Something you folks didn’t know about Paul Gascoigne:
Handed £1000 over to Jimmy Five Bellies after betting that the burly boozer couldn’t withstand a cigarette lighter’s heat on the bridge of his nose for five seconds. Jimmy could. Twice.
More on Gascoigne, plus Israel, Iran, Italy, Idiots and the Premier League (just about par for the course…).
1. Israel – Asia or Europe?
In a stunningly refreshing change, the Guardian comes up with a gem of an article on whether Israel should return to the AFC fold or not. James Montague makes a very good case for football diplomacy, and while you may argue that religion trumps football, I’m willing to bet that once you bypass political and religious institutions and focus on people, real people on the street, take appropriate security measures and eliminate provocation from both sides, Jews and Muslims could play football against each other, even while in the same team.
Fancy that – taking politics out of football. Sounds strange, don’t it?
2. Foreign Refs?
Mark Meadows of the Reuters Soccer blog talks about how the AC Milan and Juve chairmen have floated the idea that foreign referees should be brought into Italy to cope with the shortage of qualified referees.
Apart from the obvious racism / language problems, the biggest issue here is availability – it’s not as if France or Spain (or England) are breeding grounds for referees. There’s no ‘Brazil’ for referees, if that’s what you’re aiming for. As Mr Blanchard has said earlier on Soccerlens, there’s a shortage of qualified referees everywhere. They’re feeling the pinch now in Serie A but they’ll feel that pinch everywhere in the long run and the answer is start recruiting (and giving proper training) to refs on a massive scale.
3. The Liverpool Takeover Conspiracy
If there’s one thing you can count on, it is the persistence of the media in talking about DIC wanting to buy Liverpool. At this point, the speculation about the Liverpool takeover is such a regular staple of the daily football news diet that no one seems to complain anymore. The club, the players, the manager, the fans – they have been put under a lot of pressure (although the speculation about DIC is better than analysing Benitez’s performances) and it’s an easy thing to blame for poor performances (at this level players and manager should be able to focus on the task at hand).
Now DIC are testing waters and seeing whether Hicks or Gillett will sell their share. Either all this is just bullshit to stir up trouble, or Hicks and Gillett are trying to negotiate a deal where they make a significant profit on their initial investment. This, despite Hicks repeatedly saying that he’s not interested in selling. If you were to believe the Yank, this is just bullshit.
4. Chelsea in Crisis?
Don’t you just love crisis talk? Newcastle are in freefall (crisis), Liverpool are being taken over (crisis), Arsenal’s captain is unprofessional and their striker has a broken ankle (crisis), and now Chelsea, after losing the League Cup (and the F-word war between Cate and Terry), are holding an inquisition into their performances (crisis!).
Really? Is Abramovich that uninitiated in the matters of sport to think that Chelsea will win every game? It’s one thing to prepare and hope for it, it’s quite another to achieve it. At this point in time Chelsea still have two big games coming up which, if they were to win, would put them right back in the hunt for the league title. 2nd place is possible, you know.
Avram Grant will need more time – Chelsea missed a few tricks but the biggest drawback in the Carling Cup final was the lack of effort from the players in the second half in killing the game off – and for that the players must shoulder the blame as well.
Chelsea are finding it tough because a) the opposition teams have figured out how to play them and b) the club is going through a transition with a new coach and presumably with Henk Ten Cate, a slightly different system. Mourinho wouldn’t have done *much* better, and his staying at the club was costing the club too much in terms of PR.
5. Aliadiere, Middlesbrough and the FA
I haven’t seen the match or the incident replay, but it seems to me that by most accounts, Aliadiere did not deserve a 3-match ban and that even if he did, he didn’t deserve the extra game ban for a ‘frivilous appeal’.
Was it any worse than this (worthy of a yellow card, but I don’t see why Reina got a card afterwards?)?
6. Gazza Watch
From Sniffing The Touchline: 50 Things you didn’t know about Gazza.
Read through it, Gazza fans. Please read through it 🙂 Entertaining, yes. Deserving of help? Oh yes. Deserving of any sympathy? Hmm…
7. Manchester City give up on Champions League
Manchester City are out of the running for the 4th league spot and will be concerning themselves with Uefa Cup qualification now. Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh but considering Micah Richards’ injury and surgery, it’s hardly unrealistic.
Hopefully Richards can come back by the end of the season and help his club qualify for Europe.
8. Materazzi wants to coach Iran
Or rather, Marco Materazzi’s father, Guiseppe Materazzi, former Bari boss, who has been asked about his availability and willingness to live fulltime in Iran.
As Steve Amoia points out:
(This could be interesting) Because Zidane, as you know, is very popular in Iran. That would make for some interesting PR… 😉 I tend to recall that Zidane went there for some type of appearance after the head butt.
Materazzi Sr. is a good coach (Lazio and Sporting Lisbon but mostly small clubs). I don’t believe he ever coached his son. He may have coached Antonio Cassano in his youth.
I doubt he’d get lynched by Zidane’s supporters, but there’s always a chance, and it’s only a matter of time before the press pick that angle. Heck, if Iran were important this angle would have made headline news already…
9. Frank Rijkaard to leave Barcelona for Chelsea?
It makes perfect sense, you see. Avram Grant to be booted after a season for not winning the Carling Cup. Frank Rijkaard to be drafted in and reunited with Henk Ten Cate. Ronaldinho will probably come over too. Lampard could go the other way, especially since Jose Mourinho will then take over at Barcelona.
I have just two words for this type of speculation…fucking cunts.
10. Manchester United guilty of unsettling transfer targets?
Yes, Fergie was only answering questions put to him by the press. He did it once, and since then the press have carried the story themselves. Yes, Real Madrid usually get blasted for the same thing. However, in this case Aulas should be blaming the press, not Ferguson. This isn’t a case where United’s people have secretly contact Benzema’s agent, or the player directly. Sure, Lyon should be working to keep Benzema but if the player himself wants to leave (if he’s good, he’ll be desired, or is it a crime to show appreciation for a good player?), then there’s little that Aulas can do about it, unfortunately.
11. Gerrard’s Liverpool Future
Remember when Chelsea wanted to buy Steven Gerrard, and he almost went?
Here’s some insight into how Gerrard feels:
“I’m getting tired of saying the same thing over and over again. We can’t keep talking about next season all the time. We need to make people believe it. I’m 27 now, I don’t want to be talking about ‘next season’ for Liverpool when I’m 32. We’ve got the stadium, the fans, the manager and the players to compete for the Premier League. But we have no chance of doing that if we are always well out of it by the first week in January.”
Well, if he’s not going to win with Liverpool, will he engineer a move to Manchester United / Arsenal / Chelsea or give up on the Premier League altogether and move to a different league?
12. Manchester City owner in Thailand
Arrested and then bailed out, Thaksin has willingly accepted to go through Thailand’s justice system with (presumably) iron-clad guarantees that he’ll come out at the other end safe and sound and out of jail.
A criminal? Who cares, really, if City make it to Europe for next season?
13. Roy Keane clears out Sunderland crap
He’s kicking out several *squad* players, with Liam Miller being at the top of that list. Why did he pick Miller in the first place though, after the player had failed at United?
Hopefully Keano can kick Sunderland into surviving this season and making a play for mid-table security next season. It’s going be a long while before this team plays in Europe (if ever), but Keane can do it if he has the time to build the right team.