Eddie's Football Blog

A bizarre look at the world of football, since 2008

Posts Tagged ‘Thierry Henry’

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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Premier League Predictions – 19th November

Posted by eddiev18 on November 20, 2009

Meg: Busy casting a spell on Thierry Henry

Poor old Ireland eh? Thierry Henry’s left hand on Wednesday night put an end to the Green Army’s dream of following their national team to the World Cup, and condemned them to yet another summer of drinking bottles of cider in picturesque countryside taverns that border acres of beautiful apple orchards. Or so Magners would have us believe…

Oh well, at least they can turn their attentions back to the Premier League this weekend, where their most cherished top flight English team will continue their fine unbeaten ru… oh… right… that’s Liverpool isn’t it? Never mind then.

I’m not really doing a very good job at cheering the Irish up, so I’ll get on with my predictions. Same form as usual. Beat me and you win a tenner*.

Birmingham vs Fulham

I was happy to see that I predicted yet another correct outcome involving Liverpool in the last round of Premier League fixtures. I haven’t got anything against Liverpool, but I saw Birmingham going to Anfield, defending for their lives (as they have done all season), and getting something. However, my prediction was probably more based on Liverpool not having a clue this season, and the fact that they still have Lucas in their midfield.

What I didn’t see coming though was The Blues scoring two goals, and Alicia Keys lookalike Cameron Jerome pinging one in from 30 yards. However, I can live with that because Jose Reina didn’t see it coming either, and I guess it was more important for him to be ready for Jerome’s strike than me.

Apart from their dancing badger, there’s not much you can say about Fulham. Whilst I was waiting for my breakfast last Sunday I was given a complimentary paper to read (presumably whilst the pub’s manager attempted to get the Gap year student to stop going for fag breaks and actually cook the full English I had ordered – he failed), and I stumbled across a quote from Roy Hodgson saying that he hoped Fulham fans realise that there is a ceiling on what the club can achieve.

Whilst he is 100% correct about that, it sort of highlights the problem with reviewing them. Yes, they’ll have a game every week. Yes, I’ll have to think of something to say. However with no ambition, there’s no real excitement. Just a freak season once in a while where they’ll either have a relegation dog fight, or they’ll break into the top seven and get a place in a competition that noone cares about, (even if it earns them a few extra quid, offers their fans a few European city breaks).

This season they’ll finish comfortably in mid-table again, which means that their recent success needs to be balanced up with a defeat this weekend. So that’s what I’ve gone for.

Verdict: 2-1

Burnley vs Aston Villa

Burnley are a Championship side punching above their weight in the Premier League. Them’s the fact ladies and gents. If they didn’t have the support of all those blokey-looking women in the home crowd scaring the opposition’s wide players, they’d be relegated already and wiping the tears away with their bingo-wings.

Anyway, they DO have that support, and their home form is why they are still afloat (although if Turf Moor was flooded, the players be able to stay afloat just by grabbing one of the massive buoyancy aids sitting in the stands).

This game therefore should be made all the more interesting by that fact. However, in spite of Villa’s pretty indifferent form of late, I think they’ll win this one easily. The wingers are the reason, and they have two of them in Ashley Young and James Milner who are bang on form right now. If they can avoid the Medusan-like effect of looking directly at the female Burnley fans whilst hugging their touchlines, then I fully expect them to tear The Clarets apart.

Verdict: 1-3

Chelsea vs Wolves

If there was ever a home-win to put your house on, this is it**.

The only way Wolves can win is if they, as previously mooted on Eddies Football Blog, put out a team of real wolves that end up killing and feasting on the entire Chelsea team. However, even if they did that they’d be more than likely to still only get a draw, as I don’t think packs of wolves care much for scoring goals.

Verdict: 3-0

Hull vs West Ham

Last week I must have sent good karma out to Phil Brown with my emotional appeal to keep him in his job at Hull. Not only did they win their game against Stoke, but the man who popped up with the winner may well have inadvertently boosted the Geordie crooner’s transfer budget for the January window.

That’s right; sales of replica shirts with Jan Vennegoor Of Hesselink printed on the back have soared following his injury time strike and, at £1 per letter, that’ll be a nice tidy sum come the end of 2009. Enough to buy Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker from Borussia Monchengladbach perhaps.

It’s a novel approach, but then so is having your half-time team-talk in the middle of the pitch. He’s a pioneer, that Brownie.

By contrast, West Ham ‘ave gone and found themselves a spot of bovva. Tree-trunk legged striker Dean Ashton is expected to retire from football imminently, which is a real shame for the club, the player, and English football in general. The person who will benefit from Ashton’s retirement is World Cup hopeful Carlton Cole, but he must be getting tired of having to do it all on his own.

As a result, The Hammers will have to get Cole to form a partnership with their suggestible Italian Allessandro Diamanti, and will therefore be hoping that the Hull fans don’t all learn the Italian for ‘miss!’ by tomorrow afternoon. Expect an entertaining dogfight though, but obviously without any real dogs (unless a plucky Hammer manages to smuggle his Staffy into the ground, and it ends up getting into a scuffle with Stephen Hunt).

Verdict: 2-2

Liverpool vs Man City

What did I say when I started this whole Premier League predictions thing? Well, I gave you all certain rules to abide by, didn’t I? Certain criteria for aiding you in your conquest, if you will. However, I also said that if you are Mark Lawrenson you must, at all costs, write an indescribably biased prediction in favour of Liverpool.

The Reds go into this weekend with the following form in the last 9 games (in all competitions) – LLLLWLLDD. Despite Gerrard’s return, they are without key striker Fernando Torres, and play a Man City side who have only lost one game in all competitions all season (against Man Utd), and sitting nicely above them in the league. This is why i find the following from ‘Lawro’ the most hilarious piece of biased piffle I have seen in a long time…

“The good news for Liverpool is that it looks like Steven Gerrard has got himself fit, although I’m not sure that Fernando Torres will make this one. Manchester City had four players starting for England last week so it’s not as if they’ve had a rest and that could be a factor.

I think Manchester City now have players capable of taking the game to Liverpool and that might suit the home side as a lot of teams go to Anfield and shut up shop. But this could be an open game and Liverpool will like that. “

So, not only has he turned the potent threat of Man City’s attacking options into an advantage for Liverpool (when, in reality, they will have haunted Jamie Carragher’s dreams this week), but he is also claiming that City’s top-class athletes will need more rest after a game they played 7 bloody days earlier!

This, my friends, is exactly what I was on about. It’s safe to say that I don’t agree with him in the slightest.

Verdict: 1-2

Man Utd vs Everton

This is traditionally a big game, and a game in which Everton I’m sure would want to give a good account of themselves. However, with 11 of their first team players either with knocks or long term injuries, it has turned into a fixture in which David Moyes’ men will just defend in numbers and hope for a point.

With captain Phil Neville absent, a player all too used to winning games at Old Trafford, Everton’s midfield will be outclassed and I can see a United getting three points. Not an easy three points. Or a pretty three points. But three points nonetheless. As Ian Holloway once put it, in gentlemen’s terms, it’ll be like going out and pulling a bird who isn’t the prettiest but, sod it, you’ll still take her home.

Verdict: 2-0

Sunderland vs Arsenal

A really interesting match-up.

Sunderland got mugged last time out against Spurs. Plain and simple. They should have won that game, but for the first time this season they showed their wastefulness in front of goal. They also missed the battering-ram presence of Kenwyne Jones.

If you were to fault Arsenal this season, you could justifiably point a finger at their inability to deal with aerial balls into the box, so they will be relieved to hear that the somersaulting powerhouse is still serving a suspension. However, it is still a weakness that Bruce will target.

That said, Cesc ‘Harry Potter’ Fabregas is in the form of his life, and he will have been rubbing his hands in anticipation after viewing the amount of space that Tom Huddlestone was allowed at White Hart Lane by Sunderland’s midfield. Expect Mackems captain Lorik Cana to return with typical hatchet-man style to remedy that, and make things difficult for the Spaniard (unless, of course, he’s still drunk, and staggering around in his pants somewhere in Algeria).

With Van Persie out for Arsenal, this one is very nicely balanced. I’ll go for a high-scoring draw.

Verdict: 2-2

* N.B. You won’t actually win a tenner. I lied in order to get you involved. I’m sorry. Here’s a tenner to compensat… Balls. I’m at it again. I better stop now before I offer you the keys to my house.

** N.B. If Chelsea don’t win, and you did end up taking my off the cuff remark as actual advice, then you’re an idiot. However, if you need to crash on my sofa for a couple of days whilst you find somewhere new to live, then fine. Just don’t try to sue me. Or drink the beer in my fridge.

Check back tomorrow for my predictions for Sunday’s games (including the weekly 0-0, if you were wondering where it was!)

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Ultimate Elevens – Eddie’s XI

Posted by eddiev18 on December 24, 2008

Eleven - The Magic Number

Here’s my Ultimate Eleven. Let me know what you think of it!

Formation-wise, I was toying with a 3-5-2 formation with wing-backs, mainly because Roberto Carlos is without a doubt the best attacking full back i’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. Also, if you add John Terry as an extra centre-back, the defence would have been solid as a rock. However, the absence of an attacking right-back of similar quality to Roberto Carlos, and the inability to include anyone from the veritable smorgasbord of exciting wingers I’ve seen over the years, made me favour the more traditional 4-4-2 formation.

If it wasn’t for a five month spell living in Madrid back in 2004, I’m very aware that my team would be totally different. However, I was lucky enough to be in the Spanish capital when the ‘Galacticos’ era was in full swing, which is why four players from that Real Madrid team (Casillas, Roberto Carlos, Figo, and Zidane) make it into my XI. Unlike their team though, mine would conquer because it has, in my opinion, two world-class centre halves and the best defensive midfielder I’ve seen in 20 years following the game – Patrick Vieira (only Dunga and Makalele come close to him and, as a Spurs fan that’s tough to admit!).

That isn’t to say that my team lacks flair. Not in the slightest. With Figo and Ginola providing the width and wizardry on the flanks, and Zidane in his best position (operating behind the strikers), they’d provide plenty of goals from midfield and ammunition for the two strikers.

Picking two strikers was the most difficult decision I had to make, mainly because the list of players I could choose from was so massive! However, I wanted a partnership – two players who would work well with each other. It was important that one of them was an intelligent footballer, with a good eye for a pass, and the ability to drop a little deeper to link up with Zidane and the wingers. I managed to get the list down to the following players: Ronaldo (the fat one), Sheringham, Berbatov, Rooney, Raul, Etoo, Owen, Shearer, Henry.

I decided that Sheringham was going the play the slightly withdrawn role, that was a pretty easy decision, and I was seriously considering pairing him up with his old ‘SAS’ strike-partner Alan Shearer. However, Thierry Henry was incredible at Arsenal, probably the best player ever seen in the Premier League, and I felt the team needed a little more pace. Sheringham and Henry, that’ll do just fine!

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas – Now regarded as one of the best in the world, Casillas is treated like a golden-boy in Madrid, in the same way that Raul is. A product of the youth academy, he made his debut for Los Blancos at 19, and hasn’t looked back since. Combining incredible agility with a terrific ability to command his area, this guy would have kept so many more clean sheets in his carreer if it wasn’t for his club’s ability to ignore the value of quality players in defence. I wanted to pick Peter Schmeichel, but I never saw him live, and I reckon he’s by far a better goalkeeper than James and Barthez.

Right Back: Christan Panucci – I haven’t seen too many outstanding right backs in my time. It’s the sort of position where, if you do a good job, you’re not noticed by the fans – you just quietly get on with it. Panucci is different though. He comes from an era in Italy that produced a whole plethora of fine defenders (including the likes of Maldini, Costacurta, Cannavaro, Nesta), and I have always been hugely impressed by not only his versatility (he can play superbly in any position across the back-line), but also his stamina, and determination to stick to his task. Like most of those aforementioned players, Panucci never relied on pace to defend, meaning that he is still playing at the top level, despite being nearly 36 years old. I’ve only seen him live once, and eventhough Roma lost 4-2 that day, I was hugely impressed by him.

Centre Half: Sol Campbell – When Campbell left Tottenham for Arsenal back in 2001 I, like all Spurs fans, was (to say the least) upset. Sure, the fact that our captain and product of our academy gone to our deadliest rivals was shocking (and I still don’t forgive him for that), but the real pain was caused by the harsh truth that he was simply too good for us at the time he left, and it would take years to properly replace him. He was the ultimate ‘powerhouse’ centre-half, but he was quick too. Whenever I saw him play for Spurs he would win absolutely everything in the air, and I imagine he’d be a total nightmare to play against. Fine, he was never the most graceful with the ball at his feet, but playing at Arsenal improved this side of his game greatly. A classic old fashioned centre half, which is a must for any team in my opinion. It always makes me laugh that he started life at Spurs as a striker!

Centre Half: Ledley King – Every Tottenham fan knows that, when fit, Ledley is in the top five centre halves in the world. He really is that good – better than Terry, better than Ferdinand, I have absolutley no doubt about that. However, I don’t want to start a debate about that (it’s just what I believe), as I know that most non-Spurs fans won’t see it that way, because the simple truth is that no-one has seen him play anywhere near enough in the last few years. His career has been ruined by injury, and he doesn’t look like he’s going to recover. Horrible news, but I’ve been lucky enough to have watched him when he was fit, and at his very best. Thierry Henry once described King as the only defender in the league able to match him for pace and still tackle him fairly. This highlights two of King’s best attributes – searing pace, and the timing of a Swiss clock in a challenge. He really has it all though, and is so comfortable on the ball that Sven Goran Eriksson deemed him good enough to play in midfield for England. Paired alongside Campbell, I think it gives me the perfect combination.

Left Back: Roberto Carlos – As I suggested above, Roberto Carlos isn’t really a proper left-back. I’d much rather have pretended that I’ve watched Paolo Maldini, and just whack him in the team (plus, I wouldn’t need any description as to why I’ve chosen him), but I’d be breaking my own rules so I’ve resisted. Having said all of that, Roberto Carlos played as a left back (albeit an attacking one) in a flat back four for almost every team he has played for, so he has the same role in my team. What I find most interesting about Roberto Carlos is that he was almost plagued by a stunning free-kick he scored in a friendly tournament back in 1997, as many fans just remember him for that. I remember him for his superb raiding runs down the left, as it was virtually impossible to stop him when he was on song. He redesigned the role of the full-back in the 90s and, when you put him up against the likes of Clive Wilson, Paolo Tramezanni and Justin Edinburgh, he’s a shoe-in!

Defensive Midfield: Patrick Vieira – I saw Vieira in his pomp, when Arsenal’s ‘invincibles’ travelled to the Lane to win the 2003/04 Premier League title, in a 2-2 draw. Vieira finished off an excellent move to score that day, and it was the first time I’d seen him in the flesh. What a player he was. Arsenal have never fully recovered since losing him. Defensive midfielders are a rare commodity, well the good ones are anyway, and Vieira wins his place in my team simply because he had more strings to his bow than Makalele.

Attacking Midfield: Zinedine Zidane – Magnificent. The best player I’ve ever seen, hands down, and I expect that to stay that way for quite some time. I don’t mean to do him any diservice by not saying any more about him, but I really don’t think I need to. Most people are aware of this man’s genius. If you aren’t, just go to YouTube, and check out the multitude of compilation videos dedicated to the great man. I feel privelidged to have seen him play. A legend.

Right Wing: Luis Figo – Left or right, it doesn’t matter with Figo, as long as he’s hugging a touchline. One of the best players in recent memories, he was actually the best of that Madrid bunch in the 2003/04 season. He tormented defenders with his dribbling ability and, as David Seaman will remember, was a master at scoring with long-range piledrivers. With Beckham, Joaquin, and Cristiano Ronaldo all in the running for this spot in my team, I’ve gone with Figo because he consistently performed throughout an illustious carreer that has spanned almost 20 years.

Left Wing: David Ginola – Ginola was contesting this position with Brazilian winger Denilson (not the one currently at Arsenal), because I wanted a bit of fun in the team. I wanted a player who plays with a smile on their face, maybe doesn’t do a huge amount defensively, but is a crowd pleaser and puts entertaining the supporters high on the agenda. Ginola wins because he was so consitently good at Spurs, and was a shining light in a very dark period for the club. Denilson was great fun to watch, but you can’t help but look back at his career and see it as a failiure, given the promise he showed in his youth at the 1998 World Cup.

Striker: Teddy Sheringham – Sheringham is definitely the best player i’ve seen in the withdrawn striker role. Like Campbell, he was too good for Tottenham (eventhough he loved the club), and when he moved to Manchester United he got the recognition he deserved from the media, and won the medals he craved (the Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup). A clever player who created just as many goals as he scored, other strikers just loved to play with him. Shearer was the beneficiary in Euro 96, and the best example of Sheringham’s ability can be seen in this clip of England’s destruction of Holland.

Striker: Thierry Henry – Man Utd fans will say that Cantona is the best ever Premier League striker. Arsenal fans will tell you that Henry deserves the award, and Newcastle fans will tell you Shearer is better than both. I’m not interested in that discussion. Henry was awesome, and he has the pace that my team needs. He and Sheringham would tear teams apart, that’s what matters.

Let me know what you think of my team below, and please send your Ultimate Elevens to me at eddiesfootballblog@hotmail.co.uk, and I will put as many of them up on the site as possible. Before you do though, please read the criteria here.

Merry Christmas!

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