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Off The Record: lies, corruption and plain stupidity

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Throughout the summer, I’ve heard various sets of fans (from clubs that struggle to fill their stadiums, plus those that boast about their small ones (stadiums, that is)) that Manchester United is in decline.

Watching United kick the shit out of Fulham’s defence in 20 minutes of ‘champagne-football’, do I really need to remind you how stupid you guys look now (yes, ‘Paddy Murphy’, you stupid little cunt, I’m talking to you)?

Arsenal vs Reality

When Arsene Wenger denied rejecting a bid for Ashley Cole, I called ‘bullshit’, but in the process had dozens of Arsenal fans jumping all over the site saying that I didn’t know what I was talking about.

End result? We come to the same point we started with – that managers are known to obfuscate the truth and that it’s part and parcel of the game.

I agree that certain things have to kept out of the media, but here’s the deal – managers are smart enough to know when they are deliberately lying and when they are just keeping sensitive info (such as the actual terms of a transfer deal yet to happen) out of the press.

My point? It pisses the hell out of me when managers lie. And yes, Rocky, I complain when Ferguson does it as well.

I’ve heard rumours saying that the problem in the transfer is with Ashley Cole and his agent, not Arsenal or Chelsea. However, Wenger had put the blame squarely on Chelsea, hence my anger.

Rooney vs The FA

Rooney’s reckless threat against the FA does not take away from the fact that the organisation is corrupt and inept.

Much as my reasoning faculties tell me that Rooney’s recent threat to the FA is ill-advised, I can’t help but think that it’s time that the FA management pulled out their heads from their collective ***** and realised that they are there to protect their own players, not bend in favor of any individual interests (whether internal or external).

Apologies to UnitedRant, but I’m copying portions of a letter you guys printed last week – an email sent to the FA (I’ve put the critical parts in bold):

Compare and contrast. The FA bent over backwards to get UEFA’s rules changed to allow Liverpool into the Champion’s League when they did not reach the qualifying criteria. Yet, the organisation issued Rio Ferdinand with a ban for missing a drugs test that was longer in duration than the majority of players who actually fail these very same tests.

Then Gary Neville, a loyal and talented servant and ambassador for our country’s game at club and international level, received a fine for kissing the club crest on his shirt when celebrating a goal; a goal scored against Liverpool none-the-less. Yet how many times has Robbie Fowler gesticulated at United fans in reference to the number of European Cups Liverpool have won, but he continues to go unpunished?

How many times have we watched Jens Lehmann in Arsenal’s goal commit acts of verbal and physical violence at the slightest provocation only to be “warned about his future conduct”? It seems increasingly clear with each passing incident that the referees and the governing body are judging decisions not on their merits, but instead by looking at the individual involved. Certain teams are there “to be made an example of” in your kangaroo courts.

This is not justice, it is completely unacceptable.

The FA have been getting things horribly wrong for some time now, and they need to clean up their act. Otherwise, Rooney is not the first player who they will alienate, and he certainly won’t be the last.

Surprise – Liverpool still suck

Well – the PC brigade would have me call Liverpool a team ‘in transition’, but let’s face reality now – this squad has been tipped to be the most obvious challengers to Chelsea, on the basis of a handful of victories in cup matches.

The reality is – almost everything Liverpool have managed has been down to their manager’s tactical skills – he’s made them over-acheive, and now it’s gone to the head of every half-assed Liverpool fan and also to the heads of quite a few ‘sane’ ones.

Liverpool have done well in the past two seasons, but like Arsenal (who did quite well to reach the CL final last season), they still lack consistency – they hit great form last season but the start of a new season and putting together a good string of results in the first three months is not something that Liverpool have managed in recent years. To expect a much-changed squad to do so now is blind optimism.

The similarities between Tottenham and Newcastle United

Ok, this is a cheap dig, but I’ve noticed that both sets of fans (Tottenham and Newcastle fans, that is) tend to vastly over-estimate the potential of their clubs, and then bring out all sorts of facts to prove their point.

Reality Check #1: Neither of you are going to the Champions League
Reality Check #2: If your team sucks, please don’t waste your time in determining the relative crap-level of your team with respect to other crap teams. All it does is make us pity you more.

On a positive note, I think both clubs are shoe-ins for a European spot, and it will take something very special from the other teams (Everton, Blackburn, Bolton, Aston Villa, Portsmouth) to put these two out of the top 7. Oh well, at least the mid-table battle will be interesting this season…

A word on Chelsea, too

Mourinho has promised to play more attractive football this season – an attempt to win some actual fans, methinks. The problem with Chelsea and their fan club is that too many of them are fresh recruits – it will take several years for them to establish the sort of fan base they are expecting to monetize, and it can’t be just because of how good the team plays.

Mourinho’s policy of not having superstars is neither realistic nor possible – a football fan needs heroes to idolise, and Chelsea need to develop some of their top players as credible heroes. Sheva and Ballack will sell tons of shirts, but as far as a long-term bet is concerned Essien and Joe Cole should be brought up to the same status afforded to Terry and Lampard – they are arguably the two best players in Chelsea’s midfield and will be there for a long, long time.

Question of the day – will Chelsea be able to fill their stadium by 2010? Comment.

Lessons learned from football blogging

In the short time that Soccerlens has been up (5 months or so), I have managed to ruffle quite a few feathers. Most of them have been Arsenal fans, although Tottenham and Newcastle fans are on the list as well. Anyway, the funny thing to come out of this is the amount of hatred from these people – and their willingness to return to a website day after day after day, despite disagreeing with almost every single thing I say (hey Sid, how you doing?).

I’ve realised that people will argue with you needlessly if you just happen to support a different set of beliefs (in this case, a different club), even if the two of you would normally agree on that point OUTSIDE the context of football and particular clubs. No matter what I say, some idiot will find a way to disagree with me (Manchester United fans have complained that I don’t like Silvestre, for example).

Football blogging requires a thick skin, but maybe football fans should develop the patience to hear something against their clubs as well….yea right.

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Ahmed Bilal created Sportslens in 2006. He is a business consultant and entrepreneur who helps businesses identify and overcome their biggest challenges. He’s also the founder of Football Media, an online advertising agency that specialises in sports and male audience targeting, with a monthly reach of 100m+ sports fans in the UK and US. He’s also the previous owner of Soccerlens.com – a sports news site that reaches 3m+ readers / month.