Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mario Gomez for Bayern Munich (v Manchester City), 27 September 2011

From the Daily Star, Tuesday 26 September, 2011:

"Roberto Mancini has told his sulking striker Carlos Tevez that he can still have a big future at Manchester City.

"Mancini insists Tevez will be involved against the German giants and believes last season’s top scorer still has a role to play this season. The City boss said: “Carlos is a fantastic player... There is no problem with Carlos. He is an important player for this club and he will be involved against Bayern Munich.”

Well, Tevez was supposed to be involved against Bayern Munich, before deciding he didn't feel like it and refusing to come on as a sub for the club.

Mancini after the match, around 14 hours later: "If one player earns a lot of money, play for Manchester City in the Champions League and has this behaviour, for me he can't play. Never.

"Afterwards I wanted to put Carlos Tevez on the pitch, he refused to go on the pitch. For me it is a bad situation."

Just as they looked as they might have the skill and spirit necessary to challenge for the Premier League and Champions League, the wheels come off at Manchester City. Dzeko storms off the pitch when substituted and Tevez refuses to come on as a sub. Being named as a substitute and then refusing to come onto the pitch is absolutely unforgivable behaviour for a footballer, surely?

In spite of his obvious desire to leave the club, Tevez continues to be paid handsomely and is under contract to his employers. And people wonder why football may be losing touch with the common man, who wouldn't last five minutes if they refused to do their job when asked.

It's happened before, of course (Pierre van Hooijdonk went on strike at Nottingham Forest) and no doubt it will happen again. What next for Tevez, though? A season in City's reserves? An apology and reinstatement to the squad? Or should everyone club together, buy out his contract and hold his registration so he can't play for anyone?

Footballers are idiots. Who knew?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Jone Samuelsen for Odd Grenland (v Tromso), 25 September 2011

101 Great Goals #71 - Jone Samuelsen

It's injury time and Tromso have pushed all their players forward in search of an equaliser in their Norwegian league match against Odd Grenland. Then, Grenland's Jone Samuelsen seals the win with what is believed to be the longest-range header in football history....


Friday, September 23, 2011

Nani (for Manchester United) v Chelsea, 18 September 2011

We promise we won't mention it again after day. Well, not much, anyway.

(thank to Matty for the picture)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fernando Torres for Chelsea (v Manchester United), 18 September 2011

I was going to write a carefully crafted piece about whether it is possible for footballers to lose their mojo. I was going to make reference to people like Gaizka Mendieta and Michael Ricketts to determine whether mediocre players just have one great season (Ricketts) or whether once great players (Mendieta, Torres) simply lose their mojo and never get it back.

All sorts of psychological analysis was planned, and I was going to invite comments on the difficult man management task facing Andre Villas-Boas after his £50 million striker's nightmare at Old Trafford.

And then, I found a link to Sky's FanZone commentary of the miss. Much more suited to the tone of our website, I think (and it appears Peter Kay is doing the United commentary...)

It's 6 minutes 45 seconds in.

"Is this a Carry On movie....?!!!!"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sylvain Ebanks-Blake for Wolves (vs Northampton), 23rd August 2011

As a Wolves fan, how could I not be drawn to the story of how the club badge mysteriously appeared in the sky above the Black Country.

As Metro reported:

'It was amazing,' an onlooker said of the wolf-shaped gap in the cumulus. It was one of those days where it was partly overcast and partly sunny. Someone just looked up and there it was - hovering about the houses. We all saw it and just stood there in amazement'. One supporter suggested the appearance of the Wolves club badge has a deeper meaning than just a single moment of good fortune. 'It clearly shows someone up there loves Wolves,' he said. 'As if last year's miraculous last-day escape from relegation wasn't enough, this surely shows it's not just mere mortals who love the black and gold.' He added, with a hint of relish: 'I've never seen a throstle or a Baggie Bird depicted up above.'

Yes, that's right.  Conclusive proof that God is a Wolves fan because you never see the emblems of West Bromwich Albion displayed in cloud formations.

Brilliant.  Although it must be said that God's probably not setting His sights very high if "narrowly avoiding relegation" is His plan for His chosen club.

He truly does move in mysterious ways.

[thanks to GJ for pointing the story out to me]

Monday, September 12, 2011

Javier Hernandez for Manchester United (v Bolton Wanderers), 10 September 2011

Emma Davies on Twitter: "For all the ill-informed haters ... Kevin spoke to Tom Cleverly [sic] on the phone earlier. He would never intentionally hurt anyone."

Name football's dirty players. Paul Scholes, perhaps. Midfield hardmen like Lee Bowyer and Joey Barton. Football's hard-tackling cheats are idiots, aren't they? They aren't loveable 34 year olds praised for their attitude and commitment who, after 15 years in footie, finally got the reward of an England cap late in their career...

Kevin Davies' tackle on Manchester United's Tom Cleverley this weekend was no worse than hundreds of other tackles seen in English football, even if the midfielder will be out of action for a month or so. And, Mrs Kevin Davies is probably right that the Bolton striker would 'never intentionally hurt anyone'.

It is worth remembering the facts, though. Loveable, committed, 'role model for young players' Kevin Davies has committed more fouls in the Premier League than any other player for seven out of the last eight seasons. He'd have a full eight year record also had he not been pipped to the post by another lumbering striker (John Carew) a couple of years ago.

The Cleverley tackle is not an isolated incident. Davies is the dirtiest player in the twenty year history of the Premier League. Bar none.

Now, I don't mind the Bolton captain; an opinion that I suspect is shared by a lot of football fans. I do wonder, though, whether if someone else held that unenviable record - perhaps a Barton, a Gerrard, a Fletcher or a Savage - that there wouldn't be a day go by without a reminder of that statistic. Davies, meanwhile, wouldn't probably get on a list of the top ten footballers in England in a pub debate.

He must have good PR - but we know the truth.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Scott Parker for West Ham (vs Chelsea), 11th September 2010

Did you see that remarkable stat this week that, before the game against Wales, Scott Parker had won seven caps for England under three different managers over the course of 8 years whilst playing for five different clubs?

Nothing like consistency of selection, eh?

Since his debut against Denmark in 2003, the following players have been capped in (broadly) midfield:

Alan Thompson (1 cap)
Shaun Wright-Phillips (36 caps)
Stewart Downing (29 caps)
Kieran Richardson (8 caps)
Theo Walcott (18 caps)
Aaron Lennon (19 caps)
Joey Barton (1 cap)
David Bentley (7 caps)
Ashley Young (17 caps)
Gabby Agbonglahor (3 caps)
James Milner (19 caps)
Tom Huddlestone (3 caps)
Adam Johnson (8 caps)
Jack Wilshere (5 caps)

Now, of those, the most capped are basically wingers: Wright-Phillips, Downing, Walcott, Lennon, Young, Milner.  As are Thompson, Richardson, Bentley, Agbonglahor and Johnson.  Competing for the same central midfield slot in the team as Parker were players like Barton (1 cap), Huddlestone (3 caps) and Wilshere (5 caps).

So why wasn't Scott Parker making the team more often?

Oh yes:

Steven Gerrard (89 caps)
Frank Lampard (88 caps)
Gareth Barry (48 caps)

With that much stability in midfield, we must have been amazing over the last 8 years, eh?


To be fair, Parker probably hasn't helped himself with his choice of clubs, particularly when he left Charlton for the Chelsea bench.... but after a brilliant season last year in a struggling West Ham team (he was voted the Football Writers' player of the year and was on the shortlist of 6 for the PFA award), it looked like the now nearly 31 year old Parker's moment had come again when he was picked in the team to play Bulgaria at the start of September.  Result: a good 3-0 win and talk of how England were rebuilding and it was the dawn of a new era.

Our midfield for this week's game against Wales?  Barry and Lampard.  And that was only probably only because Steven Gerrard is injured.  Or, charitably, Parker is now suddenly such a key player for the national team that he was being rested for the Montenegro game because he on a yellow card and risked suspension.  Hmm.  If that's true, then you wouldn't blame Parker for marvelling at the sudden change in his international fortunes.

What's the saying?  If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.

Hmm.  Actually, with that in mind, maybe we should just ditch Parker too.

Tom Cleverley anyone?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Walid Soliman for Al-Ahly (v Kima Aswan), 7 September 2011

I don't suppose the last 32 stage of the Egyptian Cup generally generates all that much international interest. Other than the fact that this season's tournament had been significantly delayed (due to the popular uprising in the country), this season's competition looked to be nothing particularly special.

Then, along came Amir Sayoud. Al-Ahly were cruising at 4-0 up and heading for the last 16 when Sayoud stepped up to take this spot-kick. What resulted was, well, see for yourself....

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Mikel Arteta for Everton (v Blackburn Rovers), 27 August 2011

Players Names Mrs LB Has Misheard During Commentary: Part 9

Transfer Deadline Day Special

Overheard whilst listening to Radio 5 Live as the transfer window shut. The panel were discussing Jermain Jenas' loan move to Aston Villa and Arsenal's late capture of Mikel Arteta from Everton.

"The Venga bus has signed someone called Arsehatter?"


"Did he just say that Jesus had been confirmed?"

(Incidentally, we were wondering whether Jesus was the only person in history that wouldn't actually need to be confirmed, being the Son of God and all. I'd like to see Jesus turn up in the midfield at a Midlands club, though. Oh,sorry, he already has:)

Friday, September 02, 2011

Junior Lewis for Hendon (v Leyton Orient), 25 November 1997

The relationship between ex-England boss Peter Taylor and journeyman midfielder Junior Lewis has long been a source of great hilarity on this site.

Here, for example, we reflected on Lewis joining Taylor at Bradford back in 2008 (the 8th (videprinter: EIGHTH) time the pair have worked together.

Here, Ian analyses Lewis' close relationship with Taylor, perhaps even alleging that there may be more to their relationship than meets the eye...

And, even The Times picked up on our story and the bizarre relationship between the two men.

Well, this week I notice that Peter Taylor has a new job: as manager of the Bahrain national side. It can surely only be a matter of time before Junior (currently coaching at Hendon) gets the call to head out to Manama...?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Scott Parker for West Ham (vs Liverpool), 27th January 2011

How transfer deadline day came to pass.....

Premier League Executive#1: This is DISASTROUS: we’re three weeks into the season and we’ve already hit the deathly hallows. There’s no European games this week, no Premier League games for two weeks and - WORST OF ALL – England are playing a qualifier.

Premier League Executive#2: Shit. England are playing? We’re haemorrhaging fans! We’re THE GREATEST LEAGUE IN THE WORLD. We can’t afford to have coverage in the media drop below absolute saturation level. 5Live are actually going to be talking about world conflict if we’re not careful. THIS WILL NOT STAND. What can we do?

Premier League Executive#1: Hmm. We need something that will keep people’s attention in this arid time for football; something that will make them sit up and talk FOOTBALL; something that will flood the newspapers and airwaves with pointless chatter, opinion and ill-informed speculation from overweight ex-pros and failed managers….

Premier League Executive#2: Like in the summer when the endless, empty, football-less hours are filled with made-up transfer rumours?

Premier League Executive#1: YES. Only crammed into a smaller period to make all of the inane babble come together into a focused crescendo of climactic excitement brought about by an artificial deadline. BIGGER AND BETTER.

Premier League Executive#2: You mean….?

Premier League Executive#1: YES. TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY. We could artificially and pointlessly force teams into panic purchases. Imagine the excitement!

Premier League Executive#2: [gasps] We could interview Harry Redknapp LIVE from the window of his car at the Tottenham training ground!

Premier League Executive#1: Think of the product sponsorship opportunities. How many fax machines could we sell off the back of this?

Premier League Executive#2: We’d have rolling coverage on all media outlets for DAYS. WE NEED THIS COVERAGE MORE THAN WE NEED OXYGEN. WITHOUT IT WE WILL SURELY WITHER AND DIE. Fuck La Liga. We need a BIGGER and BETTER transfer deadline day.

Premier League Executive#1: It’s what Sky Sports News was created for. GET ME JIM WHITE ON THE PHONE. NOW!

Jim White: …. LOUD NOISES! We’ve just heard from Andy in Barnet who has a friend who works in Heathrow who has texted him to say that he’s just seen Andres Iniesta in a Brighton shirt on his way towards the South Coast wearing a kiss me quick hat……