Friday, 27 April 2012

Enough already on John Terry and the ticking time bomb of handshake DOOM

  Hi Reader, you mythical beast, I have a confession to make.  I have a problem and it’s starting to affect my day to day life. It’s John Terry, and the problem is that he exists…no, wait, no, that’s not what I meant to say. What I meant to say is I have a problem in that every time I sit down to write I end up talking about how much I hate John  Terry, just look back at all of my posts and you will see that the square headed one appears in each. This is really beginning to affect my writing, it’s ruined my unpublished novel about a 19th century Geordie fish wife (all of the pertinent social commentary is undermined by a square headed village idiot type who knees all the main characters in the back every time they try to say something and generally tramps around rutting with fish heads) and it totally spoiled my Grandmother’s 80th birthday card/ Birthday. So, I hereby resolve to give the Terry bashing a rest, I can’t promise not to slag him off again any more than I can promise to stop breathing but I will promise not to mention him in every post.

That being said, I have already mentioned him in this one so here is a bit more Terry bashing….

Another weekend in the bubble, another handshake controversy, because in the bubble a handshake is akin to an implicit peace treaty and avoidance of said handshake will undoubtedly result in consternation, violence and inevitably, death. Chaos theory dictates that this handshake refusal inspired acrimony will trigger a chain of events ultimately leading to the breakdown of society followed closely by the destruction of the planet through some kind of huge explosion. This will leave us all clinging to small chunks of our former planet, drifting past each other in the vast emptiness of space with arms outstretched trying desperately to shake each others hands for the smidgeon of comfort afforded in the slightest piece of human contact. Then returning to solitude for an eternity of contemplation of how we let this happen. Or at least you could be forgiven for believing that this will be the course of events given the media storm that inevitably surrounds these things.

This week’s HANDSHAKE GATE is brought to you once again by that loveable rogue John Terry. It seems that people often have a problem with shaking Mr. Terry’s hand, perhaps he is a cheeky prankster who wears one of those handshake buzzer-ring-things as a hilarious jape…oh no, wait, I just checked my notes and it says here that he is the biggest cunt in football, must find a way to remember that, perhaps by mentioning it in every blog post I make. Well, this time the problem is to do with Anton Ferdinand and Terry’s alleged racism towards him, charges that Terry strongly denies. He is so confident in his innocence that he instructed his lawyers to delay his trial until after the European championships, thus avoiding any potential suspensions from the FA until after what will probably be his last tournament for England.

The excellent Arseblog, as well as sharing an appropriate opinion on England’s former captain is spot on about this handshake thing, arguing that the whole pointless exercise should be stopped. I also don’t think anybody should be forced to shake another person (or John Terry) by the hand. This enforced sportsmanship ritual defeats the entire object. Despite what FA chief Richard Scudamore may think being told you have to shake somebody’s hand does not make you respect them, take away the legislation and you avoid these little media storms with the happy side effect that when handshakes happen they will be sincere expressions of respect rather than an affected obligation.

Anyway, there is actually some football being played this weekend to keep you interested in the long periods between hands being shaken or left to dangle outrageously from the ends of arms. There are big games for top and bottom so in the age old Match of the Day tradition I will start with the top. Utd. Vs. City for those of you living in your own little bubble is Monday night so more on that on Monday morning. To be honest to avoid the hype for this one your personal bubble would have to be hermetically sealed.
Even if you took a laptop in with you, chances are lack of oxygen will have made you very blue and very dead by now and so you have strayed out of my target audience. I’m sorry I just don’t cater to dead people, unless you are Undead and inclined to comment, in which case welcome! Take a hunk of my thigh and make yourself comfortable….

…I digress, this is a problem I have, apologies.

Stoke vs. Arsenal Next down in the table are Arsenal with what is on paper the trickiest game in their run in. Stoke ostensibly have nothing to play for but these are 2 teams with buckets of bad blood between them, conflicting styles, Aaron Ramsey’s leg and the ensuing public fall out of Pulis and Wenger have seen to that. Unless Newcastle can beat Man City or Chelsea in the run in I think that Arsenal need 6 points from their last 3 games to secure 3rd spot and so a point in a ground on which they have previously struggled would not be a disaster.
Tottenham vs. Blackburn- 2 similar teams in many ways, both on a down slope in terms of form but both still with much to play for (Champions league qualification and premiership survival respectively). Midweek results for Chelsea and Bolton may prove disheartening for both teams as they could impact on their targets, a real test of mettle for potential future England manager Redknapp and the much derided Kean as they try to motivate their sides. Expect a scrappy match as both teams fight to turn their seasons around.
 Wigan vs. Newcastle 2 form teams of late and 2 teams still with plenty to play for, this could be the game of the weekend. If Wigan had played like they have in recent games all season then they would be much further up the table. They have the same problem every year, Martinez finally gets the team playing according to his philosophy, they pull themselves out of the relegation zone, then the season ends, they sell all of their best players and are back to square one. Newcastle have been stupendous for the last couple of games and will be hoping for Champions league football to keep their squad together.
Chelsea vs. QPR- I guess I made my feelings on Chelsea’s recent revival clear on Wednesday (see below) but time will tell if that Barcelona game proves to be indicative of the rest of their season. Di Matteo’s men haven’t shown any attacking fluency for some time, deadly finishing yes, but QPR will not be as open as Barcelona were on Tuesday so chances may be at a premium for tired legs. Also, unless Cahill has recovered from his hamstring injury they will be forced to play drained midweek heroes Ivanovic, Bosingwa and (admittedly slightly rested, not hero) Terry in defence. The hoops are fighting for their lives and landing some punches while they are at it as good results against Arsenal, Tottenham and Swansea have shown in recent weeks. If they can find a way to keep 11 men on the pitch I expect them to cause Chelsea difficulties.
 West Brom vs. Aston Villa Villa are on the slide. Remember a few seasons back when Villa played exciting football on the counter attack? They’ve lost a lot of good players and one good manager since then. The whole season they offered nothing in terms of entertainment or even just the result grinding obduracy of Mcleish’s time at Birmingham. West Brom, again, seem to have nothing to play for but the enduring misery of a local rival could be motivation enough to beat a team bereft of ideas.
 Sunderland vs. Bolton Sunderland have been pretty awful since their survival was secured. Bolton showed something in midweek to suggest they may battle their way out of this season intact after all. An away win as boring as this paragraph I suspect.

Those are the significant games, also playing are Everton vs Fulham, Swansea vs. Wolves and Norwich vs. Liverpool, all teams mired in mid table purgatory for the rest of the season. The fact I can’t be bothered to write up anything on these games should serve as an implicit assertion that nothing interesting will happen in the dead rubber games between these teams with one eye on their summer holidays. Come on Premier League, defy my italicised clich├ęs. Prove me wrong Premier League. PROVE ME WRONG.


Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Hello Still no evidence of anybody reading this except me so,  in the words of the immortal Bill Hicks “bear with me while I plaster on a fake smile and plow through this shit.”

On Monday I said that I expected Chelsea to get found out in their second semi final against Barcelona. I meant that they would prove to be a team without the cohesion and spirit that many seem to have projected onto them in recent weeks. I wasn’t saying that UEFA officials would find various animals stitched into freakish homemade chimera, arranged in dioramas of gangbangs through the ages and stashed in the bottom of John Terry’s kit bag. Though I have it on very good authority that this is true (nb. For legal reasons I should state categorically that I have no source whatsoever, this is only wild speculation...wild, crazy, unthinkable, plausible speculation).

Well, you saw what happened, John Terry got one of those red cards that only get shown at the Nou Camp. Sure, he was stupid and I’m certainly not here to defend him (take a look at the abuse I’ve just dished out) but it did leave a bad taste. John Terry was doing that John Terry thing, being a twat (and then lying about being a twat afterwards) but that red card just doesn’t get given in any other ground.

 There is no doubt that Barcelona are an exceptionally talented team but I’m getting a bit sick of them always getting that little extra bit of help. If they are good enough to do it on their own then we need to see them standing on the same ground as everyone else so that when they tower above we can look up and applaud, rather than tug on their shirts muttering “Hang on a second.”

On the other hand, it was hilarious though...did you see his face? Brilliant. He told Sky man Geoff Shreeves that he “never done nothing,” (sic...probably) so we must assume that John Terry just does not understand how television cameras work. Makes you wonder how that racism trial in the summer is going to pan out doesn’t it. I haven’t seen the video evidence but thought that it was possible that Terry had a good case as he seemed so adamant of his innocence, but now it is clear that he is capable of convincing himself that he is in the right almost immediately even when it is on tape. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, what a fucking unconscionable, moronic piece of dick cheese he is.

Great defender though...  

Anyway, somehow Chelsea got through the game with 10 men and deserve heaps of credit for what they’ve managed to achieve with stoic defending and deadly finishing (and a big slice of luck, it’s not every day you see the best player in the world miss a penalty).

I have to admit that I always thought that the Chelsea revival was a false dawn Wait, false dawn? I’ve confused myself a bit here, aren’t these players in the twilight of their careers? Yeah, so, scratch the false dawn thing what I thought I was seeing was the sun setting and various people running around trying to pretend the sun wasn’t setting like village simpletons scared of the impending reign of the brutal and sadistic Moon god.

The reason I wrote off Chelsea before the 2nd leg is because I haven’t really seen them play properly all season. They’ve had good results, sure like the 1st leg and Napoli at home, but when was the last time you saw this team actually play well before tonight? I mean as in every aspect of the game rather than just the resilient defending we saw last week. They’ve spent seasons strutting around arrogantly, looking down at the rest of us and laughing, holding us back with one hand whilst we swing wildly without being able to reach. Then they’d give us a quick kick in the balls and win the fucking league.

But let’s analyse this recent revival game by game shall we? You may well disagree with my assessments, by all means let me know, call me a cunt, for god’s sake acknowledge me!

....ahem, excuse me, sorry about that. Chelsea’s games since Di Matteo took over-
Birmingham 0-2 Chelsea- FA cup replay victory against a heavily depleted Championship team suffering from multiple injuries
Chelsea 1-0 Stoke- Scraped victory against Stoke who were reduced to 10 men for most of the game.
Chelsea 4-1 Napoli- Good result and a truly great night for Stamford Bridge but let’s not forget that the game had to go to extra time and Chelsea were lucky in that Napoli (currently 5th in Serie A) had many chances.
Chelsea 5-2 Leicester- Home FA cup win only made safe late in the game with several goals in quick succession. Conceded 2 at home to team currently 10th in the Championship.
Man City 2-1 Chelsea- Lost to a good team, no shame in that but still a loss.
Benfica 0-1 Chelsea- Good away performance but Benfica had their chances and Chelsea displayed nothing like the dominance they would have expected over 2nd placed team in Portugal a few seasons ago.
Aston Villa 2-4 Chelsea- Victory secured late and gloss applied with 4th goal as Villa were chasing the game. Conceded 2 to Villa, Alex Mcleish’s Villa, who have scored a grand total of 35 goals this season. The only things you need to know about this Villa team is that they are personified by England’s greatest ever non-goal scoring striker, Emile Heskey and following a loss to Bolton last night, look like they might go down (and nobody will miss them)
Chelsea 2-1 Benfica- Victory in the tie but Chelsea were abysmal in the 2nd half and again faced only 10 men for most of the game.
Chelsea 2-1 Wigan- 2 offside goals won the game for Chelsea. Wigan were robbed and the chief referee apologised to Wigan days later
Fulham 1-1 Chelsea- Took the lead with a soft penalty and were pegged back for a draw by a Fulham team who played the best football throughout
Tottenham 1-5 Chelsea- Ball did not cross the line for Chelsea’s 2nd goal, flattered by some excellent finishing against a demoralised Tottenham side but probably would have won without dodgy decision anyway.
Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona- Were completely dominated and scored with their only shot of the game
Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea- showed little ambition, looking to play on the break did not really produce a coherent attacking move in the game.

Lots of victories in there, which is the main thing you may well say, and you’d be right. But look at the amount of luck they have had too, and not a comprehensively good performance in the bunch.

People in the football bubble always talk about momentum. You see, the bubble is a sphere and gravity doesn’t work properly inside it (ask Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez or Ashley Young) so you get going in one direction and you find yourself whizzing round and round like one of those motorbikes in a spherical cage. Chelsea had momentum from an extremely lucky run and sometimes that can translate into form. However, if the front wheel comes spinning off you can just as easily crash to the floor of the cage in a pool of John Terry blood.

That hasn’t happened though, what we have seen is Chelsea chancing their way back into form. They strung enough results together with sheer dumb luck to remind them what they are capable of and we saw the fruits of that last night.

I can’t see them winning the final, they will definitely be missing Terry, Ramires, Ivanovic, Meireles and possibly Cahill which would be one central defender too far you would think. It is possible that Terry has fucked them over in the final once again. Ramires will also be a huge miss, he was phenomenal again last night and has been growing as a player with each passing week.  
After last night you can’t say anything is impossible for this team but I don’t see them being able to put out a side capable of competing in every aspect of the game (rather than just defending). But then what do I know?


Monday, 23 April 2012

Welcome to the bubble. Let me just deconstruct that sentence for you, because first time it sounded a bit like an intro to a teatime game show on channel 4 were middle aged women and students are locked in mortal combat inside a massive Perspex sphere. You know the kind, contestants answering general knowledge questions to accrue enough points for weapons, poisons and the like (or something along those lines anyway).

I say “Welcome,” by force of habit as I would do usually to any visitor. Force of habit rather than necessity as I don’t think anyone is reading this yet. I think that until I receive some concrete evidence of intelligent life out there, until somebody shines a light into my little hole I might have to acknowledge the basic absurdity of what I am doing but not dwell on it. Something akin to telling myself, aloud, “You’re talking to yourself you silly man,” before launching into a massive epilogue about Ashley Young’s diving but then still being able to function afterwards as a semi normal member of society. Let’s see how that goes, this blog could well be a document of one man’s gradual descent into insanity which will prove to be interesting only after I have been shot for trying to clamber into the Queen’s Jubilee parade car whilst stark naked and singing ‘row, row, row your boat’ backwards in Hebrew. At this rate it may only take a couple more posts before that inevitable, crazy fog fills my vision...

The second part of that opening sentence (putting aside for a second ‘to’ which is more significant than you could ever dare to dream...)  “The Football Bubble,” is the title I’ve chosen for this blog (don’t believe me? Check the top of the page...see?), it wasn’t entirely random. My contention is that the world of Football exists within a bubble, a different neighbourhood of our universe which closely resembles the world we inhabit with some crucial differences. Reason, rationality, perspective, the laws of gravity and basic human decency are among the things that are distorted within the walls of the bubble. Walls that enclose us all, players, managers, club staff, fans, the press and the officials, thrown together and against each other in a mad, colourful Hadron collider of opinion, outrage and, let’s face it, temporary insanity. I guess I will try to sift through the mess for my own perspective.

Which brings me to my point, I have a lot of problems with the way that football is covered in this country and though I don’t have too much experience to back this up I imagine that the standard is the same across the world. The standard of punditry in television coverage is atrocious and there is a fair amount of the written coverage and opinion in mainstream media which is just as bad. In January, and before that even, there was a queue of hacks and television ‘experts’ itching to tell anyone who would listen that the title was City’s and a few short days ago the same had already handed the crown back to United.

Well, look what happened, another round of fixtures and all of a sudden everything has changed around again. Now it seems that the oracles have polished off the smudge that was distorting their crystal ball and realised that that the magical force of momentum is back with City. Well, starting with Manchester United 4-4 Everton: What a game this was! Usually a score line such as this between 2 teams which are generally considered competent is indicative of the kind of defending personified by Titus Bramble in a Newcastle shirt. Not so today, I honestly can’t remember the last time that I saw so many high quality goals in one game. Starting with Jelavic’s superbly aimed header to open the scoring and followed by Rooney’s bullet header reply (all about Nani’s cross), Welbeck’s shuffle and stroke into the top corner, Welbeck and Rooney’s psychically linked interplay, another deadly finish from Jelavic, and finally a precise passing move for Pienaar to stroke home. 8 of the best and a thoroughly entertaining game, United were good but not as good as we have seen in seasons passed...something our friends in the media forgot when they proclaimed United’s lead unassailable after Arsenal 1-0 City. City did the business beating Wolves 2-0 as you would expect from a squad with the amount of talent at their disposal. Rumours of a Balotelli inspired implosion now seem like the mad ravings of a special brew fuelled lunatic. All of which demonstrates to those who had not already realised that pundits just don’t know, nobody does. The best pundits admit that, talk about what they think will happen and point to historical examples to back up their claims. Unfortunately though there are (I’m looking at you Talksport, the Sun and ITV)  others who seriously don’t have a fucking clue. They cover their ignorance by proclaiming nailed on certainties so they can brag if they get lucky and hope you don’t remember if they are wrong. Don’t they remember Arsenal coming from behind to pip United in 1997-1998? There are many more it just me that expects the experts to remember and share them?

All I’m saying is that we need to get some crossbows, camouflage paint and gear, find these people and hunt them down in the streets (only the really bad pundits I mean, I’m not a monster...Motty gets a pass) I really don’t think that’s too much to ask?

Ahem...excuse me whilst I fight the fog I mentioned earlier for a minute...

...and that’s better. Anyway, some talking points...
Best Game of the Weekend- Manchester United 4-4 Everton: no contest I think, for the  reasons listed above but honourable mention to El Classico with a dramatic finish leading to Real Madrid’s victory over Barca, effectively clinching the title and finally giving us a game to live up to the hype.
Worst Game of the Weekend- Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea: Worst one I watched anyway. Like El Classico expectations were high for 2 teams fighting for Champions League qualification but little invention or excitement in the play from what was basically a League Cup team from Chelsea (with a £50m striker...goddamn you, modern football). Arsenal didn’t move the ball fast enough in midfield without the injured Mikel Arteta and were wasteful in front of goal with RVP out of sorts still.
Team of the Weekend- Newcastle: That ‘M’ word, momentum is all theirs out of the contenders for the Champions League and you have to fancy them with the form they, and particularly Cabaye, Ben Arfa and Cisse have been showing. The former was exceptional on Saturday and the latter 2 have been playing like they belong in Europe for weeks. They have tough games with Chelsea and Manchester City to come but they are capable of getting the results particularly if Manchester City are out of the title race by then (they play United before).
Winners- Got to be Manchester City I suppose...IT’S BACK ON!!!!!!!!! (Excessive capitals and exclamations for emphasis of the sensational nature of football reporting alluded to earlier and in no way endorsed as an acceptable form of written communication by this blog)
Losers- Wolves: Down they go, never nice to see but the club did it to themselves. A lot of the sympathy they may have receive left with Mick McCarthy I suspect. Tough on the fans though.

That’s that then back on Wednesday to talk about the 1st Champions league semi, I expect Chelsea to get found out finally but only time will tell...

Sunday, 22 April 2012


Hi there, so, I’ve been thinking about writing a football blog for a while now and here we are, the truth is that there is usually a massive difference between what I think about and what I actually do. Even now, as I am writing I have a couple of issues with the whole process to be honest.

The first being whether anybody would want to hear my opinions at all…seems the internet is awash with people who already think that the FA is full of retarded monkeys shitting into fax machines, or that John Terry is the biggest cunt to walk the earth since Genghis Khan (yes, worse than Hitler). I guess time will tell if anybody wants to read but maybe a few minutes a day of writing will help me get my thoughts straight in my own head. In the increasingly murky moral realm of professional football with players given massively inflated contracts whilst at the same time clubs batter their own fans like they were little Mo from Eastenders with overpriced tickets. In the bubble where the situation exists were that fucking square headed Chelsea captain is still just walking around without anybody punching him in the face in public ever. In that kind of a place it can be easy to lose perspective as to what we love about the game and what we should enjoy so I guess that is part of what I will try to do here. Of course there will be plenty to say about what I hate too, because there is plenty to hate and without people venting their unsolicited opinions on the internet nothing will ever change so…no, wait, scratch that, nothing will change regardless but it will be fun for me to moan and that’s enough for me…

Another issue that has been bugging me is the time it will take to get all this down. I have no doubt you will all know the story already, you spend 250 days a year selling your youth to some soulless fucktard with a suit and a middle management title so why would you spend the precious time you have not drinking Tequila from the bottle in the centre of town with your pants around your ankles or whatever it is that you do for fun (and if it isn’t that then what’s wrong with you?). I have overcome that obstacle by writing this at work, that’s right your correspondent is taking full advantage of our totally fucked economy and his own probable impending unemployment by pretending to be a diligent and hard-working individual whilst, in fact, typing up this drivel. I am writing to you on a template for a letter my employer sent to one Mrs. Lomas earlier this year, thus appearing to be pro-actively responding to a valued customer’s legitimate concerns whilst actually dragging us all further down into the deep, dank, dark recession hole we allowed ourselves to slip into by abandoning our work ethic and not limiting the internet access of low wage employees. I realise my actions are not great for stimulating economic growth, but if I’m going to write this and also put myself in the way of an indecent exposure/ drunk and disorderly charge then I really see no other option.

Which is all apropos of nothing really, except to give you some idea of where I’m coming from- if you want some football background then I suppose I am duty bound to give you some- My formative tournament as a football fan was Euro 96 and I still remember vividly the rising sense of hope as an 11 year old in a treasured replica shirt, hope that I was about to witness something glorious. It seemed impossible that we could lose, we had strength in all departments, rock solid defensive reliability in the strong jawed rugged determination of Seamen, Adams and Southgate (ok, maybe not all strong jawed) tricky and impudent skill in midfield from the elf-like Mcmanaman and mercurial Gascoigne and a lethal strike force, incapable of missing, the real SAS: Shearer and Sheringham (even my 11 year old self was suspicious of the charlatan Chris Sutton). I remember watching England games, seeing the veins bulge on Stuart Pearce’s neck and being convinced we could not lose. Then, of course, we lost…that tournament shaped me as a football fan and come to think of it as a person. The night we went out on penalties to Germany I realized that the world is a cold and unforgiving place and that the good guys always lose (this was before I knew about the various problems of England as a footballing nation, but I guess with the Euros coming I will keep my powder dry on that for a while yet.)

I followed football after that and then became an Arsenal fan without a real geographical link (though I do have a tangential link through my Nan, and if that’s good enough to get Andy Townsend [ANDY FUCKING TOWNSEND] to the world cup then it is good enough for me). Many people have strong opinions on who is allowed to support who, bourn largely out of the ‘Plastic Manc’* phenomenon I suppose, I have my own opinions on that too which I will save for another day, but suffice to say they are more nuanced than ‘You aren’t from here so stay the fuck away from my team’. Some of us have parents who aren’t football fans (and spent our childhoods in phone boxes trying to convince social services that this was neglect), we came across the game on our own and made a rational decision as to who we would support based on the quality of the players, history of the club and, yes, the fact there is a big gun on the badge. I think that’s ok, how about you?.

That’s about it for me today, hope that as an introduction this serves to give you an idea of what I’m about. I’m English so I’m going to write mostly about the Premier league but I try to keep up with La liga, the Bundesliga and Serie A as well so you will find some of that creeping in here too. I am completely aware of the ridiculousness of starting a football blog with 3 or 4 games left of the season but…er…well…the Euros are coming soon so you will get my self-loathing Anglo perspective on that mess when it comes around. We are coming to the business end of the season so there is plenty to talk about in the days to come. I’m going to try to write every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, in case anybody didn’t hear me earlier our economy has been flushed into the darkest, shittiest corner of the sewer by a succession of privileged arseholes with no regard for the common man or even common decency so chances are I won’t be too busy to manage that.


*Plastic Manc- Term to describe Manchester United fans who have never set foot in Manchester and support the team on the basis of the trophies they have won.