Monday, 22 August 2011

Arsenal v Udinese = Actual Catch-22?

Arsenal's upcoming away Champions League qualifier in Italy (also see 'What's Up Media?', © C. John, Wednesday 3rd November 2010 !!!!!MEDIA - OFFER STILL STANDS!!!!!) offers up the intriguing possibility of a situation in which a football player desires something that can only be attained by not actually being in that footballing scenario, the logical paradox made famous in the famous wartime football novel Catch-22. Rumours abound that Arsenal will sign Lille's Eden Hazard as a replacement for feuding's Samir Nasri only if they qualify for the Champions League proper. Hazard is from Belgium, which is near France, and, according to a punter on this week's World Football Phone-in, is the cousin of Thomas Vermaelen, though this might have been a misunderstanding caused by the words young people use these days to relate to one another. Lille, however, are already in the Champions League proper so he might want to stay put. Meanwhile, Nasri will sign for Manchester City only if he's not made ineligible for the Champions League proper by playing in the non-proper match in Udine (or Udinese, as 'televison analyst' Ray Parlour had it) - and Arsenal will sign Hazard only if Nasri is sold. For now though, they know that their chances of beating Udinese will be respectively increased or decreased significantly by the presence or absence of Nasri.

Nasri is 'unfit to fly' (potentially cup-tied) as he is 'insane' (wants to sign for City). However, his wish to 'not fly' is evidence of his apparent 'sanity' (knowledge that the move will not go through should he get himself cup-tied), and, should he 'request an evaluation' (refuse to play), 'Squadron Leader' Arsene Wenger may choose to not sell him out of spite. 'Captain' Hazard, therefore, will only be brought in to 'fly his (Nasri's) missions' (be signed by Arsenal) should Nasri be cup-tied (mad - and Arsenal win) and have refused to play (requested evaluation - and signed by City), WHICH CAN'T HAPPEN.

This seems a rare example of a genuine footballing logical paradox, not the more common 'Alan Shearer Catch-22', whereby, for instance, "he geets stick if he seines pleiyas and they flop man but then he geets stick if he spends nah cash, it's Catch 22 man."

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Collins John's 2011/12 Season Preview

Nu-skool Ultras - don't be messin'

North London club Arsenal have been having a fruitful time of late under French boss Arsene Wenger. Le gaffer has assembled a team many are calling the cutest in the league, and with the likes of swarthy party liason Carlos Vela, wee-scamp-who-can-handle-himself Jack Wilshere, Mr Handsome Aaron Ramsey and media training's Theo Walcott all looking to break through this season, it's surely only going to get better. I'm predicting a bestselling 2012 calender.

When we talk about the Premier League Aston Villa are always there or thereabouts. The success of new manager Jock McWallace will no doubt depend on his bringing in a bigger-than-Zigic big man to knock down the crosses of the to-be-bought replacement for underage winger Stewart Downing for goals-for-breakfast Twitter legend Darren Bent to finish off, probably with aplomb. Also, since West Ham and Burnley (haha) sailed off, they should be giving it the big one as the sole wearers of the best colour combination in the Premier League.

Blackburn have been in the Premier League for too long and won't bring anything new to it this season.

Last season's Kevin Davies Pop Tart saga was a story that ran and ran and ran. Bolton's limited support will be hoping that it'll be the lads doing the running this season, though with the other day's news that sprightly Korean market-opener Chung-Yong Lee is crocked they might be forced to rely on the cloggers again. Let's hope Davo's in the news for the right reasons this season; fouls committed and eyebrows-at-the-near-post assists.

Uncertainty has reigned at Premier League club Chelsea this preseason since former manager Carlo Ancellotti heeded the wishes of his wantaway left eyebrow, leaving his boss, Russian fuel thief Roman Abramovich, high and dry. Abramovich has delved into the kitty to replace him though, choosing little known Portuguese ginge Luís André de Pina Cabral e Villas-Boas to steer his soldiers back into the big time, and is hoping the opportunity to be part of a three-headed jink monster with Benayoun and Malouda will be too good for Tottenham's frightened child Luka Modric to turn down. Chelsea are a model of good business sense and as such are always up there.

If Premier League prizes were awarded to the team with the manager with the fiercest stare, Everton would be right up there. Surely no amount of glaring is going to turn the Yak into a goal machine though, and that's what these scousers need; goals goals goals. They have subbed out their gorgeous pink away strip, bringing on instead a quite incredible camouflage goalkeeping jersey in a not quite like-for-like swap. Some observers are saying that Tim Howard does a lot of shouting anyway; making him think he's going into a jungle war might push him over the edge.

The big news coming from Craven Cottage, home of every crimin... I mean Australian's favourite team (why is that, by the way? best answer wins a mechanised replica of the excellent Jacko statue) is that Tony Soprano's back in town. He'll be looking to use the football business as a front for his waste management business, whacking opponents with his gruff good nature and giving instructions to leading hitman Bobby Zamora to put two in the back of the goalie's head. "How you shay, bada bing?"

Having already thrown £35 million to Newcastle for the 6ft 3in hooligan Andy Carroll, the £2 million King Kenny Dalglish has spent on Sunderland's Jordan Henderson (haha, it says here it was £20 million but that can't be right..) seems to me further evidence of a one man mission to use American cash to kickstart the flagging economy of the Northeast. I for one applaud him for his solidarity, and also for his unflagging commitment to buying British no matter how high the cost or average the product. Oh, and also for treating top level football in 2011 like it was 1989/90. Where's Rushie?

According to insightful ex-footballer Alan Shearer, City used to be everybody's second favourite team. Now though, since the arrival of hot air-filled aggressively capitalist marketing spanner Garry Cook, they're really putting the heat on frontrunners United in a two horse race to see who can do the most damage to the reputation of the city of Manchester. Good luck with that.

It's difficult to imagine a more likeable group of young men than those on the payroll of Manchester United, current champions of England, if not quite Europe. Mild-mannered Wayne Rooney will once again be staring down the lens of a busy domestic and European campaign, shinning home bicycle kicks from crosses supplied by gentleman of the game Ryan Giggs, or maybe 'Thriller'-era Michael Jackson impersonator and honest pro Nani will be the one falling over to supply the ammunition for wholesome about-to-break-through/in youth star Ravel Morrison. Whichever way you look at it, egomaniacal cod psychologist and fake Socialist 'Sir' Fergie is doing a bang-up job of keeping his lads in check. 

News in today that class warrior and Grateful Dead fan Joey Barton has been allowed by popular chairman Mike Ashley to leave on a free transfer. Maybe it had something to do with his controversial tweeted views on the leadership of the Labour Party: "Hate to say it but I struggle with Ed Milliband because of his lisp. Sorry leader of the country cannot have a speech impediment"; "I know its quite arrogant but I've just heard him speaking in commons and cannot abide his haircut or his lisp. Its my opinion end of......"; "Surely there's somebody within the labour that can speak properly and with authority? Obviously he shouldn't be banished just not front man"; "If u like Milliband put the news on and listen to him say "hesitate" and tell me u want him as the face of ur country. Trade unions or not!"; "I'VE NOTHING AGAINST LISPS IN EVERYDAY LIFE JUST AUTHORITARIAN FIGURES HAVING THEM ESPECIALLY ELECTED ONES. LABOUR NO CHANCE NEXT ELECTION"

Norwich town cryer Delia Smith has been out and about to drum up support for her boys' forthcoming campaign back in the big league. "Les'h beee 'avin yoouuuu" the ladette home cook hollers from her customised ice-cream van, tossing out perfect roast potatoes and christmas cake to bewildered passers-by. Her canaries will be going in cautiously this time around, hoping that the Premier League coal mine doesn't gas them to death. 

QPR stands for Queens Park Rangers, a London club invented in 2007 by famous Nazi Bernie Ecclestone and Italian sleaze Flavio Briatore. They were almost docked promotion from last year's championship because of their controversial employment of illegal immigrants who were paid in cigs. Now managed by Match of the Day 2's favourite windbag Neil Warnock, i hope they get relegated twice.

The worst joke played on the Premier League is getting a bit old now. Take it back?

Apparently Baby Jet has been told that his career as a rapper is potentially detrimental to his career as a top level footballer. Er, who cares? Have you heard his flow?

'Asamoah Gyan, Baby Jet
Ghana mmaa, mo hoɔ fɛ, moadi first
No retreat, no surrender, mo ahoɔfɛ kɛkɛ, na ɛseɛ y'akoma
Linda, Barbara, Monica, Jessica, Pamela, Sarah, Gifty, na Diana
Mo nyinaa, come on, moyɛ ogboo, moyɛ ogboo
(Baby you dey make my mind dey scatter o)
Ghana girls, mo hoɔ fɛ, adedɛdɛ, yɛnfa nyi kɛkyɛ
Baby Jet se saa na mepɛ
Asamoah Gyan, saa na ɔpɛ'

Oggy oggy oggy. The first Welsh team to shoot for the Premier League bullseye must be buzzing. Personally, not being interested in non-top tier English football, I'm not sure how these fellows will get on; I'm sure they'll give it a ruddy good go though.

Look at him there, in his Jag with the window down, leaning out telling us who's a "good player, yeah, t'riffic player", talking about how barmy the wages are these days, lamenting all the swearing that goes on at grounds these days when there are kiddies about, getting his pocket picked while buying sweets in Spain, crikey! Cut his head off and you'd read the words 'good egg'* running through him like in a stick of rock. Last season's success stories were Dutch (chill)Master Rafael Van Der Vaart, emotional hardcore fan Gaz Bale, and the deceptively tall Peter Crouch, showing he knows when to put himself about with a couple of early reducers in an insignificant cup tie. This year, if information obtained by hacking into Redknapp's blackberry is anything to go by, the coming transfer window - or maybe just deadline day (like last time, when he discovered something called 'La Liga') - promises to be another rollercoaster ride. What a plonker!  

Rolling Stones fan Roy Hodgson has managed sixteen teams in eight countries and speaks five languages. He doesn't speak Scouse though, and this time last year he was in the early stages of developing a thousand-yard stare so haunted that, by the end of 2010, it looked like his bosses were about to ship him off to Switzerland to be put down. Instead they sacked him, and the afterlife's loss is the West Midlands' gain. Joining the gaffer back from the dead is midfielder and former Doors frontman James Morrison, who knows the team couldn't get much higher than last season's 11th place finish.

Premier League team Wigan Athletic are the brainchild of noted moneylover Dave Whelan. Not a lot of people realise they're still in the top division but there they are, leading some of those hawk-eyed commentators who did notice this to question how it happened. Maybe this season their top tier comrades will sort themselves out and get around to doing something about it.

Straight talking Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Mick McCarthy will be hoping Bully will be on target again this season. Without his firepower it might prove a tricky campaign, especially if defensive rock Keith Curle has a recurrence of his well known knee problems.

*or maybe 'fraudster'

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Monday, 31 January 2011

2011 Baby! - Who Turned Out the Lights?

"Gimme thoirty jagerbombs man.."

Liverpool might be about to lose their main goalscoring Lord of the Rings fan for £50 million but to blow £35m of that on my Auntie Carole doesn't seem very wise. THE GAME'S GONE MAD! Ooh, pardon!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Brazil - What Happenedinho?

1. Victor (Gremio)
2. Chris (Eintracht Frankfurt)
3. Cris (Lyon)
4. Gum (Fluminese)
5. Alan (SC Braga)
6. Willian (Shakhtar Donetsk)
7. Rodnei (Kaiserslautern)
8. Dill (Santa Cruz)
9. Jo (Man City)
10. Hulk (Porto)
11. Lenny (Palmeiras)

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Manchester Derby - Absolute Nightmare

Here's the live text from last week's game. It was NOT a classic.


Warm-Up - It's a cold night in Manchester for this, the most hotly-anticipated derby since the last one. All the talk in the stands is of the real reason for Wayne Rooney's American trip; most people seem to think he's getting into mixed-martial arts or Hollywood, or both. I drank a can of lager on the way here, one in the eye for Greater Manchester Police and their booze ban. Let's dance. The big screens are showing footage of derbies of the past, naturally only the ones where United got rinsed.
    Now that's not on..... Oh, ok. For a moment there I thought somebody had set fire to the away fans. Turns out it's just a continental-style flare. Let's hope that fire spreads onto the pitch, not literally.
    Wow, that was COOL - just before the teams emerge the lights go out around the stadium. Bold move. The lads come out and it's advantage United in the glove count. Excluding goalkeepers I make it three (Berbatov, Evra (who were both supposed to have the trotts) and Nani) to two (Kolo Toure, Tevez (I thought if the captain did everybody else had to?)). Of those only Toure is combining short sleeves and gloves. Could be crucial. Here we go..........

Kick-off - Pride in Bottle

KICK-OFF! - Time for the talking to stop and the walking to start; to see who's got the trousers to go with the mouth; who's got the chops to cash the cheques; who's a boot-licker and who's a moron. Tevez shimmies up the middle but gets his pocket picked.

10 mins - Nothing doing. City knocking it about in their own half a lot.

13 mins - The guy to my right's insult du jour seems to be "you absolute wanker". He's already produced it twice, once to James Milner (harsh) and once to the referee (also harsh).

22 mins - This is bit like being at Maine Road circa 1996. Richard Edgehill overhits a long pass to Uwe Rosler. Niall Quinn looks miffed.

30 mins - Yaya Toure is often referred to as a 'box-to-box' midfielder but so far he's doing a pretty good job of staying right in the middle. He's a big strapping lad though; I'm not sure I'd be up for arguing his yards-covered/pounds-earned ratio with him face to face.

42 mins - Boom! Scholes gets booked. Couldn't have seen that coming.

45 mins - Tevez and Rafael lively up themselves by playing stereotypes and getting their Fiery South American hats on. They face off with one calling the other a pretty boy and the other saying the other has a face only a madre could love, probs.

HALF-TIME - That was a stinker.

Second Half......

FULL-TIME - That was a stinker too. If I'd paid for a ticket I would be pi-issed off. I didn't though, and I do have Hart, Toure and Vidic in my fantasy football team so I'm delighted. Thanks negative Italian mentality!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Manchester Derby - It's On!

There's a spicy atmosphere in the city of Manchester, and that can mean only one thing - derby day! It seems everybody is keen to have their say on the game, from United boss Fergie threatening to "take the gobby wee shites tae the cleaners" to Rio Ferdinand tweeting "I have + would play computer games with chics... just not my missus, is that wrong?? Am I wrong for thinkin that??"
    Just to offer a heads-up that I'll be in attendance (for real) giving it the full live minute-by-minute big one so keep your internet browser window logged on to this URL and let's hope for an all-time classic!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Jamie's Footy Food Fight

"Zamora Tower Burger please...."
He's cooked up a storm around the world, played in a seminal Britpop band and taken on dinner ladies and the government. Now celebrated TV chef personality Jamie Oliver is two-footed tackling his toughest opponent yet - matchday cuisine. This week saw preliminary meetings between Oliver and catering staff at Fulham FC, with the aim of "de-nastifying" the food on sale at Craven Cottage, and hopefully bettering the half-time intake of football fans throughout the land.
    "It's a f**king disgrace", said the ex-naked chef, holding open a Cottage Quarter-Pounder, one of the most popular items on the matchday menu. "There's nothing wrong with a nice burger; beef, onion, herbs, seasoning, bish, bash, bosh. But this is a shiny shite." His greatest ire, however, was saved for when he was told that the pork content of a Fulham Footlong hotdog was a mere 14 percent. "That's not even half a banger, let alone a sausage" he said, and when asked to speculate on what made up the other 86 percent, replied, "eye'oles, ear'oles and arse'oles mate, rusk and all that bollocks. Rusk never sleeps, fake food."
    Helping Jamie in his latest crusade was Fulham's Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwartzer. "It's not on", said the 6ft 5in stopper, coming for and flapping at the point. "Why should the lads on the pitch have to eat Caesar Salad and tofu bangers and the fans get all the good stuff? I've let in goals because I've been put off by the delicious smell from the stands."
    Fulham's Head of Food, Gerry Garcia, added, "I think there's a popular misconception that terrace food has to be contained within some kind of holdable shell - burgers, pasties, hotdogs - but that doesn't have to be so." He then went on to outline plans for Fulham's caterers to follow the example of player-specific cuisine set by The Mixer snack van outside Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium in the 1990s, where the Gazza Burger (burger, donner meat, chilli sauce, garlic mayo, option to make it a meal deal by adding a pint of red wine) and the Juninho Burger (burger with salsa) were major sellers. Jamie-approved items proposed for the menu at Fulham include the Chicken Salcido (spicy burrito homage to the new Mexican left-back), the Clint D Double Dog (two 85% pork sausages in a bap), and Gera's Golden Goalash (Hungarian favourite, goulash) as well as the planned-to-be-everpresent Craven Cottage Pie. "Like the manager, we're going to have to rotate our players in order to keep them fresh", said Garcia. "We hope our fans will enjoy the fine Fulham food and we'll make loads of cash."

Saturday, 6 November 2010


With most of the football world busy getting itself into a stink about Gareth Bale following Tottenham's two Champion's League games against Inter Milan, this little guy seems to have shuffled under the radar. Stylewise, with his tight curls, short shorts and shirt flowing untucked over them, he has Bale licked, and has already made a claim to be admitted to the elite group of players who have maxed out the limited potential of the footballer's on-pitch get-up: "I wish to be able express my personality in the same way as Socrates, Campos, Claridge," said the 18-year-old, allegedly. "Most players are margaritas; I want to be a calzone."

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Nutshell no.1

He is legend?
(Genuine exchange from the row behind, overheard at Maine Road (RIP) circa late 2002)

"Who's that over there?"
"Over there, wearing gloves.."
"Oh, that's Anelka"
"Anelka? He'll never be a legend wearing gloves......."

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

What's Up Media?

Donetsk - cheaper than London

A few weeks ago in a rare and brief moment of having nothing to do at work (haha) I decided to plan a trip based around attending an away Champion's League game. Shopping around I discovered that tickets to Arsenal's (and hopefully my) visit to Shaktar Donetsk tonight cost a mere £4. And that's through official channels, - imagine how little it might cost if you simply turned up in the Ukraine and asked "daite, pozhaluista, odin bilet" ("give me, please, one ticket").
    The idea then occured, what if you (I) were to attend home and away Champion's League fixtures, trying to gauge if the latter might indeed be cheaper than the former. Obviously I can't afford to do this, so I'm offering an appeal to any publication or television production company that would care to fund it. I'd be willing to take any means of transport available (hitching has obvious TV potential..) and hide in the toilets if necessary. I'd also wear an Arsenal shirt and/or one of those long managerial puffa coats for the full trip if the backer bought me one/both.
    The cheapest ticket for Arsenal's next home Champion's League game, against Partizan Belgrade next month, is £39, and I live in Manchester so would have to get there and back and spend the night somewhere. I have a fake young person's railcard but let's assume I don't, therefore a return train ticket is 66 quid and when you factor in one night in a central-ish hotel and ten pints at London prices then it all adds up to a fair whack. On the other hand the Comfy House Guesthouse in Donetsk has private rooms for €12 a night and free morning coffee. Sound good? I better get my skates on!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

All-Time Greats

English newspaper The Guardian was holding a poll last week, inviting people to vote for their all-time best XI. Their selection was as follows: Casillas, Cafu, Lucio, Beckenbauer, Lizarazu, Neeskens, Mackay, Matthaus, Tardelli, Maradona, Ronaldo. The reader's response went: Schmeichel, Cafu, Baresi, Beckenbauer, Maldini, Gerrard (no thanks), Maradona, Zidane, Cruyff, Pele, Ronaldo. Fair dos, but....... I've lined mine up in a big-small-big formation (with a big lug goller, obvs..) and only picked players from my lifetime:

GK: Schmeichel
CB: McGrath
CB: Desailly
free role: Zidane
MF: Matthaus
MF: Maradona
MF: Messi
MF: Kinkladze
MF: Juninho
CF: Le Tissier
CF: Ronaldo

I've put Zidane in a free role because he's too big for this team's midfield, but really there are seven free roles here. Bonus 'personality' points were awarded for idiosyncracies such as drinking, not being able to train and being the 'one man' in a one-man team. You might argue that the lads up front aren't all that big (big-small-fat?) but i was struggling for all-time great target men (it's a bit early to be talking about that guy Zigic in this context but, gosh, he's a big lad; if he keeps growing it's going to be hard to keep leaving him out). Why not mix up the formation facets for yours - you could go for a classic hard-hard-handsome, for instance, or a more outré and subjective sound-dead-overpriced.

Crunch pass dribble dribble pass dribble jink jink jink dink GOL!