Thursday, 30 September 2010

'Arry's Beautful Game

Always sticks in me craw when you hear one of the same-voiced men on Radio 5Live tell yer that it was a good night for British clubs in Europe. Which clubs exactly? Did Port Vale get a point at the San Siro? The mighty Shrewsbury nick a late winner in Madrid.

Nah, just the usual suspects. And I can't pretend that I'm whipped up into a patriotic fervour about watching any of 'em.

Chelsea never looked in bother after John Terry revealed the sort of opportunism and finesse that might normally be reserved for a top footballer’s legal team and a trademark Anelka penalty kick. The one-two-roll-off-my-shoe is a vast improvement on the 2008 final effort. It’s very cool. But when he does miss one he’s going to look a right ninny. Again.

United, having been given a lesson in how to play away in Europe by Rangers, took the Wally Smith approach to Valencia – and added a spicy Mexican finish. Good to see Rio back. Although the Rio back is creakier than an Eastenders plotline and he stood up on the plane over and, bless ‘im, had a booster seat, too. Apparently Gary Neville wouldn’t let him share his pram. Toys everywhere.

"Hey Rio! Get your own armband!"

Apart from Chiquitita’s goal (and what is it with these chumps who can’t put a perfectly decent name on the back of their shirts, eh? I mean there was one fella in Twente Enschede’s had the exotic name of Ruiz, but on the back of his shirt it said ‘Bryan’. Next we’ll have Dimitar Berbatov with the legend ‘Dave’ emblazoned between his shoulderblades) it was all a bit drab. And Fergie won’t give a fig.

Arsenal looked cool enough. Apart from a bit of va va voom from the pain-in-the-asp Cleo, it was pretty straightforward, and Fabianski jumped to the front of the permanently retreating queue of Arsenal keepers. Not being all that shit gets you the green jersey there at the mo.

Which brings us round to the team I like the most this season already. Spurs.
Now I know Harry talks a load of oars and rowlocks about Spurs not having thebus=dget of the big biys when they’ve spent more than anyone except Man City in the last 12 months, but you can’t deny that he’s slung together a team rich in entertainment.

Wednesday might’s line-up was the sort of death-defying;y positive line-up that should’ve seen his side take a good pragmatic new-kids-on-the-block pasting, Redknapp should’ve been sitting there with a face like smacked haddock (what’s new?) as he tried to explain what he was thinking by leaving his side so open.

But not a bit of it. They had spirit, enterprise and a well-friendly ref. Job done. They also have Rafael van der Vaart.

And this is his Mrs and I wouldn't kick her out of bed for van der Vaarting.

Up til Wednesday I reckoned on Rafael being one of these fancy dan Ajax scholars: you know what I mean... cultured left foot, smart passer, bit of a sulky twat when things don’t go his way.

Well you know what...? After Wednesday I think I was almost right. Except he wasn’t sulking so much as losing it like that other great free spirit of the Spurs midfield Paul Gascoigne. Half the time he was Johann Cruyff, and the other half he was Lee Cattermole. A great addition to the British game.

Of course the penalties were, in no particular order, stonewall, innocuous and bloody unfair. Bale was hacked down, Crouchy was as sinned against as sinning, and as for the handball... well what the hell does this ‘deliberate’ mean.

Surely you could have a more clear-cut law that said if it hits your hands it’s a pen. Cos if the refs are trying to prove intent in most cases they’re going to have bring a bloody psychiatrist’s couch onto the field of play and asked the offending player about the relationship he had with his mother. (And let’s face it, enough fans out there on the terraces have very clear ideas about the nature of an referee’s relationship to his mother).

It’s just another of them woolly laws that just muddle everyone up. Like the ‘active’ shite in the offside rule. Was he active? Yes say I! He’s a living breathing moving man and he was two yards in front of the last defender. Off-frigging-side. Simples, as that annoying Luka Modric-lookylikey meerkat says.

Luka Modric and father

Anyway... Spurs. However they wangled the result, they’re a delight. Bale is a rampaging Hulk compared to the Dr David Banner of a left-back that first arrived at WHL. Huddlestone looks as solid a bet as there is for the holding midfield role at international level. Modric is like a masterful little fella, they’ve always got that twat it up to Crouchy option but it’s never over-used, and ‘Arry’s got as good a bench as there is in the Premier League.

And what’s even more pleasing is that they can’t string together any good results in the league, and yet Redknapp still has them maintaining width, keeping the ball moving.

All of which might tend to make you think that the trusty old geezer is a shoo-in as next England manager. Me, I’d pick him.

Given his positive selection policy one might be wary of revisiting the Keegan years, when England were frequently as open as a particularly pretentious sandwich. But Harry’s got more nous than the Tyneside Messiah.

Chances are we’d have a few nights hiding from behind our bar-stools but it would not be dull, or one-paced, or witless. And Christ knows we like our noble failures in this country, If you’re going to go out, go out with not a holding midfielder in sight.

And let’s hope the Europeans clubs are swinging straight and true this morning. It's golf - but if the Americans lose, do we care?

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Easy Ryder

It’s the Ryder Cup! The only time of the year when golf matters. Or indeed two years.

Golf. What a bloody stupid game it is. I’ve had several gos at it, but I’ve never seen the benefits. Every so often a mate by the Blue Bell urges me to reconsider, promising me that I shall gain the following:

(a) A bit of exercise. Right, Your average amateur golfer looks like a Pringle-patterned weeble. If I want a bit of exercise, I’ll get a dog.

(b) It’s a challenge. It’s not a challenge. It’s a bloody trial. Tiny white ball into tiny unseeable hole. And hit it with this – a tiny parallelogram on the end of a stick!

(c) Nice to have the comradeship of your mates. It is indeed. Trouble is when I play golf I never fuckin’ see them. I’m always waist-deep in nettles and hawthorn cursing the Lord God on high. And mentally selecting a Labrador or a Jack Russell to go off with on me next aimless ramble. It starts off with you and your pals and ends up with me beating the hell out of the undergrowth with a 9-iron.

In fact, short of sticking pins in your eyes, golf has to be the most masochist thing anyone has ever invented. Apart from supporting Middlesbrough Football Club, and that’s enough self-harming for any man.

I think I could take the twitched putts, the burrowing into bunkers, the zigzagging across the fairways, if it wasn’t for the fact that once you get to the 19th the place is full of the most God-awful middle-class V-necked pillocks on God’s green earth.

It’s like a frigging Daily Mail Readers’ convention in there. If there’s owt worse than the combination of check trousers and right-wing cobblers I’d like to know. It’s little short of a Peter Alliss cloning laboratory.

And just in case you’ve forgotten where you are, there’s always a telly on in the corner showing Sky Sports 763 HD’s coverage of the Yankee Doodle Processed Meat Corporation Golf Tournament from Buttkissee County, Alabama. Yawn.

Golf is a sport that lends itself to those with a psychotic mentality. To be the very best at it, it helps if you are asocial, amoral, asexual and a loner. You look at your Faldos, your Woodses, your Nicklauses. Time may yet be kind to them but let’s face it in their pomp these blokes wouldn’t know a social life if it walked into their house with a crate of ale, a bucket of spicy chicken wings and a goalkeeping bloopers video. (Yes, I’m THAT easy to please).

But here’s where the Ryder Cup matters. Here, there is an importance to be attached to camaraderie, to fellowship, to team spirit. Which is, to my mind, why Faldo was such a lame captain. He still thought it was about him. And really the man’s never particularly empathised with the workings of another man’s brain.

(Incidentally this is why John McEnroe is the king of all sports summarisers. He’s harsh, he’s fairbut he always empathises.)

Inevitably most of the attention is going to be on a man whose capacity for self-absorption is unsurpassed in modern sport. Tiger. It’s a good name for him isn’t it? Solitary, often seen prowling late-night bars, and quite possible endangered and more than a bit frosty.

Who will Pavin get to play with him? And if she’s not silicon-enhanced and peroxided, will he be interested? (That’s still the quandary around Woods... utterly gorgeous wife, even by Sweden’s extremely high totty rating, rich as a three-year-old Christmas cake, and he goes after some of the most crumpled and rumpled looking jailbait imaginable. Who’d’ve thought it? World’s Greatest Golfer Likes His Bit of Rough.)

If I was Pavin I’d send him out for a single point on the last day. And leave it at that.

So at Celtic Manor – with, we trust, a Welsh rain blowing up the Americans’ waterproof trousers like wet ferrets – we will enjoy shouting that unique sporting refrain ‘Europe, Europe, Europe.’ I mean whenever else does your average Brit vow his support for the continent of which he’s barely a part? Weird isn’t it? Can you imagine watching Inter-Man United and shouting ‘Come on Premier League!’ (Or ‘anything other than ‘Avanti, Nerazzurri!.)

Home advantage is important in the Ryder Cup. This way, when Phil Mickelson plays out sideways from behind a mighty oak. we don’t have to put up with quite so many dickheads shouting ‘In The Hole’ -which is coincidentally exactly where I’d put my fist if I heard that coming from a bloke near me.

So this is the golf tournament I care about. It’s nice to see Americans beaten. They won’t mind that much – they just thank God for all his blessings and toddle off home.

I’m concerned that Monty’s already written a Loser’s Speech. But then his experiences in major golf tournaments have prepared him well for such an eventuality. I’m annoyed that Pavin’s banned tweeting by his players. Though most of ‘em probably wake up each morning and tap out summat to @God.

But you look forward to the pairings. Is it a circus or some pepperoni salesmen! No it’s that Molinari brothers! And who’s that wandering up the twelfth with a three-hole lead – it’s the return of the Macs. Rory and Graeme!

There’s only one bloke who looks like he shouldn’t be there. Peter Hansen.

He’s 32 but he looks 72. He’s already getting the tag unsung. I’m hoping he’s the lumpen Swede that takes out Woods on the final day.

Do it for Elin, Peter, son. Can't see Europe losing.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Commonwealth? It's Bad For Your Health!

Well here’s an opportunity if ever there was one. The sort of chance that even Fatty 'I've Got A Head Like A Bowling Ball' Yakubu could tap home.

The organisers in Delhi appear to have mucked up big time. And muck’s the right word. Collapsing bridges, dirty sinks, animals footprint everywhere – doesn’t India realise they are about to play host to the cream of world sport?

Well I say cream – it’s not even semi-skimmed, is it? Not one athlete worth his Bolt has bothered to incorporate this swollen appendix on the corpse of the British Empire into his busy schedule.

The Commonwealth Games is bloody pointless. The only reason it’s there is to flannel the egos of sportsmen and women who might otherwise only set foot on a podium as a stunt double. All we’ll have to look forward to is Sue Barker saying crap like ‘And more medal news – and it’s good news for Huyton as Phil No-Mark has just bagged the silver in the 20mm pistol summat or other. He was just pipped by a one-eyed narcoleptic Fijian fella.’

I hear some spokesmen for the England team assure us that these really are important Games – for example the top three netball teams in the world will be competing. Netball. That’s the game where you have to stand still when you’ve got the ball. Basketball but without the bouncing or running or fun (unless you’re the sort of bloke that gets moved on from the perimeter fences of school tennis courts all too frequently).
State of the art equipment as featured in many a British comprehensive school

And any road, for Chrissakes do we really need a massive substandard shindig just so so lanky birds can play pat-a-cake? Let ‘em have the World Netball Champs and have done with it.

The Commonwealth Games is to the Olympics as my grandson Wilf is to Usain Bolt. It’s like what the Olympics would be like if it was sponsored by Primark. It is the Pound Shop of major international sporting competitions.

And now Delhi have provided us all with the excuse we needed. Finish the damn thing.

My first reaction to hearing that the athletes’ village was a bit substandard was ‘Great’. British sportspeople are always telling us how shite our country’s facilities are so surely they’ll be used to it. Might even give them the edge over them pampered, over-sportified Aussies.

But now I’ve seen the pictures and they look like they’ve been sent in to Watchdog by some irate holidaymakers. I’ve got visions of Nicky Campbell staring into my lounge through my telly screen with his ‘concerned’ face on. Shudder.
He’s a kind of TV Blair. You suspect he means it, so you’re bewildered as to how he can come across so fake.
Why haven’t the Indian authorities got their shit together before now? (Unless the shit they’ve got together is being rammed down every available bog and plughole in the athletes village and that looks feasible).

One of the problems is that all the tiptop construction workers of India are working for tuppence a week for the wealthy lovelies of Dubai. These blokes could erect a skyscraper quicker than a teenager’s todger.

But in all seriousness I dunno why it’s such a bleeding mess. And judging by the emergency meetings convened by India’s leading politicians – neither do they.
It’s not a good time for the reputation of the Asian subcontinent – although I’ve never much rated that phrase. ‘Subcontinent’ makes it sound like it’s not quite up to the rest of the landmass. Pakistan’s cricketers have, I think, finally departed our shores although I wouldn’t bet on it.

Of course an unholy row has broken out now after the aptly named Ijaz Butt – given that most of his orations come out of his backside – responded to the pressure by saying England’s players were throwing matches, according to some bookies he’d spoken to.

Not sure you should be telling the world you've been chatting to bookies after what’s been going on, Ijaz, but y’know, as the laser-witted yoof of today might put it, ‘Whatever!’

Of course it’s nonsense and the England team have reacted with upper lips stiffened and jaws jutted. ‘What us? Cheating? How dare you!? Next you’ll be telling us we rub dirt on to the ball to affect its ability to swing! Tsk!’

Of course Butt was resorting to the first rule of playground debate which is to adopt the ‘So what, you’re just as bad’ argument which is silly cos (a) he has no evidence and (b) whatever you think of Pakistani cricket – and there are some bloody wonderful players of the game even in the latest batch – the fact is that when it comes to corruption and in-fighting they are without peers.

Some might argue that the Carling Cup is the Commonwealth Games to the FA Cup’s Olympian status. Especially if you live on Miseryside. But I warm to the competition more and more each year. Top teams don’t go all out to win it, and teams from lower divisions trot out on to the pitch with the mantra of ‘Just enjoy yourself, lads’ so you tend to get very open and decent games of footy.

It really looks like Moyes and Hodgson have got their work cut out, mind. The Toffees bought Beckford but can’t buy a goal – I think those two things are linked somehow. And if you want to know why Liverpool are going to win nowt this season just look at the rest of the squad on show v Northampton. There’s more depth in Wayne Rooney’s thought processes.

Whatever you do put October 17th in your diary. It’s the Merseyside derby and you will want to miss it. Oh and I think that’s the day that the Delhi plumber’s popping by to fix Tom Daley’s cistern.
'Probably going to take a coupla weeks mate, but don't worry, I know some eight-year-olds who could do it in a day'

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Real Deal - with Sam Allardyce

"It wouldn't be a problem for me to manage [Real Madrid] because I would win the double or the league every time." Sam Allardyce, Friday September 17th 2010

Big Sam patrols the touchline. Training. Monday morning. Always a time to really press your size 12s on the back of these show-ponies’ necks and remind them who’s boss.

As ever his Blackburn squad are fancying themselves a bit. The big Kiwi centre-back Ryan Nelsen is trying step-overs, the bloody philistine.

'Ryan!!!’ bellowed Sam. ‘Just fooking whack it, will ya!’

Other than that, training went well. Morten Gamst was in particularly good form. One of his dives could’ve fooled a computer-generated recreation so life-like was it. And Dioufy was crashing into inflatable goalkeepers with relentless accuracy.

Suddenly Tina Turner’s ‘Simply The Best’ crashes across the training ground. It was Big Sam’s mobile ringtone. He answers it.


A suspiciously continental voice says: ‘Hello is that Edelweiss?’


‘Is me, Senor Perez.’

‘Ey oop, Florentino, lad. Don’t call us at work! You’re worse than me son Craig, the football agent with the allegedly tarnished reputation.’

‘We need you Edelweiss! This new gaffer he’s...’

Big Sam nodded. ‘I know, I know. Not gorra clue has he? Two Champs League trophies and he thinks he’s God.’


‘I’d like to have seen Jose Fookin Mourinho get Notts County to Division 3 champions in 1997. What were he up to then, eh? Translating for Bobby Robson – how hard could that be?’

‘Well, you know I heard Sir Bobby speak Hinglish and even a Hinglishman didn’t know what he was saying – so I say bloody well hard job.’

Big Sam grew impatient. ‘Whaddya want, Florry? I’ve got a Carling Cup game to prepare for, son. Against the Villa – another club that are desperate for us.’

‘Jose is finished. We need you. We need you NOW.’

Another call was coming in. Big Sam put Florry on hold.


‘Good-a morning-a, Signor Haddapie’

Sam sighed. ‘Ohh bugger me, it’s only that Massimo Moratti!’

"He will raise us up as he raised up ermm, that other team he managed... erm... Newcastle?"


‘Hello. Special One’ sneered Sam.

Mourinho bowed low. ‘An honour, Senor Edelweiss. After 2 wins and a draw, the most I could’ve expected was to stay in some form of employment at Real.’

‘And you will mek an ace translator’ said Sam, folding four sticks of Wrigley’s Spearmint across his palm and jamming them into his big, big mouth.

Sam didn’t want to waste any time. He wanted to make an impact with these so-called Galtacticos. Let ‘em know what’s expected of ‘em.

First stop, the keeper. Iker Casillas, winner of 4 La ligas, 3 Copa del Reys, 2 Champs Leagues, 1 European Championships and 1 World Cup.

‘Oi, Iker... you know nowt. All right? Them medals don’t count for shit!’ Big Sam sticks his fingers in his mouth and blows a shrill whistle. The back door of an estate car opens and bounding across the grass comes Dioufy. Iker stares in horror as the unleashed dog-man thwacks into his chest and knocks him horizontal.

Casillas screams in Spanish as Dioufy slavers dribble down onto his face. Mourinho translates: ‘Get him off! Get that mad fooker off me! Argghhh!’

‘This is going to be easier than I thought’ chuckles Sam to himself.

"A keeper? Taken out? Yes, boss. 'Course, boss."


Kaka is next on the burly Lancastrian’s list.

‘Now then Kaka – in fact fook it, let’s drop the formality, can I call you cack?’

Kaka stares in disbelief.

‘I hear you’re a big fan of Jesus. So am I! We both know the importance of crosses. I probably prefer longer ones to the Son of God, mind. Jesus was a carpenter wasn’t he? So listen, God-botherer, here’s a hammer and some nails. Go and make a comfy bench for yourself cos you ain’t getting a game while I’m here.’

Por que?

Sam fumes. ‘Cos you’re a wafty lightweight Brazilian jessie, that’s why!’

Simply The Best blares out again. Sam picks up. ‘Craig, son. Don’t call me at work!’

'Get Mancini on the phone - tell him fifty quid a week and I'm his'


It’s going well for Sam. Everyone seems to understand what’s required of himself. Sam is very pleased with Higuain – a proper right big number 9. Plus he’s tucked into the new training programme with gusto –he’s managed to elbow nine out of ten coconuts off their stands one after the other.

‘Perfect. Might not need big Kev Davies after all.’

Sam’s been keen to get the centre-halves onside with the proper ways of defending but he needn’t have worried. Arch tugger and tapper Ricardo Carvalho is on hand to lend his advice. He’ll be the perfect partner for Chrissy Samba come the transfer window.

And the Wrigleys Chewing Gum lorry had turned up right on time with its bulk delivery.

There’s just one problem. The twat in the number seven shirt. Cristiano Ronaldo. Thinks he’s Mr. Madrid. Well norranymore.

‘Oi CR7!’

The gelled tumbler lours at Sam from beneath his Studiolined kiss-curl.
‘You can forget about playing that fancy dan brand of footy they let you get away with at Man U!’

‘You forget’ smirks the superstar. ‘Mourinho has been here for a few weeks. We have long forgotten how to be intuitive.’

‘Yeah, well, you can forget Pretty-Boy Jose. I’m the new face of Real Madrid and it’s not pretty. Now join the other lads. In the helicopter.’

There were all in there, including Spanish lads like Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos who’d picked up bad habits at international level. The helicopter hovered fifty feet above the sweet green grass of Sam’s new home, the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

‘Gentlemen. El Classico approaches fast. And why are we here fifty feet above the turf? Cos this, gentlemen is where we will win the game. Up here, just beneath the clouds. There’s much to learn. Now let’s get back to the video room and watch Holland kick the shit out of Spain in the World Cup Final…’


Simply the Best blared out again. Sam fumbled for his phone. ‘If that’s the FA after me again I’ll… ’



‘Wake up, Sam, you self-deluding prat - you’re supposed to be on the bus with Blackburn under 19s in ten minutes.’

'Sergio! Any more o' that and i'm off to Inter!'

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Arsene and the Artsenal

What's Alan Green call it on the BBC 5Live trail? The most prestigious club competition in the world? Yep. It's the Champions League!

Every season it's starts with this tedious round-robin League format and you see how quickly a feast of football can become an all-year twenty-seven course banquet that even your average Middle American would struggle to much his way through.

First up we had a bit of an Old Firm fracas. No danger of this turning into a fan-bashing contest in the streets of Manchester - just listen to young Ross Anderson - a plain-speaking but peaceable young man from Glasgow.

Lovely. Sir Alex Ferguson a 'Gers man himself, saw fit to give his old buddy Walter Smith's players a treat by putting out on to the pitch a team more devoid of creativity than a herd of Friesians.
Ferguson may bring in this new midfielder

Prestigious competition, SAF? You could have put 11 John O'Sheas out there and got more for your money. Not that Smith's ambitions went further than the old parking the bus and holding out routine. (Although in Walter's case it was an Airbus 380.)

Rooney was crowded out by a centre-back trio that gathered round him like expectant hookers after a pay hike. The only incident of sickening note was when Kirk's Broad foot accidentally contributed to Valencia's horrible injury.

I doubt Fergie is too worried about the result. Chances are that Valencia (the team) and Bursaspor - which sounds less like a footy team and more like an airborne biological weapon - aren't going to cause a whole heap of trouble and they'll stumble through okay.

But then this is the whole bloody point. The Champs League, and it's obese little cousin the Europa League, are just means by which UEFA can suck dry the pockets of every football supporter across Europe.

At least Spurs-Werder Bremen was a decent contest and proved that 'Arry's got a good squad that might just be deep enough to handle an injury list. And if you are going to have a one-sided match then please, please, let the Arsenal be involved.

Loth as I am to join in the ejaculatory praise for Arsene's team, you have to say that last night's exhibition was a blinking joy. From the motion the ITV caption went up in the top left-hand corner to tell us that this was a match between ARS and BRA, I was thoroughly entertained.

Course the Bra in question wasn't the most secure and appear to fall open at the slightest flick of the foot. But this was the Wenger dream writ large.

Fabregas couldn't have been offered more space had been suffering from the world's worst case of body odour - and let's face it a football shirt is a great ingresient for encouraging such a foul whiff - and he pranced about the midfield like a merry Lord.

His accomplices were pretty damn good too. Chamakh looks the part up front - neat on the ground and works like a dog - although the barnet needs some attention. Why he's styling his hair after the fashion of a German World War 1 army helmet is beyond me. But a fit Bendtner's not going to get back into the team in a hurry.

Arshavin was at his shimmying best for the most part. Vela must be the happiest sub in the country, like a kid just waiting for the dessert to turn up before he tucks in.

And Wilshere looks great, doesn't he? There's a bit of the cocksure strutting bantam about the lad - and that backheel for the third? Well, my boozer was full of grown men cooing like schoolgirls round a kitten.

Add to that the fact that Alex Song has matured into a very fine player - and matured incredibly rapidly judging by the spooky blue rinse on his bonce - and Wenger has plucked out another good couple of centre-backs in Koscielny and Squillaci (Stepanovs and Luzhny seem like lumbering dinosaurs from another age now) and you can see why Arsene's feeling so chipper.

Of course there are the usual concerns when you start going overboard about Wenger.
At the end of the day, Wenger is an artiste. He wants the beautiful game. And nowt's happened this season to suggest that when the clunking clogging hoofbeats of the less refined members of the top leagues send their troops out to 'get in the faces' of the opposition, that that won't lead to a meltdown.

Fortunately they won't be up against the one-man wrecking-ball that is Lee Cattermole this weekend. But he's just the sort of aggressive little git that you still feel will put the Gunners off their stride.

The true test will come on October 3rd when they go to Stamford Bridge. Let's face it, the last few times Chelsea have played them, Arsenal have looked like a ten-year-old swinging his fists at a grown-up while said adult holds him off by the head, and the other men in blue yank down his shorts and tan his hide whenever they feel like it.

Still, unless you're a Spur, Wenger's team do qualify as every neutral's favourite watch. I remember them tonking Boro 6-1 in '99 and going on feeling strangely ok about it, as if I'd discovered the missus having an affair only to find that the man in question was George Clooney.

I mean if my lass can pull that sort of talent it kind of reflects well on meself. It's a private agreement we have as a matter of fact. If I came home to tell her I had a one-nighter with Penelope Cruz she tells me she'd completely understand.
I'm not sure she's being frank, so if you're out there Penny, pet, let's put that theory to the test, eh?

Monday, 13 September 2010

Fergie's Softer Side?

Is Fergie going soft? Letting a lad have the weekend off cos his marriage is on the rocks? Crikey, I wish we could all go into our bosses and bleat about conjugal complications and get to put out feet up. What next? We find out he’s a fondness for carnations and his favourite musician is Kenny G?

Music to fall into a coma to

Nah. ‘Course not. Rooney wasn’t dropped cos he’s going to get some stick from Toffee fans. He always gets that. Young Mr ‘Once a Blue, Twice Blown’ [in the back office of a night-club] is guaranteed the sort of reception at Goodison that would make the sudden appearance of Pope Benedict XVI in the Shankhill Road look like a WI coffee morning.

There was much talk of what the Gwladys Street End had in mind for Rooney. I understand Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman, No Kai’ was but the start of a cracking medley that included:

Edwin Starr’s anti-prostitution rallying call: “Whore – (Good God y’all!) – what is she good for? – absolutely nothin’”;

And The Kaiser Chiefs sing-along
‘Rooney, Rooney, Rooney, Rooney (Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ahhhhh)
Do ya do ya do do ya? (Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ahhhhh)
Know how much to pay a hooker? (Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ahhhhh)
Can you go online and book ‘er?’ (Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ahhhhh)

Turns out Fergie ditched Wazza cos he’s fed up of the lad. The Sun said the Govan Beetroot gave him a right ‘roasting’ - a term which has for the past few years has conjured up the wrong image in my head.

Still Wayne’s back in training for the Rangers game tomorrow night and I’m sure ‘Gers fans will be giving him a quiet night.

‘Course none of this would matter if United had held on for the win. But Everton’s late equalisers ruined left a lot of us grinning and leaping like triumphant X Factor hopefuls for the rest of the afternoon. Or at least until news came through from Loftus Road of another Caledonian cringefest from the Boro.

Krissy Boyd came with a good reputation but one goal apart I’m beginning to understand what’s meant by the phrase Scotch Missed. It’ll come good mind. I mean you only have to look at how magnificently the Scottish national team over came the might of Liechten-bloody-stein to know the Boro are on to a good thing.

There’s more potential needle awaiting the Hairy Scouse Scoundrel at OT when Liverpool come visiting on Sunday.

Not that the backchat will come from the Liverpool players judging by the performance at St. Andrew’s (who is by the way the patron saint of Middlesbrough Football Club).

In recent weeks many people have dogged by the question ‘What’s the point of Shaun Wright-Phillips?’ but it’s as the two-times table to Professor Steven Hawking when compared to the question ‘What’s the point of Lucas Leiva?’

Every time I watch this bloke I have to remind myself that Lucas is the former captain of the Brazilian Under-20 team. He led the team to victory in the 2007 South American Championships scoring 4 goals in the process.

I mean that’s shocking information, isn’t it? Like finding out that Kelly Brook has a degree in nuclear physics, or George Osborne has met a poor person. (Is it me or has ‘Daz’ Osborne got the bluey-whiteness of a well laundered bedsheet, hasn’t he?)

Here's Kelly thinking: "Why is it that gravity is such a weak force when compared to electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces?"

Lucas scoring? Captaining? Winning? It doesn’t add up. I mean, were it not for the fact that, sadly for Liverpool fans, he stays on the pitch, we’d be talking about Brazil’s answer to Lee Cattermole.

Maybe we’ve yet to see the best of him. And maybe we’ve already seen the best of his centre-forward Fernando Torres. I don’t know what’s wrong with young Nando. But at the moment he couldn’t look more like an adolescent schoolgirl if he sat cross-legged on the edge of Hodgson’s desk twirling his dyed black hair in his index finger.

I think I tipped Liverpool for third this season. Cancel that. Woy sees promising signs – and he knows what he’s doing, that bloke – but hellfire he must be the sort of bloke who falls in a vat of cowshit and says ‘Well at least it’s not chicken!’

I can’t help but think that Liverpool’s current problems have less to do with the thinness of the playing staff and more to do with the fact that the Yank planks are still in charge of the debt.

RBS appeared to have moved the Americans' debt into what they call the ‘toxic assets division’ which sounds like a financial lynch mob, doesn’t it? In July accounts suggested that Tom n George owed, in total, £383 million to RBS. They reckon they should get £800 million for Liverpool. Right. More chance of

I mean clearly these blokes are very successful businessmen. Hicks founded the very successful investmetn business Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst – it has a sister company that is advising Wayne Rooney called Chicks Booze Wait and Burst.

George N. Gillett likes his meat and currently controls: Petaluma Poultry (natural and organic chicken products); Snowball Foods (processor of turkey and chicken products); Kings Delight (more turkey and chicken products); B3R Country Meats (processes beef); Coleman Natural Products (processes pork products and lamb); Gerhard’s Napa Valley Sausage (a producer of gourmet sausage products made primarily from poultry). You can see now why he’s making such a bloody awful meal of running Liverpool.

'We can highly recommend all o' l'il ole George's lovely products!'

I mean we've all enjoyed a bit of Mersey Misery but both of you... Go! In the name of Shankly, go!

In the meantime I’m looking forward to Gerard Houllier’s first game in charge of Villa. I wonder if he knows when that is yet. Or who his number two is. Or whether he's signed a contract. Or who he is. Bless.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Houllier Than Thou

So a report says that the worst effects of the cutbacks will be felt in the North and round my way in particular. Meanwhile bears have announced they like to have a shit in the woods, the Pope has astounded us with the announcement that he is a Catholic, and John Higgins has said he’s pleased with the outcome of the inquiry into his alleged match-fixing.

John said ‘I’m racked off. I was framed. Deeply screwed if you like.’ He told reporters he’d baulked at the allegation but had taken a long rest, and was pleased to break off from Pat Mooney. It wasn’t the first time a tip off had bothered him but he’d chalk it up as a lesson learned.

Meanwhile the red-tops continue to serve up bile on Wazza’s ‘prowling’ behaviour. It’s just disgusting the way the Croxteth Creep whispers sordid comments into the ears of prostitutes and their friends. Apparently he offers them money for sex too! If I was a hooker I’d be bloody furious and I’d try to cash in as quick as possible.
"Thanks to professional footballers' inability to handle a drink, I can afford these lovely red velvet curtains"

I expect Phil Jagielka will be lining up alongside Sexy Suzy at the heart of Everton’s defence on Saturday. She’ll be pulling him all over the park no doubt.

Or we could stop all this crap and let him sort out his divorce papers with the lass who’s fronting the Littlewoods campaign for Nice Boots. Boots is of course well familiar to her hubby who has been buying 12-packs of featherlite from the Chemists for ages. The swine.

On the pitch, Wayne reminded us of his quality and England were, well, bloody good on Tuesday. Joe Hart had a few flaps – inevitable after Clive Tyldesley was giving him a near-masturbatory review during the Bulgaria game. We had Jermain Duffo upfront or it would’ve been 4-nothing at half-time. But it was good.

Switzerland barely got out of neutral save for the cracking goal their fella scored and a home win v Montenegro should see England into safe waters.

So confident is the gaffer that he’s jacking it in after 2012 by which time he might have realised that the Shaun Wright-Phillips is crap. Sometimes when he’s running with it he reminds me of a toddler following a football down a hill. Even if he reaches it he won’t know what to do with it. There’s Adam Johnson, Lennon, Walcott, Milner, Young, Allbrighton, Gary Neville, the regulars at your local nursery... all ahead of him surely.

Capello’s happy with them all though. Apparently it’s cos they’re not tired. We’ve heard that before. World Cups happen after our season. Always have done. We want our players playing competitive fixtures at top clubs. If they do they play too much and when they get to the big tournament the little loves are out of puff. If they don’t they are presumably too poor a set of players to have any impact on the World Cup any road.

A mid-season break might help but frankly it looks like an argument for saying we’ll never win a gong as a national team. Bleak isn’t it?

Of course another argument is that too much energy is being diverted by our national heroes into extra-curricular activities, not least the employment of shit-hot lawyers who know how slap out injunctions like Billingsgate tradesmen slap out flatfish.

Whatever. These last two games have certainly confirmed a couple of things in my mind. John Terry need not return. Not cos he’s a bit of a plank, cos by that reckoning you’d have no one bloody well left. I mean if the BBC used that rule of thumb then who’d be left to present their television programmes?

No we don’t need JT cos there are better players in his position. Rio, if fit, should return alongside Jagielka.

And can we finally admit that Gerrard is better when Lampard’s not there? It’s blindingly obvious. They go together like steak and custard, like wall-building and jelly, like Kate Moss and a bra.

I'm here cos Stevie G can't make it.

I like Frank. But he plays if Gerrard can’t. End of.

Meanwhile the Premier League has welcomed back one Gerard Houllier. Not quite sure why Villa fans should be so utterly underwhelmed. It could’ve been Grease fan Sven-Goran ‘Well-a, well-a, well-a , ooh!’ Eriksson or Alan ‘nice man but he’s never won nowt’ Curbishley.

Houllier’s remembered for some bloody awful signings at Liverpool. Bruno Cheyrou always springs to mind. He was the new Zidane, wasn’t he? Now he’s the old Eric Djemba-Djemba. But Houllier did win the poor man’s treble in 2001 in the days when Michael Owen had hamstrings.

Plus he inherited that team of right scallies in the white suits. Robbie Fowler’ll tell you that was David James’s idea. They were taking fashion tips from David James... I wonder if Calamity has taken property portfolio tips from the Scouse touchline tooter...

Thing is, Houllier’s won things, he’s always seemed like a decent bloke and at the end of the day that’s better than having an insincere populist with an absence of brain-cells due to the excesses of his lifestyle. Having said that I’d’ve loved Maradona to get the gig.

Villa fans are right up there with the Toon Army when it comes to the Misplaced Big Club Syndrome. And even the Geordies are reining it in now after a year at the back of the sock drawer.
The good old days

How do Villa break in to the top four without going bankrupt? Well they don’t without sending some Brummie elves to the end of the next rainbow to glow over Aston. If you don’t get your heads round that, then General Krulak – as in a ‘Cruel Lack of Alternatives’ – and what a great name for a Villain! - will sit you down and make you understand!

Reality. We get right used to it on Teesside. Only now they call it Austerity.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Wayne Rooney, Lord of the Dense

The Big Bang Theory states that at one time the Universe was just a tiny but incredibly tightly packed unit of matter. No matter how dense this initial bundle of stuff was it has been superceded in the History of All Things by Wayne Rooney.

There’s dense, there’s really dense and there’s Wayne Rooney. Here’s a man with the genius to watch the game from the stands even while he himself is on the pitch but who lacks even the smallest amount of foresight when he’s pissed up at 3 in the morning.

He’s not the first – in fact you have to remind yourself that there are still some right pussies in the England squad! I mean, some of ‘em have never been in the papers for dipping their nibs in some dodgy inkwells! The great wooftahs. What’s wrong with them? Well you only have to look at that William Hague don’t you? Footballers love to talk about their room-mates. Wink, wink.

And lets not pick on Juicy Jeni or Monica Mint! I mean these girls are making a buck from thick-headed wealthy men-children so you go Girls! But what a pair of sluts!
Sorry I’ve turned into the sort of twat who goes on the messageboards of chat-mags to offer their opinions. The dense leading the dunce.

Here’s my problem with all this... I couldn’t give a toss. I mean if Rooney can’t get on to the end of a decent Walcott cross cos he’s texting his missus then I’ll be the first to get on his back (if I can get there before a two-bit streetwalker – oh and the Theo cross was dramatic licence).

If Wazza fails to keep pace with an England counter cos of the 40 Bensons he chained last night then yes, I’m going to be at him.

If neither him nor Crouchy can get in front of their markers cos they’re lying in each other’s arms trying to work out the best text to send to their lasses – and I’d start with ‘I’m no oil painting and she was gagging for it’ – then by all means stop them playing for the national team.

But as far as these lads’ private lives are concerned, it’s up to them how they carry on. In France up until recently a man’s private life was no one’s business unless it affected his work. All right the French are a bunch of hissy-fitting prima donnas at times, and they completely overrate how good their food is - you try getting a decent curry in Paris. But I’d say letting people do whatever they want behind closed doors is fair dos and well grown-up.

When Clinton was depositing his evidence on the apparel of a young miss who completely misunderstood the meaning of the word ‘internship’, I honestly gave not a damn so long as the act happened outside the range of the Big Red Button. Monica with someone old enough to be Wazza's escort

I mean if Clegg and Cameron were caught canoodling in a Westminster bedsit it’d mean nowt to me. You can screw who you like, gentleman, just stop screwing the fucking country.

Of course, the News of the Screws is on the up right now. All this hot on the heels of the Pakistan cricketing crooks, allegedly. But that had a point to it. If blokes are making money by corrupting the way a game is played then that affects everyone’s enjoyment. If a leading footballer is ratted on by an unfeasibly well-paid whore then it’s got nowt to do with owt.

My missus and her mates are suggesting that it’s different with Wayne and Coleen cos they are this teenage love-match that’s got rich together. ‘Course she’s conveniently overlooked her husband’s looks, particularly the ones he casts in the direction of pelmet-skirted grandmothers.

I’m sure the lass is serious about hubby and if he has been doing the dirty on her when she’s carrying Shrek 2 then that doesn’t make him one of nature’s gentlemen. Although I dunno, the way he talks to the decent people that officiate the Beautiful Game has never suggested to me that he was Michael Bloody Palin exactly.

But Coleen has managed to jump-start a career off the hairy back of hubby and well, after this Littlewoods campaign it’s only a matter of time before she’s co-hosting the Brits and publishing her memoirs (working titles include ‘On The Wayne’ and ‘The Wag That Trails the Dog’).

The regulars down the Blue Bell have suggested Wazza’s a dumb pillock – true – and insisted that he must’ve known this Jeni wouldn’t have kept her mouth shut. Although I suggest Wayne pays more if the mouth is open.

Talking of which, and here’s where my point becomes a tad more serious, has this woman paid tax on this £5-6K the goal-shy forward has furnished her with? And surely if we were a bit more sensible as a nation we’d properly legalise the sort of work this young lass does so she can contribute to the exchequer on a regular basis.

I mean it’s not as big a priority as getting those braying pin-striped slatterns that parade the square mile with a Blackberry grafted on to their palms to cough up what they owe the country, but every little helps.

Anyway I look forward to Rooney continuing to play in the hole tomorrow night.
In the meantime I’m having to shower every ten minutes to get the gungy tabloid stink of this story out of me system. I couldn’t feel more soiled if I’d been sitting in a bath of pig slurry watching a triple length Jeremy Kyle. Never mind Wazza, can't someone dig up some shite on this Captain of Unacceptably Naff Television?

That and the shame of missing Chiles and Bleakley this morning. I was aiming straight at their cars as well. I'm getting that air rifle looked at I tell ya. Ahem.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

All the Fun of the Fair to Middling

They say being an England supporter is a roller-coaster ride.

Maybe, but it’s a bloody crap roller-coaster. One minute you’re skipping over light little bumps like a happy kiddie in a pedalo, the next minute the pedalo's gone all Freddie Flintoff or you've pretty well come off the rails like Scooby and Shaggy at a haunted fun-fair.

The Bulgarian striker! He's getting away!

And sometimes you just sit in it wondering if it’ll ever get started.

Of course we were promised a brand new rollercoaster for the next few games with some proper new meddlesome kids. The tired old rolling stock would be out; and some gleaming new hyperfast trucks would be carrying us forward to the twin delights of Poland and the Ukraine 2012. (Yep, it doesn’t make me want to pack a suitcase full of Hawaiian shirts and Bermuda shorts either).

Instead you expect the same old stodgy retainers to be carrying our hopes – typified by Bumblin’ Barry - and you can be sure Lumpy Lampard, Tits-Up Terry and Ricketty Rio will be back n all.

Bumblin’ claims England are ready to take on Bulgaria. I hope so. At least they won’t be up against that deadly dynamo Dimitar Berbatov, who retired from international football in May and for my money has been slowly retiring from football full stop for the last 18 months.

Other than that there’ll be the Petrovs Martin and Stylian. One day, the Bulgars will pick Sentov and Pistov but for now we’ll have to do with the slightly chucklesome Popov and Ivan Ivanov (that’s John Johnson to you and me).

It’s fair to say that this match is a skip full of banana skins for England. I know nowt about the opposition save for the fact that Stoichkov had one of the greatest left feet and shortest fuses in the game’s history and 1994 captain slaphead keeper Boris Myhailov returned four years later with a majestic barnet that he’d borrowed off the head of Ritchie Valens . He’s now head of the Bulgarian FA - and what a head! The tresses haven’t changed in 12 years!"Yes that's right... it's called Just For Men"

Meanwhile Capello’s new broom seems only to have swept away the-didn’t-do-that-much-wrong brigade of Huddlestone, Warnock, Joe Cole and Lennon. Still around are: the blundersome Upson, currently betraying all the self-confidence of a blind mouse in a cattery; Pawn-Shite-Rillips – although I wonder whether the gaffer picks him or he just sneaks on to the training ground unnoticed; Carlton Cole, the natural heir to Heskey given his present form; and Joleon Lescott who plays his international football in the hole between left-back and centre-back. (I didn’t know there was one there either).

I’m looking for an upside but to be honest I’ve not seen so much grasping at straws since my grandson’s birthday party at McDonalds.

One could be that Walcott appears to have responded well to not being in South Africa. And Christ the lad’s still only 21.

Two is the fact that the state of the national side is made for skipper Gerrard – he’s been hauling his club side out of the mire for five years.

Gerrard appears to be the only outfield players to have returned from the World Cup with his reputation enhanced which means that he did slightly more than fuck-all. Still it should mean he gets to play behind the front man. I’d instruct to get as close as he can to the lad with the ten B&H rolled into his sleeve.

There’ll be eyes on Rooney of course. It’s still my belief that the lad was injured in South Africa – and that Ferguson, shorn of any other inspiration, flogged the lad like an eager dimwitted carthorse in the Premier League run-in.

He could do with a little help up front. I can’t quite discover whether Defoe’s available or off for this ill-timed op. Crouchy’s sustained a back injury (allegedly from ducking flying crockery), so we’ve got Carlton... or Darren Bent.

Sunderland fans’ll tell you he’s worth his place. Me, I reckon Bent’s one of them lads who finds the step up in class a bit much. That could mean he fits in to the current England set-up perfectly of course.

And to be fair I thought the same about Lineker way back when. Turns out it’s his son who’s struggled with a step-up in class. 25 grand a year and poor Gar still can’t buy his lad’s A-levels. And this at a time when a shaved chimp could get a C in Geography.

I dunno – them public schools are terrible aren’t they? Pot-smoking fee-paying dens of inequity, I tell you, and just full of kids from broken homes who don’t know who their parents are (mainly cos they only ever see ‘em during the holidays).

'Take that Charterhouse!'

I tell you this Gary... you can get a crap set of A-levels for free on the welfare state.

Where was I? Darren Bent... well if he could get a little run together he might just get that confidence. Hellfire Paul Mariner scored in five successive games for England once, and Milan Baros was topscorer at Euro 2004 which is almost as confusing a piece of information as finding out that Hitler was a vegetarian.

The team I’d go for is:
Hart: G.Johnson, Jagielka, Dawson, A.Cole; Walcott, Barry, Milner, A.Johnson; Gerrard; Rooney.

Ah, bugger it, another good on paper England XI. I reckon what we’ll get is some of that platitudinous post-match rot about the result being all that matters. Cos we’ll have won 2-1 in a right scruffy manner.

But truth be told, no one’s too interested in how we get there any more. I’d almost rather it was back-waxingly painful and we got to the finals with zero expectation than we cruise through the group and watch the poor tired adulterous lambs get taken apart again by a pack of youthful carefree German wolves.

Aye well, carney Capello, start up the roller-coaster and let’s get on board.