Danny's Football Bluff

October 21, 2013

October 21st, 2013

This weekend in the world of round ball was not one where people celebrated greatness; instead enduring horror was the order of the day. The best you could hope for this weekend was that your preferred teams didn’t royally stuff up or have stuff ups thrust upon them. Like when Quentin Tarantino acts in one of his own films, you just cross your fingers it won’t be too bad and hope it’ll all be over soon.

So who stuffed up the worst? Here we go with my…

Top Five Worst performances of the weekend!

5. Manchester United only manage a draw with a plucky Southampton. This has been United’s worst start to a season in living memory and of course the fans are turning on new manager David Moyes. This is a bit unfair as any new manager takes time to bed in and all the smaller clubs reckon they can beat the Red Devils at the moment so they play their hearts out.

4. Juventus coughed up a 2-0 lead to lose 4-2 against Fiorentina. The referees had done their part gifting Juve a penalty in the first half but it seems the bribery money had run out as Giuseppe Rossi slammed in a hat trick to record a famous win. I’d hate to be a racehorse in Turin tonight.

3. On Friday night traditional rivals Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory played the SBS showcase match. The third worst performance of the weekend goes to the referees! Adelaide were given a penalty that wasn’t there, then Jeronimo Neuman [who is one of the few players to always be called by his full name] scored from an offside position, then Victory scored a goal that was incorrectly given as offside. Socceroo manager apparent Ange Postecoglou was so angry he looked like he was going to punch someone. Sadly he didn’t, which is annoying because if he did, he might have not got the Socceroos job and Victory could keep our wondercoach.

2. Second worst performance of the weekend goes to Sydney FC. It must be exhausting being an FC fan, just over a week ago, they beat Newcastle 2-0 and they were apparently “throwing down a gauntlet for the rest of the league” this week, after they lost to Brisbane 2-0 they are “destined to be cellar dwellers for a long time”. The Hyperbole is without doubt the worst Hyperbole in the known universe. It would have got my worst performance of the week but that goes to…

1. Setanta!! The Specialty Sports channel which certain fans of certain leagues have to get in order to see their heroes. As a Celtic fan I am one of them, and already this year my chances of seeing the Hoops have been slashed drastically as some dickhead over at Setanta thinks more people want to watch Ipswich vs Doncaster than Celtic [who are reportedly the second most supported British team in Australia*]. So although Setanta did play Hibernian v Celtic on Saturday night, as of midday on Monday [36 hours after the match], Setanta are still yet to put the match online for those who couldn’t watch it live. Despite their website saying all matches will be available on Setanta Sports Plus Catch Up between 3 and 6 hours after match completion.
Can you imagine any other service provider getting away with such blatantly awful service? Apart from Banks, Airlines, Public Transport and mobile phone providers the answer is … still probably!

*Source – The Department of Celtic Biased Statistics, c/o The Pint on Punt, St Kilda.

Goal of the Week from the Irish ladies league.

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August 14, 2013

Season 2013/14 Preview!

Hi folks, welcome to my blog. It’s about football and it’s aimed at people who don’t care that much about football but want to stay informed. The good folk at The Project have published my season preview, but in case you missed it, here it is below:

Enjoy!

On Sunday the English Premier League and many other European Football Leagues kick off for the year, and the A-League season is just under six weeks away. So you know what that means – that guy in your workplace who is OBSESSED with the round ball game is going to start boring you to death with opinions and facts about it all.

I know that guy, because I am that guy. I am, however, much more self-aware than most of the other ‘that guys’ and I know most of Australia does not share my passion, so I am using my powers for good. I know you don’t mind soccer, {see I even call it soccer, I am aware that other codes use the name football, so to avoid confusion, I call it soccer, already I’m less of a dick} and with the World Cup in less than a year you probably want to bone up on your knowledge a bit, but who has the time? I do!

So this is my guide to surviving a conversation with that soccer nut and knowing more than your friends in preparation for the World Cup. These easy opinions and fun facts on the upcoming football season will you have sounding like a true fan, but with minimal effort.

The English Premier League.

What big things happened in the off season?
1. Manchester United have their first new manager in 27 years! They replaced the angry Scotsman Sir Alex Ferguson with a slightly more googly eyed angry Scotsman, David Moyes.

2. Jose Mourinho returned to manage Chelsea. Mourinho is football world’s Bond Villain. He’s maniacal, egotistical, not afraid to ruin matches with dull defensive tactics, but at the same time so ridiculously charming. I would have loved to have seen him at Man United, in the same way I would love to see a real bull in a real china shop.

3. Arsenal promised their fans they would bring in some big name players during the off season, but haven’t. Unless you count Yaya Sanogo as a big name**.

**You don’t.

Three handy phrases
A] “With all the new managers it’ll be the closest season in years.”
B] “I can’t wait for the first Manchester derby! Or the first North London derby! They’ll be fascinating!”
C] “If Rooney moves to Chelsea, it’s game on!”

Don’t say – “I’ll be interested to see what hairstyle David Beckham plays with this year.”

My prediction – Chelsea to win the league, but only just.

The A-League

What big things happened in the off season?
1. Central Coast Mariners won the grand final, and since then have lost five members of that team. It’s well known the Mariners are in financial trouble, but that hasn’t stopped the fans flocking to see the winning trophy proudly on display at Gosford Cash Converters.

2. Harry Kewell returns to the A-League! But not for his old team Melbourne Victory, for their rivals Melbourne Heart! This has enraged the Victory support, but brought no end of joy to all the Heart fans, both of them.

3. SBS managed to claim the right to broadcast one match a round on free-to-air. This will be a ratings bonanza for the network, especially if they get all matches commentated by Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang.

Three handy phrases
A] “It’ll be great for football if the Western Sydney Wanderers can repeat their amazing season.”
B] “Adelaide’s new Spanish manager seems exciting, but can he adapt to the more physical A league?”
C] “With the salary cap in place, you never can predict A League matches let alone seasons.”

Don’t Say – “Did you know A League is about 4.8 kilometres?”

My prediction – Melbourne Victory to win the league.

The rest of Europe

1. Bayern Munich won the Champions League last year and now have signed Pip Guardiola, widely regarded as one of the best managers in the world. So they seem like an unstoppable German machine!
2. Barcelona signed the Brazilian wonderkid Neymar, widely regarded as the next Pele. Considering they still have Lionel Messi on their books, they seem like an unstoppable Spanish/Catalan machine!
3. Carlos Tevez transferred over to Juventus, widely regarded as one of the most corrupt teams on the planet. Considering a lot of these allegations have also included links to the mafia, this blogger thinks they are all wonderful gentlemen and wishes them all the best, as he fears their unstoppable Italian machine guns.

Three handy phrases:
A] “Gareth Bale could be brilliant at Real Madrid, provided they play him in the right position.”
B] “Paris Saint-Germaine are a team of champions, but nowhere near a champion team.”
C] “I hope the headlines coming out of Italy are about football for a change.”

Don’t say – “I thought European football was cancelled after Lance Armstrong was found to be a drug cheat?”

My prediction – Juventus to win the Champions League. I like my thumbs.

April 8, 2013

April 8th, 2013

Then there were four. The A League Elimination Finals took place over the weekend.

An A-League classic was played out on Friday night when the Melbourne Victory snatched an unlikely come from behind 2-1 win over an unlucky Perth Glory. There was controversy aplenty with Perth’s Shane Smeltz missing a penalty in the 89th minute only for Victory score one a minute later. Extra time was called for and Archie Thompson scored the winner. For two years in a row Perth has been eliminated by a questionable penalty in the final minutes. The only logical solution – let Gina Rinehart buy the A-League.

Yesterday the Brisbane Roar knocked out Adelaide United with a 2-1 win. The Roar’s Luke Brattan scored what appeared to be a long range belter in the 27th minute which on closer inspection was just a pass to Adelaide defender Cassio who missed it and it slipped into the net. Ivan Franjic doubled the advantage before half time and Adelaide reacted in the only way they could – injure Brisbane. The Reds knocked the Roar around like Bogans on Hindley Street on a Saturday night. Had the game continued much longer most of the Roar squad would be in barrels in bank vaults. What’s remaining of the Brisbane team will face Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday night. It probably won’t be pretty.

Bayern Munich are the champions of the Bundesliga! The Bavarian side sealed the league faster than any other German side before it. They are dominant, and next year they get former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola. It’s going to be a good few years for Bayern fans, and a golden era for lazy journalists to write about a “German Superpower” with many allusions to that thing that happened 64 years ago. You know the one right?
That’s right, the creation of Batman.

Manchester United play Manchester City early tomorrow morning, if City win this it will set up a slightly less boring next few weeks as United cakewalk to winning the English league.

Goal of the Week

This week’s Why You Should Support comes from globe trotting journalist Megan Clement

Why You Should Support…. PORT VALE

Let’s start with the basics. Short of being born in the shadow of the stands at Old Trafford, there is no good reason for a living human to support Manchester United. If you were born in the shadow of the stands at Old Trafford, you can do whatever you like. Being born in a carpark in Manchester is a good excuse for eschewing most social niceties, after all.

Despite this simple fact, many members of Man United’s vast and bloated international diaspora claim to have perfectly valid reasons for following the Red Devils. Oh, they supported the team BEFORE it became the trillion-pound-spinning, football-boot-throwing, reality-show-spawning, red-top-fodder-producing, championship-sweeping, grumpy-Scotsman-validating, FA-Cup-blitzing, flying-Frenchman-kicking behemoth it has been for the past couple of decades. These people are lying to you.

The same goes, of course, for those who live in Australia but claim to have a legitimate reason for pledging allegiance to Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool. They are pillars of delusion, readers, and they should be scorned.

Instead, allow me to present the ultimate underground, authentic hipster team on the rainy English isle. The team no one will ever question your devotion to. Ladies and gentleman, I give you Port Vale.

Port Vale FC is to football what that experimental German art house industrial post-punk three piece that only made one EP is to your music collection.

Port Vale: so underground it isn’t even named after the city it represents. That city is Stoke-on-Trent, a dreary Midlands scramble of towns that even the Romans took one look at and decided to leave alone, possibly due to the propensity of the locals to say things like, “ey up duck ‘owat?” instead of a simple hello. Being in the Midlands, there is of course no Port associated with the nominal Vale. The air of mystery deepens.

And here’s the kicker, folks. Port Vale is this unremarkable spot on the map’s SECOND team. You may have had of Stoke City. This is a team named for its hometown that plays in the Premier League. So tedious, so obvious, so mainstream.

So if you don’t want people to roll their eyes when you tell them which football team you support, stare them straight in the face and say “Up the Vale”. They’ll either be insulted or captivated, but they won’t be bored.

Follow Meg’s thoughts on twitter – @megclement

February 18, 2013

18th February, 2013

One of Australia’s most beloved sons is returning home! Socceroos Captain Lucas Neill made the expected announcement that he is coming to the A-League but not to the club we all expected. The media reported all week that Neill would join Melbourne Heart, only for Sydney FC to make a last minute snatch. With Sydney FC already boasting Alessandro Del Piero and Brett Emerton, their salary cap is completely stretched and they are now offering fans a chance to play. $50 gets you one half, $75 a whole match and for $100 you play the whole match and Frank Farina does an Al Pacino impression for the whole day.

In England, the FA Cup continued its surprising journey as Blackburn Rovers defeated Arsenal on Saturday and cash strapped Oldham Athletic drew with Everton. Oldham are so poor at the moment the players were ordered not to swap shirts after the match. But things are tough all over. Chelsea defeated Brentford overnight but only the players who scored goals were allowed to fly their private helicopters home.

It’s been a tough year for AS Roma, currently 8th on the Serie A ladder, however local hero Francesco Totti scored a belter of a goal to beat Juventus 1-0 last night. It was new coach Aurelio Andreazzoli’s first win since taking over from Zdenek Zeman who was wacked, sorry, sacked, at the start of the month.

Liverpool are coming downunder to play an exhibition match against Melbourne Victory at the MCG this July. With Manchester United to play a game in Sydney that same month it will be a great month for Australian round ball fans. Not to be outdone Adelaide are showcasing their own big match featuring a European Powerhouse. Tickets for Adelaide United vs Bristol Rovers reserves will be available soon.

It’s not often I post training videos but this drill by Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev just shows what true team mates can achieve when they work together…

Goal of the week – [Not so much the goal but the assist]

February 11, 2013

11th February 2013

Due to my best mate’s wedding last night and the arrival of a new baby into my family also last night there’s will be a very quick Football Bluff this week.

England – Man Utd still dominating, they will win the league
Australia – Central Coast Mariners still dominating, they should win the league
USA – With David Beckham gone, apathy back to dominating the league

Thomas Rogic played his first game for Celtic and played brilliantly. Although I’d had a few pints by that stage…

African Cup of Nations won by Nigeria [although I read that in an email so it may be a scam]

Lots of people bet on Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory but match doesn’t appear to be fixed, Victory were just genuinely rubbish.

I was on The B League last night – have a watch, it’s a brilliant show!

January 29, 2013

January 29th 2012

The FA Cup showed us why it’s one of the most fun competitions in the round ball game with some giant killing moments over the weekend. Oldham Athletic knocked Liverpool out of the competition with a 3-2 victory. Other results that surprised the world were Leeds United defeating Tottenham 2-1, Brentford holding Chelsea to a 2-2 draw, Luton upsetting Norwich 1-0 and MK Dons beating QPR 4-2. The most embarrassing of these is Liverpool’s loss, as Oldham are hovering only four points above relegation in the 4th tier of English football and, despite the win, are about to sack their manager.

On the weekend the traditional Australia Day Big Blue between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC ended in a 3-1 win for the Victorians. Before kick off 54 people became Australian citizens and they were witness to some very fair dinkum Aussie mateship as Seb Ryall helped out his opponents by knocking the ball into his own net in the 23rd minute. Allegedly many European scouts were in the stands to watch Marco Rojas, who dominated the match. Sadly for Rojas one of the scouts watching turned out to be from Liverpool so winning the match means he’s just “not right” for the Reds at the moment.

Straight after the Big Blue was the Little Red between Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Heart, the Wanderers taking the honours 1-0. The good news for Heart was that Socceroo Vince Grella finally made his debut for the club, the bad news was that he retired from top level football yesterday.

Adelaide United is looking for a new coach after the shock exit of John Kosmina yesterday citing a “lack of trust within the club environment”. Rumours abound that Kosmina will take over as manager of Brisbane Roar next year, which is like abandoning the Titanic by escaping on the Hindenburg.

In Spain, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both dominated for Barca and Real Madrid respectively. Seriously what’s the point of reporting on Spanish Football? Can we just assume that I type that exact sentence every week? I’ll let you know if it ever doesn’t happen.

Goal of the Week

December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve, 2012

In the past week this blogger has been accused of having a bias against Adelaide United for my continuing negative stories about the Reds. I take my role of amateur football writer very seriously so we begin this week with a positive story about my friends from the City of Churches:

If you ever need to look up ‘sagacious’ in the dictionary [I know I just had to] there should be a picture of Adelaide United FC. Last week it looked like Adelaide, along with the Central Coast Mariners, were going to be the dominant forces in the A-League, making for an unexciting end to the season. However the boys from Hindmarsh showed that they always see the bigger picture and realise that football needs excitement. In order to make the season seem more unpredictable they allowed Western Sydney Wanderers to smack them 6-1 on Friday night. This is the true meaning of sportsmanship (or sportspersonship if you’re politically correct, or sportshorsemanship if you write for the Daily Telegraph). Here’s a tip: FIFA Fairplay award – put money on the South Australian club.

Across the border and Saturday’s Melbourne Derby was the most dramatic yet! Melbourne Heart had the better of its navy blue (and flouro green) rivals in terms of possession, shots, corners, crosses, tackles and better dressed managers. So pretty much everything except goals. Archie Thompson scored the winning goal in injury time in front of the sell out crowd, but since the ball only barely went over the line, there was confusion in the crowd as to whether it was a goal or not. Thompson then continued the confusion in the post match interview where he answered questions through a mixture of clichés and interpretive dance, before finally he admitted he had no idea what he had just been asked. At this stage I can’t find the interview on youtube so if anyone has a link please email to himself@dannymcginlay.com (would do more work but come on it’s Xmas eve, I have Celtic FC socks to wrap).

In the Premier League overnight – Chelsea absolutely thumped Aston Villa 8-0. Villa defended so badly even Fernando Torres scored. Man United could only manage a draw with Swansea and in a hark back to the old days of football, Liverpool actually won a match.

The Italian capital is a happy place after Roma convincingly beat rivals AC Milan 4-2. Roma are fast becoming the favourite team of nerdy football fans everywhere because crowd shots of the Roman fans in their red and yellow scarves look a lot like fans of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team. If only they could sign a keeper named Weasley.

Staying in Europe and the Champions League round of 16 draw took place on Friday morning Australia time. Teams from Spain, Germany, England, Italy, France, Portugal, Ukraine, Scotland and Turkey are all playing.
The fixtures look like this:
Schalke 04 v Galatasaray
Juventus v Celtic
Bayern Munich v Arsenal
Borussia Dortmund v Shakhtar Donetsk
Barcelona v AC Milan
Manchester United v Real Madrid
Paris Saint-Germain v Valencia
Malaga v Porto

Although most folk will be salivating over the Man U v Madrid fixture, my tip is to keep an eye on Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund, both teams play fast attacking football but are also mortal enemies of autocorrect.

Goal of the Week: Lionel Messi. [All of his goals from 2012! All 91 of them!]

Have a great Xmas! May all your teams win. {Unless they’re Adelaide United… oh crap, quick! Delete! Delete! Shit I already hit send!}

December 17, 2012

December 17th 2012

Western Sydney Wanderers piled extra misery on their crosstown rivals Sydney FC on Saturday night, beating the Sky Blues 2-0 and condemning them to the bottom of the A-League table. As if by divine intervention a rainbow appeared over the Sydney Football Stadium linking the two sets of fans. After kick off however, the atmosphere was less gorgeous with flares thrown and an unconfirmed number of arrests. Which is either a dazzling display of passion or the most outrageous behaviour in the history of sports, depending on which newspaper you read. The Melbourne Derby is this weekend and promises much of the same excitement, except with better coffee and worse weather.

Fans were also criticised in Adelaide after the Reds defeated Wellington 3-1. Phoenix striker Paul Ifill claims he was racially abused by certain members of the Adelaide support. This follows bad conduct at Hindmarsh last week when Melbourne Victory fans complained of having coins thrown at them by Adelaide supporters. “It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness” was the mantra of one Victory fan, who allegedly gathered up all the coins and used them to buy beer.

Lionel Messi has broken the record for most goals in a calendar year – or has he? The Zambian Football Federation has claimed that in 1972 a striker named Godfrey Chitalu scored 107 goals. FIFA have stated they do not keep databases of every match in every league ever played so the record is impossible to verify. In this case however, they are both wrong as the actual record holder for most goals in a season is held by me, when I scored 213 goals in my backyard in 2004. Sponsorship enquiries can be made at dannymcginlay.com

For the first time since May, QPR are on the winners list! Under new manager Harry Redknapp, the west London club beat neighbours Fulham. Clearly what was holding them back was paying income tax.
Goal of the Week:

April 2, 2012

2nd April 2012
The big rumour circulating the A-league at the moment is the possibility of Italian legend Gianfranco Zola being linked with the Melbourne Victory coaching position. It’s a bit of a trainwreck at Australia’s biggest club at the moment, caretaker manager Jim Magilton was allegedly told he had the position full time, however the board have done an about face and told him he must reapply for the job. Without a manager a football department cannot function, and yet the Victory are cutting players and negotiating contracts. The only logical conclusion is that Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro is an Adelaide United fan who has gone deep undercover to bring the team down as revenge for the 07 & 09 Grand Finals.

Brisbane Roar’s Ange Postecoglou is another rumoured possibility for the Victory post. It would be far from his mind though as the Queensland team took a commanding lead in the Major Semi final against Central Coast. The Roar hold a 2-0 lead going into next Sunday’s second leg, the winner earning a week’s break by progressing straight to the Grand Final. Mariner’s coach Graham Arnold was at his narky best when he claimed that having that weekend’s break would hurt whichever team was unlucky enough to win the semi final.

The title of World’s Narkiest manager at the moment must be Manchester City’s Roberto Mancini, who claimed that if title rivals Manchester United win their next two matches they will win the English Premier League. City are collapsing like an Italian in the penalty box at the moment, winning only one of their past four league matches. The only logical conclusion? Someone high up at City is an Adelaide United fan who has gone deep undercover to make sure a red team wins the league.

An ongoing debate for football fans has been who has been the bigger waste of money Fernando Torres who Chelsea bought for 50 million pounds from Liverpool last year, or Andy Carroll, whom Liverpool paid 35 million of said 50 million for from Newcastle. Usually it’s said Torres, who has only scored four goals for the Blues. [That’s 12.5 million per goal] However here’s an argument for Carroll being the bigger waste – in what can only be described as the stupidest dive ever!

Then again, Carroll never missed this:

Goal of the week:

March 12, 2012

March 12th 2012

For the first time in almost five months, Manchester City is not on top of the English Premier League. The blue half of Manchester is very much in panic stations as the familiar story of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory seems to be playing out. Their cross town rivals United are more than happy to play the role of pantomime villain and take the top spot. In footballing terms City fans are right to panic, the team are lacking fluency and seem out of sorts; however the Sky Blue fans can take solace in the fact that they are playing to perfection the role of the Mighty Ducks. It’s the classic tale – Multi Millionaire Arab Sheik collects ragtag group of misfit top-rated footballers. At first they don’t get along but then things finally begin to gel… things go bad before the end of the season to set up a plucky heart warming victory at the end. Trust me City fans, it’ll all be okay when Carlos Tevez and Mario Ballotelli learn the true meaning of friendship…

Unless of course the rumours that City are about to snatch Robin Van Persie from Arsenal are true. Then the overly rich bastards can keep losing, serves them right. Stop trying to buy trophies and try and bring a positive culture to the club.

On a less ranty note – for the first time ever in European club competition it seems there will be no English teams in the Quarter Finals of the Champions League or Europa League. Chelsea are England’s last hope but they trail Napoli 3-1 going into the second leg. Danny’s Football Bluff favourites Apoel from Cyprus continued their fairytale run by defeating French giants Lyon. They have joined Barcelona, Benfica and AC Milan. For those unfamiliar with Apoel their last trophy was the 2010 Cypriot Supercup – a basketball trophy.

Closer to home and the Socceroos’ road to Brazil was revealed as the final round of World Cup Qualifiers was announced on Friday night. Our lads will play Oman, Japan, Jordan and Iraq. Australia is the favourite to progress to the finals, however we might not be guaranteed of that until June 2013. In the meantime we have friendlies lined up against Denmark for the Frederick-Mary Cup and Scotland for the Liver Cirrhosis Shield.

Yesterday I watched Brisbane Roar play Adelaide United with a friend from England who had not watched A-league. After reassuring him that the Australian competition was not as bad as he imagined, we were then treated to the most inept finishing in the history of sport. A team of blind amputee donkeys would have had better finishing. Even after they’d been shot.

To distract from this horror show – here is proof that other competitions have shockers too:

Goal of the Week – [Forgive the music]

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