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Friday, 23 March 2012

Shedloads of Money, Shedloads of Problems

So now we know. A player CAN be bigger than the manager in Manchester. Sir Alex Ferguson has spent the best part of a quarter of a century arguing to the contrary, shipping off your David Beckhams, your Jaap Stams and your Roy Keanes at the faintest sign of dissent, but Roberto Mancini, hand forced or not, last night flew in the face of such folly, swapping a principled stand for a pragmatic one. That Carlos Tevez would have a huge hand in the winning goal with a delightful slide rule assist to Samir Nasri was almost a given; the scriptwriters have been in fine form at Eastlands this season.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Winning At A Cantera

"We're not bad, us"

Athletic Bilbao are a delight. ATHLETIC Bilbao, lest we forget. Seeds sown in the shipyards of Sunderland were reaped in the Basque country; a cantera policy that places the onus squarely on grass roots development within the reinforced framework of local identity. Though darlings of the anti-federalists, Athletic Bilbao were also set apart from their peers due to a proud adherence to la manera Inglesa (the English way), which became a sort of euphemism for a suspicion of flair, best evidenced under the stewardship of Javier Clemente. An altogether different proposition from the likes of Real Madrid then, this.

Marcelo Bielsa, though, is no aficionado of the anti-flair brigade. A different beast altogether, the Argentine might be known as El Loco, but in his madness there is ample method. At times last night during the Europa League win at Old Trafford, we were watching an old-fashioned schooling. A shoeing. A 3-2 thrashing.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Why England’s Brave John Terry Is The Perfect Man For The Chelsea Job Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love SEO

Says it all really doesn't it

Not since the abbreviation LOL was created by a tosser have three consecutive letters riled me as much as A, followed by V, ended by B. Towards the end of his reign, more people were actually laughing out loud when saying “AVB” than “LOL”. In fact, Andre Villas-Boas himself was busy LOLing by the end as he sat back, moaned, thought of the severance package he was about to get his hands on, and then moaned some more.

With Villas-Boas consigned to the Abramovich scrap heap of Big Names that can’t win Big Cups, the search is now on for someone to buck the trend. But, of course, when winning the club a league title for the first time in 50 years isn’t enough (Jose Mourinho), indeed, winning the domestic double isn’t either (Carlo Ancelotti), you’d need to be either a mercenary (Sven-Goran Eriksson), or have been out of England so long you’d forgotten what people are actually like (Rafa Benitez), to want the Chelsea job. Or maybe you’d need to be something else entirely...