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.
Not just any old window, a Transfer Window!
It’s always with a massive wave of total ecstasy that we hear from a member of the growing Interestment family, so we were overjoyed to receive more fine words from Eliot – a young man, with a throbbing football mind, and an eye for the ridiculous. He had this to say about the gentle people of Aston Villa…
What they need
Brad Friedel wrote in his recent autobiography Thinking Outside the Box, that his 1995 move to Galatasary was in part made more attractive by his fondness for Ottoman history (pictured). Whilst it is unlikely former Villa man Milan Baros’s move to Gala was inspired by similar motivations, there can be no question that Friedel’s form over the final few months of 08/09, means he could be history himself pretty soon. In front of him, Villa need a fit Freddy Bouma.
Who they don’t need
The temptation for O’Neill to simply replace the Gareth Barry shaped hole with Steve Sidwell (as was seemingly the plan last summer) must be resisted. With LDV heading down the plughole, Midlands unemployment is heady enough as it is, but there will be few complaints if O’Neill adds Marlon Harewood, Emile Heskey and Zat Knight to the list.
January Window 09: With Villa heading into the new year, their lead on Arsenal was only growing, convincing many of the punditocracy that this would be the year where one of the top four would be usurped. Villa signed Emile Heskey in the January window, Arsenal nabbed Arshavin in the mid-February one. And that was the difference.
Inevitably linked with
Michael Owen (to play alongside Heskey.) Anyone English but not quite good enough for the national team. Steve Guppy.
Any other business
The skipper has retired, the vice captain has effectively retired by opting to see out his playing days on the Manchester City bench. Leadership urgently needed on the field at Villa Park.
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.
No room for these particular lookalikes…
Some people literally spend their entire lives staring thoughtfully at pictures of Phil Neville or Wayne Rooney, pondering which particular screen monster they should lump them alongside this time. It’s a great way of becoming a popular face in football circles – a finely judged facial observation about Michael Ballack can diffuse fights in pubs, start chit chat that eventually leads to sex with hairdressers, or simply make your mates laugh until they vomit Becks Vier all over the pavement. With that in mind, we thought we’d compile our own well-observed team of football lookalikes… sick bags ready, people.
Goalkeeper, David James
Once he decides to hang up his slippery gloves, David James presumably has a second career lined up as an underpants model. He’s spent years sculpting a body that would tighten Michelangelo’s loin cloth, and above is his lookalike, also called David. Big hands. Very big hands.
Right Back, Gary Neville
Fans of The Wire or Generation Kill might have noticed the above Gary Neville-alike. He’s called James Ransone, and, like young Gary, he tends to play psychotics.
Centre Back, Jonathan Woodgate
Brilliantly, we’ve decided that Jonathan Woodgate is a bit like a mummy, because he’s sometimes got a bandage on his leg. Hilarious.
Centre Back, Olof Melberg
We’ve deemed the legendary maniac Charles Manson to be the 1960s cult leader equivalent of the defender Olof Melberg. Both seem to share a similar steely hollowness in the eye, and, yes, beards.
Left Back, Ashley Cole
This might be a little harsh on Osama, but both men really are quite unpopular with the fans. Bin Laden for the whole international terrorism thing, Cole for steamrollering a hairdresser behind his wife’s back, pausing mid-coitus to spew, then carrying on. Rancid.
Right Midfield, David Beckham
Above football, Beckham prides himself on having fantastic hair and in his armory is a finely tuned smoulder that he pulls out of the bag during photo shoots. Not unlike a certain Fabio (above).
Centre Midfield, Joey Barton
Once in a while, a character will return to a soap, but played by a different actor. Needless to say, the hardcore viewers go mental. However, were Martin Fowler to trundle back to Albert Square, played by Merseyside’s favourite son Joey Barton, literally no one would notice. Until he nutted Dot for fluffing a line.
Centre Midfield, Frank Lampard
Never anything less than well turned out, Lampsie totters around a football pitch like a poodle walking into an exclusive dogs-only drinks party.
Left Midfield, Ronaldinho
Lots of people laugh about how Ronaldinho looks a bit like Jar Jar Binks, and how he could probably eat a grapefruit through a slot machine, but we tend to think of him as the exact mirror reflection of Chris Rock in the hilarious hip hop spoof, CB4.
Centre Forward, Carlos Tevez
Up front, Tevez just nudges out his team mate Wayne Rooney, thanks to his startling resemblance to the handsome young actor who plays Ugly Betty in the sitcom Ugly Betty.
Centre Forward, Peter Crouch
Stop a frightened old man in the street and demand that he describes Peter Crouch in three words, and he will definitely say Tall, Hapless, and Louche. Exactly the same three he used to describe Lurch from The Addams Family a week ago.
Not including this maniac…
With usual writer of excellent sporting insight, Eliot, away on holiday, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to honour some footballers. But rather than concentrate on the current crop – with their big watches and expensive club memberships – we thought we’d shine a spotlight on the warriors of old. Focusing mainly on their lovely hairstyles.
Hence, football’s greatest Haircut XI reads thusly…
Goalkeeper, Rene Higuita
The handsome Columbian goalie is just as famous for his great saves as he is for his gorgeous dark curly hair. The kind you could lose a stroking hand in.
Right Back, Sergio Ramos
An incredible lover of women, Ramos is famous in Spain for his prolific sex life. And is it any wonder when he has a brilliant Rachel Cut?
Centre Back, Barry Venison
Before he became a serious pundit with a normal hairstyle, Venison used to adopt womanly cuts to fool opposition attackers into thinking he might be a walkover. More fool them.
Centre Back, Des Walker
One of the first footballers to steal heavily from hip hop stylings, Des went for a flat top with an interesting kink in it.
Left Back, Alexi Lalas
Probably the most famous American footballer, he was relatively good in defence, but even better when it came to maintaining complicated hair and a manly beard. Solid.
Right Midfield, Tony Daley
This guy was like grease lightening, and just edges out Beckham, thanks to his classic toupee look.
Centre Midfield, Carlos Valderrama
The reigning champion of football haircuts, Valderrama captains the side, with his glorious My Little Pony mane. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
Centre Midfield, Bobby Charlton
It’s easy to forget that footballers didn’t used to be totally vain. Bobby is here to remind us of that with his strange, elderly gentleman hair.
Left Midfield, Chris Waddle
The only thing more striking and elusive than Chris’ football skills was his actual hair. Sometimes excellent, often weird, it drew the crowds.
Centre Forward, Ruud Gullit
Gullit could play pretty much anywhere on the pitch, he was totally brilliant. His trademark locks were universally applauded as well.
Centre Forward, Kevin Keegan
It was never in doubt, Keegan was always going to lead the line. A small, strange man, he made up for his lack of natural talent by working very very hard, and striding into a local barbers and demanding something a little bit permed and unusual.
Dayward, Ice Cream
At 38, Stan Collymore should still be playing professional football for England, but instead he’s living it up as a pundit, and today he’s celebrating his birthday. As ever, a bloodbath ensued when presents were mentioned, one half violently protesting in favour of an excellent new song from Bristol, while the other half became hysterical, screaming something about a twenty pound book token. In the end, a truce was called, and we got him both. Happy Birthday Stan!