Danny's Football Bluff

March 24, 2014

24th March 2014

Filed under: Weekly Wraps — Tags: , , , , — dannymcginlay @ 12:20 pm

Brisbane are the A-League Premiers! This would be amazing news pretty much anywhere else in the world, but Australia plays by American rules when it comes to soccer, meaning finishing top at the end of the season doesn’t mean you are champions (like it does in almost every other league in the world). It just means you are favourites to win the finals. So the Roar are not Champions, yet. The ones in orange will be tough to beat in the finals. Their three closest challengers are all in the middle of Asian Champions League campaigns so will be exhausted for the rest of the season. So should we just cancel the finals, hand the trophy to Roar and move onto next season where Melbourne City, nee Heart, buy the trophy with their Arab gold? Sadly thats not an option so let’s hope something interesting happens.

Something interesting happened on Saturday in England. Over a month ago this blogger was lamenting how there were no big matches in the EPL until this weekend just gone. Well finally we were to be treated to Chelsea v Arsenal. As my wife is currently ready-to-pop pregnant I am off the grog so the highlight of my weekend was to be watching this match on Saturday night (whilst slamming down glasses of milk). I got home from my gig on Saturday night having missed the first 15 minutes of play and Chelsea were already up 3-0 and Arsenal were a man down. Disappointing. The Gunners have now been thrashed by Liverpool 5-1, by Man City 6-3 and now Chelsea 6-0, meaning the EPL is now a three horse race. (Which is still two more than Australia, Scotland, Italy, Germany and France.) Given the poll results from last week’s poll it seems readers of this blog are Liverpool fans so I will write with a Scouser bias for the rest of the season.

Up next: Why The Beatles could beat Oasis in a fight, followed by a guide to a romantic dinner (clue – have chips!)

This morning the El Clasico was played and it lived up to it’s name. Barcelona went 1-0 up within the first ten minutes, only to see themselves 2-1 behind before half time, then 2-2 at half time. The second half saw more end to end action, with Barcelona finally taking the win 4-3. This rivalry is one of the best as it’s not only two separate cities, but also two different political viewpoints and football philosophies. The best way to describe it is Barcelona is MI6 – they’ve got James Bond, M, Q, all the good guys and they work as a team for good and for right. Real Madrid are SPECTRE – they’re cashed up, only in it for themselves and we should hate them, but they’re just so much fun!!!

The Champions League Quarter Finals were announced. They are:
Barcelona v Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund
Paris St Germain v Chelsea
Manchester United v Bayern Munich
So poll time: Who do you want to win the Champions League?

Goal of the Week – there were some crackers but let’s go for home grown!

February 17, 2014

17th February, 2014

It was FA Cup weekend in England so only a sixteen teams played but it included some big familiar names. Arsenal got a small amount of revenge on Liverpool defeating them 2-1 at Emirates Stadium. Manchester City knocked out fellow cash cow Chelsea, proving that Arabian oil is stronger than Russian gas. The interesting thing is we could have a Steel City Derby in the quarter finals. Sheffield United will play the winner of Charlton Athletic vs Sheffield Wednesday. This blogger doesn’t know any Sheffield fans of either team but my research has shown me that a famous Sheffield United supporter is Sean Bean, which means somehow they must be the villains of the piece. Go Wednesday!

Melbourne Heart continued their run of great form, recording their highest ever win, thumping Wellington Phoenix 5-0! David Williams scored a hat trick, which is another first for Heart. The A-League’s cashed up underdogs have won four of their last five matches which has seen them climb up the ladder to… remain in last place. They could leapfrog Perth if they defeat ladder leaders Brisbane next Sunday. But that’s highly unlikely.

The Socceroos launched their world cup kit this morning – here it is:
http://www.footballaustralia.com.au/news-display/2014-socceroos-team-kit-revealed/86266

The logic clearly being the more we look like Brazil the more chance we will play like them. Or perhaps we’re hoping short sighted football fans will watch us thinking we’re Brazil so we get more ratings? Who knows? I know I’m not a fan of a collar on a football strip. Unless we play one match with ties, then thats fine.

This Wednesday Barcelona v Manchester City promises to be a very entertaining match. Cashed up English vs The soul of Catalonia. Is it enough for me to get up at 6.30am to watch? Hell no, I’ve got a baby coming in two months, I need all the sleep I can get. I’ll tape it and watch when I get up. What are you mental?

Goal of the week – from Saturday night’s Asian Champions League. Despite this amazing goal Melbourne Victory won!

February 3, 2014

3rd February 2014

Just over a fortnight ago, when this Melbourne Victory fan had a bit of hope remaining, we played Western Sydney Wanderers on a hot Tuesday night. The match was played at a very slow pace, understandable due to the conditions and the fact that both teams had played only days beforehand. However I did notice that the referee Ben Williams made some pretty bad decisions, all of them favoured Western Sydney. At the time I dismissed my conspiratorial theories as just that. A disgruntled fan whinging. However on Saturday night Ben Williams was once again helping the Wanderers. Newcastle had just scored an injury time equaliser against WSW, when the dying moments of the game Michael Bridges slid the ball into the path of Adam Taggart who ran into goal, only to be intentionally taken out by Wanderers keeper Ante Covic. Normally free kick to the Jets and very likely a red card for Covic; however Ben Williams had decided the match was over, despite the late goals and drama, and then red carded Jets new boy Joel Griffiths for voicing his disapproval with the decision…
Now could Ben Williams have a soft spot for Western Sydney Wanderers, considering he was born and bred in the region. [Sure, Canberra is a few hours away but geographically closer to Wanderers than anyone else] Does the FFA want the Wanderers to win the league because they’re the fairytale of the competition? Or more importantly does the FFA want to increase the value of the Wanderers because a consortium is making a bid for them soon?
The answer is simple – Ben Williams is just a rubbish referee. How do I know? It’s on his Wikipedia page – have a look:

Screenshot 2014-02-03 10.19.40

The other big matches of the week were less interesting. Liverpool thrashed Everton in the derby. Juventus easily dealt with Inter Milan. Oh and I have a new theory regarding Manchester United – they’re trying to lose to every team in the Premier League with the colour red. Stoke, Liverpool, Sunderland have all had a turn, meaning Arsenal, Southampton and Crystal Palace shall taste victory soon.
[I didn’t count Cardiff because I know they are blue deep down! Respect to my Welsh readers!]

Brisbane Roar continued their canter towards winning the A-League by coming from behind to beat Central Coast Mariners yesterday. On the Fox Sports website there is an article claiming Roar attacker Thomas Broich is the best player in the A-League. Meaning Melbourne Victory will be making an offer for him in the next 24 hours.

Tomorrow morning Australia time Manchester v Chelsea kicks off at 7am. The league will probably go to one of these overly cashed up soul less teams so enjoy the spectacle!
Goal of the Week

January 20, 2014

20th January, 2014

Hi all, apologies that the Bluff is a bit late this week. My laptop did some sort of big software upgrade which inadvertently made my modem obsolete. Now my old modem is pointless and irrelevant. The Craig Foster of modems.

Anyway – back to football. As I reported last week the English Premier League is a three horse race. Arsenal sit on top after defeating Fulham 2-0; Manchester City sit second after dispatching last placed Cardiff City 4-2; and Chelsea are yapping at their heels in third place after beating Manchester United 3-1 this morning. Samuel Eto scored all the goals for Chelsea, meaning this rather foolish twitter user will have to make good on his promise:

Samuel Eto is a rather attractive Cameroonian, so the tattoo will be weird but not too scary. He must be grateful he’s never made a similar promise about Wayne Rooney.

In the A-League some droughts were broken. Melbourne Heart won their first match in eleven months defeating Newcastle Jets 3-1! The Jets have responded by sacking their manager Gary Van Egmond [who is named after a Disney villain] and replacing him with Clayton Zane [who is named after a Disney heartthrob].
It’s cruel to sack a manager but sometimes it’s necessary. If a coach is clearly not qualified for the task then sometimes it’s just best to move them along. Keeping them there would damage the players self belief and the reputation of the club. On an unrelated note Kevin Muscat is still at Victory.

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or! The best male player in the world for 2014! The best male coach went to Jupp Heynckes for winning the Champions League with Bayern Munich. Silvia Neid, the German National team coach won the best female manager and the best female player went to Nadine Angerer, the goalkeeper for Brisbane Roar. Yes! Our Brisbane Roar!!! Why this wasn’t front page news I honestly don’t know! Call it sexism, anti-round ball sentiment whatever you want. It’s disappointing.
Ballon d’Or also has goal of the year. Zlatan Ibrahimovic won for this:

October 28, 2013

October 28th 2013

People say that when a club is bought out by a billionaire it loses its soul. This myth was absolutely busted last night when the two richest clubs in England played last night. Chelsea v Manchester City, Russian billionaires v Arab billionaires. Or if you will James Bond villains v Jack Ryan villains. These two clubs are hated by football purists by buying their success, however last night they showed how friendly they can be, with Chelsea making it easier for their opponents by only having shots on goal from offside positions. Manchester City were not to be outdone though, and thought it only fair that their goalkeeper Joe Hart should run halfway across the field so Fernando Torres could score the winner in injury time. What great sports. Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City

The weekend’s big game in Australia was the Sydney derby, played to a packed house on Saturday night. Sydney FC showing the great defensive acumen that manager Frank Farina is known for, as their centre backs stood completely still for Shinji Ono to score the opener. It brought back great memories of when Farina lead the Socceroos to an inspiring 3-0 thumping by Uruguay to end our World Cup dreams. Sydney FC 0-2 Western Sydney Wanderers

It wasn’t the only big derby played over the weekend, Sunderland beat Newcastle in a victory for animal rights everywhere. Last time these two rivals played the big story was an angry Newcastle fan punched a horse in the face. Reports that after this 2-1 defeat some ducks were molested have gone unconfirmed…

The Glasgow Derby used to be one of the biggest matches on the football calendar. However since the death of Rangers FC in 2012 there hasn’t been one, until last night, and it was a classic. A lot of people didn’t think that Celtic v Partick Thistle would reach the heights of the old Celtic v Rangers matches but they were wrong! Celtic triumphed 2-1 in an epic battle for bragging rights! Firhill Stadium’s home support was silenced by Amido Balde’s 75th minute strike. Although that was because one of the home support had gone to the toilet but the other five were pretty gobsmacked.

Goal of the week is the winner from the El Clasico on Saturday night. I was trying to write about this match but really it was too good to make jokes about. I love these matches. Apologies about the quality of the video, any decent ones are geoblocked or some other computer term I don’t understand.

September 30, 2013

With the oval shaped football season finishing in Australia, people will slowly be realizing that the round ball game is happening in Europe, and things are certainly getting interesting over that side of the planet. In England, both Manchester teams are playing really badly with United losing to West Brom at home on Saturday night. Normally that would be cause for great celebration for Man City, but they were beaten 3-2 by Aston Villa. Now it’s easy to pick on the struggling teams, not to mention fun, but who’s playing well?

Tottenham – who bought a cavalcade of great player on the off season.
Arsenal – who only bought one.
Chelsea – who bought in some great kids and of course, Bond villain manager Jose Mourinho.
And finally Liverpool – who are setting themselves up for their traditional good start to a season then choking magnificently against the struggling clubs. Sadly for Liverpool though, it looks like the struggling club this year will be their arch rivals from Manchester.

In Scotland the ladder is topped by Inverness Caledonian Thistle, usually only famous for being the home of Scotland’s biggest celebrities, Nessie and James Bond.

In Italy, perennial underachievers Roma sit at the top of the table, what’s next? A Pope that embraces homosexuality? Oh.

In Spain the Madrid derby was played out on Saturday night and Atletico upset Real 1-0! In the French leagues, Monaco are playing exciting attacking football, FC Twente and PSV Eindhoven are making the Dutch league a great contest, Porto and Benfica are taking the Portuguese title down to the wire it is all happening! Such a pity daylight savings starts this week and now all games will be played at stupid o’clock and Australians will lose all interest.

Goal of the Week –

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 27, 2013

May 27th, 2013

And there we go – that’s club football over for another season!
On Saturday night Bayern Munich defeated Borussia Dortmund 2-1 to be crowned champions of Europe. The all German final, which was nicknamed “The Sausagefest” by certain bloggers, was decided by a bit of Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben magic in the dying minutes. Munich has not celebrated this hard since… well, last October.

What to watch during the off season? Well there’s the Socceroos’ final World Cup Qualifiers, against traditional rivals Japan, Jordan and Iraq. We should be okay. Don’t listen to the panic of the mainstream media. For calm analysis just follow me on twitter @dannymcginlay where I also RT funny jokes.

Keeping with international matches, the Confederations Cup will play out in Brazil next month. This is a dress rehearsal for next year’s world cup and is played out by all the great sides – Brazil, Spain, Italy, Nigeria, Mexico, Uruguay, Japan and of course Tahiti. This blogger is completely on Team Tahiti as all of Australia should be! A phrase you will hear a lot over the next month – Tahiti’s On! [Say it aloud… still don’t get it? Neither did my wife. But English isn’t her first language.]

To end the year I leave you with my three favourite moments of the 2012-2013 season.
#3 Celtic 2-1 Barcelona.
The Glasgow club were celebrating their 125th birthday, and they did it by defeating the greatest team in the world! Fairytale stuff. The only thing that ruins the memory of that night is the music in this video – I really tried to get better highlights. Sorry.

#2 Victory 2-1 Heart
For some reason the Victorians always struggled to beat their cross town rivals Heart, and at the Christmas Derby it looked like the boys in red had scored an unlikely draw – but Archie Thompson had other thoughts –

#1 Cute Kid 1-0 Desire to not have kids.
The Chelsea reserve goalkeeper Ross Turnbull’s two year old son takes over the end of season speeches by scoring the cutest goal in the history of everything.

May 6, 2013

May 6th, 2013

As I wrote last week, it’s a weird time for football as most of the big leagues’ champions have been decided. What I didn’t realize is, so many English Premier League players must read my blog! My words seemed to have influenced the players from Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton. Last night was supposed to be a “Super Sunday”, where the EPL program some juicy grudge matches and derbies for the viewing public, however in both the Merseyside Derby and the Chelsea v Man Utd match all players put in very dull performances. The early match finished Liverpool 0-0 Everton, the later match ended as a 1-0 win to Chelsea, but only because United defender Phil Jones was so bored he kicked an own goal to liven things up. A few minutes later Rafael Da Silva was sent off for allegedly telling David Luiz a joke that was deemed too funny. Well thats the only explanation I have, because David Luiz was on the floor laughing. Surely a Chelsea player wouldn’t take a dive just to get an opponent sent off? No. It must be because of a funny joke. What’s Spanish for “My dog has no nose?” Classic.

Staying in Europe and a few more of the big leagues have crowned their winners. Juventus unsurprisingly taken the Italian title. True to form Juve won the match on a questionable penalty, the fans were elated, the coaches excited and the referee looked like he’d just won the lottery.

The Dutch league has been won by Ajax. Now the Eredivisie is probably the least known of the major European leagues here in Australia. So a bit about Ajax – they’re from Amsterdam, wear red and white, are the most supported club in the Netherlands, and have strong Jewish roots. I couldn’t find any celebrity fans of Ajax [pron. Aye-ax] but going by these parameters we can assume famous diarist Anne Frank was a supporter.

Galatasaray have won the Turkish league over fellow Istanbul teams Fenerbahce and Besiktas. Although the current Galatasaray team boasts Dider Drogba and Wesley Sneijder, according to the Australian media it is all due to the talents of Harry Kewell and Lucas Neill who both played for the club in the last five years. That’s clearly a joke, there’s no media coverage of soccer in Australia right now.

The Champions League final will be, as predicted, an all German affair with Bayern Munich taking on Borussia Dortmund. The two sides met in a league match overnight which ended in fights between players and staff alike. Bayern are the favourites to win the decider which happens on May 25th. Now I know what Aussies are like so I will save you some research – Uter from The Simpsons is from Dusseldorf which is geographically closer to Dortmund so he would be supporting Borussia.

Goal of the Week:

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