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Monday, July 28, 2003

Cash for fash

And with my apt News of the World style headline, I’ve said it all. Perhaps football’s most prolific elbower of all time, and surely the most annoying semi-personality ever to make it onto television, John Fashanu has been accused by said newspaper of; fixing football matches, working for a far-eastern betting syndicate, stealing from his own African childrens charity and fradulently claiming insurance payments when retiring from the game. So has he been fitted up or is he bang to rights? My opinion is clouded by the fact that I think he’s a complete and utter twat so I couldn’t possibly comment.

While certainly the least despicable, the allegation that interests me most is of course the match fixing. The NOTW claim that he has a number of ‘Premiership stars’ on his books who help him fix games — accompanied by teasing sill-ohettes. So lets play the guessing game;

  1. The NotW claim that one of Fashanu’s players turned up at their lunch and said (in response to a fee of £20,000 being mentioned for fixing a game) ‘If I can have it now that would be great because I've got to get back to Manchester.’ Apparently he’s a ‘controversial foreigner’. So he probably plays for a North East based team, he’s controversial and foreign. I can’t think of anyone at United, apart from maybe Barthez (though the sillohette doesn’t match). It could be Dwight Yorke. In fact, I think it is. [Silohette]

  2. a ‘Colourful character who is stylish on and off the pitch’. [Silohette]

  3. a ‘Brilliant player who is famed for his elegant style’. Youri Djorkaeff, it’s got to be, just look at the picture. [Silohette]

  4. A ‘temperamental player’ and ‘former World Cup star’. [Silohette]

Additionally, one of these is an,

‘ … England player whohad agreed to fix a game … “He is a dear, dear friend of mine. He’s somebody who is more of a businessman.”’

There aren’t many ‘elegant’ England players, which leaves numbers 2 and 4. Given that there aren’t many stylish England internationals, apart from golden balls and Rio Ferdinand, it must be number 4.

let’s just get this in perspective — this is big. Players’ careers could be over because of this story, and the dirty cheating scumbags with nothing but contempt for the game deserve everything they get. However, I’ll add a disclaimer to say that everything here is just conjecture and guesswork, if you know otherwise then let me know.

So, any ideas? Leave them in the comments below.

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Saturday, July 26, 2003

Are you ready?

I swear to God; If I see that sodding ‘advert’ for the new Premership season with Elton John again, I’ll throw the remote control out the window. No, hold on, then I wouln’t be able to turn it over. Pom pom girls, dancers in football shirts waving scarves in time with Elton John in a velor tracksuit. Everything that’s truly awful about football today. The big screen in the background tells the whole story — clip after clip of footballers celebrating goals and trophies; not one actual image of someone kicking a ball (apart from the Thierry Henry-a-like doing tricks on a podium). What’s happening to the beautiful game?

As you‘ve probably gathered by now, I’m back from my holiday. Italy was very hot … oh God that f*cking advert’s just come on, excuse me … I’m just going to stop watching Sky Sports News. Where was I? Ah, Italy, while I was there I decided to try and decipher some of the articles in Gazetta Della Sport with the help of my very rudimentary Italian language skills. The main story right now centers around Jaap Stam. Apparently bids of around €12m have been flying in from Inter and AC Milan, as well as Juventus. Looks like he’ll move too.

Another article that I thought was a great idea looked specifically at the ‘12th man’ in the squads of the big four (Roma, Inter, AC Milan and Juventus). Sometimes, the first man off the bench can have as much effect on a game as the 11 that (usually) start each match. A similar article for English clubs would be a lot more difficult, as it’s not immediately obvious what the starting line-up for our big five (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Newcastle — in alphabetical order to avoid arguments). I may have a look at it over the next few days and see if I can get something together.

I can’t remember a summer with this many mickey mouse ‘tournaments’ in Asia, America and various parts of Europe. The FA Premier League Asia Cup? What on Earth is that supposed to be? Birmingham, Chelsea, Malasia and Newcastle; random? Just a bit. The funniest thing is players like John Terry going on about how important it is to bring home the trophy. It’s making the news too! The World is going mad. Ohhhh, Stern John has scored two for Birmingham against Malasia, lets see some interviews with Stern and Robbie Savage, that’ll be interesting.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Going … going …

Well folks, this’ll be my last post on all things footie until next thursday (the 24th). I’m off to sunny Italy tomorrow morning for a week, which no doubt means I’ll miss … Patrick Vieira signing his new contract, the surprise arrival of Ruud Van Nistelrooy at highbury in a straight swap deal with Kanu and Pascal Cygan (the new Laurent Blanc), Roman Abramovic buying Real Madrid and giving the players nice new blue shirts to wear, Bobby Robson signing half the KKK, Tottenham Hotspur signing a ‘hot prospect’ someone’s heard of and Manchester City capturing Peter Shilton on a free transfer.

To keep your footballing appetite satiated while I’m away, try this great article in the observer about an African Nations Cup qualifier between Rwanda and Uganda; involving Voodoo, rioting and people being hit in the head with football boots. Bizarre stuff.

I thought it was a wind up when someone told me United had signed a keeper with tourettes syndrome. How the hell is he going to cope with Alex Ferguson’s ‘hairdryer’?

‘You were f*****g terrible today boy! What the f**k did you f*****g think you were doing rolling the ball out to Thierry f*****g Henry?! You’re as bad as that French t***pot. What have you got to say for yourself?’

‘Err, sorry boss, lapse of concentration you wanker

‘What did you say …’

‘Nothing boss, I was just saying I had a lapse of f··k off. Scottish c··t. Concentration.’

Brilliant. Ciao.

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Monday, July 14, 2003

The bad, the good and Ronaldinho

I’ve heard some Liverpool fans tell me that Harry Kewell, his agent, and the deal that brought him to Liverpool, have all been properly conducted and Leeds Utd are just moaners who are annoyed at losing one of their best players for tuppence. They may be right about Leeds Utd being moaning gits, but the deal and all parties have not acted pleasantly.

Firstly, how anyone can excuse the coiffered motormouth Bernie Mandic taking £2m out of a game struggling for cash? Secondly, there’s the whole princpal of what agents are for — to get the best deal for their clients, not themselves. How is it in Harry Kewell’s best interests to say ‘pay me £2m or Harry won’t go anywhere. He’ll sit out the rest of his contract and move for free next summer.’ This, after personal terms and a fee has been agreed with Kewell’s boyhood club, with whom he’s been ‘speaking’ for six months. How is Kewell going to benefit from this laughably titled ‘loyalty payment’.

Particularly given the fact that Mandic told Liverpool to wait until now to sign him because they’d get him for a snip, with Leeds panicking about transfer money over the Summer.

It’s a disgrace, and scumbags like Mandic need ousting from the game if it’s ever going sort itself out. He’s not the only one to blame of course; Leeds Utd. have handled their finances and personel terribly, and in many ways deserve everything they get. But football doesn’t.

Further reading : spies, conmen and rogues (Michael Parkinson) and ashamed of the game (Gary Lineker).

While some parts of football remain stagnant, rotting, cess-pools of corruption; other areas move forward and make me proud of the game. I’ve never been his biggest fan, but kudos to Steve McLaren for being open-minded enough to be interested in developing a much underappreciated area of the game — coaching.

Taking pointers from American Football, Basketball and — closer to home — Clive Woodward’s phenomenally successful Rugby Union set-up, McLaren is pioneering a revolution in the club coaching system. For many years goalkeeping coaches have worked specifically with a few players, while the other thirty were herded together and trained as one. The restructuing of roles at Middlesbrough has seen reserve team coach Steve Round become the ‘attacking coach’, the roll of assistant manager has been scrapped, with Bill Beswick concentrating full time on being the clubଁs sports psychologist and first team coach Steve Harisson has become the dedicated ‘defensive coach’.

I believe that this structured and more attentive attitude to coaching will benefit Boro in the long- and short-term. It’s no surprise either that it’s a ‘young’ club like Middlesbrough ushering in a new and era for football coaching. Football, take note.

Unsurprisingly, United have caved in to PSG and shelled out a massive £19m to bring Ronaldinho to Old Trafford. It seems the one who is fleet of foot and fair of face didn’t fancy staying in France for another year. Simple as that.

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Monday, July 07, 2003

Shopping in Kensington

He may have a lot of money, but this Russian nutcase who’s just taken over at Chelsea is a mad as a bag of spanners. As his shopping list so wonderfully testifies. The question is, how do you tell him without ending up in the Thames? not a hope · going to madrid (maybe) · unlikely at best · not beyond the realms of possibility · OK · ha ha ha · ho ho ho · hee hee hee (he’s playing for the European Champions) · chuckle chuckle (so is he) · maybe but they don’t need him.

He’s obviously going to be one of those chairmen that managers just hate. And he’s made it abundantly clear that he knows absolutely nothing whatsoever about football.

Here’s to you B.

I normally try to keep this weblog focused on football as much as possible, but with great sadness, I dedicate this post to the one, the only, Barry White. The World will miss you Baz.

PSG star Ronaldinho

You know that the summer is getting tedious — and that journalists really will make speculation out of anything — when stories like this come around. Ronaldinho has been quoted as saying, ‘tengo la mente en blanco’ which can (apparently) be translated as ‘I have an open mind’ or ‘I am thinking about white’. Ohhh, white = Real Madrid. Because he would say that if he meant he was thinking about joining Madrid wouldn’t he? He wouldn’t say ‘tengo la mente en Madrid’ (or something similar). Nahh, that would be too easy.

As it stands; Madrid have offered Ronaldinho a huge pay deal (around £80,000 a week) and PSG £25m for him to join them in the summer of 2004 (for various money related matters, namely Figo will be offloaded cutting the wage bill and bringing in cash for the Brazillian). Manchester United on the other hand, have offered a measly £13m and a slightly less attractive pay offer to ‘little Ronaldo’. By a country mile, and for numerous reasons, PSG prefer Real Madrid’s offer; Ronaldinho meanwhile would love to play in Spain, feels he’s got a better chance of winning the European Cup with Madrid and is swayed by the fact that Madrid have just signed one of United’s most influential players.

It’s clear even to a little toerag like Ronaldinho who is the bridesmaid and who is the bride.

The only thing stalling the deal is the fact that Ronnie doesn’t want to spend another season languishing in Le Championnat. So Real have to unload someone (or beg King Juan Carlos for a bit more money) or persuade Ronaldinho to stay put if they don’t want to lose him to United. Likewise, United have to up their offer or they won’t even get to speak to him (then again, it’s never stopped them before); and persuade the Brazillian that cold and wet Manchester is better than hot and sunny Spain, and (most importantly) convince him that leaving France now is absolutely necessary. It’s a tough job, and if United pull it off then all credit to them.

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Saturday, July 05, 2003

Horse, Wolves …

You know when something happens and you just love it?

I’ve defended hard-working, genial, versatile and generally underrated Ukranian international captain Oleg Luznhy from a particular friend of mine for ages. Two years of mickey taking has finally caught up with the Wolves fan today. Great. I suspect Luznhy’s attitude, work ethic and demeanor will make him popular at Molineux, and I hope it all goes well for him.

Sticking with an Arsenal-ish theme, I think the way Dennis Bergkamp is (seemingly) being treated is an absolute disgrace. Along with Gianfranco Zola, Peter Schmeichel and Eric Cantona; Dennis Bergkamp is one of the pioneering individuals who has brought the Premiership something very special indeed, and made it arguably the most entertaining in the World. Despite a couple of mediocre (by his standards) seasons, Bergkamp has still managed to give the footballing public some very special moments to remember. His goal against Newcastle the season before last was absolutely beyond compare. He deserves a swan-song.

So Harry Kewell will sign for Barçelona, Arsenal, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Chelsea or Leeds. That’s cleared up then. The question is does any of them want someone who is such a right royal pain in the arse. The same goes for the pontificator extraordinaire, Ronaldinho, who’s decided to take a holiday to Brazil.

Another thing that is — quite frankly — astonishing is that it seems Chelsea’s Claudio Ranieri is worrying about his future. Apart from being one of the nicest guys in the game, he’s done what needed to be done at Chelsea, and taken the squad by the scruff of the neck and shaken a collective spirit into them. As far as I’m concerned, he’s done an excellent job at Stamford Bridge; and I don’t care how much money this mafia guy is putting in, getting rid of Ranieri would be a terrible step in the wrong direction.

Finally, the most amusing story of the summer so far is the mysterious disappearance of Birmingham’s Senegal international Aliou Cisse. ‘Sorry boss, I forgot to turn my phone on.’

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Wednesday, July 02, 2003


Well, it wasn’t quite so much of a transfer flurry as a mild inkling of activity. David Bellion has signed for United, Teddy Sherignham for Portsmouth, [David Dunn for Birmingham — ed] and Papa Smurf has severed his financial ties with Chelsea and sold half the club to Russian businessman Roman Abramovich. After dragging them out of the doldrums and turning them in to a Champions League club, even those that dislike Ken Bates have to admit that he’s achieved a great deal with Chelsea. He can now retire on around £140m, though he’ll still keep an exectutive position at the head of Chelsea football club.

I’ll dodge the ‘Chelski’ quips and pseudo political communist inferences — I think this deal will be excellent for Chelsea. At the very least they are now financially sound.

At the beginning of the 2002/3 season, Chelsea were close to administration and needed around £80m to salvage themselves. Champions League qualification gave them a respite, but now, with Abramovich’s fortune lying somewhere between 3 and 5 billion pounds, clearing those debts is just a drop in the ocean.

In other news, have a read of footblog; it’s a fascinating football weblog supposedly written by a current professional. I’m not wholly convinced it isn’t a wind up, but from some of the things written on there (like calling one of his teammates a ‘dick’) I’m not surprised he wants to remain anonymous. I’d suggest reading through all the posts while the site’s still young, then you can say you were in there from the start.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Peas in a pod

Look at any number of football sites this afternoon and you’re guaranteed to be greeted with two headlines that look a little like: ‘Bellamy on race charges’ and ‘Toon finalise Bowyer deal’ (taken from the Guardian’s website). They’ll get on like a house on fire. I wonder if football’s ‘kick racism out’ campaign will continue to make a mockery of itself and simply ignore this incident. I think we all know the answer to that one.

So David whatsisface has finally signed for Real thingymabob after passing his Live! medical. That’s exciting. His wannabe replacement and Crypt Keeper lookalike Ronaldinho is standing by while PSG bump his fee up to a British transfer record of £31m. No doubt Sir Alex will buckle and cough up as he did over Veron, Ferdinand and Van Nistelrooy. I suppose you have to when you’ve no idea how to spot talent and just sign whoever’s in the latest Nike advert.

In more transfer news, Liverpool are still desperately trying to persuade the press that Harry Kewell wants to sign for them — you’d have to be pretty gullible to fall for that one — and Jaap Stam might be making a return to England just to wind up Mr Ferguson. The truth is that with the exception of David thingy, no one’s gone anywhere and no one’s going anywhere in a hurry.

Expect 15 transfers first thing tomorrow morning.

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