Danny's Football Bluff

August 19, 2013

19th August 2013

Welcome to the Football Bluff for another season. Over the next few weeks your workplace conversations will be dominated by Oval Ball Finals/Federal Election/Breaking Bad [really depends how nerdy your work is] so you will only need a simple understanding of the Round Ball Game, but that’s why I’m here.

The English Premier League kicked off on Saturday night – who started well?

Not bloody Arsenal! Although the Gunners were up 1-0 within six minutes, Aston Villa gave the North London club a rude awakening as they piled on the next three goals. As the fans booed, the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger surely was doubting his summer signing policy of going to Mars and sitting in a cave with his eyes shut and his fingers in his ears.

Manchester United began the David Moyes era with a 4-1 win over Swansea. Danny Welbeck & Robin Van Persie both scored with amazing individual efforts. Wayne Rooney played the final half hour of the match, but quite begrudgingly. Rooney has made no secret his desire to leave the Red Devils, however post match teammate Michael Carrick said “Wayne is still one of us”, whereas Rooney was quoted as saying “Shut up, you’re not my real dad”

Chelsea returned to Jose Mourinho’s style of play like a duck to orange sauce. The Blues eased back into the sit-back-and-wait-for-the-opposition-to-make-a-mistake game plan seamlessly as they defeated Hull 2-0. At times the strikers even played like proper team mates, but I’m sure those little mistakes will be ironed out.

Barcelona won their first match of the Spanish season 7-0. If you’re a Real Madrid fan, apologies, it’s gonna be a long year.

Yes but how did the Australians go? I hear you ask, with the World Cup happening at the end of this season, this blogger will try and keep you up to date with how our Socceroos are going at a club level. Mile Jedinak played well as he lead Crystal Palace to a gallant 1-0 loss to Tottenham… and…. um… oh Lucas Neill signed with a Japanese club… apart from that…. um…. I think Mark Schwarzer got to finally meet Jose Mourinho, that would have been exciting for him.

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.

May 20, 2013

20th May 2013

The English Premier League finished overnight, the final day big winners were Arsenal, who maintained their one point lead over Tottenham Hotspur to keep 4th spot and therefore a place in next year’s Champions League. Poor old Tottenham really are the Washington Generals to the Gunners, or is there something else at stake? Tottenham are the only team in the Premier League to not be awarded a penalty all season long, and were indeed denied seemingly obvious ones yesterday. Rumours that Arsenal’s winning goal was scored via a stepladder have remained unconfirmed.

David Beckham announced his retirement from all forms of Football during the week. Horribly it seems a career in commentating seems inevitable.

Although the Football season is winding up there’s still some interesting matchers to go this weekend – Sunday morning Australian time is the Champions League Final – Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich, Monday morning is both the Scottish Cup Final between Celtic and Hibernian, a classic Glasgow v Edinburgh clash, and also the Premier League playoff decider – who will be in the top tier next year? Watford v Crystal Palace. Watford’s most famous fan is Elton John, Palace’s is Eddie Izzard. All that is known is this will be the most fabulously dressed play off ever.

And apart from that….. it’s all a bit quiet…. Anything else? Anderlecht won the Belgiun league. Tim Cahill scored the winner for New York Red Bulls… yeah okay when I’m talking about American soccer thats my cue to leave it there. Oh look below – a great goal!
Goal of the Week –

March 4, 2013

March 4th, 2013

Western Sydney Wanderers are sitting atop of the A-League ladder! The league newbies defeated the Central Coast Mariners and are now favourites to finish the season in top spot. Despite the loss, Mariners manager Graham Arnold was upbeat claiming his team were in finals form, “We’re ahead of schedule, it feels good, normally we have to wait til at least the semi finals to choke so this is nice…”

Real Madrid defeated Barcelona 2-1 in a spiteful El Classico on Saturday night. Barca defender Gerard Pique was absolutely outraged after the match, complaining that Real get all the big decisions. Pique then stated he wasn’t that mad, as Barca are still 13 points clear and he still gets to have sex with pop star Shakira.

Arsenal’s season is going from worse to even worsener. The Gunners were defeated by fierce rivals Tottenham last night, but there may be some saviours. According to London tabloids, some “Middle Eastern Billionaires” want to buy Arsenal, but American owner Stan Kroenke has stated he will not sell. Kroenke has stripped Arsenal down to its most basic squad in years and still charges it’s fans more for tickets than any other club. Speculation that Kroenke is a Tottenham fan is still unproven, but highly likely.

In continuing our “Why you should support….” series of guest writers, this week we are joined by The Age writer and Bolton fan Luke Morris…
Why you should support… Bolton Wanderers.
Manchester. It is shite. Have you been to Manchester? It is shite. Leave Manchester well alone. Half an hour north-west and there’s Bolton. A happy-go-lucky town with so little concern about cash that we pay players to lose. Not on purpose, we just overpay horrible players. It’s part of a three point plan to stimulate the economy. 1) Exit the Premier League, 2) Stay in the Championship, and 3) tour the country’s regional areas, lose, and boost celebratory goodwill. It’s an altruist and emphatic approach that we all could learn from. Bolton. Support them to the betterment of the world.

Luke Morris is the Robbie Cornthwaite of writing, a Bolton Wanderers supporter, and head honcho at http://www.st-r.com.au.

Goal of the week:

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]

January 21, 2013

21st January, 2013

In a battle of the big clubs with managers that their fans don’t like – Chelsea defeated Arsenal in London overnight. Arsene Wenger has blamed his side’s poor performances on his players breaking the little rules of their code of conduct. For example not turning up to meetings on time, reading newspapers in the dressing rooms and wearing incorrect shoes to training. Most pundits would also argue that defending like idiots and not shooting straight may have been a contributing factor.

At White Hart Lane, Sir Alex Ferguson had a much more traditional excuse for Manchester Utd not beating Tottenham – blaming the linesman. Former Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie put the Red Devils ahead in the 25th minute which pissed off the Spurs fan no end. The Tottenham faithful were the angriest folk on Earth, which only prompted the ever competitive Fergie to turn on his perma-rage and prove that no one can match him when it comes to fury. He berated every player, every official and even the weather as the snow came down, although United were still leading. Thankfully Tottenham scored in the dying minutes and Sir Alex was once again crowned the angry, wicked king of Narnia.

Sydney FC may have started a late season surge towards the finals by demolishing Wellington Phoenix 7-1 at ANZ stadium. Alessandro Del Piero scored four goals and set up most of the others. The New Zealand press has claimed that Phoenix’s match was the worst performance by a New Zealander since Russell Crowe in Les Miserables.

Exciting news for young Socceroo Tom Rogic who has signed with Celtic. Of course esteemed pundit Craig Foster has claimed moving to the rather scrappy Scottish Premier League is a mistake. He is right, as he always is – Tim Cahill made the same mistake when he played for Millwall, Mark Schwarzer too when he played for Dynamo Dresden, and don’t get me started on Harry Kewell going to Leeds United. All those talents have been wasted and I believe all three are now at Centrelink looking to score heroin.

The most exciting young manager of the moment has finally chosen a club, Pep Guardiola will coach Bayern Munich from next season. The former Barcelona magician was courted by everyone from the Brazilian National Team to the mega rich Manchester City, whose next manager remains a mystery. A source has said – “it really could be anyone, obviously except obviously Mehmet Durakovic.

Miss of the week: [Even Ronaldo misses sitters!]

January 14, 2013

January 14th, 2013

Two big blockbusters were played out in England overnight. In London champions Manchester City defeated Arsenal 2-0. It was a fiery affair, with two men being sent off. Edin Dzeko continued the trend of City players showing messages on their shirts when they score. ‘Za Moje Mahalce’ sent fans googling like crazy and apparently means ‘For the people in my neighbourhood’. Sadly the Bosnian striker didn’t score again so it’s unclear as to whether it was a tribute to his hometown or if he was just doing references to Sesame Street jingles.

Up at Old Trafford Manchester United beat old rivals Liverpool 2-1. Predictably Robin Van Persie scored the opener and even more predictably, Liverpool offered no real resistance or fight. This fixture has been quite controversial in recent years but this time it had nothing, no red cards, no fights, no racism. The match was so polite Danny Welbeck even decided to tackle himself – http://www.101greatgoals.com/gvideos/gif-danny-welbeck-falls-on-his-arse-v-liverpool/

Staying in England and Reading have been involved in a few epic matches this year, most notably cocking up a 4-0 lead against Arsenal, but finally they have won a dramatic match. Reading trailed West Brom 2-0 with eight minutes remaining and then somehow managed to win 3-2! Manager Brian McDermott claimed it was the ‘fantastic fans’ who ‘got us over the line in the last ten minutes’. McDermott seemed to have forgotten that the same fans booed him off the pitch at half time.

Sydney FC’s fans have been through a lot this season and yesterday the ones that braved the cold and rainy conditions were rewarded. The Sky Blues robbed Melbourne Heart, with two late goals. There was some debate on how many people were actually at the Allianz Stadium, with the media claiming about 13,000 but others saying there were far less. The one thing people can agree on is that the number would have been much smaller if Melbourne Heart’s away support hadn’t both shown up.

Real Madrid appear to have hit a new low with a 0-0 draw with bottom of the table team Osasuna. The Spanish media is already calling for Jose Mourinho to leave the club, with many newspapers hoping it happens this week so they can run the headline JOSE LEAVES OH-SO-SOONA!

Save of the week – what an effort

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 10, 2012

December 10th, 2012

Last night’s Manchester Derby proved to be one for the ages with United taking the points thanks to a last minute Robin Van Persie free kick. It’s often reported that these matches are vitriolic affairs but nothing could be further from the truth. United and City are great friends! In the 16th minute the City defenders proved what generous hosts they are by letting Ashley Young give a free pass to Wayne Rooney who graciously tucked it home. If that wasn’t polite enough, the City defenders did it again twelve minutes later! The Red Devils are nothing if not reciprocally courteous, returning the favour in the 58th minute by allowing City four shots on goal in five seconds The fourth one finally finding its way into the goal. Just when the niceties couldn’t get any rosier, the City fans decided to help out United defender Rio Ferdinand with some milk money, cheerfully throwing loose change at him. Ferdinand expressed his gratitude by bleeding from his forehead. Manchester City are known for throwing money at players, but usually not this literally. It all ended 3-2 to United, and presumably with all in attendance having a lovely afternoon tea.

The Socceroos have qualified for next year’s East Asia Cup! Our boys sealed their spot at next year’s tournament with an 8-0 win over traditional rivals Taiwan. Manager Holger Osieck is said to be over the moon, as it has been his dream to win the East Asia Cup ever since he heard about it last week.

Western Sydney Wanderers have piled on the misery for reigning A-League champions Brisbane Roar with a 1-0 win at Parramatta yesterday. The decisive kick came from a penalty, which this blogger thought was a blatant dive, but interestingly the Roar and the Queensland media aren’t kicking up a fuss. Perhaps last year’s Grand Final “win” from the penalty spot has rendered the “Champions” tactfully quiet.

And the winner is… everyone! Euro 2020 will be played all over the continent rather than in a host country. This new format was adopted when the only country that applied to host the tournament turned out to be Turkey. Experts have theorised that this new format is a tester for the Eurovision Song Contest which is still attempting to work out how to avoid Jedward visiting other nations.

Champions League round of sixteen will be drawn next week with the remaining clubs being Paris Saint Germain, Porto, Schalke 04, Arsenal, AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayern Munich, Valencia, Barcelona, Celtic, Manchester United, Glatasaray and Spainish side Malaga, who even last year hadn’t yet heard of themselves.

Goal of the week –

December 7, 2012

The last six months…

Hi everyone, I’m back from my honeymoon. It was great, thanks. Football related highlights were: Watching Celtic defeat Barcelona in a meth lab posing as an Irish Club in Cambridge; visiting the San Siro and watching Inter Milan completely outclass their opponents and still draw 2-2, and watching my beloved Celtic live at Paradise. [Never mind it was a dull 1-1 draw with St Johnstone]

So here’s what happened in the last six months – not in order.

Spain won Euro 2012. You probably knew that, if you didn’t then some of the following jokes aren’t going to make sense as they require a basic knowledge of football. You may have just forgotten it, which is understandable, as Spain can be quite dull sometimes.

Chelsea’s Champions League winning manager Robert DeMatteo was sacked for daring to lose two matches.
He was replaced by former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, who if it wasn’t for Nick Clegg would be the most hated man in Britain.

Fernando Torres remained rubbish
as did Andy Carroll

Melbourne Victory gained super manager Ange Postecoglou but lost Harry Kewell who went on to play for… as yet nobody.

Brighton & Hove Albion were voted Britain’s poshest fans! The Championship side immediately rubbished the notion, according to their butlers.

Liverpool poached Brendan Rogers from Swansea City, proving that the Reds can ruin even the most promising of Managers.

Rangers FC were liquidated and a new team has replaced them in the Scottish league 3rd division, creatively named “The Rangers”

Robin Van Persie left Arsenal for Manchester United. Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke was devastated at the loss and wouldn’t talk to reporters until after he had gone for a swim in his Scrooge McDuck style money-pool.

Alexandro Del Piero joined Sydney FC and has bravely led them to the bottom of the table. [However this is huge news in Italy, when I was at San Siro the knock off shops all had Sydney FC shirts!]

Emile Heskey, a constant underachiever in his native England, joined Newcastle Jets and promptly began scoring tons of goals, proving once and for all the the quality of the A-League coaching is obviously higher than the Premier League. I’m kidding of course, it’s a tribute to mining magnate and Jets’ owner Nathan Tinkler who looked at Heskey and saw something valuable whereas everyone else saw a pile of inert materials.

and that’s all you need to know, I’ll be back Monday with an update on the weekend’s football news written hastily from Melbourne Airport departure lounge. [Doing gigs in Brisbane next week dannymcginlay.com for details!]

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