Tag Archive: Eliot

  • Football Window Watch: Wigan

    No not that kind of window, the Transfer Window

    wigan

    It’s with the usual shot of tequila and morning-after pill that we welcome Eliot this glorious Monday morning. He’s a great writer, here to continue his fantastic Transfer Window series…

    What they need

    cattermole

    Midfield is the area the Latics will have to strengthen this summer. However, the somewhat suprising emergence of Lee Cattermole as a driving force behind England U21s, should provide new boss Roberto Martinez with a huge boost ahead of the new season.

    Who they don’t need

    Michael Brown still sees the shin as an attractive alternative to the ball, so one can’t quite see him fitting into silky, sexy Roberto Martinez’s plans. Daniel de Ridder and Olivier Kapo tend to follow Steve Bruce around, and there will be no tears shed if they pitch up at Sunderland. Mario Melchiot is past his sell-by-date whilst Richard Kingson has done little to undo the stereotypes surrounding African goalkeepers.

    Don’t mention

    Lower league managers. Promoting a boss from the lower divisions does occasionally work and the words David and Moyes will no doubt be used by Dave Whelan to justify the appointment. He won’t mention any of the following; Peter Taylor, Paul Sturrock, Paul Ince or Micky Adams.

    Inevitably linked with

    Swansea players. Obscure Spaniards. Decorative, small playmakers.

    Any other business

    martinez

    Having lost Palacios, Heskey, Zaki and now Valencia, Roberto Martinez‘s job may not be as simple as first appears. Wigan are almost accepted now as a mid-table Premier league team, as for example Charlton were a few years back. The departure of Curbs induced a dangerous spiral. Wigan have to be wary – Premier League security is tough to earn, but so easy to lose.

  • Football Window Watch: West Ham

    No, mate, not that kind of window etc…

    west-ham

    It’s with the usual tiny espresso and gentlemanly cigarette that we bid a fine good morning to Eliot, a fine writer, here to continue his excellent Transfer Window series. Today, the people of West Ham…

    What they need

    neill

    A question that massively hinges upon whom they sell. A right back will be required however, as Lucas Neill has, suprisingly given the circumstances in which he joined the club, failed to notch up his testimonial.

    Who they don’t need

    Luis Boa Morte, another one of Curbs’ iffy January-desperation signings, continues to get stick from West Ham fans, and not just because of his skin colour either. The fact that Nigel Quashie is still a Premier League footballer, despite suffering four Premier League relegations, remains one for Miss Marple to solve.

    Don’t mention

    Ownership. Currently 70% owned by an Icelandic bank Straumur; that this is not considered odd shows how nuts the Premier League is.

    Inevitably linked with

    Italians. Icelandic politicians. Blooding academy talent.

    Any other business

    kieron-dyer

    Kieron Dyer astonishingly turns 31 this season, having clocked up thirteen years as a professional footballer, yet still to make 300 appearances. He is certainly no longer a hot young prospect, nor will he ever regain the lightning accelaration that was once his trademark. Yet an adroit football brain could see Dyer reinvent himself in the ‘Sheringham’ type role; an eye for the killer pass, quick feet in a tight space and an ability to arrive late into the box are all useful attriibutes of a fit, if terminally knackered, Kieron Dyer.

  • Football Window Watch: Tottenham Hotspur

    Not this kind of window, the Transfer Window!

    spurs

    It’s with the usual mug of splosh with two sugars that we welcome Eliot this morning. Continuing his Transfer Window series, today it Spurs’ turn. He had this to say…

    What they need

    Spurs squad depth is unquestionably as resolute as any club in the country, so even Harry can’t parrot his standard line of being “down to the bare bones in the hope of doing a few deals. One gap does stand out, namely left wing. Although there is more chance of Michael Jackson playing there for Spurs next season, than there is of Ashley Young doing likewise.

    Who they don’t need

    bale

    Deep breath. Gareth Bale‘s tremdendous record of never appearing on the winning side for Spurs in a league match may mean its time to add his name to the lengthy list of hot prospects who Spurs have managed to ruin. It’s a list that David Bentley is already on, and it looks as if he will complete a move to Aston Villa next week, whilst Gio dos Santos has gone from the next Ronaldinho to Portman Road in the space of 12 months. In Gilberto, Damien Comoli managed to find the one Brazilian on the planet with no first touch, whilst Alan Hutton, signed in the same window, allegedly has issues with the type of white lines that full backs aren’t supposed to run up and down. Yet whilst Kevin ‘Prince’ Boateng is still heir to the throne at the Lane, any player up for sale must surely be secondary to him.

    Don’t mention

    I know what you did last Summer. Not the Love Hewitt /Michelle Gellar drivel, but rather some of Spurs more imaginative summer signings of late, including £15m David Bentley, £14m Roman Pavlyuchenko, £17m Darren Bent and £8m Didier Zokora.

    Inevitably linked with

    Former Portsmouth players. Dimitar Berbatov. Africans playing in France

    Any other business

    harry

    With Harry Redknapp still on police bail, and the Defoe transfer back to the Lane still under investigation for the alleged cutting out of his agent Sky Andrew, the Met may be advised to keep a close eye on goings-on at the Lane this summer.

  • Football Window Watch: Sunderland

    No not that kind of window etc…

    sunderland

    It’s with the usual single shot of morning vodka and demi-cig from the ashtray that we bid a fine good morning to Eliot. He’s here to continue his excellent Transfer Window series with talk of Sunderland. He had this to say…

    What they need

    keane

    Although Sunderland aren’t short on players, they are desperately short on commanding figures. A dominant centre half to play alongside James Collins is essential, as too is a ball-winner to complement the skills of Malbranque, Reid and Richardson.A Roy Keane figure if you like – just not the one who attacks his players with a chalk board. They’ve had him already.

    Who they don’t need

    anton

    Anton Ferdinand shares only a surname with his brother, and not any discernible talent. Michael Chopra has done little since that winner against Spurs two years ago, whilst Phil Bardsley was kicked out by Fergie (as opposed to lets say, John O’Shea) for a good reason. Likewise you, Liam Miller.

    Don’t mention

    Being down to the bare bones. Sunderland have drafted in a staggering 27 players since their return to the top flight. Whatever their deficiencies are, being light on numbers is not one of them.

    Inevitably linked with

    Players from deepest, darkest South America. Wigan players. Middlesbrough players.

    Any other business

    The last team standing in the region, Sunderland’s derby this season will be against Hull City.

  • Football Window Watch: Stoke

    Nooo, not that kind of window, the Transfer Window!

    stoke

    It’s with the usual slice of grapefruit with a cherry in the middle that we welcome Eliot to the fold this morning. He’s a fine football writer, here continuing his excellent Transfer Window series with a glance at Stoke…

    What they need

    The front two of Fuller and Beattie will trouble even the most formidable of Premier League defences next season so its at the back where Stoke need reinforcements. And if Pulis is serious about taking Stoke’s game up to the next level, a more cultured centre half than Abdoulaye Faye may be required.

    Who they don’t need

    danzelle

    Nobody called Danzelle St Louis-Hamilton should be allowed to play in the Premiership.

    Don’t mention

    Second season syndrome. As suffered recently by Ipswich in 2002, and Reading in 2008. Yet both of those sides played open, pretty football, and were always potentially susceptible to being found out, once the surprise element of their first season had worn off. Stoke can be better compared with Wigan or Bolton, who managed to deal with a second season (and more) by continuing to grind teams down whilst slowly adding better quality players to the fold. Pulis’ signings in January suggest he will follow this latter method.

    Inevitably linked with

    Poor little Michael Owen. Big target-men. Steve Backley.

    Any other business

    owen1

    The audacious bid to sign Michael Owen show both how far the club has come in the past few years, and how far Owen has fallen. When Owen won the Ballon D’or in November 2001, Stoke were busy getting humped 6-1 at Wigan Athletic, in the third tier of English football.

  • Football Window Watch: Portsmouth

    Not that kind of window, pillock, the Transfer Window!

    pompey

    As always, we welcome Eliot – a fantastic football writer – with a sharp glass of lemonade and a gentleman’s kiss, like mobsters do. You know – mobsters. Tough guys. Goodfellas. The kind of men who can kiss without you giggling. Them. Continuing his Transfer Window series, he had this to say about Portsmouth…

    What they need

    Britain Soccer FA Cup Final

    With Glen Johnson already on his way, the imminent departures of Sol Campbell and Sylvain Distin mean Pompey will effectively require a brand new back line next season. Or they could hand the baton over to Younes Kaboul. And get relegated.

    Who they don’t need

    Pompey are still paying the price for (and the wages for) the fondness of a certain Mr H. Redknapp esq to do a deal. Players like Glen Little and Papa Bouba Diop are gathering cobwebs, and whoever manages Portsmouth next season, they will certainly need to clear out the deadwood.

    Don’t mention

    tony-adams

    Tony Adams. An extraordinary January window saw Basinas, Gekas and even Pele (no, not that one) arrive at Pompey. Lets hope Peter Storrie left the meter running.

    Inevitably linked with

    Spurs rejects. Dodgy takeovers. Sven.

    Any other business

    Quite a lot actually. With a takeover looming from Dr Sulaiman al-Fahim (the most illegitamate use of the prefix since the days of good old Dr Fox), and all manner of shady characters claiming/denying involvement, the club urgently need this to be resolved so players can enter as well as exit Fratton this summer.

  • Football Window Watch: Man City

    Not that kind of window, our kid, the Transfer Window!

    man-city

    It’s with a nice bowl of Sugar Puffs and a kind smile that we welcome Eliot back into the fold. Today, he’s continuing his excellent Transfer Window series with a look at the multi-billionaires at Man City…

    What they need

    city

    Ah – the old problem of what to get the kid who has everything. Well everything bar silverware, class, or any obvious strategy of how to turn itself into a top 4 club. Whatever they need, City will just continue their method of approaching a seven year old in the street and asking him to name ten footballers, before tabling bids for all of them.

    Who they don’t need

    We’re all familiar with the sensation of traipsing into a hotel, unpacking the suitcase, and discovering an old pair of swimming trunks from a previous holiday. This torturous metaphor could equally be applied to Darius Vassell, the forgotten man who has magically been dragged along in the billionaire Manchester City adventure. Benjani, Javi Garrido and Michael Ball will also hope to stay out of sight, and cheekily remain at the bottom of the case too.

    Don’t mention

    sree

    Kaka. The very public rejection of City by a man who is willing however to believe that a man once turned water into wine, was a real nadir for the City ‘project’ last January. Since which time, Gary Cook etc have been more careful, concentrating on approaching players they know they have a chance with, although there remains a real whiff of BB10‘s Sree in City’s transfer dealings.

    Inevitably linked with

    Tevez. Eto’o. Villa.

    Any other business

    Having shown no signs of being able to manage the colossal egos of Robinho and Elano last season, doubts must surely remain as to how Mark Hughes will deal with the new influx of professional troublemakers who pitch up at Eastlands this summer. The press like Hughes, and consequently there were few questions asked last year as to how he managed a lower finish than Sven, despite shpritzing close to £100m on his team. This year his luck may run out.

  • Football Window Watch: Liverpool

    Not that kind of window, la’, the Transfer Window!

    liverpool

    It’s with the usual shot of tequila and gigantic man-hug that we welcome Eliot this morning. Here, he’s talking about Liverpool Football Club. The greatest club of them all…

    What they need

    glen

    The same as they have needed every year since Rob Jones retired, namely a decent right back. Benitez goes through full backs like they’re Pringles, with Glen Johnson set to become the new Vegard Heggem.

    Who they don’t need

    Deep breath – Arbeloa, Babel, Degen, Dossena, el Zhar, Itandje, Lucas, Ngog, Pennant and Voronin. Gerrard and Torres are constantly surrounded by more rubbish than Oscar the Grouch.

    Don’t mention

    Debt. In the draw for foriegn owners, Liverpool drew a straw so short, scientists have yet to invent a microscope through which one can see it. Skint – check. Ignorant – check. Not on speaking terms – check.

    Inevitably linked with

    owen

    Gareth Barry (still). David Silva. Michael Owen.

    Any other business

    The finances of LFC remain a puzzle. One day last summer they couldn’t afford £18m for Gareth Barry; the next they spunked £20m on Robbie Keane. This summer, one day they are selling the Big Issue on the streets, the next they are overpaying by about £10m for Glen Johnson.

  • Football Window Watch: Hull

    Nooo, not that window, big nose, the Transfer Window!

    hull-window

    It’s with the usual mug of fresh coffee and blueberry muffin that we welcome Eliot – the most fantastic football writer – into the Interestment fold. Here, it’s the turn of lovely Hull in the Transfer Window series…

    What they need

    A manager allergic to limelight would be a start. Current gaffer Phil Brown is drawn to publicity like the proverbial moth to a flame, and much of his antics provided a distraction from the real business of survival. On the playing side, a better left back is a priority – too many of the goals Hull conceded in the second half of the season came from that side.

    Who they don’t need

    SOCCER-ENGLAND/

    A dressing room evidently. Moreover, the old timers Boateng and Barmby tired drastically from February onwards, and were a key reason behind Hull’s dramatic collapse. Fagan and Folan not only share the first and last letters of their surname, but also the fact they aren’t Premier League class.

    Don’t mention

    The weather. Its never overcast in the Brown household but players from warmer climes may wish to experience some natural sun too.

    Inevitably linked with

    windass

    Dean Windass (again.) Loan signings from the big four. The aged

    Any other business

    With Phil Brown prone to humiliating his players, it may be difficult for him to convince new signings that a move to the Tigers is beneficial for their general wellbeing

  • Football Window Watch: Fulham

    Not this kind of window, the Transfer Window!

    fulham

    As ever, it’s with a kind smile and a warm cigar that we welcome Eliot – our number one football guy – into the kindly Interestment bosom. He had this to say about the business side of things at Fulham…

    What they need

    danny-mirphy

    With John Pantsil eventually coming good towards the end of last season, Fulham’s under-rated backline should once more stand them in good stead this season. What may be handy particularly away from home (when they tend to see far less of the ball), is an energetic ball-winner to play alongside the genteel Danny Murphy.

    Who they don’t need

    Hameur Bouazza managed to appear in the Birmingham City vs Charlton Athletic fixture for both sides last season, a feat made all the more remarkable by the fact he was registered at Fulham. There has been very little else of interest about Bouazza thus far in his Fulham career. Questions about Bobby Zamora remain too.

    Don’t mention

    Robert Rosario. Or any player with an ‘r’ in their name in fact.

    Inevitably linked with

    West Ham players. Norwegians. Swedes

    Any other business

    sweden

    Hodgson has an encylopedic knowledge of Scandinavian football, garnered from managerial spells in Sweden, Denmark and Finland. There are already five Scandinavians at Fulham, and expect Hodgson to be rifling through his contact book to bring in a few more as the season gets closer.

  • Football Window Watch: Everton

    Not that kind of window, dur-brain, the Transfer Window!

    everton-window

    It’s with the usual unreserved jumping for joy that we welcome Eliot into our lives for another glorious day. He’s a brilliant football writer, and had this to say about Everton’s current wants…

    What they need

    hibbert

    The obvious place to start with the Toffees is at right full back. There were matches last season where Tony Hibbert (pictured) had such a tough time against his winger that he was pulled off early, most noticeably at Villa Park in April against Ashley Young. Baines, Lescott and Jagielka need a final piece to what could be an outstanding jigsaw.

    Who they don’t need

    Nuno Valente and Andy van der Meyde persist in picking up a payslip each week in contradiction to their actual industrial output. Aside from whom, the Everton squad is lean enough.

    Don’t mention

    arteta

    Big money moves. Whilst Tottenham’s persistent knocking on the door of the top four, led only to the sale of Berbatov, Keane and Carrick to the big four, and Villa’s ascent last season has meant the exit door for Barry and now possibly Ashley Young, Everton have got off lightly thus far in spite of their growing status. Yet this summer, rumours are rife linking Lescott to Man City, as well as Liverpool with Mikel Arteta (pictured). Keeping hold of players could be more critical than who Moyes brings in.

    Inevitably linked with

    The best of the Championship. The best of the SPL. Fallen stars in need of redemption.

    Any other business

    Whilst many posit Arsene Wenger’s transfer record as the best out there, David Moyes certainly has a case that he reigns supreme. His signings of £1million+ over the past three years have all come off without exception.

  • Football Window Watch: Burnley

    No, not that kind of window, fatso, the Transfer Window!

    burnley-window

    It’s never anything less than phenomenal to hear from a member of the ever-increasing Interestment circle, and today Eliot – a fantastic football write with a dry wit – continues his excellent Transfer Window series. He had this to say about the mighty Burnley…

    What they need

    6226641

    Flicking casually through the recipe books to the page marked “ingredients required to stay up” won’t provide much help to Owen Coyle; there are simply no cut and dried rules. Reading managed to secure an eighth place finish three seasons ago playing an admirable passing game. Stoke meanwhile went for the reverse method last year, relying on supposedly top Premier League defenders’ comic inability to deal with the aerial ball when launched in by Rory Delap. What will certainly be required however, are players with Premier League experience. Relying on Steven Caldwell and Joey Gudjonsson (pictured) to explain to the rest of the squad what the top flight is all about is like asking a blind man to explain colour.

    Who they don’t need

    Or more pertinently, what they don’t need, namely a bad start. All promoted sides have a sticky run at some point. Burnley must heed the lessons of Hull last season and make sure theirs doesn’t arrive too early. Mr Coyle may also like to ensure he keeps his team talks confined to the dressing room.

    Don’t mention

    burnley

    Geography. Selling Burnley to the globe’s leading football talents may be tricky – “its only three and a half hours from London” may not quite swing it.

    Inevitably linked with

    Players from mid-table SPL sides. The best players from the relegated clubs (see Kitson.D to Stoke last summer.) Anyone who plays on the far right.

    Any other business

    Burnley managed to beat the Premier League‘s top four London clubs last season, which suggests they may have a fighting chance of staying up. Ultimately however, it will be the results against the teams around them at the bottom that will dictate their fate.

  • Football Window Watch: Bolton Wanderers

    No, idiot, not that kind of window – the Transfer Window!

    anotherlovely-window

    As always, it’s with a tea, biscuit, and enormous man hug that we welcome Eliot into today’s proceedings. He’s got an eye for sport, and here he’s turning that very eye in the direction of Bolton…

    What they need

    A bigger squad is a must – Bolton have the smallest in the Premier League. Fortunately for them, they apear to have cup strolls rather than cup runs, which has always allowed first Sam Allardyce, and now Gary Megson to get away with it. A young centre back partner for the immaculate Gary Cahill would be useful whilst if Mark Davies builds on his impressive start last season, the replacement for relegated (but wealthier) Kevin Nolan shouldn’t be necessary.

    Who they don’t need

    muamba

    If wafer-thin wasn’t such a puzzling metaphor, it would be one we at Interestment would happily use to describe the Bolton squad. Consequently, Megson would be wise not to ship anyone out this summer, although if any club chairman is foolish enough to reimburse Bolton for Fabrice Muamba (pictured, £5m) or Johan Elmander (£10m,) Wanderers fans wouldn’t be too disappointed.

    Don’t mention

    Summer 08. After an excellent January window which saw the arrival of Gretar Steinsson, Gary Cahill and Matty Taylor, the plot was temporarily misplaced last summer by Gary Megson, and the aforementioned Muamba and Elmander were the result.

    Inevitably linked with

    Lumpy old-fasioned centre backs. Obscure Scandinavians. Lumpy old-fasioned midfielders.

    Any other business

    allardyce

    Since the Allardyce reign came to a halt, no Premier League team gets ignored by the national media to the extent Bolton do. They are no longer plucky underdogs, their brand of football barely has tv executives rushing to the Reebok with their matches tending to contain few goals. The Wanderers support may moan at this neglection, but it does have a huge upside for the club, which finds it easier to hold onto its secret jewels (Cahill, Davies, Jaaskeleinen) than higher-profile mid-table sides such as Tottenham, Fulham etc.

  • Football Window Watch: Birmingham City

    No, not this window, the Transfer Window

    a-window

    It’s with the usual open arms, and massive over-the-top smile that we welcome words for today from the excellent sports writer, Eliot. Here, he’s turned his enormous arched eyebrow on Birmingham City. Yes, Birmingham City. He had this to say…

    What they need

    taylor

    Martin Taylor may not get the warmest of welcomes back to the Premier League, and should probably be put on some type of Care in the Community scheme whilst he settles back in. Centre-back partnet Liam Ridgewell gave away seven penalties in 05/06 at Villa, so with that duo, another centre-half is essential. Much hinges on the signing of Christian Benitez. If it comes off, he and Kevin Phillips could score the goals to keep Brum up.

    Who they don’t need

    Cameron Jerome wasn’t good enough for the Premier League on his last visit, and its unlikely he has improved sufficiently after a year in the Championship. Ditto Gary McSheffrey. Just ten league goals between them in 07/08.

    Don’t mention

    GYI0050970348.jpg

    Steve Bruce. The man not deemed good enough to manage Brum by chairman David Gold, has established a reputation for unearthing jewels from across the world. Instead of signing Zaki, Palacios and Figueora for Birmingham, he took them to Wigan.

    Inevitably linked with

    Scots. Aston Villa cast-offs. Violent men.

    Any other business

    With Lee Bowyer, Franck Queudrue and Martin Taylor all in their ranks, expect absentees through suspension to be a common theme throughout Birmingham’s season..

  • Football Window Watch: Aston Villa

    Not just any old window, a Transfer Window!

    window1

    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

    ottoman-empire

    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.

    Don’t mention

    heskey

    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.

  • Football: 10 New Faces of 2009

    Yes, this is one of them…

    zaki-2

    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

    ref

    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

    sheik

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    charles

    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

    sandra

    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

    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

    susan-boyle-10

    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….

  • Interestment’s Football XI #5

    No room for Mr Topless…

    Britain Soccer

    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.

  • Interestment’s Football Eleven #2

    No room for these young sex machines…

    GYI0050873829.jpg

    It is with complete and unadulterated joy that we welcome excellent sports writer Eliot back to glance over the weekend’s football. You won’t find a team as intriguing as this one anywhere in cyberspace. Believe.

    Goalkeeper, Sergio Romero

    Goalkeepers; a strange breed, the dippy appearance stemming from years of being the last pick in the school playground, consequently being thrust into goal against all wishes and so spending much of the lunch-break ’32 all’ classics bending down to get the ball from the net. But surely, despite years of taking a cow’s udder full-on in the face, even this most dense of creature would realise the importance of the ‘hands’ in the day job.

    But no, the current custodian of Dutch league leaders (that the EreDivisie to yoush and meesh) AZ Alkmaar, decided that so traumatic was the 2-1 cup defeat to NEC Breda, the best possible outcome would be his removal from the team for six weeks with a broken hand. So he thumped the wall with his fist. Well done Sergio Romero. Next week, Huw Edwards cuts off his tongue in a similarly well-thought-out career move.

    Right Back, Steven Taylor

    Being a round of the FA Cup that isn’t the third, Newcastle United were not in action this weekend. Yet defender Steven Taylor, fresh from telling Ronaldo – in a comedic manner echoing Winston Churchill no less – that he was ugly, revealed to the Times on Friday how he intends to help the Toon fight the drop.

    “I find myself getting bored a lot and when I’m bored, I’m dangerous. The fun part is trying to get out of trouble. But there’s a serious side to it as well. For our Christmas do, we went out for a bonding session and a couple of the young lads, Fraser Forster and Jonny Godsmark, decided to go home early. When I looked around and saw they’d gone, I thought, ‘We’re in this together, you can’t do that.’ The consequences were me getting a master key card, going into their room and using a Bic to shave their hair off. They had Mohicans. And that was just my little warning. The next night, they were out with the rest of us until the very end. That’s how it should be. That’s how this football club needs to stay together. It might sound daft, but it’s important.”

    “I also get the lads playing pool,” Taylor continued. “With forfeits. If you lose, you’ve got to do something like take a shot of Tabasco, or have an ice bath. I get more nervous doing that than playing football.”

    Steven Taylor is club captain of Newcastle United. AC Milan captain, and five times European Cup winner Paulo Maldini, probably doesn’t behave like this.

    Left Back, Ashley Cole

    For showing us all how an evening spent raising charity should end. After all, we only do good deeds so as to cancel out our discrepancies. Ashley was planning in advance.

    Centre Back, Alex

    Guus Hiddink’s book of innovative tactical genius part 26: Start play with nine players, send on additions at random points so they can’t be traced by the opposition. Watch them score. Deny its cheating.

    Centre Back, Cagdas Atan

    Crazy name, crazy guy, and some crazy goalkeeping for this free kick. Hertha Berlin go a goal down at Cottbus, but you’ll be relieved to know they recovered to win 3-1, and stretch their lead to 4 pts at the top of the Bundesliga.

    Right Midfield, David Beckham

    A man who continues to prove you can have it all. Going against 120 years of transfer consensus, Beckham is now organizing his own little timeshare between European giants AC Milan, and American non-entities, LA Galaxy. Try and buy a player 20 minutes after the window closes on August 31st, and you might as well be trying to rape Sepp Blatter’s mother. Yet Beckham has managed to bend the transfer system around the wall, to suit his own climatic preferences. Milan in Autumn and Spring; LA in Winter and Summer.

    When he married in 1999, Beckham, like most men at that time, could never have imagined tiring of steamrollering Victoria Beckham. When he signed up for a life playing the beautiful game in the MLS, Becks surely never imagined he could tire of California. The existential moral of the story is that everything gets rubbish eventually, so death is necessary, or else ennui would set in for us all. A point old Becks is probably mulling over this very moment.

    Left Midfield, Francis Lee

    This is still interesting. Very interesting in fact.

    Centre Midfield, Alex Song

    The man the Arsenal fans sarcastically christen the African Beckenbauer suddenly morphed into the African Zidane (yes, we know the original Zidane was born in Africa too, clever clogs), with his sublime back-heel for Emmanuel Eboue’s third goal yesterday. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    Centre Midfield, Marcelo Gallardo

    Gaining the moniker of “the new Maradona” is as common for diminutive Argentinian playmakers as it is for English new-borns to be looked after by grandma whilst mummy finishes her GCSEs. Marcelo Gallardo has never quite lived up the hype, with two brief spells in France the only European airing of his talents. Yet his goal two minutes into this clip, a goal that put River Plate 2-1 up against Arsenal Sarandi, is meriting of a wider audience.

    Striker, Ronaldo

    Yes, nice old cuddly Brazilian Ronaldo, back amongst the goals for Corinthians, a last minute header to equalise against Palmeiras. Good to have you back big guy. Aw shucks, look at that smile.

    Striker, Eduardo

    Every ten years or so, in order to compensate for the heartless society we live in, a nation grieves far in excess to any genuine anguish we feel. In the 80s, we mourned the loss of John Lennon despite many years earlier mourning the loss of his talent. In the 90s, we had Diana, a woman who touched many, but ultimately, a woman who none of us had ever had round for tea.

    This decade, we have had the venerated Eduardo, a hero to all of us, who unfortunately injured his leg on the battlefields of Birmingham. Thankfully, against all odds and unlike dozens of other footballers who have also come back from injury, the Croatian has bravely retuned, displaying his heroic credentials by scoring goals against Cardiff City and Burnley.

    Bunting shall be hung from every street corner in honour of this plucky foreigner, and a Bank Holiday shall be declared henceforth, on March 8th, National Eduardo Day. <yawn yawn>

    Enjoy his sliced volley anyhow.