Friday, December 29, 2006

Guiseppe Biava for Palermo (v Reggina), 10 September 2006

It wouldn't be a cliche-ridden football website without some sort of retrospective on the months past, would it?



The CUAS Review of 2006

Well. Where shall we start? Perchance a mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous?

Team of the Year

Buffon, Sagnol, Lahm, Cannavaro, Thuram, Figo, Ribery, Gattuso, Zidane, Klose, Torres.

OK, so not strictly permitted, but hey. They're my rules.

Person Least Likely To Send Ben Thatcher A Christmas Card

Pedro Mendes. Oh come on, you must remember this.

Image of 2006

Best Goal Scored In Training Perhaps Not This Year But Still Deserves Some Admiration

Paolo di Canio. You can see an unbelievable volleyed rabona here.

Roll Call - 2006

Premiership - Chelsea
Championship - Reading
League One - Southend Utd
League Two - Carlisle Utd
Conference - Accrington Stanley
Scottish Premier - Celtic
Scottish First - St Mirren
Scottish Second - Gretna
Scottish Third - Cowdenbeath
FA Cup - Liverpool
League Cup - Manchester Utd
Football League Trophy - Swansea City
Scottish FA Cup - Hearts
Scottish League Cup - Celtic
Champions League - Barcelona
UEFA Cup - Sevilla
World Cup - Italy

Goal of the Year

Despite Matt Taylor and Didier Drogba's valiant attempts, and certainly excluding Javier Mascherano's effort for Argentina in the World Cup (oooh! twenty backwards passes!) my Goal of the Year goes to Palermo's Guiseppe Biava for this outrageous flying backheel scissor kick. Absolutely amazing.

The Coldest I Have Ever Been At A Football Match Ever

3rd March 2006. A Friday evening at the de Goffert Stadium, Nijmegen. I genuinely thought I might die of frostbite in the company of NEC and AZ Alkmaar. Or be buried alive in the snow surrounding the ground on the way out.

(photographic evidence of this here)

Underperforming Flop Letdown XI

Robinson, Neville, Cole, Terry, Ferdinand, Hargreaves, Gerrard, Beckham, Lampard, Cole, Crouch.

oh come on. It could hardly have been anyone else, could it?

Managers Who Aren't In The Job They Were In At The Start Of 2006 But Who Suddenly Look Actually Quite Good In The Light Of Their Replacements

Alan Curbishley
Sven Goran Eriksson
Alex McLeish

Best German Football TV Presenter Met In A Pub In Cologne

This is Gisbert Baltes who bought me and my good friend Sarah some kolsch during the Spain v France match at this summers' World Cup. A very, very nice man.

Oh My Word! You Have So Much Larger An Opinion Of Yourself And Your Varying Talents (Such As They Are) Than Anyone Else

Rio Ferdinand.

Not content with his "hilarious" TV wind-up show (read all about it here), he proceeded to release his autobiography with the tag line "The Most Talked about footballer Of His Generation".

What a load of old b*llocks.

World Cup, and you f***ed it up, World Cup, and you f***ed it up....

Graham "Three Cards" Poll.

Ha ha ha.

Post Match Interview Of The Year

"This is just amazing. F***ing hell, I just can't believe it. It is a brilliant experience and a great feeling to have kept us in the Cup."

A young Micah Richards shocks Garth Crooks into "pretending to be his Dad mode" after his last minute equaliser kept Manchester City in the FA Cup.

Most Unfortunate Moment For The Big Screen At The Cologne Fanfest To Go Off During The England v Ecuador World Cup Match

Hows about this one?

Player of the Year

OK, so he did a reasonable job in Juventus' defence (for all the good that did), had three or four useful games at the World Cup before failing to plug an increasingly shambolic Real Madrid defence. So, Fabio Cannavaro, close but no cigar.

Similarly, I can't possibly go for Didier Drogba. He may (finally) be showing what he is capable of, but until he quits the histrionics and the diving, he'll never be anyone's idea of Player of the Year.

Who else? Candidates from Barcelona's Champions League triumph have been let down by their form since or their World Cup showing (Ronaldinho, Xavi, Messi), Henry was sublime until Big Games came along (and then got the hump) and Cristiano Ronaldo has proved that Ferguson's your manager of choice post World Cup based vitriol but still a bit tetchy and selfish for my liking.

So, in a vaguely partisan way but also in an overdue "lifetime achievement" type way, I think it's time to salute one of our own. A little fella who has been, I would argue, England's consistently best player over the past ten years. Unassuming, tough, talented, skilful, undemonstrative, magical and with great vision. A guy who (with the exception of his sometimes mistimed tackling) is a great role model for young footballers. A man who Zinedine Zidane claimed was the best English footballer of his generation. Indeed a man who, had he been given Zidane's role in his international line-up, may have been able to have a similar impact.

Yep, my Player of the Year is Paul Scholes.

Any other highlights of 2006 that deserve a mention?...

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Nigel Reo-Coker for West Ham (v Manchester Utd), 16 December 2006

Interesting stuff here about Joey Barton's mates in the England camp and the man who got three red cards.

Last predictions of the year - will be back for FA Cup Third Round weekend...

Arsenal 2-0 Blackburn
Aston Villa 0-1 Man Utd
Fulham 1-1 West Ham
Liverpool 3-0 Watford
Man City 1-0 Bolton
Middlesbrough 2-1 Charlton
Newcastle 1-2 Tottenham
Portsmouth 2-1 Sheff Utd
Reading 2-1 Everton
Wigan 0-2 Chelsea

and as it's winter we'll go for the various Robins this week:

Cheltenham 1-2 Bristol City
Macclesfield 1-2 Swindon

Have a great Christmas, all, and thanks for continuing to pop by!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Stephen O'Donnell for Clyde (v Dundee), 16 September 2006

This is ex Scotland international Andy McLaren. Until today, he played up front for Scottish league side Dundee. Today, he has had his contract terminated by "mutual consent".

"Why?" you may cry. Personal reasons? Offer from another club?


Andy McLaren was sent off three times in the same game last Saturday.

His first red card came for kicking out at Clyde defender Eddie Malone. Then he received a second red card for punching Michael McGowan as he was leaving the pitch. Not content with a brace of reds, he then received a third red card for directing a volley of abuse at referee Dougie McDonald.

Whilst clearly a tad naughty, there is a little bit of me that likes the idea of "well, if I am going to be sent off, I may as well do it in style". Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Joey Barton for Manchester City (vs Fulham), 18 November 2006

Predictions are here

I can’t get my head round that; England did nothing in that World Cup, so why were they bringing books out? ‘We got beat in the quarter-finals. I played like shit. Here’s my book.’ Who wants to read that? I don’t. I watched the World Cup and that wasn’t a team. It seemed to be individuals playing for themselves.

Joey Barton has never struck me as the shiniest pebble on the beach, but is that not the most incisive piece of analysis of England's World Cup squad that you've read? It's good that we're not the only people who think that they're a bunch of spoiled, greedy, grasping complacent tossers then*

I'm sure Fat Frank, $tevie G, Cashley and the rest of them will be welcoming him into the squad with open arms (my tip? Just keep him away from the cigars....).

* yes, I believe this is the same Joey Barton that held Manchester City to ransom over his new contract.

Matthew Taylor for Portsmouth (v Everton), 9 December 2006

It is with great pride that I can today announce that this website is now the number one Google search result for:

"I Hate Didier Drogba".

*beams with pride*

Anyway. predictions ahoy....

Arsenal 2-0 Portsmouth
Aston Villa 1-1 Bolton
Charlton 1-2 Liverpool
Newcastle 2-0 Watford
Reading 1-1 Blackburn
Wigan 2-0 Sheff Utd
Everton 0-2 Chelsea
Man City 1-0 Tottenham
West Ham 1-2 Man Utd
Fulham 2-1 Middlesbrough

and a couple of wildcards featuring managerless (rudderless) clubs:

Hull 2-0 Cardiff
Port Vale 2-0 Brentford

and a bonus two points if anyone can guess the correct first goalscorer in Sunday's Rangers v Celtic Old Firm game at Ibrox....

Maciej Zurawski

(Can I also request for the final time any outstanding contributions for "E" on the A-Z of Football from anyone who hasn't thus far? Email them to me via my profile above. Ta very much.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Steven Pressley for Heart of Midlothian (v Celtic), 1 January 2006

Is there a more principled and better role model for footballers in the UK right now than Steven Pressley?

The ex-Hearts captain - the "cement" that stuck the club together (according to Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov) has this week been released from the club.

His crime? In late October with Hearts second in the Scottish Premier League, Romanov declared that if the side didn't beat Dunfermline Athletic the following day he would put the whole team up for sale. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.

After this statement, Pressley (flanked by team-mates and fellow internationals Craig Gordon and Paul Hartley) stated "I have tried, along with the coaching staff and certain colleagues, to implement the correct values and disciplines, but it has become an impossible task. There is only so much a coaching staff, a captain and certain colleagues can do without the full backing, direction and coherence of the manager and those running the football club.

"While, publicly, I have expressed the need for unity, behind the scenes I have made my concerns abundantly clear. The last two years have been very testing for the players . . . morale, understandably, is not good and there is significant unrest in the dressing room."

Since that statement, he has been stripped of the captaincy, dropped and this week released from the club altogether.

In these days of money-chasing self-publicising footballers, to hear a principled and decent man stand up for himself and, crucially, his team-mates against a moneyed bully was refreshing and ought to be applauded. If only there were more like him in the game, eh?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Jonathan de Guzman for Feyenoord (v Heerenveen), 3 December 2006

Perhaps we should eschew the boring Premiership and all go and watch the Dutch Eredivisie instead.

The results of the wildcard matches in last weeks predictions league were (videprinter brackets and letters ahoy):

Az Alkmaar 5 - 0 Excelsior
Ajax 6 - 0 Willem II
Feyenoord 4 - 3 Heerenveen

An average of six goals per game. That's more like it. Heh heh heh.

This weeks selection for your perusal:

Blackburn 2-1 Newcastle
Bolton 2-1 West Ham
Liverpool 3-0 Fulham
Man Utd 1-0 Man City
Middlesbrough 1-2 Wigan
Portsmouth 2-1 Everton
Tottenham 2-0 Charlton
Watford 1-0 Reading
Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal
Sheff Utd 0-0 Aston Villa

and from the FIFA World Club Championship (any more pointless tournament on the calendar?)
Auckland City 0-2 Al Ahly Cairo
Jeonbuk Motors 1-1 Club America

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Matt Tubbs for Salisbury City (v Nottingham Forest), 3 December 2006

I don't know whether it is just me, but when I was watching Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan draw the magic balls for the FA Cup third round draw, I couldn't seem to get even remotely excited about it.

I know a lot has been made about the "magic of the Cup" having been lost in recent years, particularly with bigger clubs playing second-string sides against lower level opposition. It wasn't even so much that, more that I couldn't bring myself to get excited about anything other than one or two of the matches.

OK, so maybe it was an unlucky draw. It seemed like most of the ties were drawn between two teams of a similar stature or league standing (Preston v Sunderland, Southend v Barnsley, Everton v Blackburn, Portsmouth v Wigan, QPR v Luton etc etc etc) or that the minnows left in the draw got landed with teams which would have raised more groans of disappointment than cheers in their club bars (with the exception of Macclesfield Town).

So, of course Liverpool v Arsenal is the tie everyone is singling out, although more intriguing may be Newcastle's visit to Birmingham or Tottenham's visit to Cardiff. Winless Macclesfield will no doubt take the hopes of every underdog with them before getting tonked by Chelsea's C team.

Anyway, of the 32 games scheduled for that weekend, I can't recall a year where I care less about the outcome of so many of the ties. Shame, really.