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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"And he's got the icepack on his groin there, so possibly not the old shoulder injury."

Today TDH is all about that most annoying fact of football life: injuries. Shearer showed it really is possible to come back from a hernia operation in just two weeks, though there'll be debate as to whether his slight loss of sharpness came from the procedure or just from age. Owen, fragile Owen, won't return to face Wigan for the revenge match in the Carling Cup. What is it about a groin that's so hard to heal? Countless footballers will have wondered the same thing.

And then there's Emre, who probably caught a chill on Sunday despite wearing enough clothing to look like one of those kids in the snow who can hardly move for all the down padding. Well, let's hope not.


But of more lurid interest is the blame game at Real Madrid. (They should take lessons from the White House about what game not to play, eh?) The club are now fining one of Luxemburgo's assistants for accusing Guti of faking an injury before El Classico. The Spice Boy came on in the second half as a substitute, prompting Paulo Campos to say:
"Vanderlei said he wanted a scan to see what it was. The medical staff did it and said there was nothing wrong with him. We knew it, we knew it. They try to deceive us in so many ways.
Ah, those crafty galacticos. You'd think they didn't actually want to play football. Yeah, that must be it - after all, it couldn't possibly be that they're old, tired and so overpaid that they don't care about performance.


And finally, a brief note on L'il Ron the Cowboy's public plea for TH to move from Highbury to the Camp Nou. TDH bets Terry will see if The Goon Show can make it a bit further than usual in the Champions League before he shows his hand. After all, there are some promising young players in North London, and it's hardly a sinking ship.

If the Drummer of Hampstead did move to Barca, someone - probably Giuly - would be surplus to requirements. With Eto'o, Larsson, Ronaldinho, Messi, and Maxi Lopez (who may leave on loan soon), there's more than enough striking power. And Cheeky Bergstein doesn't have the same sort of bankroll as the Nine Billion Dollar Man.

Monday, November 28, 2005

"It's a conflict of parallels."

Ah, the philosophical Fergie. Following along TDH's earlier thread, Sir has now said that he won't be cashing in his chips during the winter transfer window. He claims that his main target won't be available until the summer.

Now, one could merely take Sir's semaphore as spelling out B-A-L-L-A-C-K. Or one could conclude that the Glazers have put paid, temporarily, to their early talk of a 20 million pound transfer pot. Sir's a crafty bugger, and he wouldn't want to seem like he'd been deceived by Ginger Gnome & Sons.


Who would believe Pippo Inzaghi is 32? True enough, his brief glory days at Lazio were years ago, but still - he'll always seem like the young twit (if you like him, read: poacher) you love to hate. And now there's talk, probably spread by his agent, that he might return to Italy's national squad.

TDH's question is, why? With Gilardino and Toni playing on top form, plus the usual suspects of Vieri, Del Piero, Montella and company, is there really much use for an Inzaghi brother? Some would say he'd make a good supersub. In a World Cup, surely every sub is a top-class player, not an also-ran.

Okay, Maradona of Malawi, wrap that Milan scarf around your head and let's have it....

Sunday, November 27, 2005

"He was unlucky, or was it just bad luck?"

What a bizarre match the unfortunate Toon had against the Toffee Pudding. They were unlucky, indeed, not to be 2-0 up after the first half - the ref and linesman missed an obvious penalty, and Shearer had a gilt-edged chance cleared off the line. But whatever Motivational Speaker Souey said at halftime, it didn't work, as Everton scored in the first minute of the second period.

So many strange things could be seen at Goodison Park. Bramble was a rock! Parker's passing was lackluster! Luque skied a free kick into Row Z and then failed to pick out an unmarked Shearer in the box! Despite or perhaps because of these peculiarities, Newcastle never found their rhythm. It was ugly, and they've got the yellow cards to prove it.

All TDH can say is that the Magpies had the better black armbands for George Best. Everton's were made of some crudely applied duct tape that Moyes picked up at the local Ryman's before the match. Pathetic. But so were we... doomed to midtable mediocrity, it seems.


The lone bright spot in the evening for TDH was in the Sam Bowl, i.e. the match between Uncle Sam's Army and Big Sam's OAP's. The American contingent won the day, with two fine goals from Brian McBride. TDH's fingers and toes are crossed that he stays healthy through next summer.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

"I don't know if that result's enough to life Birmingham off the bottom of the table, although it'll certainly take them above Sunderland."

Question #1: Is it over, already over, for Mick's Mackem Muppets? Five points from 14 matches does not bode well. In the Premiership era of 38-match seasons dating back to 1995-96, teams have needed an average of 37.5 points to finish above the relegation zone. (That's not necessarily the average point total for the fourth-from-bottom team, rather, it's the average point total of the third-from-bottom team plus one.)

So the Wearside Wankers will probably need about 32 more points from the remaining 24 matches. Teams that play at that pace for the whole season finish with 51 points. Too bad, Mick, that doesn't sound like your lot. Of course, you'll be saving all your energy for the return leg of the derby on April 17. But by then, the Toon will have the best songs to sing.


Question #2: Is everyone else out there Luquing forward to Luque's reappearance tomorrow as much as TDH? It'll be interesting to see where strategic genius Souey puts this particularly expensive chess piece. (Here he is sitting down as fellow grand master Alan Shearer, off camera, prepares to play three games at once.) Hopefully Everton will provide a nice way to ease back into football for the Spaniard. Then again, maybe Moyes will just tell Big Dunc to knacker him.


Question #3: If Fergie doesn't want Ballack, on whom will he spend all the cash the Glazers have offered him? Surely it must go into the midfield. Yet having lost the Vodafone sponsorship deal - and 18 million pounds with it - the Glazers may have second thoughts about that big transfer kitty. Perhaps Sir is just managing expectations?

Friday, November 25, 2005

"I spent most of my money on birds, booze and fast cars. The rest I just squandered."

TDH mourns the passing of George Best, the only man from the British Isles who held a candle to Pele and Maradona. Perhaps one day we'll speak of Wine Hrooney in the same lofty terms, but for now it's just Best.

TDH's dad (one of TDH's dads?) used to say that Best was the finest player he ever watched. He had a special kind of talent, more like Pele's than Maradona's in that he could score from all over the pitch. While Maradona seemed to do his best work with the ball at his feet, Best could pop up anywhere with a bullet header or a sublime volley from distance. And while Maradona and Pele seemed to play for heart or beauty, the man who once turned out for Ford Open Prison did it for sheer guts.

To prove the point, TDH will leave you with a couple of telling quotes from the tragically talented man:
"I used to dream about taking the ball round the keeper, stopping it on the line and then getting on my hands and knees and heading it into the net. When I scored against Benfica in the European Cup Final I nearly did it. I left the keeper for dead, but then I chickened out. I might have given the boss a heart attack."

"I was born with a great gift, and sometimes with that comes a destructive streak. Just as I wanted to outdo everyone when I played, I had to outdo everyone when we were out on the town."
(Thanks to the IFHOF for the quotes.)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

"Maybe not goodbye, but farewell..."

NEWSFLASH - Sir Bobby wants the Portsmouth job! Alas, the lack of a fairytale ending to his career on Tyneside seems to be digging Uncle Bob in the ribs. Here's what he told the BBC:
"If the job came along I would take it, even at my age. I still love being on the pitch. It is what I like and what I am good at, and with respect, I am not being egotistical here."

"I miss Saturday afternoons, being with the players, being on the pitch and I miss the thrill of training and playing and getting results."
Er, with respect, that last part troubles TDH a bit. "Getting results" and Portsmouth haven't belonged in the same sentence for years now. But TDH knows the real reason for the Snowy-Haired One's desire to move south. He wants to bench Lua-Lua for scoring against the Toon while on loan! When you're 72, you only have the grudges left....


As TDH predicted, there is already talk of Keano taking up a player-manager position, perhaps at Pompey. But the League Managers' Association is already muttering about whether he will have his coaching badges in time.

To this, TDH would like to say: bollocks. Teams aren't going to select Coy Roy because he sat some silly exam or studied some brochures with pretty pictures in them. The badges are just a way to control the labor market, keeping it in the hands of the few rather than the many. It's a big reason why we still have a revolving door for wastes of space like Graham Taylor and Wilko.

Some clubs may like the badges because they offer a sort of screening process; each candidate has to show they have some patience and commitment. But there are other ways of demonstrating these qualities, and the clubs might be better off if they set their own tests. As is stands, Premiership teams should be able to pay their six-figure salaries to anyone they want. It's their money, and they can waste it on silly Frenchmen, or even a bloodthirsty maniac, if they so wish.


Finally, what was it TDH was saying about a young Ukrainian? Milan still haven't qualified for the next stage in the Champions League, but if Sheva keeps scoring like this they'll be hard to stop... except, of course, for the fact that they face Schalke in the final group match.

The German club's own threat from the former USSR also took home a hat trick last night, and against rather better opposition. (He does look threatening, doesn't he?) If he doesn't get hit by a lit flare, it could be an interesting night.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"For all his horses, knighthoods and championships, he hasn't got two of what I've got. And I don't mean balls."

After a scoreless draw with the La Seleccion Amarilla last night, talk has again been spreading of Fergie's job being on the knife-edge. TDH wonders whether this is really true.

With the annoyance of Keano's outbursts now behind them and results finally starting to go their way, why would the Red Mist dump the old boot-kicker? Even if they fail to make the next round in the Champions League, he's still bringing them success in the Premiership. TDH sees little reason to suffer the upheaval of changing bosses before the end of the season.


Arsenal have grabbed the top spot in their Champions League group with an utterly unconvincing win over Swiss giants Thun. (Amazing how a team from a landlocked country can be named after a fish, eh?) Two points here: 1) without Vieira, the Goon Show's game is even more airy-fairy - they'll be out before you know it; 2) the only advantage in allowing a third-place team like Thun to fall into the UEFA Cup is that we get to see this guy again.


Michael "Most Disliked Man in the Bundesliga" Ballack seems to be holding out for as much money as possible, by keeping mum while his agent sounds tantalizingly non-committal. But just how much would you actually pay a guy who'll be 30 years old for most of next season? He'll undoubtedly want at least four years with a top club. Being out of contract will help - no transfer fee could mean higher wages - but it's starting to sound like he belongs on a club that's most interested in selling jerseys. And you know what that means.


TDH has to give Sepp credit. His never-ending supply of hare-brained ideas keeps the mind active and the keyboard warm. Latest in the string: dispensing with national anthems before international matches, on the theory that this will decrease crowd trouble. Come on, Sepp, do you really think it's the music that stokes such xenophobic and violent feelings? I'm sure it has nothing to do with the booze, the fascism of the ultras, or the crummy security measures around most of the world's stadiums.

FIFA's evil genius also mooted a plan to contest international playoffs on neutral territory. As though that would have stopped Mehmet Ozdilek from trying to trip a Swiss player.

Playing on neutral territory would have two advantages, though. First of all, that pesky away-goals rule could be dropped. Second, extra time in the second leg, if necessary, wouldn't imply an overall home advantage to either team. Maybe Sepp's not so evil after all - just a bit misguided. Now, where has TDH heard that before?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"You only have to look at the state of his nose to realise these things are part of a centre half's career."

There must have been rejoicing all through the Midlands last night as Bruce's Bums were spared yet another embarrassment by the encroaching fog. According to the bookies, the likelihood of a Brum victory over Sam's Septuagenarians was about the same as the chance Steve's nose would straighten itself out by the end of 90 minutes. At least the Other Blues will have a chance this weekend against Mick's Muppets.

On the bright side of a cloudy situation, we were treated to a preview of what it might look like when two of English football's old campaigners finally walk towards the pearly nets of football heaven.


Word comes from Somewhat Aristocratic Madrid that Raul has a complex knee injury that could keep him out for months. Back when the onetime Gran Esperanza Blanca of Spanish football was about 21, an intractable Madrid supporter (is there any other kind?) put the following proposition to TDH: at that particular moment, there was no more valuable player in football.

This particular supporter being an economist, he meant "valuable" in present-value terms, i.e. the amount a player was worth in expectation over his remaining useful life. Back then, TDH had a little trouble thinking of a counterexample. Certainly Zidane merited a shout for his reliability - fewer years left, yet more trophy-earning potential - but there weren't many others who could compare, given what we knew then.

The question has more possible answers today. Wine Hrooney, Prince Robson, Messidona and even - on the same logic as for Zidane - L'il Ron the Cowboy must figure in our calculations. Are we living in a new golden age, or is it merely that the hype machine has gone into high gear?

Regardless, Raul's story has been marred by disappointments, if not always for Madrid then certainly for Spain. Perhaps the systems he played under didn't fit his complex gifts. Looking back, there was a young Ukrainian playing in Kiev whom TDH would have wanted instead.


For each TDH question, of course, there is an equal and opposite TDH question. (This is, after all, a Newtonian blog. Here's the hard-working author of the original print version of TDH, then called the Principia Pedorbis.)

So, who offered the least value for money back then? With hindsight, that player was surely Winston Bogarde. TDH was determined not to let the retirement of Signor Downbeat pass without mention. For the Dingbat Swooner was the epitome of the useless twit, rarely managing to make Chelsea's bench while somehow taking home as much as 9 million pounds in wages. The Boasting Wonder claimed while at Stamford Bridge that there were no outside offers for his services - not that he sought any - and insisted to the end that he could still have taken the pitch, even after more than a year out of action. It probably would have been better if the Browned Agonist had shut up and moved somewhere very far away... like, say, Serbian Dogtown.

Monday, November 21, 2005

"I couldn't settle in Italy - it was like living in a foreign country."

With Cisse and Morientes having scored in the same match again, meaning twice, TDH has been forced to admit that the celestial bodies are moving in decidedly strange ways. But this... this is too much.

KEANE TO JUVE? Could Keane and Vieira really be going head-to-head in training, or - gasp - playing side-by-side in Serie A? It's too much to contemplate (well, for him most things are). Blogspot's servers will explode as TDH writes this. Cancel that, they don't know anything about footie over there. But seriously!

The truth of the Keano situation has, of course, been staring us all in the face. El Roon is the new talisman, the future, the everything. "Cantona, Keane, Rooney" is how the history books will read. The bosses just didn't need the Ire From Eire anymore.

There's just one last niggling thought - is it a coincidence that the man went just when the Ireland job opened? He'd already got his B badges last year, apparently, but it's hard to believe he's done playing. Poof! TDH has had a flash of intuition: could Keano be... a player-manager? Perhaps! The only question is, who would be the Ray Wilkins to his Dennis Wise?


Supporters of Premiership teams are fond of taking the high road when their black players face racist taunting on the continent. It hasn't been so long since such indignities were commonplace in England, especially up north. But nowadays many people look on that era as the quaint and distant past, give or take a Big Ron.

As if England needed a reminder that problems remain, witness the Whammer fans' treatment of Mido at the weekend. As though it wasn't bad enough that Spurs are called "Yids" around the league - even, TDH is ashamed to say, in St. James's Park - the supposed Academicians of Football gave the Pharaoh of Phinsbury stick for being Muslim and Arab.

Apart from the inherent idiocy here, it's rather odd coming from the faithful of an East London club. There's probably a good number among the Whammer support who'd be proud to call Mido one of their own. (And, to anyone who saw the match, did the Whammers have the temerity to say "Yids" now that Benayoun is their star?) TDH wonders how the community as a whole will react.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

"If it's not a contract I want then I won't sign it. That's not a threat."

The real question, dear readers, should be, 'Is it a contract that Keano wants?' (And so begins a bit of catch-up for TDH, where posting has been delayed by a short trip to Beijing.)

The footie press are full of back-and-forth about whether Mannish Boy Roy jumped or was pushed. In most such cases, the evidence would unequivocally support the latter notion. After all, he left with no safety net - no contract with Celtic (or anyone else), not even a staged outpouring of praise from all and sundry to cushion the descent.

Yet Roy is not like other footballers, as we have all learned countless times. He's bloody-minded enough that he could simply have chucked it. And that brings us back to TDH's initial question - does the man actually want a contract? He's already shown on MUTV that he could easily replace Alan "All News is Bad News" Hansen on the BBC, though some of the gentle folks over there would probably be afraid to let him into the studio.

Undoubtedly, the scariest prospect would be an unemployed Roy. Where would all that pent-up aggression originating from who-knows-where go, if it couldn't be vented on the pitch or into the cameras? Pub bouncers, be on your toes. The next chapter will surely be as inimitable as the last.

Keano trivia: Is he the only Premiership footballer whose whole name had to be printed in press matter to avoid ambiguity, i.e. versus R-o-bbie? If you can think of another such situation from Premiership history, let TDH know.

And before we leave Old Trafford: The only German heading from Munich to Manchester may be Ottmar Hitzfeld. One can only guess what has been said in the Hrooney household about the Jerries in the two decades of young Wine's life. Hopefully he won't mind just following orders....


TDH is finally starting to believe Wigan. As TDH watched the dying moments of the Latics' match against The Goon Show (in Mandarin Chinese, while receiving a foot pulverization in the VIP room of a somewhat sketchy massage den), the clear conclusion dawned that this was actually a pretty decent squad.

The Highbury supporters showed their lack of anything approaching up-to-date-ness by chanting "Premiership, you're having a laugh" as an alien posing as Cygan and a few guys from this planet tried desperately to keep the blue stripey guys out in the last 10 minutes. Nay, Gooners, those northerners belong in the top half of the table almost as much as you do - maybe more, when you're missing that lanky guy with a penchant for playing the drums.


TDH must ask whether Zorba the Graeme drank a little bit too much ouzo before sending the lads out in a 4-5-1 to face Chelsea.

If he'd wanted to try for a 0-0 draw - as unlikely as that is at Stamford Bridge - he should have played 5-4-1, or started Faye instead of Solano and brought on Clark at some point. If he'd wanted to play for the win - as outrageously unlikely as that is at Stamford Bridge - he should have started Chopra and Goal-Shy Shola together up front. Yet Zorba seemed to be trying to have it both ways, with a raft of offensive-minded midfielders feeding Ameobi.

Sounopoulos finally put on Chopra for Solano after the 0-0 scoreline was out of the question. But once again, he proved that tactical genius is not in his toolbox. Either that, or it was the ouzo.


Finally, TDH was overjoyed this evening after being greeted by a favorite sound: silence at the Bernabeu. We may soon see Wanderley go a-wandering....

Friday, November 18, 2005

"I am not Pele or Maradona."

The quote in today's title doesn't sound so funny, does it, until you recall that it came from Robbie Savage.

But on to business. Is Wayne Rooney doomed to a life of controversy, obesity and drug problems? That's what St. Diego of La Boca seems to think. "He has the same characteristics as me both as a player and a person," said the pint-sized powderkeg.

There seems to be some confusion about who the next Maradona will be, however. Some folks in Barcelona seem to think it's teenager Lionel Messi. And then there are the Madrilenos who think Robinho is the new Pele. TDH would like to say, with respect, we've heard it all before. How many players have been hailed as the new Maradona - Ortega, Aimar, Tevez - and none have lived up to the name. The same goes for Pele.

Maybe it's a Latin thing. We haven't heard Rooney being called the new George Best, or even the new Robbie Fowler (joke, it's a joke). Or maybe it's because Rooney's style of play is so unfamiliar, so brutal, so primal.... Ehhh, perhaps he's really the new Mike Tyson?

At the bottom of all this, of course, is just Diego's desire for more glory. If he can't produce his own magic on the pitch anymore, he'll just try to steal young Wine Hrooney's... or anyone else's, if they happen to catch his eye. Stay tuned - for the next few decades.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

“There could be fatalities – or, even worse, injuries.”

Apologies for the late post today!


TDH has labored for a lifetime under the impression that Switzerland was a neutral country. Fighting? A crass matter, best left to the English, especially in Turkey (and occasionally in, ahem, the rest of Europe). Yet TDH was mistaken. The Swiss mixed it with the Turks in fine fashion, showing that they can be as uncivilized as the next guys. (But who is that guy on the left, anyway? TDH shudders to think.)

And then the real fun began. Sepp seems to think that he can recuse himself from being Swiss and act in the interests of FIFA. How about this, Sepp: you recuse yourself from dealing with this case. Let somebody else figure out whether Switzerland's spot in the big show should go to Uruguay or some other near-misser. And then figure out some other way to punish the Turks, too. Maybe Lennart could help with that one - he comes from a real neutral country, after all.


As those who clicked on the "reader" link a couple of days ago will have found, at least one Premiership footballer is quite the avid bookworm. Actually, there's more than one. TDH has been checking over their selections. Here's a brief rundown:

Ryan Giggs (MUN): The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
"Reading about Mandela is an inspiration to everyone, what he went through was horrendous, yet he is still a man of compassion and his love for his people is heart-warming." Yes indeedy, Ryan, and the personal resonance must hit you every day. What you've gone through with Wales would be enough to turn anyone into, well, Roy Keane.

Mark Delaney (AST): The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
That's heavy going for a footballer, isn't it? TDH thought so, but then read this: "I chose the 'The Iron Man' because it encourages you to use your imagination, to paint pictures in your mind, and above all to remind you that anything is possible." Yes, Mark, the Villa might just stay up this year. Might. Just.

Freddie Ljungberg (ARS): Cars, Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry
The Swede with the big engine writes: "I was fascinated with the pictures of the animals and other books in the series about truck drivers. Looking back now they are also very educational." TDH can't make this stuff up, folks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"If the goalkeeper wasn't there, it would've been a goal."

TDH has just had the pleasure of seeing the Socceroos qualify for the World Cup finals for the first time in 32 years. Not that TDH has anything against Uruguay, but by the end of extra time, it was clear who wanted it more.

Despite the frenzied atmosphere down in Sydney, TDH was lost in thought, making Zen-like observations about the game. First among these was that Uruguay's coach, Jorge Fossati, is a dead ringer for Sam the American Eagle (pictured left).

Perhaps more relevantly, TDH was also struck by the notion that Liverpool fans have never in their lives seen Harry Kewell play the way he did tonight. Despite looking a bit overweight (and I don't mean the hair), he ran his socks off for 120 minutes and coolly stroked the inaugural penalty in the shootout. There are some players who approach every game as though their lives depended on it. Kewell isn't one. Perhaps the next time Rafa plans to use him, he should try some hypnosis to convince him that the World Cup is on the line.

The one who choked at the death was, of course, Mark Viduka. Well, TDH knew he was never a truly world-class striker and had even cringed when rumors flew that the man was coming to Tyneside. But 'Stralia was saved by the other Mark at Boro, i.e. Schwarzer, who batted away two penalties. And that brings TDH, through the usual tortuous logic, to The Big Lesson of Today: English Premier League goalkeepers are the best in the world.

The reason is simple yet not often mentioned. The Premiership draws its keepers from the biggest and most competitive labor pool of any top league. Currently starting are the first-choice stoppers from England, Australia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany, plus some strong entrants from the US, Denmark, Portugal and Spain.

No other league can claim this diversity. And you know what? Some of these guys - particularly the ones from the US, Australia, and Northern Europe - are really tall. It makes a difference, as the 6-foot 5-inch Schwarzer's flailing hand showed tonight.


The football gods giveth, and the football gods taketh away. TDH was initially heartened by the fact that Drogba will miss this weekend's tie with the Magpies, thanks to a surfeit of yellow plastic rectangles. But the injury to Crespo means that, yes, Eidur will probably be at the top of the Chelsea offense. As loyal readers know, Eidur is the man TDH fears most. With Steven Taylor out after picking up a crock for the England youngsters, this does not bode well. (Just driving away the evil eye, of course... Yep, that link's for you, Emre.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"I only ever hit Roy the once. He got up so I couldn't have hit him very hard."

A single page of the Ireland manager's application has come into TDH's possession, thanks to TDH's worldwide network of informers. Here it is, for your perusal and use:

(If you want Gaelic football, they're two doors down on the left.)
(Oh, and say hello to Liam for me.)

Application for the position of: Manager, Men's Senior Squad

Please answer the following multiple choice questions.

1. The trait that most qualifies me for this job is:

a. football knowledge
b. drinking ability
c. boyish good looks
d. fatalism

2. I'm applying for this job because:

a. I dream of leading Ireland to glory.
b. I was fired by Hearts.
c. I think Damien Duff is cute. Hi Damien! Love you!
d. My mum said to get my own place, and I couldn't get a job at O'Neills.

3. My native language is:

a. English
b. Scottish
c. Broken English
d. Portuguese


4. I think Roy Keane is:

a. still a top quality footballer
b. a lost, lonely soul who just needs some tender, loving care
c. a post-pop piano band
d. also applying for this job

5. The first step towards success in Euro 2008 is:

a. giving more experience to our young players
b. an exorcism
c. a trip down to Paddy Power
d. did you know Robinho's real name is Robson?


TDH is looking forward more and more to Barcelona's involvement in Major League Soccer. Barca's technical secretary, Txiki Begiristain, already has experience in the American entertainment industry. For a couple years in the late 1980's, he represented several boy bands under the name Mel "Cheeky" Bergstein....


Cheeky has had a busy couple of days, which included barring Samuel Eto'o from becoming the world's highest-paid athlete. Eto'o had attracted interest from Al-Ittihad, the team from Saudi Arabia that pulled off one of football's biggest-ever upsets by reversing a 3-1 deficit in the 2004 Asian Champions League final with a 5-0 away victory. They wanted to pay him 3.5 million pounds for a 10-day loan.

So let's say Eto'o managed to play for 200 days out of the year at that rate. That's a cool 70 million pounds - no problem for an oil sheikh, perhaps, but still far more than even Alex Rodriguez makes.

Monday, November 14, 2005

"You weren’t world-class when Arsenal signed you."

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At the end of the day, it was all about love. Yes, Vieira has finally spilled his guts about the move to Juve. Here's how Paddy saw things, according to the BBC:
"One moment I was on the phone to Arsene Wenger discussing our expectations for the season. The next I was told by David Dein there was an offer from Juventus and the club was neutral about my decision to accept it or not. Neutral? What was that was about? There had been offers before, particularly from Real Madrid. And every year it had been made plain Arsenal wanted me to stay. Had they talked to me the way they did the previous summer, there is no doubt I would still be at the club. But they didn't."
If only the Highbury boys had talked to poor Paddy! He's just like everybody else, he wants to feel special, and maybe you could bring home some flowers now and then, or take me out to dinner, or we could spend a weekend in the country.... But seriously, can you blame Dein for getting sick of Paddy's annual hard-to-get act? At 13.7 million pounds for a 29-year-old, "neutral" seems plenty loving to TDH.


Did anyone spot Barcelona chief Joan Laporta at the cinema recently? Lapo must have taken in a showing of GOAL!, the new film about a Los Angeles youngster who lives his dream by playing for Newcastle United (sniff, TDH is getting all teary). It's the only explanation for a move that should have association bosses from around the world shaking in their golden boots.

So here it is: Barca are planning to found and sponsor a Major League Soccer team in the US. That Barca would even view MLS as a useful place for a feeder club is testament enough to how far the US has come. And it's really football the American way. Baseball franchises have entire networks of feeder clubs, usually at least half a dozen per team. Ice hockey clubs also make use of "farm" teams. The basketball and American football leagues just, erm, use our fine universities.

The bigger point, of course, is that the standard of play - and players - in the US is bound to improve. TDH last took in an MLS match in May 2004, accompanied by a die-hard Arsenal supporter. The committee's verdict was that DC United played on a par with sides from the English League Championship, e.g. Wolves or Preston North End. Indeed, several American players have easily made the switch into that division. But now, imagine if they reached the dizzy heights of Premiership football! That World Cup trophy wouldn't be so far away, eh?

Barca isn't the first team to show interest in the US market, no doubt heightened by merchandizing possibilities. Club Deportivo Guadalajara, a.k.a. Chivas, already have a club in MLS. Hannover 96 have a training and marketing deal with Real Salt Lake. If Lapo finds success, can "Lucky" Luciano Moggi (the nickname is no accident) or the Kaiser be far behind?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

"A lot of hard work went into this defeat."

Not that the English would be any different, but the Argies are proving to be sore losers after last night's last-minute collapse. Horacio Pagani writes in Clarin (link includes a grainy video of the goals) that the southerners were denied a clear penalty in the 89th minute. TDH saw the tackle as not completely clean, but not so obviously dirty that a trip to the spot was merited. Moreover, the Swiss referee - holder of the Urs Meier Memorial Chair - had set a very high bar by rejecting some earlier English shouts.

Pagani also complains that Argentina's substitutions, which included the removal of Riquelme, were made out of physical necessity while Sven had the luxury of choosing his strategically. Yeah, if you were Argentine, you wouldn't bother about a mundane matter like fitness, would you? Especially when there's so much good beef to eat and good wine to drink....

It's true that the Argies had the run of much of the match, and Robinson saved England's hopes on several occasions. Some of England's men can still add polish to their performances, too. (Why had the missile launcher that extends downward from the right side of Lampard's torso apparently lost its targeting system? Why does Rooney insist on trying to re-enact his volley against Newcastle every chance he gets? Why is Rio, well, Rio?) But by the same token, it's hard to imagine the Argies playing much better, while England are just starting to hit their stride.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

"England have had no chances and scored twice." least that's how you could have called the last ten minutes of play in Geneva! Toon supporters around the world must be elated, having witnessed Owen's brace to grab a last-gasp victory for England. There was plenty of encouraging stuff from England, even when they were on the losing side of the ledger.

TDH was glad to see King holding it down (ahem) in midfield. But TDH must question the use of Bridge roving forward on the left to allow Gerrard to tuck inside. Perhaps The Other Wayne wasn't fit enough to track back all the time, but the left flank seemed dangerously free on too many occasions. Terry was forced to come over from the center, often too late.

The same was true with Konchesky in the leftback spot, though after a few minutes of nerves he performed as solidly as could be expected. And as TDH could have predicted, Rio's insertion paid immediate negative dividends, as his miscue led to the first goal.

The big worry for England has to be Argentina's sheer cleverness. With what looked like much less effort, the Argies managed to pop up in all sorts of uncomfortable places with alarming frequency. They played with guile rather than pace, and England had a difficult time adjusting. With Brazil - guile and pace - the results could be catastrophic. Then again, they're Brazil.

Also in the minus column, England missed their last opportunity to hand Sorin a career-ending injury in a (relatively) meaningless game. After drawing a yellow card on Luke Young with the usual turfbound hysterics, the little hippie let everyone know his true intentions with a mischievous smile. And then - the gall of it! - he actually tried to punch the ball past Robinson, almost making yet another TDH forecast come true. ("Juan Pablo, I knew Diego Maradona. I played with Diego Maradona. Diego Maradona was a friend of mine. Juan Pablo, you're no Diego Maradona....") He deserves a right bollocking. Perhaps Woody can give him one next time the whites play the yellows over in Espain. It'd be making himself useful, anyway.

Still, England clearly have the weapons to beat anyone... on their day. The only question is whether that day will come more than once in 2006.


Our Yanks managed a 1-1 draw with Scotland, not bad considering the probationary team and the hostile environment. Beasley was a live wire as usual, and Spector almost snatched the honors as time ran out. Full steam ahead for the good ship Arena....


Astute readers will have noticed that TDH was under the impression England were going into enemy territory for tonight's match! Thanks a lot, Soccernet, you geniuses! They've fixed their site, and so has TDH.

Friday, November 11, 2005

"Wayne Rooney can go all the way to the top if he keeps his head firmly on the ground."

It's Friday evening at the bar of the Hotel Cornavin in Geneva. On the stools are a red-faced man carrying a tub of hair gel and a beaky-looking chap whose spectacles are steaming up in the humid lakeside air.

"So, Steve, I want to talk to you about Wine."

"Wine? Sure, Sven, what kind - claret, chardonnay, or my favorite, Blue Nun?"

"No, no, Steve. I mean WINE. Wine HROONEY."

"Oh, Wayne! Ah, Sven, why didn't you say so? You know, I can never understand that accent of yours. Like that time in the Euros against France when you put on Vassell and Heskey for Owen and Rooney, and we all thought you were just ordering a pizza. What a laugh that was, eh?"

"Steve, what I mean is, what are we going to do about Wine? If he fights with David again we're finished. I could lose my yob."

"Lose your yob, eh? Er, I mean, no problem, I've got it all taken care of. I told him Sorin was in a gang that's kidnapped his mother and taken her to be a sex slave in Patagonia."

"But I just saw Mrs. Hrooney at the buffet - she was shovelling Vienna sausages into her purse."

"Ah, I told Wayne she'd been replaced by a robot. After I explained what a robot was, he bought it."

"Oh no, then he'll KILL him."

"Could be! That's why I've got a tenner riding on a red card for our boy, with an accumulator for criminal charges. Would you believe I only got 3-1? But old David will be a-okay, in tip-top shape to make another baby with Posh. Maybe they'll name this one Bronx, or Hamlet, or maybe Rodriguez...." (tails off, drunk)

Just in case you can't tell how Sven feels about young Wine Hrooney, you can see a special moment here.


And now, to strike fear into the hearts of Scotland, as well as the teams that actually made the World Cup, here is news from across the pond: the United States has its best team ever. For the first time, the US can put a European first-division, first-team player at every position - with some left over. And goshdangit, we even have a more reliable big man up front than England or Argentina.

TDH's first-choice XI:
G Keller (Moenchengladbach)
D Bocanegra (Fulham)
D Spector (Charlton)
D Onyewu (Standard Liege)
D Cherundolo (Hannover 96)
M Beasley (PSV)
M O'Brien (Den Haag)
M Reyna (Manchester City)
M Gibbs (Feyenoord)
F Casey (Mainz)
F McBride (Fulham)

You don't think Liege counts as a real first-division team? Okay, put in Zak Whitbread from Liverpool. He's started in the Champions League and the Carling Cup! TDH swears it!

Anyway, coach Bruce Arena is trying out some US-based players at Hampden Park tomorrow, so not all these names will be in action. But don't be surprised when the Yanks run riot in Germany! Ahem, we won't need tanks this time....

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"In my opinion, the English players are too honest."

A tough match once again awaits England's supposedly finest at the Stade de Geneve. And TDH wonders, what will be the talking point this time? Another player sent off after an Argentine performance worthy of a Best Actor award? Another player taken down in the box, with no penalty called? The Hand of God's Gay Lover?

Anything's possible when the Ingles Locos and the Argies face off. Here's TDH's choice for an England formation, using the players Sven's taking with him:

4-1-3-2 or call it what you will
Goalkeeper: Robinson (obviously)
Leftback: Konchesky (Argentina is no place for Wayne Bridge's return)
Centerback: Terry (obviously)
Centerback: Campbell (sit down, Rio; Sol's always Sol-id for England)
Rightback: Young (not much choice here)
Holding midfielder: King (made for it - but so is Parker)
Left midfielder: Cole (at least to start, and he'll have to defend well)
Central midfielder: Lampard (you can't fault Fat Frank, you just can't)
Right midfielder: Beckham (his crosses for Madrid have been insane)
Back forward: Rooney (sounds odd, but that's where he plays best)
Front forward: Owen (the eternal poacher)

TDH could be convinced to play Carrick instead of King, but it just feels like having an extra enforcer back there will be useful. The main problem for England is that they don't have a tall man to flick down the long balls. Crouch isn't good enough to justify inclusion for that role alone. One solution could be playing Gerrard instead of Lampard, but then he'd spend too much time forward. It's not an ideal situation, but when has it been since Shearer left?

So, England will have to build up the game from the back, and that's why Sven will need his best ball-at-feet men on the pitch (sounds like an argument for Rio... cringe). They'll have to be quick and clever, too, because the Argies will be hitting the turf any chance they get.

The other problem is that England haven't played a team of the Argies' caliber in... in... well, it's been a long time. On the bright side, perhaps, Pekerman has in his squad only two of the six Argies who play together for Spain's yellow goal orgy. Still, TDH figures 2-1 to La Seleccion with Owen saving England's blushes.

Tomorrow: the American stars you should have heard of by now

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"We're taking 22 players to Italy, sorry, to Spain... where are we, Jim?"

Cruise Director Souey (seen here with the rest of his staff) has decided to take his squad to Marbella for, presumably, some recreation and light training that will do nothing to prepare them for Chelsea. Perhaps there'll be some bonding among the first team players... except that Owen, Emre, Taylor, Swansong and Faye are all on international duty. Oh, and by the way, Shearer, Carr, Dyer and Luque are all back on Tyneside receiving treatment. So, hmm, that leaves a maximum of seven or eight first-teamers and a bunch of scrubs. Have a nice trip, boys, while the men are grinding it out.


Word comes from Merseyside that the chief executive, "Slick" Rick Parry, has been in the States meeting with Bob Kraft. Like Malcolm Glazer, America's very own ginger gnome (he's breeding), Kraft is the owner of a Super-Bowl-winning team. Unlike the Glazer family, the Kraft family has owned a real football club since its inception: the New England Revolution. And they're serious about it.

Back in 1999, TDH had the good fortune to watch the Revolution take on Ajax under a cold, hard rain in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Ajax had several of its stars and won, 2-1, but DaMarcus Beasley, soon to face Ajax again for PSV, grabbed a snazzy goal. At the moment, the Revs are favored to win the league's top trophy. Hopefully, the Kop will take this to heart, saving us more scenes of shrieking xenophobia and a 7th division team called FC Liverpool United.

Of course, the intolerant idiots of the BNP will do their best to wind up the Scousers. Why? Simple - if Kraft buys Anfield, then he'll join Abramovich, Glazer, Gold and Levy as (at least) the fifth Jewish supremo of a Premiership club. A conspiracy, obviously.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"Ronaldinho was too ugly to play for Madrid."

Okay, enough about the serious business of money in football, which is, after all, a serious business. Now onto the real controversy currently wracking the sport. Is this video faked, or is it real?

It's too bad FIFA doesn't have an physicist-in-residence, like Bob Adair, who was the official physicist of baseball's National League in the late 1980's. But if FIFA did have one, he might say this:

"The main reason why it's so hard to tell if this is real or faked is because the crossbar is circular in cross-section. As a result, the ball can rebound off the crossbar at a very different angle from the one at which it hits. However, the ball should always be losing speed, even if the crossbar is perfectly resilient - which we know it's not. The first time Ronaldinho strikes the crossbar, the ball appears to rebound initially at a higher speed. For that reason, the video is probably faked."

But don't listen to TDH's expert - he's only had one semester of university physics, anyway! Make up your own mind and let TDH know what you think by clicking "Post a Comment" below.


Also, check out TDH's new feature, in the right-hand column: goals per 90 minutes for players with four or more strikes in the Premiership. Not that Sven should base his World Cup picks on the first dozen matches of the season, but isn't it strange how several of his favorite forwards - Crouch, Heskey, Defoe - don't even show up on this list? Moreover, Vassell is hardly good value. But of course, we already knew that.

Monday, November 07, 2005

"I can see the carrot at the end of the tunnel."

Well, well, well, look who thinks football clubs are greedy.

Lennart Johansson, the crusty old head of UEFA, took a dim view of the big clubs' request that FIFA and UEFA pay their players' salaries during international qualifying. FIFA and UEFA already distribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the national associations before and after the tournaments, and the associations can choose to pass some cash along to players. But the clubs are forced to release players, free of charge, for national team duty.

Three comments:
  • Of course football clubs are greedy. They're businesses, and they also know that more money usually means better players and more success on the pitch, which means more money, which means....

  • The clubs also know when they sign a top player that he'll be on national team duty, so his contract implicitly has a discount built in. On this basis, there's no need to compensate the club. But UEFA and FIFA are getting the players for free, so they should bargain with them directly - that is, unless the players have some old-fashioned notion that it's an honor to take the field for your country.

  • Lennart, you've got a nice pot belly, but stop calling the kettle black; the average compensation for UEFA employees during the 2003/04 fiscal year was about $131,000. (You can do the math yourself using their annual report.) UEFA's a monopoly, and it shows.

Toon fans will have shed yet another crocodile tear for Woodgate, who's crocked again for at least a month - and just as he was showing up on Sven's radar. It'll be a little while, then, before he's evened up his personal goals for-and-against ratio....

Shearer's hernia surgery in Munich will supposedly put him out of action for a couple of weeks. Knowing the skipper, however, it seems likely that he'll swim back to Tyneside and leg it over to St. James's in time for the Chelsea match. Here he is in his early poolside years, and here he is practicing the Australian crawl (pointy-finger version) as per his usual training regimen.


One more note on last night's big match: say what you want, Shaun Wright-Phillips was never worth 21 million pounds. That kind of money should only pay for someone who can reliably change a game. Against the Red Mist, SWP couldn't. At age 24, how much is he really going to improve? In the meantime, Man City's chairman, John Wardle, should stop complaining about SWP's supposed betrayal. His cash-strapped club got the better end of the deal, a fact TDH hopes the other directors realize.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

"A smoked salmon sandwich of a football match if ever there has been one."

End-to-end stuff. Non-stop action. Positive football. You've heard the cliches, but for once a big match lived up to them. Too bad neither Manure nor Chelski showed the finishing touch - at all. The lone goal was a Fletcher pass intended for van Nistelrooy that somehow, Ronaldhino-like, nestled in the side of Cech's net.

Ah well. Toon supporters will have been hoping for The Special Ones to walk away with the points, but no matter - Drogba picked up an idiotic yellow card for dissent, one of three such namby-pamby warnings issued by Graham Poll, and so he's out of our match. Of course, whom would you rather face, Drogba, or Crespo or Gudjohnsen?

That's right, TDH still doesn't get this Gudjohnsen the Midfielder thing. He's their best striker in the air, and the Blues had about half a dozen corners before he was brought on the pitch. And we can only wonder why Robben wasn't on the bench ready to skin Wes Brown, or whomever Mourinho thought was starting, alive....

In the meantime, let's commiserate about the many deficiencies of Sky Sports' presentation. Like a true monopolist, they just don't care about quality. In the 62nd minute, the satellite cut out and TDH's local was forced to switch to the Premier League franchise on Chinese television. At halftime on Sky, Gavin Peacock showed that his brain is roughly the same size as that of his namesake: "So, Gavin, what do Chelsea need to do in the second half?" "...(ten-second pause) Well, uhhh, they need a goal, that's for sure." Not exactly Dr. Science, are you, Gavin?

And lastly, what is with Sky starting the Man-of-the-Match voting immediately after kickoff? There can be no more barefaced attempt to extract money from silly teenagers via SMS. Rupert, we won't forget this when the revolution comes.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

"I don't know who was being booed, whether it was me or Crouch."

Despite the fact that TDH's local opted to cut off Premiership coverage on its six-foot screen after the first half of today's matches - so some toffs could watch rugby! - a few interesting things could be discerned.

First, the Empire State Building has finally found a way to contribute to Liverpool's cause. Making use of the adage that begins, "The taller they are...", Crouch managed to go down in a sufficiently shambolic-looking heap to draw a penalty for the Kop. TDH and friends saw Crouch play for QPR back in 2000, and the unanimous verdict of the committee was that he was worth about as much as a stack of old William Shatner records. TDH remains to be convinced that he is a Premiership, let alone an England, player.

Second, what - what - would West Ham have looked like this year without Yossi Benayoun. He is the sparkplug for the Hammer engine, and he was very unlucky not to score in the first half against West Brom. Marlon Harewood, on the other hand, seems to share Shola's Big Man, No Confidence problem. He needs to lean that shoulder into the defenders - then maybe he'll actually make contact with one of those beautifully weighted balls from Benayoun, Reo-Coker & Co.

And here are some brief thoughts. Why has Shaka Hislop been relegated to number two behind Roy Carroll? Shaka clearly showed that he still owns the area between the sticks. Kanu should be a midfielder; time stops when he gets the ball, yet he's only scored 12 goals in the Premiership in the last five seasons. And this month, Anton's the real Ferdinand.


In other action, TDH has been vindicated by Le Voyeur: he gave van Persie the start, and the Flying Dutchman Mk II took a mere 12 minutes to score. You didn't need a telescope to see that would work. Oh, and that French guy with the moustache scored a couple of times, too.


Finally, Emre. Emre, Emre, Emre. Emre. Ne mutlu Türküm diyene, ne mutlu Toonüm diyene.

"I don't think there is anybody bigger or smaller than Maradona."

More news from the religion desk: the Argentine FA are laying the groundwork for St. Diego to take over the national team. For the moment, he'll have an undisclosed role working alongside Jose Pekerman, the current coach. "There's not much to say in terms of what he will or will not do," said Julio Grondona, the AFA president. "He will do whatever is necessary."

Well, we already knew that. The bigger question is, why? Is this just an idiotic play to the sympathies of the faithful?

Maradona has never shown much ability to keep his own life under control, let along manage the lives of others. More important, however, is the issue of whether Maradona has anything to teach. Does anyone really believe that he thought a lot about what he was doing as he sliced through the entire England squad on his way to another goal, just a few minutes after fisting the ball into the net?

It's rare that the most talented people in any performance-driven profession can teach what they do. That's why it's called talent. In most sports, the best coaches were middling players. They had to think their way through every game, and they still do.

Of course, none of this means Maradona has to be a lousy coach. Van Basten has shown with the Netherlands that he's as shrewd on the sideline as he was deadly on the pitch. But think of the guys in a class with them - Pele, Best, Eusebio, di Stefano, Cruyff. How many of them made it as coaches? Only di Stefano, briefly, and Cruyff, who was always known as a thinking player, anyway. Yes, no one but the Dutch Master could have given us this instructive gem: "Before I make a mistake, I don't make that mistake." See, thinking footballer!

Maradona probably wants to be president of Argentina, and maybe he thinks winning a World Cup as a coach will give him a leg up. TDH guesses that the caudillos will have a word or two to say about that. In the meantime, the true reason for the AFA's recruitment of El Pibe de Oro ("Please, please hire me!" "Okay, okay, just leave us alone!") will become clear. Just like Mourinho, his real purpose is to attract so much media attention that no one ever bothers the players.

Friday, November 04, 2005

"If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he'd have put grass up there."

EXTRA! The Magpie manager has not been running a football club but a monastery!

Yes, not far from the cradle of Northumbrian Christianity - the home of numerous bishops from the 7th century onwards - Abbot Souey has been leading young men in lives of virtue and self-deprivation. Each day they strive to perfect their suffering on the training pitch, eschewing wine and women in the hope of a heavenly reward.

Or so Freddy Shepherd would have us believe, by stating that Dyer's illness was not due to any of his own actions, but rather to the Lord's wish that he should endure further pain on Earth so that he might appear more fitting in the eyes of St. Peter at the pearly gates. "From the moment Graeme Souness arrived at this football club last September," Shepherd said, "[Dyer] has been a model professional and he has lived like a monk to try to get back to full fitness."

Bravo, then, Brother Kieron. Hopefully your devotion will allow you to bring just one trophy to the Tyneside faithful before the Lord calls you to his bosom. In the meantime, one must ask whether this is the same Freddy Shepherd who, during an alcohol-soaked orgy at a Spanish brothel in 1998, said this of the original Savior of St. James's: "No vices like us. We used to call Keegan 'Shirley Temple'."


In other Toon news, the dour voice of Alan Hansen has doomed our record signing to a season of iniquity by insisting, "If you put your money on Owen scoring goals, you are quids in." Thanks, Alan, for that damning pronouncement, but you of all people should know that you'll never win anything with quids....

Thursday, November 03, 2005

"You'll be hoping that this run of injuries will stop earlier than it started."

As TDH prophesied just days ago, Dyer is done before he'd barely begun. Doing his best impression of a 1980's Jaguar, the provider from Sunday's match managed just a few runs at top speed before heading back to the shop for repairs.

The word is that Dyer and his injury-plagued teammates are suffering not from a too-hard training pitch, as the club earlier suggested, but from a mystery illness. One has to wonder: could this, and not, ahem, a recurring nasal injury, have been the malady that troubled Jonathan Woodgate after he moved to Real? If so, could we please have the telephone number of his urologist, er, physio?


Pavel Nedved has been called back into the Czech national team 16 months after his supposed retirement. Precious Pavel said he'd come back for the World Cup playoff against Norway if the squad's injury crisis continued. By my count, they're missing Lurch and Lokvenc. Some crisis! But you can just hear the phone ringing at Pavel's villa in the Parco della Mandria: "Hallo, Pavel? It's Karel. Boy, do we have an injury crisis. That's right, Koller's out, and Lokvenc, and, erm, a bunch of other guys, and my dog, and ehhhh... by the way, did you get that case of slivovitz I sent over?"

"I’d never allow myself to let myself call myself a coward..."

I've just heard a rumor that agents for Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho have been in talks with a certain Mr. Donald King of West Palm Beach, Florida. Mr. King issued a press release filled with a lot of five-syllable words. He also said a fight is set for Las Vegas during football's winter holiday. The tale of the tape:

In the red corner...
Arsene "Lupin" Wenger
Birthdate: 22 October 1949
Birthplace: Strasbourg, France
Height: 5ft 10in
Weight: 12st 9lbs (177 lbs)
Reach: 75in plus the nose

In the blue corner...
Jose "Millionaire" Mourinho
Birthdate : 26 January 1963
Birthplace: Setubal, Portugal
Height: 5ft 10in
Weight: 11st 2 (156 lbs)
Reach: 72in in an overcoat

Wenger has some experience in the ring, as shown by this documentary evidence. Mourinho usually trains by punching the air every time Chelsea score. Mills Lane has been selected as referee, narrowly beating out Switzerland's Urs Meier, on account of his experience with MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch.

Late Thursday rumors were swirling that suggested Mr. Roman Abramovich would use part of his immense fortune to hire one Michael G. Tyson of New York, New York, to fight in Mourinho's place. Reached by telephone, Mr. Tyson, who has recently been taking language courses, said of Wenger, "I wanna manger his enfants!"

Separately, Mr. King is said to be involved in a litigation with Wenger over some Rumsfeldian comments the Gooner Gaffer made on Wednesday. Mr. King is also suing Secretary Rumsfeld for plagiarizing his vocal stylings, as well as for stealing his first name. Mr. King claims to have originated Rumsfeld and Wenger's metadialectical evasion technique when he said, "I can't believe that having said what I said was interpreted as having been what I said when I said it, because I said it where I said it, when I said it, and who I said it to."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

"Football isn't a matter of life and death - it's much more important than that!"

Too true, too true! Just last night a football pitch was the setting for the first of the Seven Signs of the Apocalypse: Morientes and Cisse scoring in the same match for Liverpool.

Yes, Rafa's Riff-Raff finally came good, even though it was against Anderlecht, who lost in the Champions League for a record 11th straight time. The Belgian fans will surely welcome the End of Days with open arms. After all, it will mean the resurrection of their household-name stars, like... like...

Of course, the Morientes-Cisse confluence could simply have been the result of a rift in the space-time continuum. Such rifts are sufficiently rare that it will be 4,228,364,197 years before we have a 5 percent chance of seeing the two Continentals on the same scoresheet again. By then, David Pleat may have landed another coaching job. Or it could just be Armageddon.


While not rising to the level of a sign of The Final Judgment, a certain Aberdeen grump's most recent comments do prove that he's living in an alternate reality. Of pug-faced Wine Hrooney, the hairdryer specialist said this: "He seems to have a very old head on young shoulders and is far more mature than any other boy of his age." Sure, Alex, and the invasion of Iraq has been a huge success....

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"He's not going to adhere himself to the fans..."

What, exactly, is Keano's problem?

True, this is not the first forum to contemplate such an important question. And yet, one must ask, why is the man shooting himself in the foot that's currently in his mouth despite his face?

It's one thing to say you're leaving approximately one full season before you plan to go. It's another to say that most of your younger teammates, members of what your manager calls the fourth squad he's built, aren't up to scratch.

Why is The Ire From Eire trying so hard to sabotage the season? Is he hoping to bring the gaffer down before he goes, perhaps to hasten his own installation in the job?

In fact, it's no sure thing that Keano will ever sit behind the bricks at Old Trafford. He's already infuriated the top management enough to cancel his chances forever - remember the prawn sandwiches? At the moment, Queiroz seems to have a lock on the job, anyway. And there's an open question as to whether Keano has any coaching aptitude at all. One can only shudder to think how many players would receive career-ending injuries... in training. (Souey, eat your heart out.)

Maybe Keano just harbors an intense desire to play for Gordon Strachan. That will surely be a match made in footie heaven: the poker-faced Ginger Joker and the man who would probably require a rectal exam with a feather duster to elicit a chuckle. Oh yes, and we all know what a great success it was the last time El Gordo signed a man named Keane....