Eddie's Football Blog

A bizarre look at the world of football, since 2008

Posts Tagged ‘Avram Grant’

Sky Sports News: Look, it’s a saga because we tell you it is, ok?

Posted by eddiev18 on July 19, 2011

The Grant Nostril Saga: Will he or won't he?

Sky Sports News today announced that the word ‘saga’ means whatever the hell they want it to mean, and if football fans didn’t like it they could simply switch to another channel.

The 24-hour sports channel – once described as ‘like having the Sun shouted at you by two robots dressed as bankers’ – was responding to criticism that their continued exaggeration of mundane sports stories via the irresponsible mis-use of supporting vocabulary,  has been ruining the lives of stupid people who now think that absolutely everything is an outrageously exciting ‘saga’.

Proving the point, George Franks – who has been watching Sky Sports News avidly since the season ended on the 22nd May – was asked what had actually happened in the 58 days he has spent glued to his sofa.

“Oh, it’s all been kicking off hasn’t it?! There was the time that a man with moustache spent a day outside White Hart Lane to catch a glimpse of Luka Modric walking through a door. What a moment in the saga that was, eh?!

“What else? Oh yeah, there was the time that the bloke with the big chin brought up a picture of Wesley Sneijder on his flashy touch screen and revealed that the saga involving him joining United could be nearing a conclusion. Sky sources revealed.

“It turns out they made the whole thing up, but it kept me up all night eating Pop-Tarts waiting for the ‘Breaking News’ that was always promised every half hour after the ad breaks.

“It’s true though, I do find it hard not to turn everything into a saga these days. I can’t make breakfast without an internal commentary breaking the news that my slice of Warburton’s Seeded Batch ‘has made a dramatic move to join Toast FC on a short term contract’.

“My girlfirend has left me of course. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have broken the news on Twitter that ‘the blowjob deal had finally been agreed’.”

A Sky spokesman was unashamed of the channel’s tactics: “Sky Sports News is one of our flagship stations, and it is absolutely ghastly isn’t it?

“However, it’s a fantastic money spinner. We have learnt that if you persistently drip-feed thick people with “BREAKING NEWS” exclusives every 15 minutes, then they will happily accept spending 90% of their time watching goals from League Two and boring press conferences with Rotherham’s new assistant manager.

“They will certainly not change the channel, and frankly we don’t really care if the Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t deem Cesc Fabregas buying a pint of milk as ‘another chapter in the ongoing saga’.  We say it is, so it is. That’s the end of it.

“Although being a saga it obviously isn’t…”

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Parker: Avram Grant got his tactics from Space Jam and The Mighty Ducks

Posted by eddiev18 on May 17, 2011

Grant: Out of duck

The story of West Ham United’s relegation took a bizarre twist today, when it was revealed that manager Avram Grant’s coaching manual was basically a collection of tactics lifted from mildly entertaining sports films like The Mighty Ducks and Space Jam.

The news will bemuse Hammers fans even further following yesterday’s claims from a journalist – who no one had heard of, but who everyone decided to believe anyway – that the Israeli’s fitness sessions were as intensive as the egg and spoon race at a sports day for three year olds.

Club captian Scott Parker noticed something odd going on in February when the Hammers went on a bit of a run: “I was like, ‘fuck me, Demba Ba looks like Marco Van Basten and Carlton Cole hasn’t tripped on the ball once’. I had to ask the gaffer how he was doing it.

“Basically, his wife had given him Space Jam on DVD for Christmas. In the film, evil alien team The Nerdlucks steal the talents of top basketball players like Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley. Avram had simply applied this to football and, to be honest, it worked great for a few weeks.

“Eventually though, Alex Ferguson figured out why Dimitar Berbatov had gone a bit shit, and the game was up.”

Grant became desperate for a new solution, and spent weeks renting classic sports movies in his search for tips.

Parker continues: “He made this speech before the Bolton game that apparently worked wonders for Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday. To be fair, it was quite inspiring, but sadly it all went downhill when he said that life was all about ‘the six inches in front of your face’.

“You simply cannot say that sort of thing to a group of men with a combined mental age of about 6, and expect them to take you seriously.”

Hammers owner David Gold admits that he probably should have spotted the problems earlier: “Now you mention it, there have been loads of those LoveFilm envelopes turning up for Avram over the last couple of months. It also explains why he was so insistent that we signed Sylvester Stallone during January transfer window.”

Despite the fact that it left them entirely open at the back, Grant defended his decision to employ the ‘Flying V’ formation during last weekend’s defeat to Wigan: “Look, did the Ducks go on to win the Playoffs or not? If it’s good enough for Gordon Bombay, then it’s good enough for me.”

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Microsoft Paint Story Of The Week – The Invisible Handball

Posted by eddiev18 on November 27, 2009

Scharner: Dodgy hair, dodgy goal

Continuing the Microsoft Paint Stories Of The Week series (soon to be re-named ‘Baron-Watch’), this week we once again catch up with Baron Silas Greenback (aka Avram Grant), and it certainly appears that he’s been keeping himself busy of late.

Not only has the amphibious super-villain been officially appointed as Portsmouth manager (as predicted here on Eddie’s Football Blog), but there have also been one or two unexplained events in the past week, both of which I am fairly certain he had something to do with.

Now, as we all know from ‘Danger Mouse’ (the reality TV series in which Greenback featured heavily during the 1980s) The Baron has a history of going to great lengths to create the perfect ‘Kansas City Shuffle’ – a moment in which he makes us all look one way (via a distraction), whilst he sneakily steps in to take over the world. I have highlighted examples of this before

Stealing all of the world’s sign-posts. Sending tins of exploding custard to every household on the planet. Turning elephants into sugar cubes. Stuff like that. Ideas that could only conceivably be contrived by an evil toad.

Naturally therefore, when I stumbled across an article this afternoon citing ‘mysterious toilet blockages’ on an entire fleet of Cathay Pacific aeroplanes, my suspicions were raised. Perhaps the plan this time is to drain all of the world’s oceans? Think about it… the entire population of earth, all wildly flushing their porcelain thrones at once. The water usage would go off the chart.

Well, it’s either that, or he’s plotting a world-wide shortage of drain unblocking products. Just think of a world without drain unblocking products. All hell would break loose. Indian restaurants would fight and squabble over the remaining supplies and, worse of all, we’d all have to start using bidets due to the constant fear of clogging our own crappers. Yes, that’s right, we’d basically all become French.

I can see the fear on your face now. He must be stopped.

Talking of the French, and insanely long introductions out of the way, this leads me nicely on to the second of the unexplained phenomena that has occurred more than once in the past week. Namely, the act of scoring a goal in professional football, having blatantly committed a handball prior to putting the ball in the onion bag.

Both Thierry Henry (the goal that broke Irish hearts. Well, unless you’re Roy Keane), and Paul Scharner (the ‘1’ in Wigan’s 9-1 walloping at Tottenham) have scored goals of this ilk in the past week. Both have got away with it. My question is how?

Suspecting Greenback, I headed to his lair at Portsmouth’s Blue Reef aquarium earlier this week. Passing myself off as ‘Mr Grant’s Wart Removal Technician’ I gained entry, and this is what I discovered…

I think I know what’s been going on now.

Greenback has known all season that, at some point, he was going to be asked to replace Paul Hart as manager. It’s one of the worst kept secrets of all time. Right up there with Tom Cruise’s homosexuality. However, with this knowledge came responsibility. When he became manager, he was going to have to improve Pompey’s form.

Henry: Giving Greenback's invention the high-five

Knowing that his squad wasn’t anywhere near good enough to stay up on their own, and given that he is an super-villain with a lair, an evil crow assistant, and more than a few masterplans up his sleeve, Greenback got to work on a couple of ideas he’d had to improve his team’s performance. The first of these was injecting a ‘Striker’s Serum’ into Aruna Dindane, in the hope that the Ivorian would end up scoring a bucket load of goals. As you’ll remember, it started with a hat-trick, and ended with a threesome. It turned out that the ‘Scoring Serum’ wasn’t specific to football, and the Baron was forced to abandon Dindane’s regular injections after the goals dried up.

Now though, it looks as though Greenback has a new concept to use. A footballing aid called ‘The Invisible Handball’. Basically it is a specially designed synthetic forearm and hand combination that, when attached to a footballer, is completely invisible to the referee and his assistants. It means that a footballer can control, dribble, and even score a goal with their hand, and the officials will not see any offence.

The prototype was tested by Greenback’s father (Earl Greenback) during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, on a certain young Argentinean by the name of Diego Maradona. It worked brilliantly during a match against England, but after Maradona refused to remove his new hand because he saw it as a good way to get cocaine past customs officials, Earl Greenback abandoned the experiment. Now, in the knowledge that he’ll be taking over such a poorly equipped Premier League team, Greenback Junior has resurrected it.

The product was tested last week on France Captain (and shaving enthusiast) Thierry Henry, and Wigan utility man (and Austrian style icon) Paul Scharner. On both occasions (as mentioned above) the protagonists used their new hand to score via an unfathomably dodgy handball. This obviously means that ‘The Invisible Handball’ passed its test with flying colours. There is, however, no word on either player having become a coke-mule for an underground gang of Colombians since their match. I’ll keep you posted though.

As ever, Baron Greenback looks on from his office as his evil crow henchman prepares to remove the hand from Scharner, in order to get it attached to Ivorian science experiment Dindane, and ready for this weekend’s visit of Manchester United. So, if you see a dodgy handball from young Aruna this Saturday, you’ll now know why the referee allowed play to continue.

It also seems that MI5 are also suspicious of Greenback’s activities (perhaps they read the blocked plane toilets atricle too), as they sent one of their agents into his lair on the day I was conducting my investigation. However, after failing to desguise himself, and following a cliché-filled chat in the Baron’s office, the vodka martini drinking agent ‘fell’ through a trap-door (that just happened to randomly open below his feet) and into a pool of sharks with freekin’ lazerrrs attached to them. He never stood a chance.

So, whether you’re worried about Portsmouth’s new ability to score goals, the possibility that you might have to cleanse your nether regions like a Frenchman in the near future, or just the concerned about the prospect of reading yet another article dedicated to a cartoon character lookalike, it is clear that this man must be stopped.

Where the hell is Danger Mouse when you need him, eh? Let’s hope that he has suffered the same fate as this little chap

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Microsoft Paint Stories Of The Week – Aruna Dindane’s Transformation

Posted by eddiev18 on November 8, 2009


Pimp my striker: Aruna Dindane

As I have mentioned before, the wonderful blogging software I use to tap out the sort of rambling nonsense that you are about to put yourself through also offers me the ability to see ‘behind the scenes’. Unlike the extras on your ‘Transformers’ DVD though, this unfortunately does not allow me to see Megan Fox in her smalls, rolling around on a beach in the South Pacific. However, what it does allow me to do is to monitor the search terms that people use to get to my wonderous site of footballing irreverency.

This being the case, if you have seen my article’s title in your search results, and arrived here today expecting to read a peice dedicated to a new member of Optimus Prime’s robot gang, then I’m afraid that Google has let down in your quest this time. If however, you just wanted a picture of Megan Fox draped over a motorcycle, then feast your eyes on these apples!

Anyway, let’s have a bit of fun, and ensure that I get a regular stream of Transformers fans arriving here in disappointment. You see, I am told that Google Search works by making a note of keywords in the title and body of any given article, bumping your entry up the results list if you’ve mentioned the searched terms more than other sites have mentioned them. Considering this, and the fact that (including the title) there have already been six Transformers-related references (now there are seven) in the first three paragraphs of this article, I wonder what will happen if I do this…

Transformers! Revenge Of The Fallen! Optimus Prime! Robots hitting each other! Shia La Beouf is constantly in a panicked state! Michael Bay makes rubbish movies! Transformers! Robots in disguise!

Let’s see how that pans out then…

Anyway, those are the finer points out of the way, let’s move on to the main course of this banquet of insight. As I mentioned in my Premier League Predictions, last week I booked a train ticket for Eddie’s Football Blog‘s chief reporter to go down to Portsmouth and investigate why Pompey striker Aruna Dindane has suddenly become a player able to score a Premier League hat-trick.

You see, after the player’s frankly comical display against Spurs a few weeks back, where he showcased an array of finishing that would shock even Chris Iwelumo, I smelt a rat. You don’t just transform (see, I used that word again!) over night. What had happened to the Ivorian? Why had he suddenly started to find the back of the net instead of the car park?

As ever, our reporter was without any form of camera, so has had to resort to the pixel-perfect imagery that can only be offered by Microsoft Paint, in order to depict what he saw in Portsmouth that day. Below we can see his findings and the truth, I’m sure you’ll agree, really is shocking…

MSPaintStoryOfThe Week_arunadindane

You might need a minute to take all of that in. I know I certainly did. Deep breaths…

As you can see, our reporter must have tailed Dindane to the secret lair of Pompey Director Of Football Avram Grant (aka Baron Silas Greenback), which (as we previously discovered) he has set up in the city’s Blue Reef Aquarium. Since that discovery, it appears that (alongside plans to develop the club’s academy) he has also developed a concept he once saw in an Austin Powers movie a few years ago – namely, sharks with freakin’ lazers attached. What this means for mankind, I can only speculate. However, given that it has nothing to do with the Ivorian’s form, we better leave that to MI5 (or MI6. If i’m honest, I never really know which one is which).

So, why is little Aruna visiting the den of his evil super-villain boss? The truth is that Greenback has also devloped what he calls a ‘Striker’s Serum’. Initially he developed the serum to help him ‘score’ with women, as it became apparent that evil toad looking villains cannot pull girls, even on a night out in Portsmouth. However, upon testing his potion, it came to light that not only can it help a man score with women, but it can also help with scoring in every other sense of the word. The serum can make an individual become an expert at keeping a tally during darts matches in the pub, composing music and, most importantly in this case, hitting the onion bag on the football pitch.

It all makes sense now. Greenback, in a desperate attempt to keep Pompey up, has started injecting the Ivorian with a scientific concoction that is guaranteed to get him scoring goals. Like Big Sam’s masterplan, The Baron’s scheme surely cannot fail.

The picture shows club doctor Nigel Sellars readying Dindane for his latest shot of the good stuff. Greenback (who is watching on, cackling in delight, and sporting a grey suit he borrowed from his friend Dr. Evil) had hoped not to get any of the staff involved in the experiment, but ended up having to draft Sellars in after it emerged that his evil crow henchman was unable to administer an injection due to having a pair of wings and no opposable thumbs. It would have been a total mess, with needles and feathers everywhere. Plus, he’d done a bit of sight-seeing earlier in the week, and got stuck at the Tower of London after he was told that the building would fall down if he dared leave.

As ever with the masterplans of Baron Silas Greenback though, there is a problem. The serum doesn’t appear to be quite right. Having scored a hat-trick after his first dose, Dindane failed to hit the target during Saturday’s loss to Blackburn. However, he did end up waking up on Sunday morning with three Swedish underwear models in his bed. Technically then, he ‘scored’ successfully, but it just wasn’t the right type of scoring.

As a result, it looks like poor old Avram will have to go back to the drawing board, otherwise he might find that Dindane turns up to Pompey’s next match having composed a beautiful piano concerto, but is still unable to hit a cow’s backside with a banjo.

(Transformers, Robots In Disguise!)

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Premier League Predictions – 16th October

Posted by eddiev18 on October 16, 2009

Sunderland three, Liverpool twoooooo

Meg Predicts: "Sunderland three, Liverpool twoooooo"

Seeing as Mr.T has not yet driven his tank through my garden wall, and as I have not yet spotted any Snickers bars scattered around on my lawn, I can only assume that the mowhawked one approved of my report this week on what referee Alan Wiley has been up to during the international break.

This has put me in a good mood. As a result though, I am presented with a problem. You see, I had planned to write a bit of a tirade about Premier League scuffle-addict, and Dennis The Menace wannabe, Joey Barton. I was going to have a little rant, rate his face using the Lee Bowyer Smackablomator, and then enjoy the endorphins that my brain always kindly releases after a good old character assasination of an annoying footballer. In my current mood though, there is no way that I could do the man justice, so I’ve had to find something else to occupy myself.

Premier League predicitions aren’t that hard to write. Ask Mark Lawrenson. The basic rule is that if it’s a game between two teams quite evenly matched, it’ll either be a 2-1 win to the home side or some form of relatively low-scoring draw (e.g. 1-1. Although I imagine that providing you with an example of a low-scoring draw is fairly unnecessary). If you have a strong side against a weak side, it’s 3 or 4-0 if the strong side is at home, and 0-2 if they are playing away on a cart-track of a pitch in Wigan. Throw in one nil-nil bore each week, and you’re done.

Oh. Wait. The only other rule is that, if you’re Mark Lawrenson (if, on looking in the mirror, this does appear to be the case, please seek medical attention), you MUST at all costs write an undescribably biased prediction in favour of Liverpool.

Right, so the rules out of the way with, let’s have a look at what we’ve got in store for us this weekend:

Arsenal vs Birmingham

In their last game, Arsenal gave Blackburn the sort of beating that may potentially have forced Big Sam into reconsidering the ‘play a centre-half up front, and lump it long’ approach. That can only be good for the Premier League. Birmingham should expect to endure the same treatment from The Gunners this weekend too.

Paddy Power are already taking bets on the exact minute that Alex McLeish loses his voice from shouting at his players too much. You can also put a wager on the exact shade of red produced by the capillaries on the face of the hapless Scotsman, as he flails his arms about in his technical area in an attempt to get Barry Ferguson to track Cesc Fabregas, instead of making rude gestures behind the referee’s back.

Verdict: 4-0

Aston Villa vs Chelsea

Carlo Ancelotti this week did two things. He got a lap dance on Italian television, and then he compared John Terry to Paulo Maldini. I can see what he means. Both are loyal to their clubs, both are fighters on the pitch, both are defenders, and both are captains (or have been). That’s where Ancelotti’s comparison stops though.

You see, where Maldini has the quintessential character of the Italian footballer – intelligent, softly spoken, stylish, and good looking, Terry, by contrast, is guts-and-glory, loud, stupid, and has a face that wouldn’t be out of place in a Wheterspoons on a Saturday night. Surely I haven’t just described the quintessential English footballer? Oh… right.

Maybe Ancelotti had a point after all. All I know is that, come Saturday, points are not what Villa will be getting.

Verdict: 0-2

Everton vs Wolves

The thing is, Everton vs Wolves is not a very interesting game to talk about. If Everton were going to play against a pack of 11 wolves, all dressed up in football kits and little boots for their paws, then trust me I’d be all over the review of this game like beans on toast. The reality of it all though is that there will be no wolves. No stopping to bay at the moon. No targeting of the smallest Everton player and feasting on him at half time. Nothing.

All there will be is 11 men in gold shirts playing 11 men in blue shirts. The men in blue shirts will procede to score three goals, with the men in gold scoring none. Barring a mild attack of tourettes from Toffees goalkeeper Tim Howard, nothing exciting will happen. However if, like me, you would like English football to be as speicies-diverse as it is ethnically diverse, then how about we all write a stern letter to the Premier League? Word on the street is that Sheffield Wednesday are also interested in the idea.

Verdict: 3-0

Manchester United vs Bolton

He’s just like Dom Joly, that Fergie, isn’t he? Dom Joly, just without the oversized props.

Not content with angering the referee’s governing body last week, with his comments about podgy lard-ass Alan Wiley, professional prankster Sir Alex Ferguson has used the international break to try to wind-up Belgian club Standard Liege. Whilst everyone else’s postman was down the pub enjoying a good old strike, it seems that the United manager’s postie crossed the picket line, because Belgian wonderkid Steven Defour recieved a letter from the Scot this week.

At the letter’s heart Sir Alex expressed his best wishes to the injured playmaker, and reminded the boy that he was in his thoughts. I’m not sure how i’d feel if an old Scottish man wrote me a letter to tell me that I was ‘in his thoughts’, but Defour was supposedly delighted. Whether his club feel the same is another thing.

Verdict: 3-0

Portsmouth vs Tottenham

It’s impossible to write this one without asking the following question. Why did Harry Redknapp conduct a football-based interview in an aquarium on Wednesday afternoon? I think I have the answer.

As we all know, Baron Silas Greenback is now in one of the comfy boardroom chairs at Portsmouth. Greenback would clearly like to start his career as Pompey Director of Football with a win, so what does he do? Instead of sending exploding custard to every single one of the Tottenham players on the morning of the game, he decides to invite the manager of the opposition (rumoured to be partial to a backhander) into his secret evil lair. All secret evil lairs are based in locations largely covered by water, that’s just a fact, so what better place to conduct your business than a secret room in Portsmouth’s famous Blue Reef aquarium. Did Harry take the bung though?

Funnily enough, he did seem to talk awfully highly of his old club in the interview…

Verdict: 2-1

Stoke vs West Ham

This one’s the nil-nil.

Verdict: 0-0

Sunderland vs Liverpool

Sunderland gave Manchester United a real scare last time out. In fact it was Ben Foster who probably gave United the bigger scare, but I digress. The Mackems are on good form and, for Darren Bent, comparisons with Harry Redknapp’s wife Sandra have well and truly been consigned to his Twitter history. One problem I still have with Bent though, and I’ve mentioned this before, is the following… why does he have to wear headphones all the time, even when he’s being interviewed post-match? My only assumption is that he must be learning a language. If so, good luck to you Darren. Sorry, I mean ‘buena suerte’ (if in fact you are learning Spanish, or even reading this at all).

Liverpool have lost their last couple of games, and now have an injury to Steven Gerrard to cope with. Yossi Benayoun will feature for the reds, but is unlikely to have become any easier on the eye during the international break.

Verdict: 3-2

Blackburn vs Burnley

One game. Every weekend in the Premier League we get one of these. The sort of game that is less of a game, and more of an example of how to have a fight within the rules of football. So, lots of shoulder charging, slide tackling, clashes of heads, that sort of thing. There won’t be any football played. It’ll be an absolutely horrible spectacle. However, after 8 pints this game is the footballing equivalent of the girl accross the bar that suddenly got attractive, even though she definitely wasn’t when you sat down five hours ago.

Abnormaly appealing.

Verdict: 1-1

Wigan vs Man City

Alan Wiley is back and, as revealed on Eddie’s Football Blog, has spent the international break punching dead cow carcasses, running up steps, doing push-ups in the snow, and generally finding obscure ‘Rocky’ influenced techniques to get himself into top conditon in the limited timeframe he had at his disposal between Premier League fixtures. Will he now be able to out-sprint Craig Bellamy though? Probably not.

In fact, I don’t think anyone can out-sprint Craig Bellamy at the moment. In the sort of form the Welshman is in, I can see his pace being the difference between the two sides. His unique ability to get on everyone’s nerves will be another difference between the two sides.

Verdict: 1-2

Fulham vs Hull

Family club vs Family club, taking place in the only stadium in the Premier League to have a section for ‘neutral fans’. There are probably still some tickets available, why not buy a couple? Take the kids. Buy some candy floss. Play poo-sticks on Putney Bridge, and have a jolly nice Monday evening. The football won’t be great, but a giant badger wearing a Fulham shirt will do something funny at half time. The kids will like that.

Verdict: 1-1

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Greenback Back To Save The Blues

Posted by eddiev18 on October 7, 2009

Grant: Back in the big-time

Grant: Back in the big-time

I’ll admit it, whilst trying to think of something witty to open an article about Baron Silas Greenback‘s (aka Avram Grant) return to English football, I got a bit lost in the statistics of the Danger Mouse villain’s record as manager at Chelsea. This is why we’ve ended up with a) a rubbish title to the article, and b) an opening paragraph explaining why it isn’t making you laugh. I can only apologise for this.

The thing is though, after trawling through various statistics about wins, losses, draws and other stuff that people with no interest in football would rather burn their eyeballs than bare witness to, it appears that Greenback wasn’t actually a bad gaffer. In fact, he was quite good.

In the 32 Premier League games which Abramovich allowed him to sit in the hot-seat (whilst stroking his fluffy white caterpillar, and trying to find the exact post-box on Baker Street that his arch-nemesis had set up camp in) his record was as follows; 23 wins, 7 draws, and only 2 losses. That translates as 76 Premier League points, which is certainly a very good haul to ask your evil crow-henchman to gather up and put in your dungeon.

In fact, if you take his average points per game (at this point I’m aware that I will have lost a few of you who don’t care much for statistics. I expected this, which is why I put a picture on the right to distract you), and multiply it by the 38 games that he would’ve had at his disposal, had Chelsea decided to fire Mourinho before the start of the season, The Blues would’ve collected over 90 points that season.

Manchester United won the league with 87 points so, yes, I am essientially saying that The Baron would’ve won the Premier League at his first attempt. Factor in a Carling Cup Final (stop sarcastically saying “ooooooh!” back there!), and being a penalty-competent centre-half‘s width away from winning his Russian owner’s very own holy grail, the Champions League, and future historians will be scratching their heads as to why this man was given his P45. Especially when he’s been balancing football management with world domintation. It’s a tough juggling act to one minute have to send tins of exploding custard to every address on the planet, and then the next have to face the media after a 1-1 draw with Birmingham. Very tough indeed.

Greenback: Hell-bent on world domination

That was the problem with Greenback though. Like most evil super-villians, he was media shy, and he also looked like a super-villain should look. All toady and green, with a wheezy little laugh. Those very same historians will soon understand the reason for his dismissal when they see a picture of him. They’ll realise that he never stood a chance because Joe Public is never going to want an evil toad-creature as manager of his club.

Evil toad-creatures are simply not cool or funny enough when interviewed by Garth Crooks on Match Of The Day. As a result, these fans will put completely unrealistic performace expectations onto the manager’s shoulders. So will his chairman. Expectations so high, that all of the achievements stated above will simply not be good enough. If Greenback had been a man with nicely combed hair, who answered every question from Garth with a witty quip about a man walking into a bar, I’m sure those acheivements would at least have earnt him another season at the helm.

His demise was inevitable though, and is probably what drove him to steal a growth serum to create giant chickens that could take over the world. Probably.

Thankfully though, The Baron will have to reign in all that harebrained plotting now, as yesterday afternoon he accepted the Director Of Football job at Portsmouth. Just like his last job, this appears to be an interim position. On this occasion, however, it’s an interim position in the boardroom, and it looks very much like it’ll be Paul Hart who will end up biting the bullet. This should pave the way for Greenback, ironically for a super-villain, to step in and save the day.

Pompey fans, if it does happen, and you switch on the TV to see Greenback stroking his caterpillar whilst giving monosyllabic answers to Geoff Shreeves, in a press conference that he has rigged to interrupt every channel in the world, don’t dispair. He may not be pretty, and may occasionally be side-tracked by plans to destroy all the world’s signposts, but you can’t argue with his record during his last stint in the Premier League.

Plus, he looks like a cartoon character. So just think of all the songs you could make up.

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Rubles Everywhere, But Where’s The Soul?

Posted by eddiev18 on June 21, 2008

Money, money, moneyAlmost a month ago now, a man who had fought against media pressure and bought his club to the brink of a glorious season, was sacked – for coming second, twice.

Avram Grant, aka Baron Silas Greenback, had been drafted in from the boardroom to steer Chelsea’s season back onto some sort of course – bring some respectability to a campaign that had been all but written off by the oligarch chairman who employed him. That is all that was expected, especially after Jose Mourinho, before being fired, had royally messed it up in the first few months. The trouble is, Greenback did an excellent job.

The problem presented to Roman Abramovich was that this guy wasn’t employed to do well, he was there just to steady the ship. In the PR stakes, he was nowhere near ‘The Special One’, and his brand of football wasn’t any more exciting. After a 4-4 draw at home to Aston Villa during the Christmas period, the nationwide perception was that, at the end of a fruitless season, Abramovich would be able to shuffle Greenback off to an office upstairs, and employ a coach with greater credentials and a bigger name.

Greenback dug in though, rallied his troops, and fought back in the league. His team saw off Arsenal’s challenge, pushed Manchester United right down to the last game, and were a spot-kick away from becoming European champions in Moscow on May 22nd. A tremendous achievement for a team considered dead and buried only months before, but still not enough to please his boss.

Greenback’s sacking was harsh and, above all, completely classless. A man considered a friend to Abramovich when he took over, he was discarded like the Russian’s ex-wife – ruthlessly, and with a big pay-off. It sent a clear message reverberating around Europe, that the high standards set by Chelsea’s owner, and the cut-throat nature of the way he conducts his business, makes the club a place to avoid if you value your reputation.

According to reports, AC Milan’s brilliant technician Carlo Ancellotti was just one of a string of managers who, when approached, politely declined. His reputation and relationship with the club was more important than a hike in salary, and the pressure that the Chelsea job now brings.

From a personal viewpoint, I’m not sure Abramovich appreciated what he had with Greenback. He had a guy who had never managed in a major European league before, a manager who’s goal was to prove himself and work hard. He wasn’t there because of the pay cheque, he’d taken the job because this was his big chance. He desperately wanted to be Chelsea manager, irrespective of what the public and the media said about him, and the players eventually responded to that. Given another season and a few of his own players, who knows what he could have achieved.

Poor Old Avram

I have gone through the above to illustrate an overall observation of what Abramovich (Mourinho’s trophies aside) has bought to Chelsea. I think it is clear that he has squeezed out every last inch of soul at the club, including any form of likeability, and replaced it with a selfish, ‘look out for number one’, money-driven culture.

I understand that this culture is widespread in the modern game, but I think it is fuelled by, and at it’s worst at, Abramovich’s Chelsea. Just look at their latest appointment, manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. After the 2006 World Cup, Big Phil was all set to become England manager, only to retract his interest at the last minute. His reason was simple, “I don’t like this pressure. It may be part of another culture, but it’s not part of mine”. He certainly will not escape pressure at Chelsea, and there is no doubt in my mind that the Chelsea manager is in the media’s spotlight just as much, if not more, than the England boss.

It appears that Scolari has put the issue of pressure to one side, and the main reason he’s joined is so that he can earn enough money to retire in 4-5 years. Whilst I admire him for having the honesty to publically state this fact, it only goes to highlight my point.

It’s not only the manager though. Players are choosing Chelsea for the financial, not sporting, reasons too. I’m not concerned with the Winston Bogarde’s of the world, but when it comes to promising younger players – the likes of Shaun Wright-Phillips, Wayne Bridge, and Steve Sidwell – I have a massive problem with their decisions. All of the aforementioned players are classic examples of those who have jepordised their progression as footballers by signing for Chelsea, or staying there too long.

Wright-Phillips is the strangest one. Such an exciting prospect at Manchester City, and still young, it’s really hard to understand why he is happy with sitting on the bench for a large portion of the season. His development has slowed down dramatically, to the point that David Bentley (who plays week in, week out for Blackburn) is now seen as the natural replacement for David Beckham in the England team. Bentley left Arsenal to focus on his career and become a better player, while ‘SWP’ has been happy stagnating.

Considering all the above, it is easy to see where Abramovich is going wrong. Football management is all about laying out your foundations for success. It’s about making indivduals understand the need for teamwork – getting them to look out not only for themselves, but everyone else on their team. A manager needs time to understand the needs of individuals, build solid relationships, and eventually achieve success, which can be maintained by these foundations – just look at what Sir Alex Ferguson did after he got his house in order at Manchester United.

By not allowing a manager any time and instilling a soulless, cut-throat, self centred, money driven culture that attracts and creates mercenaries, Abramovich is the only person to blame if his club don’t achieve the goals he has set.

I just hope that, with takeover bids rife in the Premier League, other clubs don’t follow suit.

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