Stand back everyone, maniac coming through
It’s never anything less than a total joy to hear from an important member of the Interestment family, and today it’s the turn of Steve – a man with an arched eyebrow aimed on football. He had this to say about all things recent and footballish.
Comedy scenes at Old Trafford on the weekend as Arsenal lose to Manchester United and have their manager sent off for diving. OK, it wasn’t really for diving, he was sent off for kicking. No, not kicking the ref, or Alex Ferguson, or even Emmanuel Eboue (come on, you’d love to wouldn’t you?)… no, instead he toe punted a stationary water bottle. The man’s mental.
“I didn’t know we were not allowed to do that,” pleaded the Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, in a very obviously pretend French accent. A likely story. Rumours of a post-match dust up where he was spotted landing a few very over-the-top rabbit punches on an empty can of Lilt have yet to be confirmed.
Yesterday was Transfer Deadline Day, a truly great day of pant wetting excitement only comparable in real terms to the joy that is Pancake Tuesday. Luis Figo to Notts County! Ribery to Man United! David James to Spurs!
Well they were the rumours, instead the highlights were David Nugent joining champions-in-waiting Burnley, David Bentley getting up really early and going all the way to Manchester to not join Man City, and a rather miffed looking journalist spending an entire day outside Fratton Park to watch David James err, train. It was the stuff of dreams, watching the demoralised broadcaster screaming at the back of James’ moving car, begging him to shed some light on what might be going on. Please, David. Please. Pleeeaaaaase.
And finally, Roy Hodgson has hinted at an unlikely playboy past by saying this:
“It was a ludicrous succession of affairs”.
Like finding out that you were conceived after a drunken game of spin the bottle got ridiculous, there are some things that you just don’t ever need to know.
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.
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.
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.
That’s Man United Television, folks
It all got a bit hot and sweaty in Manchester last night, all because a man can’t compliment another man on the size of his penis anymore. It’s political correctness gone mad!
No room for these young sex machines…
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.
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.
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>