Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Half term report of sorts… and some quick predictions involving tasteless alcoholics, a vest, an exploding head and hair gel

Alright folks,

Initially when I sat down to write this blog I thought I’d have a run down the Premier League table for a half term report in four fairly brisk parts, taking five teams in the table at a time. There was to be some (most likely premature) conclusions, random facts, tears on my keyboard at Liverpool’s mostly wretched season, and far less praise for Birmingham than other mid-season reviews. The final point would be due to the fact that I haven’t seen a bit of them beyond the odd set of highlights this season, well there was their game at Anfield of course but that was 90 minutes of meltdown for all Pool fans so I didn’t notice much about their general play.

Just to note, I’m fairly certain most pundits who are paid to watch the league haven’t seen much of Brum either and are as surprised as anyone as to where they are. Hence filling columns with the phrase ‘hard working’ repeatedly hoping nobody notices that they aren’t the greatest experts on all the goings-on at St Andrews.

But anyway, that notion has been left behind as when I started thinking about the season thus far I realised that at ODF we’ve certainly got our cards marked with a ‘could do better’. We’re Wigan essentially. The odd decent performance but always capable of a 9-1 hammering.

While it’s been an up and down and very unpredictable season thus far – though Villa’s last two games and Spurs patchy form points towards yet more failed top four ambitions – I have to say that the last six months have been something of a footballing nadir in my world anyway and the lack of blogs attest to that (Mark meanwhile has embraced the NFL this year such is his fuhbal disillusion and indeed most Sundays at Vance Towers he can be seen jabbing a foam hand in the air screaming ‘Go Broncos Wooooo’).

Pool collapsing has been a huge disappointment on my side obviously, particularly in the Champions League as repeating last year’s league performance was always going to be difficult. The wind has really been taken out of my sails (as it has for half the nation) by Paris in November though.

Yes, I’m digging that up but it’s the last time. Ireland has done wonderfully well in other sports this year but let me just put this in perspective for any end-of-year sports specials on RTE, Newstalk, The Irish Times or elsewhere. Putting it bluntly, for a very, very large section of the population we could win five Grand Slams on the trot, have six world boxing champions, win every major horse race going for the next decade while Padraig Harrington could win all four majors with a series of trick shots while moonwalking and it could never, ever make up for the deflating events that culminated in Richard Dunne somehow resisting the urge to punch Thierry Henry after that smug git decided to get some good PR in the wake of his handball.

Then we all have to deal with the British press who are obviously obsessed with the World Cup as we enter 2010, meanwhile sports calendars are being released with every Sunday paper with the focus of their attention being that magical month of football next summer… it’s still all a bit much for me and for many out there. Ireland should be there and we are not. We are left only to boo two sides instead of one this time around as some sort of comfort.

A new year is arriving though and with it a great title race, a fantastic Champions League draw and some entertaining sides – West Ham and Portsmouth – spicing up the race to the bottom. I’m legally obliged to care about the FA Cup and Europa League this year to boot so frankly the batteries are starting to charge again. All of the previous details points towards an excellent five and half months before the World Cup. Rehab for those in the midst of football hell.

So, with a... lets call it ‘informative’ few months behind us here’s a few predictions for the New Year.

* Broncos to go out early in the play offs and Mark to fall in love with football again and as Nani leaves Unireh.
* Chelsea to sneak the league by two points on the last day.
* Champions League places to Arse, Unireh and…. Spurs (they always let me down so go reverse psychology baby!)
* Relegation for… Hull, Portsmouth and Bolton. Stoke to go a lot closer to the bottom this year and West Ham to escape with a week left to ensure another meandering article from Russell * Brand in The Guardian. ‘Mark Noble, he’s like a investigative sardine him... etc etc’
* David Moyes’ head to explode Scanners-style following a bad decision from a linesman.
* Tony Pulis to dress down even more and turn up for games in a wife beater vest, a Boddingtons baseball cap and some jeans with elasticised waistband. The latter were borrowed from James Beattie (bah-dhum-tish!)
* Rafa to begin speaking only in mobile ringtones. After victories he will use that awful Black Eyed Peas song about “good good nights” that alcoholics with little musical taste and idiots in general seem to love; while he’ll rely on ‘The Power of Love’ by Frankie Goes to Hollywood in the face of defeat in order to appeal to the fans emotions.
* Newcastle to spend €60 million on Zlatan after promotion only for him to lose both legs on a night out with Joey Barton.
* Real Madrid to win the Champions League against Man United, Ronaldo to cry for 40 minutes solid alternating between anguish and delight, stopping midway through to check the quiff.

Later, JJ

Friday, 18 December 2009

What a great set of balls... in the draw


What a draw for the Champions League.

Inter Milan v ChelseaLyon v Real MadridAC Milan v Manchester UnitedOlympiakos v BordeauxFC Porto v ArsenalCSKA Moscow v SevillaStuttgart v BarcelonaBayern Munich v Fiorentina

Mourinho back should he not get fired beforehand, Goldengimp heading back to the Theatre of Wolves Reserves and Karim Benzema huffing and puffing on the bench back at Lyon.

There’s some excellent ties and – mini prediction time – I’m going to go for the shock being Barcelona losing away to Stuttgart. Now, they’ll probably hammer them back at Camp Nou Nou Camp Stadium Megadrome but I fancy the Germans to really put it up to that bunch of insanely talented munchkins from Catalonia.

Elsewhere, Arsenal should progress, but the Bayern/Fiorentina and CSKA/Sevilla games look quite close calls. All in all an excellent set of fixtures plus they’re being spread over four weeks rather than two to get in maximum TV coverage. Phat Pat Dolan may be able to afford that reinforced lazyboy chair after all.

All in all, a good start to the day, now for the Europa League draw, the real business end of things... and Pool get Unirea Urziceni.

Well, I think we know the game all Europe will be watching that week then.

Later folks, JJ

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Performance Art Predictions

This week I will be mostly doing predictions in style of characters from a major budget fantasy epic. (Note: This may run out of steam early on – the bits where I crowbar in Mark Noble and Scott Parker’s names may be too much for some for instance, so feel free to skip to the actual predicted results, then ignore, place bet, win money).

Hull v Blackburn: (Courtesy of frightened villager): “Argh!! Fear the demon of Hull… he has the face of some minion of the devil, look away from the beady eyes! Look away from this demon who disguises himself under the cloak of a poorly trained jester – fear that Jimmy of Bullard, fear him and his wagging finger… (calming down) Thankfully he’s knacked his knee so there be only the strange mystery of ‘The McShane’ to fear for Hull this weekend, his curse is to be consistently confused as to which side he fights for, poor idiot boy. Hopefully fate is kind and he only costs them a few of these things that fancy folk in Sky Sports Towers call ‘points’. It’d be 1-1.”

Man Utd v Aston Villa: (In the style of noble wizard) “Beware the realm of the red nosed dark lord and his wicked cry of ‘theresnodouaboutha’. Placate him first with some mead, then… well more mead. Should this tactic work for the army of Villains led by the paranoid Irishman, they may yet sneak some solace for the theatre decked in shellfish… it usually ends in defeat for them here though, and dark times may be ahead for the cursed Sir Steve ‘Forever Ginge’ of Sidwell… 3-1.”

Birmingham v West Ham: (Shakespearean actor as an evil king) “Release the Bowyer!” (insert crowd gasping and several men vomiting at the sight they see in front of them) “Ah yes, cower before the horrid sight that no Noble man nor oddly haired nosey Parker can stop in its tracks. Behold the ugly face of this game of ball and foot.”
**(At this point the director yells cut and the Shakespearean actor reveals his true Cockney accent) “But then again their defence is shiiiiiiiiite innit, farck it, get down the bookies and put 20 quid on 1-2 West ‘Am.”

Bolton v Man City: (Shakespearean actor as a good king) “Release the Brazilian trickster who so plays with his people’s emotions. Let him run this O’Brien fool back to whatever corner of Kilburn he came from. Victory to the New Kingdom! 0-2.”

Burnley v Fulham: (As shouted by a commoner army general made good) “On my wuddy command, welease the Duffer, the bwundering Viking and the unpwedicatable Zamowa on these Buwnwey ‘alf wits.” 1-2.

Sunderland v Portsmouth: (As told by a Norse god-fearing monk) “O’Hara, Boateng, Kanu, can you hear me Kanu, can you hear me? Repent, repent! Give up this earthly need for riches and play for Portsmouth instead where we do not trifle with monetary gain and play merely for rewards beyond gold coins. I speak of such things as Danielle Lloyd, pleasing the peasant fanbase and... and… ah… line… (in amongst struggling for another positive he admits it’ll most likely be a home win, 2-0)

Chelsea v Everton: (Courtesy of American actor who can’t do a decent English accent so doesn’t bother and has Arnie-esque one liners thrown into the script as he can’t remember words with more than two syllables). “Repent this, asshole… 3-1”.

Tottenham v Wolverhampton: (Courtesy of American actor who couldn’t do a decent English accent before but who’s now two months into the shoot and making a vague effort). “Hear the words of Robertus Keaneuss and fear his shiny shell-suited wrath, he will have his revenge on his former kingdom… asshole! Four-zip, get my latte.”

Liverpool v Arsenal: (As told by a wizard who believes he’s above this whole production) “In this ancient home of victory, now doused all too often in defeat, look towards the top corner lair of the silver-suited Redknapp Boy. Once a promising warrior, who succumbed to injuries resulting from armour three sizes too small for him; when he says ‘top top’ not for the first, not for the second, but for the third time it will be the signal that battle will commence.
The gypsy Russian will have to be watched, the babbling home centre back who speaks in tongues may well find him too much to cope with. The only hope perhaps for the home nation is the two foreigners chiselled from glass, Torres and Aquilani. 2-2 I predict, 2-2 and Redknapp’s knees to burst from lack of blood at half time.”

Later folks, next week's predictions will be in the style of a latter-career Steven Seagal movie. Expect about 150 words then.


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Back with a bang, well a headbutt…

Alright folks,

Well, that took longer than expected – after a few weeks of generally being fecked off with football (Blatter breaking his tiny balls laughing at Ireland, everyone else having difficulty holding on to their pints while laughing at Liverpool) alongside a bunch of pre-Christmas work and selling the story on Mark’s Tiger Woods affair to the highest bidder (headline: Tiger Hits Blogger Bogey), the blog has been left to gather dust.

Though, in fairness ye shouldn’t give a rat’s arse about the above, so I’ll march on and try to keep up a better ratio of blogs this month, which should be easy enough considering stories of Premier League Christmas parties usually involve enough material for a book never mind regular 500-word updates including links back to John Terry/Rio Ferdinand/Jermaine Defoe’s previous discretions.

It’s a solid tradition of highly paid professional athletes embarrassing themselves upon going within 100 yards of a beer for the first time in months. Liverpool’s fancy dress party has seen all manner of idiocy over the years, from David Burrows deciding the world was ready to get over that whole ‘holocaust thing’ by dressing as a Nazi to Jamie Carragher’s contretemps with a stripper also made for funny reading. There was also Man Unireh’s genius ‘ten women to every man’ party planning genius of a few years back as well so hopefully the festive season brings a few gems such as these.

This year, Stoke got things running earlier than expected as manager Tony Pulis apparently nutted James Beattie in the dressing room at The Emirates as the latter bitched over having to work on Monday morning after the players’ Christmas Party on Saturday. Ignoring the fact that this must rank as a certain form of achievement in getting the Christmas party scandal out of the way before the actual party itself, and ignoring the bigger fact that Beattie always comes across as a complete cock in interviews, in this case I think it was the player that was right.

Pulis, a manager who prides himself on appearing to be a no-nonsense, sensible man manager may well have lost the dressing-room having attempted to behead last year’s top scorer; the £3.5 million punt that covered up his enormous ginger failure Dave Kitson. With Beattie seen as somewhat of a leader in the Stoke side (well that’s according to several news reports anyway) Pulis now finds himself trying to placate the talented frontman or else get rid. The latter may see the side struggle towards the end of the season and Steve Coppell can tell him all about second season syndrome resulting in relegation if Pulis fancies a chat.

How the whole situation plays out in the Christmas period – where Stoke face both Aston Villa and Man City - will be interesting. Beyond their travails though the collected mishaps of Christmas parties across the Premier League are most likely coming to a dirty redtop rag near you soon.

Any guesses as to what Terry, Lamps, Ledley ‘can someone help this man to the door’ King and Steven ‘he wouldn’t play me Phil Collins la’ Gerrard will get up to?