Including much news about this man…
It fills our hearts with a warm sense of euphoria whenever we recruit a new member to the growing Interestment family, and today we doff a big hat to Norm – a funny gentleman, with a passion for sport and girls. After much tinkering and a lot of thought he decided that these are his favourite four online football related websites. He had this to say…
Being a red-blooded man, I like nothing more than sitting in a darkened room with my top off, baby-oiled up, watching twenty-two gentlemen rushing around, hoofing a large onion, and swearing at each other. Hence, I am at my most furious when I realise I have missed an epic contest between these handsome and humble warriors. So when I stumbled upon this site, I wept sweet (yet salty) tears of joy. It lists all the Footy available on the telly including the legendary Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and even, wait for it, Women’s Football! Whoever heard of such a thing?
2. The Spoiler
Gone are the days when football took 90 minutes, then stayed on the pitch – it’s now an ongoing saga, both on and off the pitch, and this is the perfect football soap opera site. It’s crammed with hush-hush news from behind the scenes about exactly what the players get up to on their days off, important Ledley King nightclubbing information (pictured), and yes, quite an array of stories regarding Cristiano Ronaldo’s intriguing sexual preferences. Perfect for filling in the gaps once you’re bored to the point of hysterical violence by the sound of Alan Shearer’s brainless droning. Great stuff.
3. WAG Rankings
When the mood is right and the lights are low, I like nothing more than peering inquisitively at the female finery that the good lord has scattered on footballer’s wives and girlfriends, including the likes of Abbey Clancy (pictured). The pedants amongst you may arch an eyebrow and flair the odd nostril, wondering what this has to do with sport. But it has EVERYTHING to do with sport. These pretty young damsels keep footballers happy in the bedroom, and as the old saying goes, “a happy footballer is worth three Anelkas”.
I often have moments of madness. Once I mixed together two flavours of Pot Noodle and ate it from a plate. I’m pretty wild. But crazy as that moment was, even that pales into insignificance when compared to the savagery on display here on the popular do-it-yourself television site, Youtube. Men taking leave of their senses and going proper “Croydon”: check. Over-the-top karate kicks: check. Roy Keane rearranging someone’s leg: check.
No, not that kind of window, old chap, the Transfer Window!
It’s with the usual mug of the hot stuff and total elation that we big good morning to our excellent football writer Eliot. Today, it’s all about those crazy Man United guys…
What they need
More than one would first think actually. Despite being reigning champions, the ’09 title owed more to winter deficiencies at Anfield, than a particularly special United team. Just four wins from twelve league matches against the six clubs closest to them in the table, a remarkable hiding at home to Liverpool, and an equally ego-shredding final against Barca tell a more accurate story. A striker to replace Angel from Big Brother would be a start, but it is in midifeld where one feels Fergie is yet to find the right balance. If as looks likely, Wayne Rooney will play in a more central capacity next season, United, a team notorious over the past two decades for their rampant wing play, will look severely deficient in that area. The glory days of Sharpe, Giggs, Kanchelsklis, Ronaldo et al will seem a fair distance ago.
Who they don’t need
Sulking, energy-efficient strutting around the field is very 1990s. Dimitar Berbatov scored just two winning goals last season, and most of his champagne moments tended to come in situations where United were already comfortable, against a poor side.
Real Madrid. Despite promising United fans last summer that he wouldn’t “sell them a virus”, Fergie ended up selling them something much worse in Cristiano Ronaldo. In the aftermath of a humiliating Champions League Final, the score is very much La Liga 2 United 0.
Inevitably linked with
Karim Benzema. Franck Ribery. Clayton Blackmore.
Any other business
Rio‘s back. Or is he? United’s most critical player struggled through the closing stages of last season, and was a shadow of his true self against Barca. If his spinal situation fails to clear, it won’t take long before the world realises that it is he, and not Ronaldo, who is United’s most valuable player.
Not this kind of window, silly, the Transfer Window!
As ever, it’s with total glee that we welcome the words of Eliot – an excellent sharp minded football writer – to the Interestment fold. Today he’s talking about Chelsea…
What they need
Had Petr Cech played the entire season in a mask (to match his helmet) with a different name on the back of his shirt, general opinion would be that Chelsea’s new keeper had produced a decent debut season. Yet Cech was the best goalkeeper in the world before he had his head punctured, and as such, is judged to higher standards. Nagging doubts persist and Ancelotti’s first task could be to find a new numero uno.
Who they don’t need
With Deco on the way out, that still leaves Michael Ballack collecting money for jam, and whose most energetic performance of the season was conserved for harrassing a referee. Ballack at Chelsea remains the opposite of irreplaceable.
Man City. In the good old days, they used to close the sweet shop to the general public when Roman entered. Abramovic could pick and choose players as he wished. Yet a new man has since moved in, wealtheir than Roman, and Chelsea are now left with the baffling proposition, that they can only sign those players who Manchester City don’t fancy,
Inevitably linked with
Ageing Italians. David Beckham (from December onwards). International superstars (not good enough for Man City.)
Any other business
With Ronaldo gone, the stiff contest for Premier League‘s leading irritating foreigners will be led by Didier Drogba. His last major contribution of the season was a classic header in the Cup Final, his contribution before that however was the flip-flop tantrum versus Barca. Its the former that makes Blues fans put up with the latter – his first three months may set the tone for the entire Ancelotti era.
Not including this man…
It’s a double whammy of excellent football writing today, as the newest member of the Interestment family, Rory – a fantastic writer with a hard line in the funny stuff – has turned his wonderful magnifying glass on the murky waters of football behind-the-scenes business. He had this to say…
What will you miss most about Ronaldo, now that he’s off to live in Madrid? His outrageous footballing skill perhaps? His perfectly waxed chest? Maybe, you’re just relieved to be seeing the back of the his oversized adam’s apple. Whatever your take, you’re probably just happy the whole sorry saga is over. To celebrate, we thought we’d cast our minds back to four infinitely more amusing transfer stories. Enjoy…
1. Ali Dia, Blyth Spartans to Southampton, 1996
It’s hard to know who to feel more sorry for in this sorry mess. In 1996, Graeme Souness receieved a call from someone purporting to be the cousin of former footballer of the year, George Weah. “I’m really good too, you should sign me” was the gist of the chat. Graeme, being the trusting and friendly soul that he is, immediately agreed. Then, having barely seen him train, Souness named Dia as one of the substitutes in Southampton’s next game against Leeds. In the 32nd minute, he came on to replace Matt Le Tissier. After a few minutes of play, the full horror of the situation began to dawn on everyone watching. Was he the worst player ever to pull on a Saints shirt? Had he ever even played football before? It seemed all that was missing was a pair of oversized flapping shoes and twirly bow tie. 14 minutes later, his Southampton career was over, Souness substituting the substitute (and probably doing a little cry inside as he wondered how he’d allowed somehow to expose his thundering stupidity so cruelly). Dia returned to the club on Sunday for physio, but that was the last anyone ever saw of him – he reportedly went on to study business at Northumbria University. Souness banned anyone at the club from ever mentioning the incident again.
2. Robbie Savage, Birmingham to Blackburn, 2005
The very fact that mighty Manchester United once signed football’s most hated man is amusing enough. But the real comedy was to come much later in his career when Goldilocks, with his eye on a move to Blackburn, requested a transfer out of Birmingham. The reason Savage gave for forcing through the transfer was that he wanted to be closer to his parents in Wrexham. Obviously he hadn’t bothered to do his research on the AA Route Planner – if he had, he would have found that he was in line to save precisely five minutes on his journey. That’s 300 whole seconds to play with. Think of what you could with all that extra time. Presumably he settled on watching this clip 50 times.
3. Ronnie O’Brien, Middlesbrough to Juventus, 1999
Ronnie O’Brien is one of those footballers who must look back over his career and wonder how he kept fooling everyone. After impressing with the Irish Under 18’s, he was signed by Middlesbrough in 1998. There he found himself a charge of the Worst Football Manager In History TM, Bryan Robson. Amazingly, however, even old dead-behind-the-eyes Robbo knew a turkey when he saw one and quickly dumped Ron in the reserves. Presumably he thought someone like Dagenham & Redbridge or Altrincham might step in and take him off his hands. So imagine everyone’s surprise when Juventus came calling. To this day, no-one’s sure what prompted their interest, but it took them about a day to realise they’d got it wrong and farmed their new charge out on loan to Crotone, Lugano and Lecco (and no, we’re not making these names up). Not long after, Ron found himself playing his way round different MLS teams, and now qualifies for the US team.
4. Kenneth Kristensen, Vindbjart to Floey, 2002
Meet the man who’s quite literally worth his weight in… prawns. After finding himself in hot demand in the Norwegian third division, it was left to two footballing giants to fight out it out over big Ken. Floey finally got their man when they agreed to part with 75kg of shrimps. They even had a boxing style weigh-in just to make sure everything was legit and above board.
Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi
It’s easy for Enrique Iglesias – who turns 34 today – he already knows that he’s the best at what he does. Literally, there isn’t another sultry thirty-something Latin guy out there who can melt hearts and ignite minds quite like he can. Yes, there’s Ricky Martin who can ignite the minds, and the guy married to J.Lopez who can melt the hearts, but no one can do both, not like Enrique can. Not like Enrique can. Anyway, that aside, we thought we’d buy the man a gift, so we sat on opposite sides of a wooden table smashing back tiny shots of the good stuff, biting limes and licking salt, shouting ideas with increasing levels of aggression. It boiled down to a toss up between a hilarious Daffy Duck cheque book – they’re not real cheques! – or a video clip debating the worth of Cristiano Ronaldo against that of Lionel Messi. In the end we got him both. Happy Birthday Iglesias!
No room for Mr Topless…
It’s always magnificent to hear from a member of the fine Interestment family, and today Eliot – a keen wit, with an eye for sports – has turned his arched eyebrow onto the world of football. He had this to say…
Goalkeeper, Gerald Gansterer
All too often these days, a terrible tackle is accompanied by chest-beating apologetics, and the claim from the player, “I played the ball ref”, and from the pundits, “no malice was meant.” Austria remains a no-nonsense sort of place; authoritarian enough to cosy up to Hitler in 1938, but as history has always simply blamed the Germans, the approbation and guilt hasn’t washed it all away yet like their friendly, sausage-loving neighbours. In that spirit, here is the LASK Linz goalkeeper, keeping his eyes firmly on the player, and even waiting until the ball had sailed firmly out of play before assaulting the opposing centre forward. Amazingly, the keeper stayed on the field to face the penalty. Didn’t save it mind. That would have been rubbing it in.
Centre Back, Phil Jagielka
Here though is a man who does know how to rub it in. Not content with giving away a blatant penalty in the FA Cup Semi Final, an appeal waved away by Mike Riley (why is that expression waved away always used – it makes referees sound awfully camp), old Jags landed the knockout blow in the shoot-out.
Centre Back, Arnaud Le Lan
See Lorik Cana (below) to see why this Lorient full back makes this week’s cut.
Centre Back, Domingos
And see Diego Souza (below) to see why the Santos centre-half has been summoned to this illustrious side.
Right Midfield, Cristiano Ronaldo
Proving casinos in the North aren’t just the preserve of ostentatious, seedy, preeners… oh hang on a sec. Casino 235 in Manchester was the venue for Ronnie to drop over 1k a time on the roulette tables according to yesterday’s Daily Mail. Red or Black Ronaldo? All of which is a nice change from the option of Red or White he will be dithering over quite publicly this Summer.
Centre Midfield, Lorik Cana
Isnt it annoying when a throw-in decision goes against you? Here is Marseille’s Albanian skipper Lorik Cana holding the ball a little too tight, much to the chagrin of Lorient’s le Lan. Incidentally, what is the French word for chagrin? Leave it lads – c’est ridicule apparently (sound required).
Centre Midfield, Frank Lampard
Currently squiring James Blunt’s sister, a lovely looking blonde by the name of Daisy Blount. No – that isn’t yet another typo from the easily distracted Interestment editor, that is genuinely the family surname, which James doctored so he wouldn’t sound silly. Insert punchline of your choice.
According to the august journal that is the Daily Mail, Blount runs Belvedere Properties, a small private concierge business that locates luxurious chalets, villas and boat trips for its wealthy members. Said paper goes on to add unnecessarily, “This enterprise was started by her parents.” Great – can’t think how she managed to land that gig.
Left Midfield, Francis Lee
You know the drill by now kids.
Striker, Diego Souza
And you thought Zinedine Zidane over-reacted to something whispered gently in his ear. Here is some harmless chaos from Palemiras v Santos. Having just come on for the away side, defender Domingos ran straight over to Diego Souza, almost as if his sole purpose for joining the game was to antagonise his compatriot. Souza took the bait and retaliated violently to some obviously choice words.
Having rolled over like he’d been thumped by a London policeman, Domingos continued to attract Souza’s ire even after red cards had been shown, and the frontman eventually broke free of team-mates clutches to re-enter the field and attack Domingos properly this time
Striker, Lauri Dalla Valle
The Liverpool striker may go on to have a long and fruitful career in front of goal, but it is unlikely he will bag a goal as simple as this third in Liverpool’s 3-0 first leg FA Youth Cup semi-final, as Blues keeper Dean Lyness decided to use the first televised match of his life to make the biggest blunder of his career to date. Wikipedia informs us that Dalla Valle’s father was the head of a mushroom company, and perhaps Lyness had been dabbling in a few ‘shrooms prior to kick off.
Striker Dimitar Berbatov
Finally it appears that someone has pointed out the emperor doesn’t have any clothes. Berbatov was a flat-track bully at Spurs – he only scored one goal against clubs in the top half during his first season there – and has now been found out. His style of play is sulky and enigmatic apparently, although I think we all know that if Mr Berbatov was African and played in the same languid way (a la Didier Drogba) these adjectives would soon turn to, disinterested and lazy.
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.
Somehow, no place for this guy…
It’s always a pleasure to bring another keen, lively mind into the Interestment family, so give new boy Eliot a fashionable welcome – paying particular attention to his fizzing wit and football brain. He will be talking through his team of the weekend every single Monday from now until the end of time. Or, indeed, the end of the season. His first eleven looks like this:
Goalkeeper, Shaquille O’Neal
Basketball. One team goes up the school hall and the tall chap places the ball over-aggressively in a hoop. The opposing team does the same. Repeat until adverts. US sports are so tiresome, hence it’s no surprise that Shaq O’Neal celebrates his rather perfunctory penalty save in a manner more befitting Gordon Banks tipping Pele’s header over the bar. Well done Shaq – have a biscuit.
Right Back, Elvis Alves Pereira
Like finding out that not all Frenchmen are great lovers and not all Scousers claim dole, here is a Brazilian shattering some lazy stereotypes by being rubbish at football.
Left Back, Hrvoje Čale
In line with other leagues in Europe which don’t have Manchester United in them, the Turkish league is being led by an unfancied side, the “Black Sea Storm” themselves, Trabzonspor. As part of their all-conquering antics, a different player dances at the end of their side’s league victories, and this week, it was the turn of the young Croatian left-back to lead the way. Ah, that fun-loving Turkish football culture.
Centre-Back, Julien Feret
Here’s the Nancy defender pulling a goal back against PSG. John Terry probably can’t do this. Bloody English clogger defenders put to shame once more by sophisticated ball-playing continental counterparts. Where to guv?
Centre-Back, John Terry
Whats that you say? John Terry volleying in from 25 yards on Saturday? Better than Feret you say? Ah…
Right Midfield, Cristiano Ronaldo
Old Ronnie is a regular in these sort of weekly elevens, and has seen trinklets rain down on him for all manner of ways in which he gets a ball from A to B, despite a wall (let’s call it C) being cunningly placed in his way. But not this week. We at Interestment dont know if Aesop’s Fables ever managed to crack the tough children’s literature market in Portugal but it’s safe to say copies were not so prevalent in the Ronaldo family.
Having spent the best part of six years diving to win penalties, and generally being a wily cheat, Ronaldo’s first ever genuine shout for a spot-kick was waved away on Sunday afternoon by Chris Hoy, who only heard the word “Wolf” whilst around him United players cried “Penalty!!!” As Aesop had already forewarned us all – “Even when liars tell the truth, they are never believed. The liar will lie once, twice, but then perish when he tells the truth.” In other words, Ronaldo should count himself lucky he only got a yellow card.
Centre Midfield, Ricardo Gardner
Gardner would be in Garth Crooks’ team of the week for scoring a lovely winner with only his second touch against Newcastle. He’s in our team of the week for releasing a reggae track under the name “Bibi”. Because, kids, that’s how we roll.
Centre Midfield, El-Hadji Diouf
If you’ve ever wanted to hear a man who has scored in the world cup say, “If I’m not a footballer, I shag your mum every fucking single day,” step this way. That’s all of you then.
Left Midfield, Francis Lee
Thanks to Barry Davies, this man was the first to make the beautiful game interesting.
Striker, Giuseppe Mascara
When the world of online football eventually begins to run out of ideas, websites will produce comedy elevens, such as teams composed of players called Fred, and teams of players who didnt quite make the grade at Portsmouth. Well here’s one for the team of players whose name sounds like make-up, he being Giuseppe Mascara, captured here scoring a screamer for Catania at the weekend. Football365 circa 2011, you can thank us later.
Striker, Gary Hunter
You’re a Morecambe fan who has shlepped to Grimsby, it’s 2-2 on a freezing Tuesday night by the sea. It smells of fish, the people around you smell of fish, you probably smell of fish by now. The wife has left dinner in the oven, which only goes to confirm those suspicions you had about her playing away. But then this happens, and one is reminded why we bother with the fickle mistress that is football. Twiss with the corner, Hunter does the rest.