Friday, 28 November 2014

36 Amazing Celebrity Impressions

Sometimes I get bored of football. You may have noticed this but that's why I decided to show the world how incredible I am at doing voice acting.


As you will have noticed there are lots of voices. Voices like:
1 ian mckellan
2. morgan freeman
3. peter griffin
4. al pacino
5. severus snape
6. batman
7. christopher walken
8. clint eastwood
9. john snow
10. the joker
11. david attenborough
12. krusty the clown
13. eddie murphy
14. friend zoned guy
15. john travolta
16. david beckham
17. steve jobs
18. mick jagger
36. patrick stewart

Most people can't even do 5 voices so for 36 it was obviously a pretty tall order! Luckily I pulled it off amazingly. 

This Week in Football History (Nov 24-30)

By Adrian North




This Week in Football History (Nov 24-30): The first international ever. Hungary beat England in one of the most influential games ever. Stuart Pearce saw red. The father of Brazilian football was born. Shearer and Anelka scored a couple of screamers. George Best passed away and Pep beat Jose 5-0

**30 November, 1872Scotland 0-0 England, West of Scotland Cricket Club, Glasgow: With a total of 14 forwards on the pitch, how was there not a goal?** 

Between 1870 and 1872 five games of football were played between representative players of Scotland and England. Scottish representatives had grown increasingly frustrated at the fact that all of the Scotland players were selected from people living in London and despite the fact the players were Scottish, they weren’t exactly home grown. 

Scotland had yet to form their own FA, that would happen in 1873 but they did have several teams of their own, the leading team of which was Queen’s Park. The secretary of the English FA and Wanderers FC star player Charles Alcock had challenged Scottish representatives to come up with a side of eleven players and find a suitable venue to host a match between England and Scotland. 
Scotland chose all eleven of their players from Queen’s Park and chose the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Partick, a suburb of West Glasgow. The first official international game in football’s history was ready to take place. 

The goals were made of tape and England field a side that had eight forwards, whilst Scotland took the more defensive approach of playing six forwards. Back then three defenders were required for a through ball to be classed as onside, thus England’s system of one defender and one midfielder was an already implemented offside trap. The Wikipedia description of the match is a very well sourced and a funny read too.  



Scottish forward Robert Smith had a really cool mustache too.



**24 November, 1874 – Sao Paulo, Brazil: Charles Miller introduced football to Brazil, a nation that came to be defined by the sport** 

Religion, technology, invasion and epidemic all arrived from Europe and into Latin America through the same means - Across the Atlantic and into the ports of Rio de Janerio, Sao Paulo and the Rio de la Plata. During the latter half of the 19th century football too would become perhaps the greatest import to South America, for if there is one continent in which football goes hand-in-hand with religion, it’s South America, and more so Brazil. 
The first impression the Brazilians had of the beautiful game was one of bewilderment, David Goldblatt in *The Ball is Round* cited an account from a Rio journalist who watched one of the first organized kickabouts, or *peladas* in Brazil. 

“In Born Retiro, a group of Englishmen, a bunch of maniacs as they all are, get together and kick around something that looks like a bull’s bladder. It gives them great satisfaction when the yellowish bladder enters a rectangle made of wooden posts” 

Perhaps the journalists of Rio did not see the wonderful side of football, but it sure caught on with the locals. But it was not in Rio that football grew its initial roots in Brazil, but Sao Paulo. 
On the 24th November, 1874, Charles Miller was born to an English father and Brazilian mother. His father was a former railway engineer and in Brazil his parents were part of the booming coffee business of Sao Paulo. 

Miller was sent to England for his education and quickly became gifted in both cricket and football, playing occasionally for Southampton FC. Miller was always far more passionate for football rather than cricket and upon his return to Sao Paulo in 1894 he brought with him a couple of footballs, a bunch of kits, a set of the Hampshire FA rules, and an acquired level of skill with a football that amazed the Brazilian elite, although at first the game was picked up by British and German expats in Sao Paulo before the Brazilians took a liking to it. 
Sao Paulo Athletic Club had been established in 1888 but it was with the influence of Miller a decade later that the sports club decided to take up football as their major sport, and whilst it was another ex-pat Thomas Donahue who actually organized the first official game of football in Brazil the growth of the sport in such an exponential way lay firmly with the exploits of Miller. 
By 1902, Sao Paulo Athletic Club had become a very popular side and won the first Brazilian football league – The Campeonato Paulista, or the Sao Paulo football league, a league that is still contested today and most recently won by Corinthians, a team established in 1910. 

Whilst Sao Paulo saw the influence of the British and German elite dominate their footballing culture up until the outbreak of the First World War, in Rio football had become a very much Brazilian affair by 1900, albeit an affair led by the super wealthy. Oscar Cox, a Swiss-Brazilian established Fluminense in 1902 and put forth a set of rules that saw only other mega-rich and ultra-elite members able to join and play for the club. So strict were the rules that just nine years later a group of players had broken away from Fluminense and set up Flamengo FC, creating the rivalry of the Marvelous City. 

After WW1 the influence of European powers in Latin America had been severely diminished. The aristocratic clubs that had been founded in Rio and Sao Paulo tried to hold on to their concepts of amateurism and selectively choosing players but by the mid 1930’s football had truly become the game of the working class in Brazil. A vast working class of millions of people who embraced the game arguably more than any other nation on Earth.



**25 November, 1953 – England 3-6 Hungary, Wembley: Has one game ever changed the sport as much as this one?** 




“We invented football, therefore we are the best” – Common English sentiment during the 1930’s, 40’s and early 50’s. 

Austria’s *wunderteam* came to London in 1932 to test the arrogance of the English, they lost 4-3. Next came World Champions Italy in 1934 – they lost 3-2. England, having not participated in any of the first three pre-war World Cups had just about held on to the unofficial title of “The best team in the world” until 1939. 
Six years and 50 million deaths later football was once again a key influence in healing many of the wounds of the Second World War. To most of those living in post WW2 society football quickly their chosen sport. Attendances soared and millions flocked to the radio for every Cup final or international game.  

In Hungary a revolution was brewing both on and off the pitch. Somewhat ironically, during a time that saw Hungary in the midst of staunch Stalinist oppression where any expression of individuality could receive the death penalty, the Hungarian football team, led by legendary manager Gustav Sebes, was awash with innovation, originality, spontaneity and a level of unrivalled footballing skill.
Gustav Sebes, a long-standing man of socialist and communist ideology was hired in 1949 and established a footballing dynasty with the Hungarian national team that saw his side only lose once in a span of five years between 1951-56. Despite losing this only game to the Germans in the 1954 WC final, Sebes had created *The Mighty Magyars*, one of the greatest national sides to have ever played the game. 
And it was at Wembley in November 1953 that Hungary were to prove their credentials in front of the cocky English. 

England had been eliminated from the 1950 World Cup in Brazil after shocking defeats at the hands of Spain and an amateur USA side. (England’s 1-0 loss to the USA in 1950 may well be the greatest upset in football history). The English FA had blamed their terrible showing in Brazil on exhaustion due to the fact they had to travel by boat across the Atlantic. At the time this seemed like a reasonable excuse, England had still never lost a game in the British Isles and the 1950 World Cup was chalked up as a one-off occurrence. This was still an England side containing legends Stan Mortensen, Stanley Matthews, Billy Wright and Alf Ramsey and surely no one could beat the World’s self-proclaimed greatest side, and inventors of the sport at the iconic Wembley stadium. 

Within 45 seconds Hungary had scored, Nandor Hidegkuti firing past goalkeeper Gil Merrick and despite England equalizing Hungary’s pressure was relentless. Hidegkuti scored once again in the 20th minute before Hungary’s star player Ferenc Puskas scored one of the most iconic goals Wembley has ever seen. (At 2:00 of the video).    
Receiving the ball on the edge of England’s six-yard box Puskas saw Billy Wright charging in at him. Puskas casually dragged the ball backwards around the sliding Wright and smashed past goalkeeper Merrick at this near post. Billy Wright was out of play on his arse at this point. At half time the Hungarians led 4-2, and after eight second half minutes it was 6-2. It seemed at this point that Hungary would go on to get nine or ten goals, such was the clear difference between the two sides. The game finished 6-3, and an amazed 105,000 spectators inside of Wembley had just witnessed the greatest power-shift in football history.  

England’s arrogance had been destroyed by the skill and tactical innovation of Sebes’ Hungary. Hidegkuti, the man of the match, had been deployed in the deep lying “playmaker” role, leaving center-half Harry Johnston utterly confused as to stay back or follow Hidegkuti when he had possession.  England had long since been lacking in any tactical innovation since Herbet Chapman’s pioneering WM formation of the 20’s and 30’s. Hungary showed up in London with overlapping and interchanging wingers and full-backs, two deep lying midfielders, one of whom would often drop back as a third defender and Hidegkuti’s new playmaker role. When Brazil followed this tactic and formation in 1958 it became known as 4-2-4, but it was the Mighty Magyars, not Brazil that first pioneered this system. 

The result changed the face of football. The role of playmaker had been born, a role that Pele would famously play in 1958. Hungary’s innovations spread globally throughout the next two decades and one could argue that Hungary, along with Brazil over the next ten years were the precursor to 1970’s Total Football. Ideas such as tactical awareness, physical fitness and rigorous training drills, along with the idea of picking the national teams’ players from a core club (Budapest Honved), were largely unheard and un-thought of concepts. Sebes and his great team that included the legends Sandor Kocsis and Zoltan Czibor along with Puskas and Hidegkuti implemented all of these ideas. 
The English FA were forced to concede that their training methods and tactics were vastly inferior to those used by their continental and South American rivals. Of course, 13 years later England, under the tactical nous of Alf Ramsey, a man who had been massively influenced by this game against Hungary, would win the World Cup at Wembley. 

Hungary, despite being the victims of the [Miracle of Bern] continued to dominate World football until 1956. On the 23rd October, 1956 that was all to change when a student demonstration in Budapest led to a nationwide revolution against the socialist Hungarian government. Despite initial success from the revolutionaries, Soviet forces swiftly destroyed the revolutionary movement in the first week of November 1956 and by January 1957 had installed a strong communist government that crushed any remaining political dissent. With the nation in turmoil football had become an afterthought. The Mighty Magyars were no more and only Puskas, Kocsis, and Czibor managed to take their careers abroad.  

**30 November, 1988 – Leicester City 0-0 Nottingham Forest, Filbert Street: When he did shit like this, it’s easy to tell why he was nicknamed Psycho




It would seem that Stuart Pearce was always a pretty decent and nice bloke away from the football pitch. His autobiography *Psycho* is one of the best I have read. A very complex yet brutally straightforward and honest guy Stuart Pearce has never been afraid to speak his mind. Ever since the end of his playing days Pearce has dramatically mellowed out. He has developed a keen interest of travel and once claimed it was an ambition of his to visit every country in the world.
For all accounts Pearce seems to be a well read, analytical and chilled out dude as manager of Nottingham Forest who has promised an attractive brand of football under his tenure. (*I haven’t been following Forest’s results much this season so if Stuart Pearce has done something nuts then please let me know). All this is seemingly a polar opposite to the way he was as a player. 

Stuart Pearce never enjoyed the violent nature of his game. Where players like Roy Keane would clatter into their opponents without an almost sadistic pleasure, Stuart Pearce always seemed remorseful after scything down an opponent, my favorite example being for England against Yugoslavia in 1989.




 Pearce never seemed to like hurting the opposition, but it was just the way he played the game – violence whilst on the pitch was the personification of Stuart Pearce. 

The absolute manifestation of “Psycho’s” approach to football was there for all to see during Nottingham Forest away trip to Leicester in the fifth round of the 1988/89 League Cup, a competition Forest would end up winning, with it being the last trophy Brian Clough ever won.  
Midway through the first half Leicester midfielder Paul Reid received a pass deep in his own half. Pearce promptly came charging in like a derailed freight train and ploughed down poor Paul Reid with a challenge that would see an instant three-match ban in today’s game. Commentator Alan Parry simply claimed “Well I think he’ll get cautioned for that”. 
Cautioned!? Being mentally sectioned would perhaps have been a more appropriate punishment. Despite tackling exactly none of the ball and both physically and mentally traumatizing the unfortunate Paul Reid Pearce had escaped with a yellow card. But he hadn’t learnt his lesson. 
At the beginning of the second half, Reid received the ball once more and yet again Pearce charged into the back of him (at 1 minute of the linked video), this time with both feet raised and Reid was left in a wallowing pile of agony on the cold grass of Filbert Street. Psycho was sent off. 

But it is players like Stuart Pearce who remain our favorites. For every pretty boy trickster who dazzles us with each rabona and roulette those players who inflict the most pain always continue to be the players with which the fans idolize with the most. Maybe it’s the English obsession with football’s “hard-men”, or maybe it’s that players like Pearce remind us of the no-nonsense “get stuck in” attitude of every Sunday League team we played for. Or perhaps it’s just the fact that despite all the red cards players like Pearce received it was his incredible passion and drive to win that resonates with us fans the most. 

**26 November, 1994 – Blackburn Rovers 4-0 QPR, Ewood Park: Alan Shearer hit this shot so hard the camera couldn’t even keep up with the ball



There are few better sights in football than when someone with an absolute rocket-for-a-shot blasts the ball at mach-speed past a helpless goalkeeper. Alan Shearer did this quite a bit, his [volley against Everton] perhaps being his most remembered. But on the 26th November, 1994, during Blackburn’s glorious Premier League winning season of 94/95 Shearer achieved what is the holy grail of scoring a screamer, an achievement I can think only Tony Yeboah has also accomplished in Premiership history.  

The best way to score a screamer, or a blooter, or thunderbastard, is to make it smash the underside of bar before going in. [John Arne Riise](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tx8tMiaNawI), [Michael Essien](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7mvNFsnH3Q), [Tony Yeboah](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK2aU9m4nW8), Tim Cahill (see below), [James Rodriguez](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GESyL3MkgNU) and [Nelson Cuevas in the 2002 World Cup](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EC-QVxLMfb4) are a few examples that spring to mind. 
But only Shearer and [Yeboah vs Wimbledon] have gone a step further – They have both scored screamers that hit the underside of the bar twice. 


It looks so fucking cool when a long-range blast hits the underside of the bar before going in, and it is almost infinitely more aesthetically pleasing when it hits the bar twice. It’s as though Shearer knew scoring a goal wasn’t enough, he had to try and break the goal frame.
After controlling Chris Sutton’s knockdown (what a great partnership that was) Shearer smashed the ball off of the crossbar, onto the goal-line and back up on to the crossbar once again before nestling into the goal. 



I can just imagine Shearer yelling “Get fucked! Get absolutely fucked QPR!!” as that ball careened against the bar. 

28 November 2004, Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal, Anfield: Liverpool shock Arsenal thanks to Neil Mellor’s last minute wondergoal




Arsenal were no longer the Invincibles at this point, their record of unbeaten games had ended six weeks previously as Manchester United ended their streak at 49. But the Gunners were still the champions, and now had a record of one loss in their last 55 Premier League games.
Liverpool meanwhile were a new-look side under Rafa Benitez, and having Djibril Cisse out for the rest of the season with a broken leg and Milan Baros also injured the Reds’ front line was led by the great flop Florent Sinama-Pongolle and one-hit wonder Neil Mellor. Fortunately for Mellor, a young lad who had grown up in Sheffield and played for Liverpool since he was 14, he picked his one moment of glory at a hell of a time – 93rd minute, Kop end against Arsenal, game level at 1-1, 30 yards from goal. Bang, what a volley. 

All of the goals in this game were absolutely incredible. I believe all three were contenders for Match of the Day’s Goal of the Month competition that month. I remember both Gerrard and Alonso completely dominating this game and I believe it was actually Xabi Alonso’s goal after a brilliant Gerrard pass that won goal of the month for November 2004. 




**25 November, 2005 – Cromwell Hospital, London: “If I had been born ugly, people would never have heard of Pele”**   

Is there a better quote that sums up the hilarious cockiness of one football’s greatest talents? Had he been ugly, Best argued, he would never have had the distractions of alcohol, drugs and women and would have been such a great player, Pele would never have been remembered. 
George Best was one of the greatest players ever, a genius dribbler he formed one part of the holy trinity at Manchester United in the 1960’s along with Dennis Law and Bobby Charlton. 181 goals and a highlight reel that is stupendous even by today’s standards saw Best become one of the greatest players in United’s distinguished history.  

Despite his undoubted genius on the pitch George Best suffers from the same legacy as the Brazilian great Garrincha. You can’t mention the career of Besty without saying the words “What if?”. What if he had kept his alcoholism under control? What if he hadn’t have been such a playboy? What if he had entirely concentrated on his football?
Of course, these questions never occurred to George Best. He played football the way he lived his life – to an absolute excess. Very few players have ever entertained the fans with such a footballing wonder as George Best, but unfortunately for *El Beatle* his life of excess off the pitch led to a sadly short peak on the pitch as he left Man Utd at 27 to become a club journeyman in the NASL. 

On the 25 November, 2005 George Best passed away in London after a heart failure as a consequence of a long-suffering illness due to alcoholism. The football world lost one of its greatest yet most complex characters.
So much more could be said for George Best, but I’ll leave you with this - A 30-minute documentary from Sky Sports.




**25 November, 2006 – Bolton 3-1 Arsenal, Reebok Stadium: It took him 11 games to score for Bolton, but what a goal this was 



Nicolas Anelka, a true football journeyman decided in the summer of 2006 that his career trajectory would be best served in the Greater Manchester borough of Bolton.
Bolton Wanderers were Anelka’s most bizarre choice of club as up until this point in his career he had had spells at Arsenal, Real Madrid, PSG, Liverpool and Manchester City.  

Nicolas Anelka ended up enjoying his time at Bolton more than anyone could have predicted. During a period when Bolton were the definition of a mid-table club, Anelka was their star man, scoring 23 goals in two seasons at the Reebok Stadium. But it took him eleven games to score his first, but what a way to end a goal-drought. 
Having chased a long Kevin Davies pass Anelka turned, looked up, and smashed an absolute bullet over Jens Lehmann right into the top corner. 

**29 November, 2010 – Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid, Camp Nou. Tiki-Taka reached it’s peak** 




On the 28th April, 2010, Jose Mourinho led his Inter Milan side to the Nou Camp in the Champions League semi-final holding a 3-1 lead from an incredible counter attacking performance a week earlier at the San Siro. Jose had Inter park the mother of all buses and hold on to 1-0 loss, but a 3-2 aggregate win thus seeing the Italians through to the final where they would beat Bayern Munich to seal a famous treble.  
Seven months later, with Mourinho now in-charge of Real Madrid’s more updated Galactico’s side, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona destroyed Los Blancos 5-0 at the Nou Camp.

In a decade that has been unquestionably defined by club football this is perhaps its most iconic and complete victory. Given the nature of the match and the stature of the opposition calling this game the most complete performance ever by a club side is not too much of a stretch.
Indeed, this 5-0 has gone a long way to cementing the legacy of Pep’s Barca. The victory saw Barcelona overtake Madrid at the top of La Liga, a position they would hold on to for the rest of the season. This game also made Mourinho realize that even with the superstars of Real Madrid he could not approach another el Clasico with such an open style of play. During April/May of 2011 Mourinho adopted a more Inter-like approach to both the Copa del Ray final and the Champions League semi final’s against their Catalan rivals. This worked a treat in the Copa del Ray final as Madrid stifled Barca’s possession and ran out 1-0 winners. Despite the same tactics in the Champions League semi-final however Madrid were to fall victim to genius of Lionel Messi. 

The goalscorers during the famous 5-0 were Xavi, Pedro, David Villa twice and young Venezuelan prospect Jeffren. Barca’s relentless pressing and possession, coupled with Madrid’s suicidally high defensive line saw that this game came to be remembered as not only a crushing victory for Pep’s Barca, but as *the* victory for the entire philosophy of that Barcelona side. 

**Next Week – Del Piero is featured. Liverpool hired a very quotable scot. Austria’s wunderteam and FIFA made a ludicrous decision.**

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

VIDEO: Arsenal regret hiring Dapper Laughs as manager in this cartoon

In the latest addition of Fitba Animates, or whatever it is I should call this series of cartoons, that twat Dapper Laughs becomes the Arsenal manager. DOES IT WORK OUT? WHAT HAPPENS OH I DONT KNOW YOU BETTER FIND OUT


Thankfully Dapper has "retired" his "comedy character" now, by doing an Andy Millman and slagging off all the idiots who found his "comedy character" funny. In real life he walks around wearing a top hat searching for crumpets to sell at the market but his comedic genius would have you believe he's a lairy LAD from East London or wherever the hell it is he's from. I look forward to his next intellectually challenging character: man who farts... while reading a novel.

Monday, 10 November 2014

This Week In Football History (Nov 10-16)

Sepp Blatter denied on field racism, England beat Argentina in an incredible friendly. The first Manchester derby. Australia finally won a World Cup playoff. The Battle of Highbury. Angola kicked the shit out of Portugal and England got Zlatanned.   


12 November 1881 - Newton Heath FC 3-0 West Gorton (St Marks) FC, somewhere in Manchester: The first ever Manchester Derby 

Newly formed sides Newton Heath and St Marks FC arranged a friendly on the 12th November 1881. Little did either side know at the time what was about to come of this newly formed rivalry. 

Newton Heath FC later became Manchester United and St Marks became Manchester City. A derby that has gone on to be one of the fiercest in English football and a derby that has more importance than ever in today’s recent Premier League era of Manchester dominance. 

But in 1881 Newton Heath and St Marks FC were probably decent mates with each other, although I like to imagine the part-time players of each side were banging the wives’ of the opposing teammates and thus started a burning rivalry that lasted 130 years. Regardless of my possibly correct theories or the origins of City and United’s rivalries, The Ashton Reporter, a local paper that covered the game described the match as a “most pleasant game”, which is probably exactly how late 19th century football was. 

14 November, 1934 – England 3-2 Italy, Highbury, London: England beat world champions Italy in The Battle of Highbury  

Rarely has football and politics ever been as intertwined as it was in Italy during the mid 1930’s. Mussolini saw football as a key propaganda tool of fascism. For if Italy had the greatest and bravest football team on the planet, they must also surely have the greatest and bravest army on the planet, and the greatest and bravest leader on the planet, such was the ideology of fascism. And what better side than to test fascism’s presumed superiority against than the supposed greatest national team in the world - England.

Not that any of the players had a clue as the propagandist nature of the game they were about to take part it. To the Italians and the English this simply was the “Real World Cup final”. 

England had left FIFA in 1928 due to disagreements with Football’s growing governing body FIFA over payment of amateur players. (The English FA and FIFA don’t exactly have the best history of getting along with each other). Because of this England had not participated in the inaugural World Cup in 1930 or in the 1934 tournament. 

And never has a World Cup been as politically charged as the one hosted by Italy in 1934, just five years before the outbreak of the Second World War, and at a time when European fascism was at its peak. Much like the Berlin summer Olympics two years later this sporting event was massively used by a fiercly popularly, but ultimately insane leader in order to promote the supposed superiority of fascism.
And it worked. Italy beat Austria’s famed wunderteam 1-0 in the Semi-finals before beating Czechoslovakia 2-1 in the final.
It’s a definite shame that the 1934 World Cup is often remembered as a victory for Mussolini’s fascist propaganda rather than for an Italian side that has been heralded as one of the best teams of the 1930’s. 

During the 1930’s, as a national football team you could never really be the best until you challenged yourself against the self-proclaimed brilliance of the English. In 1932 Austria tried to dethrone England’s arrogance of “We invented the sport, therefore we are the best” at Stamford Bridge. They lost 4-3.  
Now it was Italy’s turn. A weakened England side had actually already been beaten by Hungary and Czechoslovakia during the summer of 1934 but Italy were the world champions and a another weakened England side would have no doubt be seen as an act of cowardice by the fans. England’s best players included a young Stanley Matthews and coincidentally seven Arsenal players who all played their club football at Highbury, the venue of the forthcoming game. And so the Italians went to London roared on by a fervor of nationalistic rhetoric from the Italian government and press. The game had already been billed as “The Battle of Highbury” and Italy’s leading sports journal La Gazetta dello Sport described was about to take place as a “Theatre of international war”. 

England went 3-0 up inside 12 minutes. Italy then lost their star midfielder Luis Monti to a broken foot. Down to ten men and facing a three-goal deficit a humiliation was on the cards for Italians and for Mussolini. The Italians seemingly blamed England player Ted Drake for the injury to Monti and one of the era’s most violent games saw England players Eddie Hapgood have his nose broken, Ray Bowden twist his ankle and Eric Brook break his arm.


Despite what has been described as an orgy of violence Italy didn’t concede another for the rest of the half. In the face of having to put up with a player deficit as substitutes hadn’t been invented yet Italy struck back through their star player, Giuseppe Meazza. Meazza scored in the 58th and 62nd minutes to bring Italy right back into the game and according to match reports from the time was denied an equalizer by the post in the dying moments. 

England had won, but only just. This was perhaps the greatest test of English footballing arrogance of inter-war football. This arrogance was to be shattered after the war by an amateur USA side and the mighty Hungarians but in 1934 England could still claim to the best at football, if only by a tiny margin. 

Back in Italy, a moral victory had been won. The Italian media described the team as  “athletes of Fascism who emanated the class, the style, the technique and the skill to play like a platoon of Gladiators”. Mussolini was to see his national football team win another World Cup four years later but by 1938 the Italian military was heavily involved on the lands of Ethiopia. Mussolini must have hoped that footballing achievement would mirror military achievement but by the mid 1940’s he knew he was fighting a losing battle as with every Allied advancement through Italy the Italian people slowly began to realize the madman for what he was.  

13 November, 1945 – Chelsea 3-3 Dynamo Moscow, Stamford Bridge: Post War football begins with a cracker of a game between Chelsea and a visitng Moscow side.   

I thought about rambling on about the state of football in the USSR and England in post war environments but I was tired so I’ll leave you with the story linked above, an interesting piece from Chelsea Wiki about this famous friendly and Dynamo’s successful tour of England in 1945. 

**14 November, 2001 – Portugal 5-1 Angola, Alvalade stadium, Lisbon: Four players sent off and one injured = Match abandoned**  

Angola was a Portuguese colony until 1975. From 1975 to 2002 an intermittent but terribly brutal Civil War raged within the South Western African nation. Angola’s post-colonial history is one of many bloody and brutal examples throughout post-war Africa of a nations’ struggle to fill what was essentially a power vacuum after the Europeans left. It has been estimated that around half-a-million civilians died as a result of the Angolan Civil War whilst the toll for those who died due to famine and extreme poverty is unverifiable, as such is often the case with this frankly horrible era of African history. The last five years of the Angolan Civil War took place during the neighboring Congo’s own Civil War, The Second Congo War, which remains deadliest war in recent African history and the second deadliest war since World War Two. And whilst Angola and especially The Congo remain two of the world’s most underdeveloped nations Angola’s national football team was making impressive strides at the turn of the millennium. 

Not that their game against Portugal in Lisbon in November 2001 was exactly an example of the positive strides they had made. In perhaps one of the most bizarre and violent “Friendlies” ever played Angola only managed to play 68 out of the normal 90 minutes of the game. Thankfully no-one was seriously hurt at this match which makes this one of the more morbidly funny games of football to have taken place in the last twenty years. *(The Angolan fans seemed pretty riled up, I was unable to find any sources on potential crowd trouble but wouldn’t be surprised if there was some). 

Amazingly, Angola scored after 30 seconds.  Then came a brush between Angolan player Yamba Asha and Pauleta which saw some pretty pathetic face-clutching from the Angolan despite Pauleta’s over-reaction. Four minutes later Asha was sent off for this. Moments later Portugal won a penalty and Angolan Estrela Wilson, who more resembled a mid-level Bulgarian mafia hit-man...



...than an Angolan footballer was given a second yellow for dissent. Figo scored the penalty and Portugal were soon 2-1 up. On the 26th minute mark the game devolved further into a orgy of Angolan inflicted violence when Franklim Manuel lunged at Joao Pinto with a challenge that had it connected fully with its target would have seen one fucking awful leg break. Portugal took advantage of being three players up and scored twice before the break and twice shortly after. Angola at this point had resorted to what is my FIFA 15 tactic of “Well if I’m gonna lose, I might as well lose by getting the match abandoned”. Defender Antonio Neto brutally smashed Joao Tomas in the face with his forearm to get his teams’ fourth red and then Vicente collapsed complaining of a groin injury. No substitutes remained for the Angolans and the referee, the poor bloke, was forced to call the game off. Why the organizers thought such a friendly would be a good idea I don’t know but thankfully no Portuguese player was seriously hurt (at least I hope not) which leaves this game as one of football’s better dark humor moments. I really hope no-one was seriously hurt because I’ll feel like a huge dick otherwise for laughing at the whole scenario. 

Also, the away Angolan support got pretty pissed off during the game. Here is a mass exodus, [here is some bloke ripping out one of the seats, and here is an angry man with a stick

12 November, 2005 – [England 3-2 Argentina, Stade de Geneve, Geneva](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=830klQBbHGc): One of the best games I’ve ever seen.   


This game had no great importance on the footballing world, but Christ it was one hell of a match, by far the best friendly I can remember watching in recent years. Although I do remember the media reaction in England after this game was something along the lines of “Cocks out everyone! Sven is leading this great nation to victory in six months time!!”. Although a Rooney stamp and a winking Cristiano Ronaldo put that fleeting idea to bed. *Alan Shearer and Ian Wright are pretty cringy in this video.  

12 & 16 November, 2005 – Aggregate scoreline : [Australia 1-1 Uruguay, (Australia win 4-2 on Penalties)](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlvJXW8KLHQ), Estadio Centenario, Montevideo and Telstra Stadium, Sydney: Fifth times a charm for the Aussies. 


*Skip to 7:30 for Jon Aloisi’s winning penalty and Aussie commentators going nuts 

In 1974 Australia made their first appearance at a World Cup. They finished last in their group after defeats to East and West Germany and a draw to Chile. The Aussies failed to score a single goal, which considering in 74’ they were a team of mostly amateurs was fair enough. 
Apart from their solitary appearance in West Germany in 74’ the Aussies World Cup qualifying record was that of so close, yet so far until 2006.  They lost inter-continental playoffs in 1966 (North Korea), 1970 (Israel), 1986 (Scotland), 1994 (Argentina), 1998 (Iran) and 2002 (Uruguay). The Aussie’s had lost four out of four playoffs since 1974 and on the 12th November 2005 it would appear as though that record would stretch to five out of five.    

In early 2005 the Football Federation of Australia joined with the Asian Football Confederation and finally left the Oceania qualifying zone as they saw no way to improve as a football side against such weak opposition. However, they still had to play an intercontinental qualifier against Uruguay once again in November 2005. 

Uruguay beat Australia in the first leg of the CONMEBOL-OFC 2005 playoff in Montevideo on the 12th November. Four days later in Sydney Australia would finally end 31-years of playoff heartbreak thanks to a Mark Bresciano goal in the first half, a fantastic defensive performance in extra-time and a 4-2 penalty shootout victory. Linked above is the second leg highlights which include Bresciano’s goal and the penalty shootout. The commentators get suitably excited when Jon Aloisi scores the winning penalty. 

Australia would go on to face Japan, Brazil and Croatia in the group stages in Germany seven months later. A Tim Cahill inspired performance saw them overcome Japan before a 2-0 loss against Brazil left Australia in need of a point against Croatia in their last game. In one of the most dramatic and craziest games of the tournament Harry Kewell smashed in a late equalizer before Croat Josep Simunic would be shown three yellow cards by hapless English referee Graham Poll. Australia were knocked out in the Round of 16 by Italy thanks to a very controversial penalty won by Grosso and scored by Totti in the last seconds of stoppage time. 

But after 31 years Australia had properly announced themselves to the footballing world. They were no longer the “nearly men” from Oceania, Australia had taken their first step to becoming an Asian soccer powerhouse. 

16 November, 2011 – TV interview, Zurich, Switzerland: “On the field of play I would deny there is racsim”. Jesus Sepp, you really make saying the wrong thing at the wrong time an art form.  



I don’t really have much to say about this to be honest. I could go off on a whole rant about Sepp and the history of FIFA but we all know how much of a dinosaur Mr Blatter is when it comes to his global football policy. For a quick historical overview of FIFA and my brief opinion on FIFA see this post. As far as the Blatter hate goes I don’t hate the old bastard as much as most. He’s a saint compared to his predecessor Joao Havelange, but it just pisses me off that the head of football’s governing body isn’t smart enough when making a media appearance to know that he shouldn’t accidentally or perhaps purposefully excuse racism on the field of play. (This is amongst the many other things FIFA do/have done to piss me off). 

November 14, 2012 – Sweden 4-2 England, Friends Arena, Stockholm: His other three goals weren’t too bad either.    



We all remember this don’t we? I doubt I need to set the scene and write a short description of what happened on this night two years. Just watch the dam bicycle kick again if you haven’t already. Fuck me, what a goal this was. Here are full highlights of the game including his brilliant 35 yard blooter of a free-kick. 

Next Week – Eleven stories, including one massive one. Jermaine Defoe, Roberto Mancini, Lothar Mattheus, Socrates, and Luis Figo all feature also

Where's Ravel Morrison? In court again.

Ravel Morrison was on the fringes of the England team not long ago, or in the England team? I can't remember, but what is he doing now? I'll tell you what he's not doing, threatening to throw acid in his ex-girlfriend's face and having her killed.


The talented chav has been cleared of charges relating to the lovely stuff above. Good news for Ravel. The bad news for Ravel is that he faces another three charges of assaulting his ex-girlfriend and her Mother. He has pleaded not guilty, so I'll have to be really careful about what I say...

Why can't he just be a normal 21 year old? Going out and getting hammered, then stealing road signs on the way home, fine. Being accused of assault, not fine. Google tells me he's on loan at Cardiff now, he ideally needs to play for somewhere where there is absolutely no way for him to get in trouble. Maybe he could live on an island off the West coast of Scotland and be flown in for games. Only sheep shagging and alcoholism would be his distractions, and they are both perfectly acceptable hobbies.

He will be due back in court in January to stand trial for the other charges. Don't worry, FitbaThatba will be there every step of the way to give you all the breaking updates from the case. Unless there are any other football stories we consider to be more interesting. Like Joey Barton choking to death on his own farts or Balotelli going for a joyride in the Batmobile.

@jackwaterston

Adebayor: Was anyone saying boourns?

What do you do when your team is playing really badly and you personally are playing terribly? Attack the fans!


No! That's not what you do, unless your name is Emmanuel Adebayor. Tottenham Hotspur have now lost four out of their five home games, which is the opposite of good...bad, that's the word I was looking for. After losing to Stoke at the weekend, Adebayor gave an interview and said that his own fans booing is not nice. Have a choice quote.

"I think it might be better to play away from home at the moment because at least we know beforehand we are guaranteed to be booed because they want their home club to win. But when you are playing at home and your own fans start booing you after a few minutes then it is harder.”

This doesn't seem like a good idea from Emmanuel since nobody really likes him anyway. He then goes onto say it's not the players or the fans fault, so who's fault is it? It's probably Dapper Laughs because he's just awful. Settling in and adapting and all the usual nonsense are rolled out in the interview to explain why they are so bad, but perhaps Spurs just aren't that good? They are currently 12th in the league, let's look at their back four against Stoke. Naughton, Fazio, Kaboul, Rose. I would say 12th is about right for that defence.

So if you're a pissed off fan, to boo or not to boo, that is the question. I've supported Aberdeen for the 28 years of my life, so I have plenty experience of watching my team being absolutely shite. Perhaps try it in your every day life and see how you get on? Someone at work makes a fuck up, BOOOOOOOOOOOOO, right in their face. Your girlfriend refuses sex, BOOOOOOO. The cinema tries to charge you £20 for two large popcorns and two regular cokes, BOOOOOOO. Do you feel stupid? You should.

@jackwaterston

3 Championship clubs that could profit for managerial changes


Football management has become an unforgiving occupation in recent years, with the days of clubs staying loyal to one man replaced by irrational decision-making in which a few bad results could see a manager come under pressure, or even sacked. The sport has transformed into a results-based business as chairman and owners now expect instant results on the pitch, with managers often becoming the scapegoat for poor performances when players are equally to blame for not playing to the best of their ability. While the Premier League has become more settled in terms of managerial changes, there have been no less than 12 in the Championship in the opening three months of the 2014/2015 season. Pulling the trigger so early may provide new managers with the opportunity to transform the club’s fortunes, with three Championship teams poised to benefit from making a split second judgement that goes against the grain of traditional management loyalty.



Bolton

Dougie Freedman was hailed as being the main figure behind Bolton’s recovery last season as they enjoy a superb late run of form to take themselves away from a relegation dogfight into mid-table safety. Unfortunately, old habits came back to haunt them as Bolton struggled to find any form or consistency and slid straight to the bottom of the Championship. The 4-0 defeat at Fulham proved to be the final straw for Phil Gartside who relieved Freedman of his duties, but his replacement could turn out to be the best piece of business Bolton conduct this season. Neil Lennon, who decided to leave Celtic in search of a new challenge, became the new man in charge at the Macron Stadium, and Bolton have never looked back. 4 victories and 2 defeats in his first 6 games demonstrates the immediate impact Lennon has made, with his recent appointment at the Trotters instilling passion and determination to win providing a new lease of life amongst his players.



Leeds

For all the calm and calculated chairmen who remain loyal to their manager and back them to the hilt, there is always one exception to the rule. Massimo Cellino’s arrival at Leeds has created absolute pandemonium, with the controversial Italian arriving in England with a reputation for hiring and firing managers at the drop of a hat during his time in control of Cagliari. A small section of Leeds fans are behind Cellino and believe that he is only acting in the best interests of the club, but to change managers three times in a short period of time indicates otherwise. David Hockaday was ruthlessly removed from his position despite never managing higher than the fifth tier of English football before, and Darko Milanovic only lasted 6 weeks before Cellino wielded the axe. The appointment of Neil Redfearn may finally bring much-needed stability at the club, with the former academy coach forming a wonderful reputation at Leeds for his work in bringing through talented players such as Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt. There would be little surprise in the football world if Cellino got rid of Redfearn if he does not improve Leeds’ fortunes on the pitch, but the club are in safe hands under a manager who knows what it means to represent Leeds.



Birmingham


The Midlands club look a million miles away from the team that once graced the Premier League and won the Capital One Cup in 2011, with Birmingham once again struggling at the bottom of the Championship. Only a final day draw at Bolton saved Lee Clark’s side from an acrimonious drop into League 1 in May, but their prospects looked equally bleak this season. The 1-0 home defeat against a struggling Bolton side signalled the end of Clark’s turbulent tenure at Birmingham, although he made an immediate return to management at Blackpool following Jose Riga’s departure. Birmingham took the correct approach in taking their time to assess their options and appoint a manager they felt would take the club forward and avoid previous mistakes, with former midfielder Gary Rowett chosen as the man to transform their fortunes. The 40-year-old has shown considerable promise during his two-year tenure at Burton Albion who came so close to reaching League 1, but Rowett has made the step up to the Championship at the right time. His arrival has already reaped dividends, with Birmingham looking far more resolute in defence and are unbeaten in Rowett’s first three games in charge.

______________
By a ...new... writer.

Friday, 7 November 2014

King Crab plays FIFA 15 to win the love of Cassandra

Good day, to you. King Crab here letting you know about my new video where I play FIFA to prove to Cassandra why she should love me


Though I am in Division 10 at the start of this video back in the crab underworld in the ocean I was a king. Literally, a king crab. Join me. 

Owen Hargreaves is the best guy ever

Owen Hargreaves scored a rabona in the BT Sport studios while rehearsing the other day and it's actually really cool.


Hargreaves hasn't featured an awful lot on BT Sport's football coverage and tends to get bumped into the middle of panels on matches instead of being depended on but I think they should give him his own show. It can't do them any harm, seeing as sometimes literally dozens of people watch some of the stuff broadcast on that channel.


Without Owen Hargreaves there's a very real chance I wouldn't now have a career in football writing and YouTubing so if I ever meet him I will buy him all of the beers. Unfortunately this is a lie, because I have met him. Several times. I don't want him to know

Monday, 3 November 2014

This Week in Football History (November 3rd-9th) by Adrian North


ATTENTION! Here is the first in a new weekly series by football historian supreme Adrian North, where you will learn what happened in the world of football this week, every week. Weekly. It's great and we hope you like it. He's basically like a not famous Jonathan Wilson.

You'll genuinely learn something here. It's ace.


This Week in Football History (Nov 3-9): 

Lyon’s Juninho made Oliver Kahn headbutt a post. Berbatov was a cheeky bastard. Liverpool scored eight. Man City fed their goat. Dion Dublin made a fool out of Shay Given. Marco van Basten scored one of his best goals ever, Ajax were shocked by Bulgarian minnows and Man Utd made their greatest signing. 


**7 November, 1973 – [CSKA Sofia 2-0 Ajax, Norodna Arena, Sofia, Bulgaria]

**European Cup holders shocked by Bulgarian minnows**  


The early 70’s saw Total Football’s glory days. Under Rinus Michels and spearheaded by superstar Johan Cruyff, Ajax, along with Feyenoord, had dominated the dutch Eridivisie in the late 60’s and Early 70’s. Ajax became the first Dutch side to reach a European Cup final in 1969, but were destroyed by an impressive Milan side containing Geovanni Trappatoni and Gianni Rivera. In 1970 Feyenoord shocked the footballing world by beating Jock Stein’s famed Celtic side but it was in 1971, against a surprise package from Greece in Panathinaikos that Ajax won the European Cup for the first time and made their mark on the history books.  

Rinus Michels made a surprise move that summer to Catalonia, but his mantle and Total Football philosophy was continued by Romanian great Stefan Kovacs. And it was during the span of 1971-73 and in particular the 72’ and 73’ European Cup finals that Ajax and Johan Cruyff established their era of dominance. In the 72’ European Cup Final Ajax beat Inter 2-0, both goals scored by Cruyff. This was perhaps Total Football’s finest hour as Inter, clinging on to their catennacio brand of football were destroyed by Ajax’s fluid football. In 1973, Juventus were to be Ajax’s victims, with great Dutch striker Johnny Rep the goalscorer that day. 



In the summer of 1973, Johan Cruyff moved to Barcelona to reunite with Michels and try to bring Total Football to Spain. Ajax had to defend their three-in-a-row European Cup victories without the world’s flagship player. But this was still no weak side and on the the 24th October, 1973 Ajax beat Bulgarian champions CSKA Sofia 1-0 in the first leg of the European Cup Second Round of that year.  
Two weeks later on November 7th, the European Cup saw one of it’s greatest upsets ever. CSKA beat Ajax 2-0 after extra time and Ajax had been beaten in Europe for the first time in three years. Despite not having Cruyff at the helm this was still a side including Johhny Rep, Arie Haan, Johan Keizer, Johan Neeskens and Ruud Krol – A team more than capable of winning the competition once more.

Sofia’s heroes that day were Dimitar Marashiliev and Petar Zhekov whose goals saw that the minnows from Bulgaria achieved their greatest moment on European football’s largest stage. In the next round CSKA were beaten 5-3 on aggregate by eventual champions Bayern Munich. 

Total Football was yet to have its greatest but most heartbreaking moment however. During the 1974 World Cup The Netherlands, coached by Michels and spearheaded by Cruyff and the spine of Ajax played some of the finest football the world had seen. And despite scoring first in the final before any German had touched the ball, the hosts turned around the 1-0 deficit thanks to a Paul Breitner penalty and a Gerd Muller strike. 

This new attacking philosophy had been beaten by the organization and pragmatism of a fantastic West German side. A victory that mirrored the path of club football for the next three years as Bayern Munich emulated Ajax’s European Cup achievements with victories in 74, 75 and 76.   

But it was CSKA Sofia’s shock result in 1973 that remains as one of the European Cup’s greatest Cinderella stories. 



**6 November, 1986Old Trafford, Manchester, England: 
Bill Shankly, Jock Stein, Matt Busby; All names synonymous with Scottish football. And then this one bloke called Alex went on to surpass them all**   

People tend to forget that Alex Ferguson was a really good player. A journeyman within Scotland during his playing days saw him rack up fairly hefty goal tally for an impressive 17-year career. Once he was done playing Ferguson immediately decided to turn his hand to management. What transpired during the next four decades is seemingly stuff of Football Manager fantasy.  At the age of just 32 he joined East Stirlingshire as head coach before quickly moving on to St Mirren, and it was at St Mirren where he established his name as one of the nations most promising young coaches. Consecutive promotions with third tier St Mirren saw Fergie land the head role at Aberdeen.   

In just his second season in charge of Aberdeen he broke the stranglehold on the Scottish Premier Division that had been held by Celtic and Rangers for the past 15 years. Aberdeen consolidated themselves as new Scottish power with a Scottish Cup win in 1982 and most incredibly of all, by beating Real Madrid 2-1 in the final of the 1983 Cup Winners Cup. After the victory Ferguson stated he now felt he had now “done something worthwhile with his life”. 



Just two years on he found himself as the head coach of the Scottish National team due to the tragic death of Scottish footballing legend Jock Stein during the last minutes of Scotland’s final qualification game for the 1986 World Cup.

Ferguson led Scotland to Mexico in 1986 where they lost their opening two games before being shamefully eliminated by a particularly nasty and violent Uruguayan performance. The following summer saw speculation of Ferguson landing a prized job at a leading English clubs, with Spurs and Arsenal being likely candidates. 

But it was on the 6th November, 1986, just days after the Man Utd board had sacked Ron Atkinson, that those in charge of the Old Trafford side made their greatest signing ever. 

What happened over the next 27 years was simply astonishing. Of course, Fergie didn’t have it all his own way at first. Indeed, it has been a long time rumour that had his underperforming Man Utd side lost to Nottingham Forest in the 1990 FA Cup third round he may well have got the sack. 
 United went on to win the FA Cup in 1990. 
 23 years on from that game that may well have saved his career, Alex Ferguson had become a Sir, won the Premier League 13 times, FA Cup four more times, and won two Champions League titles in 1999 and 2008. We all remember or have watched highlights of both those finals I’m sure.  
 So is Alex Ferguson the greatest manager ever? 
This is always a tough one. Where the greatest player ever debate can go on and on forever, the greatest manager ever comes down to the same seven or eight names: Shankly, Clough, Herrera, Sacchi, Michels, Stein or Ferguson. 

Sir Alex is leagues ahead of anyone else who has ever managed at the top level when it comes to silverware count. His inspiration on players that went on to become world class stars (Cantona, Schmeichal, The Class of 92, Ronaldo etc) may well be unparalleled also. 
So where Fergie leads the way in trophy haul and perhaps in player influence there are two further categories I see as necessary when looking at a manager’s legacy: 
 1) Tactical innovation
 2) Standing with the fans  
 Fergie will never be remembered in the same light as Helenio Herrera, Rinus Michels or Arrigo Sacchi when it comes to tactical innovation. Those three came up with almost futuristic versions of how to play football and forever changed the landscape of football tactics into the ultra-tactic heavy game we see today. But where Sacchi, Michels and Herrera only succeeded with their revolutionary visions for a decade at most, Ferguson kept going strong for two full decades, eventually retiring as a champion.  

Catenaccio had it’s peak in the 60s, Total Football in the 70s and Sacchi’s attacking 4-4-2 in the 90s. Fergie was only ever tactically good enough to be the best. He wasn’t an ideologist who wanted to progress the game with a never-before-seen vision. Fergie simply wanted to win, and win he did. When a certain Frenchman joined Arsenal and threatened his reign, Fergie adapted and rebuilt his team to be better than ever. And he did the same thing when the Russian and Arab oligarchs showed up.  
As for his standing with the fans - Well, along with Bobby Charlton he is the most beloved figure to ever be involved with Man Utd, and Bobby even won a World Cup to help his idolization. But is he as beloved as Shankly and Clough?
Fergie never had the “football is more than a matter of life and death” or “I wouldn’t say I was the best, but I’m definitely in the top one” type quotes, and Shankly and Clough were essentially Gods in Liverpool and Nottingham, the only two managers in my opinion to ever reach the deity status normally reserved for the legacies of the likes of, well, actually, I don’t think any player ever achieved the level of deity status those two did. Where managers generally retire towards the latter stages of their lives, unfortunately legendary players still have decades to sour their legacies through Viagra commercials, cocaine use and domestic violence. Perhaps only Cruyff, Socrates, di Stefano and maybe Eusebio ever achieved this level of reverence throughout their lives?   
Give it ten or fifteen years for all the mythologizing of Fergie’s career to settle and who knows, maybe he will reach that plane of idolization amongst all football fans, regardless of their club affiliation, that only Shanks and Ol’ Big Head have reached before. 

**9 November, 1986 – Ajax 3-1 Den Bosch, Amsterdam Olympic Stadium: 

Marco van Basten’s incredible bicycle kick - My favorite bicycle kick ever scored




I love Marco van Basten. He is one of my favorite players of all time. I don’t remember his playing days at all, but being raised on VHS highlights of him and being the footy history nerd I am has made me idolize one of the greatest strikers of any generation.  
Also, someone once said I look a lot like a young Marco van Basten, which is one of the better compliments I’ve ever received.    

As much I want to wax lyrical about his career I shall refrain myself from doing so and talk briefly about this goal, his greatest in an Ajax shirt, a goal I think this is best bicycle kick ever. [Here is the goal with Dutch commentary]



I could go on for quite a while analyzing my shortlist for best bicycle kick ever. Zlatan vs England Rooney vs City, Rivaldo vs Valencia, Trevor Sinclair vs Barnsley, Bressan vs Barca. And whilst any of these could easily be called the best bicycle kick ever, it is the casual nature of van Basten’s overhead that makes me love this goal as much as I do. For Zlatan, Rivaldo, or Bressan the actual volleying of the ball is easier than it is for Sinclair, Rooney or van Basten. To bicycle kick a cross first time is a more difficult technique than to perform an overhead volley on a slowly dropping ball as in the instance of Rivaldo or Bressan. 

And it’s the way the ball hits the inside of the post on the way in that makes this goal so perfect. It’s almost too perfect, van Basten didn’t hit the ball too hard, he almost placed it into the top corner, even with a tiny amount of curve. He doesn’t even celebrate it too much either, merely just pulls a cheeky smile and a has group hug with his teammates. His nonchalant way of celebrating to go along with the casual nature of the goal makes this moment one of the best from the short but glorious career of one of football’s great strikers.   

Although, as I said, any one of the six bicycle kicks on my shortlist could really be considered better than each other    


**8 November, 1997 – [Coventry City 2-2 Newcastle Utd, Highfield Road]




**Dion Dublin sneaks up on Shay Given.**    

Of all the moments that showed up on early 2000’s football DVD’s such as *Mark and Lard’s Football Nightmares* or *James Nesbitt’s Eat my Goal* this one of Dion Dublin sneaking up behind a young Shay Given and rolling the ball into an unguarded goal is perhaps the most overplayed fail moment of the 1990’s Premier League. 

Still funny though. 

You know it was the mid 1990’s Premier League when Coventry City finished higher in the table than an Alan Shearer inspired Newcastle, albeit Shearer was injured for half the season. 
97/98 was a really fucking weird season. Arsenal won the double in Wenger’s first full season in charge, Everton famously survived relegation on the last day of the season, Dalglish’s Newcastle finished 13th but incredibly beat Barcelona 3-2...



... at St James’ thanks to a Tino Asprilla hat-trick before Kenny unbelievably decided to sell the Columbian in January. Alan Shearer then came back to lead Newcastle to the FA Cup final where they would lose 2-0 to Arsenal and Coventry finished 11th with Dion Dublin ending as the Premier League’s joint top scorer with 18 goals.
The other two top scorers? – Blackburn’s Chris Sutton and an 18-year old Michael Owen.  

These were also the days of Newcastle’s amazing Brown Ale kits and the incredible Georgian turned Geordie hero Temuri Ketsbaia, and the awful Danish flop Jon Dahl Tomasson – fuck me, this was a bizarre season, Dion Dublin’s goal being maybe the most bizarre moment of the lot.   

**9 November, 2002 – [Man City 3-1 Man Utd, Maine Road]: 

“Feed the goat and he will score!” – Well he did score, and he made a fool out of Gary Neville in the process**   



Oh Shaun Goater. Sometimes you don’t have to accomplish much to be idolized, you merely need to be a happy-go-lucky guy with a permanent smile and the ability to make Gary Neville look like a Sunday League player. 

“Feed the goat and he will score” will always be a favorite chant of mine and 12 years ago, during the last derby at Maine Road Shaun Goater scored twice in a famous 3-1 derby day victory over their much superior rivals including his first goal, and City’s second where he charged in on Gary Neville like a freight train, nicked the ball away from the touchline and slotted past Barthez.   

Shaun Goater was perhaps the key player in Man City’s leap from the Second Division to The Premier League in consecutive seasons between 1999 and 2001. Whilst Paul Dickov’s immortalized striker at Wembley in 1999 is one of the lasting memories of City’s pre-Mansour days it was Goater’s goals that saw the initial rise of Manchester City.  


**5 November, 2003 – Bayern Munich 1-2 Lyon, Olympic Stadium: 

[One of Juninho’s best free-kicks. So good Oliver Kahn smashed his face on the post trying to save it]**    



Juninho vs Oliver Kahn from 35 yards. The Brazilian was perhaps the only player on the planet in 2003 to have the balls and technique to score from such a position. 
Both Lyon and Bayern were to progress from Group A of the 03/04 Champions League but it was Juninho’s goal in Lyon’s 2-1 victory on November 5th that is possibly the defining moments from one of the greatest free-kick specialists of all time.  

Oliver Kahn smashing his face on the post is pretty funny too. 

**3 November, 2004 – AS Roma 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen, Stadio Olimpico: 

[For Berbatov, he actually put in a lot of effort with his strike]**   


A true Berba goal this. In his early Leverkusen days he really introduced the lazy attitude to all of his teammates – [check this fucking casual team goal out from the same season]

In 2004, Berbatov pulled off a piece of genius during a Champions League game against Roma. The flick, turn and lob are all staples of everyone’s favorite suave footballer. 

Leverkusen would beat Real Madrid to top spot in Group B during 04/05 before losing to eventual champions Liverpool in the second round. Roma managed only a solitary point in six games, strangely enough it was during this encounter with Leverkusen. 

**6 November, 2007 – [Liverpool 8-0 Besiktas, Anfield]: 

Andriy Voronin had four assists and Benayoun scored a hat-trick**   


What is the largest win in Champions League history? 

This is always a good trivia question. One would expect the answer to be Cruyff or Pep’s Barca, one of Madrid’s Galactico incarnations or even Fergie’s Man Utd. But it was in fact during 2007/2008 that Rafa Benitez’s Livepool handed out a record beating at Anfield to Turkish side Besiktas. 
The Liverpool heroes that day? – Peter Crouch, Yossi Benayoun, Ryan Babel and Andriy Voronin. Not exactly the star cast you would expect to be behind the largest Champions League thrashing ever (excluding qualifying rounds).   

Having surprisingly only earned one point from their first three Champions League games during 07/08, Liverpool were faced with the scenario of winning all three of their remaining games or be eliminated from the tournament. They promptly did, destroying Besiktas 8-0, Porto 4-1 and Marseille 4-0. But where the last two of those games saw Gerrard and Torres at their peak, it was the 8-0 in which Andriy Voronin and Yossi Benayoun stole the show.  

Benayoun is somewhat of a cult hero at Anfield, always seemingly popping up at the right time and right place during his time with Liverpool, and he popped up for three tap-in’s during this rout. Andriy Voronin however was an undisputed flop, but even flops can have a good day from time to time. Voronin had four assists in this 8-0, including a brilliant back heel flick to Gerrard.  

**Next Week: A great day for Australia. The best friendly match I’ve ever watched, whilst another international friendly gets abandoned. A classic from 1934, I get to rip into Sepp Blatter and yes, I will include Zlatan’s bicycle kick.**