Sunday, 8 December 2013

Jungle Fever

England will play four-time winners Italy, as well as Uruguay and Costa Rica, in Group D at the 2014 World Cup. Tough group, though it could have been worse. Not much, admittedly. Rockin' Roy Hodgson's men open their campaign against The Eyeties in the Amazonian city of Manaus on 15 June in what was initially announced as the only World Cup game which would be kick-off off at 9pm (2am UK time), though that was later amended to 6pm (11pm UK time). England take on Uruguay on 19 June and play Costa Rica five days later. Hosts Brazil are in Group A with Cameroon, Mexico and Croatia while holders Spain open with a repeat of the 2010 final against Netherlands before taking on the much fancied Chile and Australia. England will have to travel over seventeen hundred miles from their chosen base in Rio for their first match in the tropical heat of Manaus, which in the heart of the Amazon jungle. Earlier this week, Hodgson described Manaus as 'the place to avoid' because of the climate - temperatures reach thirty degrees and humidity is about eighty per cent - although after the draw the England boss took comfort from the fact his team would be facing a fellow European side. 'The conditions in the North will be tough, so we will both be in same boat,' he said. 'If we'd had three games up in the North, it would have been difficult.' Following Hodgson's initial comments, the mayor of Manaus, Arthur Virgilio, said England would not be welcome in the city. And, this is different for most venues we play how, exactly? England take on two-time champions Uruguay, who will have Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haw's Luis Suarez in their squad, in Sao Paulo and they play Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte - both venues are within two hundred odd miles of their base. England have never previously beaten either Italy or Uruguay at a major tournament, while they have never faced Costa Rica. Scotland have. They lost. Uruguay, who reached the semi-finals in 2010 and Italy, who knocked Hodgson's men out of Euro 2012, are ranked sixth and seventh respectively in the FIFA rankings while Costa Rica are thirty first in the world - eighteen places below England. 'With Uruguay and Italy, we almost have two number one seeds in our group,' Hodgson added, glumly. 'We know how good Italy are because we lost to them in the quarter-finals at the Euros. It does not surprise me at all to get a tough draw. But I am still very positive about the whole affair, as you never know.' Germany face Portugal in Group G, which also contains Ghana and the USA, who are managed by German legend Jurgen Klinsmann. Columbia, Japan, Greece and the Côte d'Ivoire make up Group C, whilst Group E consists of Switzerland, Ecuador, France and Honduras. Argentina have been placed in Group F with débutants Bosnia-Hercegovina, Iran and Nigeria - meaning Newcastle team-mates Fabricio Coloccini and Shola Ameobi may well be up against each other when the Argies take on The Super Eagles. Russia, who are managed by ex-England manager Fabio Capello, will play Belgium, Algeria and South Korea in their group. England, who were drawn in Group D by their World Cup-winning striker Geoff Hurst - thanks for that, Geoff - have not played Italy in the World Cup finals since losing a third-place play-off against the Azzurri in 1990. They last met Uruguay in the competition during the 1966 tournament, drawing 0-0 against She south Americans before going on to win their first and only World Cup.

The filthy Scum of humanity suffered consecutive home league defeats for the first time since 2002 (and, only the third time in Premier League history), as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle earned their first league win at Old Trafford since 1972. On that occasion, a week after they'd been humiliatingly dump out of the FA Cup by Hereford with the whole country watching on Match Of The Day, goals by Hallelujah John Tudor and Stewie, Stewie, Stewie, Stewie Barrowclough helped The Toon beat yer actual Charlton, Best, Law and the rest of them. This time, it was Yohan Cabaye who swept home the only goal for the Magpies - his third of the season - moments after Patrice Evra had headed against the post for the champions. David Moyes' calamitous start as The Scum's manager turned into a full-blown crisis as Cabaye ended Newcastle's forty one-year wait for an Old Trafford win. It meant The Scum have lost five times already this season and have collected just two points from their last four games. And we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for them? Sod that. Especially after we were treated to the sign of cheating little shit Javier Hernandez throwing himself to the ground in baltant attempt to gain a penalty when not even touched by Fabricio Coloccini. Cheaters never proser. It was, perhaps, little wonder that the reaction at the end was one of anger from the - notoriously fickle and uppity - home supporters, who watched virtually the same group of players they booed off today (those them that had bothered to stay to the final whistle, that is) clinch a twentieth title by eleven points less than seven months ago. When Evra's clearing header bounced back off Moussa Sissoko, allowing the Newcastle man a free run into the area, before cutting back a perfect cross to invite Cabaye's first-time finish on the hour, the discontent rippled round all the stadium but for a small corner where, predictably, the travelling Toon Army went effing bonkers off-it. Amid their glee, the Magpies fans delivered two of the cruellest jibes imaginable. They suggested that Moyes would be 'sacked in the morning' and that The Scum would be accompanying Sunderland into the Championship at the end of the season (in several delirious choruses of 'you're going down with The Mackems'). Filthy cheat Hernandez and Adnan Januzaj had efforts saved by Tim Krul, before Robin van Persie's header was, rightly, adjudged offside. After the midweek defeat by Everton, David Moyes's side now sit twelve points adrift of Premier League leaders The Arse. Newcastle, meanwhile, bounced back from their own midweek defeat at Swansea, and showed the sort of form which had, previously, seen them win four games on the trot jumping up to sixth place in the league. (They dropped back to seventh after Stottingtot Hotshots beat Relegation-Haunted lunderland at the Stadium of Shite in the day's late kick-off.) Geet cush, so it was. Of course, as bloody usual in the football world, hardly anybody mentioned how well Newcastle had played or gave them any credit whtsoever, concentrating instead of 'what's going wrong for The Scum?' 'Circumstances were against them' it was claimed, with Rooney sidelined, Carrick injured and all of their other midfielders congenitally useless. Sky Sports' resident arse-lick Jamie Redknapp - almost as big a diarrhoea-spouting waste-of-space as his Old Man - was asked if he had 'seen this result coming' and he claimed that he had. He then spent the next five minutes talking about the game and didn't mention Newcastle once, whilst slavvering on and on about how badly The Scum had played. It was, undeniably, a seriously dispiriting performance from The Scum. And, an excellent laugh for everybody else. Aside from fifteen minutes or so early in the second half, they simply failed to test Newcastle, who were solid at the back - with Mike Williamson and Coloccini is particularly outstanding form - solid in the middle (where Cheick Tioté was man of the match) and consistently dangerous on the break.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

We're On The Way To Rio By The Sea-O

Uruguay became the last nation to book their spot at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil with a 0-0 second-leg draw against play-off opponents Jordan. Uruguay had all but secured their berth with a 5-0 victory in the first leg. Uruguay dominated the first half in the return leg in Montevideo and came closest to scoring when Diego Godin headed against the crossbar. 'We're all happy because the truth is it's been a hard road,' said striker Edinson Cavani. Uruguay were competing in the World Cup qualifying play-offs for the fourth successive tournament, but knew that it would take a miraculous effort for Jordan to overturn five goal deficit. The South Americans, who are currently ranked sixth in the world, boast a rich World Cup pedigree having won the trophy in 1930 and 1950 and also reached the semi-finals last time out in South Africa. But Oscar Tabarez's men finished fifth in their continent's qualifying after being edged out of the automatic places by Ecuador on goal difference. It meant that they were forced to negotiate a two-legged tie against a Jordan side, who had beaten Uzbekistan in the Asian qualifying group to reach the play-off. However, with Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws striker Luis Suarez partnered up front by Paris St-Germain's fifty five million quid striker Cavani, they were always likely to have too much firepower for the Middle East nation. Jordan, who have never appeared at the World Cup finals, are ranked sixty four places below Uruguay in the world.

France became the first European team to overturn a two goal first-leg deficit to reach the World Cup with a thrilling 3-0 victory over ten-man Ukraine. Mamadou Sakho tucked in Franck Ribery's shot and Karim Benzema levelled the tie from an apparent offside position, having been wrongly denied by the linesman's flag earlier. Ukraine's Yevhen Khacheridi was sent off early in the second half and the tie was decided when Sakho converted Ribery's cross under pressure from Oleg Gusev. At the time of Khacheridi's dismissal, France were 2-0 up after a pulsating opening period but any chance that Ukraine had of altering the flow of the match then drained away. His red card was certainly avoidable after receiving a first yellow card for shoving Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws defender Sakho before half-time and he thoughtlessly fouled Ribery two minutes into the second half. France coach Didier Deschamps asked for an 'exceptional' match from his team and - led by an impressive display from the recalled Yohan Cabeye, they replied in some style as they handed Ukraine their first defeat of 2013 and avoided becoming the first French side to miss out on the World Cup since they failed to qualify for the 1994 finals. That mark on France's rich football history came via a final qualifier defeat by Bulgaria in November 1993 - and roared on by a partisan crowd at the Stade de France, the 1998 World Cup winners seemed determined not to suffer the same fate. Marseille's Mathieu Valbuena and Bayern Munich's Ribery were a menace throughout, conjuring a variety of deadly set-plays, quick combinations and strong running. And they were involved in several exchanges as Valbuena, Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba and Real Madrid's Benzema all went close to opening the scoring in the first twenty minutes. It was in stark contrast to an insipid first-leg display in Ukraine, who this time struggled to begin with but looked to be finding their feet when the hosts went ahead. Ukraine managed to clear Valbuena's free-kick and although Andriy Pyatov made a superb save to stop Ribery's fierce shot, Sakho was on hand to crash the ball in. Deschamps' side then continued their first-half onslaught as Pogba fired over but they were fortunate to grab their second goal after thirty four minutes, although they will feel that justice was served after Benzema was previously ruled offside for a goal when he appeared to be level with the Ukraine defence. The Real Madrid forward had his first effort disallowed after tucking in Ribery's cross on the half-hour mark. Then four minutes later, Cabaye's shot through a congested penalty area struck Valbuena before falling for Benzema, and despite being offside by two yards, the goal was allowed to stand. Ukraine almost clawed a goal back when Mathieu Debuchy blocked Andriy Yarmalenko's goal-bound shot with France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris beaten. However, their task became more difficult after the break when Khacheridi received two yellow cards in the space of two minutes either side of the interval. Benzema wasted a great chance to put France ahead as he fired over from ten yards when he had time and space to shoot after more good work by Ribery. But when Ribery crossed in from the right, Sakho directed the ball home from close range to send France to the World Cup.

Nigeria became the first African nation to reach the World Cup finals after a 2-0 victory over Ethiopia in Calabar confirmed a 4-1 aggregate play-off win. Victor Moses coolly slotted home a first half penalty before substitute Victor Obinna slammed home a late free-kick to see Nigeria through to their fifth World Cup finals in six attempts. Efe Ambrose had the first Nigerian shot in the opening moments after Brown Ideye had broken into the Ethiopian penalty area, but the Glasgow Celtic defender's effort was wild and high. Sisay Bancha then produced a wonderful double save after a seemingly innocuous throw-in by Ahmed Musa reached Emmanuel Emenike in space inside the Ethiopia penalty area. His shot was stopped and Moses' follow up was turned behind for a corner by the Ethiopia goalkeeper. The game then turned in Nigeria's favour as Musa received the ball on the Nigeria left and attempted a cross. Aynalem Hailu - the defender who conceded a last-minute penalty in Addis Ababa - jumped to block and was - perhaps harshly - adjudged to have handled the ball. Moses stepped up, and scored an almost identical penalty to Emenike's first leg effort, passing the ball into the bottom right-hand corner and sending Bancha the wrong way. It was Moses' third penalty against Ethiopia in 2013, having scored two spot kicks against the Waliya Antelopes at this year's CAF Africa Cup of Nations. Ogenyi Onazi then received the ball on the Nigeria right and whipped in a cross to the back post, but Ideye headed wide of the goal. The two combined again just before the interval, with Onazi's shot from distance parried by Bancha and Ideye hitting his follow-up over the bar. Salahdin Ahmed found himself free of the Nigeria defence after the break, but the in-form Vincent Enyeama rushed off his line to smother the ball before the Ethiopia number seven could get his shot away. Emenike then sprinted in behind the Ethiopian defence after a through ball by Onazi, but Bancha was quickly off his line to thwart the Fenerbahce frontman. Ahmed was brought down by Moscow Chelski's Kenneth Omeruo on the edge of the box, and took the resulting free kick but it was wasted and Shemeles Bekele found himself offside after the ball was chipped back into the box. The second half continued to move along at a relaxed pace, until Obinna's late free kick. The Lokomotiv Moscow forward curled his right-footed effort past Bancha, who should really have done better with the set piece. As the rain began to hammer down towards the end, the Ethiopians' sour mood matched the miserable weather, but the hosts did not care. They danced jubilantly and joined the crowd in celebration on the final whistle as their thoughts turned to next summer's carnival of soc-her in Brazil.

Sweden captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic says that the World Cup is 'not worth watching' without him after their play-off loss. The Paris St-Germain striker scored twice against Portugal on Tuesday but Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick took his side through 4-2 on aggregate. Ibrahimovic got a reet sulky lip on when he said: 'It was probably the last attempt to reach the World Cup with the national team for me. A World Cup without me is nothing to watch so it is not worthwhile to wait for the World Cup.' Oooo. Get her. The play-off between Sweden and Portugal, who had both finished second in their qualifying groups, had been billed as a showdown between Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo - two of the best players in the world. They ended up scoring all six goals between them as Portugal won 4-2 on aggregate. Former Inter Milan forward Ibrahimovic, who has played in two World Cups, scored eight times in qualifying, including the play-offs, and assisted another six goals - having a hand in fourteen out of Sweden's twenty one goals. He told UEFA's website: 'Why did we lose? To be honest, they were better than us. We should be proud. We couldn't have done better than we did. Of course, we could look back at our mistakes, but these things happen. They punished our mistakes. After making it 2-1 it felt like we were on a roll, our hopes grew, but unfortunately they made it 2-2 soon afterwards.' Real Madrid forward Ronaldo, who has scored thirty four goals in twenty four games this season for club and country, said: 'I just did my job, as I have been doing lately. I always try to give my best - that is always my goal.' He is now Portugal's joint-top scorer, along with retired former Paris St-Germain striker Pauleta on forty seven. 'It was not a priority for me to break Pauleta's record,' the twenty eight-year-old said. 'I knew Portugal needed me and I stuck to the task at hand. Now we have some time to rest and to do our best for our clubs before starting to think about the World Cup finals.'

Ghana were the top scorers in the African qualifiers with eighteen goals in six group matches and managed more points (fifteen) than any other country in their region, though they did suffer a surprise 1-0 loss away against Zambia. But they made light work of overcoming one of the continent's dominant sides, Egypt, in the play-offs, winning 7-3 on aggregate. Algeria knocked out Burkina Faso on away goals after a 3-3 draw in their play-off tie - and had a close escape in stoppage time when a clearance struck their own crossbar. Cameroon qualified for the World Cup for the seventh time - a record for an African nation. Japan might have qualified with the highest points tally in the Asian competition, but special mention must go to Iran, who managed to top their five-team group despite scoring just eight goals in eight matches. Their defence proved crucial, conceding only twice in seven hundred and twenty minutes of qualifying action. Australia managed only three wins from a group containing Iraq, Oman, Jordan and Japan, form which would eventually contribute to their coach, Holger Osieck, getting the tin tack, but they still made it to Rio by the skin of their teeth. Seven teams made it through the whole campaign without losing in Europe (Belgium, England, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland), but it is the records of the Germans and Dutch that stand out: played ten, won nine, drawn one, both amassing twenty eight points from a possible thirty and scoring seventy goals between them. With just seconds left of the entire campaign, Mexico's hopes were all but over. Their defeat on the final day against Costa Rica in the Confacaf section meant that Panama, playing at the same time, needed only to beat the already-qualified United States at home to book their place in Brazil. With the Panamanians leading 2-1 in injury time, the Americans struck back, scoring in the ninety first and ninety second minutes, to end Panama's dream in the most painful of circumstances. The Mexies then went on to beat New Zealand in the play-off meaning that, for the first time in a couple of world cups, Oceania does not have a representative at the finals (Australia, of course, now play in the Asian qualifying group considering themselves to be too good to play with the likes of Samoa and Fiji). The United States topped the Confacaf qualifying group but Jurgen Klinsmann's men were not without their problems - they lost to Jamaica, Costa Rica and Honduras along the way. In the absence of Brazil, who qualify automatically as hosts, there was a three-way tussle at the top of the South American table between eventual group winners Argentina, Colombia and the impressive Chile. The three sides all finished with nine wins from their sixteen matches, but it was the combined firepower of Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain, who between them scored nineteen goals, which made the difference for Argentina.

Plans to 'inject some fun' at yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United's St James' Park stadium by installing slides outside of the ground have been vetoed by the club. On the grounds, presumably, that nobody has 'fun' at St James' Park these days. Company NE1 announced plans in February to build two 'travel accelerators' beside the car park at the stadium. But the firm said that the plan had now been shelved after United, which owns the land, said it was 'no longer available for use.' The club declined to comment further. As usual. Newcastle currently lie ninth in the Premier League and have been having a good run of form recently, with wins against both Moscow Chelski FC and Stottingtot Hotshots, but the season has been somewhat soured by some fans' general grumpy unhappiness with the club's owner, PC disaster-waiting-to-happen Mike Ashley. In October, hundreds marched through the city to protest against the way Ashley has been running the club. The slides, which were intended 'to inject some fun' into Newcastle, will not be located elsewhere as they had been designed for the area around the ground, NE1 said. It said it was now 'moving its attention' to other areas in the city. The idea was part of the 'pocket park programme', designed to 'infuse new life' into areas of the city centre which were 'neglected or underused.' The plans were submitted to the council's planning committee earlier in the year. They would have been a similar in design to ones used by commuters at Overvecht railway station in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Moscow State Circus

French striking duo Yoan Gouffran and Loic Remy scored second-half goals to give yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though utterly unsellable) Magpies a well-deserved victory over in-form Moscow Chelski FC at St James' Park and sent the Premier League's only Russian club off back to Torpedo Stamford Bridge with their tails between their legs. And given that included John Terry, Ashley Cole and Christie Bleakley's bloke, trust me dear blog reader, that was a good thing. Moscow Chelski FC, on the back of six straight wins, edged the first-half as Terry hit the bar as easily as he once used to hit on his team-mates wives and then had another header cleared off the line. However, the Magpies dominated after the break and went ahead when Gouffran headed home Yohan Cabaye's pin-point free-kick. Victory was sealed when Remy curled in a shot from Vurnon Anita's pass shortly before the final whistle. And while it may still take some Newcastle supporters a bit of time to forget last weekend's calamitous defeat against local rivals relegation-haunted Blunderland at their Stadium of Plight, this result gives more promise of steady progression for United following their battling draw against Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and a victory at Cardiff which preceded that derby day defeat. This was a timely reminder that, for all of the animosity towards Newcastle's owner Mike Ashley, manager Alan Pardew does have a side who are capable of beating the best when they get it right and when they feel like it. It was a win that, for the time being at least, has given supporters depressed by Ashley's handling of their club (banning the local press for covering games because they dared to report criticism of him, no less), enormous pride in those who represent them in black and white stripes. The Toon's victory over Moscow Chelski FC, who started the day second in the Premier League, was built on a disciplined defensive display and a powerful second-half attacking performance which overwhelmed their below-par visitors. Moscow Chelski FC playmakers Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard were not given room to dictate play by United's hard-working midfield trio of Cabaye, Cheick Tioté and Moussa Sissoko, meaning that Fernando Torres was starved of the service. Newcastle kept their shape well, limiting Moscow Chelski FC to just two chances in a fairly subdued first-half - both of them from set-pieces. First Terry nipped in front of Mike Williamson to head Mata's corner against the bar before Davide Santon stooped to head the former England skipper's goal-bound header off the line. Moscow Chelski FC might have been dominating possession and pressing Newcastle back when they did lose the ball, but they lacked the penetration to break down their resolute hosts. It also served to offer Newcastle encouragement, and the home side gradually seized control after the break - Moscow Chelski keeper Petr Cech having to be alert to deny Sissoko and then Gouffran. The pressure finally told in the sixty eighth minute when Gouffran nipped in front of Branislav Ivanovic to head home Cabaye's pin-point free-kick. It appeared Alan Pardew had instructed Cabaye to put the free-kick where he did - although he played down the suggestion post-match - and the Newcastle manager was certainly getting the better of Mourinho in this particular tactical battle. Samuel Eto'o, Willian and Andre Schurrle were all introduced from the bench by the Moscow Chelski FC boss and Eto'o appealed for a penalty when his shot was deflected wide via Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa's hand although a penalty award would have been ridiculously harsh given that the French defender was lying on the ground at the time that Eto'o toe-ended the ball at him from about two feet away. Willian also had a shot well saved by Tim Krul while Eto'o's follow-up was blocked by Mathieu Debuchy. The game looked up for Moscow Chelski FC when Eden Hazard dragged a shot wide from twelve yards out and so it proved as Remy scored his sixth goal of the season via the inside of the post deep into injury time following good work by Anita and substitute Gabriel Obertan. It sealed a superb second-half performance by the hosts, who move up to ninth in the league, while Mourinho, who has never won at St James' Park, saw his side drop, briefly, to third. Mourinho did not hold back in his criticism, questioning his team's title credentials, their attitude and their heart. He was disgusted by the lack of energy and aggression, alarmed by the manner in which his side were out-played in the second-half and irritated by the mentality of players who failed to appreciate how tough games at places like St James' Park can be. 'I didn't like my team today,' he foamed. 'I made eleven mistakes in picking the team. That is how I feel at the moment. Of course this is an exaggeration, we had some players who had normal performances, but I feel as though I made a mistake.'

But, as usual with Newcastle, every time there's a good news story to report, there's also a PR fiasco waiting just around the corner. According to a press report, risible clown Joe Kinnear thought that he had spotted a special talent on a scouting trip to Birmingham – only to be told he was ­already a Newcastle player, according to Alan Oliver in the Sunday People. The - alleged - director of football reportedly 'raved' to City chiefs about midfielder Shane Ferguson during the club's Capital One Cup tie against Swansea in September. But, when he asked about signing him, Brum bosses thought that he was winding them up – because Ferguson is currently on loan at St Andrews from Newcastle until the end of the season. Newcastle 'chiefs' (whoever they are) and manager yer actual Alan Pardew, were said 'not to be aware' of Kinnear’s ludicrous blunder. An alleged City 'source' snitched to the Sunday People Sport: 'Ferguson had a particularly good game that night and Joe Kinnear told one of our officials he was interested in signing him. At first our guy thought he was joking but then he realised Kinnear did not know Ferguson was already a Newcastle player.' The twenty two-year-old, who can play in midfield or at full-back, signed a five-year contract with Newcastle in 2011 and spent three months on loan at Birmingham last season. And, as Shaun Custis noted on Sky's Soccer Supplement on Sunday morning, it's not as if young Fergie is an unknown seventeen year old, he's played twenty odd times in the Premier League and is the sort of player whom, one would expect, the director of football at his club would know all about. If that director of football was anyone other than Joe Kinnear, that is. Blues boss and former Toon star Lee Clark agreed a deal in July to take the Northern Ireland international back on loan until the end of this season.

Elsewhere in the Premier League on Saturday, Sheikh Yer Man City put seven goals past a thoroughly woeful Norwich City and relegation-haunted Bunderland suffered their eighth defeat in ten Premier League games after Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena were both sent off for disgraceful tackles in the first half at Hull. Dirty Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic scored a bizarre wind-assisted goal after only thirteen seconds but Jay Rodriguez earned Southampton a deserved point at a windswept Britannia Stadium and West Bromwich Albinos condemned managerless bottom placed Crystal Palace to a seventh successive league defeat as they withstood the visitors' second-half revival at the Hawthorns. The Scum gave Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance a damned good hiding at Craven Cottage whilst, in the day's late game, The Arse maintained a five point lead at the top of the league after beating Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws 2-0.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Poland legend Jan Tomaszewski says that Southampton keeper Artur Boruc cannot stop England reaching the World Cup. Inspired by Tomaszewski's goalkeeping, Poland famously held England to a draw forty years ago when - just like this week - the hosts needed a win to reach the finals. 'Artur is one of the best keepers in the world,' said Tomaszewski. 'But can he stop England on his own? No. I made mistakes in 1973, but my team-mates saved us. Our defence isn't so good now. Artur must rely on himself.' On his first visit to Wembley, Tomaszewski was famously dubbed a 'clown' during TV analysis by Brian Clough, but made a series of superb saves as Poland clinched a 1-1 draw which saw them qualify at England's expense. At the finals in West Germany the following year, Tomaszewski, then twenty six, saved two penalties and his nation beat Brazil in the third-place play-off in their joint-best showing in the tournament. Poland are no longer in contention to make the 2014 finals, but with top-class players in Borussia Dortmund duo Robert Lewandowski and captain Jakub Blaszczykowski, they still pose a threat as England bid for the victory that would guarantee a place in Brazil next summer - albeit, their record against England since 1973 is dreadful. Tomaszewski, now sixty five and a politician and broadcaster in Poland, will be at Tuesday's game and told BBC Sport: 'I wish there was more riding on it for Poland so it was a big game for both of us. But we still need to perform well at Wembley because we are building a team for Euro 2016. A good performance would really motivate us. There is no pressure on Poland and England will be very stressed because they have to win, otherwise their supporters won't forgive them. If England don't win, Poland will be famous again,' added Tomaszewski, who will be among about eighteen thousand Poles at Wembley on Tuesday. Boruc has been in fine form for Saints this season, keeping five clean sheets in seven Premier League games. In contrast, England keeper Joe Hart has been criticised after making some costly errors for Sheikh Yer Man City. But England manager Roy Hodgson stuck by Hart for Friday's crucial 4-1 win over Montenegro, and Tomaszewski is sure he will keep his place against Poland too. 'Joe Hart is a top keeper, and even the very best make the occasional mistake,' he said. 'The most important thing for England is that he knows the defenders who play in front of him. They trust him, and he trusts them. Putting a new goalkeeper in at this stage would be extremely risky. I think he will play well against Poland and I am convinced that, if England do go to Brazil, he will be one of the best goalkeepers at the tournament.'

Côte d'Ivoire took a large step towards qualifying for their third World Cup in a row by beating Senegal 3-1 in the opening leg of their play-off. A Didier Drogba penalty and an own goal from Lamine Sane gave the Elephants a commanding first-half lead. Salomon Kalou added a third in the second half but Papiss Demba Cisse pulled one back deep in stoppage time. The second leg will be played in Morocco next month, because Senegal are barred from playing matches at home. The ban results from their last competitive meeting with the Ivorians, who were leading an African Cup of Nations qualifier 6-2 on aggregate when rioting inside the Leopold Senghor Stadium forced the game's cancellation. If Senegalese fans found that scoreline hard to swallow, they would have been similarly unimpressed with their side in Abidjan as Drogba fired the home side into a fifth-minute lead. After Gervinho was fouled by Cheikh Kouyate, the talismanic striker sent Senegal goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul the wrong way from the spot. Worse was to come for the visitors just nine minutes later when Gervinho cut in from the flank and fired a shot that was helped in by a massive deflection off defender Lamine Sane, leaving Coundoul with no chance. And Ivorian players and fans might have started to permit themselves thoughts of Brazil as the Elephants went 3-0 up just minutes into the second half. Gervinho, who now plays at Roma after an underwhelming spell at The Arse, was involved again, breaking free from a crowd of players before teeing up Kalou, who took a touch before tucking home. Minutes later, it was the turn of reigning African Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure to try his luck but his effort was blocked out by some committed Senegalese defending. That could yet prove a crucial intervention because instead of being four goals down going into the second leg, Senegal will only trail by two after Cisse scored with the last kick of the match. In the ninety sixth minute the hosts failed to clear a corner, allowing the Newcastle striker to poach a goal which prompted the Ivorian players to collapse to the turf in frustration at the final whistle seconds later. If the late goal was disappointing for the hosts, so was the booking for Cisse's club colleague Cheick Tiote - a second caution of the qualifying campaign which rules him out of the away leg on 16 November. Even so Côte d'Ivoire , frequently described as the strongest side on the continent, take a healthy advantage into the game in Casablanca, where Senegal will need to deliver one of their best performances of recent years if they are to qualify for their first World Cup since reaching the quarter-finals in 2002. 'We showed today that we can be a team,' Kalou told BBC Sport. 'We scored early, which gave us the confidence to go forward and score more. I think it's a good victory. We can be positive about the next round because there is one more game to go, but we did one step and we have to fight to get the second one.'

The grumpy and odious ITV presenter, breakfast TV flop and greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles was at the centre of a Twitter storm on Friday night after making what some viewers considered to be 'potentially offensive' remarks about Polish supporters live on-air. Chiles, who has anchored ITV's coverage of England's World Cup qualifying 4-1 victory over Montenegro at Wembley - badly, as usual - was discussing Tuesday's final group game against Poland with the pundit and former England defender Lee Dixon. After Dixon said that he was sure Poland fans would be 'crying at the end' of Tuesday's game, Chiles added that he hoped they would not be too upset as 'I am trying to get some building work done at the moment.' Okay, it's a bit stereotypical and obvious but, as 'offensive' jokes go it's hardly Jim Davidson. And, this blogger says that as someone who - genuinely - loathes Chiles as both a broadcasters and a human being. Chiles had already called the game 'practically a home game' for Poland, referring to the large number of Poles currently living and working in and around London. And, you know, paying their taxes and getting on with life and contributing to British society far more than many British people. Just for a bit of context. England must beat Poland on Tuesday to be sure of automatically qualifying for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. In a statement, Chiles later said: 'I made the remark in relation to the nice Polish builders currently working at my place, who I knew would already be fed up having watched their team lose to Ukraine. No offence was intended – apart from anything else I could hardly be prouder of my own East European background. But to anyone who thought what I said constituted some kind of lazy stereotyping, and was offended by it, I certainly apologise.'

Hapless Harry Knobcheese has been accused of 'disrespecting' the England manager Roy Hodgson by former Football Association chairman David Bernstein. In his autobiography, Knobcheese claims that English football was being 'run by people who really haven't got a clue' after he lost out to Hodgson for the job of succeeding Fabio Capello in 2012. But Bernstein rejected the criticism and told BBC Sport that the timing of Knobcheese's comments - just a few days ahead of two key World Cup qualifiers for England - was both 'disrespectful' and 'unhelpful'. England, who top Group H, face Montenegro at Wembley on Friday and then Poland away on Tuesday and will secure a place at next year's World Cup in Brazil with two victories. 'To come out and effectively criticise a process and another manager - because that is what he did - at this particular time where we had two crucial international matches coming up was something that I thought someone like Harry would think better of,' said Bernstein, who stepped down from his FA role earlier this year. Knobcheese also wrote: 'Everyone said I was the people's choice, the only choice.' Although what he actually means by 'everyone' is a bunch of his friends in the London-based sports press and no one actually seems to have asked 'the people' if they agreed with their - alleged - 'choice.' Knobcheese went on to claim that: 'All the senior players seemed to be up for me to get the job. But the FA went for Roy Hodgson to be the England manager - a man who is more their cup of tea.' However, Bernstein insisted that the FA had done 'a very thorough job' when choosing Capello's successor in May last year and defended the four-man selection panel. That panel, chaired by Bernstein, also included Sir Trevor Brooking - a former team mate of Knobcheese at West Ham United and someone who, unlike Knobcheese, also played at an international level - FA general secretary Alex Horne and Adrian Bevington, managing director of Club England. 'First of all, it's quite simply inaccurate,' said Bernstein, addressing the Queens Park Strangers manager's claims that the FA was 'clueless.' He added: 'There were four people who made this decision. One of them was myself - and I've been involved with running Manchester City for ten years and chairman of that club for five years. [There was also] Sir Trevor Brooking, who has a lifetime in football; Adrian Bevington, who has huge football knowledge, amazing football knowledge and Alex Horne, the general secretary. We spoke to up to twenty people within the game: other managers, players, all sorts of people with great, great knowledge. I was very proud of the way we did it. It was done discreetly and professionally and I believe we ended up with the right choice.' When asked if Knobcheese was a contender for the job, Bernstein said: 'I won't answer that question.' So, that'd be a 'no' then.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Deep Sea Divers

French international midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa his very self scored one and set up another as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Newcastle United beat Aston Villains (and their second city scum support) at Villa Park and put the Midlanders right down where they belong - in the gutter along with all the other turds. Ben Arfa opened the scoring after some excellent play from on-loan Loic Remy, who was making his first start for the Magpies. Christian Benteke equalised after the break when he powered home a corner from Ashley Westwood (although United goalkeeper Tim Krul will be rather disappointed with his own contribution to the goal). But, just as the home support were starting to get all uppity, substitute Yoan Gouffran secured victory for the visitors when he reacted quickest after Villa keeper Brad Guzan could only parry Ben Arfa's long-range effort. The win was Newcastle's second of the season - and third in a row in all competitions - and came just days after manager Alan Pardew was forced to put out a statement defending under-pressure Director of Eff-All, Joe Kinnear, over the club's failure to add to their squad before the transfer window closed. The only player who was brought in by the club this summer was Remy (who almost signed for the Magpies in January before he got his greed on, big-style). Nevertheless, Remy has had an immediate impact since signing on a season-long loan from the Queens Park Strangers. He set up Ben Arfa for the only goal of the game as Newcastle beat Fulham in their last match and, again, he combined with his French compatriot to open the scoring at Villa Park. Ben Arfa, who scored just four goals last season, was causing the Villa defence no end of problems all afternoon and he thoroughly deserved his goal when he pounced to side-foot home the cross from Remy after Papiss Cisse had missed Remy's centre. The Villains, who have struggled to recreate the form which saw them beat The Arse 3-1 on the opening day of the season, looked nervous on the ball, especially in attack. Ciaran Clark had the best chance for the home side just before the break after Tim Krul could only tip an inswinging ball from the right, but Clark's first-time shot was straight into the side netting. Andreas Weimann then broke clear for Villa but with Benteke to his left he chose to go for goal only to screw his shot well wide, much to the dismay of the home crowd and the hilarity of the visiting supporters. Whatever Paul Lambert said at the break certainly hit a nerve as his side almost blew Newcastle away at the start of the second half as Gabriel Agbonlahor saw an effort deflected wide before he should have equalised. Matt Lowton played in Weimann on the right and he swung in an excellent cross, but Agbonlahor somehow diverted the ball well wide from just six yards out. Villa did add to their squad on transfer deadline day, as they completed the seven million quid signing of Libor Kozak, and his introduction coincided with the equaliser. His height added confusion in the Newcastle box, allowing Benteke to score his fifth goal of the season. But with Ben Arfa on the pitch it was Newcastle who always looked the more dangerous of the two sides. He had one curling effort saved before his long-range effort was not dealt with by Guzan, who could then only watch on as Gouffran fired home. Papiss Cisse and Cheick Tiote both also went close to adding to the score sheet as Newcastle moved up to eighth in the table, while Villa slipped to sixteenth.

Blunderland's manager, the notorious Paolo Di Canio said that he 'regrets' inviting the referee to send him off during the great Mackem unwashed's controversial 3-1 home defeat by The Arse. The Italian was sent to the stands after arguing with referee Martin Atkinson over alleged Arsenal time-wasting. 'He came to me and said "if you keep going with your manner I will send you up to the stand,"' Di Canio explained. 'I said "if you want to complete a perfect job, you can send me off." He took it seriously and sent me off.' Di Canio, whose side sit rock bottom of the Premier League with a mere one point from four games, added: 'Next time I will never invite the referee to send me off because he took it seriously.' Yeah, they tend to do that, matey. Before the second-half dismissal, Atkinson had sparked controversy by disallowing Jozy Altidore's goal for Blunderland. Battling to get his side back on level terms for a second time, Altidore brushed off Sagna's attempts to hold him back. His subsequent shot crept over the line before being hacked clear. But Blunderland's joy soon turned to white hot frothing anger when, instead of playing the advantage, Atkinson brought the game back for a Sunderland free-kick which curled harmlessly wide of Wojciech Szczesny's left-hand post. To make matters worse he only booked Sagna for the infringement instead of issuing a red card. Earlier, Craig Gardner's penalty had cancelled out Olivier Giroud's early strike with Aaron Ramsey restoring the visitors' lead before Altidore's goal that never was. Ramsey then rubbed salt into the Mackem's wounds by scoring his fifth goal of the season. It sealed a victory which takes The Arse to the top of the fledgling Premier League table and leaves the Black Cats down among the dead men. Di Canio, who has made plenty of headlines since becoming Blunderland boss towards the end of last season, has clamped down on perceived indiscipline at the Stadium of Shite. When asked about the disallowed goal, Di Canio said: 'It was a mistake - the referee has the power to wait to see how the action finishes, and then he can come back to his decision. They have to wait. You could see Altidore is much more powerful than Sagna, he was shielding the ball well. It was clear he was near to winning the challenge. That was a key moment because we can't imagine that we would have many more opportunities to score, so that decided the outcome of the game. That can happen. He is a man. It's important that he accepts this - I make mistakes every single moment when I make decisions with my players; my players make mistakes in front of goal.' His opposite number, blind Arsene Wenger, who also praised midfielders Jack Ramsey and debutant Mesut Özil, for once, actually did see the incident in question and said: 'Look, it's one of these things that are controversial because the referee had blown the whistle before the ball had gone in. If it's no goal, people moan because he didn't give the foul, and he could have given a foul on Sagna as well because both were holding each other off,' claimed The Arse's boss, ridiculously. 'But we were a bit lucky, yes, because this kind of situation can go in your favour and can go in the favour of Sunderland.'

The Scum's manager, whinging dour Scotsman David Moyes has warned his players he will not tolerate diving following the incident which led to winger Ashley Young being cautioned in the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. Young tumbled over in the area after a challenge by Kagisho Dikgacoi in the first half. Television replays subsequently suggested that the England international initiated the contact and then tripped over his own feet in a clear attempt to win advantage. Moyes said: 'I don't want my players diving. Dikgacoi definitely throws his leg out but Ashley put his leg into his leg.' Referee Jon Moss showed Young a yellow card, although he later awarded a penalty when the same two players clashed again, just before half-time. That incident led to Dikgacoi being sent-off, with Robin van Persie scoring from the resulting penalty. Although that one probably was a foul (and, a deserved red card given the fact that it was a clear goal-scoring opportunity, Palace will feel a shade hard done-by since the initial contact came outside the box.) The Scum went on to wrap up victory in the second half thanks to Wayne Rooney's free-kick. Young has previously been in trouble for diving, with his former boss, whinging dour Scotsman Sir Alex Ferguson 'having a word' with him last season. A word which, seemingly, hasn't done much good. The ex-Watford and Aston Villains winger was criticised by some for penalties The Scum were awarded against Queens Park Strangers and Villa last season, prompting Ferguson to take action. 'He understands where we come from and I hope it makes a difference,' Ferguson said in April. 'He's going to have to be careful because people are scrutinising it now.' Ferguson's successor Moyes had sympathy for Palace boss Ian Holloway. 'I don't like the rule where every time it is the last man it means it is (a red card),' said Moyes. 'I thought it was harsh. If I was Ian Holloway I would be disappointed. Okay, it might be a penalty. But I don't think the boy made a challenge to wipe him out. Unfortunately that is the rule.' Holloway himself pointedly refused to discuss the issue, having already been handed a two-match touchline ban and eighteen grand fine by the Premier League following his comments after a controversial defeat by Stottingtot Hotshots on the opening day of the season. 'My opinion doesn't count,' Holloway chundered after the game. 'I realise that now. All I can talk about is what led to it, which is us playing the occasion rather than the game. I will not get drawn into a situation where people have to make decisions and they affect me. Emotionally I am in the right place now. I would like to keep my money in the bank and pay for my own daughter's wedding this summer. I don't talk about other people's players. If you want to meet me down the pub later on I will tell you exactly what I think.' And if you believe that, dear blog reader ...

Moscow Chelski DC manager full-of-his-own-importance Jose Mourinho blamed missed chances for his side's first Premier League defeat of the season at The Everton. Steven Naismith's goal in first-half stoppage time gave Everton boss Roberto Martinez his first league win since succeeding David Moyes. 'If you don't score a goal what you create means nothing. It is a simple story,' said The Special One. 'You have to put the ball in the net. Artistic football without goals is no good. We didn't have killer instinct.' Moscow Chelski FC gave a debut to new striker Samuel Eto'o, but he was one of the main culprits of their profligacy, along with another summer arrival, Andre Schurrle. A disappointed Mourinho said afterwards: 'You can't speak about sharpness. I don't think it is a question of sharpness. The ball Schurrle passed to Eto'o in the first half was a slow pass. If it was a fast pass, Eto'o scores with an open goal but Gareth Barry got back. These kinds of details are not about sharpness of players.' Mourinho was also unhappy with the build-up to Naismith's winner, with Ashley Cole conceding a needless free-kick and Everton gaining possession after goalkeeper Petr Cech rolled the ball out. 'We are not talking about young kids,' added Mourinho, who returned to manage Moscow Chelski FC in June. 'We didn't deserve to lose because we were the best team, because we played the best football, dominated the whole game, because we had twenty one shots and we risked everything we could. In that sense it is fair to say we deserved to win the game. The other way to look at it is that a team that has twenty one shots, some of them easy shots and easy situations to score and then don't score and makes a mistake in the last minute of the first half - maybe with that I should say we deserve to lose.'

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey says that he fears an official may commit suicide if they do not get more help to deal with the pressures of the job. And we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for them? Bollocks to that, they wanted the job in the first place. Halsey, fifty two, retired at the end of last season - the cheering across the land - and made the claim in his book, which is being serialised in the Sun, so there's overly no vast hyperbole involved here in trying to flog copies of that, oh no, very hot water. 'It will not be long before a referee has a nervous breakdown,' he claimed, like a stroppy drama queen. 'I also believe that if we do not do something to help referees with mental health and stress issues, then we could see a suicide.' In the serialisation, Halsey highlighted the case of Bundesliga referee Babak Rafati, who he explained had been found in a bath with his wrists slit before undergoing treatment for depression. Halsey complained to police after being abused on social network website Twitter last season after officiating a 2-1 win for The Scum at Liverpool Alabama Yee Haws. He sent off the Anfield side's midfielder, Jonjo Shelvey, and awarded The Scum a late penalty from which Robin van Persie scored the winner. The tweets referred to Halsey's successful treatment for throat cancer in 2009 which led to him taking a year out of the game. Halsey said that he received 'support' from some Premier League managers over his performance in that game, although feels the organisation that looks after officials - the Professional Game Match Officials Limited - could have done more. 'I got little support from my bosses apart from a call from Mike Riley, the head of the PGMOL, and one from the Select Group manager Keren Barratt asking if I wanted to come off my next game at Southampton,' claimed Halsey.
Bookmaker Paddy Power has teamed up with gay rights charity Stonewall for an advertising campaign which aims to tackle homophobia in football. Good on them. The campaign, Right Behind Gay Footballers - 'ooo, err missus' title notwithstanding - will see print adverts and billboards run with a series of provocative straplines. One advert uses the line 'Over five thousand footballers and none of them are gay? What are the odds on that?', while another runs with the message: 'We don't care which team you play for.' Rainbow laces have been sent to all Premier League and Football League clubs, plus the forty two teams in the Scottish Professional Football League, to highlight the issue. The campaign is also being pushed on social media, with the backing of supporters including Joey Barton – who has had almost one thousand retweets of his call for players to 'support the cause' by wearing the laces – Stephen Fry and Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi. 'Show that people's sexuality shouldn't be an issue. Join the rainbow laces movement,' tweeted Barton. The aim of the campaign, which has been developed by advertising agency Lucky Generals, is not to force players to 'come out' but rather to try to change attitudes in the UK. 'In most other areas of life people can be open about their sexuality and it's time for football to take a stand and show players it doesn't matter what team they play for,' said a Paddy Power spokesman. In Britain, no professional footballer has come out and continued his career since Justin Fashanu in 1990. He stopped playing in 1994, but tragically committed suicide four years later, aged just thirty seven. 'It's time for football clubs and players to step up and make a visible stand against homophobia in our national game,' said the Stonewall deputy chief executive, Laura Doughty. From The North supports this endeavour, fully.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United midfielder Yohan Cabaye has apologised to supporters (which, presumably, includes yer actual Keith Telly Topping) after refusing to play for the club last month. Cabaye, twenty seven, missed a 0-0 draw against The Hamsters after the Magpies rejected a ten million quid summer bid for him from The Arse. The French international stayed at St James' Park and made his first start of the season in a 2-1 win at Aston Villains on Saturday. 'If the fans were, or still are, mad at me for what happened, then I understand and I apologise to them,' said Cabaye. 'I want to come back from what has happened.' Before refusing to play against The Hamsters, Cabaye had missed Newcastle's opening Premier League game - a 4-0 defeat at Sheikh Yer Man City - and was subsequently absent from their 2-0 Capital One Cup victory at Morecambe. He'd apparently, been told they were playing 'And Wise', instead. He came on as a substitute in the 1-0 win over Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance on 31 August and started at the Villa. Cabaye insisted that he is 'happy' at Newcastle - at least, until January - and that he would 'give everything' for the club for the rest of the season - or, at least, until January - as he targeted securing a place in France's squad for the World Cup next summer, if his country qualify. 'In your career, you do not have a career without bad moments,' he added. 'I have moved on and now in my head I just want to work really hard, to get back in the team every week and to help the team - that is the most important thing for me. I want to forget what happened during the summer, I want to put it behind me and give everything for Newcastle every day, for the club and for my team-mates.'

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar must switch to winter, according to FIFA's own medical chief. Michel D'Hooghe, the chairman of the FIFA's medical committee, will advise that the risks posed to supporters by extreme heat are 'too great.' Odious, risible waste-of-space Sepp Blatter already supports a move away from the traditional summer staging, when temperatures can reach as high as fifty degrees in Qatar. 'The World Cup is about more than games and players,' said D'Hooghe. Qatar has a hot desert climate with daytime temperatures usually peaking at forty two degrees Celsius during June and July. It doesn't tend get much cooler overnight as temperatures typically don't fall below thirty degrees. The climate during November and December is similar to that of a European summer where the average daytime temperature is around twenty six degrees with the chance of a little rain at times too. 'I am sure the Qataris have the technical skill to organise a tournament where teams could play and train in a stable, acceptable temperature, but it's about the fans. They will need to travel from venue to venue and I think it's not a good idea for them to do that in temperatures of forty seven degrees or more.' The Premier League has opposed a proposed move to November or December 2022, which would disrupt the English domestic season. However, the European Club Association, which represents some of the continent's top teams, has said that it is 'open' to the switch, while the Football Association's chairman Greg Dyke has said that a summer tournament would be 'impossible' in the Middle East. Hassan al-Thawadi, the head of Qatar's 2022 bid, has rejected suggestions that the tournament should be moved to another host nation rather than be rescheduled. 'I'd like to assure everybody that it is not an impossibility to host the World Cup in Qatar in the summer,' he told BBC Sport earlier in September. 'A summer World Cup is what we bid for - it's the original plan - and we are going for it and we are moving ahead with it.' FIFA's executive committee is expected to agree in principle to move the World Cup to the winter when they meet in early October before starting a six-month exercise to work out how it will affect the international calendar and domestic leagues.

Australia's football chief, Frank Lowy, says that his country's Football Federation may seek compensation if the 2022 World Cup is switched to the winter. Australia was one of four countries which lost out to Qatar, despite spending over twenty five million smackers on its bid. 'Australia invested heavily in the World Cup process,' Lowy said. 'Since December 2010, Australia has been careful not to let its misgivings about the process be interpreted as sour grapes.' You sense a but coming here, don't you dear blog reader? 'But now, with increasing speculation about a change that will impact on us as one of the bidding nations, and because our competition will be affected, we have made our position public.' An FFA statement also asked FIFA to 'look' at awarding 'just and fair compensation' - mucho wonga, in other words - to those nations which 'invested many millions, and national prestige, in bidding for a summer event.' Qatar beat Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States to win the right to host the 2022 World Cup. Lowy, the billionaire owner of the Westfield shopping centre empire, is also urging FIFA's executive board to not make 'a quick decision' about moving the tournament to a date when the weather will be cooler. He said: 'Better to let the independent investigative process run its natural course and then, with those issues settled, make a clear-eyed assessment about rescheduling and its consequences.'

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

If You Want Entertainment, Go To The Circus To See The Clowns

Premier League clubs spent a record six hundred and thirty million quid in the summer transfer window, according to Deloitte's Sports Business Group. The previous record of five hundred million notes was set in 2008. The transfer window closed at 23:00 on Monday. Among the big signings on Monday was Mesut Özil who is going from Real Madrid to The Arse for just over fort two million smackers. The Scum left it late in the day to sign Marouane Fellaini for twenty seven and a half million knicker from Everton. 'The story of this summer transfer window is of new records: a new record for Premier League spending as well as a new world transfer record fee,' said Dan Jones at Deloitte. The record transfer fee was for Gareth Bale, who was sold to Real Madrid by Stottingtot Hotshots for eighty five million wonga. Premier League clubs are flush with cash from their latest domestic three-year TV deal. BT has spent seven hundred and thirty eight million quid over three years for the rights to thirty eight live matches a season, while Sky paid £2.3bn for one hundred and sixteen matches a season. 'Testament to the impact this is having is in the scale of Premier League gross spending, as well as the gulf in net spending between the Premier League and other European leagues,' said Alex Thorpe at Deloitte. 'Whereas many clubs around Europe have been reliant on selling players in order to spend, the financial advantages Premier League clubs enjoy has enabled net spending of four hundred million smackers across the league.' Although they have not matched the Premier League, spending in other major European leagues has also been up. La Liga and Serie A each had gross spending of three hundred and thirty five million notes, followed by Ligue 1 in France with three hundred and fifteen million and Germany's Bundesliga with two hundred and thirty million.

Meanwhile, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies sent not a penny. Nada. Zilch. Nowt. Not a sausage. Bugger all. The club's director of sod-all, risible Joe Kinnear, was the main target for supporters' incandescent fury following a summer in which he had lots to say for himself and his own abilities in 'opening doors' for the club but has appeared utterly incapable of doing the job for which he was appointed to carry out by owner greedy lard-bucket Mike Ashley in June. Risible Kinnear's main responsibility is, allegedly, player recruitment, but despite ending last season looking for two strikers, a centre-back and a winger, manager Alan Pardew has been given just one new player, the forward Loïc Rémy, who has signed on loan at St James’ Park from Queens Park Strangers and who is currently on poice bail regarding allegations of rape (allegations which, it is important to note, he denies). Despite reported interest in Lyon forward Bafétimbi Gomis, Moscow Chelski's Demba Ba, Blackpool's Tom Ince, Lille's Florian Thauvin and Wigan Not-Very-Athletic's James McCarthy, Newcastle have not signed any of them. Or anybody else for that matter. Pardew his very self was careful not to publicly criticise risible Kinnear's efforts as deadline day approached - keeping his powder dry for a potential forthcoming constructive dismissal industrial tribunal hearing, no doubt - but he steadfastly maintained that he wanted to add at least 'one or two offensive players' to his paper-thin squad. The failure to do that means Newcastle are short of cover and competition for places, a weakness which contributed to the club's dangerous brush with relegation at the back end of the very disappointing last season. Since then, three of the first team squad (Danny Simpson, Steve Harper and James Perch) have left, along with a number of younger fringe players on loan and none have been replaced. At the very least, Newcastle's failure to sign some new players reeks of a crass lack of ambition. Many are asking just what, exactly, Kinnear is doing at Newcastle to justify his salary and his existence. A slow but effective conveyor belt of players had been brought in over the last three seasons, all spotted by the club's acclaimed chief scout Graham Carr with former chairman Derek Llambias the man to get the financials signed and sealed only to be closed down and mothballed by the bumbling Kinnear. Pardew will certainly not be happy, but he has been here before and as the public face of the Ashley regime he will be expected to offer the usual excuses designed to appease disgruntled Newcastle supporters. Given the club boasted of a record - and quite disgraceful - shirt sponsorship deal with Internet loan company Wonga this season, and with an extra thirty million smackers in television revenue, Newcastle fans are perhaps justified in wondered where, exactly, all of the money has gone. Many fear that Ashley is more interested in taking coin out of the club to pay back the interest-fee loans – totalling more than one hundred  million quid – which he provided during his first three years as owner to cover debts and the cost of relegation to the Championship in 2009. Pardew will also have to work hard to ensure that Yohan Cabaye is fully committed to the Newcastle cause. The French midfielder had been angling for a move for several months, but with three years left on his contract and with the Tyneside club asking for twenty  million knicker to part with him, he has not got his wish, despite effectively going on strike last week to try to force a way out.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Hopes Spring Eternal

The 2013-14 Premier League season gets under way on Saturday, with clubs playing for more money than ever before. The TV rights have been sold to BT and BSkyB for over three billion smackers over three years, up £1.25bn on the previous package as everybody connected with the deal got their collective greed on, big style. The opening Premier League fixtures are as follows: -
Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws v Dirty Stoke
The Arse v Aston Villains
The Turkeys Norwich v The Toffos
Blunderland v Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance
West Bromwich Albinos v Southampton
The Hamsters v Cardiff
Swansea v The Scum
Crystal Palace v Stottingtot Hotshots
Moscow Chelski FC v Relegation Haunted Hull
Sheikh Yer Man City v Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies
Jose Mourinho has returned for a second spell as Moscow Chelski manager while dour, sour-faced whinging Scotsman David Moyes fills the role vacated by ... dour, sour-faced whinging Scotsman Sir Alex Ferguson at The Scum. The league also welcomes Championship winners Cardiff City, along with newly-promoted Hull City and Crystal Palace. Former Real Madrid manager Mourinho will have his sights set on repeating the success of his last spell at Torpedo Stamford Bridge, which ended in September 2007 after he had won two Premier League titles. But Moyes, who joins the current champions from The Toffos following the end of Ferguson's twenty six-year reign of terror at Old Trafford, will look to end their hopes. Manuel Pellegrini takes over at last season's runners-up Sheikh Yer Man City, with the Chilean leaving Malaga to replace the sacked Roberto Mancini, while other managerial newcomers include Roberto Martinez, appointed the new boss at The Toffos, and Mark Hughes at Dirty Stoke. With a fortnight left until the close of the transfer window, the futures of The Scum's striker Wayne Rooney, Stottingtot Hotshots midfielder Gareth Bale and Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws' Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez are unresolved. Rooney wants to leave Old Trafford but The Scum insist he is not for sale. Bale is keen to speak to suitors Real Madrid, while Suarez wants to leave Merseyside for Champions League football.

It certainly hasn't taken David Moyes long in his new role as manager of The Scum to acquire his predecessor's predilection for whinging like a big stroppy girl. Moyes says he finds his club's start to the new season 'hard to believe.' Among their first five Premier League games, the champions host Moscow Chelski FC and Sheikh Yer Man City and The Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws away. Moyes whinged: 'I find it hard to believe that's the way the balls came out of the bag, that's for sure.' The Premier League responded by saying: 'We have absolutely assured him the process is random and above board. He has accepted those assurances.' Although, quite why they had to 'assure' him of anything when it's none of his frigging business or anything even remotely like it is a question, perhaps, best left for another day. Earlier on Thursday the dour and sour-faced Scotsman whinged: 'I think it's the hardest start for twenty years that Manchester United have had. I hope it's not because Manchester United won the league quite comfortably last year [that] the fixtures have been made much more difficult.' Moyes officially took over from dour and sour-faced Scotsman Sir Alex Ferguson, who retired after twenty six trophy-laden and constantly-whinging years in charge, on 1 July. The former Everton boss saw his new side win the Charity Shield with a 2-0 victory against Wigan Not Very Athletic (and theirbloody odious and risible chairman) last week.

Former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer says that the large contingent of French players at the club is 'unhealthy.' Well, aye. I mean, the smell of garlic, for a kick-off ... Newcastle's recent capture of Queen's Park Strangers' forward Loic Remy on loan means that Alan Pardew's squad has eleven French players. Shearer is worried that this could 'have a negative impact' if things went against Pardew's side. 'I don't think it's a healthy thing to have too many French players in one dressing room,' Shearer told BBC Radio 5Live. Though, to be fair, it's never done, you know, France too much harm. Wor Shearer then elbowed someone in the face on general principal. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) magpies finished fifth from bottom in the Premier League table last season after a horrible season disrupted by injuries and a, very unwelcome, Europa League campaign and start the 2013-14 campaign away to Sheikh Yer Man City on Monday. 'If things start to go against you then little cliques appear [in the dressing room],' added Shearer, who scored two hundred and six goals in four hundred and four games during a ten-year spell at Newcastle before managing the club for two months in 2009. 'I know Arsenal had a lot of French players and went on to be successful. But I don't see Newcastle being that successful.' Despite his comments, Shearer is tipping his old club to enjoy a better season than last. 'Two years ago, Newcastle overachieved without doubt by finishing fifth,' he said. 'Last season they underachieved by finishing fifth bottom. If the truth be known, they're somewhere in between. At the minute I would have them finishing eleventh or twelfth.'

Monday, 12 August 2013

Here Comes The Summer

A summer World Cup in Qatar in 2022 would be 'impossible' according to Football Association chairman Greg Dyke. Dyke, who took up his FA role last month, thinks that the tournament is likely to move to winter because of the heat. The Premier League opposes a change of dates, as do most of the other league's in Europe, while Dyke's predecessor David Bernstein said in June that any switch would be 'fundamentally flawed.' But Qatar's World Cup organising committee says it is ready to host the tournament in summer. 'Even if all the stadia are air-conditioned, I think it will be impossible for the fans,' Dyke said. 'Just go out there and wander around in that sort of heat. I just don't think it's possible. My position, and I suspect the FA's position, will be: "You can't play it in the summer."' The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee told BBC Sport in a statement: 'It was the right decision to award the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time in 2022. We are ready to host in summer or winter. We have always maintained that this issue requires the agreement of the international football community. A decision to alter the dates of the 2022 FIFA World Cup would not affect our infrastructure planning.' The Premier League is understood to be 'surprised and disappointed' by Dyke's comments, as it wishes to join forces with the FA in opposing a change of date. Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, said in July that switching the Qatar World Cup to winter would 'cause chaos' for football leagues around the world. His organisation believes such a change would have an impact on the three domestic seasons around the tournament - most notably 2021-22 - affecting broadcast deals and requiring every player's contract to be rewritten. In 2010 Qatar controversially defeated bids from South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States to be awarded the 2022 World Cup amid allegations of back-handers and general dodgy shenanigans and malarkey and shit. The bid has been plagued by allegations of corruption, although organisers have always insisted that they did nothing wrong. Temperatures in the Middle East state can reach fifty degrees in the summer, and FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke admitted in March that the tournament 'might' be moved. FIFA president the odious Sepp Blatter said in May it was 'not rational' to play in such heat. But, shortly before stepping down as FA chairman, Bernstein said there should be no change. 'The bid was for the World Cup to be played in June and July, and for it then to be moved to the winter would be fundamentally flawed,' he said. 'If people want it in the winter, they should bid for it on that basis.' Dyke, though, believes a move is inevitable and suspects there is likely to be legal action as a result. The sixty six-year-old, who has visited Qatar in June, added: 'FIFA have therefore got two choices. They can move it either time-wise or to another location. I suspect either will end up in some sort of litigation. But then someone should have worked that out in 2010 when it was awarded. I understand the reaction of the Premier League in not wanting to move it, and I have some sympathy with them. We didn't have to choose to give it to Qatar in the summer. But that's where it is and I think it will either have to be moved out of the summer or moved to another location. I suspect that the former is more likely than the latter.' FA general secretary Alex Horne said that any change to the international calendar would 'trigger complications' for clubs, national associations, leagues and competitions around the world. 'It's a big jigsaw that will have to be put together and it'll take months. The last time we did this it took eighteen months to agree a calendar which is the one we're looking for 2014 to 2018, so it won't be quick to fix it if the decision is that we think it should be other than in July,' he said.

Yer actual David Ginola has joined BT Sport's football team. The ex-Newcastle, Stottingtot Hotshot and France winger will co-present and provide analysis across the broadcaster's channels. 'I am incredibly happy to be joining BT and to be part of the fantastic line-up from the start,' Ginola said. 'I trust that the viewers and sports fans are as excited as I am about this new channel, which promises a different approach to sports broadcasting.' Director of BT Sport Simon Green said: 'We are really delighted to have secured David Ginola to be one of our football experts. Every football fan knows that David was one of the most talented players in Premier League history, and he has proved to be one of the most accomplished broadcasters since hanging up his boots. We expect David to provide a combination of flair and insight in his role with BT Sport, and he adds a certain style to any programme.' Ginola joins greedy little workshy malingerer, horrorshow (and drag) Michael Owen, David Calamity James, Steve McManaman and Owen Hargreaves at BT Sport and will work on Premier League, FA Cup and European football matches, include the French Ligue 1. After retiring from playing, Ginola has worked as a pundit for BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and Orange.

Robin van Persie ensured the David Moyes era at The Scum began with a trophy as Wigan Not Very Athletic (and their odious chairman) were beaten 2-0 in the FA Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

And, We're Off ...

It seems nought but five minutes since the last football season ended and yet, here we are, and a new one is already underway. Albeit, it's only the Championship, the real start of the season occurs in two weeks time when the Premier League kicks-off. Anyway, for the four people in the world that are interested, Queens Park Strangers, Reading and Wigan Not Very Athletic (and their odious, risible chairman) all won on the opening day of the new Championship season following their relegation from the Premier League last term. Promoted Bournemouth and Yeovil Town also picked up three points, but Doncaster Rovers were beaten at home by Blackpool. Dirty Leeds secured a dramatic win over Brighton & Hove Albinos, Nottingham Forest edged out Huddersfield Town and there was a derby stalemate at Turf Moor. Watford picked up a narrow win at Birmingham City and Leicester City overturned a half-time deficit to claim the points at the Smoggies of Middlesbrough. Nedum Onuoha and Andrew Johnson scored just before half-time as promotion favourites Queen's Park Strangers came from behind to beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 at Loftus Road. Reading also recovered from conceding an early goal to win 2-1 at home against Ipswich Town, with Danny Guthrie's seventy fifth minute effort proving the difference. New signings Grant Holt and Leon Barnett were among the scorers as Wigan romped to a 4-0 win at Barnsley, who saw Dale Jennings sent off on his debut. Ed Upson scored with two minutes left to hand Yeovil a memorable 1-0 win at Millwall in the club's first ever match in the Championship. Bournemouth marked their return to the second tier with victory as Lewis Grabban scored a goal in each half in a 2-1 home triumph over Charlton Not Very Athletic. But Doncaster failed to emulate their fellow promoted clubs as Tom Ince's last-minute goal wrapped up a 3-1 win for Blackpool at the Keepmoat Stadium. New signing Luke Murphy quickly endeared himself to the Elland Road faithful as he scored a ninety fourth minute winner as Dirty Leeds beat Brighton 2-1. Troy Deeney is among the favourites to be the division's top scorer and his eleventh minute goal earned Watford a 1-0 win at Lee Clark's Birmingham. Forest were also 1-0 winners as Billy Davies' likely promotion contenders beat Huddersfield thanks to Henri Lansbury's fifty third minute goal. Burnley and Notlob Wanderers got the Championship season up and running at lunchtime and Darren Pratley's equaliser secured the visitors a 1-1 draw in the local derby at Turf Moor. Goals from Danny Drinkwater and Jamie Vardy in the space of seven second-half minutes gave Leicester a 2-1 success on Teeside.

Yer actual Papiss Demba Cissé says that he wants to 'focus one hundred per cent on football' after agreeing to wear the Wonga logo on his Newcastle United shirt following discussions with Islamic teachers. The striker, a Muslim, fell out with yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies owner, Mike Ashley, because he was not prepared to promote the money-lending company. The two parties eventually resolved their differences, but Cissé admitted it had been 'a very difficult time.' He told the club's official website: 'I feel great and ready to go.' The Senegalese forward is now set to play in a pre-season game at Scottish side St Mirren on Tuesday. Cissé is one of a number of Muslims at Newcastle but he was the only player to object to the club's choice of shirt sponsor on religious grounds. The contract with high-interest pay-day lender Wonga is thought to be worth around eight million smackers a year to the club. And Ashley is, after all, a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. 'I have had some useful discussions with my club, my family and Islamic teachers in the last few weeks,' Cissé said. 'After a huge amount of thought and reflection, I have made the decision to follow my team-mates and wear the kit. Although I did not go to Portugal on the training camp, I was back here working hard on my fitness and preparing for the start of the new season. Since then, it has been great to be training with my team-mates again.' Cissé joined the Magpies from German side SC Freiburg in January 2012 and has scored twenty six times in just over sixty games all competitions.

Meanwhile, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle have agreed a fee to sign twenty seven-year-old France striker Bafetimbi Gomis from Lyon. The Ligue 1 club accepted an offer in the region of eight million smackers, but Newcastle must still agree personal terms with the player. Gomis, who is close friends with Magpies midfielder Moussa Sissoko, scored twenty goals in forty four games for Lyon last season. Newcastle are also working on a deal for QPR's Loic Remy, another France international (to go with the several they already have) on a season-long loan. Gomis, who has scored three goals in twelve appearances for France, becomes Newcastle's first major transfer business of the summer following Joe Kinnear's arrival as director of football. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has been in the market for a new striker having sold Demba Ba to Chelsea for seven million knicker in January. He will become the eleventh Frenchman in Newcastle's first-team squad. Gomis came through the youth ranks at lower league outfit Sporting Toulon Var before moving to St Etienne in 2000 aged fifteen. The striker made his senior debut for St Etienne in 2004, and went on to make one hundred and forty two league appearances for the club, scoring forty goals. He scored twice on his international debut for France in a friendly against Ecuador in May 2008, which earned him a place in Les Bleus' squad for Euro 2008. In July 2009 Gomis made a thirteen million quid switch from St Etienne to Lyon where he has spent the last four seasons.

Mark Lawrenson's appearances on Match Of The Day are to be cut next season as the BBC seeks to 'freshen up' its flagship football show. What a shame. Anyway ... The former Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws defender's name was omitted completely when the corporation announced its list of pundits for 2013-14 on Thursday, prompting suggestions that he had been sacked. However, a BBC spokesperson later confirmed that the fifty six-year-old remained on the Match Of The Day presenting team but with 'a reduced role' for the new campaign. He will continue to be a regular presence on Match Of The Day 2 and Radio 5Live. Match Of The Day's punditry team has attracted increased criticism in recent years, with the emergence of Gary Neville on Sky intensifying scrutiny on the quality of their analysis. But while Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer have kept their jobs (in yer man Wor Shearer's case, probably because he threatened to elbow someone in the mush if he got the tin-tack) as lead pundits on the programme, Lawrenson, who also held that status, is the main casualty of the revamp. From next season he will join a roster of pundits who will appear alongside Hansen and Shearer, a pool that includes the former Moscow Chelski FC manager Gianluca Vialli, his former Moscow Chelski team-mate Gus Poyet, odious little greedy shit and malingerer Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Sir Les Ferdinand and crazed Robbie Savage. The BBC is introducing changes across its media platforms for next season and also announced that full-of-his-own-importance mouth on legs Ian Wright will co-host Six-O-Six, 5Live's football phone-in show, alongside the former Sky, ESPN and ITV presenter Kelly Cates. Wright and Cates, the daughter of the former (sacked) Liverpool manager Miserable, Scowling Kenny Dalglish, replace Alan Green, who departed Six-O-Six towards the end of last season, to rejoicing throughout the land. Wright has hosted a football phone-in on Absolute Radio for three years (not forgetting, as if we ever could, his - truly hilarious - stint as a host on Live From Studio Five) and will be joined on 5Live by Wor Chris Waddle, who has been confirmed as a regular pundit on the radio station along with Kevin Kilbane and John Hartson. On Match Of The Day 2, Mark Chapman has replaced the dreadful Colin Murray as presenter and will also host the new MOTD2 Extra. Dan Walker is to present 5Live's preview show on a Friday night as well as Football Focus while Jason Mohammad will front a revised Final Score on Saturdays. The corporation is extending its coverage of women's football next season having invested significantly in the recent Women's European Championship in Sweden. Despite England's disgracefully poor group stage exit, their three matches attracted an audience of over one million punters per game and the BBC will broadcast England's World Cup qualifiers live and commentate from selected midweek Women's Super League fixtures.

German prosecutors have charged former international footballer Uli Hoeneß, president of European champions Bayern München, with tax evasion after a lengthy inquiry. Lawyers for Hoeneß have one month to respond to the charges before a court in München decides whether the case should go to trial. The former German international and World Cup winner reported himself to the authorities earlier this year over an undeclared Swiss bank account. Bayern München beat Borussia Dortmund to win last season's Champions League. News of the secret bank account caused a stir in Germany with even Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman saying she was 'disappointed' in the former West Germany international. Neither he nor officials at the club have disclosed how much money is involved, but German media sources suggest he deposited millions of Euros in a Zurich-based account over ten years. Ooo, naughty. Hoeneß is said to have failed to pay capital gains tax. Ken Heidenreich, a spokesman for München prosecutors, declined to give details of the indictment on Tuesday, citing tax secrecy laws. 'We have filed the charges to the München state court,' he said. 'The defence now has one month to pronounce itself.' In May, Bayern's supervisory board backed Hoeneß to remain in the job despite the investigation against him.

The former Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper is 'honoured' an AC Milan legends team will face a Magpies all-star side in his testimonial game. Alan Shearer, Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini are among the players confirmed for the match on 11 September. Proceeds from the game will benefit The Great North Children's Hospital, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Newcastle United Foundation. 'I'm honoured such a great team is coming,' Harper told BBC Newcastle. 'We're going to be privileged to see some of the greatest players to ever play the game. If you picked an all-time world XI then Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini would certainly be in a lot of people's teams. To have that iconic AC Milan team that I grew up watching on a Sunday is fantastic.' The three most high-profile members of Milan's Glorie legends team are the defensive trio of Maldini, Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta. Under Fabio Capello they were part of the side that won the 1994 European Cup, although the latter two were suspended for the final. However they continued to star for the Rossoneri for the next decade, Baresi winning three Champions League titles, while Maldini and Costacurta both lifted five each. 'I was very happy to hear of the possibility of AC Milan Glorie travelling and playing against a Newcastle United legends team at such a famous stadium,' Baresi said. 'I know the passion of Newcastle fans and I know of the club's history and the love of football in the city, so I congratulate Steve and wish the fans and Newcastle United a magnificent occasion.' Unlikely, but just about possible. Harps, who joined Hull City following the end of his twenty-year spell at yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Newcastle this summer, made one hundred and ninety nine appearances for the club following his move from Seaham Red Star.

The world's oldest football clubs will go head-to-head in Derbyshire to celebrate the first derby match ever to be played. Sheffield FC and Hallam FC first clashed on 26 December 1860 with the match played under new rules drawn up by the founders of Sheffield FC. The so-called 'Sheffield Rules' became the basis of the modern game, introducing elements such as throw-ins and corner kicks. Organisers said that the event was to 'celebrate the heritage of football.' Chairman of Sheffield FC Richard Tims said: 'Sheffield FC were founded in 1857 and we played amongst ourselves for three years, married gentleman against unmarried gentleman et cetera. 'Three years later we pursued another cricket club to form a football club which was Hallam FC and we played them in a challenge match and the oldest derby has been continuing ever since.' Tims said that fans from all over the world were attending the match at Sheffield FC's home ground in Dronfield on Saturday. 'In fact we've got fifty four Nuremberg fans coming, some guys from Munich, some guys from Genoa. People who love Sheffield FC because we are the great-great grandfathers,' he added. Hallam FC was founded in 1860 and still play at their original ground at Sandygate Road. The site is the Guinness World Record holder for being the oldest football ground in the world.

Exeter City will play Fluminense next July to mark the centenary of the club facing Brazil in what was the five-times World Cup winners' first-ever representative match. The game will be staged on 20 July at Estadio das Laranjeiras in Rio, where the original game took place. That is only one week after the 2014 World Cup concludes just four miles away at the Maracana Stadium. 'We're happy to make the announcement. It hasn't been easy,' Exeter City vice-chairman Julian Tagg told BBC News. 'To get to this point has taken three years of planning. We've always been desperate to get a game on to commemorate the match one hundred years ago.'
The two sides will wear replica kits from the game a century earlier, which finished in a two-nil win for Brazil, and kick-off with the original ball. Exeter travelled to South America in 1914 for a series of games after being chosen by the Football Association as a 'representative' English team. The Grecians played three matches in Brazil, winning their first two games, against an English expatriate side and a Rio team, but the final game was against a team made up of the country's best players resulted in defeat. Fluminense, who have undertaken to finance City's trip to Brazil, will try to include 'guest' players from other clubs in Brazil to try to replicate the original fixture. It is not yet known when tickets for the fixture will go on sale, but Exeter are currently looking at potential travel packages for some of their fans. 'We're confident there will be more than enough tickets available for Exeter fans but that's a bit of an unknown conundrum because, at this stage, nobody quite knows what the demand is like to be,' said Tagg. As to the outcome of next year's match, he added: 'We don't really mind what the score is - as long as we win.'