Monthly Archives: May 2013

Roberto Mancini Canned: Some Reactions

Oh come on, it was always going to happen. We can’t even act surprised anymore. Man City are built on such unsustainable principles of huge transfer and wage expenditure that they basically have to fire their manager if they don’t win the Prem/Champions League.

They were all drinking from the cocktail of business failure made from one part sky-high expectations, one part massive expenditure, one part under-performing prima donnas, shaken over language barriers, and served with a dash of Champions League inexperience all poured into a glass shaped like Samir Nasri’s head.

Let’s see how the people in-the-know are reacting:

Roberto Mancini

Naawwww. Well yes actually, I just begin every sentence with that. Suppose I won’t be doing that anymore. No more bike rides in my spandex to the training ground, no more shouting ‘Frosties’ in Italian at Steven Gerrard, no more sharp, fashionable hats. After my disinterested players lost to Wigan I thought dissing the incredibly, incredibly powerful management above me was the perfect way to keep my job. And Pellegrini to take over? Just look at his wrinkles! Bet he doesn’t even have a Milanese suit.

Sheikh Mansour

Huh. The Manchester City Blues didn’t win the league. And we lost to Athletico Wigan in the Football Cup. I had to fire Mr. Mancini because the senior board members of the private equity firm said it was the right thing to do. Oh well at least we’re getting nearer to hosting the World Cup here in UAE. All I have to keep doing is pumping some spare change in and we’ll win things now and then. At least I’m the deputy Prime Minister of a country to keep me busy while the board decide who to appoint.

‘Dammit, how many of these are there down this sofa?’

Man City Fans

Okay, we don’t have to replicate United in every aspect. Finally a weakness in those bloody arrogant Reds has opened up and we get rid of Bob. Sure we never looked like winning the title this season. In fact Chelsea might well take our 2nd place spot. And that loss to Wigan. I’ll be living that down at work for another few weeks. Plus I only caught us winning in Europe like three times in two seasons…actually why wasn’t he sacked sooner?

Mark Hughes

A-ha! See if you just point money at all highly rated players then you get fired! Sure I know his objective was a lot harder than mine. And he actually accomplished it at one point, as well as picking up an FA Cup. And he’s younger than me. Sigh, someone hire me.

‘Send it to every player who is worth £20mil or more and has one year left on their contract’

Manuel Pellegrini

So they’ll add another zero to my salary and I don’t have to change any of my scarves. I’ll deny it until Malaga’s last game and then I’ll fly over.

The Man City Dressing Room

Barry: Well despite all our huffing and puffing on the pitch, Mancini’s out lads.

Milner: You really huffed and puffed around the pitch well Gaz.

Barry: Thanks James, but no one huffs and puffs harder than you.

Nasri: What about me? I’ve been putting in a real shift!

Everyone: …

Kompany: This is useless guys, we’re all going to fall apart!

Clichy: No way, I am fully dedicated to…umm

Kompany: For god’s sake, it’s written on your hand!

Clichy: I know I know. Man City. I wanted to get it without looking.

Tevez: Tevez sad.

Kompany: Look at poor Carlos, he won’t touch his food and keeps trying to sneak off to the golf course.

Rodwell and Sinclair: Don’t worry this club has a bright future in us!

Kompany: Hi, It’s Vincent Kompany here, yeah hi, is that Mr.Guardiola?

Post or Worse

What can you say? He knew the game he was getting himself into. With all that money to spend it was always going to be down to the boss to blend his purchases together. Bob did that well for two seasons, but in this last season City haven’t been an attacking force.

Italians have strict defensive lines running through their blood but with Aguero, Tevez, Silva, and Toure in the side it isn’t acceptable to fail to score against Wigan in an open game that should have meant so much. The attractive football that was signaled by these signings never materialised with consistency and it’s this that cost Roberto his job.

The stories emerging now about him being too distant from his players sound like the whines of prima donna players, and he should be remembered as a good manager. If for nothing more than that title-winning goal.

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Super Frank Lampard Hits Record: His Top Five Goals

While Wigan had jaws dropping around the British Isles (and Mancini looking worriedly at the exit door), another footballing achievement was, well…achieved.

Between the years 1959 and 1970, and in a mere 370 appearances, Chelsea striker Bobby Tambling scored a mammoth 202 goals.

The record went unthreatened until Kerry Dixon made it to 193 in 1992, but he stopped there. Didier Drogba’s age caught up with him before he could surpass 157. But one East Londoner just didn’t know when to stop stuffing one in the onion bag, and on Saturday one Frank Lampard matched the record, and then broke it, notching up a delightful 203.

While Tambling racked his tally up in a much shorter time, Lampard’s record shines because of his location in central midfield. And I’m not talking van Rafael van der Vaart midfield here; the one where you play like a slow striker and don’t even know what your half of the field looks like. I’m talking someone who is there to intercept passes, set up counter attacks, add bodies to attack, and most prominently: bag dem goals. And there are few CM’s that are so incisive in attack.

‘Hey look over there…too late, I’ve scored’

Lamps didn’t just throw himself in the goal like monkey chasing a rabbit, and he would rarely sit on the edge waiting to reignite failed attacks like Paul Scholes (although I would never criticise the Scholesy). No Frank would be there, on the end of that cross every time. On his weak foot? In the net. On his head? In the net. Generally near him in the six yard box? You guessed it, you’re one-nil down.

‘For god’s sake’ you mutter like a 60 year old, ‘he was unmarked’. Yeah there’s a trend to that isn’t there? He seems to always lose his marker or be in front of the defender?

And it’s all because Lampard has the timing of a Swiss rail network – bang on the money.

With the timing of Gary Lineker delivering the punchline in a Walker’s commercial, Lamps would ghost into the box and finish with the certainty of Ruud van Nistelrooy. He has a cracker from distance when he fancied too, and has people paying millions for the collector’s item that was a missed penalty.

He is a squeaky clean profession, who maybe was never at his best for England, but gives his all for Chelsea and was at the heart of every bit of success at that club for the past twelve years. Let’s have a gander at some of his finest goals and celebrate Super Frankie Lamps, all time Chelsea top scorer:

Champions League Quarter Final vs Bayern Munich, 2005

Champions League Group Stage vs Barcelona, 2006

FA Cup Final vs Everton, 2009 (Winning Goal)

Premier League vs Hull, 2008

Premier League vs Aston Villa, 2013

The record matching and breaking goals. The first is a leader’s goal, pulling the Blues into the game with a confident strike. The second, for me, is the textbook Lampard goal. From playing an intelligent ball out wide to carefully drifting in for the kill, his movement and timing are 10/10. An example to every central midfielder and many strikers.

Hey look, I did the whole article without mentioning Gerrard…


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FA Cup Final: The 90th Anniversary of ‘The White Horse Final’

In a few hours the 90th edition of English football’s real gristle in your meat pie tournament, the FA Cup will take place and hopefully be a humdinger.

This years contestants are a great match up that represent the ideal behind the cup; on the one hand you have the Goliath that is Man City, riding on a wave of oil with international superstars, and on the other is David (Whelan) in the form of humble Wigan – a well run club with a small fan base.

Only not today. Ever since the ancient Druids saw a large wolf fighting a smaller one, we have always loved an underdog. Minus the small light blue section of Manchester, everyone else will be cheering on the Latics.

But will the majority be celebrating? Probably not. Wigan are rife with injuries, especially in defence and are still stinging from the Swansea defeat. They can take a small beam of hope in the fact that Mancini intends to continue using his Cup squad, so who knows? Maybe Pantilimon will have a ‘mare in goal and Mcmanaman will continue to reach his potential.

...but not this potential

…but not this potential

Anyway, I want to take you back the best part of a century to the 1923 FA Cup final, or should I say ‘The White Horse Final’.

But first a little context:

The finalists were Bolton Wanderers vs West Ham. Since the third round Bolton had won each game 1-0, and David Jack had scored that goal each time. West Ham meanwhile got full use out of the old replay rule to get past Southampton at the third time of asking, and then thrash Derby.

The official capacity for Wembley back in these days was a mammoth 125,000, which included King George V, so you wouldn’t be surprised that in a day before electronic tickets and gates, some extra fans got in the ground. You probably wouldn’t even be surprised to learn that the official count that day was 126,047.

However, you would be surprised to know that the real number was estimated around a ginormous 300,000.

Spot the King

Spot the King

Yeah that’s right. A ridiculousness of 300,000 people really decided they were up for some footy that day. Obviously this causes a problem: where the hell do you put well over double your capacity of people?

and obviously the answer is all over the pitch

…and obviously the answer is all over the pitch

But this being the year 1923 there was no fuss along the lines of ‘are these people safe?’ or ‘did any of them pay to get in?’ or ‘why did we bother with stewards?’. No, after a reasonable 45 minute delay the game kicked off, with supporters put wherever they could fit.

They were jammed around the edges of the pitch, even spilling onto the pitch in places. Take a look at some photos of the madness:

All those hats...a badge seller could've made a killing...

All those hats…a badge seller could’ve made a killing…

You can just see how this type of situation would work nowadays when Suarez plays at Old Trafford

You can just see how this type of situation would work nowadays when Suarez plays at Old Trafford

So how did these raucous (for the time) fans stay in check? Well if you look back up to the second photo of the game, up in the left-hand corner of the field, you’ll see a giant, magnificent white stallion. Called Billie.

Billie was one of a few horses ridden by police officers to keep the crowds at bay. And he became an iconic image of a game that become notorious in the day.

His legacy even lives on now, as the footbridge outside the modern Wembley is called ‘White Horse Bridge’ after him. George Scorey, the horse’s rider was awarded a supply of future FA Cup final tickets for his deeds on the day, but ironically he didn’t like football and never used them.

As for the game, that man David Jack popped up with a goal in the 2nd minute, a lead which Bolton doubled to win. The West Ham manager’s excuse? “It was that white horse thumping its big feet into the pitch that made it hopeless. Our wingers were tumbling all over the place, tripping up in great ruts and holes

Ahh, the magic of the cup…Seriously though, like twenty people were hospitalised…

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