Will you be bringing a date tonight, sir?
It’s never anything less than a pleasure and a joy to hear from a member of the ever-growing Interestment family, and today it’s the turn of Steve – a funny man with football on his mind. He had this to say about tonight’s matches and more…
England play football tonight and the question on everyone’s lips is “who will play up front with granny’s favourite footballer, Wayne Rooney? Big lad Heskey or pocket rocket Defoe?” Fabio has already flipped a coin, had a game of paper, scissors, stone with himself and played eenie, meenie, miney, mo with his bare toes before sitting down and making an actual decision, but he’s not letting on…..or is he?
“I think it’s not important to be tall or small, it’s important the movement you do,” coughed the Italian, his eyes shifting around from side to side.
It seems he’s had us all fooled, but the proof is right there – he’s going for the greatest mover of them all, the Robot Master Peter Crouch! The Croatians will be no match for the lanky tit from Spurs, who is such a good mover that he even danced the lovely Abbey Clancy into bed. In fact she’s still so impressed by his gormless bodypopping that she’s agreed to marry the lurching beanpole! Forget scoring goals, that is true power.
Over in Argentina, Carlo Tevez’s mother, Diego Maradona, is facing the chop as his side slumped 3-1 to arch enemies Brazil. The team in gold even rubbed salt into the gaping wound by letting the wonderfully big boned Adriano onto the pitch, presumably to wander around panting and looking for scraps of food. He went hungry, bless him, as he couldn’t physically bend down for fear of his impressive gut exploding.
Things got personal in France as the beautiful Thierry Henry attacked his manager’s hair:
“… there is no style, no guidance and no identity.”
He had threatened to enlist the help of Gillette buddies Roger Federer and Tiger Woods to help shave his head but both declined, saying they liked the Donald Sutherland look. As do we.
And finally, George Burley bit back at all his critics by revealing his masterplan for International football:
“I haven’t got a clue and I’m not really worried.”
The Braveheart spirit lives on.
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.
Yes, this is one of them…
As ever, it’s with a great big cheer and a shot of the strong stuff that we welcome Eliot back to the Interestment fold – he’s got a gigantic brain stuffed to the brim with news and opinions about sport. He had this to say about his top ten people made famous by the year in football…
1. Tom Henning Ovrebo
One minute you have a meagre three line entry on Wikipedia, the next you are responsible for the worst swearing on ITV since Gordon Ramsay ceased his tiresome and rather blue, attention-seeking routine. Ovrebro certainly didnt have the Semi Final second leg between Chelsea and Barca under control, but that was no excuse for the sanctimonious outburst from Jamie Redknapp in the Sky studio post-match. Fuming that dear cousin Frank would miss out on yet another ill-deserved medal, Redknapp railed against the craziness of UEFA in allowing someone from little old Norway to officiate in such a big match. Much better allow an Italian. Roberto Rosetti perhaps, whose ludicrous sending off of Darren Fletcher cost Manchester United a ball-winning midfielder in the final, and possibly the trophy itself.
2. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Not as easy on the tongue as previous owner Franny Lee, and no less easier on the human rights abuses than previous incumbent Thaksin Shinawatra either. But this is the football world we live in today, a mad world where a man with a towel on his head is hailed as a Messiah (a concept he wouldn’t believe in) and whom one of the club’s centre half (Tal Ben-Haim) would be banned from visiting at home due to his nationality. Take a glance out the window to your left, and that would be the recently defenstrated ethics in football flying past.
3. Federico Macheda
Such is the hype and comprehensive coverage of football these days, it is rare a player that nobody has heard of makes a name for himself in a big fixture. With reserve team football live on television and even Youth Cup Final rights battled over by Sky/Setanta, players tend to emerge onto the stage fully born, with the football pitch being more reminiscent of pantomine (“I’ve seen him in something else”) than an obscure production of Midsummer Night’s Dream at a provincial theatre in Somerset (“I’ve never seen this Bottom before”) Joe Cole, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen were all new Gazzas whilst barely out of school, and Arsene Wenger uses the Carling Cup to saucily hitch up the skirt and give us a flash of his next generation. So although he scored a goal in the most commercial league in the most commerical arena, in a minute of injury time that existed purely in the mind of Mike Riley, there was something beautiful about Macheda sending Luke Young the wrong way, and curling the ball past Brad Friedel. That goal meant the title was heading back to Old Trafford, and the banner on the Stretford End will now read Twenty Years and Waiting from August.
4. Brede Hangeland
Although he signed for Fulham last January, it arguably wasnt until the 1-0 home victory against Arsenal in August, that Brede Hangelandshot to national prominence. Having scored the winner in a Man of the Match display, short of lining up the post-match roast, there is very little extra a modern day footballer can do in a game. It’s easy to laugh at Roy Hodgson – although Jonathan Ross arguably owes his career to the bloke whose lisp he has aped all these years – but his itinerant time in management has certainly paid off. At Viking FK he first coached Hangeland, and ultimately signed him for Fulham. At Inter Milan, he won the UEFA Cup. As manager of the United Arab Emirates, he made a lot of money. Trophies, knowledge and hard shekels – Roy Hodgson, Interestment salutes you.
5. Dan Gosling
It was a cold February night, a cracking cup-tie between the fiercest of rivals on Merseyside, set for penalties with just seconds on the clock. Then a ball over… the tic tacs are a refreshing sweet, suprisingly low in calories and perfect for refreshing… and jubilant scenes around Goodison.
6. Amir Zaki
Egyptian centre forwards – occasionally brilliant, frequently temperamental, but every so often struggle with the concept of stepping on a plane marked for Heathrow. Amir Zaki certainly isnt one to rebuff a streotype, starting brilliantly with that goal at Anfield – a goal so good that we all questioned our very existence in its aftermath – before spending much of the winter sulking, eventually vanishing home. Yet there can be no doubt Zaki is a decent player, and it will be interesting to see whether Steve Bruce, who played such a part in the Egyptian’s falling out with Wigan, attempts to sign him up top for Sunderland. If Amir thought living in Wigan was a long way from Cairo….
7. Charles Insomnia
A man we still wouldn’t have heard of were it not for Joe F*Kin’near’s tremendous Wordsworthesque pun, describing his winger Charles N’Zogbia in terms symptomatic of his tiresome whinging. Back in the 90s, when Kinnear was last managing a club in the top 6 of the Premier League, it was appropriate to mock foriegners with exotic names. Those days, alas, are no more, despite rumours of keeper Georg Koch signing for Hull City. So who was the eventual winner in this tiff? Well, Kinnear ended up with a triple bypass, N’Zogbia ended up at Wigan Athletic. Lets call that a no-score draw shall we?
8. Sandra Redknapp
Given young Jamie’s domestic bliss, it is hard to imagine Harry not enjoying a similar status – lovely palatial gaff, a couple of top top ornaments, and a cracking wife. Alas Harry revealed earlier in the season that his wife is in fact adroit in the air at the far post, as following Darren Bent’s lamentable miss in the match against Portsmouth, he claimed spouse Sandra (above, left) would have put it away. We now imagine Sandra as a Peter Withe figure, irrepressible from a decent cross with a large sweatband around her prominent bonce.
Redknapp is often hailed as the archetypal hand-round-the-shoulder man manager. Quite how Darren Bent felt after this snide cheapshot is perhaps best left unsaid. Top, top stuff Harry.
9. Ched Evans
Not since Anna Friel’s lesbian kiss on Brookside has there been such a storm over a sex act on primetime television. Michael Essien’s “raping” of young Man City striker Ched Evans caused such a furore, that one half-expected a re-enactment on Crimewatch the following evening. As it was, all we got was a remorseful Alan Pardew, a man who allegedly once shared a bellydancer with Xabi Alonso. More than that, however, we were worthy of a tremendous insight into the common football vernacular, with the training ground perhaps the last bastion of political incorrectness in the workplace.
10. Susan Boyle
Well everyone else has jumped on the bandwagon so we might as well. And it’s not as if all this attention is doing her any harm….
Not too posh, apparently
People talk of the miracle of childbirth – the word miracle painting pictures of velvet pillows, great looking doctors, and babies floating effortlessly into the world. And yet, the last time we were in biology class, babies came out shouting, fathers wept, and mothers finally gave in and allowed each orifice to explode one by one. In short, it looked like something that rich people should probably avoid. Not a problem, however, for Coleen Rooney – the wife of the great looking Man United star, Wayne. No sir. She has insisted that she actually wants to allow the small baby growing inside her the exit her body in the natural manner. Like it might from a poor person. “Not to posh to push, me,” she tells readers of the highly thought of celebrity pamphlet, OK! Good for her.
In other news, Jessica Biel (below) – an actress who is famous for enduring Justin Timberlake’s moist hands and wet kisses – has wowed pretty much the entire celebrity world by having a great bottom. One celebrity reporter can’t believe how similar it is to Jennifer Lopez’s one. Are they sisters?
(no, they’re not)
Even this man was too old…
Did anyone see Arsenal at the weekend? Wow. The average age of the team was something like 14, and yet they still managed to win. Win real good. Of course, it’s nothing new for young footballers to destroy older teams, just visit a park on any given weekend and you’ll spot decrepit alcoholics getting hammered ten-nil by teenage glue sniffers – with their hooded tops, and their crunk music. Still, we thought it high time to compile the greatest young England team ever…
Goalkeeper, Peter Shilton, 21 years old (1970)
In goalkeeping terms, 21 is literally embryonic. Yet, that was Shilts back in 1970 when he first pulled on an England shirt. Young, dumb, and full of enthusiasm. He did, of course, go on to afro wigs, and allowing Maradona to humiliate him. Twice.
Right Back, Micah Richards, 18 years old (2006)
What’s happened to Micah Richards? Just a couple of years ago he was the teen sensation galloping up the right hand side like a maniac. We thought he was the new Jesus Christ. Now he’s just some grumpy old soothsayer going around Manchester shouting at people. At just 20.
Centre Back, Jonathan Woodgate, 19 years old (1999)
Just before he decided to dabble in race hate, Woodgate looked like a shoo-in for the England defence for years to come. But he didn’t – he went loco, then got mangled, then he upped and left to Real Madrid to concentrate on growing his hair. Now he’s back in Blighty with Spurs, and when he’s not sobbing in sick bay demanding that Nurse rub some more Deep Heat into his aching groin, he’s still pretty good at football.
Centre Back, Rio Ferdinand, 19 years old (1997)
He’s been around for ages, that Rio Ferdinand, but there was a time when he was just a strange shaven-headed boy from West Ham attempting to make friends with Sol Campbell. Tough gig. He’s since gone on to outshine his former defensive partner, both on the pitch, and when it comes to merking people.
Left Back, Gareth Barry, 19 years old (2000)
It’s easy to forget that before he became the sturdy oak in midfield, Barry was a zippy left back with a strange face – like something from the mind of Edvard Munch. Little Kevin Keegs gave him a run out in 2000, which is enough to keep out Ashley Cole – who, by the way, is a loathesome little oik who once stopped midway through sexual intercourse with a hairdresser to be sick, before carrying on. Behind his wife’s back.
Right Midfield, Theo Walcott, 17 years old (2006)
Everyone went barmy when Walcott kept Defoe out of the 2006 World Cup squad, but now it looks more like a masterstroke. Now shifted out right for the sake of his football education, he still has the face of a confused 7-year-old French exchange student, which is fitting, because he looks all set to morph into England’s version of France’s Thierry Henry.
Centre Midfield, Joe Cole, 19 years old (2001)
For so long, little Joe Cole was the New Gazza, with his zany box of tricks and cheeky little face. Of course, becoming the New Gazza is getting less and less appealing these days. He just looks so thin. Becoming the new Joe Cole on the other hand…
Centre Midfield, Steven Gerrard, 20 years old (2000)
The old man of the team, Gerrard made his England debut one whole day after his 20th birthday. As everyone knows, he has since gone on to replace Robbie Fowler as the closest thing Liverpool has to the lord God him/herself. A man never without a curious furrow in his gentle brow.
Left Midfield, Aaron Lennon, 19 years old (2006)
Like Micah Richards, Aaron went a little skewiff after his early England games, zooming down the wing like an angry mouse on a motorbike. He was great. The good news is that he’s starting to resemble that young man once again. The bad news is that he still spends at least two hours every morning carefully applying completely pointless go-faster stripes in his eyebrows. Crazy.
Centre Forward, Wayne Rooney, 17 years old (2003)
Rooney has always been terrifying, but never more so than when he was a 17-year-old former boxer looking for a fight. What a great Euro 2004 he had. It was around that time that he also discovered his lust for old women prostitutes.
Centre Forward, Michael Owen, 18 years old (1998)
To look at Michael Owen now – with his miserable face, his robotronic voice, his Phil Collins CDs – you’d never think that he once lit up the entire planet with his electrifying football. And yet he did. He absolutely did. He was so quick.
No room for these particular lookalikes…
Some people literally spend their entire lives staring thoughtfully at pictures of Phil Neville or Wayne Rooney, pondering which particular screen monster they should lump them alongside this time. It’s a great way of becoming a popular face in football circles – a finely judged facial observation about Michael Ballack can diffuse fights in pubs, start chit chat that eventually leads to sex with hairdressers, or simply make your mates laugh until they vomit Becks Vier all over the pavement. With that in mind, we thought we’d compile our own well-observed team of football lookalikes… sick bags ready, people.
Goalkeeper, David James
Once he decides to hang up his slippery gloves, David James presumably has a second career lined up as an underpants model. He’s spent years sculpting a body that would tighten Michelangelo’s loin cloth, and above is his lookalike, also called David. Big hands. Very big hands.
Right Back, Gary Neville
Fans of The Wire or Generation Kill might have noticed the above Gary Neville-alike. He’s called James Ransone, and, like young Gary, he tends to play psychotics.
Centre Back, Jonathan Woodgate
Brilliantly, we’ve decided that Jonathan Woodgate is a bit like a mummy, because he’s sometimes got a bandage on his leg. Hilarious.
Centre Back, Olof Melberg
We’ve deemed the legendary maniac Charles Manson to be the 1960s cult leader equivalent of the defender Olof Melberg. Both seem to share a similar steely hollowness in the eye, and, yes, beards.
Left Back, Ashley Cole
This might be a little harsh on Osama, but both men really are quite unpopular with the fans. Bin Laden for the whole international terrorism thing, Cole for steamrollering a hairdresser behind his wife’s back, pausing mid-coitus to spew, then carrying on. Rancid.
Right Midfield, David Beckham
Above football, Beckham prides himself on having fantastic hair and in his armory is a finely tuned smoulder that he pulls out of the bag during photo shoots. Not unlike a certain Fabio (above).
Centre Midfield, Joey Barton
Once in a while, a character will return to a soap, but played by a different actor. Needless to say, the hardcore viewers go mental. However, were Martin Fowler to trundle back to Albert Square, played by Merseyside’s favourite son Joey Barton, literally no one would notice. Until he nutted Dot for fluffing a line.
Centre Midfield, Frank Lampard
Never anything less than well turned out, Lampsie totters around a football pitch like a poodle walking into an exclusive dogs-only drinks party.
Left Midfield, Ronaldinho
Lots of people laugh about how Ronaldinho looks a bit like Jar Jar Binks, and how he could probably eat a grapefruit through a slot machine, but we tend to think of him as the exact mirror reflection of Chris Rock in the hilarious hip hop spoof, CB4.
Centre Forward, Carlos Tevez
Up front, Tevez just nudges out his team mate Wayne Rooney, thanks to his startling resemblance to the handsome young actor who plays Ugly Betty in the sitcom Ugly Betty.
Centre Forward, Peter Crouch
Stop a frightened old man in the street and demand that he describes Peter Crouch in three words, and he will definitely say Tall, Hapless, and Louche. Exactly the same three he used to describe Lurch from The Addams Family a week ago.
No room for these heroes…
As ever, our terrific football expert Eliot has been casting a very intrigued eye over the weekend’s football. It’s great to hear from him again. He had this to say of his weekend’s 3-5-2…
Goalkeeper, Dave Seaman
Old Safe Hands himself, whose mitts appear to be slightly less secure when it comes to keeping hold of his women. Having split with first wife Sandra fifteen years ago, Seaman has now sacked it off with second hunch Debbie.
Seaman’s agent told the NOTW that his client was simply “bored” – a chivalrous and charming statement if ever there was one. Given the same paper sums up the ex-England keeper’s last few years as “indulging his hobbies of fly-fishing and golf and he also competed in ITV1’s hit Dancing on Ice show in 2006” the agent may wish to consider how secure his own position alongside Seaman is.
This in a nutshell is the problem for former keepers. Living in their own world throughout their playing days, they can’t turn their hand to management, general coaching gophery, or even punditry. So they are forced to walk out on their kids to alleviate the boredom. Mankind must find a cure to this potentially damaging social ill.
Of even more concern to the planet’s premier species, is that 36 people found the time on their Sunday afternoon to comment on a story involving the marriage of two people they have never met.
Centre Back, Heiko Westermann
Continuing our theme of defenders scoring tremendous goals, Westermann banged in his ninth of the season as Schalke took the lead at Wolfsburg. But one of the many surprise packages of this season’s Bundesliga hit back and eventually won 4-3. There is no joke in this small paragraph; the Germans take their volleys most seriously.
Centre Back, Nemanja Vidic
Not Nemanja’s finest hour: at fault for the first goal, getting sent off for a cynical foul on Steven Gerrard, which itself resulted in Liverpool’s third, as they ran riot at Old Trafford. Vidic aside, the result proved Rafa Benitez once and for all as the Mark Zuckerberg of the Premier League; forever meddling unnecessarily, but eventually, after much dismay and complaint, it all seems to make sense.
Centre Back, Ray Wilkins
Raymond as Gianluca Vialli calls him, features this week as the captain of the last team to win 4-1 at Old Trafford, when his QPR side romped home back on New Years Day 1992, in front of a gushing Elton Welsby. Hat-trickster in that match was Dennis Bailey who revealed after the match, ” I go to the Pentecostal in Brixton every Sunday when I reflect on the week just passed.” Whatever happened to religious top-flight footballers in Britain? Come on the new generation; lets invoke the Lord more often. QPR winning 4-1 at Manchester United does smack of a miracle after all.
Right Midfield, Wayne Rooney
We’re playing Rooney out wide (which he HATES) as punishment for naughtily telling the world that he hates Liverpool, comments that were hastily edited out of the Manchester United website from whence they came. Lord Fergie himself clarified claiming that Rooney didn’t mean hate; rather its just that the word dislike has fallen out of fashion amongst the nation’s youths. I blame Kelis – “I dislike you so much right now” would have sent a far better example to the listening youngsters on Merseyside.
Centre Midfield, Eric Cantona
Nicole? Papa? Non- c’est Eric. Pourquoi? Je ne sais pas.
Centre Midfield, Francesco Favasuli
This is a strange goal indeed in the Cavese vs Juve Stabia match. The ball disappears off the foot of Serie C dynamo Favasuli, comes down a few seconds later with some debris from Mars, and slap, nestles in the old onion bag. Incidentally, following this incident at the weekend, the Oxford Dictionary have replaced the current definition of the word hapless and replaced it with a picture of the Juve Stabia goalkeeper as the ball loops over him.
Centre Midfield, Francis Lee
Nope – his inclusion last week wasn’t a mistake from the lazy editor. This remains interesting. Very interesting in fact.
Left Midfield, Morten Gamst Pedersen
Abraham Lincoln once remarked, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Diving like this will not fool any people at any time. Better luck next time MGP.
Striker, Giuseppe Mascara
A second Interestment XI appearance for the Catania man, as he scored another cracker at the weekend. Of more importance, this of course is also an opportunity to include those missed puns from last time, such as pointing out how made up Catania fans were, how it was one in the eye for the opposition Udinese, and how his goals are fast becoming the foundation of Catania’s successful fight against relegation.
Striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic
For those still hunting Mourinho’s “best player in Europe” following his latent appearances against Manchester United in recent weeks, here is Zlatan Ibrahimovic doing what he does best; scoring astounding goals against mediocre teams in largely insignificant matches.
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>