Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Bootroom: The rushed version

Well, it's the last weekend of the season in most of the leagues we care about. Get in here now to discuss the last day of the Bundesliga, various playoffs and Serie B.

In Germany, three teams still have a shot. Since Wolfsburg are jinxed (see last night's Backpasses), Stuttgart and Bayern still have a shot. All Wolfsburg need is a point to win league.

In France, Bordeaux need to avoid a loss to Monaco to win Ligue 1. If Bordeaux do in fact lose, then Marseille can win the title by defeating AS Nancy. Oops. One more round to go.

Selected games (all times EDT)

Wolfsburg-Werder Bremen

League Two Playoff
Gillingham-Shrewsbury Town

Scottish Div Two Playoff

France Ligue 1
AS Nancy-Marseille
Bordeaux-AS Monaco

If all of that is not fun enough, LB may have a MLS liveblog later.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Backpasses: No parade for Autoglass

Alright, we slid to fourth. As stated, this is our desired goal. However, if you would like to vote us up, clear your cookies and go here.

Wolfsburg will not win the Bundesliga this season. The beer will go bad [Dirty Tackle]
Six minutes and some shitty music. Top missed sitters [The Offside]
Welsh club owner may sell his spot in the English pyramid system [Two Hundred Percent]

Joe Jonas is a douchebag in an Argentina shirt [ONTD_FB]
Chelsea don't have enough money to celebrate probable FA Cup win [The Sun]

In case any of you are alone this weekend and like the female form, Miss Northern Ireland would like to promote a new shirt for you. NSFW-ish [Who Ate All the Pies?]

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Help Us Find Places to Watch Footy

We are looking for several of these, in exotic locales

With Memorial Day almost here, it turns out that most of us will be traveling across North America this upcoming week. Wave hello if you see us on the road or at the airport. That also means that we need your help finding places to watch football. Anyone have any suggestions for the following?

- Minneapolis for the Sunday EPL matches (Precious Roy)
- Montreal for the Sunday EPL matches (Spectator)
- Lake George, NY for the CL final (Bigus)
- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for the CL final (The Fan's Attic)

Before you make fun of Precious Roy for his not-so-exotic destination, he's attending a wedding. But please do make jokes about swine flu at the expense of one the Fan's Attic.

Also, please be extra nice to Lingering Bursitis this weekend because he's the only one who's staying home. Although he says that he might go visit his nan in Cleethorpes.

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MacFarlane bows out of D.C. United, gets friendly with Real Madrid

This has been coming for some time now, but it's official and we're not surprised. Victor MacFarlane, building developer/player, sold his shares of D.C. United to his long time partner, Chang. Mr. Chang is also a partial owner of the Baseball San Francisco Giants. What does this mean for footy in DC?

I've always figured Victor MacFarlane to be a mini-me developer type in the mold of Phillip Anschutz, whom he purchased the team from. The plan is simple: buy a second tier sports team; measure the mark (local community); use the local goodwill of the sports team, combined with the 'economic benefit' (as defined by your own research) to tout a public-private stadium deal; then use it as your 21st century "anchor tenant" for your mixed-use property development. That's the money maker, and I bet if we could do the math, we would see that on a long haul. Having an anchor tenant makes it all that much solid. Sports teams are the new development anchor tenants (until the Wal-Mart competitive sports league is formed in 2023).

Mr. MacFarlane seemed to wear out his welcome, with his shifting of stadium sites, and his whining for the "same deal" the Nationals received with the Poplar Point project in DC. He should of argued that the Nationals suck and soccer could be successful faster, but he didn't.

Mr. Chang seems more committed to the team than MacFarlane, but has largely remained in the shadows. He's going to have to come out of the shadows, and in an interview with The Washington Post, he talks about the team staying, somewhat:

"I'm not looking for a big real estate deal as part of a stadium project. I'm looking for a bread-and-butter stadium [without ancillary elements]. I'm not looking for a Poplar Point project [with mixed-use development]. I am just looking for a home for this team. I want to go to a place that wants a stadium and wants us."

Not very enticing, but at the same time, he also said Team President Kevin Payne ran point. However, all employees take their marching orders from their boss, and Kevin has a new boss now. Tell us what you want to do Mr. Chang, and I bet you could get a decent collection of government officials to sign up. He should try a few things. He should realize that the three local governments (four if you count uncle sam) will be hard pressed to agree on anything, especially if money is involved, and they may want some of it.

Then we top off the DC United stories with a rumour that the friendly between DC United and Real Madrid, is scheduled for August 9th. Tickets supposedly to go on sale Tuesday, May 26th. Right when I'm not in town!

DC United Press Release
matchfitusa: macfarlane-cuts-bait-on-dc-united

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Turn On, Tune In.

Not so sure about the sun visor OR the Owen Coyle face-mask.

This coming weekend is Football League Play-Off Final weekend. Most of the readers on here, solely follow the Premiership. Well this entry is aimed at you.

The play off finals are usually high-drama events offering superb entertainment. And here's a nugget of information you may or may not know. The Championship play off final is the biggest money game in the WORLD. Sixty million smackers to the winner. After the jump, a look at this weekend's action and where/when you can watch.

Lets start with League Two. The Final is on Saturday and between Gillingham and Shrewsbury. You can watch this one on Setanta delayed. 6.45pm Eastern time. Will Gillingham be able to cope with the pressure? They lost 7-0 to Shrewsbury earlier in the season.

The League One Final is on Sunday and this one is LIVE on Setanta at 07.55 Eastern. Millwall will take on Scunthorpe, who look to bounce back to the Colaship at the first attempt. Look out for Gary Hooper for The Iron. He's their top scorer with 30 and will fancy carrying on his good season by finding the back of the net at Wembley. Hooper is attracting a lot of attention in the Championship and this could be his last game for Scunny.

Millwall will look to experienced forward (and Leed's killer) Neil Harris to find a winner. Their top scorer this season is Gary Alexander.

Goal machine: Gary Hooper.

Now on to the BIG one. The 60 million quid, winner takes all showdown between Sheffield United and Burnley. United are favourites but Burnley are a hungry side in form. I really can't predict a winner in this one but have a sneaky feeling that Burnley will be celebrating top-flight football when the dust settles. The referee for this one is the controversial Mike Dean. He is not a favourite with Blades fans after sending off Matty Kilgallon during the steel City derby against rivals Sheffield Wednesday back in October. This game should be a cracker. Both teams are a super match for each other.

You can watch Burnley V Sheffield United LIVE on Setanta and on ESPN360 at 10 am on Monday. What better way to spend Memorial Day eh?

Read more on "Turn On, Tune In."...

Prawn Munchers Steal Toffee's Tickets.

Wembley, Oh she's gorgeous. A beauty. Probably the greatest Stadium in the World. But since she rose from the ground to host major events, a common problem has appeared. Prawn munchers. Corporate fans.

The FA Cup Final is a special day for football AND for the fans of the teams playing. Those supporters should all have a chance to go, or as many as possible. Alas no. Not in this day and age.

25,000. That's the amount of tickets that Everton FC has received for the FA Cup final on Saturday week. Chelsea will receive the same. Goodison Park's regular attendance is around 36,000. Chelsea's? 40,000. Wembley holds 90,000 punters. So 40,000 corporate prawn munchers will get to go to the Cup Final instead of Everton and Chelsea fans. Pathetic. This didn't happen at the old Wembley. Problem is that 'new Wembley' sold 10 year seat licences. These folks have the right to go, whoever they support. Will they? Unlikely. The tickets will end up on the black market and some poor sod will get ripped off. Just not on. There should be a scheme where they can sell back the event to Wembley for the correct price if they are not going. Id required.

Wembley: The home of football and spinach quiches.

But it's not just the 10 year lease holders who have tickets, the FA hold back thousands of tickets to schmooze corporate sponsors and foreign football association officials. Half an eye on the game while real supporters of Everton and Chelsea have to watch on the TV.

"I think to go to 30,000 per club would not mean too much pain for those people (the Football Association and corporate sponsors) to swallow that reduced allocation. It would mean that all Everton season ticket holders, all Everton Lounge Members and a reasonable proportion of our regular match going fans would get a ticket."
- Everton Chief Executive Robert Elstone.

Nice one FA. Keep up the good work.

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UF Quick Throw: "Back and to the Left" or "Fabregas Cleared"

The FA thinks Brian Horton is a big, fat liar. Or at least that's the inference we're making as they cleared Cesc Fabregas of both improper conduct charges levied against him by Hull City FC (the biggie being that he spat on Horton).

The verdict was apparently handed down a week ago but the FA asked all parties to keep it on the DL. This means Phil "I'm Orange Not" Brown is likely be the only person to receive a disciplinary beat down from the FA.

Ha ha.

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BREAKING NEWS: Chelsea pair in trouble!

UEFA is charging Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa for insulting that Norwegian ref in the CL semi-final 2nd Leg. In the same breath, they're initiating disciplinary action against the club for improper conduct by a number of players, as well as missile-throwing from the fans.

Drogba, Bosingwa, and Chelsea have to respond to these charges by May 29, and the case will be reviewed June 17.

[BBC Sport]

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The Fix Is In

Just a quickie to start the day. Yesterday I decided to have some fun with the Daily Mail and a poll they started regarding Ipshit and where they can expect to finish under Irish abondoner Roy Keane. I enlisted the help of Norwich fans on a popular message board and the fix was in. This morning? Follow the jump for the result.

Down Town...Things'll be great when you're down Town.

Yeah I'm kinda still bitter.

Happy Friday.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Backpasses: Who DID eat all the pies?

I wondered if Shakhtar Donetsk's orange color scheme had anything to do with the Orange Revolution. I had no idea it was like this [When Saturday Comes]
Should MLS use FC St. Pauli as a template? [Soccer Fanhouse]
Rangers FC have two Americans. Can they be the new Team USA? [Rangers Media]
Time lapse video of construction on the RBNY stadium [Red Bulls Reader]

DC United-Real Madrid August 9th [DC United Offside]
Six dirtiest EPL players of 08/09 [WAATP?]
Liverpool themselves have some out against Cohen [Ginge Talks The Footy]
Arsenal away kits revealed [Football Fashion]
How not to coach a youth team in a shootout [Sportress of Blogitude]
Aberdeen's paper-thin hopes of qualifying for Europe just got even slighter. Damn drunk Scots [BBC]

RBNY played their six a side against the Armed Forces on a MFing boat today. Here are some pics [The Offside Rules] and [This is American Soccer]

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Shhh.... Don't Tell The Scousers

Okay, so I lifted the headline from a backroom UF joke made earlier in the day. But if you win the Bundesliga 2 (Electric Bugaloo), you get the above trophy... which we can only guess is a hubcap.

Given we established earlier today that Meelan players get a new Audi just for showing up, this is kind of a shitty prize.

Anyway, this comes from a slideshow over on Bild. And without using the Babelfish we can only assume it's a montage of the World's 20 Shittiest Trophies. At least we now know why the Davis Cup is a team competition as it requires at least five people to carry it.

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In Scudamore, we don't trust

His nose looks remarkably clean for a man who has his head firmly up his arse

There is still a lot of whinging and moaning about this weekend's EPL slate, and almost all of it revolves around Robbie Keane's vow for revenge at Anfield what kind of team Sir Alex Ferguson will choose to play Hull.

Will he play kids? Will he play the three-headed monster of Ronalrooneyvez? Does anyone outside of Hull and Newcastle even care? (We'll leave out the text promise made by Darren Fletcher to Ricky Sbragia, then)

Thankfully, EPL Chief Richard "Dick" Scudamore has weighed in, having taken five minutes between business luncheons and napping under his mahogany desk to contradict himself.

On one hand, Dicky Scu thinks it's peachy-cool for United to do whatever they wish and play any number of Serbian teenagers in a crucial relegation battle. They've apparently earned their right to do so.

I find this to be a little alarming; the head of the league is condoning such a wilfully destructive approach to a game with massive Colaship implications, and doing so in the carefree, breezy manner that you'd expect from a guy with tons of money and absolutely no perspective whatsoever.

Excuse me, Mr. Shearer? You just got the thumbs down from Emperor Scudamore in the Coliseum of Relegation. Or something equally far-fetched, metaphor-wise.

And then, in a drooling BBC radio interview, he says he fully expects United to field a strong competitive team, thus ensuring a fair and balanced final weekend and no such repeats of the Carlos Tevez/Sheffield United mess that plagued the league a couple of years ago (lest we forget that Fergie ran out his 2nd XI in that crucial game, the one where Carlos scored, the Hammers went apeshit, and Phil Warnock paid his lawyers for a million billable hours in advance).

Of course, 'Arry, a man who's been rather quiet down the stretch (being a mid-table side will do that to you), rolled off his hemorrhoid donut and wolfed down his meat-and-cheese pie in double-quick time so he could pen a column for the Sun saying that everyone should just stop crying and that Newcastle can have no complaints or gripes one way or the other.

Fergie did say he'd play a strong team, so that's something I suppose. But this isn't about United... it's about Scudamore, and that he's a total and complete fucking moron. I realize that the ka-ching of the EPL cash register is loud and all, but take a minute sometimes before you speak. There are three clubs threatened with a grim fate, and your soundbites paint you as an aloof, careless idiot.

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Sammy Hagar Would Be Proud

First, this was linked to in Backpasses last night but we thought it worthy of a full post (and hat tip to Dirty Tackle). Second, pardon our ignorance if these guys are like the Regis and Teller of Italian TV and pull these kind of hijinks all the time, but we'll cop to not being as worldly as we pretend sometimes. Plus it's foreign TV. I'm Alan Partridge is about obscure as I get when it comes to the overseas boob tube.

That doesn't make this any less awesome.

Some Italian TV station hung out around the training grounds of a few soccer clubs. They waited for the players to leave the grounds, then put a radar gun on them as they drove away.

Meelan is above. To little surprise Beckham is indeed a pussy safe driver (and he appears to be behind the wheel of some sort of emasculating family station wagon).

Lazio is here, AS Roma is here, and Inter is here.

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Who the F*ck Is Marcus Evans?

Why was the picture pixelated? Does he have two noses? Is he the Elephant Man? A Scooby Doo Villain?

Marcus Evans. He's on the Times rich list. A billionaire. He waited until all of the local businesses owed by Ipswich Town FC were shafted by the clubs administration, then got himself a fantasy football bargain. Cheap git! Yet no one and I mean NO ONE knows what this guy looks like? If I was in anyway associated with Ipswich Town, I'd want to hide my face too but this is just ridiculous. His name is blazoned across the players shirts, his company is called 'Marcus Evans'. Apparently, according to message board regulars, he does go to watch the games and sits in the regular seats, not the box. Lets face it, he has 10,000 spare ones to chose from. The only picture available is the one above. How is this possible? In this day and age where no one can hide, even in the darkest corners of the Internet.

This is where YOU come in, loyal UF fans. Join me after the jump for challenge!

Simple. What does he look like. I want a picture. People need to know what the man who bought the worst football club in the world looks like. We need to out him.

So what do we know? Well he is a tax dodger, only required to spend 60 days a year in England, business wise. His company is registered in Bermuda. His cash is in offshore accounts in Bermuda. He owns two homes in England and yet his office is listed as also being in Bermuda. Marcus Evans employs 3500 people. He even gave 1 million quid to the Liberal Democrats last year! Yet no one knows what he looks like?

Is he a future Bond villain? The man without a face? A Scooby Doo crook? How does he manage to not have his photo taken? What about school pics? Events? I am baffled.

No one knows?

Not even fleet streets best could find the man.

Go to work people. Find me this man. Show me what you got. Lets see his face. The face of the coward who is scared to be pointed out as a scummer. To be outed as one who funds evil.

If Evans is a Scooby Doo crook, you lot are... "those meddling kids!".

The winner will receive a brand spanking new UF t-shirt, to be premiered at the first Unprofessional Foul Up in Baltimore this July.

Good luck people. You are gonna need it.


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Prison Footy is Good for the Soul

No word on if these men were involved in the match.

There has been some concern about South Africa's readiness for WC 2010, both in terms of stadia construction and with respect to safety. Of course, the country is holding the Confederations Cup this summer as a test of its preparedness. Even better, they are preparing for the Confederations Cup by staging a Prison Confederations Cup!

South Africa is well-known for its prison population, as it sits ranked #26 overall for incarceration rate and #8 overall for total number of individuals incarcerated. At some point, an enterprising member of the corrections department of Gauteng province observed that prisoners, like many other South Africans, were excited about the upcoming action in 2009 and 2010. Thus a reward structure was implemented whereby they were allowed to play football matches if they behaved themselves during their confinement. Due to the fact that there are quite a few prisons in South Africa, there were enough inmates nearby to stage a Prison Confederations Cup.

One of the matchups featured Boksburg prison (representing Brazil) against Heidelberg prison (representing Egypt; too bad Germany wasn't the UEFA rep - they would have been perfect), and the description of the event is in stark contrast to the crowds at "outside" events:

"Running alongside the road on the other side of the pitch is a three-metre-high wire fence, and beyond that again, silhouetted against the horizon like giant sand castles, three flat-topped pyramidal gold mine dumps.

A lone prison officer with a rottweiler named Rambo mounts guard over the fence."

Excellent name for the guard dog aside, these are not exactly the usual circumstances we think of for a match. However, the idea that football, on a general level, can alleviate some of the social ills that South Africa faces is an agenda that is being pushed harder and harder as the main event draws near. The Boksburg prison head of sports and recreation (who cheerfully refers to one of the players as "that coloured chappie") notes that recidivism in the area around Boksburg is down to around 15%, while South Africa as a whole has a rate of near 60%.

Georgey Jacobs (the afore-mentioned "chappie"), 31, says that playing within the prison system has caused him to re-evaluate his life, and that he wishes to become a professional footballer once he gets out. Sadly, the chances of that happening are far, far less than those of him returning to prison.

[Ed. Note: As a comparison, the latest statistics on recidivism for the US indicate that nearly 2/3 of released offenders will be rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within 3 years of release. Slightly under 50% will be convicted for the new offense, and approximately 1/4 will be sent back to prison.]

And now, because any talk of prison footy requires it:

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UF Quick Throw: Holloway in for Blackpool

Ian Holloway, off the scene since leaving Leicester following their relegation to League One, has signed a 1-year contract (with an option for a 2nd year) to be the gaffer at Championship club Blackpool.

Holloway replaces caretaker manager Tony Parkes.

[Blackpool unveil Holloway as boss]

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Sounders Players Dominate Initial All-Star Votes

Seattle Sounders fans are showing the perils of fan based all-star voting. Granted it is only one week into the MLS All-Star voting, but as it stands there would be eight Sounders players in the starting eleven.

Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller leads all players in voting. Other Seattle players in the starting eleven as of right now: Frederick Ljungberg, Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani, Osvaldo Alonso, Tyrone Marshall, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Sebastian Le Toux. The only non-Sounders are LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan, Toronto FC's Dwayne De Rosario, and Columbus Crew's Frankie Hejduk.

Seattle Sounders fans have obviously set the bar high for other fans with their committed attendance and support of the players. Although, I would like to know how many actual votes have been received.

Amazingly, MLS permits fans to vote up to 10 times per day. Thankfully, MLS only has fan voting count for 25% of the total vote, with media, general managers and coaches comprising the remaining 75%.

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Look Who Might Be A World Cup Ref


This is new to me, I'm not sure if it is new to everybody. It turns out one of the main characters of the Barcelona-Chelsea passion play from a couple weeks back, Tom Henning Øvrebø, is on the preliminary list for 2010 World Cup referees. As of yet, there has been no fallout from UEFA for the semifinal controversy (I doubt there would be) but the list is from October and could be changed.

Oh, and look who else is on the list?

Nice. Maybe he'll be England's next Graham Poll.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Backpasses: I got nuthin'

Congrats to Shakhtar Donetsk. I was right.

Clarence Seedorf to Philly? No way [MLS Rumors]
Bankruptcy in football and what it means [Two Hundred Percent]
Gotcha (not the paintball movie) outside an Italian training ground [Dirty Tackle]
Five best and worst Englishmen in Italy [SoccerLens]

Six players that don't deserve to go down [WAATP?]
Canadian manager makes history in England [24th Minute]
American keeper set to sign with Celtic [BBC]
Top 10 signings of the EPL season [The Spoiler]

DC United fashion show [Behind the Badge]

Read more on "Wednesday Backpasses: I got nuthin'"...

The Good, The Bad, The WTF

Let's just get three things out of the way. One, Shakhtar Donetsk shirts are not the easiest things to find on the net. Two, if the Ukrainian club were not in today's UEFA Cup final, this shirt would merit no attention at this time. Maybe, down the road, when we hit week number 482 of this column, it would fit, but now is not the time. Oh well. And three, Shakhtar's opponent, Werder Bremen, has a whole host of shirts that I could use here, but I did them once already. And I only use the repeat offenders tag for clubs that truly deserve it.

Anyway, let's go take a look at a recent ugly, but not horrible, shirt from the team that, half an hour before kickoff, I am declaring UEFA Cup champions.

Okay, so orange and black aren't the most inspired choices to put together. Look how well it has worked for the Cleveland Browns, you know? But this shirt isn't really bad, it's merely unpleasant. The big problem is that the shirt colors, and these are their normal colors, are nothing like the badge. You look at that badge and you see a more reddish orange, black and green. Why change the orange for the shirt? It makes no sense.

And about that badge. The badge on the shirt is significantly different than the one we put up in the UEFA Cup open thread immediately preceding this post. If this shirt is only from 2007 (which it is), then why the big change there? Apparently the big pull was to get the crossed hammers back onto the crest after 30 years of absence. Couldn't tell you why, but last year, Shakhtar made the switch. The new crest, at least, drops the green field, though the oranges still differ between the badge and the shirt. My favorite part about the badge change is the change in spelling. I know that it's in Cyrillic, but I have to wonder why the spelling changed from "WAXMEP" to "WAXTAP"

Obviously, it's a little hard to work up some vitriol for a relatively benign shirt. This is one of those that resides in the Bad camp, but only just. Next week, I promise, we'll return to WTF territory.

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UEFA Cup's final Final Open Thread

European Silverware day! While not as glamorous as nest week's Champions League Final between Manchester United and Barcelona, this is guaranteed to be a historic finale. Yes, friends, today we see the last UEFA Cup Final ever. Germany's Werder Bremen and Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk will put it all on the line to see which team becomes the historical footnote/trivia answer. Or not. That's the beauty of the game. You can never tell how it will be played until the match is in motion.

Shakhtar and Bremen both benefited from entering the competition at the knockout stage after being dumped from Champions League play. That's not a bad parachute to have if you can ride it to the final. Inside, we'll hit on lineups and both teams road through the competition. In case that's not enough for you, you can go look back at Werder's entry into The Good, The Bad, The WTF, and know that Shakhtar will get added in after the match. Will they be secondary champions of Europe at the time? Hell for all I know, it will still be in PKs when that post goes live.

Shakhtar Donetsk

Round of 32: Tottenham Hotspur 3-1
Round of 16: CSKA Moscow 2-1
Quarterfinals: Olympique Marseille 4-1
Semifinals: Dynamo Kyiv 3-2

Today's lineup:
Pyatov, Kucher, Fernandinho, Jadson, Ilsinho, Luiz Adriano, Lewandowksi, William, Rat, Chygrynskiy, Srna.
Subs: Khudzhamov, Duljaj, Gai, Gladkiy, Ischenko, Chyzhov, Moreno.

Werder Bremen

Round of 32: AC Milan 3-3 (away goals)
Round of 16: Saint Etienne 3-2
Quarterfinals: Udinese 6-4
Semifinals: Hamburg 3-3 (away goals)

Today's lineup:
Wiese, Boenisch, Naldo, Baumann, Fritz, Rosenberg, Ozil, Prodl, Frings, Pizarro, Niemeyer.
Subs: Vander, Pasanen, Tosic, Vranjes, Hunt, Tziolis, Harnik.

No away goals to save the Germans tonight. Let's hope for lots of action and just a few goals, shall we?

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Bigus and Spectator Return to Playing Football

The field turf won this 50-50 tackle with Bigus

So Bigus says, “Hey, I know an indoor facility that has open football games at night. You just show up and they put you on a team. Want to go?” Against every ounce of my better judgment, I said yes.

After the jump, you’ll hear what it’s like when two out-of-shape 30-somethings decide to play the beautiful game. (Hint: It wasn’t very beautiful.)

Now, to understand my conflicted feelings about playing football, you have to realize that I have never had much, nay any athletic ability. This is why I love professional sports so much, because I have such an appreciation for athletes. But, growing in the soccer hotbed of St. Louis, I played every summer in youth leagues and even played a bit during my Freshman year of high school. Let’s just say that I developed an innate sense of playing within myself: which usually meant staying back on defense. This also meant that I never exactly mastered dribbling or passing.

It was with this particular skill set that I found myself on the pitch last night. In addition, I should mention that I consider myself to be pretty horribly out of shape. The thought that kept running through my head was, "This will all end in tears."

I was, however, somewhat comforted by the fact that I didn’t look all that worse than the Over 40s game that took place just before my scrimmage. Before I knew it, we were on the pitch, divvied into teams (Bigus on one and me on the other). I made a few decent saves when in goal, a few decent stops on defense, and also gave up several goals that at least had the benefit of making the opposition look good. At least I didn't give up any goals to Bigus! On the drive home, I decided that I most embodied a combination of Phillip Senderos’ lummoxy footwork with Paul Robinson’s proneness to gaffes.

All that said, it was the best 60 minutes (no breaks, no subs) of exercise I’ve had in ages, and I had a great time. Football is the rare sport where you can plop twelve people with varying degrees of fitness and skill on a pitch and it turns into a competitive match. It helped that it was an overall congenial bunch last night. At one point I told one of the older guys, "Well, I'm not too bad for not having played for ten years." He responded, "Yeah. I feel like I've got a bull in my stomach."

Which is all to say I can’t wait to play again.


After 7 years I decided to play footy again and get into shape. Spectator lives nearby and was also up for it. The only exercise I’ve had in recent times is 19oz bicep curls, perfected at my favorite pub in NY, George Keeley. Spectator and I joined an open night at the indoor soccer academy last night. One hour, no breaks. Everyone committed. Teams split into white shirts and black shirts.

The first 20 minutes brought the fear of death. After 5 I was dying, out of breath and seriously struggling. After 25 minutes I had broken through the pain barrier and started to settle in. I had so much fun I can’t believe I haven’t made the effort to play again sooner. Now I’m hoping to start a team for the fall league. The guys we played with were a good bunch of lads, even if they were a little cliquey, passing to each other while I waved my arms around in plenty of space. Still, we were the newbies and we need to earn those through passes! I still managed to score a hatrick which was fantastic. The old touch is still there, even if one was a header into an empty net. However, I also missed 3-4 others including an open goal with my left from 6 yards out.

Today has brought the aches associated with grueling exercise and the burns on my leg (from being an eager beaver with my tackles early on) are nagging. But it was well worth it. I haven’t played since I was 26 and I’m glad to be back at it, even if 2 toddlers and a 50 mile commute means playing at 10pm.

Get In.


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MLS To Portland Soon To Become MLS to Montreal?

I know MLS announced its intent to expand the league to include a Portland Timbers club back in March, but I keep getting this nagging feeling that this deal is far from being completed and looking more likely to fall apart than to come together, which may lead to the MLS going to Montreal instead of Portland. This may just be the pessimist in me or maybe I'm following this a bit too closely, but it is my suspicion at this time.


Well, let me explain, but bear with me because it's long and convoluted.

Let me get the bullet point summary done first and then explain later.

  • No stadium deal in place.
  • MLS is still talking to Montreal.
  • The Portland Mayor and MLS supporter-in-chief is still embroiled in a scandal.


It just so happened to leak this weekend that the MLS and the Montreal group the league unceremoniously dropped during the preliminary stages of the expansion bids for deigning to challenge the expansion fee and trying to negotiate it are still discussing expansion. Oh and don't forget, it has slipped that Paulson is only paying a $35M expansion fee instead of the $40M fee that was set in stone by MLS.

I know that MLS has talked about further expansion since this current round of expansion, but I think that is more PR spin to make the league look good than it is a reality for two reasons. First, the player pool isn't big enough to field quality teams for all clubs. Second, the economy.


There still isn't a stadium deal in place. The Timbers and MLS want the current stadium to be soccer specific, which will require roughly $30M in upgrades. This would also necessitate the AAA Beavers baseball team to be moved. The rub is there is no stadium right now for the team in Portland. Building a new baseball stadium will cost roughly $40M-$60M depending on the situs.

No agreement has been reached on the location of the baseball stadium. The city and the Timbers originally wanted to build it in the Rose Quarter which houses the current NBA team facility, the Rose Garden, and the old home for the Trailblazers as well, Memorial Coliseum. The Rose Quarter is in the city core so it is a very enticing area. The plan was to tear down the old home and build a minor league baseball park. However, that plan went up in smoke when veterans and architects objected. Who knew architects were so powerful?

Now the plan is back to square one, which is building a ballpark out in SE Portland...a long way from the city core and certainly not as enticing. Merritt Paulson has also stated if the stadium is built out there his current agreement on guarantees of revenue to repay the bonds that will be issued to pay for the projects will be off the table.

One of the big selling points of the original agreement were the guarantees and commitments of Paulson on revenue and cost overruns. These no longer exist since the Rose Quarter deal is off the table.

I'm riffing off of the top of my head right now, but I believe that essentially leaves Portland with Paulson paying the $35M-$40M expansion fee and the rest on the City of Portland. I'm not clear on this, but Paulson may still be willing to guarantee revenue and cost overruns on the potential Timbers home, but not on any baseball related venture if the stadium is placed elsewhere.

I can tell you right now, given the history of public projects in the City of Portland, that deal will not fly whatsoever. Mr. Paulson is going to have to put up more than that or give up his baseball franchise.


Mayor Sam Adams of Portland is still embroiled a sex scandal. The Mayor has been the supporter-in-chief for the MLS bid, but this scandal has really weighed him down. The vote to approve the initial agreement was only 3-2 and it was a tenuous vote. The scandal will no doubt affect future votes on potential agreements as well as the Mayor's political power has taken a hit.

The short story of this scandal is that the Mayor had a sexual relation with a young man while he was just a City Councilor. The age at the time the sexual relationship began is in question because the Mayor met the boy when he was only seventeen but he turned eighteen within a few months of the initial meeting. Moreover, the Mayor lied about the relationship during his mayoral campaign.

The Oregon Attorney General is investigating and a report is due soon. The rumors are that it will be released very shortly and that it is a matter of when, not if, the mayor will resign. That said, it's just a rumor about the import of the report. But, there is already a recall campaign against the mayor that will certainly be stoked even more by this report regardless of its content.


This last bit probably won't have too much impact on the MLS bid, but Oregonian sports columnist just wrote a little hit piece on the Timbers Army, the die-hard supports of the Timbers. He chided them for being vulgar and drunk and not helping the club selling "family friendly" entertainment. Nothing groundbreaking, but certainly not helpful in selling the deal.


Wow, I just wrote a ton, but what does it all mean? I don't know yet, but my gut has been telling me for a while that this deal is going to fall apart. I hate that because I want an MLS club in my town, but the politics and the money don't work in this deal right now. You might be able to get by without one of those working, but both? I don't see it happening.

I give the bid a 40% chance of succeeding at this time. I'm a terrible prognosticator, which is why I don't gamble (that and I'm cheap), but it just feels like the foundation is beyond repair at this point. I hope I'm wrong.

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Know Thy Enemy!

What is 'Know Thy Enemy' and why do I do it? Click here or enjoy the unique introduction below. Repetition is boring isn't it and I'm easily bored. That's why each week this segment will be introduced in a different fashion or style by one of my blogging buddies. This week I give you... The Fans Attic...

I used to have this friend, he was all doughy, pastey-white, and weak. I'll call him Stay Puft. To counterbalance Stay Puft's physical failings, he was extremely learned, reading anything he could get his hands on. Puft was fond of Sun Tzu and his teachings from The Art of War, reciting his proverbs whenever Puft thought it appropriate. It was really quite annoying.

One day I asked Puft why he had created a log of the questions his nemesis asked in his computer science classes. Rather than answers my question directly, Puft started a recitation of Sun Tzu:
"So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will fight without danger in battles.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose. If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself."

I then punched him right in the trachea. While Stay Puft lay on the ground writhing in pain, gasping for breath, I said, "So it is said that it is better to strike first, than to be struck." I was so sick of his antics. But, you know, he was correct, Sun Tzu that is, because I only knew when to strike because I knew my enemy. I knew he would recite some stupid proverb to answer my stupid question that I already knew the answer to. Sun Tzu was straight gangster.

Stay Puft is ok now and I am no longer on probation, but Sun Tzu has taught me that you must know your enemies as well as you know yourself. To that end, as Norwich endeavors to spend only one season in League One, the beloved yellowbirds and the rest of us must know our enemies--the fellow League One denizens. Bigus is tackling each opponent to learn all that he can about them and to better prepare for next season. This week it is...Brighton and Hove Albion!

Brighton and Hove Albion. The Seagulls. Well, I know where Brighton is and I know that this club has some storied tales of near victory to share with us. But apart from that, I got nothing. Oh where to begin. Research hat is ON!


Brighton were formed in 1901 and this next part I know. They play at an athletics ground called the 'Withsdean Stadium' while their new joint, the Falmer Stadium is being built. It should be ready for the 2010/11 season apparently.

Temporary home. The Withdean stadium. Not a place for football.

As I mentioned, the Seagulls have had some heady times, back in the day. They were a the top flight team and in 83 they lost in the FA Cup final, 4-0 to Manchester United. They were relegated from Division 1 (the old Prem) the same year. Annus Horribilis.

Former Brighton players worth a shout include Jimmy case, Alan Curbishley, Bobby Zamora, Mark Lawrenson, Dean Saunders, Colin Kazam-Richards and Tony Meola. Yes Tony Meola! Brighton have had 32 managers in their 108 year history. They were managed by the great Brian Clough for a year back in 73, By Arsenal legend Liam Brady from 93 to 95. Peter Taylor was the gaffer for a year in 2001 and more recently Steve Coppell managed the Seagulls for a year in 2002. Hmmm Why do managers only stay a year? Well not all. Nine of the thirty two managed the south coast side for a year or less. Today, Brighton are managed by ex Yeovil manager Russell Slade.

A young Dean Saunders. The mullet stayed for the remainder of his career.

Current players include ex Everton and QPR left winger Kevin McLeod, ex Millwall skipper David Livermore, former Reading man Nicky Forster and journey man Jason Jarrett. Brighton are Jarrett's 13th club at the age of 29.

New home: The Falmer Stadium wil be ready in 2010.

At boardroom level, lifelong fan (and real character) Dick Knight, has just stepped down as chairman and been replaced by Tony Bloom, who was instrumental in securing the funds to build the new stadium.

So where is Brighton. Well as you can see below, it's on the south coast of England and these days the seaside town is well known for having a healthy gay community. Brighton's population is 253,000, made up of 91.4% white, 3% Asian, 2.2% mixed race, 1.6% black and 1.8% of other origins.

All together now, "Oh I do like to be beside the seaside."

Brighton was also the location for the famous 1947 Richard Attenborough film 'Brighton Rock' based on the book by Graham Greene. In the U.S the film was called 'Young Scarface'. Who needs Pacino when you have Dickie boy eh? The 1932 Scarface staring Paul Muni is better than all of em I say, but hey, that's just me.

Nasty Dick. Attenborough in Brighton Rock.

Brighton, check. On to the next.


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White Men Can't Jump Organize A World Cup Bid

England launched it's Kick It Out campaign to host the 2018 World Cup. And well, it's already in trouble.

They invited the Klan. Or roughly the English equivalent thereof, meaning they like tea with their intolerance.

Anyway, the British National Party is a whites only, anti-immigration party. And man I bet that party frequently goes on all-night meth-fueled benders.

That in itself did not go over to well with some other attendees of the launch party. But there was another faux pas...

After dancing around the issue euphemistically, the Guardian gets to the crux of the matter:

There is also dismay that... everyone who addressed the audience was white and male.
So England launches a White World Cup Bid and they forget to invite minorities (and women). Really, the higher ups in charge of the bid are just trying to mimic the make-up of the English squad... and similarly fall short in their bid to win anything.

Anyway, not in the pic above is an asterisk next to the slogan "England United, the World Invited" that reads "*Except Africa."

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday Backpasses: 1994 comes back to bite you in the ass

Just a reminder: We are always scouring blogs for content and links. If you have one you think we should check out, please email us and let us know.

US tourist in Sweden acts out, gets five game ban [Soccer by Ives]
Yeah. LFC fans probably should not have done this [Football Banter]
Liverpool and Arsenal have young'uns tipped by UEFA [Liverpool FC]
Phil Neville's ugly-ass house sold [Daily Mail]

Indian star chose dancing show over club training [The Offside]
Dwayne DeRosario comes out heavily against Field Turf [The 24th Minute]
Looking at the EPL title race in graph form [SPAOTP]
IGLFA World Cup to be held in Washington DC this June. [IGLFA2009]
Giselle Bundchen in a soccer kit. Meh [Futbolita]

NUFC may have found a willing buyer, provided the stay in the EPL. oh well, maybe next year [Guardian]

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I don't even know where to start

It's the last week of the season in the SPL. Can you feel the excitement? I can, but I know there is one guy who will not. That man is Stuart Dougal who, as of yesterday, has retired as a referee in Scotland. Judging from the reactions from both sides after his last match--Rangers-Aberdeen on Saturday--he waited one game too long to do so.

Dougal had a bit of a 'mare in that match, sending off a player from each side, but missing the call in both cases. Below you can see the replay of the incident that left the Dons a man down in the 18th minute.

Fine, fine acting there by Kyle Lafferty. Did you catch the wink to a teammate at the end? Dougal did end up evening up the sides in the 40th minute when he sent off Gers' Madjid Bougherra for kicking Aberdeen keeper Jamie Langfield in the head. I have found no video of the incident, but I do have this picture:

To be fair, the red card was apparently given on the insistence of the lineman, but no contact was made on Langfield by Bougherra's boot. Oops #2.

Obviously, these decisions rankled both sides. I, as an Aberdeen fan, am not going to say that they changed the outcome of the game. I will only say that the losses hurt both teams and the red card suspensions will hurt them some more.

But wait! The SFA has reviewed the evidence and, backed up by an admission for Dougal that he was wrong on both counts, look likely to drop the bans on Charlie Mulgrew and Bougherra. Further, the SFA are said to be mulling a ban on shameless diver Lafferty, though any ban will not take effect until next season. Rangers have also taken a stand on Lafferty, fining him an undisclosed amount and were also likely that catalysts for his public apology.

Also big on the public apology is referee Dougal. As noted above, he announced that he would retire a week earlier than previously expected. A fairly deflating end for a man who just last year got the plum assignment on the Scottish schedule--the SFA Cup Final. Dougal had also reffed two Intertoto finals and had been selected as a fourth official at both Euro 2004 and the 2002 Super Cup. However, this season had been particularly tough for him because of some injury concerns. Earlier in the month it seemed that he was destined to finish up his career with lower division matches until the SFA decided to give him the referee's equivalent of the testimonial. Of course, I don't think anyone involved in the selection will be sanctioned, only the referee who has admitted he was out of his element.

Finally, since I have your ear (or eyes), a word or two on the final weekend in the SPL. There are essentially three races to look out for on the final weekend. On Saturday, Inverness CT will host Falkirk in a last ditch relegation fight. Anything less than a win, and Falkirk will go down. ICT will likely go down with a loss, but can be saved if St Mirren pull a Norwich on the last day (lose by a bunch with everything on the line) while hosting Hamilton.

The Top Six finish up on Saturday. Rangers and Celtic, of course, are vying for the top spot. Celtic handed the reins back to Rangers with a draw against Hibs last week. Rangers will take the title with a win or a draw and Celtic draw or loss. Celtic host Hearts, who have nothing to play for, while Rangers travel to Dundee United who do. United need a single point to secure European play. Should they fail to produce that point, then the door is open for Aberdeen to sneak into the last European slot with a win. Aberdeen will have to defeat a suddenly in-form Hibernian squad at Pittodrie to even have a hope. The games will kick off at 8.00 AM EDT, so say a little prayer the night before for my beloved Dons, won't you?

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Rumor With A View

The season is nearly done and the rumors are flying. Fans of all clubs biting their fingers hoping their teams' stars are going to stay and that their manager will sign some classy players in time for the new season. The papers are rife with speculation and made up bollocks and that's where the return of this regular piece comes in. I'll look at the rumors published in today's rags and try to assess their feasibility.

Let's wade through today's nonsense, shall we?

Inter Milan and AC Milan are set to battle it out over signing Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor. (Daily Mail)

Highly Likely. The fella wants out and has already stressed his desire to play in Italy. Italy is where the lazy go to earn money. Everybody knows he's gone and AC are likely to be his resting place. Emphasis on rest.

Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso could be on his way to Real Madrid for £21m if Florentino Perez returns as club president. (Daily Star)

This old chesnut again. Sure, Rafa wanted to flog Xabi last year, but he has recently indicated that he is happy keeping the Spaniard in his team. That said, this was an obvious rumor, much like the 578 concerning Ronaldo to Real.

Tottenham are targeting Lazio striker Goran Pandev. (Daily Mirror)

Stating the obvious, Harry Redknap is looking to off-load the sulky Pavlyuchenko and King of the Sitter Missers Darren Bent. No secret that Spurs are after forwards. They will be linked with 20 between now and August.

Wigan have lined up a deal with Real Madrid to receive £21.5m for Latics winger Antonio Valencia.

Possible. Madrid have been keen admirers of Valencia and they have him earmarked as a back-up plan to Ronaldo, who is going to be the subject of more speculation before staying at United. Yawn....

Out of favor at Rangers.

Rangers midfielder Barry Ferguson is poised for a £1m summer move to West Brom. (The Sun)

Ferguson is 31 now and has recently been stripped of the Rangers captaincy. No surprise that he will be subject of paper talk. I can see him going to a side like West Brom. They would have to sell first as they are more than equipped in this area for an assault on the Colaship title.

Red Bull Salzburg left-back Ronald Gercaliu says he would be interested in joining Celtic. (The Sun)

Wow, really? Name a 'Red Bull Salzburg' player who wouldn't. Not news. Next!

Swindon Town have told Celtic to double their bid for striker Simon Cox after offering £1.2m for the striker and defender Sean Morrison. (Daily Mail)

22 year-old Cox is on fire right now. Many Colaship sides are also interested in signing him. Last season he scored 29 goals for mid-table Swindon Town. However, I can't see him going to Scotland. Not when he can join a top 3-4 Cola side and maybe even Wolves or Birmingham.

Manchester City are stepping up their bid to take on former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan for £20m from Atletico Madrid.

Who would pay 20 million smackers for a 30 year old? A rich Arab, that's who. Forlan has thrived in Spain but misfired for Man U, last time in he graced England with his presence. Still, Citeh have money to burn. I reckon Forlan will be a back-up option for Mark Hughes who would rather buy Santa-Cruz from Blackburn for the same price. The Blackburn forward is also 3 years younger and in his footballing prime.

On the move? Bojan Krkic.

Celtic are hoping to sign Barcelona forward Bojan Krkic on loan. (The Sun)

Now why would Barcelona want to loan out one of their prized youngsters to Celtic? Krkic only played 14 times this season but is still only 18. Besides, it's not exactly easy to bust into that line-up is it? If I were Barca I'd loan him to another Spanish side for experience or keep him around the bench. Krkic scored 5 time in the Spanish Cup this season to help Barca win it. Can't see him going anywhere.

Wolves are set to swoop for Standard Liege centre-half Oguchi Onyewu. (Daily Mirror)

This rumor has legs. The 27 year old American failed to crack a permanent place in the Newcastle side whilst on loan but newly promoted Wolves are looking for reliable center backs for the new campaign. Shackell was sent on loan and Ex-Hearts man, Berra, has received mixed reviews, leaving McCarthy with room at the back for improvement.

Arsene Wenger's future as Arsenal manager has come under more scrutiny. The Frenchman has been stung by criticism in the recent shareholders' meeting. He is also annoyed by the news that striker Adebayor is set to quit. (Various)

Yawn...I'm sure the shareholders are happy for CL football and happy that they haven't seen their cash gambled on pricey imports. The stadium is full, the youngsters are coming through and their manager doesn't want to spend large amounts of cash. Yeah the shareholders are pissed. Next!

Carlos Tevez's exit from Old Trafford looks sealed after the Argentine forward failed to attend Manchester United's player of the year dinner. (Various)

Tevez has already said that he isn't certain to be at United next season. His agent says United have not been willing to meet his valuation of the player and I personally think that Fergie thinks that handing a fella 26 million for his services smarts. Especially as 3rd-party ownership is not allowed and Tevez could likely fight for a free transfer. That said, Tevez is loyal to his people and has taken all of this personally. I am sure he has been discussing his options and there will be no shortage of suitors from Madrid to Merseyside. Will he join United's deadly rivals? Hmmm... Possibly.


Midfielder Stewart Downing, forward Tuncay, striker Afonso Alves and defender Robert Huth will leave if Middlesbrough are relegated at the weekend. (Daily Mail)

No... Boro's top players will leave if they are relegated? Wow. Daily Mail. What a scoop! Most players have a clause in their contract that addresses relegation and it's a certainty that the above players will be fleeing the Riverside at speed should they be relegated this weekend.

Wigan striker Amr Zaki, who is on loan from Zamalek, insists he was the one to pull the plug on a permanent move. (Daily Mirror)

Bollocks. Wigan have fined Zaki and Steve Bruce's patience has been tested many times this season with Zaki's failure to return from international duty. Bruce will easily sacrifice Zaki's talent for a reliable team player.

All of these rumors were collected by the BBC and published here.

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Becks Allegedly Mowing Someone Else's Fogarasy

Eh, we're not much on gossip mongering but this bit about Beckham having an affair just went up over at Goal.

The woman is question is Hungarian model Mariann Fogarasy. And talk about burying the lede, Goal neglected to provide a pic (NSFW).

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Turkey: Now 100% Gay-Free

Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ was forced to quit his job as a soccer ref in Turkey after he turned up gay.

And that took care of the last gay person in Turkey.

Dinçdağ actually lost his job because he couldn't complete his compulsory military service. But according to regulations in Turkey, anyone failing to complete their military service for health reasons is unfit to perform as a referee.

The 33-year-old was excused from military service after he was listed as gay on his medical report. To which the only rational response is: Being gay is a medical condition in Turkey?

Anyway, Dinçdağ came out and appeared on national TV as the new co-host of Turkish Project Runway.

Oh c'mon. What good are stereotypes if we can't use them for easy jokes?

Dinçdağ was actually far more serious and made a reasoned plea: "Please stand tall against the unfairness against you, whenever something wrong is happening," he said. "Say that it is wrong. Say what is right for you."

Not exactly MLK stuff, but UF supports you as you fight the good fight, Dinçdağ. Just so long as you look fabulous doing it.

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Liam Gallagher Acts Like A Tosser... Again

Sit down, shut up.

Liam Gallagher lived up to his douchebag reputation last weekend while enjoying the executive box at Spurs. The whining, whinging Oasis front man was at White Hart lane to see Man City lose to a late Robbie Keane winner. No stranger to controversy and an expert at 'up yours' gestures, Gallagher was politely told to roll with it by security.

Spurs fans taunted the talentless 3 chord wonder with chants of "Your just a shit Chas n' Dave". Chas n' Dave being a cockney, Spurs loving, piano based novelty act, famous for their Tottenham cup final song amongst other gems.

Gallagher responded with two fingered salutes to the Spurs faithful and by giving supporters the 'come on' gesture. What a tough guy.

"What? I'm just living up to my reputation of being a complete dick".

Security quickly jumped in to stop the singer getting himself into trouble. 'Some might say' he was told to 'bag it up'. Where did it all go wrong? (Cringe...Sorry)

Chas n Dave, 'Rabbit, Rabbit'. Liam Gallagher has plenty of that.

'Spurs are on their way to Wembley'. How the mighty have fallen. From the looks of the below video it appears that Chas n' Dave are now playing weddings.

They can't stop em...Listen out for the Arsenal fan at the end.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday Backpasses: Really, we're done (for now)

Steven Cohen said some stuff today. We're tired of it all. No further comment.

Generally good guy and soccerphile Ethan Zohn has cancer. We wish him the best in beating it [MSN]
Andrei Arshavin clarifies his comments on women drivers. And then talks about whatever races through his tiny head [The Offside]
Hey Rio, you didn't play, nor were you on the bench. So why did you take a post-match shower? [Kickette]
The real reason Rafa has been so mad at Fergie? [Studs Up]

German youngster signs for Everton. Is David Moyes the EPL's next Scottish overlord? [Setanta]
Ballack must choose club v. country--on the day of the FA Cup final [Guardian]
Of course, he had better have his permission slip from his club, or else he'll be dropped like these guys [Guardian]
Wanna see Carragher and Arbeloa go at it over and over and over? [ONTD_FB]
Five best and worst Eye Ties in English football [SoccerLens]
Originaldo gets a handful [Dirty Tackle]

NYC people, this is a must do. Red Bull New York are going to play 6 on 6 against players from the Armed Forces on the deck of a freaking aircraft carrier. Article implies it will be open to the public [The Offside Rules]

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Daily Fail: May 18, 2009

Yes, we have been somewhat derelict with our Daily Fail feature (which is such a popular name that everyone is using it!). So a big tip o’ the hat to reader White Speed Receiver for passing along this gem from Sky Sports:

Is he Gunner go?

Mr. Receiver asks, "When did Sky start outsourcing to the New York Post?" We couldn’t have put it any better.

As always, please send along crap football headlines to unprofessionalfoul [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Do Not Let Lampard's Ex Invest Your Money

Lampard's ex-fiance Elen Rives didn't spend much time on the market before moving along on a Bosman. She's been spotted dating Lawrie Wilson, a utility player earning £500 a week with non-league side Stevenage Borough.

That's a nice step down from the £150,000 that Lampard was pulling per week at Chelsea.

But now, Rives gets to be something better. No, not poor. She gets to be a Cougar (Rives is 34, Wilson is 21). Oh and a homewrecking one at that.

Apparently Wilson had a girlfriend when he hooked up with Rives. The girlfriend found out the old fashion way, by spotting the couple together in the papers. Awesome. Doesn't Wilson fucking Twitter? Seriously, dude, they are way more modern ways to spinelessly dump your girlfriend so you can upgrade.

The Sun has a fun little graphic to show the downgrade in lifestyle Rives must be incurring, but they also point out that Wilson's family has swank digs. All of this is in the Sun, so the only thing we're willing to say is bankable is the fact that the shirt sponsor of Stevenage sells 'Lamps.'

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Relegation: it's full of conspiracies

For all the perceived machismo in soccer (C-Ron not withstanding), it can descend into banter and vicious gossip more in tune with that of the local sewing circle. And with the final EPL weekend of 2008/09 looming on the horizon, the brewing discontent on Tyneside is hard to ignore.

It's also rather hilarious.

Right off the bat, Alan Shearer, he of the bland punditry and blander managerial nous, is pointing fingers in the direction of Sir Alex Ferguson and threatening to tell teacher that he's not playing fair.

With United's trophy secured and a more important Champions League final to prepare for, there's every chance that Fergie's side will be rather, ahem, depleted in their final league game against Hull City. Of course, Hull are right there in the dogpile for the drop, and Shearer's not happy that the perma-tanned microphone wearer Phil Brown might have an advantage in the fight for survival.

Of course, we'd be remiss in mentioning that the Magpies have had countless opportunities to climb out of the hole since Alan's arrival, and that Shearer should spend his Monday evening watching hours of Aston Villa game tape instead. One win and 2 draws in his 7 games as Newcastle boss isn't very good, is it?

What we forgot to mention was the "special" relationship between Ferguson and Brown, presumably derived from the latter's constant attempts to rattle Arsenal's cage. Fergie helped Phil get a job at Derby County back in 2005, and the two have enjoyed a friendship for many years. There's also the whisper that SAF still loathes Alan for turning down an offer to play for Man United back in the 90s. Considering the grudge-holding reputation of the drunk Scot, I wouldn't be surprised at all.

As one would expect, Phil is mumbling pleasantries and the usual pre-match jingo about "expecting no favours" and "working hard" and "it won't be easy." On the inside, he knows it will be simple, although given the Tigers' form since October 28th (2 wins and 9 draws in their last 28), they'd have a hard time beating the United U-10s.

Meanwhile, in his high chair at St. James's, Alan wonders whether he'll get any help from his Match of the Day cohort, Martin O'Neill. The prognosis appears grim. Shearer is trying to get Bassong's red card overturned so he can play in the final game (good luck with that, Alan), but other than that, there ain't much sunshine in their future.

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Once again, Chelsea get Nul Points

Nul points, pronounced 'nil pwa', also known as the response from fussy French judges who certainly don't like a song in the yearly Eurovision song contest.

Ahh, The Eurovision song contest. Bigus' youth comes flying back; Saturday nights sat in front of the box, Terry Wogan's quiet tone, softly introducing videos featuring the contestants. Jan from a small town in Sweden, maybe he was a math teacher? We would learn of his weird hobbies and all about the boring town he lived in. Cue Jan and his song, possibly titled 'Walla ding dang dong'. Then on to Turkey for more of the same. Then? Two more hours of the worst music imaginable before the voting begins.

This year Chelsea fans tried to scupper a certain contestant. But it was not the dreadful music that inspired the Saaaath Laaaandoners to turn their thoughts to the worst gathering of musicians since the Monsters of Rock festival in 1983.

As Precious Roy told us last week, Chelsea fans were so disgruntled at referee Tom Henning Ovrebo after his performance during their Champions League semi, second-leg, that they decided to target his countryman at 'The Eurovision Song Contest'. Childish I know, but amusing all the same.

Pointless and redundant? Yeah, kinda... as Norway won.

The winning song was performed by Alexander Rybak. The song itself is a frightful three minutes, built from mind-numbing lyrics and bad fiddling (think The Levellers without dirty hair and caravans), accompanied by some dancing that would look at home at a Russian wedding. Here it is below. Please do not watch straight after eating.

Norway went to Russia for a winner. Cheats!

Now, those of you are genuinely interested in this yearly gathering of bad amateur musicians, I'll share a couple of the most popular Euro songs of all time. Be prepared to laugh, cry and maybe vomit.

First, the song that propelled a certain bunch of Swedes to stardom, infiltrating Bigus' house for years as his mother dusted in time to their records...

Abba 1974. Hmmm.

1981. Great Britain's entry by Bucks Fizz. Oh lord, why!

1969, Lulu wins for Great Britain! Get in Lulu.

Britain win again in 1976. The Brotherhood of Man! The choreography in the chorus is mind-blowing.

Dutch band? Teach-in sing 1975 winner Ding a Dong!

"Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley". Nuff said.

The contest has been running for 57 years. This year's results can be viewed here.


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