Category Archives: Football

Next time I’m coming back as a footballer!

Michael OwenSo this morning Michael Owen has announced his intention to retire at the end of the season at the grand old age of 33.

Owen burst on to the scene as a teenager at Liverpool and made England’s 1998 World Cup squad aged just 18. He announced himself on the world stage with a memorable solo goal against Argentina in that tournament and scored a hat-trick as England beat Germany 5-1 in Munich in September 2001.

He has scored 220 goals in his club career, winning the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup (three times) and UEFA Cup. Owen was named European Footballer of the Year in 2001 – the first Englishman to achieve the accolade since my own particular favourite, Kevin Keegan, in 1979.

“Having progressed through the ranks at Liverpool to make my first-team debut at 17, before embarking upon spells at Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, not to mention representing my country on 89 occasions, I now feel it is the right time to bring the curtain down on my career,” Owen has written in a statement on his website.

But it’s not quite pipe and slippers time yet for Michael.  He has indicated that he would like to become involved with Chester FC in some capacity when he retires, as it was his local team growing up and the team his father used to play for.   As a professional footballer he can take benefits from his pension at his protected pension age of 35 and continue to play for, or be employed in a non-playing capacity with, any Football League club as long as he, for example, do not own or control the club.

So spare a thought for us mere mortals who will be working until we’re old and decrepit in a job we most probably despise before being eligible to retire.  All you’ve had to do is run around the park with the lads for 90 minutes on a Saturday with the odd mid-week game and a few hours training each day for less than half the years we have to work.  Am I jealous?  You bet your sweet **** I am!!!

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Dry your eyes mate!

I do hope Sir Alex Ferguson has recovered this morning from Manchester United’s exit last night from the Champions League – too “distraught” to face the media apparently, the purple-nosed one declared himself to be “in no fit state to talk”.

They were beaten by Real Madrid in the second leg, having been reduced to 10 men after the controversial sending off of Nani in the 56th minute and there has been the usual outcry from United fans about the unfairness of the sending off as it changed the game entirely.  Up to that point they were undoubtedly the better side and it looked likely that they would definitely proceed to the next round.

In  any game of football, however, a player is asking for trouble by connecting with an opponent’s midriff.  Nani’s boot was definitely raised with painful consequences, accidental or not.  That said, there was still palpable shock when the red card was brandished.

Nani's high challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa that earned him a red card.

Mourinho’s decision to bring on Luka Modric straight away was a masterstroke and it was then Ronaldo, until that point largely subdued, reminded Old Trafford why he is such a formidable destroyer of defences.  Both players scored within three minutes of one another and, however impudent it was for Mourinho to shake Ferguson’s hand and set off for the dugout with the final exchanges of stoppage time still to be played, the truth is the game had already been won.

At the final whistle, with one manager unable to bring himself to talk and another contemplating another pulsating Old Trafford victory for his collection, what we are left with is the whining of the United fans who feel they were robbed of the chance of further glory in this competition and a Turkish referee who will have probably needed a police escort leaving the stadium, before a swift flight back to Istanbul this morning.

But at the end of the day, it is just a football match – no-one died.  So I leave you with the chorus to this well-known song by The Streets, [adapted to suit the gender change!]:

Dry your eyes mate
I know it’s hard to take but [his] mind has been made up
There’s plenty more fish in the sea
Dry your eyes mate
I know you want to make [him] see how much this pain hurts
But you’ve got to walk away now.

Ferguson crying

Surely this takes le biscuit?

Watch Joey Barton’s press conference following his league debut for Marseille while on loan from Queens Park Rangers.   Usually better known for his “bad boy” behaviour – his career and life have been marked by numerous controversial incidents and disciplinary problems and he has been convicted twice on charges of violence and charged with violent conduct three times by The FA.

And now his latest crime – against the country that are paying his wages!  After butchering the French accent, in scenes reminiscent of Officer Crabtree in ‘Allo, ‘allo’, he also insulted his host country by criticising, in Franglais, French football, saying: ‘Maybe the one criticism of the French Ligue is it’s a leetle bit boring’.

Speaking in France before his league  debut, Barton said: ‘Perhaps I shouldn’t say it, but I’m maybe a little  too intelligent to be a footballer.’   Well he’s certainly proven to all of us that he has a degree of some kind ….. a degree of stupidity!

Feathered fiends

Despite living at the very least 15 miles from the nearest coastal area here on the southside of Glasgow, we are currently being plagued by marauding seagulls, keeping us awake at night with their squawking and littering the street with their droppings.

This noisy nightmare occurs every time there is something on at Hampden.  They have replaced the pigeon population here as the “flying rats”, feasting on the fast food rubbish that the crowds drop willy nilly on the pavements as they leave the venue.

Seagulls are perfectly capable of finding natural foods and if they are not provided with an unnatural meal, intentionally or otherwise, they will turn eventually to a more natural source of food.

Can I therefore ask all the people attending the football matches at Hampden for London2012 to dispose of their rubbish in the bins provided.  Thank you! 

Bad Korea move

Most people thought that the problems we might face in holding the Olympics would be something to do with security or traffic delays.  No-one could have imagined what would actually be the first embarrassment of the London2012 games!

Last night, at Hampden Park in Glasgow, what can only be described as a “schoolboy error” occurred when bungling officials displayed the WRONG Korean flag!

NORTH Korea’s women footballers stormed off the pitch in fury when a giant screen showed the SOUTH Korean flag instead.  The emblem of their bitter enemies was flashed up on the big screen as they came out to warm up for their match against Colombia.

The North Koreans — fanatical supporters of dead leader Kim Jong Il and his son Kim Jong Un — refused to take to the field for the 7.45pm kick-off.  Organisers said there was an “off-the-field” dispute they were trying to resolve and the game was delayed for over an hour as officials tried to placate the North Koreans.  The game finally began at 8.50pm after the correct flag was shown on the screen.

London 2012 bosses were forced to issue an apology. A spokesman said: “The South Korean flag was shown on a big screen video package instead of the North Korean flag.  Clearly that is a mistake, we will apologise to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again.”

But there is something else that is bothering me about the Games themselves.   If the opening ceremony is not on until Friday, why have the games started already?  Answers on a postcard please!

The reign of Spain continues in Ukraine

So that’s it – the end of another tournament and Spain are the worthy winners, beating Italy 4-0 to enter the record books as the only team to win 3 consecutive major international competitions, Euro2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro2012 – quite an achievement for a team often described throughout this competition as “boring”.

Well they were far from boring tonight.  If you watched the game you’ll know that this was a game totally dominated by Spain from the start and their passing game meant Italy had very little chance of doing anything on the rare occasions when Spain allowed them to take possession of the ball.

Leading through first-half goals from David Silva and Jordi Alba, Spain’s victory was sealed when final substitute Thiago Motta was stretchered off, leaving the Azzurri to play the final half hour with 10 men.  And just to rub it in, Chelsea duo Fernando Torres and Juan Mata scored in the final minutes to complete a sensational victory.

Former Arsenal player, Cesc Fabregas, got his own back.  In his post-match interview with the BBC he said:

“It feels really, really amazing. It’s one of the best days of my life.  “I don’t think we realise what we’ve done. But in time we’ll see what we’ve done.  “Are we boring?  People who think we are boring, I don’t think they understand the game.”

It always happens in 3’s

Today bought 3 shock results/news items in the world of sport.

Firstly we discovered that David Beckham had been left out of the GB Olympic Squad by Stuart Pearce who, in his infinite wisdom decided he had a strong enough midfield and so picked Manchester City defender Micah Richards ahead of him.  (Yes, the same Micah Richards who refused to be on stand-by for the England Squad for Euro2012).  When he only had the choice of three over 23 year olds, it seems bonkers to me that Beckham wasn’t chosen – he was part of the Olympic flame handover ceremony in May, bringing it to Britain for the torch relay.   He also played a major role as a sporting ambassador when London won the 2012 bid, and has made no secret of his desire to captain Team GB.

So then we came to this evening’s entertainment!   Starting with  the Euro2012 semi-final between Italy and Germany.  With the Germans the strong favourites I don’t think any of the neutrals watching could believe the happenings on the pitch!  The Germans were rubbish and the Italians were magnificent.  Two sensational goals from the super-loopy Mario Balotelli catapulted them into the final against Spain on Sunday.  There was a wee flurry in extra time where the Germans were awarded a penalty and despite a brilliant strike from Ozil to make it 2-1, it was too little, too late and Italy were the victors.

That just left enough time for me to switch over to BBC2 to see the world No.2, Rafael Nadal, get beaten in the 5th set in the 2nd round of Wimbledon to Lukas Rosol, a player who is ranked 100th in the world! 

This charming Czech player modestly said in his post-match interview:

“I know Nadal is only human. Nadal played a good match but I think I was a little bit better.”

The last few games that I was able to watch definitely proved this – he was exciting to watch and I was rather sorry I’d elected to watch the football instead of this tennis match but they were both equally unexpected results which is always refreshing for the armchair sports fan!

Oh well, that’s enough excitement for one day – only the Final on Sunday and the 2nd week of Wimbledon to look forward to before the Olympics – how will I cope???

Football -v- Sperm Whales?

Last night there was a huge, foootball-shaped hole in my evening.  For the first time since 8th June there was no Euro2012 action and the TV schedulers failed to take advantage of this fact and give us anything else worth watching! 

At least tonight things are “back to normal” with the quarter-final match between the Czech Republic and Portugal kicking off at 19.45.

Czech Republic captain (and Arsenal player) Tomas Rosicky is still nursing the Achilles injury he picked up against Greece in the second group match but is hoping to still play and the Portuguese don’t appear to have any injury worries and are expected to name an unchanged side from the 11 that defeated the Dutch in the last game.  The same starting line-up incidentally that Portugal used in each match during the group stage – the only team to do this!

At the pre-match press conference today, Rosicky, sporting a beard along with the rest of the Czech squad, said he and his team mates would continue to grow their facial hair for as long as they remained at the tournament.

“We look scary as a team. Hopefully they (the beards) will get worse and worse,” he joked.

Of course, if you don’t like football, you could always watch Ocean Giants on BBC2.  The last in the series, this documentary (narrated by Stephen Fry) explores the vocal ranges of marine mammals.  Failing that, there is always Emmerdale and Lewis!!! 

Temper your expectations!

Tonight we watched from behind our sofas as Wayne Rooney marked his England return with the goal that secured a place for England in Euro 2012’s last eight – but it was a rough passage eased by helpings of good fortune and controversy against Ukraine.

Ukraine, however, will complain long and hard about a contentious second-half incident when Marko Devic’s shot clearly crossed the line before it was scrambled away by John Terry, only for the officials to remain unmoved.  The incident immediately revived the debate about goal-line technology, with a final decision on whether it is introduced expected to be taken in Zurich on 5 July.

England will of course regard it as a measure of justice for Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against Germany in Bloemfontein at the 2010 World Cup – but it was also an illustration of how they rode their luck for long periods in front of a predictably partisan home crowd in Kiev tonight.

The Ukrainians immediately demanded a goal and their claims were vindicated as replays showed the ball crossed the line before Terry’s intervention.

Before the game manager Roy Hodgson had said England could dream a little – ahead of the confrontation with Italy in Kiev, they can now afford to dream a little more.

But lets not get too carried away!  We get so above ourselves in these tournaments and the nation as a whole always seems to think that the England team can win the whole thing!  This is quite clearly unlikely to happen while are unable to achieve No.1 status in the FIFA World Rankings.  We are currently No. 6 in the world and No. 4 in Europe, meaning the very best we should perhaps be hoping for in this competition is 4th place and anything better than this is a bonus?

Sorry – you might not like that, but it’s true!

Home at Highbury

If you’ve got a spare £795,000 knocking about, you could own a luxury apartment built on Arsenal’s former ground, Highbury. The iconic art deco East Stand and West Stand exteriors still stand as part of the development.

It’s safe to say Spurs fans wouldn’t be too happy with the decor in the concierge area of the East Stand apartments!

They might cost a lot, but the apartments are spectacular.

And they have a view directly out onto the former pitch, so you can relive glory days gone by every day.

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