Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The fruit is on the other foot

The fruit is on the other foot

I like to think of myself as a chilled individual. Admittedly, I’m not as laid back as the wife, but that’s a result of her lifestyle.

The fruit is on the other foot

Being cool, calm and occasionally collected, I’ve been stunned by the overreaction to the minor disagreement during the Carling Cup final. The term ‘handbags’ is an outrageous exaggeration; the wife throws more punches on a Sunday afternoon when I try to dislodge her from the mattress.

The sending off of Adebayor was particularly perplexing. Emmanuel appeared innocent, yet was punished severely; which coincidentally was the plot of the DVD i watched after the match. I’m getting stuck into the 8/15 for an Arsenal win over Reading.

I’m beginning to worry about the wife’s sister. Her infatuation with me is almost certainly a result of deeply rooted psychological problems brought on by low self-esteem. Sweet. I’m not passing up the chance to get on Wigan at 3/1 to beat Manchester City.

The Beatles may have told the world that ‘money can’t but you love’; but Wayne Rooney found the flaw in that romantic fallacy. The word on the street is that Wayne is set to marry Coleen, and the street people are certainly in the loop. I’m romantically involved with the 7/4 about Liverpool denting Manchester United’s title charge.

We all have our little quirks, except for Birds of a Feather. The wife’s sister has a foot fetish; I originally thought she was just pulling my leg. I’m dipping my toes into the 9/4 for a draw between Fulham and Aston Villa.

Unlike the wife’s sister, Middlesbrough have only tasted defeat on one occasion this year. You must back the Boro at 11/4 to win at Newcastle; i’m putting my foot down.

Andy Johnson is never far from a ‘diving’ controversy. The miniature hitman had the finger pointed at him again last week, which was more than enough for him to tumble to the ground. Sheffield United can take a point off the Toffeemen at an unsteady 9/4.

Frank Lampard should feel ashamed of himself for squaring up to little Cesc Fabregas. Lamps could have picked on someone his own size; but in all fairness, Pauline Quirke was rehearsing for a musical. Chelsea can turn over Pompey at a mammoth 3/5.

The last five matches between Bolton and Blackburn have either been goalless or settled by a single strike; this is a genuine clash of the tight-uns. I’m jumping on the 17/2 for ‘no goalscorer’ like it was a Russian tennis player. Preferably not Davydenko.

There’s an air of impending doom surrounding Alan Curbishley and West Ham. They say it’s never over until the lady of a fuller figure breaks into song; ‘Birds of a Feather, the musical’ opens on Sunday evening. Spurs can hammer another nail into the Curb’s coffin at 13/10.

The wife’s mother has asked to proofread my weekly betting preview to ensure that I’m not making any cheap digs at her expense. No matter how much she pleads; she’s not getting her hands on my column. Charlton can keep their survival dreams alive with a win at the Vicarage at 9/5.

Frank Lampard is not happy with this week’s accumulator. Apparently, it’s so mouthwatering; he’s struggling to concentrate on the upcoming ruck with Pauline Quirke. Last week’s accer obliged at 25/1; Arsenal, Charlton, Chelsea and Tottenham will follow suit at a beefy 15/1.

Copyright (c) Gerry McDonnell &

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Books on Football

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Japanese Soccer News

Xerox Super Cup

Gamba Osaka have won the 2007 Xerox Super Cup, comprehensively outclassing Urawa Reds 4-0, in front of 35,307 fans at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

Brazilian Magno Alves was the star for Gamba, netting a scrappy hat-trick as new signing Bare looked on from the bench.

The Osakans completely dominated this match, but it was not until the thirty-first minute that they opened the scoring, when Alves converted the rebound from Yasuhito Endo's blocked shot.

Midfielder Takahiro Futagawa then smashed home from the edge of the area, to double Gamba's advantage just before the break.

Missing several stars through injury, including 2006 J-League MVP Marcus Tulio Tanaka, as well as Satoshi Horinouchi, Makoto Hasebe and Takahito Soma, Urawa were second-best throughout this match.

Magno Alves scored his second after sixty-seven minutes, finishing from a tight angle to put the game beyond Urawa's reach. He completed his hat-trick after eighty-five minutes, before receiving a standing ovation from the Gamba faithful when substituted a minute later.

The result avenged Gamba's loss to Urawa in the 2006 Xerox Super Cup, which the Reds won 3-1. It was Gamba's first victory over Urawa since November 12, 2005, when Gamba beat the Reds 2-1, en route to claiming the 2005 J-League crown.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman &

Japanese Soccer News 27 February 2007

Japanese Soccer News 27 February 2007
Xerox Super Cup

Gamba Osaka have won the 2007 Xerox Super Cup, comprehensively outclassing Urawa Reds 4-0, in front of 35,307 fans at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

Brazilian Magno Alves was the star for Gamba, netting a scrappy hat-trick as new signing Bare looked on from the bench.

The Osakans completely dominated this match, but it was not until the thirty-first minute that they opened the scoring, when Alves converted the rebound from Yasuhito Endo's blocked shot.

Midfielder Takahiro Futagawa then smashed home from the edge of the area, to double Gamba's advantage just before the break.

Missing several stars through injury, including 2006 J-League MVP Marcus Tulio Tanaka, as well as Satoshi Horinouchi, Makoto Hasebe and Takahito Soma, Urawa were second-best throughout this match.

Magno Alves scored his second after sixty-seven minutes, finishing from a tight angle to put the game beyond Urawa's reach. He completed his hat-trick after eighty-five minutes, before receiving a standing ovation from the Gamba faithful when substituted a minute later.

The result avenged Gamba's loss to Urawa in the 2006 Xerox Super Cup, which the Reds won 3-1. It was Gamba's first victory over Urawa since November 12, 2005, when Gamba beat the Reds 2-1, en route to claiming the 2005 J-League crown.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman &

2007 K-League Preview: Part Two

Seongnam lift 2006 K-League trophy
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma

The champions are still warm from their seventh title triumph that was achieved at the start of a winter that has yet to leave the Land of the Morning Calm.

As they say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and Seongnam haven’t been too busy in the transfer market. 2006 top scorer Woo Sung-young has gone and his goals will be missed but at the age of 33, he has been traded in for a younger model – Kim Dong-hyun.

The former Suwon striker has spent the past two seasons in Portugal with Braga and Russian club Rubin Kazan. Kim may be younger but, as yet, is far less dangerous than the wily Woo in front of goal. Choi Sung-kuk is another expensive addition at over $2 million. “Little Maradona” may not be a prolific goalscorer either but his silky skills do cause problems around the penalty area.

Star striker Mota is fit and ready to show the other marksman in Korea how to score and with national team stars such as Kim Doo-hyun, Kim Sang-sik, Kim Young-chul and Kim Yong-dae, there is a solid spine to Seongnam.

Key Player: Kim Doo-hyun
Last Season: Champions
Next Season: Third

Suwon Samsung Bluewings

Runners-up last season, Suwon are hoping to go one better this time around. The biggest transfer story of the winter was the decision of Ahn Jung-hwan to abandon, for the moment at least, his dream of playing in England or Spain. Much depends on the form and attitude of the Lord of the Ring, a player who always seems to have his mind on his next destination.

Suwon’s midfield is a stellar one with Kim Nam-il, Baek Ji-hoon and Lee Kwan-woo spending the second half of last season becoming a formidable unit. With a strong defence, the forward line was the weak link and if Ahn can find his scoring from of the last time he was in the K-League prior to his move to Italy in 2000 then Suwon could be in line for a fourth title.

Key Player: Ahn Jung-hwan
Last Season: Runners-up
Next Season: Runners-up

Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i

The Tigers were toothless in 2006 and a repeat of such a boring season will be unacceptable. It is unlikely however as Kim Jung-nam has been very active in the transfer market.

$2 million seems a lot to secure the services of national team goalkeeper Kim Young-kwang from Chunnam Dragons but Ulsan suffered from goalkeeping problems in 2006.

The midfield has a much stronger look about it this time around. Oh Jang-eun was one of the stars of 2006 for Daegu and if he can repeat his aggressive midfield play this time around then Ulsan will be delighted – he will be helped by the return of the much-under-rated 2005 captain Hyun Yong-min who spent last season in Russia with Zenit St Petersburg.

Choi Sung-kuk’s skill may be missed but Woo Sung-young knows where the goal is – if can teach his new team-mates, a good season should be in store.

Want-away winger Lee Chun-soo is still seething after his proposed move to England and Wigan fell through in January. The 25 year-old is desperate to move in the summer but if he shines before then, Ulsan fans could be smiling especially as another talented winger Chung Kyung-ho has returned from military service.

Key Player: Oh Jang-eun
Last season: 5th
Next Season: Champions

Chunnam Dragons

Could this be the year for Chunnam – a first title for Jeolla Province? The team has been busy in the transfer market and if the new signings gel then the 2006 FA Cup winners could finally make an impact in the league.

Chunnam couldn’t stop drawing last season and if the team can start to convert such results into wins then they will not be far away from the top as they don’t lose many.

Goalkeeper Kim Young-kwang has gone but the club has spent the money well. Kim Chi-woo is one of the best left-sided players in Korea and Incheon United may regret letting him go. Fellow international Kim Jin-kyu returns to his old club after a two-year spell in Japan with Jubilo Iwata.

It is in attack that the club could struggle. Sandro Hiroshi was injured for much of last season but the Japanese-Brazilian is a competent poacher.

Key Player: Sandro Hiroshi
Last Season: Sixth
Next Season: Fourth

Pohang Steelers

Pohang are in serious danger of taking over the “nearly men” tag that Ulsan had to bear until their 2005 title triumph. Only four previous titles stops the Steelers from doing so but two play-off defeats in the past three years – both at the hands of Suwon -suggests that the team is lacking something.

It probably isn’t Lee Dong-guk. The Middlesbrough striker’s contribution to the Pohang cause over the past few years has been peripheral. Without the Lion King, players such as Tavares, Hwang Jin-sung, Oh Beom-seok and Koh Ki-goo have the chance to shine.

Coach Sergio Farias is starting his third season in South Korea and has a solid base but the team still lacks the little something extra to challenge the likes of Seongnam and Suwon.

Key Player: Oh Beom-seok
Last Season: play-offs
Next Season: Fifth

FC Seoul

It will be interesting to see how Seoul perform under new coach Senol Gunes. There are some good players in the capital, not least the under-rated Kim Eun-jung. The Turk has yet to make the expected signings but perhaps he intends to develop the young talent that the club is becoming renowned for.

He will have a honeymoon period of sorts. A top six place is expected and is within reach. First though, he needs to show the fans that the team is capable of playing some entertaining football.

Much depends on the form of Park Chu-young. If the striker, still only 21, can put a difficult second season behind him (though he still managed seven goals) then Seoul have a chance.

Key Player: Park Chu-young
Last season: Play-offs
Next Season: Sixth

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

It is debatable just how much the club’s march to the Asian Champions League title cost them in the domestic arena. 2006 was a dreadful one at home but there are no excuses this time around. As champions of Asia, the Motors have a bye into the quarter-finals of the 2007 competition.

After the money earned from the competition win and subsequent participation in FIFA’s Club World Championship, coach Choi Kang-hee talked of strengthening for the 2006 season.

After Botti left for Japan, the signings have been solid rather than spectacular - Kim Han-won from Incheon as well as Jeju pair Choi Chul-woo and Byun Jae-sub are decent players but perhaps fans in the south-west expected a little more. Still, there are some good players at the club and if the likes of Kim Hyeung-bom, Yeom Ki-hoon and Ze Carlo can show their continental form in the K-League then there could be some domestic happiness in Jeonju.

The capture of the top scorer of the Macedonian league Stevica Ristic is an interesting one and if he links up well with Ze Carlo then a good season could lie ahead.

Key Player: Kim Hyeung-beom
Last season: 11th
Next Season: Seventh

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile

Monday, February 26, 2007

Japanese Soccer News Xerox Super Cup 2007

Xerox Super Cup 2007.
Xerox Super Cup

Gamba Osaka have won the 2007 Xerox Super Cup, comprehensively outclassing Urawa Reds 4-0, in front of 35,307 fans at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

Brazilian Magno Alves was the star for Gamba, netting a scrappy hat-trick as new signing Bare looked on from the bench.

The Osakans completely dominated this match, but it was not until the thirty-first minute that they opened the scoring, when Alves converted the rebound from Yasuhito Endo's blocked shot.

Midfielder Takahiro Futagawa then smashed home from the edge of the area, to double Gamba's advantage just before the break.

Missing several stars through injury, including 2006 J-League MVP Marcus Tulio Tanaka, as well as Satoshi Horinouchi, Makoto Hasebe and Takahito Soma, Urawa were second-best throughout this match.

Magno Alves scored his second after sixty-seven minutes, finishing from a tight angle to put the game beyond Urawa's reach. He completed his hat-trick after eighty-five minutes, before receiving a standing ovation from the Gamba faithful when substituted a minute later.

The result avenged Gamba's loss to Urawa in the 2006 Xerox Super Cup, which the Reds won 3-1. It was Gamba's first victory over Urawa since November 12, 2005, when Gamba beat the Reds 2-1, en route to claiming the 2005 J-League crown.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman &

J.League News

Sunday, February 25, 2007

UEFA Cup Draw Last 16 2007

UEFA Cup Draw Last 16.
UEFA Cup Draw Last 16
Games to be played March 14 & 15

Braga v Tottenham Hotspur
Celta Vigo v Werder Bremen
Glasgow Rangers v Osasuna
Lens v Leverkusen
Newcastle v AZ Alkmaar
Maccabi Haifa v Espanyol
Sevilla v Shakhtar Donestsk
PSG v Benfica

Friday, February 23, 2007

World Soccer News 02/22/2007

Soccer news report.
Soccer news 02/22/2007

Fans have been dealt with, now it's the players' turn

The strict legal norms in force in the United Kingdom have largely restrained once frightening soccer fans. It is not entirely impossible that soccer players will one day be put under control as well. That additional legal and educational measures are indicated has been confirmed again by the bulk of the Liverpool squad that ran riot in Portugal.
Several days before their triumphant display at Nou Camp, 15 players took advantage of coach Rafael Benítez's absence and left the camp in Vale do Lobo to have a little fun at a night club. The usual effects of alcohol did not take too long to set in and Craig Bellamy even beat up John Arne Riise with a golf club when the Norwegian refused his plea to sing caraoke.
Since not even the noble attempts of captain Steven Gerrard were enough to calm the naughty players down, the police were called to escort the squad to their training camp, but the trouble continued. The most intoxicated among the players, Dudek, Fowler and Pennant, took it out on cars, power boxes and the interiors of their rooms with the help of golf clubs. The police have intervened again and Dudek had to be cuffed to be put under control. Liverpool fined all the 15 merry partygoers and ordered them to play better than usual against Barcelona, which they did, especially Bellamy and Riise who conspired to score the winning goal at a venue infrequently conquered by visitors.

Lineker dissuades Cristiano from joining Barcelona

The former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker disappointed his one-time employers by giving unsolicited advice to Cristiano Ronaldo regarding his career moves.
"Although it is true that he could earn more in Italy or Spain, he would do best to stay in the Premiership. Camp Nou is a huge stadium, but unless Real Madrid play, it is mostly silent. Cristiano would miss the Old Trafford ambience every week," said Lineker, explaining that his advice was only designed to keep the best players in the Premier League, rather than denying Barcelona a player the Catalans desire.
Barcelona and Real Madrid are two of the clubs linked with Cristiano Ronaldo and it has even been rumoured that Barça would be ready to sell Ronaldinho or Eto'o in order to raise funds to pay Manchester United for the Portuguese superstar.

Italy overthrow Brazil on FIFA's chart

The world champions Italy have finally climbed to the top of the FIFA's world ranking, replacing Brazil, who spent 55 months leading the bunch. There is a usual delay between the time a team achieves a result on the field and the moment the result is reflected on the FIFA's chart. This explains why it has taken Italy seven months to overtake Brazil, eliminated in the quarterfinals of the last World Cup.
France, beaten World Cup finalists, have yet to see their achievement recognized by FIFA's sophisticated mathematicians and statisticians, since they are currently ranked fourth, behind Argentina and ahead of Germany. England are sixth while their toughest rivals in Euro 2008 qualifiers Croatia climbed from 15th to 12th.

Lothar Matthäus awaiting Beckenbauer's call to take over at Bayern

The unforgettable German international and a long-serving Bayern's soldier Lothar Matthäus says he would like to return to the club with which he reaped much success.
"I feel completely ready to become Bayern's coach and I only wait for chairman Franz Beckenbauer to give me a call. I follow events in Bundesliga on a daily basis and I plan to win the German championship as coach as well," Matthäus told German tabloid Bild.
The current Salzburg coach has won seven German titles, all of them with the Bavarians (1985, 1986, 1987, 1994, 1997, 1999 and 2000).
The current Bayern coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, agrees with Matthäus, foreseeing a great coaching career for his former player. "He will coach Bayern sooner or later," said Hitzfeld. Seeing how he's been doing in his second mandate in Munich, his prediction might just become reality sooner than he thinks.

Bolivia want to finish off Brazil with thin air

In order to defeat Brazil in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, to start later this year, Bolivia plans to entertain the five-time winners in the town of Potosí, at 4000 meters above the sea.
"If we are to play in Rio de Janeiro, at the temperature of 40° C and the humidity of 95%, then we have the right to chose the venue for our home game," said the coach Erwin "Platini" Sánchez. The Brazilians believe that playing on 4000 meters above the sea level could be dangerous for unadapted players, and certainly detrimental for the sporting interests of the visiting teams.
Last week Flamengo played a Copa Libertadores game against the local Real in Potosí (2-2), swearing they would never return to such heights again, but Conmebol said they had no legal grounds to ban the Potosí ground with respect to its geographical location.

Capello misses help from the referees

Fabio Capello used strange words while making a comment on the refereeing of Real's home game with Betis which ended goalless.
"We haven't been receiving too much help from the refs," said the Italian, more or less repeating the statement from two weeks earlier when his team were beaten 0-1 by Levante.
Real's soccer director Predrag Mijatovic was even more direct in his condemnation of the men in black or whatever colour they wear.
"I have a feeling referees are against us. We are given calls and handed cards no one understands," said the Montenegrin referring to David Beckham's sending-off against Betis. Incidentally, Real used to be the one satisfied with refs' calls, and the rival fans could only despair and chant the slogan "así, así, así gana el Madrid" (loosely, "that's the way Madrid win").

Pele dares Romario to prove his goals tally

The King of soccer and arguably the greatest of all time, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, also known as Pelé, is not all that convinced of Romario's claims he has scored 990 goals in his career. Only goals in official games (which includes full friendlies) should count, but it is suspected Romario has put in goals of all sorts, while the Brazilian FA tolerate it because they do not keep accurate stats.
"I would like him to score a thousand goals, but to prove his count is correct. For instance, I keep all the reports from my matches and the records of each and every one of the 1282 goals I scored. I suppose Romario also has such documents," taunted Pelé, not missing the occasion to remind his younger colleague that he scored his 1000th goal at 29, while Romario has yet to achieve such a feat at 41...even by his own calculations.

Ranieri put a foot with a killer metaphore

Parma, winners of four European trophies, is languishing deep in the Italian relegation zone. That's the fate of the club whose gigantic sponsor, Parmalat, went down a couple of years ago.
When the experienced coach Claudio Ranieri was brought in as saviour, during the presentation he told the players they need to kill their rivals. "Wounding will not do, only killing will." Since the words came only a few weeks after two deaths in the Italian soccer, the media objected to Ranieri's rhetoric.
"I am sorry I used a wrong metaphor, which is common in international soccer. I just wanted to encourage the relegation threatened team," a contrite Ranieri added later.

River's stadium closed for five games after fan trouble

Argentina giant River Plate will have to play five home games behind closed doors because of violent clashes between two ultra groups in the club's offices. Rival groups fought over the way money for fans should be shared, which incensed the country's FA and led them to pass the severe punishment.
In the meantime, the club stripped six prominent ultra leaders of their membership, virtually banning them from coming to see the home games at Monumental – once the gates reopen for fans.
River's chairman, José María Aguilar, rejected accusations he used to pay for ultra leaders' trips and that he had given them a percentage of Gonzalo Higuaín's transfer to Real Madrid, presumably to keep them quiet over losing a major star.
"All of this are lies, and River is the safest club in all of Argentina," concluded Aguilar.

K-League Season Preview: Part One

Incheon United

On the face of it, it hasn’t been the best of close seasons for Incheon. 2006 was a disappointment after 2005’s runners-up spot and the departure of players like Kim Chi-woo and Kim Han-won won’t help. With Jang Woe-ryeong spending a year studying in England,it remains to be seen what new, temporary coach Park I-cheon is made of.

Incheon are one of those teams who could just as easily spend the season fighting to finish above Gwangju at the bottom or Seongnam at the top. It is more likely though that they will finish no higher than mid-table. The team struggled to score last season and will probably do so again next time around unless Dzenan Radoncic reverts back to his sharp 2005 self and not the lazy 2006 version.

Key Player: Radoncic
Last season: Ninth
Next season: Eighth


2006 wasn’t a bad season at all for Daegu. The club had the second best record of all 14 teams away from home and if it wasn't for the second worst home record then they would have easily finished in the play-offs.

Fourth place in the second stage came on the back of six goals from midfielder Oh Jang-eun. Unfortuantely, he has made the short trip to the south-east coast and Ulsan. Two new Brazilians will be on display - Luis Carlos Fernandes and Maximiliano Carlos Estevez- but as anybody who follows the K-League knows, it is impossible to predict what form of samba the new boys will bring.

Key Player: Hwang Yoen-seok
Last season: Seventh
Next season: Ninth

Busan I’Park

It is ten years since the K-League trophy last resided in the second city. Andy Egli is about to embark on his first full season in charge but despite his work ethic, it is unlikely that the team has the firepower to trouble the big boys – a club that Busan no longer belong to.

Losing Popo is certainly not going to help. The Brazilian was certainly the most impressive overseas player in the league last season, scoring 13 and making five from midfield. The addition of goalkeeper Seo Dong-myung and Park Kyu-seon from Ulsan and the return of Luciano from Gyeongnam add depth to a squad that is lacking in quality.

Key Player: Lee Hyun-sung
Last season: Eighth
Next season: Tenth


It was a difficult first season for the club but first season’s are usually tough. Seconds are not usually much better but the addition of Popo will be a huge help. Even with the talented Brazilian, it is unlikely that the south coast outfit will extend their season by finishing in the play-off spots.

Key Player: Popo
Last season: 12th
Next season: 11th

Daejeon Citizen

The club has some of the most passionate fans in the country but the team is still far from challenging at the top. They may have finished third in the first stage last year but finished third from bottom in the second, despite collecting only seven points less.

It is hard for the Citizen club to compete with the big boys and the loss of talisman Lee Kwan-soo to Suwon in mid-season hit hard.

At the moment, the club could be a solid mid-table outfit, though with the new league format, that could take them into the play-off.

If powerful striker Denilson can continue his scoring from the second half of last season and former Korean star Ko Jong-soo can show why he was once considered one of the best players in Asia, then the season could be reasonable.
Key Player: Denilson
Last season: 10th
Next season: 11th

Jeju United

It was a disappointing first season on the island for United. Bucheon had shown that they were starting to improve as a team and almost made the play-offs in 2005 but in Jeju the team looked poor for the most part.

Strikers like Choi Chul-woo and Irenue looked good for short spells but were never able to sustain any goalscoring form. Choi has gone as has Kim Kil-shik and Byun Jae-sub. It looks like being a tough season ahead for Jeju.

Lee San is an interesting signing however. The youngster spent his formative years with West Ham’s youth team before heading to Brentford and Sheffield United.

Key Player: Cho Jun-ho
Last season: 13th
Next season: 13th

Gwangju Sangmu

The loss of Chung Kyung-ho back to Ulsan is a blow for the military outfit but Gwangju are nothing if not accustomed to a high turnover of players. The ins and outs make it almost impossible for the club to compete in the K-League. It would be a shock in the team even looks like getting close to a top six finish. A top ten finish would be welcomed.

Key Player: Nam Kung-do

Last season: 14th
Next season: 14th

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Swing When You’re Tinning

Swing When You’re Tinning

Mark Twain once said that golf is a good walk spoiled; it is if a driver has been wrapped around your kneecaps.

Swing When You’re Tinning

The always controversial Craig Bellamy allegedly thrust his wood in the direction of John Arne Riise after a heavy night on the ale. Personally, I blame Jermaine Pennant; he started all this drinking and driving.

What most surprised me about the incident was the silence of the new American owners. As Bellamy swung the club, I’d have expected a shout of ‘You da man’ or ‘Get in the hole’.

Incredibly, the blaze of publicity has improved team morale. Bellamy and Riise both found the net in midweek; I’m definitely putting my wedge on Liverpool sinking Sheffield United at 4/11.

The row over a karaoke machine was so ridiculous; it reminded me of when the wife attacked me over something minor. In my defence, she told me she was 21. I’m piling into the 21/10 about Reading beating up Middlesbrough.

I found it outrageous that Gary Neville was struck by a missile in Manchester United’s win over Lille. I remember Robbie Fowler was involved in a similar incident a few years ago, but the Scouser’s throw ended up well short of the target. I’m throwing my dough on United to beat Fulham at 1/2.

Defeat for either side in the Charlton v West Ham match spells almost certain relegation and an estimated £50m loss. The stakes are so high; Pete Doherty is taking an interest.

On recent form and with home advantage, you have to fancy Charlton at 13/10. The Egg man will have to sell a shed-load of biscuits to recoup that amount of cash; he’s looking at two hours of trading after a Babyshambles gig.

Somewhat embarrassingly, I used to be an altar boy in my youth. I initially decided that a lifetime of celibacy was not for me; but after sleeping with the wife for six years, I’m reconsidering my position. Everton can leave the Vicarage with three points at 11/8.

Sam Allardyce has spoken of his fears for the future of English football, as the youth of today are ‘fat and lazy’. Frank Lampard is in consultation with his brief. Spurs must be backed at a chunky 11/10 to devour Bolton.

Emre has allegedly pleaded with Galatasaray to rescue him from his Newcastle nightmare. The sight of those shivering, shirtless Frank Lampard look-alikes in the crowd has finally broken the poor man’s spirit. I’m putting my shirt on a Wigan win over Newcastle at 8/5.

Let’s hope that Benjani is not relying on a goal scoring bonus to pay off his mortgage, or he’ll soon be knocking on the door of Robbie Savage’s caravan. I’m travelling to the bookies to get on Blackburn at 13/10 to see off Pompey.

The Arsenal team were delighted to receive the honour of an audience with the Queen. Jens Lehmann was particularly excited, but that’s understandable as he’s a compatriot.

The Queen looked more than happy to meet up with Freddie Ljungberg. For some strange reason, I can’t imagine Liz as a normal passionate woman. My reticence may be born out of respect for her position as the head of state, or it could be the fact that she’s a double-bagger.

Nothing would please me more than seeing the young Gunners lift the Carling Cup (except for the wife leaving), but from a punting perspective, the value lies with Chelsea at 6/5 to win the match in 90 minutes.

For the more conservative bettors, Chelsea should be backed at 8/13 to get their hands on the first silverware of the season; if we choose to disregard Craig Bellamy’s handcuffs.

The accer this week is so conciliatory, Liverpool FC have announced a long overdue golf club amnesty. Wigan, Blackburn, Tottenham and Chelsea are the selections, the payout is an amicable 25/1.

Copyright (c) Gerry McDonnell &

America hots ups the 2018 race

America hots ups the 2018 race

America hots ups the 2018 race

The USA is getting ready to launch a bid to host the 2018 World Cup Finals, according to its soccer federation president.

USSF boss Sunil Gulati told the Washington Post,

"We showed in 1994 that the U.S. is capable of hosting a terrific event. Now, with the way the soccer landscape in this country has evolved, we would be in position to put on a spectacular event."

No official bids have been launched for the 2018 tournament yet, but England's FA have already signalled their intention to run, confirmed by a UK government statement of support.

China is widely expected to launch a bid for the tournament and Australia has also been mentioned several times in world football circles as a possible competitor.

The likelihood of entries from three different continents (Football Federation Australia joined the Asian confederation in 2006) makes a nonsense of Sepp Blatter's much-criticised rotation policy.

With FIFA divided into six confederations, Blatter's law lumps any country with a 20-year wait before being permitted to bid.

The 2010 tournament is in Africa and 2014 in South America, with Brazil the firm favourite and Colombia also in contention.

Despite FIFA's 2003 announcement that the 2014 World Cup will go to South America, Australia and the USA have signalled their willingness to step in if FIFA judges Brazil, whom Blatter tipped as the probable winner last year, unable to meet the hosting demands. At present, none of that country's stadia meet FIFA World Cup specifications.

The USA have stepped in before, when they hosted the 2003 Women's World Cup at short notice following the SARS outbreak in China.

America's wealth, vast size and diverse population give it a strong claim to host international events of any nature, while the upsurge in football interest in the USA and its unrivaled array of modern stadia make it a serious challenger for any established football nation wishing to host the sport's premier event.

"Obviously FIFA knows what we are capable of and if something else changed we would be open to any other possibilities," said Gulati.

Despite a host of doomsayers, the 1994 finals were the most successful in FIFA history in terms of revenue and attendance (the average of 68,991 is still the largest in the competition's history).

Since 1994, America's stadia have improved massively.

Only four of the nine venues used in 1994 would be likely to be used for a World Cup now, as bigger and better venues have sprung up since in other cities.

Of those four, Chicago's historic Soldier Field, venue for 1994's opening game, has been rebuilt to a 61,500 capacity and Foxboro, where Diego Maradona scored his last World Cup goal before running like a dervish to the camera for a memorable celebration, has transformed itself into the 68,756 seat Gillette stadium.

England is still the prime contender, as Franz Beckenbauer in his role as UEFA's representative on FIFA's executive committee, confirmed recently, calling the home of football "a perfect country" to host the finals.

But with the USA and some other big hitters sure to enter the fray, the Football Association has a real fight on its hands before it can celebrate the arrival of another World Cup in England.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007



The 2008 European Championships in Austria and Switzerland is just over 18 months away.

Get in to the mood with a look at the beauty of Switzerland.

Jet D'Eau, Geneva, Switzerland

Image © Jean Kugler

Euro 2008



Monday, February 19, 2007

FA Cup QF Draw

FA Cup

FA Cup quarter-final draw

FA Cup

Matches to be played March 10, 11, 2007

Arsenal or Blackburn v Manchester City
Chelsea v Tottenham
Middlesbrough or West Brom v Manchester United or Reading
Plymouth v Watford

The bookies favor in order

Manchester United



Archie all over grand final

Archie Thompson

The first question international journalists usually ask world record holder Archie Thompson was just how he managed to score 13 times against American Samoa in a 2001 World Cup qualifier. Until now that is.

Thompson won't be too sad about swapping questions regarding one record-breaking goalscoring feat for another following a simply unbelievable individual performance in the A-League grand final over the weekend.

Role models for the two-year-old reinvented Australian league don't come much better than the family-oriented 28-year-old goal scoring machine from Melbourne. But then again, clinical attacking displays don’t either.

Archie Thompson

Thompson scored five times against a dishevelled Adelaide United outfit in the league's end-of-season showpiece divider, the greatest personal scoring deed ever witnessed in Australian grand final history.

The Victory No.10's first-half hat-trick vanquished any hopes of Adelaide regaining a foothold in the contest after foolish skipper Ross Aloisi, brother of Socceroos striker John, had played Russian roulette with the referee and lost on the half-hour.

He even had time to crash another fearsome attempt against the bar before beginning an early lap of honour around the Telstra Dome turf when he was substituted for Kristian Sarkies minutes from the climax.

Sarkies duly stole some of the man-of-the-match's thunder by adding the sixth of a 6-0 rout in stoppage time.

"I want to be on the guest list of every nightclub in Melbourne," Thompson proclaimed at the final whistle with little danger of his request being refused after his five-star showing had lit up a record-breaking 55,436 crowd.

The headline in local Melbourne broadsheet The Age took a more sacrosanct approach: "And after five goals, he rested, and they praised him."

What's unusual, though, is those dishing out the acclaim. Even The Australian's award-winning sports writer Patrick Smith was won over by the fantastical support shown from both clubs in an attendance which shattered the previous domestic record by more than 5000.

"A game that was dead two years ago has been resurrected," wrote Smith, a passionate supporter of Australian Rules Football (AFL). "It has a new face and new fans. A club that is just two years old has a passion to match a century of tradition."

"If football's resurrection was hard to fathom before the game, it wasn't at that very moment," he added of Melbourne's fourth goal when Thompson rounded goalkeeper Daniel Beltrame from Fred's through ball.

There will always be a small section of scared AFL devotees who attempt to correlate football's chanting and letting off flares with hooliganism. But perhaps Smith's sentiments are indicative of the changing attributes in and around AFL-dominated Melbourne.

What's more, the numbers back up his thoughts. The near-capacity attendance was not just the biggest in football history, it was also the largest crowd ever at the Telstra Dome, a stadium used primarily for AFL.

The game was also beamed back live to Sky Sports in Britain for the first time with highlights available in the US and beyond.

Perhaps the host broadcaster's only disappointment will be the nature of the lopsided contest in which Adelaide looked beaten even before Aloisi's reckless second bookable offence in a midfield battleground he was never close to controlling.

Aloisi and another former Socceroo Carl Veart lambasted the officiating in the aftermath after a couple of borderline judgements had certainly gone Melbourne's way.

But the difference wasn't the refereeing, it was Thompson. For him, American Samoa is now history.

"It's unbelievable. I predicted this morning I would get a hat-trick. I always say that and it never happens - what do you know, in a grand final I don't just get three, I get five."

Copyright © Marc Fox and

Australian Soccer News

Friday, February 16, 2007

Little Steps in the Reading Revolution

Little Steps in the Reading Revolution.
Reading Revolution

Today Manchester United face Reading in the FA Cup in a clash between the Premier League leaders and the Football League champions.

The 2006/07 Premiership season in England looks tiresomely familiar with Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal occupying the top four positions.

The Red Devils’ fine form has cleverly defused the fan dissatisfaction over Malcolm Glazer's takeover, as the team has moved into pole position for the title, leaving Chelsea's billionaire franchise licking the wounds of the personality clash between Coach Jose Mourinho and owner Roman Abramovich.

If there really is a story worth cheering it surely must be Reading's remarkable ascent to sixth spot in the Premiership by February.

The Royals have turned back the clock to the days when clubs rising from the old League Division Two were expected to provide a challenge in the top flight. Nottingham Forest won the old Division One in 1977-'78 in their first season there, a feat that seems as good as impossible twenty years later.

Reading steamrollered the opposition in the Coca-Cola Championship last season, smashing records as they went – the earliest clinching of a title (25th March), the longest unbeaten run in the second tier (33 games) and the highest points tally in any English professional division (106).

Despite their success, Reading are still one of the smallest and poorest clubs in the Premier League. Even in the Championship, their wage bill was only average for the division and their squad has no obvious stars, their internationals representing countries such as Iceland, South Korea and the USA.

What Reading have in abundance is a playing system that works wonders, backed by a shrewd coach in Steve Coppell, who has fostered an indomitable team spirit and camaraderie. When Reading play, no individual stands out but the team works and thinks as one instead.

The Royals in the blue and white hoops might remain unsung heroes but with the prospect of European football beckoning for the Berkshire side, the more the football world will have to sit up and take notice.

One such unsung hero is right winger Glen Little, a South Londoner whose previous career encompassed spells with Glentoran, Burnley and Crystal Palace.

Little’s right-wing raids have provided several assists for Reading's strikers over the previous two seasons, but despite his team’s and his career’s current golden age, the 31-year old remains modest and wary about predicting great things for Reading this season.

"This is where we want to be and we are enjoying the season," Little told Soccerphile, "but we know there are going to be ups and downs. We knew we would win some matches and lose others but the main aim was to stay in this division and at the moment you can't really complain about that."

Thus far his club has won 13, drawn four and lost 10 of their 27 Premier League games. They have not beaten any of the top four teams, but have tied the Champions 2-2 at Stamford Bridge, Manchester United 1-1 at home and lost narrowly (2-3) to them at Old Trafford.

"It was disappointing when we had back to back defeats against Chelsea and Arsenal," Little recalls, "but that's when you know you’re in the Premiership when you play those types of teams. Sometimes you see a bit of a gulf but you don’t judge our season by the Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea games. We know the teams we can beat and take points off."

Reading's lofty position sits in marked contrast to fellow promoted club Watford, who are rock bottom of the table with a dozen games remaining.

"You only have to look at the other teams who have come up with us – Sheffield United and Watford are struggling, and so are West Ham and Charlton too."

Talk of UEFA competition at the Madejski however, is a bridge too far for him right now.

"I am not too sure about that," said Little, "although our aim was to stay up by Christmas and then think about pushing on like West Ham and Wigan did last year. Whether Europe is possible - let us wait and see."

If there is a secret to Reading's success, Little feels sure it is because they have their feet, as well as the ball, firmly on the ground.

"We're quite a laid back down to earth club anyway where no one gets carried away so we are just enjoying the season – these are the sorts of teams we want to play against even though we have been hurt a few times.

You only have to look at the record of how many teams come up and go straight back down to know you would rather be here getting beat 4-0 by Arsenal than playing the likes of QPR in the Championship," he chuckles.

"You do have to enjoy every moment because you never know how long it will last and you just have to look forward to each game and give it your best shot."

© Sean O’Conor & Soccerphile

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Soccer News 2/15/2007

Weekly World Soccer News 2/15/2007

Soccer News 2/15/2007

Mahdavikia suspected of faking a penalty

Hamburger SV have scored their first home win this season but the authorities are now questioning whether it was achieved in an ethical fashion.
Hamburger's player Mehdi Mahdavikia is being investigated by the German FA for supposedly having simulated a foul to win a penalty for his team in the game against Borussia Dortmund (3-0).
The Deutsche Fussballbund started the investigation after analyzing the TV images which suggest that the Iranian feigned a fall in the penalty area in the 10th minute of the game, without having been touched by the Dortmund keeper, Romann Weidenfeller. Referee Lutz Wagner awarded the penalty to the relegation threatened HSV, which resulted in the first goal for the hosts.

Capello's Real equal their best ever away record as Becks returns

By winning 2-1 at San Sebastian, Real Madrid equalled their best-ever number of away wins at this stage of the season. Real also had eight wins after the first 22 games during the 1960/61 and 1987/88 seasons, winning the title both times. This time, however, the Castillians have no more than five wins out of ten home games, which is one of their worst home records in the history of the club.
In spite of supposedly terrible results this season, Fabio Capello's side is just five points behind leaders Barcelona, a deficit that can be overturned in two games.
The other bright point in the match against Real Sociedad was the return of David Beckham, who even got one of the goals.
At the end of play at Anoeta Stadium, euphoria broke out around Becks as everybody approached the hero of the day and among the congratulators was even Capello himself, who had found he could not ignore the pro-Beckham pressure from inside the dressing room.
Phrases such as "you had to come on for us to win" and "it's los galácticos all over again" were commonplace, as Becks smiled at this unexpected return to fame at the club that had almost ostracized him over his U.S. transfer.

Platini in favour of a salary cap in Europe

New UEFA president Michael Platini favours the introduction of a salary cap for each team, without directly limiting payments to each individual player.
In an interview to France24 channel, Platini said he was against putting a limit on the individual player's salary but that there should be a maximum amount any club would be allowed to spend on players' salaries, with the freedom to juggle the individual amounts under the team's salary cap.
This is of Platini's schemes to avoid soccer getting too money-dominated and to remind people of the social values of the sport.
"We cannot just be thinking of the Stock exchange and of soccer as a vehicle for making money," said the Frenchmen, apparently intent on bringing the sport closer to those less financially fortunate.

Sixty arrests during the "derby of peace"

The Belo Horizonte derby between Cruzeiro and Atletico Mineiro, for the Minas Gerais state championship, was advertised as "the derby of peace". Many fans saw it as a marvellous oportunity for violence.
The two groups of ultras showered each other with bottles and stones, while the police fired volleys of rubber bullets at both "armies". Sixty hooligans were arrested and a home-made bomb was found on one of them.
Brazil, lest we forget, are to stage the 2014 World Cup.

Inter equal Real and Bayern with 15 wins

By beating Chievo in Verona 2-0, Inter Milan have achieved their 15th consecutive championship win this season, equalling the European record until now held by Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
Real Madrid recorded 15 wins in 1960/61 and Bayern did the same over two seasons, in the final part of 2004/05 and the initial phase of 2005/06.
The game was marked by the absence of spectators, along with three other games of the 23rd matchday in the Italian Serie A.
Over the past 15 league games, Inter scored 36 goals and conceded just seven on the way to retaining their championship – that is, if the current league season comes to an end.
Inter's winning run
8th day – Livorno 4-1
9th day – Milan 4-3
10th day – Ascoli 2-0
11th day – Parma 2-1
12th day – Reggina 1-0
13th day – Palermo 2-1
14th day – Siena 2-0
15th day – Empoli 3-0
16th day – Messina 2-0
17th day – Lazio 2-0
18th day – Atalanta 2-1
19th day – Torino 3-1
20th day – Fiorentina 3-1
21st day – Sampdoria 2-0
23st day – Chievo 2-0

Kaka obtains Italian citizenship

Brazilian virtuoso Kaká obtained Italian nationalty last Monday in a ceremony attended by Milan's vice-president, Adriano Galliani. Kaká thus ceases to occupy a non-EU slot which will raise his transfer value further in the European market.The offensive midfielder joined Milan from Sao Paulo in July of 2003, winning the championship in his first season and reaching the European Cup finals a year later. He has been Real Madrid's target ever since, but the Milanisti have refused to sell him in order to prove they still mean business in the European game.


Seville derby with a taste of scandal

The big Andalusian derby between Betis and Sevilla ended goalless, but with a mega-scandal initiated by Sevilla directors.
The hosts could not believe it when the city rival's representatives refused to receive a souvenir honouring Betis' one hundredth anniversary. Sevilla's president José María Del Nido also rejected the request to pose in front of the statue of the host's president, Manuel Ruiz de Lopera, and later allegedly shouted at De Lopera's nephew, "you have the same faggot face as your uncle", an allusion to the supposed Betis boss' homosexuality. Finally, Javier Paez, the nephew, pushed Del Nido towards the staircase, but he "miraculously avoided stumbling down the stairs", claim the people from Sevilla. All this has led Betis to ban Del Nido from entering the VIP box at De Lopera Stadium for the forthcoming King's Cup quarterfinals return leg.

Victoria furious at US visa denial for her bodyguards

David Beckham's wife Victoria cannot believe that the US immigration authorities denied visas for Beckham family bodyguards with the explanation that "there are sufficiently qualified workers for the job in the States", reports Gazzetta dello Sport.
Victoria prefers that she and her three sons, Brooklyn (7), Romeo (4) and Cruz (2) be guarded by an experienced and coordinated team she and David trust, but the bureaucrats don't seem to care.
Between 2000 and 2004 three plots to kidnap one or more of the boys were uncovered and ever since the whole family has lived under the continuos supervision of their guardian angels.
According to Victoria, say her family friends, the bureaucrats took the decision out of spite and envy.

Cristiano Ronaldo puts United against the wall

The hottest Manchester United star, Cristiano Ronaldo, may have put into motion an operation to leave Old Trafford. According to The News of the World, his agent has requested a enormous sum for Cristiano's contract extension until 2012: 12,5 million euros per year before taxes.
Cristiano's (or his agent's) goal is to make the Portuguese the best paid player in the Premier League, but currently only Real Madrid seems to be capable of paying such an exorbitant salary. Currently, 12,5 million gross is the amount Raúl and Beckham earn, the last remaining galáctico wages.
At latest by July, Beckham will be gone together with his huge contract and Cristiano Ronaldo may be there to step in his shoes, unless Malcolm Glazer decides he should pay as much as the Portuguese demans rather than risking the fans' more than certain wrath.

Luis Figo to leave "big stage" next summer

Luis Figo's professional career on what he calls the "big stage" will end next June at the same time as the current Italian season.
"My career in terms of big time competition will finish this year in Italy. I have no intention of going back to Sporting Lisbon, but I may play another season with a Saudi team, something on which I have not yet decided," said Figo during a recent commercial event in Lisbon.
Figo also devoted a comment on the measures adopted by the Italian government to curb soccer related violence in the country.
"Ordering teams to play behind closed doors is utterly negative because soccer without the audience loses its essence," says the former Portuguese captain who should know what big crowds mean to a player after performing for Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter for the past twelve seasons.

Wizard Ozzie


FIFA World Rankings Feb 2007

FIFA World Rankings Feb 2007.
FIFA World Rankings Feb 2007

After 55 months at the top Brazil are no longer number one! World Champions Italy are the first new number one since November 1993. England stay 6th despite a poor display in losing at home to Spain in a friendly at Old Trafford.

Japan move up to 41st position. South Korea jump to 44th position.

The USA are in 28th. Croatia are 12th after their good results in Euro 2008 qualifying. Scotland are up six spots to 20th position.

1 Italy
2 Brazil
3 Argentina
4 France
5 Germany
6 England
7 The Netherlands
8 Portugal
9 Czech Republic
10 Spain

World Soccer News


Lee Chun-soo

Lee Chun-soo: Big Mouth, Big Talent

His mouth has always been as big as his talent - but such a combination is hardly unique to Lee Chun-soo.

Dutch legend Johann Cruyff was as talkative off the pitch as he was supremely gifted on it, and Diego Maradona was hardly shy on either side of the white line.

Lee is not in the same league as those two world stars, but as one of Korea's best and most famous players, he makes headlines on and off the field.

Lee Chun-soo: Big Mouth, Big Talent

He has done both over the past few days.

Last Tuesday evening, he was in action for the national team in London. The opposition was Greece; a physical team with a style of play modeled more on the mighty Ajax than the wily Odysseus. It was Lee, however, who demonstrated that, on the pitch at least, he has as many tricks up his sleeve as the king of ancient Ithaca.

Twelve minutes from time with the score goalless, the 25-year-old curled home a free-kick of rare precision and power.

It proved to be the only goal of the game and was a worthy winner.

The Korean media went wild with delight and Lee, a player who is prone to saying what he feels and thus provoking strong feelings among fans in his homeland, was universally lauded all across the Land of the Morning Calm. It was fitting that just after missing out on a move to England in January that the winger should have excelled in London, in front of a host of scouts and agents.

More than a few of those would have been relieved that Lee's proposed move to Wigan Athletic of the English Premier League fell through and therein lies the problem.

Lee's Korean club, Ulsan Hyundai Horang-I, declared that Wigan pulled the plug but the player's version of events is different as he told the media in no uncertain terms.

Returning to Incheon International Airport, supposedly to join his club in preseason training later this week, he was met by a throng of eager reporters. The scribes wanted a word with the man of the hour and were as surprised as anyone as he dropped a bombshell that may have been best left at customs.

"Ulsan has to promise to help me get a transfer to Europe in July," the baseball cap-wearing star announced.

"If they don't, I may just rest for the next six months."

Amid the squeaking wheels of the trolleys, the instant evaporation of the goodwill that was felt toward Lee could be heard.

The reaction to his threat was almost universally negative. Certainly his club was none too pleased.

More so, as the star also demanded that Ulsan sell him cheaply or follow the example set by of neighbors Pohang Steelers who let Lee Dong-gook join Middlesbrough for free in January.

After paying almost $3 million to buy him back from Real Sociedad in 2005, Ulsan are unlikely to do so especially as the younger Lee has more than12 months left on his contract, while the older one had less than two.

"The club is not a charity," sniffed Ulsan president Kim Hyong-ryeong.

Lee's remarks were more along the lines of giving vent to his understandable frustrations at not playing in one of the world's best leagues than any arrogance - but he needs to be careful.

A self-imposed exile however would not only see the player lose his place on the national team, as Ahn Jung-hwan knows only too well, it would also cost him his chance to strut his stuff at July's Asian Cup - a continental competition and global magnet for scouts and coaches.

With the Lee Chun-soo stock rising abroad, it would be foolish to give the impression that he is a troublemaker.

Any coach will admit that a new signing is a gamble; one from overseas more so and interested parties could be forgiven for thinking twice about importing a player who may refuse to play if he doesn't get his way.

After he was banned for six games for swearing at a referee only three months ago, Lee promised to become more mature.

As a player, he is doing nicely, but as a person, there is still some way to go.

K-League News

Soccer Book Reviews

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile

A Primate of Fear

A Primate of Fear

Discrimination is abhorrent in any form. I would never judge a person purely on their looks.

A Primate of Fear

If a person is victimised on the grounds of race, sexual orientation or religious beliefs, condemnation is rightfully swift; yet poking fun at people with amusingly coloured hair appears to be tolerated.

I have a dream that one day all gingers will be free from oppression. When Paul Scholes and Steve Sidwell shake hands at Old Trafford, my utopian vision will be one step closer to becoming a reality.

The result of the match is insignificant; it’s all about acceptance for our sun-fearing brothers. I will be getting on Manchester United to beat Reading at 1/3, but I’ll be going in gingerly.

Thierry Henry could learn a lot from Ronaldo. Where the skinny winger will tumble with grace and elegance at the mere hint of a challenge, the Frenchman attempts the far more difficult flailing-armed ‘bag of potatoes’ manoeuvre, without an opponent in a 45 yard radius. It’s back to the training ground for the great man. I’m head over heels about an Arsenal win over Blackburn at 4/9.

Jonathan Woodgate has suffered yet another injury. The jinxed defender has been sidelined with a tight hamstring; he probably picked it up in Scotland. Middlesbrough receive the nod at home to West Brom at a rickety 4/5.

My cash was also down on the Boro in midweek. When Yakubu fluffed that penalty, I actually screamed like the wife when she gave birth to Goliath. The evil one still has unhappy memories of that day; he was delivered during opening hours. The Yak remains a quality animal, he’ll score the first goal at 9/2.

Little Goliath is definitely his mother’s son. He gave me two choices; I could either buy him a pet monkey, or he’d tell his mom about my special ‘friendship’ with her sister. ‘Bubbles’ has set me back a small fortune. I intend to recoup a portion by backing Chelsea at 1/7 to see off Norwich.

For some reason, Bubbles goes absolutely ballistic if Goliath watches Soccer AM. Last Saturday, I had to spank him three times while Helen Chamberlain was on screen. Norwich could well be on the end of a spanking at the Bridge; the champions can net four or more goals at 15/8.

You have to like Ian Holloway. The jovial nutcase once compared a scrappy win to pulling an ugly bird; and was kind enough not to mention the wife by name. Derby will end Plymouth’s run at 8/5.

Watford are definitely improving, but I can’t fancy them at ‘odds on’ against a competent Ipswich. Like David Cameron in college, I’m going to get stuck into the draw at 5/2.

Tottenham are like the wife’s sister on a Wednesday afternoon, they’re in the middle of a sticky patch. The 17/10 for a Fulham win over Spurs stands out like Martin Jol’s lower jaw.

Most people have been involved in the odd incident that they regret; I should never have raised my hands to that monkey. Joey Barton’s list of previous includes a holiday rumble, a far from enchanting full moon and a controversial take on cigar disposal. Preston are smoking in the Championship; they can extinguish Manchester City’s FA cup dream at 17/10.

Barton allegedly waved his middle finger in the direction of Pompey fans last week, presumably answering the ‘How many brothers have you got in prison’ question. I fancy Preston to sneak this 1-0; I’m all over the 7/1 like a Manchester City player on Pedro Mendes.

Using only the weekend accer as a character guide, a representative of PETA has cleared me of any wrongdoing in regard to my monkey training. I’d like to thank the former Celtic man for this generous gesture. Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Preston and Fulham are the selections, the payout is a beastly 11/1.

Copyright (c) Gerry McDonnell &

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Korean Fans in London

Korean Fans in London

Korean fans, generally considered the best supporters at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, were out in force in west London, to cheer on the Taeguk Warriors in their friendly win over Greece at Fulham's Craven Cottage.

Korean fans at the South Korea v Greece friendly at Craven Cottage, London

On a cold night, Korea beat the reigning European Champions Greece 1-0 thanks to a second half free kick from Lee Chun Soo.

Korean fans at the South Korea v Greece friendly at Craven Cottage, London

In other friendlies in the UK yesterday, England lost to Spain 1-0, Denmark beat Australia 3-1, Portugal beat Brazil 2-0 and Ghana thrashed Nigeria 4-1.

Korean fans at the South Korea v Greece friendly at Craven Cottage, London

K-League News and Interviews


Kyoto Sanga Purple No More

Kyoto Sanga Purple No More

Japanese J-2 side Kyoto Sanga have decided to drop the "Purple" from their name and will no longer be known as "Kyoto Purple Sanga" but as plain "Kyoto Sanga" for the forthcoming 2007 J-League campaign.

Kyoto Sanga fans

Sanga have been a yo-yo club of late, twice promoted from J-2 and twice relegated after the heady days of an Emperor's Cup win under erstwhile coach Gert Engels.

A change of name may bring a change of fortune according to Japanese tradition, but it is hard to see Kyoto Sanga with gates under 10,000, establishing themselves in J-1, until they find a new football specific stadium.

The color change leaves champions Urawa Red Diamonds as the sole J-League side with a color in their name. The "Purple" in Kyoto's name referred to the Imperial color, favored by the Japanese Emperors who lived in the city until 1868.

J.League News


In Thickness and in Elf

In Thickness and in Elf

Whenever possible, I try to accentuate the positive. Even when I caught the wife cheating on me, I remained upbeat; it was one less unpleasant job for me.

In Thickness and in Elf

I also hold no grudge against her partner. In fact, I’m having a fiver each-way on him at Cheltenham.

As a genuinely magnanimous person, I feel I must defend Cristiano Ronaldo. If it wasn’t for the Portuguese wizard, we wouldn’t have the visually stunning yet ultimately useless multiple step-over manoeuvre. The lord of the wings will inspire Manchester United to an easy win over Charlton; I’m falling over myself to get on at 1/6.

The new owners of Liverpool FC have vowed to uphold the traditions of the franchise; Gillett and Hicks have already helped themselves to three sets of hubcaps. The Pool will have to settle for a point against Newcastle at 12/5.

Everton supporters are justifiably upset with Rafa Benitez for his ‘small club’ jibe. The Toffeemen once had a player who scored 60 goals in a season; I think it was Pixie Dean. The 6/5 for little Everton to see off Blackburn will lead to substantial financial growth.

Everton intend to strengthen their squad in the summer; David Moyes is planning a small bid for Petit. Tiny Tim Cahill is definitely due a goal, I’m goblin up the 7/1 for him to open the scoring.

Reading v Aston Villa is a ‘Robbie Williams’ match, it could easily go either way. Advising ‘No bet’ in a match is like going home from the pub after two pints; occasionally sensible, but incredibly camp. Just like with the wife’s sister, I’m going to try my best to stay out of it.

Gareth Southgate is exceeding all expectations at the Riverside. Admittedly, his predecessor was Steve McClaren, so avoiding relegation without spending the equivalent of the Chinese GDP would be considered a relative success. Boro can snatch a point at Stamford Bridge at 9/2.

Robbie Savage and Ashley Cole have suffered nasty injuries in recent weeks; El Hadji Diouf must be petrified. Bolton will lambaste Fulham at 8/11.

West Ham are in a spot of bother. In fact, it’s closer to a melanoma. The Hammers are now odds on for the drop and their big signings are collapsing like a Portuguese winger. West Ham can rejoin the road to safety by cutting up Watford at a raging 5/6.

Arsenal may play football beautifully, but their goal celebrations are a lot less pleasing to the eye. Henry and Adebayor are yet to learn that two men dancing together is only acceptable if the ‘eight pint minimum’ rule has been strictly adhered to. The Gunners will waltz past Wigan at 2/7.

I never thought I’d use the word ‘International’ in relation to Joey Barton, unless it was swiftly followed by the word ‘fugitive’. England’s new boy can ensure Man City leave Fratton Park with a point at 9/4.

Martin Jol may look like Popeye, but it’s been far from plain sailing for Tottenham in recent weeks. The Spurs faithful have had all they can stand, they can’t stands no more. Sheffield United can add salt at 19/10.

This weeks accer is so colossal, little Everton would need a stepladder just to reach its kneecaps. Everton, Sheffield United, West Ham and Arsenal are the selections, the payout is an ever decreasing 13/1.

Copyright (c) Gerry McDonnell &

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Soccer News 2/7/2007

Football News.
Weekly World News

Inter and Roma each other's destiny

When the time comes for this season's Italian Cup final, it will be the fourth time that Inter and Roma meet in a cup final within a space of 24 months.

Since 2004/05, they competed twice in the Coppa Italia finals and one Supercoppa, with Inter winning every time.

2005 Coppa Italia Inter 2-0, 1-0 Roma
2006 Coppa Italia Inter 1-1, 3-1 Roma
2006 Supercoppa Inter 4-3 Roma
2007 Coppa Italia Inter ? Roma

Real's players call for Becks

Beckham should be reinstated in Real Madrid's team. This is what the players and most of the media believe. After the former England's captain announced he was leaving for MLS at the end of the season, Fabio Capello stepped up and, quite irrationally, claimed he did not believe he could count with Becks' commitment seeing he had such a profitable contract ahead of him.

Among those who advocate Beckham's return to a limping Real's team are the veterans, Raúl and Guti.

"As long as he is Real's player, he will try to give his best", said the skipper Raúl, while the vice-captain Guti added that "Beckham deserves the utmost respect from everybody. It is best for the club that everyone available participate and specially such an important player as Beckham."

Iker Casillas and Michel Salgado expressed their agreement with their pals' opinion.
In the meantime, Beckham costs Real 56,849 euros per day and 8,3 million for the whole period from mid-January until the end of June.

Hacker doctors Red Star's home page

An unknown hacker, probably a Partizan Belgrade fan, skilfully rearranged the official home page of hated rivals, Red Star Belgrade.

Last weekend an unknown person published several sensational pieces of news on the site's front page, including "Red Star to go bankrupt".

"The directors will take all the money, Marakana Stadium will be sold to Partizan and Zdravko Colic will be the interim receiver", continued the hacker, "naming" the superpopular singer, a sort of the Yugoslav Cliff Richard, as the provisional liquidator.

It took almost all day for the Red Star programmers to repair the hacked page, and the perpetrator is being searched for by the cyber police.

Veronica demands Berlusconi to apologize in public

His quick tongue and an eye for women cost Silvio Berlusconi another public disgrace. His wife Veronica sent an open letter to La Repubblica asking the former Prime Minister to apologize for flirting with other women in public.

"Let him apologize to me publicly, since he failed to do it in person," wrote Veronica Berlusconi.

Milan's chairman said to tv-starlet and dancer Mara Carfagna "if I were not married, I would marry you right away" and told model Aida Yespica he would "accompany her to any place in the world."

The tycoon eventually did apologize: "Please, forgive me. It has been a tempestuous period for me, but it will come to an end."

Leo Messi denounced for fighting

The Argentinian wonderboy Lionel Messi is getting ready to return to action three months after suffering a broken foot, but it is rumoured he was naughty during recovery back home in Rosario.

Misdemeanour charges were brought against him in his native city after taking part in an alleged fight and causing damage in a Rosario bar. There Messi had a drink with his pals, Newell's Old Boys' fans, and was provoked by another group of Rosario Central followers.

According to a waitress, a fight supposedly took place after someone insulted Messi, a former Boys' junior.

A Rosario judge rejected the charges on grounds of insufficient evidence, while Messi's father claims there's a "conspiracy" to hurt his son's reputation.

Support for Ronaldinho's international holiday

Ronaldinho Gaúcho has asked to be spared from international duty over the next few months, notably from the Copa América to take place this summer in Venezuela.

The continuous commitment with Barcelona and Brazil has taken its toll on the world's most attractive footballer and he believes he needs a few month's rest to avoid a burnout that apparently hurt his colleague Ronaldo's career.

Apparently, some people who know him best concur with him.

"Ronaldinho is exhausted because he has been the best player in the world over the past four years. Now it's the time for others to step in and carry the burden. It is not as if though he should always be the responsible for Brazil's play," said Luiz Felipe Scolari, who coached Ronaldinho and his mates to the 2002 World Cup victory.

"He indeed should get some time to recover. He is not a machine but a precious jewel with which one must deal with cautiously," added his Barca mate Edmilson.

No doubt, Barcelona's directors and coaches would be overjoyed should their star miss out on the South-American Championship, because the currently tired Ronaldinho is not playing the soccer he has got us used to.


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Japanese Soccer News February 2007

Japanese Soccer News February 2007.
J-League Transfer News

After January's flurry of activity, things have been relatively quiet on the transfer scene in Japan of late.

Perhaps the most notable recent move sees former Japan international Takashi Fukunishi leave Jubilo Iwata after more than a decade at the club. The midfielder was capped 64 times by his country, and leaves to join capital club FC Tokyo.

Former Jubilo Iwata teammate Takayuki Chano will join him at FC Tokyo, while the club has also signed ex-Gremio defender Evaldo.

As expected, former Espanyol and Bolton striker Akinori Nishizawa has left relegated Cerezo Osaka, to join Shimizu S-Pulse. He will face his one-time Cerezo strike partner Yoshito Okubo in their first game of the J-League season, when Okubo's new club Vissel Kobe travels to Nihondaira Stadium to take on Shimizu.

Finally, after hardly getting on the pitch at Red Star Belgrade, former Japan striker Takayuki Suzuki has joined Yokohama F. Marinos. Meanwhile highly-rated youngster Tsukasa Umesaki has joined French Ligue 2 outfit on a six-month loan deal from Oita Trinita. He joins Japanese striker Sho Ito at the club.

J-League Draw

With the J-League kicking off again on March 3 and the fixture-list having been recently announced, the opening rounds have thrown up some fascinating matches.

Defending J-League champions Urawa Reds open their campaign at home to last season's J2 champions Yokohama FC. The following round sees Yokohama FC take on cross-town rivals Yokohama F. Marinos, in what could be one of the most bitter derbies ever contested in Japan, given the histories of the two clubs.

Last season's runner-up Kawasaki Frontale take on heavyweights Kashima Antlers at Todoroki Stadium in the opening round, while new boys Kashiwa Reysol are at home to Jubilo Iwata, and Vissel Kobe face a tough task in Shimizu.

Gamba Osaka will hope for three points in their opening encounter with Omiya Ardija, particularly as they face Kashima Antlers at Kashima Stadium the following weekend.

Xerox Super Cup

The traditional season-opener pits two familiar foes against each other, as Urawa Reds clash with Gamba Osaka on Saturday, February 24.

The two teams last met in the Emperor's Cup Final on New Year's Day, when Urawa were outplayed by Gamba for much of the match, but still managed to prevail 1-0.

Japanese Players Overseas

The tragic death of police officer Filippo Raciti at the Sicilian derby between Catania and Palermo on February 2 - which lead to the complete suspension of Italian football, has rightly overshadowed all aspects of Serie A.

Before those sickening scenes, all the headlines in Japan had been about Japanese youngster Takayuki Morimoto's wonder debut for Catania.

On January 28, Morimoto came on in the 83rd minute with his team one goal down on the road at Atalanta. The youngest Japanese player ever to play - and the youngest ever scorer in the J-League, promptly fired home a late equaliser, that saw his team move into a UEFA Champions League qualification place on the Serie A table.

Shunsuke Nakamura : Celtic

Nakamura's outstanding form for Celtic shows no sign of letting up, with the midfielder tipped as a contender for the SPL Player Of The Year award. Nakamura, meanwhile, has hit out at claims that he is looking to return to the J-League. Speaking to the official Celtic website, Nakamura said "I am very happy at Celtic and I am very much looking forward to all the challenges which lie ahead at the club."

Junichi Inamoto : Galatasaray

The former West Bromwich Albion midfielder has become a fan favourite at the Turkish giants, and he played the full 90 minutes in their recent 0-0 draw with Kayserispor.

Naohiro Takahara : Eintracht Frankfurt

Takahara has scored seven league goals so far this season, and he played the full 90 minutes in the recent 0-0 draw against local rivals 1.FSV Mainz.

Daisuke Matsui : Le Mans

Matsui has disappeared from view somewhat at Le Mans, and has featured only sporadically this season. He came off after 80 minutes in the recent 2-0 win over Olympique Marseille.

Tsuneyasu Miyamoto and Alessandro Santos : Salzburg

Former Gamba Osaka defender Tsuneyasu Miyamoto and ex-Urawa midfielder Alex have both featured for their new club Salzburg, on their current tour of the United Arab Emirates. The Austrian Bundesliga resumes on February 24, following a long winter break.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman &

J.League News

Thursday, February 1, 2007

I saw her limping there

I saw her limping there

The wife is no stranger to exercise. Somewhat controversially, she now concentrates solely on working her liver; I can see the logic though, it’s occasionally her second largest internal organ.

I saw her limping there

If the Government told the wife that she could only purchase her beloved Buckfast during January, she would quite rightly revolt; which admittedly, is not a major deviation from the norm.

I find it incredible that Premiership managers are handicapped in such a fashion. It’s almost impossible to do any business in such a small window, although I did manage it once in Amsterdam.

Paradoxically, Martin O’Neill’s transactions have been exceptional. He somehow managed to entice the classy John Carew, and all it cost him was a dud Czech. The Villa are bouncing, they’ll see off the Hammers at 10/11.

A little known FIFA clause allows Frank Lampard to leave Chelsea for a relatively paltry £8m. Frank may have his knockers, but that seems a fair price to me. The champions have too much up top for a struggling Charlton; get on at a well developed 2/5.

Sheffield United win the award for the most surprising transfer. You could have knocked me over with a feather when news broke that they had signed Fathi; who knew that they had a spare £8m. The Blades haven’t won in Blackburn for 20 years; the Rovers are the weekend nap at an ample 8/11.

I believe the children are the future, unless we crack down hard on them now. The appointment of Stuart Pearce to the England Under-21 setup has been met with consternation by the Manchester City board; Reading can take full advantage at 12/5.

Mohammed Al Fayed can’t believe that Reading are above Fulham in the table; he thinks it’s a Royal conspiracy. The Cottagers will triumph over Newcastle at a clandestine 13/10.

Paul Jewell must be sick of the sight of Harry Redknapp; and not just because of the annoying twitch. Wigan have already lost twice to Portsmouth this season, a Pompey treble is in the bag at a knee-jerk 13/8.

I am extremely disappointed with Lua Lua. It wasn’t the fact that he was arrested for an alleged domestic disturbance; I feel let down because he didn’t do a double back flip after striking. I’m doing somersaults about the 7/1 for a 1-0 win to Portsmouth.

Jesus is more than handy with a loaf of bread and a piece of cod, but even He would struggle to keep Watford in the Premiership. Prayers do occasionally get answered though, thank you Al Bangura. Get on Bolton to beat Watford at a sacrilicious 5/4.

Liverpool host neighbours Everton in a tantalising Merseyside derby. The Toffeemen haven’t won at Anfield this millennium; it’ll be the Liverpool fans bragging in the benefit office on Monday morning. The Reds are a steal at 8/13.

Cesc Fabregas is a little magician. As long as he avoids Debbie McGee he’s got a decent future in the game. The 4/5 for an Arsenal win over Middlesbrough is spellbinding.

Tottenham are like Paul McCartney on his wedding night, they have to get over an extremely disappointing second leg. Man U will overwhelm the deflated Spurs at 5/6.

Wayne Rooney has been labeled a tubby Eric Cantona, and there’s more than an element of truth in such a comparison. The next big thing can net the opener at 6/1.

Ever since the departure of Cantona (and to a lesser degree Sheringham), United have struggled for a quality player in the hole. I believe Rooney will prove to be the missing link. I’m going ape about United scoring three or more goals at 11/4.

This week’s accer is so alluring, it reminds me of the wife’s sister; but i’ll get into that later. Liverpool, Aston Villa, Blackburn and Reading are the selections, the payout is a feisty 16/1.

Copyright (c) Gerry McDonnell &