30 June, 2008

Thank God Jens Isn’t Too Bitter

Because that was our main concern after watching Germany spectacularly fail in last night’s Euro 2008 final. It’s always pretty embarrassing if the first thing the losing team do is complain about trivialities and behave in a totally juvenile and ungracious manner. Oh but wait, wasn’t good old Jens Lehmann an Arsenal player for a good few years? Yes, you’re right, he was. That would explain this then:

“I spoke to the referee (Roberto Rosetti) and he was very arrogant…(he) was a catastrophe and sometimes I think it is fixed when I see such a referee, who is biased and not correct in his decisions. For example, a Spanish player head-butted our player and the referee saw it and the linesman saw it... (his) performance was very disappointing

What a great attitude from an experienced international professional. So the referee and linesmen were crooked, and it’s all part of a global conspiracy against Germany right Jens? Yes, the force is strong with this one, Wenger has taught him well. These nuggets of offensive whinge were dropped not long after the match finished, in an interview screened in ITV’s highlights. In a similarly petulant and pathetic act, Lehmann then went on to say that he didn’t care if he was punished for his outburst as he wouldn’t be playing in the Euros again.

You don’t need me to tell you what a complete twat he is, but rejoice that he’s now finally taken the hint and buggered off back to Germany to play for Stuttgart. Good riddance, literally no-one in this country will miss you.

Save Our Cheryl

The continually oscillating circus that is the Ashley/Cheryl Cole marriage still refuses to be shut down by health and safety. Last week the England failure finally managed to drag his estranged missus away on holiday with him, undoubtedly with the full intent of plying her with cheap cocktails and taking advantage of her low self-esteem. The professional slimeball pulled out all the stops to convince Cheryl that 7 days alone would be all he needed to remind her why she fell in love with him in the first-place, and once again she fell for it. Cheryl, please take a look in the mirror and see what he has done to you; once upon a time you were literally perfect, but now all that’s left is a somewhat vacant skeleton who just cries all the time. Please realize that it is all down to that piece of shit husband of yours, and eat a couple of kebabs before you get blown away by the wind!

Ashley is certainly not familiar with the idea of there being consequences to his actions, so if there are any Premier League footballers out there reading this, please mobilize again him next season and tread on his cubes.

But wait! Maybe things aren’t completely back on after all. You see this weekend it was Ashley’s ultra-cool brother Matthew’s wedding, and guess who went alone to get hammered and try to touch-up the barely-legal staff in the service kitchen? Yes that’s right, busy hands himself, Ashley. Now nothing against Matthew Cole, but it’s inevitable that he’s going to get tarred by that scumbag’s brush, so one can see how a day out in the country with the entire Cole family being sick and trying to finger each other might not appeal, but still, surely a loving wife should always attend such events with her husband? Her name was on the guest list (see The Sun’s excellent mock-up of a ticket) but she was nowhere to be seen, sparking fresh rumours that he’s been shown the metaphorical door. I mean obviously Cheryl was just off filming The X-Factor somewhere but we can always hope that she has finally told Ashley to comprehensively fuck off forever and die…

27 June, 2008

Motty’s Gold Watch

Rejoice football fans throughout the country, for after this Sunday we will never ever have to suffer through a match with John Motson dribbling inconsequential crap and stating the bleeding obvious over the top again! Yay! After Sunday’s European Championships final, he is finally taking the hint and retiring, and not a minute too soon either. For almost as long as I can remember, Motson has been the bane of my football-watching existence, ruining virtually every game he’s allowed anywhere near with blinkered hyperbole and embarrassing mispronounciations.

But, I hear you shout, “he’s Motty,” “he’s the voice of football,” “he wears a sheepskin coat!” All valid points, and the guy has been doing it since 1971, so maybe I should cut him a bit of slack. I guess at one point he must’ve been good, but unlike, say, a Richie Benaud or a Murray Walker, both of whom have matured like a bottle of fine plonk stolen from Hitler’s crow’s nest in that episode of Band of Brothers which I’ve never seen the end of because the DVD always breaks, Motson has aged like an AIDS-riddled crack-whore i.e. not well. The writing has been on the wall for seasons now, but rather than malign him for what he has become, let’s remember him in his prime with some choice selections of commentary cock-ups.

'Bruce has got the taste of Wembley in his nostrils.'

‘So different from the scenes in 1872 - at the Cup Final none of us can remember.'

'It looks like a one-man show here, although there are two men involved.'

'For those of you watching in black and white, Spurs are in the all yellow strip.'

'The World Cup is a truly international event.'

‘Koller shares a hairstyle with Jaap Stam. Of course, they have no hair.’

'It think this could be our best victory over Germany since the war.'

'The goals made such a difference to the way this game went.'

'It's Arsenal 0, Everton 1, and the longer it stays like that, the more you've got to fancy Everton.'

And what a time to score - 22 minutes gone.'

'It's a football stadium in the truest sense of the word.'

'Actually, none of the players are wearing earrings. Kjeldberg, with his contact lenses, is the closest we can get.'

'Middlesbrough are withdrawing Maccarone the Italian, Nemeth the Slovakian and Stockdale the right-back.'

'The referee is wearing the same yellow-coloured top as the Slovakian goalkeeper. I'd have thought the Uefa official would have spotted that - but perhaps he's been deafened by the noise of this crowd.'

'Nearly all the Brazilian supporters are wearing yellow shirts - it's a fabulous kaleidoscope of colour.'

'I've just heard that in the other match Real Madrid have just scored. That makes the score, if my calculations are correct, 4-3! But I'm only guessing!'

'And I suppose Spurs are nearer to being out of the FA Cup now than at any other time since the first half of this season, when they weren't ever in it anyway.'

'I know that Gareth Barry has been told by Howard Wilkinson to take a long, hard look at these with his left foot.'

'Whether that was a penalty or not, the referee thought otherwise.'

'England will be having Sweden for breakfast.'

'I've lost count of how many chances Helsingborg have had. It's at least five.'

'This is the biggest thing that's happened in Athens since Homer put down his pen.'

'That tackle was so hard, it hurt his whole family!'

'The roof is on, but the gloves are off.'

'Chelsea haven't got any out-and-out strikers on the bench unless you count Zenden, who's more of a winger.'

'The Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club!'

'It's delirious! It's delightful! It's Denmark!'

'I can confirm that Trevor Brooking did have his own eggs and bacon before setting off.'

'England versus Germany games have often caused the tea cups to topple off the table, so those of you at home watching tonight, be careful with the crockery.'

'You can still buy tickets for knock-out games off the internet. That's if you know how to. I certainly don't.'

'Oh, that's good running on the run.'

P.S. No thanks whatsoever go out to the Daily Facist by the way for providing the images to accompany this piece. If any of you are reading (unlikely I know) and are upset, please choke on your Nazi carrots and die.

26 June, 2008

Beach Life, It’s the Only Life I Know

What’s the best way to reward yourself after an underwhelming set of performances at Euro 2008? Certainly stoking the fire of one of the angriest Scottish men in history is high on the list of priorities, but the correct answer should be: turn your mobile off, grab your insanely hot slice of lady-shaped pleasure and head down to the beach of course!

So oil yourself up, chuck on your grotesque-yet-expensive crucifix and head out to Italy for frolicking, mild-to-heavy petting, and of course good old fashioned missionary sex.

They Take Our Jobs!! But It’s OK If They’re This Hot!!

Italy have finally seen the light. Like our own great nation, they are have cultivated a nicely casual hostility towards immigrants over the last few years, presumably buoyed on by some sterling work by the European branches of The Sun and the Daily Facist. Now obviously this is all well and good while it only threatens cabbies and chop-shop mechanics, one of Italy’s best-known models has now been caught up in the nationalistic storm after admitting recently that she too was an illegal immigrant, living in fear of deportation and forced foxy-boxing down at the docks.

For those of you who can’t recognise her from previous coverage on this fine website, Czech-born Alena Seredova is the partner of uber-cool STT hero Gigi Buffon, while also being famous for modeling, TV presenting, wearing see-through shirts, and allegedly acting. Buffon is obviously a national hero for many reasons, and the pair have just had a child together, but Seredova’s recent revelation has sparked further fracas in the hottest political debate of the day.

In an interview with the highest-selling newspaper in Italy, Corriere della Sera, Seredova revealed she illegally entered the country from the Czech Republic nearly ten years ago now, before that country joined the European Union. As a result of this presumably traumatic experience, she said she was acutely aware of the dangers of stigmatising all migrants: “I believe that people who escape from misery to come to Italy to work, risking their skin on one of those boat crossings, should be accepted,” she said. Despite landing a roll presenting on a TV show upon arrivial in 2000, Seredova said she was permanently terrified to walk the streets: “It's absurd. My work put me in the public eye, but when I passed a policeman in the street I was afraid he would stop me. It brought me to tears.”

With the backing of the anti-immigrant-but-otherwise-really-nice-guys Northern League party, Silvio Berlusconi’s government plans to soon make entering Italy illegally a serious criminal offence, punishable even by prison. This rising tide of hatred comes from the sternly held assertion that obviously all crime is just committed by immigrants, and so locking them up in prison will definitely solve all the problems of poverty. If adopted, the new legislation would be among the strictest in Europe, and understandably it has drawn criticism from other Italian parties, the Vatican, the United Nations, and generally everyone else that isn’t a completely mindless racist.

Seredova’s comments however have been warmly received by Italian lefties campaigning for the rights of the country’s immigrant population. “She has done well to speak up,” said Daniela Pompei, the immigration officer for the Catholic organisation, Sant'Egidio. “We must remember that immigrants give a positive contribution to the Italy’s economy and society, and should be treated with respect,” he or she concluded.

So there we have it. Alena Seredova: TV presenter; model; actress; give-your-kidneys-to-medical-research-for-ten-minutes-alone-with-her beauty; political activist.

Score Goal, Get Sex

A couple of weeks ago now we ran a piece about an Austrian brewery offering any Austrian player who scored in the Euro a lifetime supply of free beer. Congratulations then to Ivica Vastic, I hope you are absolutely wasted right this second. We also (jokingly) suggested that we were but a stones throw away from players being offered prostitutes and the like as performance incentives too. Well trust the Russians to have the money and connections to make this beautifully sordid dream a reality.

According the dustbin of all such knowledge, The Sun, wealthy socialite Pyotr Listerman was filmed this week making an offer to star player Andrei Arshavin that for each goal they score tonight in the semi-final with Spain, they will be rewarded with two gorgeous girls each. A quite sinisterly smug Listerman, infamously known for setting up rich Russians with wives, said: “For each goal I’ll present two beautiful chicks. Watch the guys react!” So this guy’s basically a pimp, a pretty sweet gig if you can get it. The awesome Arshavin responded humbly: “There are a number of bachelors in our team. This is a great incentive.”

I wish I was rewarded with Russian threesomes at work. I guess weekly croissants and as much cutlery as I can cram into my pockets will have to do…

24 June, 2008

Ball Boys

You might've noticed over the weekend that Euro 2008 took a turn for the mind-numbingly dull with a couple of real bad bore draws. These were punctuated however by a simply brilliant Russian performance to knock out a hotly-tipped Dutch side, so we decided to take the focus off football and instead shine some light on the former might of the USSR. Amazingly this links seamlessly into another quite famous sporting event currently ongoing just down the road from STT headquarters in sunny Wimbledon. No, not the dogs, but the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. We all know women's tennis is rubbish in terms of actual ability, but one thing the game is not missing is an abundance of prime Russian female bodies.

Ok, so they're not WAGs, but if you think about it, they are actually quite a lot fitter (on the whole) and generally have some self-respect; quite a jarring change I know. Anyway, enjoy these lovely ladies and remember that they are all of legal age so it's ok to use your mind to think about that ball-boy scenario...you know, where you go into one of their locker rooms to tell them the game's about to start and they're required on court, but then it's bad because they're only just getting dressed and half-naked, and you're both really embarrassed, but then they flash you a cheeky smile and lock the door, and then, using their famously strong racket grip, take hold of your...

Phew, that was exhausting. So it seems to be the case that finally the Russians have finally cracked the genetic code for flexible, young beauty, and as we speak the STT offices are being shipped to Russia for further investigation into their sinister (yet sexy) Cold War ways throughout the remainder of the closed season. If we don't return before the start of the Premier League season, assume that our plans have been discovered and we have been taken hostage by some of these nubile hotties. Do not, repeat DO NOT, under any circumstances attempt to rescue us.

Affirmative Action

Those of you with keen memories might recall a little earlier in the year we ran a quite excellent piece talking about the prevalence/lack of black managers throughout the four professional football leagues in this country. It was quite shocking, but not altogether surprising really when you think about it. Today however, a tiny, microscopic blow has been struck for racial equality in the Premier League, because as we approach the 16th season since the shift from First Division, we finally have another black manager! Yes, it is official: Paul Ince has officially become the new Blackburn Rovers gaffer, following Jean Tigana (Fulham; 2000 – 2003) and Ruud Gullet (Chelsea and Newcastle; 1996 – 1999) as just the third black manager in the history of the Greatest League in the World™.

Ince has been given a three-year deal with Rovers, following in the footsteps of ex-partner-in-crime (not literally you racists!) Mark Hughes at Ewood Park. In just two previous seasons in the managerial quagmire, Ince has proved himself to be an excellent boss in the lower leagues, firstly keeping a seeming-doomed Macclesfield in League Two, before then moving on to the MK Dons where he tasted both promotional and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy success. These achievements also attracted the interest of Leicester City, who made an official approach to the Dons for Ince’s services earlier this month. However, it seems that Rovers wanted the former England captain more than anyone else, even brushing aside ex-England flop Steve McClaren and ex-Newcastle flop Sam Allardyce to get their man. Ince is the latest in an ever-increasing line of former Manchester United stars who played under Sir Alex Ferguson to manage in the Premier League. With Mark Hughes now at Manchester City, Steve Bruce at Wigan, and Roy Keane at Sunderland, it is definitely going to be lively when all their teams collide next season.

Former Blackburn striker Kevin Gallacher told the BBC that Rovers targeted Ince because they were looking for someone enthusiastic and with a big pull. “Paul knew that he wanted to come,” Gallacher said, “he's got the hunger and desire in his belly to be a good manager. He showed that at Macclesfield by how he managed to keep them up, and he brought a couple of trophies to MK Dons, so…hopefully he can bring some of that luck with him to Blackburn.” Gallacher added: “If Paul can keep the ship floating, keep the good players at the club, continue with the good work Mark (Hughes) has done and add his little bit in, Blackburn can only get stronger.” Understandably, job one for Ince is to keep David Bentley and Roque Santa Cruz at Ewood, but with an on-field and off-field reputation as good as anyone else in this country over the last decade, it’d take a brave man to suggest he won’t be able to convince his flighty star players to stay.

Things however are not looking so bright for another black player from about the same era with similar aspirations to push on to top flight management. John Barnes, perhaps the most decorated English black player of all time, has been searching for vacancies in the lower leagues without success for some time now. “I've applied for numerous jobs and sometimes I haven't even had the courtesy of a reply to my application letter,” Barnes told BBC Sport. “Perhaps I could understand it if I was applying for jobs at the top level but these were clubs in League One.” The whole process has left the former Liverpool star frustrated and disillusioned, convinced that still there is just not a system of equal opportunities for black professionals within football.

“I believe the situation for black managers is like it was for black players back in the 1970s,” he stated. “Black players used to be put out on the wing because it was deemed they could run fast but not think too well. They weren't trusted to be a playmaker in central midfield or to wear the captain's armband. Now I think there is an analogous situation in management (where) Chairmen don't believe we can do the top managerial jobs.” Turning to describe the situation experienced by Luther Blissett, a former England international who played abroad at the top level, Barnes continued: “He has been applying for manager's jobs in the Football League for 15 years and not got anywhere. This is all about opportunities.”

Keith Alexander, who succeeded Ince at Macclesfield, is currently the only other black manager in the Football League, but more worryingly, the Warwick Business School recently released statistics showing that there are only seven other black coaches of any capacity in the leagues. This constitutes just 1% of the total number of coaches operating at all levels, despite the fact that more than 20% of all players are currently black.

Barnes is obviously full of praise for Ince’s achievement, but is cautious about holding him up as some kind of archetype for all black managers being capable of the same level of success: “If he doesn't succeed, does that count against all black managers? I don't think so. Just as if he does succeed it doesn't mean all black managers are good.” Still, the admiring respect can’t help but shine through Barnes, as it does also STT: “He has done things the hard way, proving himself with Macclesfield and MK Dons; while Roy Keane and Gareth Southgate were given chances at the top, he went to the bottom club in the league.”

This Is How We Do It

I don’t know about you, but I am just sick to death of seeing pictures of footballers’ stunning girlfriends frolicking around in the sun on holiday pasted all over football websites. What do they have to do with anything? They’re slutty and have big cans. Yeah, so what? So do my next-door neighbours but you don’t see their candid smiles plastered all over this once-fine page! No, those photos are distributed in the proper manner; anonymously to free pornography sites. Football blogs and websites would be covering football stories goddammit, not lowering themselves to tabloid trash!

Here then is a proper FOOTBALL related story. The aspiring captain of our fantastic national team has certainly earned some time off after carrying his Manchester United team to an admirable League and European Cup double, so what did he do? Call up his also-a-famous-footballer-don’t-you-know brother of course, and now they are enjoying a lovely journey of self-discovery in Israel. You see, Rio and Anton Ferdinand are not only great footballers, but also pretty big wheels in the fashion world, as you can see from their annoyingly hip going-out attire. The two lady-killers hit an unnamed Tel Aviv hotspot (no that wasn’t a joke about bombs) to scope out some foxy chicks, before holding an impromptu 5-a-side tournament at midnight, because you know, that’s what footballers do.

The following day, the two Ferdinands clearly decided to give the ladies a break by just chilling out by themselves in the sea, probably talking football tactics or something while they casually sipped virgin blood. Rio wisely sidestepped wearing another see-through shirt, just because the night before he estimated more than two women had fallen pregnant at the mere sight of his pecs, but he did choose to furnish himself and Anton with matching aviators that definitely do not make them look like a couple. It would be homoerotic if they weren’t brothers.

Thanks as ever to The Spoiler for unearthing this untapped goldmine of fashion advice and mixed-race machismo.

Cidade de Deus

Ok what is the world coming to? Or more specifically, what is Brazil coming to? The more you hear and read in the media, the more that beautiful country just sounds like Mad Max in reality; completely lawless and ruled by violence. It really comes to something though when universally adored legends are the victims of crime on their own home turf. I’m not sure why it’s more affecting, but it’s almost as if robbing your heroes is the last step into pure soulless depravity. It’s trashing your childhood, and memories, and even most basic feelings, but apparently that’s just how they roll in Brazil.

We told you a little while ago how Ronaldo was recently hi-jacked for his Ferrari and personal possessions in Sao Paulo, but if that wasn’t bad even, now it has broken to the press that the 67-year-old Pele, perhaps the greatest footballer of all time and certainly Brazil’s most famous citizen, has also been the victim of a robbery at gunpoint. The two-time World Cup winner was accosted in the middle of the day by a 10-strong gang of hoodlums in Brazil, who stole his gold necklace, a mobile phone, and an expensive wrist watch. The national treasure’s chauffeur-driven car became stuck in a traffic jam in Guaruja, close to Pernambuco Beach where Pele has a holiday house, and this is where the gang pounced. Such road-side robberies are quite common in some areas of Brazil, with armed gangs from the slums erecting makeshift road blocks themselves to halt traffic before terrorizing the bottle-necked civilians.

I know this is a part of life, but is nothing sacred anymore? Did the recognition of probably someone these gang members idolized not stir any emotion in them? It’s a tragic state of affairs, but I guess looking on the bright side, at least the Great One was left unharmed.

23 June, 2008

Die Fuhrer Ist Nicht Glucklich

Adolf Hitler and Malcolm Glazer have a lot in common; both are small coiled springs of incomprehensible rage, and they most definitely do not respond well to disloyalty. Here then is a slice of nice internet-conjured amusement, re-subtitling ace war movie Downfall to capture the board’s rising contempt for a certain Portuguese winger’s capricious, money-grabbing nature:

Beware parents, this clip features some good old-fashioned family racism, as well as language that would make a sailor blush, so please exercise extreme responsibility before showing this to anyone under 5’7”…

20 June, 2008

We're Going To Deep Fry Your Cardboard Boxes

Advertising is a complex beast, something i know all too well these days. The invention of the internet has revolutionised how you market a product and a brand, and how you can thus create a romantic lifestyle image for the public to buy into. However, I can catagorically tell you as an industry professional that the following is an example of exactly how not to go about things. You see, glamour side Stevenage Borough might well have had their new kit delivered in a tattered, old cardboard box, but that doesn't mean the loyal fans necessarily have to see it. If they're shelling out 35 squid, they want to think each shirt was hand-delivered from the Armani flagship store in Milan by a busty beauty who keeps falling out of her top. So in conclusion, if you are planning to make an advert or a similar announcement in the near future, literally do the complete opposite of this and you should be ok (click for hi res):

Here endeth the lesson.

p.s. Thanks as ever to The Spoiler for this genius bit of eagle-eye-ness.

Infantry Made Me the Man I Am Today

It’s great that in the UK you have a choice over whether you join the army or not. Personally I can’t think of anything worse than getting up early and having to iron stuff the whole time, but you know for some folks, it’s the perfect way to see the world and shoot people for believing in a different god. Other countries are not so fortunate however, and have this crazy thing called national service, where all young men have to undergo a period in the army to ‘make them a man’ or some shit. Unfortunately for footballers, this sometimes also applies to them, with Newcastle’s Emre Belazoglu the latest player to apparently be subject to drafting. The midfielder’s £3m move from Tyneside back home to Fenerbahce in Turkey is currently up in the air while the player sorts out his country’s complex and compulsory national service ruling. A spokesman for the club said Emre will have to suffer through 21 days military training once Turkey’s involvement in Euro 2008 is over: “We will send him for national service after the European Championships, but there is no problem with the transfer,” a Fenerbahce representative told us helpfully this morning.

All Turkish men aged between 21 and 40 are required to serve up to 15 months in the military, although there are some exceptions made for those rich enough to buy their way out; citizens who have worked outside the country for at least three consecutive years can just pay 5,112 and undergo basic training for three weeks. Conveniently the clubs intend to wait a couple of weeks to confirm the transfer, as Emre’s third anniversary in this country falls on July 14th, allowing him to dodge quite a lengthy period in camouflage with a rucksack full of smokes and shared pornography, and instead just play soldiers for three weeks.

Of course Mr Belezoglu isn’t the first famous footballer to be subject to military service, with the majority of our old boys during the war still playing semi-professionally when the push of the German frontline allowed. Returning to more recent times however, several countries still operate an element of national service with little or no exceptions. During their formative years in Serie A, several famous Italian stars were involved in leva, or conscription: Fabio Galante, Alex Del Piero, Fabio Cannavaro and Marco Delvecchio were all housed in a special Napoli barracks, but club commitments did keep them away from boot-polishing for most of the week.

South Korean footballers are also subject to military service, more than two years of it no less, but after their successful run in World Cup 2002, the squad were rewarded with their conscription time being slashed to just one cushy month. Interestingly though there’s quite a sizable legal loophole; South Korea’s conscription rules stipulate that men with tattoos are unfit for the military because they cause “abomination among fellow soldiers.” Rumours that this draft-dodging intent was behind the famous Jigsaw Man’s transformation are yet to be substantiated however.

Anyone who’s been traveling will know the amount of Israeli guys you find all around the world, enjoying a bit of freedom after their military service, but their footballers too are apparently subject to special dispensation. Young guys who play for teams in Israel have a special status; they are described as ‘excelling sportsmen,’ and as such are allowed to pursue their career without the hindrance of 1000 sit-ups before breakfast. They are still officially drafted, but the army allows them to have a bit of a jolly in comparison to the hardcore boot-camp regular recruits must go through. Heart-warmingly though, athletes are still taught how to decapitate an enemy with their spade, as is the MOSSAD calling card. Interestingly however, those who manage to dodge the draft altogether can’t actually make it into the Israeli national team later in their careers; for example, Maccabi Haifa’s left-back Haim Migarashvilly would apparently get the call, but since he didn't do his military service he’s shunned for being a pussy.

It seems that surprisingly most Scandanavian countries are pretty draft-happy too; I never realised any of them actually had armies. Golf-club-fearing John Arne Riise was due to join the Norwegian army before heading to Liverpool, but his agent Einar Baardsen helped him squirm his way out. “As long as you are working or playing football abroad you are automatically excluded from any military service,” Baardsen told us. “I'm sure the military service would love to have him,” he quipped, “but it will take many years before they can get him. And if he stays outside the country until he is 28 he will never be drafted.” So that’s that then.

Ex-Blackburn striker Shefki Kuqi also steered clear of a spot of shipyard-guarding back home in Finland by means of living abroad. “Fortunately my lawyer sorted it all out and I didn't have to go back - I got away with it because I've been living abroad,” he told the Telegraph before his move to Lancashire. Tottenham midfielder Teemu Tainio wasn't so lucky however; as a teenager, he saw a move to Manchester United scuppered by his father, who genuinely ordered him home from an Old Trafford training camp to complete his military service. Not cool man, really not cool.

19 June, 2008

La Haine et L'Amour

The French are an odd bunch. They make cracking cheeses, hams and breads, but often choose instead to eat common garden pests such as snails and frogs. When it comes to football then, they yo-yo between the sublime and the miserable, with the last ten years offering a perfect microcosm of this frustrating fact. In 1998 they won the World Cup; in 2000 they won the Euro; in 2002 they failed to even score a goal in defending their World Cup; in 2004, they lost humiliatingly to Greece in the first knockout round; in 2006, they nearly won the World Cup again; and then of course this year they’ve limped out of another competition with just one goal and one point to their name. So instead of holding his hands up and falling on his sword for what the French press have called a “shipwreck” of a tournament, gaffer Raymond Domenech launched into a bizarre declaration of love on national television for his girlfriend Estelle Denis: “I have only one project- to marry Estelle, which is what I'm asking her today. I know it's difficult, but it's at moments like this that you need everyone and I need her,” he rambled to French TV with tears in his eyes. See it for yourself here: (about 1min 45secs in)

It’s simply incredible, just imagine if Steve Maclaren had responded in this way after we confirmed our non-attendance in the on-going Euro; he would’ve taken such a hammering that genuinely he’d probably have to leave the country. French press haven’t been too kind either though: Le Parisien described the outburst as “unreal;” sports daily l'Equipe was furious at Domenech's “error of taste;” and France Soir's front page screamed “Resign! There is only one exit: the door.” The Paul O’Grady look-a-like continued to dig himself into the ground in a later an attempt to try to justify the somewhat misguided timing of his marriage proposal: “Everything was so sad, I thought life has some beautiful moments and you should tell people you love them. I wanted to show some emotion. I'm not going to repeat it.”

French fans are not just gunning for Domenech over his romantic outburst; it’s just the straw that broke the camel’s back after a campaign full of abysmal tactical judgement. He has taken a lot of stick in France by clinging to an older generation of players such as Henry, Thuram and Makalele, ahead of promising talent such as Benzema, Ben Arfa, Lassana Diarra and Flamini, only one of which actually featured. Furthermore, the suggestion has been that he’s hamstringed the side into playing a narrow and unenterprising style, and that certainly seemed apparent against Italy this week where Henry was stranded up-front by himself with four defenders for company most of the game. The French football federation will decide Domenech’s fate on July 3, so expect his contract (currently due to expire in 2010 after the World Cup in South Africa) to be unceremoniously canceled.

18 June, 2008

Good News for Gazza

Finally things might be taking an upturn for Paul Gascoigne, as today he has been reportedly offered a football lifeline by coaching the Philippines squad. I’m sure most of you, like us, have watched the slow decline of the last great English footballing icon with remorse and emotion. It’s just such a sad state of affairs, but hopefully this opportunity to get involved again in football will stop his gradual decline into, well, insanity.

The Philippines, made up of more than 7,000 small islands in the Pacific, believe a comeback into the game would help Gazza kick his alcohol addiction for good, and restore some semblance of routine and reality. Leo Jensen, from the Philippine Football Agency UK, told the Daily Star today: “We want Gazza to get back on his feet, and he needs football back in his life. I believe he needs a challenge – and we need a coach – so he would be perfect. One of the reasons he’s down is because he’s waving goodbye to football, so we need to get him back on the pitch again.”

There are high hopes of tempting Gazza out of retirement to help the Philippines establish a professional and organized national team: “We are in contact with him and believe he could be the right man to coach us,” Jensen continued. “He has a lot of experience, has done coaching and has been in China so he knows the Asian game. We want to bring him back to football, and that is what he really wants. Everyone would love to see him back and with his name he can fill stadiums. Not only will Filipinos turn up to see the national team, they will also be there to see Gazza.”

The squad already includes players who ‘star’ in the Chelsea, Everton and Fulham reserves in this country, but as part of the re-branding of football out in that part of the world, Jensen is also appealing for talented players in Britain who have a Filipino parent to get in touch. If this applies to you, or if you fancy yourself as a somewhat gifted fraudster, drop them a line on the www.pfauk.net website.