Danny's Football Bluff

March 17, 2014

St Patrick’s Day, 2014

Filed under: Weekly Wraps — Tags: , , , , , , , , — dannymcginlay @ 12:23 pm

Even though we are coming to the very pointy end of the A-League season, with finals places still up for grabs, the talk is all about one man and one incident – Besart Berisha. The Albanian striker opened up the scoring in Brisbane Roar’s 1-1 draw with Sydney. That’s not the issue, that’s what he’s paid for. The issue came twenty minutes later when he ninja kicked Seb Ryall. Seriously, he jumped with both heels up in a very dangerous tackle, then writhed in agony on the ground in a performance that even Ashton Kutcher would have deemed terrible. Brisbane fans don’t have to worry though, as Berisha is on his way to Melbourne Victory next year, where his dangerous tackles and horrible personality will make him Kevin Muscat’s favourite.

Leo Messi was his usual amazing self, scoring a hat trick for Barcelona in their 7-0 thrashing of Osasuna. Barca are still trailing both the Madrid teams in La Liga but if Messi continues this run of form then Barca will be back on top Osasuna rather than later.
[I’m really sorry]

Last night Liverpool beat Manchester United 3-0. Arsenal beat Tottenham 1-0. For both United and Spurs it was classic nightmare stuff. David Moyes was seen checking if he was wearing clothes. He was. It was all too real – the loss to their rivals, Alex Ferguson scowling from the stands, and of course the fact that he is one of the most hated men in football at the moment. Thankfully he is living in Manchester so he won’t actually meet many United fans.

The Premier League is really a four horse race now. Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City could all claim the title. Who do you want to win? Check the poll below! Personally I have no allegiance in the EPL* [I support Celtic] so I’m curious as to whom the general public wants to win.

*I used to live near West Ham so officially that’s my team, but I’m not that passionate about them. As an Australian with Scottish and Irish parents it’s against my DNA to cheer an English sports team.

Goal of the Week

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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

December 9, 2013

December 9th, 2013

Filed under: Weekly Wraps — Tags: , , , , , , — dannymcginlay @ 12:43 pm

All talk this weekend has been about how Australia has been drawn in the World Cup’s “Group of Death”. Lazy journalists say this every tournament so they’ll be relieved that this time it’s actually true. Australia will have to play Champions Spain, runners up Netherlands and the technically gifted Chile. Are we effed? Yeah pretty much, but if you want some optimism here you go –
1. Everyone will underestimate us. This is ideal for the Socceroos, we play our best football when we’ve been written off. See the entire 2006 World Cup campaign, plus our defeat of Serbia in the 2010 tournament. For more examples of underdogs prevailing, see any Disney film ever made.
2. Ange Postecoglou is a properly brilliant coach. He can make mediocre players do amazing things. The bigger the stage, the better his troops perform.
3. Alphabetically we win the group. Sadly not the whole tournament [stupid Algeria] but coming runners up is great for the game in this country.
4. Actually now that I think about it. We have two Disney style storylines happening in our squad. We have the young kids who nobody really believes in [Rogic, Kruse etc] who are like The Mighty Ducks, but also the old guard [Neill, Cahill, Bresciano] coming together for one last heist – like The Wild Bunch or Space Cowboys if you’re young. If we can just find some sort of talking animal, this World Cup is ours!

In other brief news – Manchester United lost at home again! This time to Newcastle. It’s looking like a very real possibility that the Red Devils may not even qualify for the Champions League. They’re 13 points adrift of league leaders Arsenal and three games behind rivals Liverpool & Man City. Coach David Moyes has remained on cliché, pleading with fans to “Keep the Faith” and that “There’s light at the end of the tunnel”. Sadly for Moyes the only cliché he’ll be saying at his next job might be “Big Issue”

In Major League Soccer – two of the most optimistically named American teams played off for the MLS Cup last night. Sporting Kansas City thrilled fans of Portuguese-Midwest sports franchises by defeating Real Salt Lake City in a penalty shoot out. Although this result has devastated Morman Spaniards worldwide, there’s always next year, or as they say in Salt Lake City – tomorrow is a latter day.

Goal of the Week comes from Groundskeeper Willie’s team – Aberdeen!

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.

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 –

September 23, 2013

September 23rd, 2013

The Manchester Derby is now one of the greatest spectacles in world football, up until the last few years the only interest was how much would United win by? These days though now that City have enough money to make Scrooge McDuck look like he should be selling the Big Issue, it’s usually a great spectacle. Last night I went in to the Charles Dickens Hotel in Melbourne to take in the big match. Now I don’t mind United, my Uncle Ron supports them and watching Dwight Yorke dominate in the late 90s is one my most enduring memories of my teens. However as I learned more about the English game I came to realize they can be a shower of wankers at times. City on the other hand, you can’t help but feel sorry for, until you realize they have simply bought all their recent success. These factors usually end up with me being a neutral observer in the City v United games. Last night however there was one youngish Red Devils fan who decided an hour before the match was the right time to start singing United songs at the top of his voice. He carried on for 30 minutes, despite nobody else in the pub joining in. He’s determination to continue would have been impressive if it wasn’t so completely irritating. He also only knew three songs, which he did on rotation. I would go far as to say this lad was a typical Manchester United fan, as in he is steadfast in his love for the side, and has never visited Manchester in his life.

I left to watch the game at home, praying hard for City to thump their rivals so that dickhead would have a bad night. My prayers were answered! City smashed them 4-1. United’s tactics seemed to be allow City to hold possession then hope they find it in their hearts not to score a goal.

The other big derby last night was in Rome with AS Roma defeating Lazio 2-0. Francesco Totti, who has been at Roma since Julius Caesar granted him eternal life in 50bc, managed to draw a penalty in the 81st minute.

Sunderland have sacked their coach Paolo DiCanio. As was mentioned last week, DiCanio is proper mental. On Saturday after Sunderland were defeated by West Bromwich Albion 3-0, DiCanio approached his own fans offering to fight them. He will now spend his days writing angry emails to newspapers about the fluoridisation of water.

Socceroo Robbie Kruse scored twice for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. He is looking very likely to join Australia’s World Cup squad for Brazil next year. He is apparently looking forward to spending some quality time on the bench.

Goal of the Week –

September 2, 2013

September 2nd, 2013

The more things change, the more things stay the same…

When David Moyes was the long suffering Everton manager he could never beat his cross town rivals Liverpool at their home ground of Anfield. However now that he is in charge of Manchester United, surely this means he will be playing the role of the Washington Generals no more… Nope! The Scousers defeated the Red Devils 1-0 in a pretty big upset. Admittedly United were without Wayne Rooney who tragically suffered a gash in his cheek when accidentally kicked in the face at training. Rooney’s face is said to be horribly disfigured, but the injury has not been able to improve that at all.

If David Moyes is Liverpool’s Washington Generals, then Arsenal are Tottenham Hotspur’s Tony Abbott. The Gunners have spent no money over summer, have a thin playing list and there are grave doubts over their manager’s ability to control the team… The Spurs on the other hand have a great young manager, have spent big and smart and are really doing everything right in their quest for the Premier League title… and yet…. Arsenal swatted them aside as easily as you can say “Stop the Boats”

**NB it appears in that last article that I am saying Kevin Rudd is a great young manager… he’s not but this blogger would pick him over Abbott any day.

The Champions League group stage draw is out and for the first time in history there is a “Group of Champions” – four teams in the one group who have all won Europe’s greatest prize. Group H consists of Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax and Celtic. With 16 Trophies together they will create a glorious feast for all football fans. My tip is Celtic will top the table. Easily. Shut up… you are.

What about the Aussies? I hear you ask, well yesterday I received a tweet from the FFA promising all the news of which Australian players did well for European clubs on the weekend… and all it told me was Mile Jedinak did okay for Crystal Palace. That’s it. World Cup 2022 could be a bad few weeks for us.

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 13, 2013

May 13th, 2013

On Saturday night the FA Cup proved to be magical with underdogs Wigan Athletic upsetting the moneybags of Manchester City 1-0 to claim the trophy. It was dramatic to the end with Ben Watson heading home the winner in injury time. It’s the first time in its 81 year history that Wigan has won some major silverware, not counting the World Pie Eating Contest. ***

You probably already heard but Sir Alex Ferguson has retired as the manager of Manchester United. Fergie won 13 league titles with the Red Devils and the Champions League twice. United have replaced the wee angry Scotsman who never smiles with David Moyes, who is a wee angry Scotsman who never smiles. Apparently after Moyes finishes his time managing the club the next in line is Groundskeeper Willie.
The media have talked about Sir Alex’s achievements but the reason for his retirement is pretty obvious, he was clearly petrified of taking on Ange Postecoglou and the A-League All Stars in July. Understandable.

Staying in England and the Championship play-offs have begun – those vying for a spot in the Premier League next year are Brighton, Crystal Palace, Watford and Leicester. Well Leicester was in the running, but not anymore. They cocked it up royally! In one of the most dramatic ends to a match in recent history, Leicester had a penalty awarded to them in injury time, but it was saved. Watford then ran the ball up the other end and scored the actual winner, all within 20 seconds. Brighton and Crystal Palace play off tomorrow morning Australian time – can they match the drama? Not likely, the first leg ended as a 0-0 snorefest.
***[Not a cheap joke, factually correct, seriously, google it.]

No matter how bad you’re day is going, take a moment to be grateful that you are not this Slovenian goalkeeper –

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