April 12th, 2013
A lovely little story of how Real Madrid's superstar manager José Mourinho lived up to his nickname recently when he encountered a fan far away from home:
Abel Rodríguez is a 41-year-old Mexican-American who waxes floors in Los Angeles for Metro Transportation. Real Madrid's José Mourinho is one of the world's most famous managers. On the face of things, the two men have nothing in common. Yet recently they became the central figures in a surreal but true buddy story that took Rodríguez behind the scenes as a member of Real Madrid's team in the biggest games of world soccer against Barcelona and Manchester United. [...]
You can argue that Mourinho and/or Real Madrid could afford to foot the bill for Rodríguez's little European tour, but that's really not the point.
February 14th, 2012
Brian Phillips tries to explain Harry Redknapp to the world:
Harry Redknapp does not have a soul, but he has a sort of dead-eyed Cockney sparkle that's served him as a pretty adequate replacement. England's most successful English soccer manager, he's also England's most successful allegations-shrugger-offer, "Who, me?"-expression-haver, preposterous-quip-to-distract-your-attention deployer, and crafter of bespoke logic-annihilating narrative Möbius strips. When 60 police officers crash-swarmed his house as part of a conspiracy sting in 2007, Harry insisted that they were merely soliciting his help catching other people. "They have to arrest you to talk to you," he straightfacedly told the press. Oh, of course! When questioned, during his tax-evasion trial last month, about the secret Monaco bank account he'd named after his bulldog Rosie, he produced one of the greatest answers in the history of criminology. "I don't even like calling her a dog," he said. "She was better than that." The jurors returned a verdict of not guilty. I'm pretty sure some of them high-fived.
January 23rd, 2011
The Tragedy of King Ferguson:
Britannia, AD 600. Ferguson is king of Britannia, lord of all he surveys. A firebrand Celt, his armies have marched as far south as Barcino in Hispania and towards the rising sun as far as the banks of the Volga. Old in body and yet nimble of mind, Ferguson seeks the affirmation of his kin, weighing the devotion of his sons in a ceremony at Trafford Castle. Shall a successor be determined?
[Enter King Ferguson, Jason, Darren, the Dukes of Phelan, Gill, and Solskjaer, and attendants.]
October 25th, 2010
Is your club's owner a true billionaire?
Question #3: If your billionaire broke the law, would there be repercussions? A true billionaire is essentially his own country. He transcends the apparatus of any single state and acts as an independent principle of order, like gravity or a weird idea on Lost. Wherever he goes, he's three mean Beatles and the world around him is Ringo. If George Gillett woke up with a headache, a slippery flashlight, and a bloody corpse in a Donald Duck costume, he would feel the chill of a man who dreads the movements of justice. With pristine clarity, he would realize that somewhere in the world was a DA who yearned to take him down. If Alisher Usmanov woke up in similar circumstances, he would yawn, yell for his slippers, and note that the day was Tuesday. [...]
August 31st, 2010
I know it's a couple of weeks old now, but Taylor Parkes' review of ITV's World Cup coverage is still well worth a read:
[ITV...], having paid £6 million for his services, devised a show for [James] Corden to front with his quick wit and personal charm and broadcast the results at prime time for the duration of the tournament. And with sapping inevitability, James Corden's World Cup Live was truly, truly horrible, a cack-handed cross between Soccer AM's infantilism and TFI Friday's Class A shoutiness.
Abbey Clancy was hired to do what Abbey Clancy does; the backroom boys worked out some skits about how Uruguay's players had long hair and looked like girls; a polo-shirted audience whooped with well-marshalled efficiency. "Lovely stuff!" barked Corden, banging his cards on the desk. Somewhere in Britain, another library closed.
Ex-footballers with nothing better to do squeezed onto the sofa with sort-of celebs like Denise van Outen and Pixie Lott, the kind of people no one really cares about, without whom no TV show is commissioned ("Have you been watching the World Cup, Pixie?" probed our fearless host. "Well, I saw the England game," giggled the vacant Lott).
July 5th, 2010
November 6th, 2009
Marina Hyde on phoney poppy apoplexy:
With a tedious inevitability, the Daily Mail's campaign to divide the whole of Britain into people who wear poppies and people who are subhuman scumbags has reached the Premier League. But then, based on that taxonomy, where else was it ever going to end up?
In case you are not familiar with what we would be encouraged to refer to as "the growing row", the facts are these. At the time of writing 15 Premier League clubs have applied for special dispensation to embroider a poppy on their shirts for games between now and Remembrance Sunday, while â€“ far more thrillingly for the Mail â€“ five clubs have not. [...]
[...] For two weeks of the year, certain elements stop insisting that footballers are not role models, in favour of demanding to know why they aren't wearing poppies when their job is to set an example. [...]
May 9th, 2009
Danny Baker is dead chuffed at having landed a new Saturday morning show on Radio 5 Live:
Baker said: "To be hosting a Saturday morning sports show on one of the planet's greatest stations is a truly magnificent opportunity."
"I will strain every nerve to make this show exactly what Marconi had in mind when he legged it down to the patent office and I look forward tremendously to the mighty listener contributions reaching new heights of sublime absurdity and great truth. To quote the great Richie Valens: 'Let's go…' "
I just hope this doesn't mean he'll be dropping his Tuesday night stint on 606.
April 1st, 2009
Twitter switch for Guardian, after 188 years of ink:
[Celebrated Guardian editor] CP Scott would have warmly endorsed this – his well-known observation 'Comment is free but facts are sacred' is only 36 characters long, a spokesman said in a tweet that was itself only 135 characters long.
Almost as good an April Fool as the notion that Alan Shearer is Newcastle United's new manager.
March 4th, 2009
The Times Labs Blog has a lovely graph showing the 50 most expensive footballers, aggregating the fees paid across each player's career and adjusting them for inflation.
Fascinating stuff: the majority of players on the chart have had just one or two moves, but the top four players by cumulative transfer value have had four or more moves. It'd be interesting to see an indication of which countries were involved in the various moves; I can't help but notice that the great majority of the players listed have spent some time in the Premiership.
It'd be fascinating to see an updated version of this chart in five or ten years. A lot of the players in the bottom third of the chart – the likes of Fernando Torres, Michael Essien and Samuel Eto'o – are still active and are likely to have one or two more big money moves before they're done, moving them a long way up the chart.
October 3rd, 2008
The most thankless job in English sport right now: Press Officer for Newcastle United.
July 20th, 2008
Simon Kuper reckons that "stupidity is part of the football business":
As football's transfer market cranks back into action, one remembers the sad words of the English striker Luther Blissett. Milan bought Blissett from Watford in 1983, reputedly by mistake after confusing him with another black player. His sole, unhappy year in Italy gave football one of its greatest quotes. "No matter how much money you have here," Blissett lamented, "you can't seem to get Rice Krispies."
There will be many more Blissetts this summer. Clubs still sign foreign players and tell them: "Here's a plane ticket, come over, and play brilliantly from day one." The player fails to adjust to the new country, underperforms, and his transfer fee of millions is wasted. This happens because football clubs are incompetent. Just as oil is part of the oil business, stupidity is part of the football business. [...]
[Via Pitch Invasion]