It's Up For Grabs Now
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Just occasionally, FIFA come up with a rule tweak that proves itself to be effective and easy to grasp. Obviously, these are the first to be scrapped. What's difficult about the "concept" of moving the ball ten yards? They move walls back ten yards, don't they?
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Modern football writ large - Stoke's manager Tony Pulis apparently sacked for not signing enough foreigners
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Proof why we'll never make top ranking businessmen - Sky push prices up by up to 7%, hail it as better value (Guardian login required). Apparently it's to challenge the perception of Sky as a channel for film and sport fans. Those of us who have it for sports and/or movies, of course, are buggered.
Senegal's Sports Minister has been sacked over poor national team results, a move that doesn't equate to a great deal of logic for those of us in countries where Sports Minister is as much a courtesy title as anything. The best thing about this report is the idea "Scores of young men have been marching from radio station to radio station calling for the resignation of (coach Guy) Stephan and FSF (Senegalese FA) President Said Fahkry." Mass marches between radio stations? Not even Spurs fans have done that here.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Congratulations, we think, to Ian Holloway, who finished fifteenth in Time Out's survey of the fifty funniest men in London (Gervais top, of course). That's one behind Chris Morris. This post-Modern Review attitude's gone too far, hasn't it?
Don't these summers get shorter, eh? This close season's already curtailed by Liverpool's early start, but we're never quite convinced as to why the fixtures are released so early on in the break. As usual there's a supposed leak of the opening day games that looks far too tempting to be real, following last summer when in the weeks up to the declaration of fixtures pretty much every possible opening permutation made its way round message boards.
Meanwhile, isn't it odd how so many people have uncles who work in club merchandise or decorating manager's houses?
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Friday, June 17, 2005
You may remember a few years ago Sepp Blatter, possibly after watching too much beach volleyball on Eurosport, called for women's kit to be made shorter to attract fans, part of a curious wide-ranging critique as only Sepp can of the female game which he justified by suggesting the girls had already been given privileges in that they play with a lighter ball (they don't).
Of course, attitudes have changed since. The media is now far more interested in the women's game as it stands, nobody feels the need to patronise the level of play and it's Lennart Johanssen who's acting the Zoo reader. Women players don't get the commercial backing? What would he make of Mia Hamm?
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Pope Catholic, earth revolves around sun, Leeds fans to protest against their chairman after a young star is sold - yep, all's well with the world.
Birmingham do seem to be a club that go out of their way to piss people off - we were recalling just the other day not only how they once put a complaint in to the FA about the behaviour of Millwall fans after stones were thrown through the windows of the team bus of, um, Millwall, but also how a good few years ago now they shut down their youth academy team structure and Karren Brady explained in supposed mitigation "you don't expect Heinz to grow their own baked beans" then keeping quiet when someone pointed out that, in fact, yes they do. Now David Sullivan's had a right go at the club's own fans for online petitioning against the purchase of Lee Bowyer. Actually we do have sympathy with him up to a point - how come he gets hounded from club to club while actually found guilty by twelve of his peers Jonathan Woodgate's just spent a year with his feet literally up in Madrid? - but even leaving aside the dismissal as reactionary knownothings of the people that pay their wages, this is a club that's spent months slagging off Robbie Savage, hardly a paragon of virtue but one that played for the club for two and a half years to much defence, at every opportunity.
Do you remember the live BBC coverage of the Southampton-Man Utd Cup game, and how after a United goal a fan threw a flare onto the side of the pitch and Motson talked about nothing else for ten minutes, only for nobody else to be that bothered? Well, the latter is what you may have thought, but it turns out the local police still haven't worked out who the thrower is. It's probable this is taking longer and with more due care and attention than whoever threw the flare that hit Dida in the Champions League Milan derby. Note the subheading 'Horrific injuries', relating to the quote from a Greater Manchester Police chief superintendant about how such behaviour could - could - lead to "fans and emergency services staff suffering horrific injuries", when as we know a player hit directly by one suffered minor burns alone and FootballGuardian still didn't think it was worth abandoning the game for.
Nothing gets past the good burghers of the Times, does it? Rafa Benitez receives a letter purportedly from Alex Ferguson, while the latter is on holiday, lecturing him on Champions League tactics and summarising that Steven Gerrard should be sold to Man Utd, and the speculation is it might be a hoax? My, my, my.
He's probably getting slagged off for it enough on message boards already, in any case.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Not sure about UEFA's new supposed brainwave of increasing the number of points deductions - certainly in the Premiership the only major occurrence recently of a top club being punitively fined to little supposed effect was Chelsea over the Ashley Cole tapping up, and you'd have to say that whatever the suspicious eyeing up of the printed figures actually having points taken off for something that not only happened off the pitch but possibly without the full knowledge of the club's manager seems harsh. Also, the two examples given are of Champions League incidents that you could easily argue did actually affect the clubs in question.
Course, this makes the FA trailblazers in this regard for the Arsenal/Man Utd fight deductions in 1990-91.
It's the close season of sleaze! As leader writers fire up Word to handwring about George Best, Robin van Persie and Steve Finnan as representative of all players and, why the hell not, all fans too, Davor Suker attempts to trump the lot by being questioned over the murder of his business partner.
We're big fans of when South American matches just degenerate beyond the point of no return, so join us in feeling slightly sorry for Chivas Guadalajara's Adolfo Bautista, who in one game got headbutted twice, chased across the pitch, sent off, pelted with objects and punched by an opposing fan.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
A FIFA inquiry is surely on the way after the referee of 1970's England-Brazil World Cup classic admitted he let the game continue beyond time because nobody heard his blowing the final whistle. That can't be right, surely? A referee enjoying the game he's watching? Surely someone would have noticed the ridiculous level of injury time before now? This appears to be the entire quote, which doesn't explain anything.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Out of interest after being sent the Harry Redknapp/loose ball interface link again - has this clip ever turned up on any American-maintained video sites, and how is the link described in a 'OMG WTF!!!!!!' sense?
Intriguing to note that in securing three more years of league football (and keeping the meagre highlights on ITV until 2008-09, which isn't as welcome) Sky had to fight off determined bidding by Setanta, who it's not impossible were ruled out when the League committee realised what happened the last time an unproved subscription sports channel bid high and won league rights. Analysts predict Setanta will be in a good place to bid when the Premiership rights next come around, which poses all sorts of uncomfortable scenarios. Scottish readers, in the unlikely event we have any - how is Setanta going down with their SPL coverage?
Thursday, June 09, 2005
A word is only deemed suitable for OED entry if it is adjudged to be in common usage within its field. How 'bouncebackability', not to mention 'squeaky bum time',slipped through the net is therefore a mystery. Also being welcomed into the language are 'groundshare' (an increasingly rare circumstance), 'silver goal' (now defunct) and 'Galactico' (not the term used in Spain).
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
If we've read this correctly, Harry Kewell has to prove in a court of law that he's not a twat. Any Liverpool fans care to comment?
Does anyone else feel more inclined towards Glazer's takeover now they know he's got a son called Avner?
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Terry Venables must have had a bigger influence on Australian football than any of us imagined, as Queensland Roar hold talks with Teddy Sheringham. Just to show how far things have come in English football, note how the player finishing his career in a foreign league outpost's wages are Roar's stumbling block rather than Teddy's incentive.
Like most novelty records that "look set to take the charts by storm" you'll probably never hear of this again, but don't say we're not warning you of the Jerzy Dudek tribute record. We assume, or rather hope, we're not "this little blog spot" that recommeded this "madcap, crazy, rollercoaster tune" be made, but let's hope it encourages people, largely members of the band, to fall onto the barbeque we're all supposed to be dancing around.
Monday, June 06, 2005
Surely the most reassuring thing about the BBC coverage of the opening shots in the Women's Euro 2005 is that they don't feel they have to pander to a questioning audience any more. Possibly because the feeling that railing against the very idea of women playing football, a serious discussion topic ten years ago, is redundant and puts its backers in the same boat as Eric Hall and John McCririck, at no point did Celena Hinchcliffe, Steve Wilson or any of the pundits, Gavin Peacock included, need to patronise or state the old accepted women's football line that it's an opportunity to show male viewers what girls can do at a man's game, which can only be a positive step despite the BBC Sport website's tournament follow-up piece promptly ruining the approach (yes, Andy From The Sun, cheers for that 'women? They like shopping!' angle, Bobby Riggs will be proud. Maybe they'll swap shirts after the games, eh?) People like us know full well who Hope Powell is, accept the credit given to Kelly Smith's talents and can actually get drawn in by the idea that England have, if not as much of a chance as has been built up, their best chance in quite a few years of actually winning the thing.
All the same, we do fear that this approach could be counter-productive. We made a reference in A-F last week to the possibility of duty log complaints just about covering women's football straight out of a season of televised football and you do get the nagging feeling that the sport is still going to be judged harshly. There are people who used to use the Sky Sports Text letters page to call for complete re-evaluations of non-Premiership football after single poor live games in Sky's live Football League portfolio, and you wonder if many of that same demographic won't be impressed by anything short of a spectacular tournament and bandy about the dread phrase 'PC gone mad' to describe The BBC Spending Our Money On This. What result do they think would come of ignoring a great big women's football tournament on our doorstep? Women's football is too established worldwide now for middle England's media complainants to put their heads in the sand and hope it goes away quietly just as it gets properly accepted.
We expect a critical Rod Liddle column within the week.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Surely the real issue about Carlos Alberto Parreira being accused of plagirising a 1973 FA coaching manual (sorry about the shittiness of the piece, it was the only one we could find that would allow us to do this next bit) isn't the actual intellectual theft itself but that he was taking from the words of Charles Hughes. Those of you who remember the national finger pointing in the later days of Taylor will recall Hughes as the high priest of the long ball game, the FA's director of coaching who promoted the idea of route one because few goals apparently came from passing moves and, more to the point, once commented "the Brazilians have got their approach all wrong". This was at a time when his country were snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Euro 92 and then losing to the USA and conceding in nine seconds to San Marino, you may recall. Bibliography quoting is one thing, not doing your personnel research quite another.
Friday, June 03, 2005
You know how old men on football phone-ins will always say of a unpunished bad tackle "if he'd done that in the street he'd have been arrested", overlooking the fact if you attempted a block tackle in the street you could equally be charged with assault? The Crown Prosecution Service evidently agree with them. This was always going to happen after the successful damages claims over serious injuries and Duncan Ferguson's imprisonment, but you wonder where the line will be drawn. And police intervening? On the pitch? We'd like to see that, kind of.
Top generic picture, too. We think that's Fulham on the left, but any guesses about the blue sock team?
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Finally, proof of just how big a force in the English game Chelsea have become - their transgressions have earned them a whole mini-site on the Times website. Admittedly they've had to beef it up a bit, including two entries for incidents from the same fixture and a bit of background reading to avoid making the text look too short, but the thought's there, following in the grand tradition of Manchester United's unbroken faux-thuggery line that runs from Cantona to Keane to, um, van Nistelrooy and the constantly updated statistics about how many players have been sent off during Arsene Wenger's time at Arsenal, now increasingly meaningless as he's been there for quite some time now (actually, we didn't get this after the Cup final, but then nobody seemed to remember that one after the end of the game. Hardly a fitting way to follow Kevin Moran into the record books, was it?)
Tip for Peter Kenyon and Ashley Cole - next time, what about the faked assassination attempt route?
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Yes, it's the kind of cloying light summer story that gives BBC Sport's Fun And Games section the chance to annoy a Net nation again. Yes, it's the kind of story that will leave Burnley fans shaking their heads in torment at what their proud club has been reduced to. But come on, imagine how long we've been waiting for this chance... Any more pie?
Good luck to Top Up TV viewers getting Eurosport as of today (free login required for link), apparently halfway through their French Open day's coverage. Yes, the commentators do always sound like that.