the 'bars' website will reveal that the famous old titty bar has finally closed its drawers, I mean doors, for good. It seems that even the sex trade is on it's arse in this bad economy.

As for King, he is set to appear in court on February the 25th and if found guilty, he could be loaned out yet again, this time to the jail house XI Sunday team.

The glamorous life of a footballer, eh?

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Let's Not Bury The Lead, Frankie (Updated)

Well, this is quickly getting around, but there was a little dust up between Frankie Hejduk and Mexican assistant coach Paco Ramirez after last night's 2-0 win by the U.S.

The disturbing part is that Ramirez waited for the US team to come off the field to do this. So, he had ample time to cool down and think about what he would (or wouldn't) do. The exchange, fortunately, doesn't get out of hand, partially because the slap is a bit girlie. And Hejduk, to his credit, totally downplayed it. His assessment of the situation:

I was just trying to pump the crowd up. I was actually saying, 'Fuck yeah!' I think they thought I was saying, 'Fuck you.' It was a misunderstanding and I can see why they would be a little bit upset if they thought I was saying the other one, which I wasn't. At the end of the day, no one was hurt. There was a little love tap and that was it. I still have my face. No damage done. It was fun. That's just how emotional this game is and that's how passionate they are about their sport. It was none of their players -- I want to make that clear to everyone.

As if the U.S. Mexico rivalry needed to fuel its fire any more.

Still might be some fallout from the match, though. Sven-Goran Eriksson still has his job as of right now, but even the English press was speculating that a Mexican loss would send him back to the EPL and Portsmouth.

As for the soccer itself, yes, the U.S. got off to the best possible start to World Cup qualifying with its 2-0 win but most of the UF post-game discussion wasn't about how strong the US team was, but about how inept the Mexicans looked.

Kljestan was invisible, Onyewu and Bocanegra both looked shaky at times, and God love Frankie Hejduk, but for all of his effort charing up the right, he served few good crosses, and had about 4 studs-up tackles that, had they been a half-second late, might have spelled serious problems for the U.S. and nullified the man advantage.

Bradley, Donovan, Beasley and Howard were the only ones who probably had good performances.

Point being: we weren't sure if a victory off such mediocre performances says more about the state of US Soccer or about Mexico.

[Update: It appears that Sven is staying. FMF president Justino Compean said Sven Goran Eriksson will remain in charge of the Mexican national team: "I completely support Mr Eriksson. We have a commitment to be in South Africa and we will be in South Africa."]

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Wednesday Backpasses: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

How could I have not predicted Dos a Cero? Also, eff Rafa Marquez right in the pants.

Ever wonder how many English managers have gotten the sack since SAF took over at Man U? It's 923 (and counting) [The Beautiful Game]
Some speculative mock-ups of the new Arsenal away shirt. Looks Seattle Sounders-y [EPL Talk]
Robbie Savage wears Uggs [Kickette]

Cristiano Ronaldo's new woman. With SFW pics [The Sun]
Adebayor wins CAF PotY, new hat [The Sun]
Lamps does to EBJT what Spain did to England [Off the Post]

TFA tells us that this article says that these NSFW pics are Ronaldinho's new girlfriend. Kinda want [Bild]

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

USA v. Mexico Liveblog

You might've noticed that there were some international matches today: England looked pretty outclassed against Spain, losing 2-0, as Golden Balls earned his 108th cap; the Luck o' the Irish prevailed against Georgia in a World Cup qualifier thanks to a highly questionable penalty call and a goal scored off Robbo Keane's shoulder; Eduardo had an assist for Croatia; and the NY Kid's les Bleus fell 2-0 to the Argentines.

But all of that was merely an appetizer for today's real action: the highly anticipated World Cup qualifying match between the United States and Mexico -- live from Columbus, Ohio. Many well-reported plotlines in this one. The Mexicans' struggles on U.S. soil. That voodoo doll "controversy." U.S. Soccer call for fans to wear red. The up-yours inclusion of Jose Francisco Torres by Bob Bradley. The rumors that Sven-Goran Eriksson is being courted by Pompey (will he throw the game to hasten his exit?). And, most importantly of all, the bad blood between the U.S. and Mexico (who still refuse to shake hands with the Americans).

To get you ready for the big match, here are some Columbia students assessing U.S. Soccer head Sunil Gulati's prowess as a university professor. First comment: "A bit of a douche." (h/t 100 Percent Soccer)

Live blog after the jump. And, as always, have your say in the comments.

I'll be back closer to 7:00 p.m. EST.

Pregame: Word is that the weather is nothing less than spectacular, with high winds and the threat of thunderstorms. This same system killed people in Oklahoma. So, you can expect lots of crappy commentary from ESPN about the storm on the field being the same as the storm between the Americans and El Tri.

I'm eating some All-American Mac and Cheese for dinner at the moment. USA USA USA!

Starting lineups are in...

USA: Howard, Pearce, Bocanegra, Onyeewu, Hejduk, Beasley, Klestan, Bradley, Dempsey, Donovan, Ching

Mexico: Sanchez, Salcido, Marquez, Galindo, Osorio, Medina, Augusto, Pardo, dos Santos, Castillo, Ochoa

And Harkes and Dellacamera are the broadcasters. Could be worse. Meanwhile, the sideline report is that SGE compared the weather for tonight's match to Albania. I knew the United States was edging closer and closer to a third world country!

The players are coming out onto the pitch to what sounds to my ears like Joe Satriani. USA USA USA! Lots of red in the stands, along with the Americans wearing red warmups. And then there's a smattering of boos and USA USA chants for the Mexican national anthem. God bless jingoism at its finest.

National anthem has been played and, man, now I'm totally fired up! Let's go invade some more countries!! Who's with me??

1: Mexico kick off, give up the ball and then the Americans make a nice move towards the Mexican goal that fizzles. That's followed by Bradley easily dispossessing little Giovanni Dos Santos. Nice start for the Americans.

3: Save by Howard! Really shaky defending by the Americans after Ochoa crosses into the box. Guess what the Americans weakness is? (I'll give you a hint: the back four.)

5: Really flying start. Feels like this game has an early goal in it.

7: They just showed the replay of the Howard save. If Dos Santos can get the ball up, the Mexicans are up 1-0. Meanwhile, Lando breaks in the Mexican box and is just a few yards away from a clean shot on goal. And now the frantic play continues, and again I worry about the American back four.

9: I have received my first dispatch from the Likely Lad at Nevada Smith's in NYC, who reports that whatever their capacity is there are 50 more people than that. About 70-30 for the U.S., but everyone booed Sven Goran-Eriksson.

10: Dos Santos almost has another shot on goal but Bradley comes back to help defend. He might need to do a lot of that today.

12: Now the Americans are attacking, with three crosses into the box. Americans end up with a corner.

14: The corner fizzles but the Americans retain possession, culminating in an offside on Beasley. This is all really nervy stuff.

15: Harkes says that SGE has the ability to coach world class players. How exactly is that an ability?

17: Nice counterattack by the Americans, with Dempsey and Beasley swapping wings, leading to a skewered shot by Beasley that's not troubling the keeper. The most promising aspect of this game for the Americans is their ball control. Need better finishing though. No sign of Ching so far.

18: Onyewu makes a sliding tackle and goes flying slip n' slide style on the wet grass.

21: Ching gets pushed to the ground just outside the box for a free kick. Big opportunity here. The Likely Lad reports that the Mexican fans at Nevada Smith's are far more tense and nervy than the Americans.

22: Donovan sends the free kick just wide. Oh, and thanks ESPN for a live report that Brett Favre retired. Right and what else is new?

25: As expected, the game has settled down a little bit. Most promising aspect of this game is that the Americans are playing well together. We're still not the momst talented side in the world, but at least we're retaining respectability. (That's about all I can ask for, really!)

26: Pedro Gomez with a live sideline report about those voodoo dolls. ESPN still has not quite got the idea that football doesn't take breaks. Meanwhile, Beasley with a shot on goal that is pretty easily handled. Going the other way, Dos Santos runs fast.

29: American midfielders are doing a good job of tracking back on defense, which is good, because Bocanegra and Onyewu are as likely to clear a ball as kick it directly to a Mexican player.

31: Save by Sanchez on a Dempsey shot on goal! Nice play going both ways. Beasley crossed to Lando, who headed it back to Dempsey.

32: Castillo is down with a hamstring pull, giving all the players (and me!) a chance to catch their breaths.

36: Mexicans continue to press, with dos Santos having his way on the wing. Thankfully we have Tim Howard to make the save on the resulting shot.

37: Bradley takes a 25 yard shot that's just wide. I agree with Harkes that it's nice to have a defensive midfielder who can take long shots like that.

39: Beasley kicks Marquez's foot, who writhes around on the ground and then magically gets up. Going the other way, Bocanegra gives up a stupid foul just outside the box. Theme of the night: the American back four is not very good.

40: But thankfully the goalkeeper is in good form. Easy save on a pretty tepid free kick. Pearce a bit shaken up, but ESPN didn't have a camera on it so who knows what happened, except that it resulted in a free kick.

42: GOAL USA! 1-0 Hejduk earns a corner, which is sent deep by Beasley. The ball is headed into the center by Lando and Bradley heads it into the goal. Nice play!

45: Beasley almost makes it 2-0. He's having a nice game, makes a run and his shot is just blocked for a corner, which drifts out harmlessly.

End of First Half. USA 1-0. Pedro Gomez with a live interview with Bob Bradley. Why can't we have mid-game interviews with Sir Alex Ferguson? Much props to Beasley, Bradley and especially Lando.

Oh look there's Carrot Top! Nevermind, it's just Alexi Lalas.

The Likely Lad reports again from Nevada Smith's: "Here We Go Here We Go Here We Go Here We Go. The Americans need better material. But, lots of love, and rightfully so, for Lando."

Precious Roy makes a good point (as always) that the ref has done a great job of calling this game. No cards, letting the teams play. And hey look there's Argentina v. France highlights... Sorry the NY Kid.

Anyone want to guess how soon it'll be before Demarcus Beasley comes back to MLS? Seems like he's still got plenty in the tank, but there doesn't seem to be much future for him at Celtic Rangers (whoops!).

Oh, and to correct myself on the goal, looks like Onyewu headed the ball towards goal, it was saved, and then Bradley wheelkicked the ball into the net. Phil reports that Univision claims that Bradley used his arm.... But are we going to believe them?

45: And we're off. No subs. Pedro Gomez relays his halftime talk with SGE, who claims he's happy with the result after the first half, just a bit unlucky, etc. Yup, Sven-Goran is looking forward to moving to the EPL.

48: Michael Bradley is really coming into his own, made a great pass to Beasley that forces Sanchez out to smother the ball.

49: Corner for the Americans is punched out by Sanchez. Americans are looking to score a second and put this game away.

51: Onyewu wins a footrace with Ochoa. By my calculation, that must make Ochoa the slowest striker in the world.

53: Dempsey with a breakaway thanks to soft pass, but it fizzles. The Likely Lad checks in: "Relocated to McCormacks, which thankfully has no volume on the TVs here. From 14th Street on up pretty much every bar is packed with people watching the match."

55: So exactly why isn't Dos Santos playing for the Tottenham Hotspurs?

56: Credit to Lando for going straight at the Mexican captain Marquez. See, Lando does have testicles afterall! Meanwhile, the Americans are probably showing the best concerted ball control I've ever seen from them. Still lots of obvious flaws, but I'm happy to see progress under Bradley.

59: Medina with a nice play for Mexico, who is rewarded by SGE by getting subbed out. I gotta say, green is definitely not Sven-Goran's color. Meanwhile the game is going in a circles now. Not a lot of good last touches, just fouls and offsides. I suppose that bodes well for the U.S. to hold onto this one.

62: JP and John must agree with me, because they're yakking about college basketball. Time to sub Jozy on for Ching?

65: Red card to Marquez Handbags!! There's a crazy, weird play in front the American goal on a free kick, players flying around. And then Marquez comes in with studs up on Tim Howard, who is still shaken up. The ref comes in and immediately raises a red card. Maybe a bit soft, but the ref was right on the play and has otherwise called a good game, so he gets the benefit of the doubt. Besides, fuck El Tri!

69: Now it's all getting a bit chippy. Expect more cards to start coming out now. Hejduk makes a nice open field tackle that sends Dos Santos flying. Going the other way, Ching is brought down with an extended arm tackle. Like I said, chippy.

71: Pearce spits up the ball and gives Ochoa the chance to take a long shot that's well wide. Dos Santos is subbed off. Hejduk has a knock. Oh, and Brett Farver is still retired.

74: If this were the NFL, we'd be hearing endlessly about how Hejduk is an ironman, you'd have to drag him off the field. Instead it's just blah blah blah later on ESPN it's....

76: Seems like tired legs from the Americans. Their final passes have been pretty awful. Meanwhile, Pedro Gomez and John Harkes are talking about Sven-Goran Eriksson. Uh, guys, there's still a game going on. For all that John Harkes speaks, you'd think that the word "succinct" would be in his vocabulary.

78: Hejduk comes running into the play, demanding the ball from Lando, and proceeds to dribble the ball out of play on what I suppose was a shot. This game is dragging. Bring on Jozy!

79: Mexico get their first corner and Bocanegra manages to make a great clearance. Oh, and it looked like someone threw a booze bottle at the Mexican player in the corner. How do I know this? The player held the bottle up in the air. C'mon, you're telling me that doesn't happen at Pachuca games all the time?

81: Finally, Jozy is about to come on just as the Americans are about to take another corner, which connects with no one.

83: Jozy on for Ching to a big ovation. Yup, us Americans know where our future is.

84: Hejduk makes what seems like his 10th sliding tackle of the night. He's shown good poise to not draw any cards. Meanwhile, Dempsey plays the ball up to Jozy, who is dispossessed after holding the ball for too long.

85: Mexicans are sending bodies forward. Maybe another goal in this one, either way though (even with Mexico down a man.

87: Sacha Kljestan off, Ricardo Clark on. JP and John seem bored, and cranky.

89: Americans have shown flashes of good play in this game, but have now reverted to form. Against 10 men they should be controlling the game, but they are too busy giving the ball away. Meanwhile, the Likely Lad says: "I feel better with USMNT holding a lead than with Spurs. Says it all."

90: So Howard picked up a yellow during the handbags and is out of the next international match. 3 minutes extra time, as Dempsey clears the ball out of the penalty box with a bicycle kick. Mexico still with the ball though.

92: GOAL USA! 2-0! Bradley puts it away! Jozy was brought down for a foul, but the ref waved play on as Lando had the ball on the wing. Passes the ball back to Bradley who is trailing and powers it in from around 25 yards out. Goalie could've saved but the ball skidded on the turf.

FULL TIME. USA Dos a Cero: Bradley was Man of the Match, with very good play from Lando, Howard and Beasley. The game wasn't played at the very highest level, but the Americans did enough to win. Most importantly, gotta love beating El Tri! Frankie agrees, as he's shouting to the crowd shirtless a la Lothar the Caveman.

That's it for me. Thanks for hanging out, everyone! Have a great night. (Oh and thanks to the Likely Lad for the dispatches from the Big City.)

Read more on "USA v. Mexico Liveblog"...


Another wild week has passed in this fantastically weird EPL season. The top story, both on and off the field, has to be rapid demise of Chelsea FC. When Roman Abramovich dismissed Jose Mourinho some 17 months ago the club were a domestic beast and rising European power. Today, with a third post-Special One manager in the offing, they are well adrift of Man U. and Liverpool atop the League, and more importantly, nowhere to be found in UF Power Poll Top Ten. In fact, their inclusion in our first edition was considered so outrageous by one of the resident scribes, the gentleman felt cause to construct this bilious screed. Now we've only to sit back and wait for The Sun's inevitable "Chelsea's Guus is Cooked!" headline.

We'd also like to announce that UF has come to a sort of power sharing agreement on power polls with The Offside. Apparently, UF is a little quicker on the draw than those fine folks, so like with any huge corporation that gets beat to the punch by the little guy, The Offside has decided to work with UF in a strategic partnership. This essentially involves acknowledgement of the other (or what I like to call a "blogger reach around"). Either that or the two polls are the AP and Coaches' polls. So, who is the BCS? Anyway, here is The Offside's inaugural edition. Go there, compare, and comment.

Again, the formula was simple. Each of our intrepid writers posited his own Top Ten. Then, using an algorithm specially designed by the foremost quantum physician at Nassau Community College, we came up with the following results. Enjoy. Debate.

1) Barcelona - 1.33 (last week: 1st place, 1.14 avg)

Through no fault of their own, the Catalans' score dropped a bit this week. Chalk it up to the team in the two-hole. These guys seems to have the top slots on lockdown, so we'll just sit around and beg the footballing gods for a head-to-head decider on May 27 in Rome.

2) Manchester United - 1.67 (2, 1.86)

The prevailing wisdom is that West Ham had their chances on Sunday... that with a bit of luck and bit less Carlton Cole, they might have nicked one from van der Saar. Well I watched the game and came away with this: West Ham were never going to score. If they played another 90 minutes and another 90 after that, they were never going to score.

3) Inter Milan - 3.67 (5, 5.14)

Mourinho's boys rebounded from a disappointing draw with Torino to wipe the floor with Lecce. Another goal for Zlatan, who's got to be the most exciting (and best paid) player in Italian football. Seven points clear of Juve, the Nerazzurri are going to win another Scudetto and suddenly the Champs League doesn't look so far off.

4) Real Madrid - 4.00 (6, 6.28)

So I guess Juande Ramos isn't as clueless as we all thought. To be fair, he's meant to manage in Spain, and even more so with a big club like Madrid. Like and anti-Guus Hiddink.

5) Liverpool - 5.78 (4, 4.71)

They've dropped some, but this club has air of destiny about them. Time after time they steal results when all seems lost. Say what you want, David James should've stopped at least one of their three last gasp goals from Saturday. But that's an issue for Don Fabio, not Rafa. Rafa's concern should be his strike force. It's going to bite him in the arse eventually. Or not.

6) Aston Villa - 7* (7, 7.00)

All they do is win ballgames. Villa hold steady in the seven slot, and deservedly so. They're not better than the nos. 1-6 sides, but they can certainly compete. If I'm a fan, how can I not be eyeing Man U. and the League.

7) TSG Hoffenheim - 7 (8, 8.43)

Like in real life, Bayern is nipping at the Hoff's heels. They stole a point at Borussia Monchengladbach this weekend, and vital one at that. It is now all that separates them from...

8) Bayern Munich - 8.11 (unranked)

Jump into the Top Ten for the first time EVER this week. A win at home to Dortmund pulled the men from Munich to within a whisper of the Hoff. It was no gimme though. Late goals from Klose (87, 90) secured the 3-1 win. A team on the rise.

9) AC Milan - 9.44 (3, 4.71)

The UF team is very conflicted about the other team from Milan. Could the Beckham transfer business have been a distraction? What the hell happened this week? They were lucky to take a point from the Reggina match. Beckham was iffy, and only a Kaka penno saved them. The most precipitous drop in the HISTORY of the UF Power Poll.

10) AS Roma - 14.67 (unranked)

Yawn. Still, they haven't lost this calendar year. And a beatdown on Genoa (3-0) this weekend was enough to prop them up into the TEN.

Dropped - Chelsea, Arsenal.

In the mix - AZ Alkmaar, Lyon, Hertha Berlin, Juventus, Chelsea (one tenth place spite vote)

*Villa with high vote

Read more on "UF POWER POLL: Week 2"...

The Good, The Bad, The WTF

You know, for those of us who are American soccer fans, it's a pretty big day. A home match against rivals Mexico, and it's a World Cup Qualifier. What better time to take a look at a horror shirt from Mexico's past? Well, as you'll see, The Day of the Dead may have sufficed, but that's not until November.

There are times when playing up your country's heritage goes a bit too far. The rough equivalent of this shirt in the US would be a mural showing the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears with smallpox-laden blankets. Or maybe a Pacific Northwest totem pole. Either way, you'd need to give a sly wink to a culture that got killed off by the conquering forces that have rewritten local history over the past 300 years.

So yeah, the Mayan face isn't the best representation of a modern Mexico. But look at it. Aren't you a little scared? The face has his tongue out like a Maori doing the Haka. That's supposed to instill fear in the enemy. Or maybe this is just the death mask representation of the one of the losers of that Mayan game, kind of like basketball, where the losers reportedly got beheaded. Still, that's scary too. And fitting for Day of the Dead. But it's not Day of the Dead, so I have to stop using that reference. Unless you count Mexico getting slaughtered tonight. Then it can be Una Nueva Dia de los Muertos. I kind of like the sound of that, especially for SGE's career as Mexican coach.

OK, back to the shirt. Yes, it's bad, but it is done better than most. Instead of using a shiny sublimation for the contrast print, two shades of green are used. This does away with the need to view the shirt in the correct light to see what the manufacturer wants you to see. Also, it's a lot better done than the follow up.

Gah. This is simply hideous. The same company (something called ABA Sport) has taken the design and redone it so that it gives everyone a headache. If I had a guess, I would think that the company had hired Jorge Campos as color consultant. The nicest thing that can be said about this shirt is that Mexico is spelled correctly. Horrific stuff.

Now, for the denouement (if you consider the last 'graph to be climax), I'll gie my quick impression on tonight's game. First off, the weather isn't as bad as US Soccer would have hoped for in Columbus in February. The temperature will be in the 50s at kickoff, and there is a chance for rain. Not quite the 20s from the same fixture four years ago. As such, I have had to amend my initial prediction of a 3-0 US win to 2-1. Still, a win's a win, especially if you get the other team to fire their coach after the match.

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

Can We Get A Do-Over, Please?

Good news for Setanta US subscribers as soon you might not have to pay them a monthly fee anymore. The bad news is because there might not be a Setanta before too long.

Upset that they only got one of the packages for EPL rights in the UK the Irish-based subscription channel is looking for some help lest it go under.

Setanta is believed to be seeking an urgent meeting with the Premier League in the hope it will help broker a deal to regain the rights it lost in last week's record-breaking TV auction... Should Setanta be unsuccessful in securing a reverse of the auction, the state of the channel's funding is bound to come under increased scrutiny. Last night the media research group Enders Analysis questioned whether Setanta could survive in its current form.

Uh oh. With only 23 games per season to air between 2010 and 2013 the channel could find itself losing subscribers, unless of course there is a massive surge in popularity for hurling and Gaelic football, assuming that those aren't the same thing. We'll go with 'no' here as we think the former is played with a stick.

What does this mean for US subscribers?

Not entirely sure. The US rights starting in 2010 go up for auction in spring or early summer. So Setanta should know by then if they've been able to negotiate back into another domestic pacakge, and have a better sense of their short-to-medium term viability.

Worst case scenario for Americans? It's probably that Setanta survives. If Setanta is still around, they might make a gambit to put more emphasis on the US market. If they hold more EPL rights for the US, that will likely drive up subscriber numbers over here. More revenue for them but it will cost you, the EPL fan (suck it, Barclay's).

Without a solvent Setanta, that probably leaves the bidding to just FSC and ESPN. Meaning cable outlets that do not require an additional $15 a month just for the one channel (FSC is often on a sports tier which does cost extra but usually gives you access to other awesome shit like bull riding and skating) will probably secure the US rights.

Read more on "Can We Get A Do-Over, Please?"...

Why Yes, It Is A Slow Day

In the absence of a WAG scandal or some sort of witch doctor cursing African clubs, we're at a bit of a loss until the USA v. Mexico match (which we will be liveblogging).

But it's the interlull—as coined by either the Spoiler or the Arseblogger. International friendlies, FA Cup ties, and no Prem for almost a couple of weeks still (save for the United game in hand v. Fulham). Anyway, Italy and Brazil did square off yesterday at the Emirates with the South Americans winning 2-0.

Italy did have two goals disallowed, so it wasn't as bad as the score sheet looks. In fact Luca Toni missed a couple of near sitters by himself aside from the one called back because he more of less caught the ball in his arms to settle it. Fabio Grosso's disallowed goal in the 3rd or 4th was a borderline offside.

The above is probably the highlight of the match. Robinho schools half the Italian defense with a double-stepover cutback before beating Buffon. It was pretty sweet. Although Pirlo should probably get his ass kicked by Lippi for being so nonchalant in taking the ball out of the Eye-tals end.

Two other quick observations from the match:

A) Arsenal should try to enlist as many Brazilian fans as possible. The Emirates was rocking in a way it hasn't all season. Of course there was also scoring in this match not to mention competent Brazilians on the pitch.

B) Joga Bonita might be coming back. The Brazilians played loose and flowing football, with cheeky passes that really left the Italians looking stupid at times. They were nothing at all like the team that sucked in Germany in 06. The other goal, a one touch feed give-and-go with Robinho, Ronaldinho, and Elano was also rather pleasant to look at.

Read more on "Why Yes, It Is A Slow Day"...

UF Quick Throw: Kinnear Unlikely to Return

It's Wednesday so that must mean another manager is in trouble. No sacking here though. Joe Kinnear went in for open heart surgery. His return to the Newcastle bench this season is unlikely. We wish him well... The local media? Maybe not so much.

Read more on "UF Quick Throw: Kinnear Unlikely to Return"...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday Backpasses: NSFW if your boss reads Spanish

You know, there have been a lot of bad ads with footballers in them lately. Here's another one [Kickette]
Preseason MLS fight. Feel the excitement [The Offside Rules]
You know, Gene Hackman's back catalogue does tie in nicely with recent Scolari news [Off The Post]

Poor Alex Curran. Down to two spa trips a week because of the economy [The Sun]
Why Spain will beat England [The Spoiler]

There's some really bad economic news about to come out of Spanish football. Still, if it leads to insipid moves like in this video, then we all win [The Offside]

Read more on "Tuesday Backpasses: NSFW if your boss reads Spanish"...

UF Quick Throw: It is Officially Official

We think. Guus Hiddink will take over Chelsea until the end of the season. He'll also continue his duties with the Russian National Team (for which Roman already pays part of Hiddink's salary). At least Hackman was well compensated for his brief stint at the Bridge.

The other bit of this is that it might be bad news for Peter Kenyon and his future at Chelsea.

Read more on "UF Quick Throw: It is Officially Official"...

An Open Letter to Peter King

Dear Mr. King,

We here at UF saw your recent comment on the David Beckham-to-Milan soap opera and wanted to follow up with you.

David Beckham should be ashamed. Nice message he sends to his children and to the soccer community full of children by signing a five-year contract with Major League Soccer in 2007, opening a soccer academy in California, then trying to walk out on the deal last week because he likes his new team in Milan. Play hardball, Don Garber. Get a ransom for the bum.
Oh, the children, the children! Won't somebody think of the children?!

While we're glad you have a rightly-deserved opinion on the sport we love so much, may we suggest you pull your head out of your oversized anal cavity and focus on your football, as your opinion is silly and your NFL observations need some work as well. Maybe you should stick to Starbucks anecdotes.

Granted, in all fairness, we'd likely have a hard time doing our job well with Brett Favre's cock lodged in our ass.

As you should well know, contracts in this sport are largely meaningless. They seemingly exist solely so the club that holds a player's rights has some leverage once that player wants to leave. What's the point in having an unhappy player as one pissy soul can wreck havoc upon a club's season?

Lest we forget that the NFL has no peer league or true competition... Becks currently plays in the what would be the equivalent to the XFL. While we're not in the business of defending Goldenballs 'round these parts (though one of us may protest a bit too loudly, perhaps hiding a secret crush on him), who can blame him for not wanting to spend his last useful years ('useful' open to interpretation in this instance) in footballing backwaters?

Anyone with any talent (and options) would probably think of MLS as their Plan D or F. If Beckham wants to make the England squad and play in next year's World Cup (to be held somewhere other than South Africa), he has to be on a team that can actually be taken seriously. That means, one that plays at a decent standard and doesn't resemble rugby more than soccer.

He only joined the Galaxy after it appeared his international career was done. Shall we chide him for having ambition, as well as having been a role model and perfect example to children all over the world for years (especially aspiring Zoolanders)? Love him or hate him, his work ethic is superb and he conducts himself with class.

Quite frankly, he puts a lot of American athletes to shame.

And, FYI... He opened an academy stateside long before he joined the embarrasing LA Galaxy.

Good day, sir.

Yours truly,
Unprofessional Foul

P.S. You are right about getting a ransom for him. If Garber actually has a pair, they'll settle for no less than 10 million pounds; 15M if they're brassy. (Milan will make that back in shirt sales and other promotions in no time)

Read more on "An Open Letter to Peter King"...

Have Chelsea Gone Bonkers?

What a mess. After finally winning trophies following years of frustration, Chelsea has regressed to the Ken Bates (that's Ken in fightin' form to the left) circus days. Roman Abramovich has now sacked four managers, three in the last 18 months. A Chelsea supporter’s take on the current situation at Stamford Bridge follows after the jump.

Big Phil Scolari had utterly lost the dressing room. That’s the buzz. John Terry and Frank Lampard had pleaded with the Brazilian to institute stronger fitness regimes. His tactics - remember the man to zonal to man-marking week? - were mystifying. Results were poor. After early success, Chelsea have looked lost, unfit, and, yes, disinterested in their recent run of poor form. With the League lost, and critical fixtures in the FA Cup (not Watford, the next fixture) and Champions League (losing to Ranieri’s Juventus?) coming up, the Hull draw this past weekend really was the last straw. I am a loyal, Blue-tinted guy, but that performance on Saturday was poor, poor, poor. Villa are, in fact, better than us at this point. If we don’t change something, we’ll drop down to Arsenal-level. And that would be unacceptable. I fucking hate Arsenal.

Now, you can criticize Roman for being impatient. That insufferable red-faced drunk up in Manchester certainly had his go. But you cannot question his commitment to football and success. He ran Jose Mourinho out, not because of the Rosenberg draw, but because he couldn’t see Jose taking Chelsea to the top of the world. He was wrong, to my mind. But the point is that Roman is not just another rich chairman. He cares about the game and ruthlessly competes to win. The one good piece of fall-out from this week’s events is that it seems to put the lie to the angle that Roman is looking to sell.

Where from here? I think that Guus Hiddink is an excellent stop gap. Chelsea need time to find a permanent manager. I’m personally up for a Billy Martin-style return by Jose. Ancelotti? Worth a try. Zola and Clarke? Steve Clarke’s departure is what killed Phil’s chances and, arguably, previously enabled Mourinho’s success. And I do love Zola…Z-O-L-A, Zola!...the pair’s effect on Hammers has been remarkable. In any event, Hiddink can certainly do this job and maintain Russia for a few months. Again, we need time to consider everyone, currently available or not.

The club needs work. While I don’t buy the argument that they are too old as a group, there needs to be more youth, pace and fitness. Drogba (I still believe), the Coles, Mikel, Essien, Terry, Lampard, Carvalho, Bosingwa and Cech? Still a solid core. Kalou is a useful bench player. Belletti, Deco (who was old when he started), Malouda, Ballack, Anelka (I don’t care if he scores for fun, he is a cancer)…get them out. Run the kids out. Miroslav Stoch has had a couple of impressive appearances. We have not fallen far, but our standards are high. Get in!

All my friends here on UF can take comfort in the fact that Wenger and Rafa will never be fired. I will admit that I would love some stability at my club. But I also know that my Liverpool and Arsenal-supporting fans have questions about their managers as well. And that their clubs are hardly lighting the world on fire. A little Stamford Bridge (and Carrow Road?) impatience with performance is not a bad thing. In particular, if I were a Red, Rafa would terrify me most of the time.

That last little bit was a pathetic, and ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to keep Bigus from the assault on Chelsea he is bound to mount in the comments below. Chelsea are Bigus' Moby Dick.

Read more on "Have Chelsea Gone Bonkers?"...

Today's Update Brought To You By The Numbers 6 & 9

Remember Nives Celzijus? She of the ample bosom, healthy sexual appetite and fetish for outdoor sex. Stupid question, of course you do. Well, she and her husband are back in the news today, this time because the Bundesliga will not allow the Karlsruhe loanee Dino Drpic wear jersey number 69. Apparently, it is verboten in a land that has many nudists, legalized prostitution, a former pro female soccer player turned stripper, and a women's club that was willing to take their clothes off for a sponsor.

If you recall, Dino was sent packing from his Croatian club after his wife revealed she and Dino had sex in the middle circle at the stadium. Karlsruhe doesn't seem to mind the attention, but the Bundesliga does, so Drpic has been saddled with the number associated with the missionary position--11.*

In further Celzijus news, it seems the middle circle sex just is not enough for this exhibitionist. In an interview with Bild (trust me, it's in German), Nives reveals her greatest dream is to have sex on the roof of the Bernabeu, the Real Madrid stadium. Let's see if we can get Drpic transferred again and set up a pay-per-view for Ms. Celzijus.

Other tidbits from that interview. Nives just doesn't think things are quite right with Posh. Posh just isn't genuine with her big fake breasts. Luckily for her, she says, Mother Nature has not disadvantaged her in that area. The Croatian goes on to savage Beckham, saying Dino is a real man and Becks just doesn't interest her. Unfortunately, she does go on to admit that besides Dino, Cristiano Ronaldo is the fairest footballer of them all.

We can be sure to expect to hear more from Nives in the future. She does not seem too shy.

*May not be what the number is associated with.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday Backpasses: That's the Benny Hill song

No managerial speculation here. Just the odd crap we couldn't fit in elsewhere.

Wayne Rooney wears "old man" slippers. If someone wants to put an ASCII picture in the comments of these, I'd appreciate it [The Sun]
More about the John Terry tranny doppelganger. I can't wait to see "tranny doppelganger" hits from search engines [News of the World]
I don't think this is the Euro goal of the year, but it's still pretty damn spiffy [Never Captain Nicky Butt]

Nando getting hitched. Is a El Niñito on the way, too? [The Spoiler]
David Bentley hit his target. Obvious shenanigans here [Anorak]

Michael Ballack does not find snow play funny. Yakety Sax should have ensued instead [Dirty Tackle]

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This Seemed Like More Fun 24 Hours Ago

Remember when Tony Adams was fired?

Amazingly it was just yesterday. Shit Chelsea won't even let Arsenal has-beens have the headlines for a full news cycle. Thanks Roman.

Anyway, when we heard the news, we did the first thing anybody does anymore. We went to Wikipedia. Not to confirm that Adams had actually been fired, but to find out who his replacement was.

Wikipedia isn't just for information. It's for telling the future. Or at least it seems that way, as bits of tid have a peculiar habit of turning up there before any other source (legitimate or otherwise) seems capable of finding them.

So first, someone posited that Alan Curbishley—whose real first name it turns out is Llewellyn (Alan is a good choice, then)—had (or would) replace him. See the top pic above (and click to enlarge).

Of course once that got edited out, the wisdom of the group had no more wisdom to impart. Only questions. See below (and you really need to click on it to see the larger version so you can read it):

Finally, the truth was posted. Nobody has the job. Vacant.

Then the truth was changed and was made even truthier: It was put in lower case and italicized. And really italics are how you know it's finally the truth.

The last one isn't that interesting except for the fact that, because it was changed again, we're theorizing that someone else was given the job on wikipedia while we weren't looking. Perhaps Avram Grant.

Anyway, some people have far too much time on their hands. And we have even more so that we can take screeshots of it.

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Sundhage Sets Algarve Cup Roster

Don't they look excited to be in Algarve?**

Coach Pia Sundhage announced the 18-player roster for the USWNT's play in the Algarve Cup, which takes place from March 4-11 in Portugal (in Algarve, obviously). The US is in Group B, and will face Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (Scandanivian trifecta!) in group play. A traditional power in the tournament, the USWNT has appeared 14 times and won 6 times, including from 2003-2005, 2007, and 2008 (also losing to Germany in the 2006 finals). The Algarve Cup is generally considered to be the 4th most important women's tournament in international play, behind the World Cup, the Olympics, and the UEFA Championship (umm, hooray?).

Coach Sundhage's roster will be missing Abby Wambach, as she is still recovering from her injury, and will include only WPS players. The roster is as follows:

1. Hope Solo (GK) - St. Louis Athletica
2. Heather Mitts (D) - Boston Breakers
3. Christie Rampone (D) - Sky Blue FC
4. Rachel Buehler (D) - FC Gold Pride
5. Lindsay Tarpley (M) Chicago Red Stars
6. Natasha Kai (F) - Sky Blue FC
7. Shannon Boxx (M) - Los Angeles Sol
8. Amy Rodriguez (F) - Boston Breakers
9. Heather O'Reilly (M) - Sky Blue FC
10. Carli Lloyd (M) - Chicago Red Stars
12. Angie Woznuk (M) - St. Louis Athletica
13. Kendall Fletcher (D) - Los Angeles Sol
15. Megan Rapinoe (F) - Chicago Red Stars
16. Angela Hucles (F) - Boston Breakers
17. Lori Chalupny (D) - St. Louis Athletica
18. Nicole Barnhart (GK) - FC Gold Pride
19. Tina DiMartino (M) - FC Gold Pride
21. Kacey White (M) - Sky Blue FC

Woznuk, Fletcher, Rapinoe and DiMartino are the least-capped members of the squad although each has been to at least 1 Algarve Cup previously.

**Photo Credit: Brad Smith, International Sports Images

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Jimmy Bullard Wants YOU for Ebbsfleet United

Jimmy Bullard is excited about Ebbsfleeet United.

We've discussed the difficulties that Ebbsleet United (aka MyFootballClub FC) have been having in their Year 2 campaign. As the club struggles a bit off the pitch they have been searching for a way to maintain interest for the original 30,000 owners while potentially attracting new ones. This past weekend some of us here at UF received a disturbing e-mail about the state of the club.

"A quick hello from me, Jimmy Bullard, to fellow Fleet owners across the world!

The Fleet gave me my first chance in football and I was there between 1998 and 1999, so I sincerely hope this special club continues to go from strength to strength.

Stonebridge Road is a friendly place run by some lovely people - many of whom I know well and are still working at the club.

I've been delighted to see the club have such a great year. Winning at Wembley was a terrific reward for everyone. I only wish I could have been there to celebrate too, but I was preparing for Fulham's final game of the season the next day away at Portsmouth.

Thousands of members helping the club they own onto bigger and better things makes great sense to me. I hope you will join me and renew your MyFootballClub membership as soon as possible.

Cheers, Jimmy"

I guess he has plenty of time for such things while he is resting his knee, but if they are really serious about these efforts I expect a personal phone call from Roy Hodgson.

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Celebrities, Just Like You and Me... If You're A Cheap Bastard

As the entire world continues to get a mild contact high from the fumes of the smoldering economic ruins—gotta find some benefit— it's good to know that the rich and famous are there to do their part to assuage our collective pains.

Or not.

Exhibit A: Wayne Rooney. Multi-millionaire. World class footballer. Cheap bastard.

The Satan Manchester United striker—hey, they're the ones that made the Red Devil their mascot—took his lovely wife Colleen out for dinner, and proceeded to use a 50% off coupon when the bill came. This despite the couple being worth as estimated £35M.

From the News of the World article:

He and wife Coleen got their £27.80 food bill slashed to just £13.90.

A source told the News of the World: “Everybody loves a special offer. Wayne and Coleen are no different. They come from working class roots and if they had the voucher then why not use it?"
Let's just assume that last question isn't rhetorical and perhaps provide a possible answer.

How about: Because you have all the fucking money, so as others struggle to pay rent and stuff, maybe try helping the restaurant and it's employees stay solvent by parting with .000004% of your net worth?

What's really appalling is how the piece fawns over the pair for being a "normal down-to-earth couple" before going into some details over their income. The highlight being perhaps the £3.5M Rooney has raked in (thus far) for a 12-year, five-book deal.

Most normal people don't get multi-million dollar (or pound) multi-book deals, particularly when they are borderline illiterate from having spent their youth in football academies instead of, you know, school.

America, is this a great country or what? Okay, it's England, but still. If the Rooneys are really that cheap, perhaps they should stay in and have dinner at home. The one that's probably cooked by their private chef (yep, just like regular folk).

On the plus side, Gusto, the restaurant, has probably gotten more than £13.90 in free advertising out of the deal.

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UF Quick Throw: New Chelsea manager odds

It's a day of upheaval in England. Right now we are still reeling, but there is no delay at the betting sites. A hot favorite has been installed in the race for Chelsea manager. No, it's not Avram!, KK, or even Mourinho. It's guy coming from Russia. That's right, Guus Hiddink is the early leader on the betting boards. Does he think he has done all he can in Russia? Only time will tell.

[Online Betting Guide]

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