Monday, February 16, 2009

Fiorentina is undoubtedly the meanest team in football

After four frustrating and barely deserved points earned against Lazio and Genoa, Fiorentina apparently did not feel satisfied with a 3-3 last minute draw from an Adrian Mutu hat trick. Therefore, they apparently felt it necessary to run a Genoa fan over with the team bus

Yes, they are this dickish.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Derby Time

So we have two excellent matches on the menu today, first there's Ajax - Feyenoord. Certainly the most anticipated match in the Eredivisie. Ajax were battling away for the title but had a bad run after the winter break and found themselves dropping to 3rd place. Feyenoord however have been terrible for years, the once so famous club finds themselves on a disappointing 12th place in the league. But there is still a bright future ahead of what is still one of the biggest clubs in Holland. Whoever wins this match will have a mental boost to either get back in the race for the title (Ajax) or back in the race for european football (Feyenoord). The odds are in favor of Ajax but with this match you just never know what's going to happen and I think that is what's so great about derbies.

And later in the day there is the biggest derby on the Italian calender. A game which is only equalled in intensity by the Lazio - AS Roma derby looks out to be a great match-up this year. With AC Milan actively participating in the title race again there's a lot to play for this time. Key-player Kaka is out injured so Inter have a slight advantage (next to their awesome league record). It'll be interesting to see how Mourinho and Ancelotti battle it out today.

So go out and buy some snacks and beer and then just sit back and enjoy...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

So Guus it is...

Chelsea have confirmed their approach of Hiddink and Guus himself has stated that he'll be the caretaker at Stamford Bridge for the rest of this season. Because of his close relationship a-buyeverything-ovic ( well now it's more like imbrokemovic) he decided to take the job and this was also the reason why the Russian FA agreed to his brief depart from the Russian side (although he'll still be in full control of the team). So what now? Personally I think that Hiddink will recommend Frank Rijkaard when he's finished. Hiddink knows Rijkaard very well from their days together at the world championships of 1998 where Rijkaard featured as Hiddink's assistant.
So what can Hiddink achieve during his brief stay at Chelsea? Well they're 10 points behind from league leaders Manchester United so there it's just a matter of focusing on your own game and hoping Manchester United drops some points. Next to that they're still in the FA Cup and most importantly they're also still in the Champions League. Sure it's a pretty big task but Guus always has some tricks up his sleaves... seriously you never know with that bloke.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I don't get it

Why, Chelsea... why? Why would you appoint a world-class coach and sack him before he's even been in charge for one season? What are they trying to achieve? I think this is the difference between top-teams and wannabe top-teams. Real top-teams have a long term vision and strategy, wannabe top-teams start panicking whenever things seem to be going bad. Ugh... this is all I have to say about it, I'm just really disappointed with Chelsea's way of handling things over the last couple of years. So now their total comes to 4 top coaches which have been sacked for no apparent reason except for THEY'RE NOT WINNING EVERYTHING NOW NOW NOW WIN WIN WIN...

Ok, maybe they can justify Ranieri but still...


The Russian FA have declared they would not oppose Guus Hiddink acting as first team coach for Chelski next to his Ruski commitments. So we might see Hiddink taking charge at Stamford Bridge pretty soon. There's only a few coaches on the planet who could replace a powerhouse like Scolari (I still disagree with the fact they sacked him) but Guus is one of the few coaches on the planet who can bring the same class and finesse like big Phill. Other rumours are Rijkaard (ex-Barca) and Mancini (ex-Inter).

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Kinnear takes ill: Newcastle win

When reading the headline, I was under the impression that Newcastle had won, then leveling Joe Kinnear with a heart attack of some sort, but it turns out the opposite was true. Still, no surprise that this both was a comically bad match, with every goal coming directly from a titanic defensive cock-up, and one Newcastle managed to win without the most comically inept manager in the Premier League.

Starting to take a hint Mr. Ashley?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Talent Scout: Barry Maguire

A lot of new highly rated talents seem to think they’re superstars after only having played one good game. With the latest flashy Nikes they run over the pitch showing off their tattoos and trendy haircuts. Sure it’s nice to see a flamboyant talented attacker dashing across the pitch but in a lot of cases all this showing off is greatly unjustified. Failing to realize that a team consists out of 11 players and that you shouldn’t only go for your own glory these players quickly vanish into the background and disappear in obscurity.

So that’s why it’s extra nice to see a different type of player standing up once in a while. Young FC Utrecht player Barry Maguire has stocky build, wears old school soccer boots and has a nonchalant hairstyle. Quite the opposite to most young players you see these days.
When he was transferred to Eredivisie side FC Utrecht in 2008 he already played 60 games at the highest level by the age of just 18 (!). This experience really shows off on the pitch and he has great vision when it comes to diffusing counterattacks and distributing balls to the wingers.
He’s already featured in 18 games for FC Utrecht this season and has always been a consistent factor for them. It’s probably best to compare him to a young Cambiasso, great defensive force on the ball but also good at passing and attacking. Next to that he can also play in defense, making him a very multifunctional player. Personally I have this player in very high regard, if he keeps on developing and keeps his feet firmly grounded (which won’t be much of a problem I think) he can grow out to be a top player. His strengths are that of a player which is essential in every top side you see today.

Recently he was invited to play for Ireland under 21 but declined. However I’m sure we’ll see him feature for a national side, be it Holland or Ireland, pretty soon.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Manchester City undoubtedly the most intimidating club in the Premier League

With Micah Richards' arrest for assault the latest in a lengthening list of Citeh run-ins with the law, I am now taking the time to officially announce Manchester City FC the most frightening team in the EPL. They, at any point in the match, have the capacity to punch you, kick you, steal your iPod filled with sensitive documents or rape you in a nightclub.

Steer clear, competition.

ALERT: Andrei Arshavin hates Women, Gravity

New Arsenal creative midfield/wing/forward/second striker/-thing/-er Andrei Arshavin would not hesitate to ban women from driving, as reported in an interview with everyone's favorite piece of trash, The Sun. After an incident involving a female driver, a young Andrei/Andriy/Andrey was flung "ten metres up in the air. It is a miracle I am still alive." For all of you struggling to calculate the physics behind such an impact, they don't exist. Suddenly Wenger's buy is making far more sense to me.

Andrei also revealed his fitness aspirations for all eligible North London ladies: "I like tall, slim girls with narrow thighs and tiny bums,' he said. 'If a girl is like this I do not pay attention to her breasts. Hair colour doesn’t matter either. What is really important is her style and manners."

Any women looking to land a currently engaged Russian who appears to be 12, you now have your goals.

(Scouser-safe link to a Guardian piece including the quotes)

Farewell Thomas Gravesen

In some sad news for fans of violent, mentally unstable midfielders, Danish international Thomas Gravesen has announced his retirement today. After failing to break into the Celtic first team, he has hung up his boots, and his insane teammate fights, for good. Any fans having trouble coping with this crushing news are invited to watch some of the videos provided below and think of better times, more prone to breaking out into yelling/fisticuffs.

Adios, Thomas.


Watching the Liverpool vs. Everton FA Cup replay, I was among the many fans baffled by the hail of socks onto the pitch at Goodison Park. I (being the trendsetter that I am) even asked why it was happening via-blog.

Well, the most confounding footballing mystery since the cryptic Salomon Kalou wrestling move/political protest/rap record label promotion hand signal has finally come to an end. Apparently it was a jibe at Kirby residents over their alleged tendency to steal socks from clotheslines to keep their dirty prints off of cars they attempt to steal. Kirkby, of course, being the location of Everton's proposed new grounds. I have to say the insult was far less interesting to me than the fact that a fan managed to nail Tim Cahill right in the back from range in the game. Oh well.

Via: The Spoiler

Thanks, ITV

If you missed the stunner game-winning goal at Goodison Park last night, you're not alone. For those not fortunate enough to have been watching the ITV feed of the match, here's your chance to miss it again:

Just so we don't leave you empty handed, here is the actual game-winner, in somewhat blurry (but noticeably Tic-Tac advert-less) definition.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Can anyone tell my why socks are being thrown onto the pitch at Goodison?

Some fans (not sure if its Liverpool or Everton) are throwing balled-up socks onto the pitch in the FA Cup replay at Goodison Park. I even saw one hit Tim Cahill in the back going up for a challenge with Martin Skrtel. Anyone have any idea as to why?

EDIT: It's coming from the Liverpool section. Whoever picked out Tim Cahill has a pretty wicked arm, he only came into the spot after jumping over Skrtel, and the guy hit him square in the back. Any guesses as to the significance of throwing your socks? I've seen a lot of missiles tossed onto the pitch in my day, but never a sock.

Ask and ye shall recieve

Fair play to you, Alan.

Just two days ago, I asked "where are the good refs?" in a somewhat aggravated blog lamenting the omnipresence of bad refs in today's game. So far, halfway into the Liverpool-Everton FA Cup replay, I (and the commentators both) have noticed that head referee Alan Wiley is having an exceptional game. In the most contentious and booking-prone clash in all of English football, he is dealing with the inevitable stamps, shoves and trips with aplomb. His bookings have been judicious, his hand even, and he has (so far) been on top of just about every instance of unfair play in the match.

In the interest of advancing the cause I advocated in the above-mentioned post, we should take notice of the fact that there are still good refs preserving fair play in the league. If you happen to see the name Wiley on the officials list for your favorite team's upcoming match, you should either feel in safe hands, or very ready to party.

Rafa: "Keane incapable of scoring enough goals"

Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez explains Robbie-gate in The Independent. The Reds bought Keane at the start of this season for 20 million only to sell him back for 15.

"Could you see Keane scoring a lot of goals?" Benitez said. "We were talking about 'maybe, maybe'. You have to try to be objective. He was not playing at the level he can play at. We had a very good offer for a player who is 28 and wasn't playing at the level we were expecting so maybe it was good for him and us."

If Torres gets injured Dirk Kuyt will be the man up front for Rafa but he also wants to play Babel in this position.

"I have been really pleased with Ryan over the last two or three weeks, he is improving a lot for me," Benitez said.

Only time will tell if this was a good decision but during all this drama Liverpool and Chelsea's impotence to keep up with Man U during the winter period was pretty obvious. Although Man U have a pretty tough couple of games at the end of this campaign, they will probably have built up a sufficient gap to snatch another title. But back to Liverpool. Kuyt up front? I don't really know if he can even remember what it's like to play there. Babel sounds a lot better though, he's a player with some very specific skills you don't see with any other players. A player who's proven he can make the difference in big games and still a young and exciting prospect.

Read the full article here. (via The Independent)

This may be the most inane article ever

The Times has today dedicated an entire article to detailing the steps in creating the above photograph. With illuminating and gripping gems such as this passage:
He's more relaxed now, so I hand him the pen and all I say is "draw yourself scoring a goal". He goes to the board and starts drawing. He's definitely not a comic book artist in the making, but he adds things that I didn't ask him to do: his name on the back of his shirt, and even better the score: Arsenal 1 Chelsea 0. He does struggle writing Arsenal, but I don't mention this!

I of course love the Times, less for their ownership by Rupert Murdoch, and more for their employment of the best football journalist ever (sorry Ollie Kay), but this crap is just boring.

For extra meta-analysis points, imagine the total inanity of this sporting blog article about an inane sporting blog article.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Quaresma myth

For some time there has been a rather large contingent on the internet that seems to think Ricardo Quaresma is the next incarnation of Cristiano Ronaldo. Another fast Portuguese winger with a bag of tricks who's destined to bask in the bright lights, this time with a stronger frame that prevents him from taking those unfortunate falls that seem to plague his compatriot. I myself have been counted among the number of people who were waiting for the moment when he would get a chance to prove himself bigger and better on a world stage than his brief spell at Barcelona.

Lo and behold, after St. Jose Mourinho took over at Inter, I was treated to the prospect of seeing him play for my favorite club outside of Merseyside, and rejoiced at the opportunity. I, unlike a lot of people who praise him up and down the block, have been able to watch him play at the highest level week in and week out for my beloved Inter, and can tell you fully, and with complete honesty, of the glittering heights of talent he has reached.

He sucks. Flat out isn't fit to take to the pitch in the blue-and-black. He just cannot, for the life of himself pass the ball well, his tricks, which were the bane of so many Portuguese defenders, have been mercilessly exposed by the back lines of Italy, and his vaunted physical traits are wasted in a league where brains trump brawn because he can't play as part of a team. He has no sense of position, his indiscipline on the pitch is sometimes unfathomable, and he generally seems like a confused man completely out of his league, and judging from his last foray into top-flight ball, he probably is.

One of the more shattering revelations is that his renowned tricks, the Rabona and the Trivela, are not some new shiny fullback-stunners to top the elastico. They're crutches he uses to prop up the massive shortcomings to his ability that his spells in La Liga and Serie A have confirmed to be chronic: he has one good leg. Quaresma, it should be remembered, has a hell of a right leg. He can score some very pretty goals using it. But the fact is that he has no ability with his left, and uses a weird bag of entirely unecessary football skills to mask it.

The Trivela, for those unaware, is the technique whereby one strikes the ball with the outside of his foot, putting a reverse bend on the ball and allowing for a right-footed shot from the right side of field to bend goalwards as if it were made with the left, or vice versa. This shot (detailed in the previous video post) looks pretty damned cool when you pull it off. But, far more often than not, it goes wildly off the mark and leaves the team with a possession wasted and a rather embarrassing failure to convert in their minds. The Inter-Catania goal used as an example before should indicate this, as it was one-of-a-kind. Literally. That's the only goal he has scored for Inter.

The Rabona is an even odder one. It involves the player wrapping his right (in this case) foot around the left, and taking the shot/cross/pass with the plant foot on the opposite side of the ball. See our man performing one here. Now, upon watching this, you may think "that was pretty cool," and in fact, you would be right. The odd part is that this is not a trick, or a flashy skill. This is how he takes crosses when he plays on the left wing. All the time. Not kidding. It's the type of completely superfluous skill that might make you think he's a braggart or a showoff. While I can't speak to his personality (I have been informed by a Portuguese reader that he looked like a complete ass in an episode of Portuguese "MTV Cribs."), the actual explanation is much simpler: he just can't kick with his left foot. Both of these skills are clearly less "tricks" as just excuses for him never kicking the ball with his wrong foot.

Quaresma also has zero to no self-confidence. His miserable forays into the top flight have clearly left him shaken, and the obvious disapproval the press and fans have shown for his lackluster performances have taken their toll. Mourinho himself, on the day of the loan, said quite simply "He is a player that I wanted in Milan but unfortunately, he has not been able to overcome the criticism directed at him. Without confidence in oneself it becomes more difficult."

Now all of these problems might add up to a terminally flop-tastic player, but he's now been given (another) chance to prove himself in a top league, this time at Chelsea. My money is on him turning out as a Jose Mourinho in reverse. Mourinho wants to (and is well on his way to) winning all the silverware one can win in all the top leagues. Quaresma is on his way to flopping in Spain, Italy and England. But, there is some hope for Quaresma fans out there, as if there's any league that would fit him, and any team to give him a spot in which to succeed, it's the EPL and Chelsea. A man of shallow tricks and tactical ineptitude is built to succeed in the Barclay's RUN AROUND RUN RUN GET THE BALL SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT Premier League. This, after all, is the league that made Cristiano Ronaldo the football politician's consensus choice for world's best footballer. If he has a chance to make something of his admittedly huge talent, it's in a league where speed and power trump skill and brains. And of course, his competition for play at Chelsea would come in the form of Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou. In other words, he's starting every game, goofy-looking crosses and all.

So, to wrap up a somewhat deflating blog, there may be hope for Ricky yet, but my money is on him doing the Veron treble across the pond as well. And on the bright side for all us Inter fans, we don't have to boo him at home matches anymore. My cats and television screen should be much happier without the noise.

I totally called this three seconds after it happened.

The FA has officially un-lamped Lamps after Mike Riley handed out another stellar booking in his long career of baffling calls.

Didn't see this one coming at all.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super breaking transfer news: Arshavin back on and QUARESMA TO CHELSEA LOAN?

Apparently the fun don't stop this transfer window. Arshavin is apparently headed to London after all, a massive blow to my sanity, while every Inter fan's second least favorite Portuguese winger will head to Chelsea on loan to see if he can flop in an unprecedented two leagues in one season.

Woooooow. Late is the new early this February.

The legend of HELWA HELWA goals: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

After the excitement of a wild on-edge sporting weekend, nothing calms the nerves like some good old youtube football porn. All the spectacular play, none of the hair-tearing second-ticking filler. This video present, courtesy of your resident shameless Nerazurri fanatic, comes in from a two-year-old game between Inter and Sampdoria. If you haven't already had the opportunity, pull up a seat and savor this one. It may be my most watched youtube video selection ever, and there are abundant reasons as to why. I play this at least once a day to get pumped up for whatever may meet me ahead. Whoever chose the music, you sir, are a legend.

Zlatan: "You can't laugh. I laugh." Not joking. He really said that.

Postscript: For those among the uninitiated, the HELWA label refers back to the video embedded below, in which an understandably enthused Arabic commentator gushes over Ibra's wonder goal vs. Bologna. Helwa apparently means "sweet" in his native tongue, and Gino and I have never looked back, applying it to any and all sweet goals we can find. The more you know.

Where are the good refs?

Watching a somewhat nervy but ultimately satisfying Liverpool win over Chelsea on Sunday, I, like most other rational humans, was struck by the fact that Mike Riley apparently had no idea what he was doing. This, of course, was not entirely surprising, as Mike Riley is renowned from Albania to England as a bit of an idiot. Come to think of it, the only referees I can name have that distinction because of being either blind or careless with the cards. Mike Riley, Graham Poll, Rob Styles; none of these men are remembered for clean calls or smart eyes, and yet they are the representatives of the craft of officiating.

When was the last time you've checked the officials list before a game and heaved a sigh of relief? Been to or watched a match where the announcement of the head referee's name was anything but booed? Why is it that the FA hasn't managed to figure out that there is a reason refs are almost universally hated?

Everyone knows that refs are graded on their performance after matches. Why isn't it that these numbers are published in a public manner? While it might sound a bit silly, a league table format, whereby refs are ranked on their accuracy and fairness, could restore a bit of faith in the system. Important matches, local derbys and late-season clashes when points are tight could be assigned to those with high scores, lower-table matches (and a lower payout) could be left those loose with the bookings and fouls. This is far from any fully elaborated plan, but this is a sport, where we're perfectly comfortable with a competition format to decide our league champion on the pitch. Why not set one up to choose the man who could potentially decide the fate of that same title?

It's time we start celebrating the commitment to upholding the rules that referees ostensibly represent, and making what is the most hated job in sports into something it's practitioners are proud of.

Last minute transfers


Player From To

Michael Gravgaard FC Nantes Hamburger SV

Angelos Charisteas 1. FC Nürnberg Bayer Leverkusen

Fabian Ernst Schalke 04 Besiktas (Tur)

Jacek Krzynowek VfL Wolfsburg Hannover 96

Jonathan Santana VfL Wolfsburg San Lorenzo (Arg)

Mahir Saglik VfL Wolfsburg Karlsruher SC

Antonio Rukavina B. Dortmund 1860 München


Player From To

Tal Ben Haim Manchester City Sunderland

Angelos Basinas AEK Athene Portsmouth

Manchester City Everton

Henri Camara Wigan Athletic Stoke City

Robbie Keane Liverpool Tottenham

Charles N'Zogbia Newcastle Utd Wigan Athletic

Michael Chopra Sunderland Cardiff City

Youssouf Mulumbu Paris SG (Fra) West Brom

Juan C. Menseguez San Lorenzo (Arg) West Brom

Ricardo Quaresma Internazionale (Ita) Chelsea

Calum Davenport Sunderland West Ham

Tomas Pekhart Tottenham Slavia Praag (cze)


Player From To

Marco Motta Udinese AS Roma

Souleymane Diamoutene Lecce AS Roma

Gianvito Plasmati Catania Atalanta

Victor Boudianski Lecce FC Khimki (Rus)

Abel Hernandez Peñarol (Uru) Palermo

Ricardo Quaresma Internazionale Chelsea (Eng)

Nicola Amoruso Torino Siena

Andrea Gasbarroni Genoa Torino

Stefano Okaka AS Roma Brescia

David Sugar Bellinzona (Swi) AS Roma


Player From To

Raúl Bravo Olympiakos Numancia
Sergio Tejera Chelsea (Eng) Real Mallorca

It's been remarkably quiet this transfer window although everyone thought Manchester City would cause a major stir.... and they almost did with Kaka contemplating a move to City but eventually pulling out. What have been the best transfers this window? Give us your thoughts.

Transfer News: Keane back to Spurs, Arshavin deal teetering on the brink

In one of the sadder bits of transfer business this season, one of my favorite players, Robbie Keane, is set to end his depressing spell at my favorite club, Liverpool. Reports say he is on his way to, or currently undergoing a medical in London with the intent of re-donning a white jersey. Good luck to you Robbie, wish it could have worked out better. In the meantime, we had better get Aaron Lennon in exchange, or I'm blowing my lid. EDIT: We didn't. Blowing my lid at the moment.

The completely baffling and superfluous Andrei Arshavin deal appears to be off, hopefully for the sake of my sanity with Arsenal coming to their collective wits and refusing to spend £15m on a player they absolutely do not need.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I predicted some HELWA goal videos from this weekend, and did Messi and Torres ever deliver.

Goal is not terribly spectacular, but extra points for smooth slide-to-cross-legged-sitting celebration.

What is it with today and big matches?

Nadal vs. Federer on the tube now. Then on to Chelsea vs. Liverpool in two hours. Super bowl in 10 hours.

Looks like my schoolwork is going to suffer. Chips, anyone?

EDIT: Rafa wins. Check. Liverpool and Steelers victories next in line for a 3-0 Sunday sweep. SECOND EDIT: Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea. Torres does the double along with Liverpool over Chelsea and myself over today. Super Bowl last in line. THIRD EDIT: 27-24. Hands trembling. Almost died. 3-0 for the day.

Transfer news: Given set for City, City and Tottenham bidding war for Santa, Adams ready to resign from Pompey job

In transfer news today Shay Given is apparently undergoing a medical in Manchester as I type. Personally I think this is one of the best pieces of transfer work Hughes has pulled together all window. Joe Hart is certainly a great talent, and in a few years should be the first-choice England keeper, but at the moment he's too green. You can see his centre backs don't have the type of confidence they should in him, and confusion at the back is hell on a team looking for consistency. A confident Given exuding the type of security at back that a future Champions League club needs could be the difference between City being in or out of the relegation scramble at the bottom. Plus with an experienced world class keeper like Given there to mentor Hart he'll be learning from one of the best in English football. By the time Given's career winds down Hart will be around 25 and ready to take the mantle. A good buy.

City also is apparently in a bidding war with Spurs over wantaway striker Roque Santa Cruz. This saga has been going on forever, at this point I'm just waiting for someone to seal the deal so I don't have to read anymore Big Sam Allardyce "he's going nowhere" interviews in the midst of the 250th Man City crazy-money bid. Just two other thoughts on this: a) City and Tottenham spending Panini-sticker style in an attempt to catch all 150 EPL Pokemon. Big surprise. b) A bidding war between City and Spurs. Any guesses as to how this will turn out?

Tony Adams is rumored to be on the verge of quitting Portsmouth. Not like this is a titanic surprise from the zen-like master of sangfroid, as this team is a management career graveyard. The Pompey ship continues sinking, and it's sad that good guys like Tony Adams, Peter Crouch and Glen Johnson have to be along for the ride down.

Updates as news comes in.