It's Up For Grabs Now
Friday, August 26, 2005
Thursday: Steve Claridge's early impact on Gillingham is fulsomely praised
Friday: Steve Claridge buggers off to Bradford. Clearly his playing career path is as decisively mapped out as his BBC Analysis interactive channel co-commentaries.
Here's the sort of thing which should happen more often if we're any judges - Southend's appeal against Freddy Eastwood's sending off last Saturday dismissed for being "frivolous" and his ban increased. Frivolous!
We wonder how much of this opinion has been led on by Eastwood's own manager slamming him for the red card, mind.
Surely we're not alone in thinking Wigan are setting their sights a touch low?
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Cause for celebration, surely, as Reading sign a man with a ludicrous name
Hang about... that's Jonathan Woodgate?
Monday, August 22, 2005
Calling Pseud's Corner! The BBC website's South American correspondent Tim Vickery judges Lionel Messi's debut for Argentina, ended by a red card: "He did not show the slightest sign of being overawed, calling for the ball and gliding past opponents with skill and fluency... his red card was a crime against football... There were some rugged tackles, and some blatant dives. Messi did none of this. He made no attempt to cheat. He was the victim of anti-football."
Messi was on the pitch for less than two minutes.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Thursday, August 18, 2005
When ITV Sport changed hands last year, we were promised that the brand would become stronger so that nobody could consider them a laughing stock any more. No room for, say, CGI reconstructions of Pickles finding the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1966. Surely that can't take long!
And they call it art - two Liverpool men claim to have recreated last season's European Cup triumph in Lego, although what they've actually done is painted two Lego men. Note on the second page the paper's presumably hastily appointed art editor seemingly suggesting they've done it to take the piss.
National stereotyping ahoy - and yes, of course it mentions sunloungers - at the news that Germany are looking to rewrite Three Lions for their official World Cup song. The article takes the attitude that German fans drunk on success wouldn't get its sentiments, which is odd given the original, untranslated Three Lions got to number 18 in the German charts in 1996, which makes it scarcely worse than Three Lions '98, the World Cup re-recorded venture Frank Skinner has since disowned.
It's also likely to be better than the rumoured Kasabian/Tim Lovejoy England effort.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Look upon thy works, Friday Night's All Wright, and despair as Diego Maradona starts his variety series with a visit by Pele. It does sound like a horrible triumph of Mammon celebration of Diego's greatness even if he's drafted 1990 keeper Sergio Goycochea in as co-host, Pele spending the time wondering why Trevor Brookley* doesn't call any more by commenting "your program is going out to the world, and I think together we can do many things in the world to help a lot of people". We believe guests on McCoist and Macauley often said much the same, although they might have drawn the line at the "talking soccer ball".
We're not sure which is the more curious aspect of the plan to televise Premiership games more widely in Thailand to quell localised religious violence - that Premiership football is being used as a ploy to, well, quell localised religious violence or that previously somebody seriously thought the best way forward for peace would be an airdrop of origami birds.
Monday, August 15, 2005
If you proclaim on your front page that you have "up-to-the-minute news and opinion" you'd better live up to it (you'll note this site makes no such claim), especially if it's as narrow casted as an information site about the QPR boardroom. With that in mind, shouldn't it have updated in the last couple of days?
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Arsenal take Bastia defender Alexandre Song on loan for the year. Alan Pardew reveals he was put off moving for Freddie Kanoute by the fan reaction. UEFA may investigate CSKA Sofia over racist chants. Stewart Downing and Francesc Fabregas sign new contracts. For their current clubs, not for the same one.
You're on your own until Monday from this point, by the way. We'll be standing in a public garden getting soaked in the name of musical entertainment.
It's Up For Grabs Now's Grand Premiership Preview Post
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Robert Pires, who did look like one three years ago but was overtaken by injury and better players.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Arsene Wenger is such an obnoxious shit at times'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Wenger used to attract these all the time and his willigness to join in with any passing anti-manager fad suggests he still fancies his chances of an unfair hearing.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : A late run secures second.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: England's great nearly man, Lee Hendrie. He'll be regarded as a cult player after retirement, you watch.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'David O'Leary is a great manager so stop moaning and support him'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: The Birmingham derby in mid-October, or whenever Dwight Yorke turns up to do the half time draw.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : In a reverse of last season, goals start coming in but the defence turns leaky at crucial times. 11th.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Jermaine Pennant, who's fulfilled the unpredictability brief but not quite the flair player bit.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Steve Bruce is a sociologist of clarity'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Damien Johnson, booked more times than Robbie Savage (in total) last season.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : More underwhelmingness. 14th.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Brett Emerton, which is probably as close as they've got.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Mark Hughes is minging in training'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Many would say Savage, but everything just slides off him. Hughes is always likely to punch a fourth official or similar before long.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : Late slump to 12th.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Stelios Giannakopolous. Clearly this is Sam's idea of a classic number 7.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Sam Allardyce is to blame for his recent goal'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Allardyce, Diouf, Campo, Giannakopolous... where to start?
OUR SURVEY SAYS : The bubble has to burst, but not just yet. 6th.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Radostin Kishishev. What sort of numbering is going on there?
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Alan Curbishley is going to buy you? For more detail click on the club name'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Haven't heard a lot from Francis Jeffers recently.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : 13th, as usual.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Pah! Such concepts are for the small fry. Or possibly they don't have one because their last was Adrian Mutu.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Jose Mourinho is furious with comments allegedly made by some Lens players about how easy it will be to beat the Portuguese'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Just wait a couple of minutes, there'll be one along.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : Come on, you know really.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Marcus Bent, who as an out and out striker makes a decent holding midfielder.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'David Moyes is wheeling his shopping trolley across the supermarket car park when he sees an old lady struggling with her large bags of shopping'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: With Gravesen gone Tim Cahill and Mikael Arteta seem dark horses.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : No, they won't live up to last season, but with some January dealing they won't disgrace themselves either. 7th.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Mark Pembridge was regarded as an exciting creative hub in his early days at Luton. What he is now is anyone's guess.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Chris Coleman is laying the ball in the hole'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Did you see Chris Coleman's face when he approached Rob Styles after Middlesbrough's controversial penalty last season?
OUR SURVEY SAYS : Looking dangerous for the drop but eventually ending 16th.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Harry Kewell, until he's beaten to a pulp by fans.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Nancy Benitez is the widow of Rafael Benitez'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: They seem too level headed for that kind of thing, but there's always room as their star gets brighter.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : There's a confident air around the place now. Third place the spoils.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Robbie Fowler, some way back from his position in Liverpool's number 9 lineage.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Stuart Pearce is trying to recover from his broken leg but I am hoping he will come out and I have left a message on Andy Cole's mobile inviting him to join us'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Stuart Pearce's lax interpretation of the technical area regulations may come into play.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : 8th, and again unlucky not to be in Europe.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Christiano Ronaldo. Well, at least someone's got the point of the number.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Alex Ferguson is a threat to my son'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Both Arsenal games are in 2006, but with a reported clampdown on bad language we're watching Wayne.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : Crucial games lost and eventually taken down to fourth.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: George Boateng, whose job is surely stopping the classic number 7.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Steve McClaren is as credible as any in football when it comes to games in the mind'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Ray Parlour was the most booked player in the Premiership last season. It'll have to spill over eventually.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : There's a good feeling around the squad at the moment. Fifth, if some distance from Man Utd.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Jermaine Jenas (subject to change).
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Graeme Souness is a freak who coudln't handle the Glasgow gold fish bowl'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Potential comes from all areas.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : Tenth, which might be enough to save Souness.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: None, the last being that unmissable bundle of energy Kevin Harper.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Alain Perrin is very angry!'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: It didn't look likely until Laurent Robert came in on loan.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : 15th, as per.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Liam Lawrence, something of a weight on the shoulders of a League Two graduate.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Mick McCarthy is usually described as 'gruff''
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Something must have gone horribly wrong in Sean Thornton's life as he's moved to Doncaster.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : Last day relegation escape.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: It used to be Simon Davies, which you could understand, but he's gone and now it's Paul Stalteri, their new utility player (oh, so many utility players at Spurs) from Werder Bremen.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Martin Jol is having a party Bring ur vodka and ur charli'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Come on down, Edgar.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : Ah, the false dawn. 9th.
West Bromwich Albion
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Jason Koumas, currently on loan to Cardiff with Robson hardly waiting to wash his hands of him.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Bryan Robson is shamefully wasted as the unconvincing alien'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Robson doesn't suffer fools gladly, but we may have to wait until November and Neil Clement v Andy Cole round two.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : They can't stay up on merit, as Bradford found before them.
West Ham United
EXCITING NUMBER 7: Christian 'fucking cheats!' Dailly. Surely that's not right.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Alan Pardew is keen to build a connection with them for obvious reasons so he was happy to allow Darren to go up and train there'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Teaming Tomas Repka in a defence with two Cardiff incomers can only lead to trouble.
OUR SURVEY SAYS : The squad's not ready yet, although they'll surprise a few around mid-season.
EXCITING NUMBER 7: David Graham, striker often used as sub last season. Thirty appearances in total, one goal.
BEST GOOGLISM ENTRY FOR MANAGER: 'Paul Jewell is looking like Yoko today'
LIKELY SOURCE OF FIRST FA CHARGE: Does Dave Whelan versus Greater Manchester Police count?
OUR SURVEY SAYS : They're playing four clubs for the first time in first class football this season, you know. Down, but they'll be back stroner before you know it.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Fernando Morientes scores two of Liverpool's three at CSKA Moscow. Jose Mourinho and Ashley Cole have their tapping up fines reduced, presumably just to send the Express into paroxysms. Andy Gray moves from Sheffield United to Sunderland, but neither Fernando Coco nor Nicolas Anelka will be going Toonwards. Birmingham continue their injury luck where they left off as Mehdi Nafti may well miss the whole season with a cruciate knee ligament tear. Barca veteran Pep Guardiola is taken on trial by Manchester City.
The fearsome combination of Henry Winter and Alan Hansen has been polling Telegraph readers for the best top flight XI of the last 40 years, and this was their eventual most popular team:
It's one of those lists that looks all wrong but if challenged you couldn't do that much better, isn't it? Hansen's team included Rio Ferdinand, so it could have been so much less watertight. That right back spot looks vulnerable, as you'll have already spotted - Hansen chose Steve Nicol, Winter Phil Neal. Is Ryan Giggs really consistent enough? Would Dalglish and Henry fit well together? How long until Manchester City, or at a push Leeds, fans really pipe up about something that really doesn't matter that much?
What better day than that of the announcement of the Booker Prize longlist for Ledley King's new column in Nuts magazine to be announced. Apparently he'll be keeping room for tales of "amazing goals that get scored at training", which should boost circulation no end. That's circulation in the bloodstream of Spurs fans annoyed that this is the route he's going down at a crucial point in his career.
A thoughtful tooth sucked by any number of British players as Valerenga's Ardian Gashi is jailed for speeding, a story somewhat pointlessly headed by the news that he'll be unavailable for his club's Champions League qualifying second leg. Apparently he's taking a ball with him, which suggests exercise time is more draconian in the Norwegian prison service.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Champions League qualifying action sees Manchester United beat Debrecen 3-0, accompanied by protests, and Rangers win 2-1 at Famagusta but Everton go down 2-1 to Villarreal. In the Championship Wolves beat Palace, QPR beat Ipswich, Crewe hold Norwich, Leicester's David Connolly scores a hat-trick against Stoke and Luton again take the day's plaudits by beating Southampton 3-2, Dean Morgan scoring the winner in injury time. David Beckham is likely to sign a new contract at Real Madrid; less so Michael Essien and Lyon, the tediousness finally nearly over with Chelsea reportedly putting in for the full £31m. Wigan agree a fee for Arjan De Zeeuw with Portsmouth.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Rio Ferdinand signs that bloody four year contract. Same again in 2007, then? Michael Essien... oh, who gives a shit. Real Madrid claim Man Utd and Newcastle have made enquiries about Michael Owen, to which United say "sorry, are you sure it was us?" Jerzy Dudek is out for three months after dislocating his elbow. West Ham sign Czech Republic Under-21 striker Petr Mikolanda, which sounds about right for them. Kleberson - you remember, swarthy Man Utd midfielder? - buggers off to Besiktas.
Zinedine Zidane claims he heard voices in the night telling him to come out of international retirement. Whether this was accompanied by an image of the World Cup qualifying table is unclear, but he still appears stunned by it all from these quotes. "That person really exists but it all comes from very far" - yeah, we're sure we saw that on the front of a Watchtower a bloke at our door was holding once.
Tomorrow: Claude Makelele saw a message appear on a wall and Lilian Thuram saw an image of Raymond Domenech inside a pomegranate.
Hurrah for the Times' The Game pullout, which doesn't make the same mistake as yesterday's Observer, which commissioned a piece about how there's too much sports coverage in the broadsheets nowadays for its special Sport Monthly pullout magazine, but does reunite Baker and Kelly from this week. We're not sure they'd have felt the same if they knew they'd be sharing space with unfunny quasi-jokes about Trevor Brooking being really nice, just ten years or so after everyone else got bored of those.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Chelsea win the Community Shield, Didier Drogba scoring twice in a 2-1 win. Shaun Wright-Phillips starts as he means to go on - on the bench. Hearts win the Edinburgh derby 4-0. Alan Shearer says Newcastle will fight tooth and nail for Michael Owen, but then he would. Michael Essien's move looks like happening on Monday.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Ah, league football. Crystal Palace lose 2-1 at Luton, Southampton, who are reported to have employed youth coaching meister Simon Clifford (the Guardian write this up as 'Clive Woodward appoints coach from Bend It Like Beckham', the twats), and Wolves ends goalless, Norwich draw, Ipswich win, Hull draw, Sheffield United beat Leicester 4-1. Forest begin their League 1 tenure with a win, Celtic and Rangers both get all three points. Wigan decide they do want Henri Camara after all, and vice versa.
Friday, August 05, 2005
Michael Essien's agent declares his client will not play for Lyon any more and is only interested in Chelsea. Notice how quiet this one's been from the London end recently. Jermaine Jenas is also unlikely to play for his employers, Newcastle, Souness denying row reports but claiming Jenas feels being a Newcastle player "is like living in a goldfish bowl", whatever that means. Birmingham sign Walter Pandiani permanently, Wigan sign Norwich's Damien Francis, free agent Keith Gillespie does the pay-for-play-go-round with Sheffield United and Louis Saha will be out for ages injured. As usual.
As we approach the new Championship season, tighter than the Premiership in that realistically about three clubs are battling for two automatic promotion places, and with the worst pun attempt headline of the season award already declared, a reminder that irony is a factor bigger than all of us in football - Chelsea legend Alan Hudson has been granted a testimonial by Hastings Town after being evicted.
Ever said anything that might come back to haunt you immediately? It's too good to give away, so click here to find out just who seriously thinks "the players we have here now... I rate as good a squad as even Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal in most respects"
Thursday, August 04, 2005
One of the Premiership's longest running knowing joke references ends as Phil Neville moves to Man Utd for £3m. Bolton sign Mexico striker Jared Borgetti, Inter Milan full-back Francesco Coco is in talks with Newcastle - does he know about tabloid sub-editors? - and Leeds cancel Seth Johnson's contract. He's been capped by England! Once, five years ago, as a sub for 17 minutes, but still.
More football associations should consider following the Ghanaians' lead and fining refs their match fee for wrong decisions instead of waiting for the video evidence debate, such as there is one any more, to blow over. Excellently, the affected ref blames his linesmen.
Playing for Inter Milan has clearly put six years on Obafemi Martins
Romanian reporters have been advised not to refer to their players' off-field antics lest it damage the national team. Such an idea world never take off in Britain, of course, as the entire news market would go under overnight.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Newcastle's European adventure ends rather quicker than last season's did, losing 2-1 again to Deportivo La Coruna. Shelbourne are out too, unable to hold Steaua Bucharest again. Michael Owen admits to talking to "three or four" English clubs - maybe he forgot in the rush - as Luis Figo prepares to bugger off to Inter. Zinedine Zidane and Claude Makelele return from international retirement - yes, France do have a job on to qualify for the World Cup, since you ask. Spurs complete the Edgar Davids signing as Nicky Butt heads to Birmingham on loan for a season. Joey Barton plays for a Manchester City reserve side in a friendly at Burton. My, lifestyle coaching sessions are quickly concluded nowadays.
We live in troubled times, and even the good sport of football needs to reassure its fans that they are doing all they can. Oldham, for example, are making a big point of increasing searches outside the ground. Good to see them doing their bit, fairly futile as it may be.
For as long as there's an empire there'll be a News Of The World Football Annual. In contrast to the Sky Sports slapdashery the diaries have been prioritised, set out neater and doubled into news and Premiership events sections, while the editorial seems to have been given over to an eyewitness report from Istanbul by someone who thinks they're the Brian Glanville of Hayters Sports Agency.
The real annual fascination, of course, is the back cover quote, which started reasonably with the likes of Lynam praising the book's ease of use, then just after the turn of the decade went into the realms of clearly making quotes up ('Scores every time' MICHAEL OWEN), but last year gave up on itself and left it to Tom Watt. This year - Amazon itself! Is there a payola scandal in the offing here? Will it be the chief buyer at Reigate Waterstones next season?
Trying desperately not to use the phrase 'brought to book', what do you suspect happened which has placed Graham Poll under investigation? (excellent photo, by the way) Excessive face pulling?
The maker of the best sports footwear adverts is taken over by the maker of the pointlessly flashiest as Adidas agree to buy out Reebok
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Celtic give it a decent shot but lose 5-4 on aggregate to Artmedia Petrzalka, or Artmedia Bratislava as everyone calls them instead. No such problems for Liverpool, who win 2-0 to seal a 5-1 victory over Kaunas. Newcastle continue their record of being linked with world class strikers clearly going elsewhere by entering the Michael Owen race, who if you're keeping count is now overrated and goal dry. Sunderland sign Antony Le Tallec on loan, Michael Ballack's agent denies he's agreed to sign for Man Utd next summer and Andy Johnson commits to Palace.
There's a fine line between not being wanted and not wanting, and Henri Camara is doing a fine job of straddling it. If he doesn't want to be involved with relegation battles at Wigan, how about trying to score goals for them so they're not in relegation trouble?
Again proving the lower divisions in Scotland work differently to the rest of British professional football, Cowdenbeath's manager is found guilty of assault on the father of a player he managed at junior league level. Isn't it usually the other way round in kids' football?
You know how sometimes sub-editors seem to be waiting all their working lives to use a certain headline they've concocted?
Monday, August 01, 2005
Liverpool and Arsenal suggest Michael Owen might fancy a move to Manchester United, who for a club as poor as church mice under Glazer are acting flush, joining Arsenal in bidding for Michael Essien just in case. Milan Baros is clogging up a space at Liverpool for the time being as his move to Schalke falls through. Paul Ince announces his retirement at the end of the season. Walter Samuel pretends last season never happened and moves from Real Madrid to Inter Milan.
We do try and be positive about football prospects here, but a business analyst claiming Arsenal and Man Utd aren't buying big as they know they cannot overtake Chelsea is, notwithstanding the carefully sidelined fact that neither can spend £30m+ this summer, disheartening. You do tend to think that short of unforseen circumstances we could be here for quite a while yet.
No such problems in Scotland, fortunately, as Clyde sign eleven players in one day. Some cheating, admittedly, as some are youth teamers signed to professional forms and the assistant manager has registered, but still, eleven new names! Who'd sort out the squad list?
We really must start hammering down the regional newspaper columnists this season who think they have the languid wordy flow of a war reporter. We don't know who wrote this Stoke Sentinel thinkpiece, but really a sub-editor should have had a quiet word round about "As the close season script has developed, it doth not verily over-tax the imagination to see Magnus Kristinsson in the role of Lear".
A new feature for this season - the last entry of every day will be accompanied by a diary feature up here listing the events of the day, for future reference just so you, the reader, know where we were up to in the great scheme of things.
Even with twelve days to go, have you ever known a Premiership season awaited with such little anticipation? Everybody knows what's going to happen - Chelsea will retain the title, Arsenal, Man Utd and Liverpool will retain their Champions League places, the three promoted clubs plus West Brom will fight it out for relegation. At least last season we had the topsy-turvy relegation battle with West Brom completely written off three games from the end only to escape because Charlton scored. Much as we'd love to see one of Sunderland, Wigan and West Ham exceed expectations, it would mean the three spots to go back down are as good as already sealed. Sure, there'll be action and drama beyond our imaginings along the way, but blockbuster films aren't made any better by knowing the ending before the start - even when Manchester United were in their pre-eminence they'd be pushed most of the way by Newcastle or Arsenal. There's the whole issue about money running off with the game that goes hand in hand with such defeatism, but we were listening to David Cann blathering on about this over the weekend and so are in no mood to underline his attitude.
We'd love to say this makes the Championship promotion race all the more enthralling, but we're put off by the fact Sir Brian Mawhinney would probably take all the credit for it because it's happened under his new name initiative.