Thursday, January 27, 2011


REPORT By Jeff Snood in Stalybridge

Meanwhile, back in the studio
Observing the Skysports presenters preparing to go on set is like watching a small pack of feral cats getting ready for the mating season; all looks and squints, sniffs and stiff necks, sideways glances and manic sniffing at back ends of passing female cats; nods, winks, growls, parps and tugs; chasing tail and getting bitten. A bit of woofing, pawing and parading, a quick microphone stuffed down the pants. And then it all gets smashed up.

There is a vacancy or two at the helm of British football’s favourite tv channel, an organisation, nay foundation, nay bedrock, that spawned the very beginnings of what we now understand as SuperbSunday, along with its spin-offs Decimated Saturday and Pretty Average Tuesday, when football came into this world, kicking, screaming and looking casually at the nurse’s bottom. Who might replace the daredevil two, Gray and Keys, Keys and Gray, inseperable as Siamese twins, as old-fashioned as a grandfather clock, I can hear literally tens of people asking? Step forward the inevitable Gary Neville (if there's a right in this world, that is, and not just wrong, dead wrong and Mike Dean).

"And it's City's title...."
Let nobody utter the word “unbelievable”, nor the words “hot sausage on the grill”, because - let us be straight and a little narrow - we now arrive at a watershed in the communication industry, the dawn of a new era, where hardly audible unintelligible squawks with a decided red (Manchester variety) bias and a thick Bury accent will become the item of desire. This will be a place where Neville Neville dares walk the pavement head held high, where David May is the currency of the day, where suave quarter moustaches and bumfluff chins are de rigeur. A place, let it be whispered, where Our Eric and Sir Giggs are once again God.

Good bye, multisyllabic words, good bye grammar, goodbye most everything. Farewell Liverpool and Citeh, get thee gone, Leeds United. Welcome back in from the media blizzard Sir Ferguson of Govan, Sir Paddy of Crerand and Lord Phelan of Skye. 

With Neville’s well-known perky and tufty banter, his repertoire of badinage and self-deprecation, his quip-a-minute monologues about Bob Paisley and Uwe Rosler and all that’s wrong with Arsenal, he is the people’s choice as UK Football Spokesman. When he speaks, he speaks for a whole generation of men and indeed women (phwoar) brought up on Ford sponsored crisps and sandwiches of prawn. A butterfly infested land where the announcement of anodyne prose is met with a tray full of asprin, where everyone gets beat and nobody wants the past tense anymore. Where at the end of the day, we have got just about what we deserved, Barry.

So rejoice, put away your dictionaries and thesauri, turn down the volume, seek out the fluffy ear protectors and sit back and let The Drain take the strain. It’s a whole new ball game.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


It has come to the attention of this correspondent that Emmanuel Adebayor has left the building. If, as he goes out, he stumbles, he'd be the first person ever to fall down and find himself at the top of the stairs. Just how he did that will be one of the unanswered questions of 2010 - 2011, along with why Charlie Adam couldn't manage to play for Rangers like he does for Blackpool, what Andy Gray and Richard Keys did to the sound man at Sky to deserve this very public panning and, of course, everyone's favourite question, Avram Grant. One can only begin to imagine the answers.

Adebayor's best and worst mcfc moment

Chaos in Cabinda
Apart from a brief bout of arm swinging with Kolo Touré, Emmanuel Adebayor will be most remembered in Manchester for his sudden disorientation after netting against Arsenal at Eastlands last season. Sunny drama-laden days that seem such a long time ago now. Unfortunately for him, the fall-out from that mazy run to be reunited with the Arsenal faithful not only landed him in trouble, but took the wind almost completely out of his sails. He had been on fire, or at least beginning to smoulder when the mists came down. By the time he returned, he was still moist and emitting smoke after being doused by the FA disciplinary panel's bucket of cold water. That was more or less it. The cartoon mayhem in Cabinda, as the Togo national team attempted to cross the border into Angola for the ANC must have had a deep effect on him too. Events were beginning to conspire against Adebayor and his chances of making it big at Eastlands.

And it all started so beautifully
This season he has mainly been chewing on daffodils and catching up on reading his favourite crime novels, bar a brief cameo hat trick against Salzburg in European competition when his inspector gadget legs carried him to an easy threesome in the snow. 

Mancini has plainly been disturbed by his work ethic True, the long thin frame and awkward pose when resting made him look disinterested and lazy, but, when in possession and on the run, he was a sight to behold, a giraffe going full pelt for the corner of the box. Long will we remember the incredible slaloming run through the right flank of the Arsenal rearguard that was only brought to a halt by Wright-Phillips' improbable inability to score from his cut-back from three feet out. Sadly there were to be only too few of these cranked up performances. The remainder were timid and gawky, the ball cannoning off his shins in all directions like it used to do for Mark Lillis and Gordon Davies. he seemed unable to trap the simplest ball. The usual smell of decay was setting in. But the big Togolese is better than most of what we have been treated to. Let us hope he finds his place in the sun at Madrid under a patient and understanding José Mourinho...

His start in Spain, coming on in the fire cauldron in Osasuna as Real sank to a timid and confidence-sapping loss doesn't exactly augur well. At least he has the sun on his back once more.


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Lovingly put together by dedicated Blues each one armed with nothing more than a quill pen and a box-load of shaky recollections and jittery opinions. As warm and welcoming as a hot cup of bovril and a bout of jostling with Joe Royle as you wait for a corner to come over. Read it and enjoy.

Big Joe waiting for someone to "get tight on the big fella".

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Will the real Manchester City please stand up. As chameleon clubs go, City have got it off pat. Earlier in the season it was one week scintillating, the next drab and listless. One day soon it will stop (and the signs are it could be worryingly close) but then City might as well not be City anymore.In the meantime we jump the Poznan, shout for Nellie Young and watch Rafael and Wayne blow off in front of United's ex-favourite referee Mike Dean and afford ourselves a wry little smile.

Fulham 1 City 4: Blaugrana becomes albiceleste
As poor grey-haired Sparky Hughes trudged across the pitch after City's thrashing of Fulham in late November, he must have had half an ear on the visiting supporters packed into the Putney End, who were busying themselves shouting their heads off for his successor Mancini. Half an ear, because his gaze was averted. His team, laboured and utterly predictable, had just done what he must have pleaded them not to do. City, a team still bearing resemblance to Hughes' original phase of tinkering, studiously packed with half of his own purchases, had been allowed to entirely dictate the game on their terms. How they gelled on this cold London afternoon to weave their delicate one-touch patterns all across the green baize of Craven Cottage. How much possession? How many passes? You had to blink and rub your eyes to make sure that it was indeed City out there, with their Mancunian chicken tiki taka a sight for sore eyes. Had it been Pep's Barcelona, one might even have reported in the next day's press just how many passes led to Big Touré's sumptuous goal (24?, 25? 26?).

How he kept himself from screaming I'll never know. Here had been an excellent opportunity to rub a few noses in the dirt, whilst winning some breathing space for himself. Instead, a nightmare unravelled before his watering eyes, as City's players, previously notoriously frugal with the lighter moments of the game, such as forward passes, committing serious numbers forward and, that deperate old chestnut, scoring the odd goal or two, went for bust. Well, here the flood gates just swayed open and the water started to pour in like the Thames itself. And instead, at game's end, poor Hughes had to weave his way through celebrating City players, offering a hand here, receiving the odd unwelcome bear hug there.

By the time he had reached the relative sanctuary of the tunnel, he must have felt as flat as Prestatyn promenade.

Let the slapstick begin
City had delivered, big time. For a side who had been frugal in scoring only 15 goals in the previous 13, this was party time, laced with intricate one-touch moves, which proved that, when it works, this City game of patience can be utterly devastating. "The best 45 minutes by any team in the Premier league this season", chirrupped one well-known pundit in the Monday press whose identity must be kept secret. The more recent visit to Arsenal offered a different perspective on Mancini's young pretenders. Playing as if their shoe laces had been tied together with a double knot, City's bus hove into view and trundled gently into place in front of Joe Hart's goal, which proceeded to be peppered and salted by the young bucks of Arsenal. Post was hit, bar was slapped, as were Arsenal thighs, as the frustration mounted. City were berated for spending so much money and having so little ambition, but was this not the very same place that multi-millionaires Chelsea had been wiped away like a dirty stain weeks previously?

Ah yes but in fact no, it still won't do. As Cesc Fabregas is keen to say whenever anyone is prepared to listen to him "Arsenal's way is the saintly way". Well, judging by City's 4-3 pantomime win over Wolves last week, attempting to "open up the game" when you are not Arsenal results in near death experiences against the likes of Wolves. Just ask Liverpool, the small fry of the premier league these days like nothing better than to bite a big lump out of the whales. City's solid, unspectacular and lucky performance at the Emirates contrasts nicely with their slapstick, slipshod but nonetheless exhilirating second half against Wolves. Ask the packed ranks and they will say dull draws at Arsenal are a big step up from the last 25 years or so down there and 4-3s at home we'll take gratefully too, even if the near prospect of 4-4 gives us palpitations.

The good old days
The short and long of it is that, if you are Manchester City through and through, you will be used to it all by now. Damned whichever way you go. Too much money, no class, not enough humility, lacking goals, too short, wrong colour contact lenses, you'll never win a thing again. Well, if we never win a thing again, most of us will not bat an eyelid. If you have stood in the rain at York and in the sleet at Sincill Bank, thrown up at Notts County and had some one pee on your foot at Wrexham, seen Mansfield come away form Maine Road with a win and shouted yourself hoarse after a late clincher against Macclesfield, 2nd top in the league with Arsenal and United's criticism ringing in your ears, sounds a little like Verdi's 4th, otherwise known as "The Silva Slipper".

Desert Dispatch - Latest news off the presses

Equality Street By Phil Snood in Darwen
Balotelli: completely unhinged
Observing how two footballers from Manchester were treated this week, it is clear that our upstanding, much maligned men-in-black-with-the-whistle are still carrying out their oh-so-diffcult business to the letter of the law. Two players. Two throbbing premier league stadia. Let’s take a look: One comes from solid Scottish stock. He’s as hard as a big bag of nails but as honest as the day is long. He came up through the ranks at Old Trafford and is regarded as one of the best pros in the game. A future Balloon d’Awe if ever we saw one. The other is a temperamental Italian. He got dodgy haircut, wear a glove and a snood. He only here for da money and is he who give footballers  bad name. Darren Fletcher ran 30 yards to gently nudge against referee Howard Webb during Manchester United’s 1-0 victory over Arsenal on Monday night. He was obviouly wanting to inform the official that he may have parked his car in the wrong slot outside and to watch out for little Salfordian children wearing hoods and bringing bad tidings. A noble gesture which got a knowing smile and a word of thanks from a man who proved during the World Cup Final that reputations mean everything. Money-fixated child eater Mario Balotelli waved a Nani-like leg at an opponent against West Brom, ideally with the intent of either maiming his opponent or taking out at least one of the man’s two eyes, and was rightly shown an immediate and friskily brandished red card. Get thee gone, nasty cheat!
Sandwiches & Meteorites Section
PAUL MERSON "AN OVERHYPED ALCOHOLIC DRUG USER" -  exclusive interview with the bemeddled, star-spangled, top of the table England hero Glenn Johnson, the Man Who Has Won Everything There is To Win –P455.
Tyres & Personal Hygiene Exclusive: DALGLISH THE SAVIOUR
The coronation of Kenny Dalglish, in the place of the unthroned Roy Hodgson, as manager of Liverpool football club, will now surely bring the loveable scouse club back to its rightful place in English football, which is 9th. Dalglish, who has not been a top flight manager since 1927, is expected to give the giant trophy-laden Scousers a real boost where it is needed. It is thought that he will appoint the important yet profoundly ungainly figure of Sammy Lee as assistant. Lee will, as usual, be in charge of agitated clapping and half time sandwiches. “Steve Clarke will be asked to organise team formation, whilst wee fat Sammy claps really fast in the background” said Dalglish yesterday through an interpreter.
Latest news. 2 minutes into Reign of King Kenny, Liverpool out of cup. A little bit later: narrow defeat at...Blackpool.
Crime Dispatch: WORLD CUP LATEST
Blatters Dream Team in typical action
Septimus Blatter, a man known to be in favour of women and their worldly wears, has announced that FIFA’s attention to keeping its financial house in order is similar to that shown by a “good housewife”. Blatter, who has always held that women footballers should be encouraged to wear bikinis and hold sequinned cushions whilst playing the beautiful game, is also thought to have been “greatly encouraged” by the recent development in the Bundesliga, which saw a cautioned player show he had no hard feelings for the female referee, Gertrude Fassbinder, by fondling her left breast, before making off to his defensive position for the restart of the game. “We would like to see a lot more of these actions”, the portly old man said.   
Page 412 – Read our exclusive guide: Part Two of How to Survive at the Qatari World Cup if you are asthmatic and suffer from sand inhalation and alergies to dates and other dried fruit.
England friendly in Thailand called off, owing to failure of bribes network P203
Lord Wright of Braintree
EXCLUSIVE: Today is the first day at work of 27 Million Pound Edin Dzeko, the forward who will bring yet more attacking options to Bastard Cupcake Manchester City.  When asked about his new club’s prospects, 27 Million Pound Dzeko said, “We have a good chance, yes”. It is clear that 27 Million Pound Dzeko will add some serious power and precision alongside the feeble and inaccurate Quarter of a Million Pound Jô. The Brazillian, formerly known as 18 Million Pound Jô, before it was realised that he had been overpriced by 17.75 million pounds, has been attracting a lot of interest from clubs during the transfer window, including Salzburg, who are looking for a replacement for Alan, who now lives in Gorton with his friends.
Parking the bus: In the wake of Gross Bastard Manchester City’s anaemic, tepid, luke warm and downright disgraceful, let’s be frank, performance at the Emirates Stadium, where a lusty, precocious, well-dressed and bob-tailed Arsenal were held to 0-0 by a slovenly, crude City team with their badly parked bus, many commentators and experts alike, including the ferociously incisive Brain Of Nani, have concluded that “the title is now clearly between Manchester United and Chelsea”. In his blog, world reknowned gust of wind frightener Nani proclaimed “there are only two who can win it now”. It is thought that United’s stunning and decisive two point lead is the most cavernous and gaping chasm since football records began in 1992.
City's bus: a little skew-whiff
Boring Boring City: This was the clearly heard refrain from all true football followers – even those in the away section, who were clearly completely naffed off by their team’s approach to this game – as pretend Football Club Manchester City defended from the first minute to the last to secure a feeble and ill-begotten point at the home of fairy, feather-kisses Arsenal. Home captain Cecil Fabregas commented, quite fairly, that “this is anti-football. I just thank the good lord that my team plays proper successful football and that we have never been besmirched by the hideous and foul-smelling reputation of winning games 1-0 in the history of the game, which dates way back to August 1992. Wengerboys Arsene, the famously erudite, cultural and clean-living Arsenal manager added to the furore, saying “I would personally prefer to lick the bottom of a sumo wrestler, one of those really large ones with hairy buttocks, than make my team play like that.” Desert Dispatch checked its archives and indeed there is no mention of any single instance when an Arsenal side were anything but a well-oiled, super-fluid, fancy-dan, velvet-trousered trophyless bunch of self-loving egotistical maniacs, who would gladly eat themsleves if they could reach. In a sworn affidavit, messrs Dixon, Bould, Winterburn, Jensen, Morrow and Adams confirmed that they had always to the best of their recollection played in rumbustuous 5-4s, exhilarating 3-3s and heart-stopping but beautiful cup defeats where 24 man moves, bicycle kicks and olé- backed precision football occasionally failed to get them past Micky Thomas’s Wrexham.
House & Home -  This month Steven Ireland shows us his Persian bejewelled skink-skin slippers, his monogrammed bronze and ruby bird table and walks us around his Black Rhinosaurus sausage factory.
Nutrition Dispatch: Doing the Poznan is good for you: by jumping up and down like a bunch of lunatics, you aid and swiften your stomach’s digestion of the seven pies and 11 pints of Stella you had before the game, says an expert.

Other Tedious Stuff

Poets and Lyricists