Friday, September 19, 2008
ESPNsoccernet: October 9, 4:58 PM UK
The week that was
Blink twice and you may have missed it. Thankfully, Soccernet has a round-up of some of the week's most interesting stories for your viewing pleasure.
Friday 12th September:
Soccernet was one of the 80,000 customers who had booked a holiday with XL Holidays, only to spend six hours sitting in a departure lounge waiting for the kids to fall asleep. The collapse of the holiday firm sees our tan remain a pasty white, although far more importantly than any impending financial crisis, the news meant West Ham had to employ the entire squad's grandmothers in order to stitch over the logo on their shirts for their game at the weekend.
It also gave the following day's match against West Brom the unique distinction of being without sponsors - meaning the sales of claret fabric around Upton Park doubled as the faithful fans followed suit. Meanwhile, FIFA decided that there are just one too many teams in line to qualify for the 2010 World Cup and put all their efforts into throwing Ethiopia out because of a row with their FA. As if they haven't got enough problems on their hands already.
Saturday 13th: R-E-S-P-E-C-T your role-models
We were all pleased to see the Premier League's RESPECT campaign working so well at Eastlands that England captain John Terry definitely did NOT rugby tackle an opposing player, complain bitterly about being sent off and then go and sulk in the tunnel. In fact if you saw any of that, you're just a liar and should tell the nearest child that our JT is a stand-up chap and a cracking role model for the game.
Speaking of role-models, Newcastle fans need look no further than the hundreds of irate, yet loyal, supporters who vented their fury against Mike Ashley and cronies before the game with Hull City, threatening to boycott the game. So irate were they that the official attendance for the match was a shocking 50,242. Meaning a grand total of 2,145 didn't show up for the game. Evidently the prospect of watching your side lose to Hull is far more appealing than losing out on the price of a ticket to make your feelings known.
Sunday 14th: Anyone want to buy a football club?
Finally Mike Ashley made the right choice in putting Newcastle up for sale, possibly pushed by the protests the previous day. Although it couldn't have been at a worse time. The pint-guzzling machine decided that Dubai investors didn't care about the global financial crisis and would be more than willing to double his investment in the club. They wouldn't. Asking for £481million for the crisis-hit club he decided instead to release a 1,600 word statement defending his actions, before he flew off to the Far-East to ignore business meeting in favour of drinking cocktails. What an owner.
Elsewhere, Cristiano Ronaldo, made it quite clear that he has changed football as we know it by scoring 31 goals from midfield last season. The Portuguese winker is keen to add the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year to his growing array of prizes after inspiring United to the double last term and the trouble is, it's hard to disagree with him.
Monday 15th: Borat's boys lose their boss
While the fallout from the weekend's games continued to make headlines, the real story was that Kazakhstan sacked coach Arno Pijpers in the wake of World Cup qualifying defeats to Croatia and Ukraine. Cue generic Borat reference and wild speculation over who might take over. Our money is on Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who finally decided to hang up his boots, probably because Cardiff striker Jay Boothroyd had been sticking pins in a 'Jimmy doll' in order to get into the first-team.
Tuesday 16th: Ain't that a kick in the teeth
Inter Milan's new boss Jose Mourinho has wasted no time in making friends in Italy and was told in no uncertain terms that he needed a 'good smack in the mouth' by Catania staffer Pietro Lo Monaco after claiming he could have played in goal in Inter's win over the Sicilians. Not like Jose to ignore a good row, so it was nice to see him respond ''Monaco? I know Bayern Monaco (Munich), Monaco of Monte Carlo, the GP of Monaco... I don't know of any other.'' Ouch. FIFA boss Sepp Blatter then decided to put the boot in to South African's already troubled Bafana Bafana by telling them the bleedin' obvious, that they're not really a very good side and are 'running out of time' to qualify for the 2010 African Nations Cup. With such glittering insight, aren't we all glad he's being paid the big bucks.
Wednesday 17th: Champions League chumps
With the world's greatest club competition back in full swing, all eyes were on the 32 competing clubs and NOTHING else! Good then that the entire world had born witness to one of the shocks of the century as Transylvanians CFR Cluj beat AS Roma. In Rome! Proving that their bite is worse than their bark (sorry), Cluj promptly put the wheels in motion to make double goalscorer Juan Culio a Romanian citizen. Nothing dodgy there then.
Many might have expected unfancied BATE Borisov to pull of a shock against stumbling Real Madrid, but it was Madrid's Javier Saviola left with egg on his face after a prank by team-mates Jerzy Dudek and defender Miguel Torres in their game. Oblivious to the fact Madrid had already used all their subs, the cruel pair gestured to Saviola that the coach was ready to bring him on and he even removed his tracksuit before realising he wasn't needed after all. Better than cling-film on the toilet seat I suppose.
Thursday 18th: Another night in the cells for Gazza
It doesn't take long for Paul Gascoigne to make it into the news. If he's not abusing hotel guests with a parrot or drinking heavily in Spain, he's back in Gateshead trying to use his own house keys to get into a pub. Arrested and charged with criminal damage following an incident with a freelance photographer, Gazza ran into trouble looking for one of those early morning drinks of his - although you could be forgiven for forgetting his fight against alcoholism and focusing on what a 'tramline haircut' looks like.
One person who probably doesn't care, however, is QPR co-owner Bernie Ecclestone. He's far too busy counting the cash from all the away fans daft enough to pay £40 a ticket to watch his side. The club's combined wealth is around £22billion, so one can only assume they've offered to settle Gazza's bar tab. Otherwise it's just daylight robbery.