Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Audi seats and all that

So here we are then, a week on from the frankly cruel tease that was the nil all draw in the Nou Camp (Camp Nou, feckin massive stadium in Barcelona or whatever it’s called), the real semi final happens now with enough drama to keep everyone on the edge of the seats. In Alex Ferguson’s case it will be the edge of those rather expensive looking Audi seats at Old Trafford which look rather comfortable.

What will be less comfortable altogether is United at 0-0, United at 1-0, or even United at 2-1. You suspect if Barcelona get one tonight, they’ll get two (I’ve never heard so many predictions of 2-2 from different people about one game for instance), but you’d suspect that in an open game United are liable to score anywhere between one and five.

In short, it should be game of the season and we all hope it will be. I think Henry should start for Barcelona for one as his pace caused problems last week and his obvious desire to prove himself in front English fans and media is a huge incentive. Essentially it’s to feed his massively inflated ego – as was his embarrassing whore job on Football Focus earlier this week saying he would only come back to Arsenal when just one year ago he said he’d never leave the club. Kiss that badge Mr Henry! And a whore job in the same room as Garth Crooks no less... eeeeewwwwww.

I have the suspicion with Terry Henry that one of two things will happen – he will score the goal to get Barcelona through or he will miss the chance that leads to them being knocked out. Either option has its merits.

As for United ‘unravelling’, it’s telling to actually see some of the press conferences that journalists use for their columns. Daniel Taylor said Ferguson had gone into rant mode with his “disaster” speech when in fact I just thought it was the man’s naturally odd sense of humour coming to the fore. Yes, he’s made strange decisions of late but to question his judgement overall is idiotic. He’s won too much and stuck the knife into too many sides (and journalists) over the years to care what anybody thinks.

Losing away to Chelsea has no shame attached to it, neither does a draw away at Barcelona and another away at Blackburn (when they should have won 4-1 at least had Brad Friedel not turned into some bald Superman) – and that’s whether the strongest or weakest sides are on the pitch. United will still win the league, as for tonight… weighing everything up… I’ll go for, well 2-2.


Quick note.... Sven being sacked=disaster for City.

Later folks, JJ

Monday, 28 April 2008

That Was The Weekend

Birmingham 2-2 Liverpool

Birmingham also made a great stride towards safety when they leading 2-0 but then showed they are actually a crap team - when Benayoun scores, things are very bad....

Chelsea 2-1 Man Utd

Much has been made of United's bottle recently with Fergie showing a strange gutless streak. Perhaps it is the dark lord Queiroz exerting undue influence? Either way, United are crumbling in same way as the end of last season. The difference is, Chelsea drew 3 in a row last year, now they are winning.

And by the way, I love after match shenanigans. More please!

Man City 2-3 Fulham
A great contrast with the Birmingham game - Fulham, dead and buried at 2-0 down with 20 mins to go, come back to win with Kamara, of all people, getting 2. Logic says they are probably doomed, but I'm cheering them on now - in the hope they relegate Bolton

Sunderland 3-2 Middlesbrough
Clichè, Clichè, Clichè, blah blah, winner in stoppage time. Keane's team make it harder for Match Reporters who need to file copy, but at least they don't have to change the script. Sunderland survive the first season back, congrats are due because their squad is poor...

Tottenham 1-1 Bolton
Spurs should be ashamed. Bolton deserve to be beaten and to be relegated, lets hope if turns out that way. Benitez gets stick for fielding weakened teams - Ramos should get twice as much for Spurs' dismal form, which is a great reminder of Chartlon under Curbs. Shudder.

West Ham 2-2 Newcastle
When does the Keegan bandwagon start again? Can I jump on? At the least, next season will be highly entertaining after a summer of Keegan purchases. Big Sam was not given enough time, but I'd take Keggan any day

Wigan 0-0 Reading
Eh......... zzzzzzz. Reading are in big trouble

Everton 2-2 Aston Villa
What a humdinger. I have a soft spot for Everton (they're not LFC, for example) and I'm glad they didn't lose this match - the league won't lie at the end of the season, but I think Everton have shown greater consistency than Villa, who seem to do all their good work in bursts

Portsmouth 0-1 Blackburn
Hands up who thought Santa Cruz was shite when he arrived last summer.


Friday, 25 April 2008

Weekend Predictions

Right, that’s the cowering apologies out of the way and on to the business of this weekend’s games. Obviously one of them hangs over the whole weekend like a spark of gold in a huge bunch of shite and it’s only a pity that Man U and Chelsea isn’t on later in the day to build up a bit of anticipation. As it is, the rest of the games may well feel like a bit of a comedown and any who stay on to watch the full game between Arsenal and Derby on Monday must either have money or Fantasy League kudos on the line. So here goes… now where to begin.

Chelsea v Man United: Okay, Lamps is out but all sensitivities aside, Chelsea have played some fine football this season without their number eight. As Eamonn Dunphy once said about Roy Keane being played centre back by Mick McCarthy, when Essien is not played as the fulcrum of Chelsea’s midfield “it’s like keeping the Rolls Royce in the garage”. Chelsea could definitely win this game but aren’t going in on form and don’t look high on confidence (why oh why Riise, they were dead and buried… anyway). United’s teamsheet will be the most interesting thing pre-match with Ferguson’s odd choices in midfield set to continue. I’d say Nani and Anderson may start, with Park and possible Carrick dropped with Rooney in a far more central role. Pulling a result out of thin air… 2-1 Chelsea. With Man U to take out their anger on Barcelona later in the week.

And very quickly:

Birmingham v Liverpool: 2-1, can see Pool losing this and not giving a toss, Birmingham will want it more and have some decent players, notably Zarate and that Scandinavian fella whose name escapes me.
Man. City v Fulham: Fulham? Two away wins in a decade? Never. 2-0.
Sunderland v Middlesbrough: Could be a very decent game. I’ve grown to like Boro over this season as they actually try and pass the ball, and while most Irish people retain a liking for Roy Keane, it has to be said that Sunderland do play some atrocious stuff. Blood and guts repeat of the 2-2 draw earlier in the season.
Tottenham v Bolton: Home win, 2-1. Uninspiring stuff and more interviews with Spurs players about the ‘massive potential of the club innit’.
West Ham v Newcastle: Hmmmm… Talk about polar opposites as managers. Keggy over Curbs (disturbing image) this time I’d say. 0-1.
Wigan v Reading: Meh… I hope Reading reinstate the Irish guys and win 1-2.
Portsmouth v Blackburn: Home win, barely. 1-0.
Everton v Aston Villa: Away win, barely. 0-2.
Derby v Arsenal: No comment, it deserves none.

Later - JJ

There is no god, there is no pod

Morning folks,

Apologies but there’s no podcast this morning – we had pub talk on the absolute lack of gay players in Italy as well as Alexander Hleb’s new position as the Premier League’s new badass after his girly smack on Murty; we also had a special section on god freaks in football but alas due to work I couldn’t make it out to Mark’s place to record.

Once again, sorry for the lack of pod, as indeed I’m sorry I missed out on my usual weekly blast of cans and weeding out the great, good, awful and plain bastards in football during the show but couldn't be helped. We’ll be back next week, in the meantime here’s some links that may prove entertaining…

Cheers, JJ

First off, Wednesday's Champions League gold from RTE. Never has the word 'people' sounded like such an insult.

Staying with RTE, Terry Venables didn't get the Ireland job, this may be one of the reasons.
Football ad hell pt1, pt2 and pt3

John Barnes being impersonated by John Terry... I mean Michael Barrymore

What the fuck does Phil Thompson say?

Neil Lennon playing a captain's role for Celtic.
and finally, in this week of all weeks, the real Ronaldo

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Liverpool 1 Chelsea 1

So, does Grant have that slice of luck that Jose Mourinho didn't? Could he take them to the final?

There was plenty of shit on show tonight, and not much stick. Liverpool started badly, and Liverpool's 12 man wasn't seen until the half hour mark, quietened by a Chelsea playing with purpose but Liverpool's excellent defending, and Chelsea's poor passing, meant chances were at a premium.
Liverpool controlled the remainder of the game, and Torres should have done better on a number of occasions, while Cech also saved well from an excellent Gerrard volley, but neither side managed any sort of fluidity of passing given the ferocity of the midfield battle.

The much maligned (by me, that is) Kalou came on a made a great impact with his passing and direct running and Chelsea finished the stronger, despite an unbelievable amount of loose passes by Lampard & Ballack. Kalou, fittingly, did well in the corner in the 95th minute, sending over a dangerous cross for Anelka. Ludicrously, Riise tried to head a ball that was 6 inches off the ground. A professional footballer who is scared to use his weaker foot to clear the ball could cost Liverpool dearly.

Meanwhile, John Terry praises the dodgy Petr Cech, and the Chelsea bottlers Joe Cole, Ballack & Lampard skip off back to London with a huge advantage to take into the second leg.
And Grant, who picked a positive team, who took a risk on the lively Malouda, who made the Kalou substitution, who saw an excellent performance from Ferreira at right back, will know they can do it at the Bridge.


Here's hoping

“I've been told by doctors and surgeons that I have the energy of ten men who have normal jobs.”

Now, some may think to themselves that this either a quote from Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard, such is their confidence in their own magnificence. It is in fact a quote from the god of nutjobs, Gary Busey. He of Point Break fame and general lunacy. But this confidence of having strength beyond mere mortals is no doubt common among footballers. Glenn Helder is surely not the only narcissist to have found fame on the football field and in the next two days there’s an awful lot of players who believe, or are told by hungry hacks each week, that they are God’s gift to football.

And why should we doubt the hype, after all between the four teams left in the Champions League they contain some of the highest earning players on the planet – from Messi to Eto’ooooo, from Lamps to JT, from $tevie Me to Torres, and Ronaldo to Rooney – all of whom have staked claims to be either the best player in the world outright or at least one of the finest in their chosen position.

The double header of Champions League semi finals – both first and second legs – are pretty much the finest entertainment on TV all year when things go well and as fans we should all hope that at the very least we get some decent games here. These are after all, the four sides who have dominated the Champions League in the last few seasons (Chelsea – 3 semi finals; Pool one title; one final; one semi final; Man United 2 semi finals and Barca 1 title), so in theory, were one to ignore the actual snorefest that Pool v Chelsea generally is, we could have some great action afoot.

So, let’s hope there’s no shit on a stick at Anfield or the Bridge; let’s pray for no arguments about whether Ronaldo is a big game player or not (as he will prove his doubters wrong at some stage with the scary amount of talent he has); and let’s all cross our fingers for some decent action between four sides with the pedigree to warrant being called the four best in European football this season.

No predictions, as I’ll get them horribly wrong (okay can’t resist… 2-0 Pool, 1-1 at the Nou Camp), but fuck it let’s just enjoy these games and hope something resembling the following action occurs in these four hugely hyped games in the next week.

Torres v Arsenal
Rooney v Newcastle
Messi v Getafe
John Terry Crying… I mean Drogba v Barcelona
Later, JJ

Monday, 21 April 2008

Aston Villa's season of promise

On the podcast, myself and JJ try to cut through the bullshit that surrounds the Premier League and other major football tournaments. We don't always get it right, but hey, who does?

Villa, under new boss Martin O'Neill finished an underwhelming 11th in the league in 2006/07. Despite this, O'Neill was built up the press and fans as a world class manager. It was an improvement on O'Leary's last season in charge (05/06) when they finished 16th, but a bit of perspective was needed when the hype kicked in.

Villa's signings last summer were mediocre at best - also rans such as Harewood (West Ham reject), Carew(Euro has-been) and Zat Knight(never had it) were joined by players with potential, such as Curtis Davies(league Cup 'specialist') and Nigel Reo-Coker (disloyal West Ham trouble maker).
A number of players were shipped out, leaving Villa with one the smallest first team squads in the league.
It all pointed to more mid table obscurity for Villa, and a gross mis-calculation by O'Neill in the transfer market.

As Max Bialystock asked in The Producers: "We got the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast. Where did we go right?"

What went right indeed. What is biggest effect on their excellent season - in 6th place after 15 goals in the past 3 games, with Everton buckling in 5th?

Is it the lumbering Carew, top scorer with 12, last seen playing well in 2001 AD? The electric Ashley Young, a young man with, ahem, a firm grip on things? Alan Hansen's dream man, Gabi Agbonlahor ("pace, power, aggression")?
Or the steady influence in midfield of Barry and Reo-Coker? The great displays of Laursen, Mellberg, and even Wilfred Bouma!? The lack of full-backs?

How did O'Neill get this so right?
And what can we expect next season?

Thursday, 17 April 2008

ODF 18 Apr Podcast Online

Hi All,
our latest podcast is online now.

We discuss:
Results & Fixtures - Premier League & Champions League preview
Pub Talk - All the news
Featured Section - The Legend of Gabriel Batistuta. Links here, here, and here

Download it or Subscribe to the feed

Mark & JJ

Treading Carefully

Because I don't want to receive any death threats by being critical of Liverpool (see some madness here), I'm going to just wonder aloud about something, but first, a quote:

“Look at what’s happened under Rick [Parry]. It has been a disaster, we have fallen so far behind the other leading clubs. We should have the stadium built by now. We have a few major sponsors when we should have 15. We have still got the top brand in the world of football but that’s no good if you don’t know how to commercialise it. Rick needs to resign from Liverpool FC… If George doesn’t sell - because I am not going to sell - I guess we stay in this position that we are in. It’s complicated but [me buying Gillett out] is going to happen although I can’t force George to accept. I am planning to make him a very attractive offer. If I had a majority on [the ownership of Liverpool] I could put more capital in…” – Tom Hicks.

The following are things I believe:
  • Hicks is right - Parry didn't do a good job (approx £100m in debt and far less revenue than other big clubs) and he also paved the way for Hicks and Gillett to come in, believing they were 'white knights'
  • Hicks will not buy Gillett out, they will probably sell to DIC, but that will take months, if not years. And it will be tedious.
  • David Moores is also culpable for Liverpool's general financial underachievement
  • Parry is responsible for the Houllier/Roy Evans mini-era, and then the Houllier solo era, with, ahem, able backup from the Eagle, Phil Thompson
  • The stadium costs are rising because of the cost of steel - why don't they give wood a chance?

p.s. we're podding tonight, and we will keep it under 50 mins! But there are no guarantees until the end of the season as the fixtures and news are coming thick and heavy....

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

‘Maybe there is more to life than playing, really, really, really, good football’

There is only one place to start today – no not United being champions elect or anything to do with Chelsea but instead I’ll start with this oddly mesmerising image of the ‘Wengerbus’. Truly magnificent and the full glory is here. I hate Zoolander but for giving us this, the $50 million budget was worth it.

Anyway, back to matters sporting, and where to really start today… Avram Grant hanging on by a thread, Rafa Benitez supposedly heading off in the summer or Ronaldo being worth more than £100 million according to Carlos ‘rejected Bond bad guy’ Queiroz. In the crescendo that is the end of the season we have talks over who’s going where, how much money will be spent in the process and all of this goes on for the next three months.

In many papers’ minds, and with most sane individuals, the title race is over after Chelsea’s abject display yesterday which didn’t merit three points. All that’s left now is mathematical confirmation and a few commemorative pull outs from the more excitable tabloids. Hats off to Steve Bruce (good god that’s a difficult few words to write) for making some telling substitutions and bigger, novelty-size hats off to Chris Kirkland for keeping Chelsea at bay whenever they threatened… he didn’t even get injured in the process, what a guy.

As myself and Mark alluded to in last week’s podcast, were Chelsea to actually win the league it would remain one of life’s biggest mysteries for generations to come. Brutal football, complete boardroom turmoil and to be fair to Grant, some unfortunate injuries to key players. How could they do it?

What will be left after their failure in the league is the feeling that Mourinho’s Chelsea would’ve taken this title race by the scruff of the neck and won it; and while the Portugeezer’s demeanour in his latter days as Chelsea boss suggests that might not automatically be true, it will ring of truth in enough ears to send Grant packing come late May.

I’d suspect even a Champions League win would be ‘rewarded’ with a promotion upstairs within the club, a prospect that Grant wouldn’t fight either. So as Chelsea search for a new manager, the turmoil at Anfield will continue and I honestly think Benitez will go this summer to Real Madrid, Barcelona or possibly Inter Milan. I still believe his first choice is to stay at Liverpool but why should he at this stage? Another season of league mediocrity, which is the most likely outcome of him staying next year anyway, would only see his reputation damaged.
Right now, he has a huge profile around Europe and a very decent managerial record. The funny thing is that only three months ago it was the fans who wanted him out, but the truth of football is that decisions are always made in the boardroom rather than the terraces, no matter how many protests there are.

Elsewhere, Quieroz’s claims over Ronaldo’s worth are correct – the guy is so valuable to the club through the on the pitch performances and off the pitch revenue, they could never sell him. With 37 goals this year, only he could force a move and why would he at this stage? It may be that a few years down the line we’re looking at a Ronaldinho situation of a guy who has fallen out of love with the club but if that doesn’t happen, it’s hard to see United losing a stranglehold on the Premier League and possibly Europe.

Considering how flaky the rest of the big four have been of late, whether on the pitch or off, the happy house that is Old Trafford will continue to dominate and Fergie may well laugh into that glass of fine Bordeaux. Even with the mediocre performances of late that Mark mentioned yesterday, they’re still untouchable. Ah feck it, let's look at the Wengerbus again.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Lucky Win Spreads Doubts

Manchester United survived a huge scare from Arsenal yesterday at Old Trafford and in doing so ensured that they have one hand on the title. Chelsea may yet have something to say about that but a big hurdle was overcome.
Arsenal, expected by many to be suffering a hangover from their CL exit, played with energy and skill and put United on the ropes a number of times. Had Adebayor been on form, or Eduardo fit, the result would surely have been much different.
Since Vidic has been out of the team, United have looked very weak at the back. They dropped points at Boro, got a shaky 1-0 win over Roma and prevailed yesterday only through poor Arsenal finishing.
They must get credit, in those circumstances, for winning at the end but fans of Barcelona will have been happier as the match progressed. Even if Vidic returns shortly, there was a covering problem in midfield as Carrick tried to get a grip, while Hargreaves popped up here, there and everywhere - and almost nowhere useful. Scholes was poor and was rightly substituted. Park was decent, but Tevez, a more positive option, should have been played at the start. Anderson added some much needed dynamism when he came on and they slowly got a grip.

At the back, for all Ferdinand's good work this season (and indeed for 95% of yesterday's match) it could have been undone at so crucial a time. Rio claims he heard a shout of Keeper and left the ball, but if VDS did not shout who did? Was it Adebayor? And if so, why was this cunning tactic never seen before on a pitch? Whatever the truth of the matter, Ferdinand was shook and almost scored a beautiful own goal a few minutes later. Wes Brown, also having a fine season, nearly added another, and Arsenal sliced United open time after time. Even the lumbering Bendtner had some good chances at the end and United breathed a huge sigh of relief as they clung on at the end.

Barcelona, with whichever attacking trio play, will be relishing the prospect of facing this. Eto'o will finish the chances and Messi & Henry (or Deco, Inisesta, Xavi, etc.) will create them. Ferguson must be sure to use this game as a wake up call for defense and midfield, while scheduling some shooting practice for the unbelievably wasteful Rooney.

So while United are deservedly top of the league and in the Champions League semi's, there are some fundamental flaws undermining them - profligate finishing, an unsettled midfield and end of season defensive jitters. Last seasons injuries and tiredness was the excuse, should they fail in the CL, what will the excuse be this time?


Friday, 11 April 2008

ODF 11 Apr Podcast Online

Hi All,
our latest podcast is online.

Results & Fixtures - we concentrate on the CL quarter finals along with a weekend preview

Pub Talk - All the important news of the week including Blackmail, Bentley, Cech, Di Canio, Barcelona, Lehmann's reality TV show and Chelsea's antics

Worst Substitutions - some of the most perplexing subs of all time - from Lineker to Riquelme.


We hope you enjoy the show.
Download it or Subscribe to the Feed

Mark & JJ

Thursday, 10 April 2008

John Terry... an apology... of sorts

Heya folks,

Very quick blog today on our continuing wonderment with John Terry.

In light of the very real prospect of either Liverpool (in the Champions League) or Man United (possibly in the league and Champions League) making him cry before the end of the season, I thought I’d celebrate some of the incidents in the rollercoaster, drink-fuelled idiotic life of this over-rated defender. All of which of course have supplied us with podcast gold since we began OkeyDokeFootball around 18 months ago.

The piss on the floor: Sample comment: “He's really going for it and you can see the girls, who were wearing tiny tops and hotpants, were loving it. He even appears to be pretending to rub his groin as he turns to face them at one point.”

John Terry… not a racist: Sample comment from a different blog (so we don’t get sued) “After watching many replays of the sending off, I can only assume that it was for a racial slur pointed at Ledley King, from his England counter-part, John Terry. Why do I say this? Well, let's look at the facts together.

There was a nothing challenge from Terry on King, but King reacted as I've never seen him react before. If Robbo hadn't stept in to prevent King from running over to Terry at that instance, then I fear there would have been a bigger problem.

Then we have two other Spurs players, Chimonda and Assou-Ekotto, who are also black, running after Terry and asking him to repeat himself. Terry realised what he had done and walked off after receiving the red card without a fight. I tried calling talkSPORT today as no one had said anything about this on the breakfast show. Their producers told me not to say such things and put the phone down. Why is it that the England Captain seems to be imune to any punishment??”

Baby in a Bentley
: Sample quote: “Terry, who complimented the beauty on her skimpy thong, went on to send her explicit text messages begging for X-rated snaps and suggesting a threesome with a brunette pal. He wrote: ?I want to **** both of you . . . Im gonna give you both the best ******* ever.?” Nice.

Tonight on the pod we profile yet more genius from Terry. Thank you sir, you make our job far easier.


Wednesday, 9 April 2008

The Winners Write History

So, now for an unbiased account of last night's Liverpool Arsenal match (I hate them both equally).
If you read the traditional media outlets this morning, they would have you believe that Liverpool are some sort of super team of men (RTE), driven on by history (5 times) and the '12th man' ("so terrified at the prospect of lasting just six minutes at this remarkable arena" - The Times), whereas in reality they could have been knocked out had Arsenal held their nerve for the final 10 minutes.
The penalty decision was a bit harsh but Toure's clumsiness gave the referee a chance to blow his whistle. Gerrard took his penalty with conviction and Arsenal were out.

The Guardian says: 'Another chapter in Anfield's rich European history owed much to another hand expertly played in the Champions League by Rafael Benítez.' Was it really? Why did Gerrard play 3/4 of the match on the left wing? Was Babel not good enough from the start?

And how crucial was Flamini's loss? He may not be a great footballer but his industry and range of passing are now much superior to his replacement, Gilberto.

Arsenal ultimately failed because Senderos does not have the ability at this level, with 2 goals coming as a direct result of his ineptitude. After been given a chasing in the second half, against the odds they pulled themselves back into the game with Walcott's blistering run and Adebayor's goal. That they failed to hold on tells as much about Arsenal's weaknesses as it does about Liverpool's strengths.

All in all, it was an absorbing game, a classic European tie that will live long in the memory. Hyppia, Torres and Babel scored excellent goals while Diaby (putting in a strange shift as a decent footballer) and Adebayor were clinical.

Liverpool go on to face Chelsea now, with, one assumes, an amazing confidence that they can reach the final again. Grant seems to be on the ropes at Chelsea, and I wouldn't bet on him making the correct decisions over the 2 legs. The individual brilliance of one of their players, such as Drogba or Cole could make the difference but Liverpool's defensive strength, combined with the excellence of Torres and Mascherano, and Benitez luckiness should see them through.

There is not much point in analysing tonight's games too much. Roma need a massive performance against United, which I feel is beyond them. And in the other game, Barca may be poor but it would be a major shock if Schalke were to qualify.


Monday, 7 April 2008

Shite, shitola, Boro

Boro… the everlasting mystery of Middlesbrough. With form that generally ranges from shite to shitola most weeks they somehow have a few constants that not only keep them in the league but just about make having them around worthwhile… even when bloody Steve McClaren was in charge.

In no particular order there’s

- The chunky striker who raises his game for this big matches and hopes to one day move on to a club with real ambition. The present culprit is one Afonso Alves with previous entries including, but not exclusive to, Mark Viduka, Yakubu and Dean Windass (well, maybe not the last one but he was as chunky as the others mentioned)
- The ability to annoy the big teams. Even sides like Spurs tend to have a worse record against the big four than Boro do on a consistent basis. Let’s face it, Liverpool have a worse record against the big three than Boro this year and most of the years since Rafa took over. They get the odd spanking down at the Emirates to even things up every now and again but somehow they pluck a few points Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea every year – making their live games against the big sides required watching.
- The awful crowds… there’s something slightly brilliant about watching a side so routinely terrible that their own fans can’t be bothered watching them. Even the big games have empty seats.
- The quality centre back that digs them out of a hole. First it was Southgate himself (remember Fergie wanted him a few seasons back for cover in the pre-Vidic/forgetful Rio era); then Woodgate and now the excellent David Wheater.
- George Boateng. The happiest looking man in the league every week despite living in Middlesbrough. At last count I think he’s been playing with them for 22 years as well. Quality individual.

Usually I’d say “I’m sure there’s more” but on this occasion I’m pretty confident I’ve got the only reasons to like Boro right there, because there’s not a huge amount. Still though, they have more going for them than personality vacuums like Wigan, Birmingham, Derby, Fulham, Bolton and, dare I say it, even Man City.

Anyway, their efforts yesterday at the Riverside against United has put a bit of impetus back in the title race. There has been some dissenting voices about the crime it would be were Chelsea to win the league. Yes, it would be a crime against football but then again Real Madrid played their way to a dire title win (if there really is such a thing then this was it) last year despite looking dead and buried for much of the season.

Chelsea are capable of repeating this – capable I said, not likely – and in all fairness if United are the team that many believe them to be then surely such a side of superstars will be the ones to end Chelsea’s long unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge on 26 April. There’s still plenty of fight left in this one, though one suspects that even if Chelsea dig out a draw or win against United they’ll slip up somewhere, perhaps even in that rearranged Everton tie that so annoyed Avram Grant. Come the end of the season he may have a point.


Moving away from title contenders and on to Liverpool… Crouchigol is making noises that he wants to leave and in all honesty I can’t blame him. When he sees Voronin go on ahead of him in the European Cup semi final last week, he can’t help but be annoyed. Crouch scores when he plays and at least deserves to be the first choice of attacking sub.


Moving on from Champions League contenders to Everton and only today did I see these wonderful pics of Phil Neville’s gaff. Yes, I know I’m a week behind the times but seriously… what the fuck is going on here?

And on that note, here’s a movie trailer that I have bored everyone I know with over the past week. I think it’s great, see how ye feel about it.

Thug life people, thug life

Friday, 4 April 2008

Weekend Preview

Arsenal v Liverpool
Well, a lot of people are expecting rotation from both teams, and why should I differ from that? if Liverpool rotate, it will make a mockery of Benitez' method of having players fit at this stage of the season, surely they can now play all the games, Rafa? Either way, I expect the 'Pool to win this one 2-1.

Aston Villa v Bolton
Villa must be grateful for an easy chance to rack up 3 points here to arrest their slide, but I have a feeling a draw is in order, with Mr Loyalty, El Hadji Diouf scoring for Bolton

Blackburn v Tottenham
Blackburn to win - after all, Spurs did lose at home to Newcastle, so I have no confidence in them

Fulham v Sunderland
Fulham have been dire recently while Sunderland are easing away from relegation difficulty, I expect the Black Cats to push on and ensure their Premier League status

Man City v Chelsea
Well, this won't be a barnstorming game anyway, City to cause an upset as I suspect that Chelsea's focus will be on the CL. The league is still in play, but it is a longer shot for Grant. A Euro win will secure his job for a few seasons and all their energy will be on next Tuesday.

Newcastle v Reading
This will probably be an entertaining game of football and Newcastle will follow up their recent good form with another win

Wigan v Birmingham
Not a match for the purist, a nil nil draw looks likely. Bruce will try to beat his old club but then again, he's not a very good manager

Everton v Derby
I will be amazed if Everton don't win this, all you fantasy leaguers get Everton players in your team

Middlesbrough v Man Utd
Well, it has a tricky look about it but I still think United can go there and win. With the second leg against Roma only a formality, United should field a very strong team and get a narrow 2-1 win.

Oh, and because I forgot to post a pic of Carla Bruni on Wednesday, here it is now above. Viva Italia! For those interested in her music, here's a link....


Wednesday, 2 April 2008

ODF 02 Apr Podcast Online

Hi All,
Our latest podcast is online now.

We discuss:

Results & Fixtures - Premier League and Champions League and weekend preview

Pub Talk - The News of the Week. Lots of hypocrisy

Comments and Stuff

We hope you enjoy the show.

Download it or Subscribe to the Feed

Mark & JJ

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


If you are in the UK, please support ODF by playing this video, Thanks

Champo League-o Chow Mein

Chinese buffets are an example of something that can be awful yet still too tantalising to dismiss altogether. Okay, some of the meat is dry and chewy but at the same time for gorging fat yokes like me, we just skip over that, get whatever seems halfway decent and then once you find something you like keep coming back for more.

I don’t how good an analogy this is for the Champions League – as poor as some buffet beef I’d imagine – but coming in a season where there has been some terrible football in this competition (especially in the group stages), and indeed where the hype has been markedly less all-consuming as years past, we still find reasons to watch most games and listen to countless hours of CL analysis. Perhaps the appearance of an English side in each of the last three finals has taken some of the unpredictability and spice away from it for fans here; but still it’s a tournament that pulls us all in whatever Tuesday and Wednesday it appears.

Anyway, yes, we know that United will beat Roma over two legs, yes we know Barcelona will meander through their games against Schalke 04 (possibly even losing the first leg before destroying them at the Nou Camp); we also know that Arse v Pool will be as tight as a duck’s arse and we’re all certainly aware that Chelsea v Fenerbache will send many a spectator to sleep.
But in amongst all that, there are still enough side shows and faint possibilities of upsets to keep us entertained. The tie at the Emirates tomorrow may not be a classic but certainly as a Pool fan, it will be a compelling, tense affair. I can see Liverpool edging it over two legs for no more reason than it’s the last thing the club has to fight for this year. Arsenal look tired and the battle at the Reebok will have taken a lot out of them.

As I’ve said, I think United, Chelscum and Barca will get through in the other ties, setting up one excellent semi final (Man U v Barca) and one semi final that everyone who likes decent football had hoped would never happen again (Pool v Grant’s Barmy Crying Army). ‘Shit on a Stick 08’… not really that attractive is it, but then, like a customer near bursting point who spots some fresh prawn chow mein, there'll be no keeping us away from it.


On another note I started playing six a side football last night and was shocking. My opinions on all things football should be discounted for the next week at least. Next Monday hopefully I will improve on my deft passes into touch and clearances straight to the opposition. As Keano might say, it’s great being a hypocrite.

Later, JJ