Thursday, September 29, 2022

  • Diego Maradona’s appointment as Argentina manager is a real eyebrow raiser. Although hailed as a deity in his homeland, even there the appointment hasn’t been particularly well received. A poll in newspaper La Nacion showed less than 10% of voters thought the decision to give Maradona the job was a “good” one.

    Battles with drug and alcohol addiction, obesity – for which he underwent gastric surgery – and a heart attack have led many to question whether the former great will be able to handle the pressure of such a high profile job.

  • Last night Cristiano Ronaldo picked up the FIFPro World Footballer of the Year. The award, voted for by fellow professionals, is the first of three major individual awards the Portugeezer is widely expected to recieve, along with the FIFA World Player of the Year and the Balon d’Or.

  • When Daniel Levy replaced Alan Sugar as Tottenham chairman in 2001 his formula for breaking the club into the top 4 was to structure the club upon a traditionally continental hierarchy: a sporting director responsible for bringing in players and a manager responsible coaching and tactics.Could Harry Redkapp’s appointment as Tottenham manager be the final nail in the coffin for sporting directors in the Premier League? Late on Friday night Spurs threw their blueprint for Champion’s League qualification out the window - along with Juande Ramos, Gus Poyet, Damien Commoli and ₤20 million.

  • Last night’s Uefa Cup tie between Aston Villa and Ajax marked the competition’s first interesting match up this season. Having had to endure months of such fixtures as Portsmouth vs. Guimaraes, and Man City vs. FC Midtjylland, last night we saw two former European Cup winners going head-to-head in the kind of game Europe’s second tier of club competition should be all about. 

  • The unlikely rumours have been confirmed: David Beckham will join AC Milan on loan in January. The former England captain will link up with Italian side for four months during the MLS close season, before returning for the start of LA Galaxy’s new campaign in April.

    Although there are obvious commercial benefits of signing Beckham, seven times European champions Milan are unlikely to have done so solely for financial motives. His recent performances for England have shown that even without playing top-class club football week in week out his game has not deteriorated. Beckham will definitely strengthen a Milan squad that preaches its own, ‘If you’re old enough, you’re good enough,’ mantra.
  • Yesterday, I remarked that Newcastle were a comedic embarassment and later that evening it seemed that more misery was about to be heaped on the toon army when they went a man and a goal down to gazillionaires Man City. A Beye lunge, frantic remonstrations, superb panto villain behaviour from Robinho as he managed to stem the flow of pain for a moment to confirm the affirmative penalty decision and then finally one of the cheesiest goal celebrations the Premier League has witnessed.


  • It has been a month since my last column. A lot can change in a month. My last entry detailed the sluggish England victory over a hapless Andorra, a laboured performance that had people cringing in anticipation at the thought of facing Croatia in their impregnable Maksimir stadium. Press accusations that Capello was potentially another expensive foreign flop who had done little in terms of changing either the squads morale or personnel were rife. 


  • It is officially Tottenham’s worst start to a season in their 100 year history. Yesterday’s defeat at Stoke left them with 2 points from a possible 24 – 5 points adrift of safety.

    There’s a wide held belief that with the players at their disposal they are too good to go down, but given their abysmal performances so far is that really the case?

  • Former players you feel, sometimes try their best to ruin this game of ours. They seem to be in every position of power (see Messrs Blatter and Platini) as well as the most cushy jobs in the business (Lineker, Hansen etc).

    They also never do the hardest job, refereeing. How many times have we heard players saying that really the referees should have played at the level in which they are reffing? I remember Alan Shearer saying that but I cannot remember him doing his badges.

  • Phil Scolari’s appointment as Chelsea manager wasn’t met with unanimous approval - some said his lack of European club experience could be a problem - but 20 games into his reign the big Brazilian has won over most of the doubters.

    It’s not difficult to understand what Roman Abramovich was looking for when he went in search of a new manager this summer. In spite of the successes of the past three years, a lack of attacking verve has been persistent.

    Given the blank check book that the Russian oligarch has put before three managers, he has every right to question why such an expensively assembled squad has continued to play such pragmatic football.
  • Giving Wayne Rooney license to play as an unfettered second striker, Fabio Capello has got the most out of England’s most prodigious talent. With five goals in three qualifiers Rooney is flying under the Italian's guidance.

    Yesterday, against Belarus, we saw the ferocity and intelligence of the Wayne Rooney who thrilled us at Euro 2004. The 19 year old whose performances in Portugal heralded the arrival of a precocious talent with more grit and determination than you could shake a bulldog at.
  • Rio Ferdinand has confessed that the pre-Capello England camp was a bit of a circus. They certainly did seem to be clowning around, but their poorly choreographed shows didn’t entertain anyone.

  • Tackling My Demons
    is the account of how the career of one of Britain’s most promising footballers tapered out in a Spanish backwater in 2001. At 30 years old and besieged by mental illness Stan Collymore retired from professional football 3 games into a 3 year contract with Real Oviedo.

    Having made a promising start to his career at Southend and Nottingham Forest, Collymore earned a move to Liverpool in 1995. However, it was after his British transfer record move to Aston Villa in 1997 that his career went into nosedive.

    In the book Collymore talks at length about his battle with borderline personality disorder and how the resulting depression has affected his life, the lives of those around him and his footballing career.

  • I for one was glad to see Ashley Cole get booed on Wembley on Saturday. I also resent Rio Ferdinand for being outraged by the fans treatment of the Chelsea man.

    These players, their colossal wages and lifestyles only possible due to fans, have to accept that a paying customer is allowed to offer criticism. After 45 minutes of trying to break down the infamous Kazakh rearguard it was the visitors that were playing the more attractive football and creating the clearest openings.

    And, when the little number 21 was gifted with Mr Cole's generous offering, I was pleased to see him roll the ball home and send Astana into rapture.
  • In all probability both Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will start for England tomorrow. It’s 37th time lucky for the duo as Fabio Capello tries to do what Sven and Steve Maclaren couldn’t and get them to play well together.

    Has the Italian got a secret ingredient? Has he shaken or stirred his charges? If England’s central midfield were a cocktail what would it be?

  • With the credit crunch hitting home, even the moneyed masses of the Premier League are being affected. According to FA Chairman Lord Triesman, Premier League clubs are in £3 billion debt, and costs are continuing to spiral.

    During times of trouble you can always rely on football’s governing bodies to come through with a raft of new proposals. How exactly ware Sepp and Michele planning to save the day? 

  • He drives a pink Lamborghini and has a Giorgio Armani tattoo - Robbie Savage is a class act. Over the past fifteen years the Welshman has achieved legendary noteriety in British football. With his luscious blonde locks, parson’s nose and schmucky grin, his misdemeanors have made him pantomime hate figure. He is one of the game's true characters.

    Savage started his career at Manchester United and came through the youth ranks as part of the crop - along with David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers - that lifted the FA Youth Cup in 1992.

    He wasn't always the tenacious midfielder we are used to seeing today. At United

  • Africa’s ad hoc approach to family planning means that babies are rarely given birth certificates. With a wealth of young sub-Saharan talent moving to the European leagues over the past two decades, questions have been raised as to whether some of these young lions are quite as young as they say they are.


    Souleymane Mamam
    ‘Officially’ the youngest ever international, Maman pulled on the Togo shirt at the tender age of 13 years and 310 days. The youngster’s early bloom led Manchester United to sign him in 2003. Farmed out to Royal Antwerp on loan, he was released after four years having made little progress. An unsuccessful trial at Motherwell last year highlighted just how little Maman has progressed since the age of '13'.

    Obafemi Martins
    Newcastle’s pocket rocket has been knocking around for a while now. He tore his way through the youth ranks in Italy, and made his professional debut for Inter Milan at 17. There are doubts, however, about his real age. On the day Newcastle snapped up a promising 21-year old, both the Inter Milan and the Nigerian Football Association’s websites had him down as being 27.

    Samuel Eto’o
    Eto’s was another

  • Arsenal new-boy Samir Nasri is in line for a kicking, according to Doncaster youth rugby star Phil McCaw. The 19-year old is seriously miffed having found out the French lothario engaged in a bout of ‘How’s yer Father’ with his girlfriend, Aymee Davison, whilst on holiday in Cuba.

    “I’m absolutely furious with him and would consider punching his lights out if we met,” fumed the 15 stone Yorkshire lad. “I can’t see what Aymee saw in him apart from the money. He’s nothing to look at,” said Phil, alluding to the Frenchman’s likeness to Harry Enfield character Tim Nice But Dim.

    The indiscretion came to light after Phil found photos of Aymee and Samir canoodling on social networking website Facebook. Despite numerous pokes and attempts add Nasri as a friend, in order to confront the Frenchman, Phil’s requests have so far fallen on deaf ears
  • Sir Alex Ferguson has severed ties with all media outlets other than Sky Sports and Setanta. Addressing press journalists before tonight’s Champion’s League tie against Danish side Aalborg, the brusque Scot announced, “From now on, no matter how many miles you travel to get an interview, you won't get one."

    The trouble has stemmed from United’s pre-season tour of South Africa. When asked about his main title rivals Sir Alex responded, "Chelsea are an experienced side and I don't see outstanding progress coming from a team in their 30s." Comments that were pounced upon as a criticism of an ageing squad.

    "I gave you access in South Africa and I shouldn't have given you access,"

  • Chelsea have signed 12-year old French wonderkid Jeremy Boga from youth team ASPTT Marseille; fending off interest from Lyon, Monaco, Marseille and Bordeaux.

    The youngster’s silky skills have seen him likened to French legend Zinedine Zidane, and Chelsea’s chief scout in France, Guy Hillion, has described him as “An excellent number 10” – lamenting his inability to wear a number 9 shirt.
  • Despite hankering for a move away from Stamford Bridge for the best part of 12 months, it looks as though Didier Drogba will be seeing out the prime of his career in SW6. "When you have a contract it is important to respect it,” said the big Ivorian yesterday, contradicting months of previous diatribes.

    Drogba took Jose Mourinho’s exit harder than most, and, as they advise, following the loss of a loved one he didn’t bottle things up.

    A familiar cycle played itself out last season: 1.

  • Ronaldinho scored the only goal as AC inflicted a 1-0 defeat upon Interin the Jose Mourinho’s first Milan Derby. The result is Inter’s first defeat since the Portuguese took over from Roberto Mancini this summer.

    Milan’s victory was deserved as the attacking trident of Brazilians Kaka, Alexandre Pato and Ronaldinho showed guile and ingenuity to create a host of chances; whereas Inter’s bullish threat of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Adriano and Julio Cruz struggled to break down Milan.

    Ronaldinho showed flashes of his previous best during the game, and his goal

  • Newcastle’s appointment of Joe Kinnear brings a fresh round of farce to the already beseiged north-east club. Like the plot of a Disney franchise, the Ghost Ship has been boarded by a Captain many thought dead. The leader of the Crazy Gang is now at the helm.

    Why Kinnear? Well, “Nobody else wanted it,” said the man himself. How right he is. At the best of times the Newcastle job is a poisoned chalice; right now it’s a public beheading, with crowds of jeering peasants baying for blood.

    Jobless for four years, Kinnear couldn’t really say no.

  • Ivan Berbatov, father of Manchester United’s Dimitar Berbatov, is a convicted rapist who spent time in jail for his part in the gang rape of a Norwegian woman in 1983.

    Berbatov Sr. – a promising footballer at the time – was staying at the Bulgarian resort of Varna with Pirin Blagoevgrad teammates, before an away fixture, when the incident took place.

    The £31 million striker’s father and five other Pirin Blagoevgrad players subjected the woman to a brutal night-long attack.

    In spite of their claims that the victim was a prostitute
  • Northumbria Police have been forced to deny rumours that former England star Paul Gascoigne is dead.

    A spokesperson for the force issued a statement yesterday saying, “There is no cause for concern. We have had several media calls this evening concerning former footballer Paul Gascoigne. This is to confirm that we have had no reported incidents concerning Mr Paul Gascoigne and our checks to date give us no cause for concern about him.”

  • Terry Venables has been offered the Newcastle job on a short-term basis. It is understood that the former England manager is considering the offer and will make a decision later today.

    A close friend of Dennis Wise, Venables has been asked to come in to bring some stability to the floundering club.
  • Having been berated - ironically by Juande Ramos - for not brushing up on his English, Tottenham new-boy Roman Pavlyuchenko has now revealed that training sessions are also proving bit much for him.

    Pavlyuchenko told the Sun, “I trained like never in my life before, I swear! The weights started to get to me, and I stopped and said to the trainer, ‘I can’t do this'. That’s how they work – I’m shocked. I thought it would be a lot easier.”
  • UEFA's President, Michele Platini, has launched a scathing attack on Arsene Wenger. Platini has claimed the Arsenal manager "Only cares about business"’ and said he "Would be happy" if the Wenger's desire for the introduction of goal-line technology was never realised.

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The hierarchies at the top of football’s governing bodies only add credence to this mantra.

    Since being unveiled as UEFA’s president in 2006, Platini has often lamented the financial might of Premier League. His eggs are firmly in the basket of the Little Guy, without the Little Guy necessarily wanting them there.
  • Scrawling through the internet I became enraged. It was Ashley Cole. If there is a more deplorable character in the world of football then I do not know who it is.

  • Still as feisty and fired up as ever, Gary Neville gave his customary 110% in yesterday’s match against Chelsea. However, his best wasn’t good enough. All the signs are that the Manchester United captain will never again be the player he was before his long-term injury.

  • Gianfranco Zola’s West Ham heaped more misery on the Toon with a display of attacking football that saw them brush aside a lackluster Newcastle side. Although the impish nice-guy has been at the club for less than 1 week a newfound attacking verve was palpable amongst Zola’s charges.


    As Gazza warbles a sad lament of his 1990 collaboration with Lindesfarne – SuperBrew back in hand – Newcastle FC drift unmanned through troubled waters. Captain-less and cast from port by owner Mike Ashley, the ship cuts a lonely path through the fog on the Tyne. 


    Chelsea have announced the return of demi-prodigal son Ray Wilkins to Stamford Bridge. Wilkins, who started his international-journeyman career at the club, has returned as the replacement for outbound first-team coach Steve Clarke.

  • I saw in the news today that Russian high jumper Ivan Ukhov has been given a one year ban for competing in the Lausanne grand prix whilst pissed. Leaping up into the air backwards halfway through a vodka bender doesn't sound particularly wise to me, but those crazy cossacks love a tipple. Apparently this poor chap was having issues with his girlfriend.

  • Much like our Patron Saint St.George, the English national team heroically vanquished the mighty dragon that is Andorra. Ahem. England laboured to a sluggish victory over the minnows and no-one is going to be getting carried away by the performance. A much stiffer task awaits as England go to Zagreb to face a Croatia team that is undefeated at the Maksimir stadium. Has Joe Coles "Brace and a Bollocking" performance earnt him a place in the team ahead of Dire Downing ? Will Heskey start in place of Defoe ? Brown for Johnson ? Beckham for Walcott ? Do people still care ?

  • A typically pedestrian display by England against Andorra on Saturday and, barring some revolutionary zeal being instilled into the squad by Wednesday night, it’s unlikely we can expect anything more against Croatia.

    (English) People have been saying it until they are blue in the face: with the players at their disposal England should be doing better. Could part of the reason for their consistent underperformance be that much in the same way the nation has fallen out of love with the national team, the players have fallen out of love with the nation?

    Jamie Carragher has been the first to admit that, in his small and simple mind, it’s club before country. It’s not unlikely that those sentiments are shared elsewhere in the Premier League. Least of all elsewhere on Anfield.
  • As my friend and I settled into the corner of the pub with our pints (well he had a bottle of Bud actually, there's no accounting for taste) I was asked to predict the score for the upcoming England game. People normally guess that we will win by a hatfull, but I'm done with optimism as concerns the national team so erred on the side of caution and went for 2-0. Why is it that I get into a debate about Robbie Keane and make a bet with my aforementioned friend, a Liverpool fan, for a fiver that he'll score 20 or more goals in all competitions, yet I don't go down the bookies and cash in on predictable forecasts like an inevitable England let down ? At least Capello looked suitably infuriated on the touch line, but he's really got his work cut out for him if we're to get any joy from the crunch fixture in Zagreb this wednesday. He's not the only one thats infuriated though, if I had a pound for every correct prediction that I haven't put a wager on....well, I'd be a successfull gambler I guess.
  • England take on international colosuss's Andorra in what should be a real clash of the titans, a hum-dinger for the ages.

    In reality, Capello faces a bit of a no win situation, because if we don't get at least eight then everyone will say England are crap and if we do score eight or more then everyone will point to the fact that at approximtely 70,000 people, Andorra's population is slightly less than that of Scunthorpe. With the result (hopefully) academic, what a lot of fans will be looking for is whether the England team will be showing a pride and passion that many say they display for their clubs, but not for the national team. This argument has gained momentum in recent days with the revelations from Jamie Carraghers autobiography (entitled, with typical scouse ingenuity and wit "Carra")

  • Like the North Sea gales that batter freighters, factories and council flats in the city, the winds of change are once again blowing on Tyneside. After 9 months in charge the Messiah has abandoned his disciples: Kevin Keegan has, for the second time, resigned as Newcastle manager.

    Problems have stemmed from the deteriorating relationship between Keegan and boardroom duo of Chairman Mike Ashley and Sporting Director Dennis Wise. More Hale and Pace than Laurel and Hardy the plucky pair combined to completely balls up the transfer deadline signing only Xisco (?) and Ignacio Gonzalez (??). Rumours that little henchman Wise had been hawking Michael Owen and Joey Barton (a player with a charge sheet not too dissimilar to that of Wise) to potential buyers on deadline day were the final straw. The fact that Keegan was left completely unaware of all this meant that his position was untenable and his resignation inevitable.
  • Transfer Deadline Day was pretty explosive and the fall out continues to spread with the quick fire departure of two Premier League managers. Both Kevin Keegan and Alan Curbishley have departed their posts under similar circumstances, the pair of them citing interference over transfer policy as the reason for their dash to the dole queue.

    What I find interesting and to be honest, completely baffling, is the differing reactions of the Newcastle and West Ham supporters to these two exits ; the dismay on Tyneside being in sharp contrast to the apathy in the East End.
  • To most rational football fans – at least those outside of Tyneside – Kevin Keegan’s return to the helm at St James’s Park looked like a recipe for yet more unemployment in the region. It was said that the days when Keegan took Newcastle to the brink of a Premiership title were long gone. The scientific approach brought to the league by the likes of Mourinho and Benitez had triumphed. Passion and inspiration were a thing of the past.

    Nonetheless, Keegan was the overwhelming choice amongst the St James’s park faithful, and although you may question their benefit claims you can never argue with their love and dedication to the club.

  • Everyone knows that Sepp Blatter is a buffoon. An example of his idiocy can be found in his repeated insistence that he will implement the 6-5 rule, which would see teams forced to play half a dozen home grown players. Doubtless a laudable concept, but Blatter is living in a dreamland if he thinks he can circumnavigate EU law regarding freedom of employment.

     On a slight tangent, all it will take is another Bosman style crusader to challenge the legality of the transfer window and its effect on EU restraint of trade laws and the whole system will collapse rendering desperate days of scandal filled scrambles for signatures such as we witnessed a few days ago a thing of the past..... and really how can Blatter justify the window, a system which effectively traps players at a particular club for months at at time without any chance of moving elsewhere, when at the same time he refers to Cristiano Ronaldo as a slave ?

  • Billed as the battle of the billionaires, yesterday’s match between Chelsea and Manchester City highlighted just how far the Premier League’s nuveau richehave to go to achieve a place amongst football’s elite. Although a pauper in comparison, it’s unlikely the golden alarm bells will be ringing in Roman Abramovic’s ivory tower.

    There are certain similarities between the multi-million pound takeovers in Chelsea and Manchester, but there are more telling differences. City fans would do well to err on the side of caution and expect a slower rise to the top than Abramovic has brought about at Chelsea.
  • Liverpool Football Club; illustrious, historical and supported all over the globe. More than just a team but still no premier league title. Blackburn Rovers are surely just a team and even they have managed to win one title, albeit with a Kop legend at the helm. What is most concerning is that fans and staff are searching long and hard for the reasons behind their title drought when it all seems very simple; Liverpool sign mostly poor players, often for lots of money.

    This willingness to pay top money for real dross has consumed every manager at Anfield since the start of the Premier League. Graeme Souness warmed up for the new competition by signing forward Paul Stewart for £2.3m-then a considerable sum- after he dazzled the angry Scotsman with a one-in-five scoring rate. Each Paul Stewart goal cost Souness exactly £2.3m.

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