Stand back everyone, maniac coming through
It’s never anything less than a total joy to hear from an important member of the Interestment family, and today it’s the turn of Steve – a man with an arched eyebrow aimed on football. He had this to say about all things recent and footballish.
Comedy scenes at Old Trafford on the weekend as Arsenal lose to Manchester United and have their manager sent off for diving. OK, it wasn’t really for diving, he was sent off for kicking. No, not kicking the ref, or Alex Ferguson, or even Emmanuel Eboue (come on, you’d love to wouldn’t you?)… no, instead he toe punted a stationary water bottle. The man’s mental.
“I didn’t know we were not allowed to do that,” pleaded the Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, in a very obviously pretend French accent. A likely story. Rumours of a post-match dust up where he was spotted landing a few very over-the-top rabbit punches on an empty can of Lilt have yet to be confirmed.
Yesterday was Transfer Deadline Day, a truly great day of pant wetting excitement only comparable in real terms to the joy that is Pancake Tuesday. Luis Figo to Notts County! Ribery to Man United! David James to Spurs!
Well they were the rumours, instead the highlights were David Nugent joining champions-in-waiting Burnley, David Bentley getting up really early and going all the way to Manchester to not join Man City, and a rather miffed looking journalist spending an entire day outside Fratton Park to watch David James err, train. It was the stuff of dreams, watching the demoralised broadcaster screaming at the back of James’ moving car, begging him to shed some light on what might be going on. Please, David. Please. Pleeeaaaaase.
And finally, Roy Hodgson has hinted at an unlikely playboy past by saying this:
“It was a ludicrous succession of affairs”.
Like finding out that you were conceived after a drunken game of spin the bottle got ridiculous, there are some things that you just don’t ever need to know.
Upside down frown flips over again…
It’s always brilliant to hear from a member of the growing Interestment family, and today it’s the turn of Steve – a clever man with a sharp wit. For the next few weeks, he’s going to be looking at the ridiculous soap opera side of football. He had this to say about the weekend’s action…
Premiership football is back and it’s better than ever! Well, aside from the loss of the World’s greasiest…I mean greatest footballer of course. We’re only one game into the new season, but already the soap opera is in full swing. Here’s what we have so far:
Liverpool lose to Spurs and Rafa Benitez is LIVID. He gets so cross, the anger surges through his taut, bulbous body, before he finally erupts and calls a linesman… “too young”. Ouch. Clearly rusty after a summer break, Rafa may need to sharpen up his insults before he resumes his feud/ handbags/ smokescreen for secret love affair with Alex Ferguson. Half an hour with the Carragher family should do the trick.
Arsene Wenger‘s Arsenal side (who are also too young apparently) pulverise Everton 6-1. As in six goals to just one goal. Essentially 5-0. Or 12-2. Yep, that’s quite the thrashing. David Moyes is now officially the most miserable looking human being on the planet, with his weeping face buried into his moistening shovel-hands.
There are more tears in Hull as Phil Brown’s goatie beard goes missing. Why did you do it Phil? Why? The Tango Devil look was AWESOME!
And finally, new Chelsea boss Carlo Ancellotti explains Didier Drogba’s niggling injury conundrums: “I think last season he had a problem with his body”. Doctors, consider yourselves usurped. The man’s a genius.
Prepare the champagne!
It’s never anything less than a total and utter joy to hear from a member of the growing Interestment family, and today we welcome back Eliot – a magnificent football writer with a busy, whirring mind. He had this to say about the looming Premier League season…
The new season. All that sweat and hard labour for busy footballers who really don’t have the time for it all. The cost to supporters of nine months travel up and down the country. All those Saturday night television hours that could be put to better use with shows such as Hole in the Wall. They might as well call the whole thing off – we here at Interestment know how it will finish anyway.
League Table 2010 (in 10 words)
The best team last year will have learnt from mistakes.
Arshavin Arshavin Arshavin Arshavin. You get the idea with that.
3. Manchester United
16 single-goal wins last season. 18 goals lost to Real.
Mourinho only Premiership winner on debut. Ancelotti not as special.
Moyes’s twelve month audition for the Utd job. Added incentive.
6. Manchester City
How many of the newbies would start for Manchester United?
7. Aston Villa
Captain retired. Vice-captain gone too. Best chance in the cups.
8. Tottenham Hostpur
Huntelaar, Young, Vieira all targeted. Sheffield United players arrived instead.
Thin squad may suffer from a lengthy Europa League run.
10. Blackburn Rovers
1.3 point average under Allardyce in 08/09. Enough for mid-table.
11. Bolton Wanderers
If Elmander settles, Bolton’s frontmen will ensure another decent season.
12. West Ham United
Defend well unlike many teams around them. Clarke’s influence critical.
Darren Bent scores goals wherever he goes. Money well spent.
Strong Cup showings last season against Premiership opposition bodes well.
15. Birmingham City
Will benefit from one of the weakest Premier Leagues ever.
16. Stoke City
Second season syndrome a factor but should still have enough.
17. Wigan Athletic
Lost many good players. Martinez should just keep them up.
Disarray defined as Portsmouth in the Oxford Dictionary. 09/10’s Toon.
19. Wolverhampton Wanderers
No Premiership experience. Experience of Premiership relegation doesn’t really count.
20. Hull City
The surprise factor well and truly departed. Down by Easter.
And by Window we mean Transfer Window…
It’s never anything less than a privilege to hear from a member of the expanding Interestment team, and today Eliot – a football expert with a sharp wit – has taken time out to look at the buying and selling of footballers like they were go-go dancers auditioning for a man called Big Tony. Today, he’s concerned with the people of Arsenal…
What they need
For starters, a goalkeeper who doesn’t go missing in big games. Manuel Almunia had a strong season, but threw much of his good work away in the second leg of the Champions League semi against United. Not only this, but Almunia hasn’t played a match in May since 2006, suggesting when it comes to the business end of the season, he doesn’t get too busy.
If one believe the rumours that Peter Mandelson proved an effective peace-maker between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown over 10 years of government, it may also be worth bringing him in to work with William Gallas and Kolo Toure (pictured), two fine defenders who not only fail to communicate on the pitch, but also off it. If Mandy is busy (and lets face it, at the moment he probably is), a proper centre back may be of use to Arsene. But he knows after all, so let us leave this bit to him.
Who they don’t need
Although there have been occasions when Mikael Silvestre has successfully pulled off his impression of a Premier League footballer, it has certainly been a while. Tomas Rosicky has also been pulling a fast one over the past twelve months, using the club’s health facilities like a cheeky tourist uses a hotel swimming pool, without ever booking themselves in as a guest. £25m for Fabregas may be worth taking too, although there won’t be as many buyers as there would have been twelve months ago.
Don’t mention: Summer 2001
The last summer when Wenger really got his trousers off and his chequebook out. In came Gio van Bronckhurst, Francis Jeffers and Richard Wright for around £25m all in. Impatient Gooners – be careful what you wish for.
Inevitably linked with
Anyone playing in France of African descent. Kolo Toure’s brother Yaya. Any footballer under 16.
Any other business
Might be an idea for Arsene to have a rejiggle in his medical team. Not since Harold Shipman was roaming the streets of Manchester, has a medic produced such a detrimental impact on the human condition. At Arsenal, a player leaves the field with a bruise on his chest and within a week, Arsene rules him out for three months due to an impending triple bypass.
Yes, this is one of them…
As ever, it’s with a great big cheer and a shot of the strong stuff that we welcome Eliot back to the Interestment fold – he’s got a gigantic brain stuffed to the brim with news and opinions about sport. He had this to say about his top ten people made famous by the year in football…
1. Tom Henning Ovrebo
One minute you have a meagre three line entry on Wikipedia, the next you are responsible for the worst swearing on ITV since Gordon Ramsay ceased his tiresome and rather blue, attention-seeking routine. Ovrebro certainly didnt have the Semi Final second leg between Chelsea and Barca under control, but that was no excuse for the sanctimonious outburst from Jamie Redknapp in the Sky studio post-match. Fuming that dear cousin Frank would miss out on yet another ill-deserved medal, Redknapp railed against the craziness of UEFA in allowing someone from little old Norway to officiate in such a big match. Much better allow an Italian. Roberto Rosetti perhaps, whose ludicrous sending off of Darren Fletcher cost Manchester United a ball-winning midfielder in the final, and possibly the trophy itself.
2. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Not as easy on the tongue as previous owner Franny Lee, and no less easier on the human rights abuses than previous incumbent Thaksin Shinawatra either. But this is the football world we live in today, a mad world where a man with a towel on his head is hailed as a Messiah (a concept he wouldn’t believe in) and whom one of the club’s centre half (Tal Ben-Haim) would be banned from visiting at home due to his nationality. Take a glance out the window to your left, and that would be the recently defenstrated ethics in football flying past.
3. Federico Macheda
Such is the hype and comprehensive coverage of football these days, it is rare a player that nobody has heard of makes a name for himself in a big fixture. With reserve team football live on television and even Youth Cup Final rights battled over by Sky/Setanta, players tend to emerge onto the stage fully born, with the football pitch being more reminiscent of pantomine (“I’ve seen him in something else”) than an obscure production of Midsummer Night’s Dream at a provincial theatre in Somerset (“I’ve never seen this Bottom before”) Joe Cole, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen were all new Gazzas whilst barely out of school, and Arsene Wenger uses the Carling Cup to saucily hitch up the skirt and give us a flash of his next generation. So although he scored a goal in the most commercial league in the most commerical arena, in a minute of injury time that existed purely in the mind of Mike Riley, there was something beautiful about Macheda sending Luke Young the wrong way, and curling the ball past Brad Friedel. That goal meant the title was heading back to Old Trafford, and the banner on the Stretford End will now read Twenty Years and Waiting from August.
4. Brede Hangeland
Although he signed for Fulham last January, it arguably wasnt until the 1-0 home victory against Arsenal in August, that Brede Hangelandshot to national prominence. Having scored the winner in a Man of the Match display, short of lining up the post-match roast, there is very little extra a modern day footballer can do in a game. It’s easy to laugh at Roy Hodgson – although Jonathan Ross arguably owes his career to the bloke whose lisp he has aped all these years – but his itinerant time in management has certainly paid off. At Viking FK he first coached Hangeland, and ultimately signed him for Fulham. At Inter Milan, he won the UEFA Cup. As manager of the United Arab Emirates, he made a lot of money. Trophies, knowledge and hard shekels – Roy Hodgson, Interestment salutes you.
5. Dan Gosling
It was a cold February night, a cracking cup-tie between the fiercest of rivals on Merseyside, set for penalties with just seconds on the clock. Then a ball over… the tic tacs are a refreshing sweet, suprisingly low in calories and perfect for refreshing… and jubilant scenes around Goodison.
6. Amir Zaki
Egyptian centre forwards – occasionally brilliant, frequently temperamental, but every so often struggle with the concept of stepping on a plane marked for Heathrow. Amir Zaki certainly isnt one to rebuff a streotype, starting brilliantly with that goal at Anfield – a goal so good that we all questioned our very existence in its aftermath – before spending much of the winter sulking, eventually vanishing home. Yet there can be no doubt Zaki is a decent player, and it will be interesting to see whether Steve Bruce, who played such a part in the Egyptian’s falling out with Wigan, attempts to sign him up top for Sunderland. If Amir thought living in Wigan was a long way from Cairo….
7. Charles Insomnia
A man we still wouldn’t have heard of were it not for Joe F*Kin’near’s tremendous Wordsworthesque pun, describing his winger Charles N’Zogbia in terms symptomatic of his tiresome whinging. Back in the 90s, when Kinnear was last managing a club in the top 6 of the Premier League, it was appropriate to mock foriegners with exotic names. Those days, alas, are no more, despite rumours of keeper Georg Koch signing for Hull City. So who was the eventual winner in this tiff? Well, Kinnear ended up with a triple bypass, N’Zogbia ended up at Wigan Athletic. Lets call that a no-score draw shall we?
8. Sandra Redknapp
Given young Jamie’s domestic bliss, it is hard to imagine Harry not enjoying a similar status – lovely palatial gaff, a couple of top top ornaments, and a cracking wife. Alas Harry revealed earlier in the season that his wife is in fact adroit in the air at the far post, as following Darren Bent’s lamentable miss in the match against Portsmouth, he claimed spouse Sandra (above, left) would have put it away. We now imagine Sandra as a Peter Withe figure, irrepressible from a decent cross with a large sweatband around her prominent bonce.
Redknapp is often hailed as the archetypal hand-round-the-shoulder man manager. Quite how Darren Bent felt after this snide cheapshot is perhaps best left unsaid. Top, top stuff Harry.
9. Ched Evans
Not since Anna Friel’s lesbian kiss on Brookside has there been such a storm over a sex act on primetime television. Michael Essien’s “raping” of young Man City striker Ched Evans caused such a furore, that one half-expected a re-enactment on Crimewatch the following evening. As it was, all we got was a remorseful Alan Pardew, a man who allegedly once shared a bellydancer with Xabi Alonso. More than that, however, we were worthy of a tremendous insight into the common football vernacular, with the training ground perhaps the last bastion of political incorrectness in the workplace.
10. Susan Boyle
Well everyone else has jumped on the bandwagon so we might as well. And it’s not as if all this attention is doing her any harm….
Even this man was too old…
Did anyone see Arsenal at the weekend? Wow. The average age of the team was something like 14, and yet they still managed to win. Win real good. Of course, it’s nothing new for young footballers to destroy older teams, just visit a park on any given weekend and you’ll spot decrepit alcoholics getting hammered ten-nil by teenage glue sniffers – with their hooded tops, and their crunk music. Still, we thought it high time to compile the greatest young England team ever…
Goalkeeper, Peter Shilton, 21 years old (1970)
In goalkeeping terms, 21 is literally embryonic. Yet, that was Shilts back in 1970 when he first pulled on an England shirt. Young, dumb, and full of enthusiasm. He did, of course, go on to afro wigs, and allowing Maradona to humiliate him. Twice.
Right Back, Micah Richards, 18 years old (2006)
What’s happened to Micah Richards? Just a couple of years ago he was the teen sensation galloping up the right hand side like a maniac. We thought he was the new Jesus Christ. Now he’s just some grumpy old soothsayer going around Manchester shouting at people. At just 20.
Centre Back, Jonathan Woodgate, 19 years old (1999)
Just before he decided to dabble in race hate, Woodgate looked like a shoo-in for the England defence for years to come. But he didn’t – he went loco, then got mangled, then he upped and left to Real Madrid to concentrate on growing his hair. Now he’s back in Blighty with Spurs, and when he’s not sobbing in sick bay demanding that Nurse rub some more Deep Heat into his aching groin, he’s still pretty good at football.
Centre Back, Rio Ferdinand, 19 years old (1997)
He’s been around for ages, that Rio Ferdinand, but there was a time when he was just a strange shaven-headed boy from West Ham attempting to make friends with Sol Campbell. Tough gig. He’s since gone on to outshine his former defensive partner, both on the pitch, and when it comes to merking people.
Left Back, Gareth Barry, 19 years old (2000)
It’s easy to forget that before he became the sturdy oak in midfield, Barry was a zippy left back with a strange face – like something from the mind of Edvard Munch. Little Kevin Keegs gave him a run out in 2000, which is enough to keep out Ashley Cole – who, by the way, is a loathesome little oik who once stopped midway through sexual intercourse with a hairdresser to be sick, before carrying on. Behind his wife’s back.
Right Midfield, Theo Walcott, 17 years old (2006)
Everyone went barmy when Walcott kept Defoe out of the 2006 World Cup squad, but now it looks more like a masterstroke. Now shifted out right for the sake of his football education, he still has the face of a confused 7-year-old French exchange student, which is fitting, because he looks all set to morph into England’s version of France’s Thierry Henry.
Centre Midfield, Joe Cole, 19 years old (2001)
For so long, little Joe Cole was the New Gazza, with his zany box of tricks and cheeky little face. Of course, becoming the New Gazza is getting less and less appealing these days. He just looks so thin. Becoming the new Joe Cole on the other hand…
Centre Midfield, Steven Gerrard, 20 years old (2000)
The old man of the team, Gerrard made his England debut one whole day after his 20th birthday. As everyone knows, he has since gone on to replace Robbie Fowler as the closest thing Liverpool has to the lord God him/herself. A man never without a curious furrow in his gentle brow.
Left Midfield, Aaron Lennon, 19 years old (2006)
Like Micah Richards, Aaron went a little skewiff after his early England games, zooming down the wing like an angry mouse on a motorbike. He was great. The good news is that he’s starting to resemble that young man once again. The bad news is that he still spends at least two hours every morning carefully applying completely pointless go-faster stripes in his eyebrows. Crazy.
Centre Forward, Wayne Rooney, 17 years old (2003)
Rooney has always been terrifying, but never more so than when he was a 17-year-old former boxer looking for a fight. What a great Euro 2004 he had. It was around that time that he also discovered his lust for old women prostitutes.
Centre Forward, Michael Owen, 18 years old (1998)
To look at Michael Owen now – with his miserable face, his robotronic voice, his Phil Collins CDs – you’d never think that he once lit up the entire planet with his electrifying football. And yet he did. He absolutely did. He was so quick.
These men are small, but effective…
If you think that height equates to success, you’re wrong. Look at Hollywood – Tom Cruise is as small as a pigeon, Al Pacino can go eyeball-to-eyeball with a toddler. The men are literally elves, or hobgoblins if you have to get all politically correct about it. Even Daniel Day Lewis is barely bigger than a packet of cigarettes. And so to the football pitch, where strapping athletes thunder around trying to boot a sphere into an onion bag for points. You’d think that only the biggest would survive, but again, you’re totally wrong. Here’s a team of near-midgets that could literally thrash anyone…
Goalkeeper, Rene Higuita, Colombia
Already a veteran of our Football Haircut XI, Higuita was 5 ft 9 inches, which is unthinkably tiny for a modern goalkeeper. He made up for his lack of height by behaving like a total mentalist.
Right Back, Paul Parker, England
A fantastic little player, Parker was a big hit at Man United until Gary Neville came along with his rat-like face and ruined the party. Still, for a time, this 5 foot 7 inch marvel was the best right back in Blighty.
Centre Back, Roberto Ayala, Argentina
In real life, at 5 foot 9 inches, Roberto wouldn’t attract the baffled stares of tactless children. But on a football pitch, faced with towering strikers, he had the look of a terrier yapping at a lamp post.
Centre Back, Fabio Cannavaro, Italy
Like Ayala, Cannavaro isn’t absurdly short for a human being – at 5 foot 9 inches – but in central defender terms, he’s a dwarf. Or even a baby dwarf. Once crowned World Player of The Year.
Left Back, Roberto Carlos, Brazil
Roberto, for those who remember, is the zippy defender who once scored a curling free kick that he’s spent the rest of his career attempting to repeat. It was astonishing. Especially to those watching from the cheap seats at the back, wondering how a 5 foot 6 inch munchkin could play to such a high level.
Right Wing, Lionel Messi, Argentina
Like so many geniuses (or geniae?), Lionel was told when he was a child that he would never be any good at football, because his growth hormones were all buggered, and he’d be too small. Now he’s the best player in the world, and stands at a whopping 5 foot 7 inches. Take that, science!
Centre Midfield, Edgar Davids, Holland
Not only did Davids – a fearsome midfielder – have magnificent hair, but he also wore shades to play football. Not, unfortunately, because he was cool. It was his glaucoma playing up. At the height of his playing career, he stood 5 foot 7 inches tall in studs.
Centre Midfield, Claude Makelele, France
To hear people talk of his dominance as a holding midfielder, you’d think that Makelele was a giant barking hound protecting the gates of Hell. Not a dinky little French guy – 5 foot 7 inches – with a supermodel girlfriend. As is the reality.
Left Wing, Andrei Arshavin, Russia
Arsenal’s latest import looks like a fantastic buy, and with his flair for fashion design, he should be right at home in North London. At 5 foot 7 inches tall, he makes up the remainder of this tiny little midfield quartet.
Striker, Kenny Dalglish, Scotland
It was a close call for the second striker spot, with Romario, Zola, Kevin Keegan and Peter Beardsley all just missing out. That’s because, at 5 foot 8 inches, Dalglish qualifies as a relatively short striker, and they don’t come much better. A brilliant player.
Striker, Diego Maradona, Argentina
Simply put, Maradona is the greatest footballer there has ever been, and that is unlikely to change any time soon. Before he went on to bloated bellies and swollen nostrils, he was literally the best thing on the planet – at just 5 foot 5 inches tall to boot.
No room for certain ladies…
It is with absolute joy that we welcome Eliot, fantastic writer of sport, back from his holiday and straight into the Interestment fold. With so much to play for between Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal, he thought he’d have a go at compiling the best combo team imaginable. He had this to say…
Goalkeeper, Pepe Reina, Liverpool
Although Edwin van der Sar could have grown a beard to rival W.G. Grace in that long hiatus he had between having to pick the ball out of the net earlier this year, the best goalkeeper in the Top 4 remains Pepe Reina. His qualities are endless – this paragraph luckily isn’t, however, so let’s simply highlight how he is never flustered, how expert he is at saving penalties and also how surprisingly tall he is at 6ft2 (which itself reminds us of the golden rule that bald goalkeepers always look small; Barthez, de Goey and now Reina – all 6ft+, all looked like Borrowers in the goal.) Reina just pips Manuel Almunia, one reason being that with the imminent release of the Sacha Baron Cohen film Bruno, you will be more than fed up of Bruno/Almunia lookalikes pinging their way to your inbox. So Manuel will get his turn in the spotlight shortly. Reina’s turn first.
Right Back, Rafael da Silva, Man United
On the basis that members of the PFA fill in their voting slips between breaks filling in Danielle Lloyd, it is a tribute to the ability of the young full back that said footballers could be bothered to write such a lengthy name on the form in such a short space of time. Rafael, whose younger brother Fabio is rumoured to be “even better” – yawn – came to prominence in the Carling Cup. No really. The highlight of his season was this dipping volley at the Emirates, albeit in a losing cause.
Left Back, Fabio Aurelio, Liverpool
The second Samba selection, proving that Brazilians really do produce the best full backs, although whether full backs produce the best Brazilians is a question best left rhetorical. Having mooched around Anfield unnoticed for the past three years, perhaps offering the odd biscuit to Robbie Keane, Aurelio looked all set to add his name to an already lengthy list of Benitez full back shame, including such memorable characters as Josemi and Kromkamp. Yet the free kick at Old Trafford was merely indicative of the former Valencia man finally getting into the swing of it all, and his crossing has managed to make redundant the absence of Steve Finnan’s deadly balls into the box.
Centre Back, Rio Ferdinand, Man United
Whilst the great and the good of the punditocracy (not you Shearer) ponder the reason for United’s recent defensive frailty (is it the keeper? Is it the lack of a defensive screen blah blah?), us mere mortals prefer instead to point out the absence of England’s best defender since Bobby Moore. Rio has come a long way since filming Kieron Dyer slapping his manhood on a woman’s head in Ibiza. For Kieron Dyer however, that was as good as it got.
Centre Back, Nemanja Vidic, Man United
A tougher call this, as Gallas, Martin Hurt-all and Alex have all stood out at the back for their respective clubs this season. Yet Nemanja just edges it, playing the more rugged Danni to Rio’s stylish Kylie. Shoo-in for PFA Footballer of the Year, and a rare popular Eastern European immigrant.
Right Midfield, Dirk Kuyt, Liverpool
Kuyt’s transition from workhorse, goal-shy fish out of water to workhorse, goal-shy fish out of water has not gone unnoticed this season. Yet all of a sudden, in a season of unrelenting mediocrity from the Top Four, the striker who scores no goals has become the connoisseurs’ (not you Shearer) must-have item. All of which leaves just one question – why the long face Dirk?
Left Midfield, Cristiano Ronaldo, Man United
Whilst he has failed to hit the heights of the past two years (probably deliberately in an attempt to lower his valuation within the range of Real Madrid), Ronaldo has still scored more goals than anyone else in the Premier League. If he hadn’t scaled such vertiginous summits in 08, the spectre of a midfielder topping the scoring charts would have us all giddy, fanning ourselves whilst a dashing gentleman pulls up a conveniently placed chair. Yet we take him for granted, and as such, our league will feel as empty as Damien McBride’s inbox next season when He heads to Madrid. Although probably not as empty as our summers will feel, having to read about that transfer every day. Again.
Centre Midfield, Michael Essien, Chelsea
So good they gave him two nicknames. The Bison may not have played a match until March but he returned just in time to steal (at Anfield appropriately enough) the crown of World’s Best Midfielder off the head of Steven Gerrard, and place it onto his own sweat-drenched brow. One suspects The Train will be pulling into Rome on May 27th, although planned engineering works loom in the shape of Messi, Henry and co in the semi final. Useless fact alert – Essien claims to sleep 15 hours a day – the perfect rejoinder for teenagers across the land still enjoying a lie-in.
Centre Midfield, Javier Mascherano, Liverpool
Its bizarre to think that Mascherano couldn’t replace Hayden Mullins in the West Ham first team just two short years ago. It equally too serves as an indictment on coach Alan Pardew, a man who had the initials AP sowed into the seating of his Ferrari, but couldn’t get this Rolls Royce of a footballer purring. In other Pardew/Liverpool midfielder-related news, the former Charlton gaffer had a falling out with Xabi Alonso, as they were both contemporaneously enjoying the pleasures of an exotic dancer on Merseyside. Allegedly.
ITH, Steven Gerrard, Liverpool
In The Hole of course, that imaginary piece of terrain usually host to a wily, albeit slightly chubby continental. Over the last eight months, Gerrard has shown the added bonus of having an athlete in that position, his link-up play with Torres the calling card of Liverpool’s victories this season. Such performances have even induced the reticent Rafa to reluctantly describe him through gritted teeth whilst frowning as the best player in the world. Just don’t play Phil Collins in his presence, whatever you do.
Striker, Robin van Persie, Arsenal
Included ahead of Anelka and Torres as otherwise this would be a Top 3 team only and Mr Interestment would duly sack me. Van Persie suffers more cuts than Bank of England interest rates yet keeps coming back from his injury breaks as good as ever, banging in both goals and assists in an otherwise impotent Arsenal attack. In the unlikely event Aston Villa pip Arsenal to 4th spot, take out RVP and slot in John Carew, the best target man in the country. I think that has covered all bases, pesky Everton aside.
Football by day, glamourous frock maker by night
Football and fashion have always maintained an awkward relationship. For every stylish gesture from players like Becksie, Cisse, and The Redknapp Family, you get Paul Scholes wearing a jumper from Millets, or Jamie Carragher in his training kit at a Royal Gala event. It’s totally confused, so thank goodness for the arrival of Andrei Arshavin, Arsenal’s newest signing. The word on the street is that the Russian isn’t just a fantastic football player, he’s also an absolutely excellent fashion designer, having studied frocks and cocktail dresses at university. So expect to see Wenger, Fabregas and the rest of the guys kitted out in fine silk scarves and winkle pickers before the season is out. Chelsea FC, it’s time to up your fashion game. That means you Lampsie, you JT, you Drog Drog, you The Cole Sisters, you Dexy, you Nelksie Face etc…
Thierry Henry, footballer
Some things are just meant to be.