Pep: “If you think Bravo’s goalkeeping is good, you should try his cooking!”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has defended under-fire goalkeeper Claudio Bravo by revealing that he has superb culinary skills.

Pundits and fans were unimpressed by Bravo failing to save a single shot in City’s 0-4 defeat to Everton.

Guardiola, however said: “We can all be playing better right now, but I am confident in Claudio. He is a good goalkeeper, a great passer of the ball and an extraordinary cook.”

Bravo has been known to treat the City squad to samples of his cooking after training and on away trips.

His skills proved to be particularly useful when the Man City squad were offered a deep-fried Mars bar platter at their hotel before their Champions League match away at Celtic.

Empanadas, meat pastries from his native Chile are Bravo’s speciality, but he also learned the knack of making a crisp paella when playing for Barcelona.

His passion for cooking is so great that he is known to fold recipes up and store them in his socks during matches, just so he can better plan his evening meal.

Guardiola is well known for demanding more of goalkeepers than just shot stopping, which is why he replaced club icon Joe Hart with Bravo, who struggles to stop shots.

At Bayern Munich, Guardiola enjoyed having Manuel Neuer in goal, as the German international keeper is also a skilled handyman.

Neuer would often fix TVs and loose fittings at the club’s training ground, while he once showed off his flair for DIY by making a cabinet in his goalmouth during a DFB Cup match at home to Darmstadt.

Image courtesy of Fanny Schertzer via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

Discoverers of lost town in Borneo jungle find Sven coaching local team

A group of anthropologists who recently discovered that a lost tribe in the Borneo rainforest have settled a small town were staggered to find Sven-Goran Eriksson in charge of the local football team.

Tom Wilson, the Cambridge anthropologist who took part in the expedition along with Indonesian academics, spoke about the incredible situation, saying:

“We had been searching for signs of the tribe for 11 months as nobody knew where they had been for the past seven years.

“We were canoeing everywhere we could, mapping the forest, and finally one of our crew saw a man with a bow and arrow running back from the riverbank.

“We called over and the man returned with another man, who was holding a kind of carved wooden flute.

“We kept our distance as they were clearly nervous but we gestured for the man with the flute to play a song known to the tribe.

“And lo and behold, he played the opening lines of Sven, Sven, Sven – the 2001 hit from comedy music duo Bell And Spurling.

“I burst out laughing, which seemed to make the tribesmen less tense, and they invited us out of the boat to visit their settlement.

“It was much bigger than we imagined; in fact  it was an uncharted town. They even had a little football stadium.

“I went to take a look, and there was Sven waving at me. I could not believe my eyes.

“He shook my hand and apologised that he couldn’t talk for longer as his side were preparing for an Asian Champions League match.

“He seemed to have made the tribesmen into a well-drilled side, and they had even signed Eric Djemba-Djemba to boost their midfield.”

As well as the presence of a football team, another fascinating feature of the town, according to Wilson, was the unexpectedly high number of children with blond hair and glasses.

He says this is likely due to peculiarities in the tribe’s gene pool.

Image courtesy of Doha Stadium Plus Qatar via Wikimedia Commons

Chinese league turns out to be out-of-control Fantasy Football mini league

Following news that Chelsea striker Diego Costa could be the latest star name to head to China in a big-money move,  Shanghai-based marketing consultant Jimmy Dong has revealed that the Chinese Super League is entirely controlled by the Fantasy Premier League mini league that he competes in with work colleagues.

A former worker at the marketing agency set up the mini league five years ago, and Dong says everything was entirely normal for the first three years, with fantasy managers selecting an assortment of Premier League players to compete for the highest points tally.

Dong says that all this changed following a freak thunderstorm that led to a power cut at his office at the end of January 2016.

Once power was restored, he logged onto his Fantasy Premier League account and found his fantasy team, the Beijing Terracotta Wanderers, filled with Chinese players.

When he tried to transfer them out, all the names of Premier League players were blacked out and he was unable to select them. However, the following day Ramires became available and Dong transferred the former Chelsea midfielder into his team.

Dong says: “The price was crazy but he was the only player I could select. Then it took me to this weird screen saying ‘asking bank for loan’ and ‘funds approved’ popped up.”

Dong found the same unusual set-up in the summer as he tried to select his fantasy team for the current season.

At this stage Hulk was available to sign for £50m, which Dong found strange as he was not a Premier League player, but with no other options he signed him.

In recent weeks Dong’s closest friend at work has signed Oscar and Carlos Tevez in the same way.

Dong confesses to only recently realising that there are actual clubs in China whose transfers appear to be controlled by his office fantasy league, a situation he says is “beyond mind-blowing”.

Dong was excited to see that Diego Costa is available to be transferred ahead of the next game week.

He sighed while calling the situation “totally screwed up,” but admitted “I need to get some points quick to stop Tommy Woo in accounts running away with the league, so I better sign Costa up and captain him.”

Image courtesy of Aleksandr Osipov via Wikimedia Commons

Swansea bid to sign ten more Sigurdssons

Swansea are aiming to sign ten new members of the Sigurdsson clan in a bid to boost their battle to avoid relegation.

With Gylfi Sigurdsson being the Swans’ outstanding player so far this season, new manager Paul Clement wants to build a team around him and reckons the closer the new signings are to the Iceland international, the better.

Gylfi Sigurdsson is delighted at the prospect of soon playing in a team full of his namesakes.

He dismissed concerns about a lack of high-level playing experience among his cousins by saying: “None of them are anywhere near the Iceland team, but then again none of the English lads at Swansea are anywhere near the England team.”

The ten Sigurdssons Swansea are to make bids for are as follows:

Filthy Sigurdsson (a no-nonsense centre-back)

Silky Sigurdsson (a 22-year old winger once hailed as the next big thing in Icelandic footballer, but who has failed to live up to the hype)

Tilty Sigurdsson (another winger, known for weaving past defenders)

Willy Sigurdsson (Manchester City’s fourth choice goalkeeper)

Silly Sigurdsson (right back, known for his dressing room jokes)

Wilty Sigurdsson (experienced 36-year-old midfielder)

Sickly Sigurdsson (centre back whose career has been plagued by injury)

Slinky Sigurdsson (left back, also very good at going down stairs)

Kilty Sigurdsson (midfielder who claims Scottish roots when turning up for weddings in kilts)

Guilt-free Sigurdsson (striker, recently cleared of a speeding charge in Iceland)

Paul Clement has, however, dismissed claims that Gylfi Sigurdsson’s mother, Milfy Sigurdsson, is to be offered a role on the club’s coaching staff as “nonsense”.

Image courtesy of Chelsea Debs via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Whole world: “I would have won Champions League too with Pep’s Barca”

Almost everyone in the world reckons if they had been Barcelona manager at the same time as Pep Guardiola, they too would have won the Champions League.

Warehouse operative Tom Wilson from Stourbridge sums up the international mood by saying: “Come on, just look who he had in that team – Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Pique, Puyol.

“They’re some of the biggest winners ever in football. You could probably just send them out there with a pat on the back and wait for the medals to come. Tika-taka ka-ching!

“I may have taken six years to master driving a forklift in a straight line, but I’m sure even I could have managed that lot.”

We contacted Mongolian phone salesman Gotya Simkhard to randomly verify this view, and he said: “Of course, come on, Champions League with Barca.

“I think I have a tougher job selling iPhones to needy teenagers to what Guardiola had.”

Just about the only people to disagree have been found to be Frank Rijkaard, whose Barcelona team finished 18 points behind Real Madrid the season before Guardiola took charge, and Gerardo Martino – who along with the late Tito Vilanova was unable to win the Champions League with Barcelona after Guardiola left.

Martino said: “Jesus, it isn’t actually as easy as you think when all the coaches in Europe are spending their days dreaming up ways to beat you and their nights sticking pins into Leo Messi voodoo dolls.”

Image courtesy of Богдан Заяц via Wikimedia Commons

West Ham advertise for new signings on Gumtree

West Ham have posted an advert on Gumtree for new players as their efforts to boost their squad in the January transfer window continue.

The Hammers recently sent a letter to five Premier League clubs asking them to consider loaning them players.

The club are yet to receive any replies, which according to chairman David Gold is due to the slow Christmas post.

The club’s top transfer targets Jermain Defoe and Robert Snodgrass are also yet to reply to Facebook messages from West Ham, despite little ticks underneath the messages indicating they read them over the weekend.

The Hammers are now trying their luck on free adverts website Gumtree.

West Ham have posted under the ‘Sports partners wanted’ section of the East London & Dagenham version of Gumtree.

The advert is titled: “Ambitious East London team seeking new players for regular weekend games.”

The advert opens by noting that West Ham play in new facilities just a few minutes’ walk from the East London Westfield centre.

It continues to say the club is looking for reliable defenders in particular, who must be able to compete with James Collins for a spot in a team.

It notes that it is desirable for applicants to be able to play “deep and meaningful passes” up to the club’s top striker, Andy, around 10 times per year when he is fit to play.

It says it is vital any budding players can earn “proper Premier League wages” of at least £20,000 per week.

The advert ends by asking interested players to contact David by phone and notes that “no timewasters or friends of Simone Zaza need apply.”

Image courtesy of John Seb Barber via Flickr

 

‘More teams in World Cup than actual countries’ by 2034

The number of teams able to take part in the World Cup is likely to exceed the actual number of countries in the world by 2034, presenting an unforeseen problem in FIFA’s plan to expand the tournament.

Football’s world governing body today announced it is to allow 48 countries to take part in the 2026 tournament.

Should that prove to be a success, FIFA is planning to double the size of the tournament to 96 teams in 2030, and then double this again to 192 national teams in 2034.

The world only has 183 officially recognised countries, however, meaning nine places are likely to be vacant.

While it is possible some new countries will be created after gaining independence in the meantime (such as Catalonia), FIFA are exploring ways to fill the gap.

One idea circulating at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich is to give spots to countries that no longer exist such as the Ottoman and Inca Empires.

A further problem is presented by FIFA’s prediction that it will increase its earnings in every tournament and make $90 trillion from the 2034 World Cup.

That figure is more than the value of the world’s combined economic output, meaning that everything that everyone spends in 2034 will have to go to FIFA if it is to come close to reaching its business target.

Image courtesy of Luke Price via Flickr

FA to make cup more interesting by stopping to pretend it’s magic

FA chairman Greg Clarke says that if people stop falsely claiming the FA Cup is magic, the competition will be more interesting in the future.

Clarke today announced a plan to revive interest in the cup competition, after the FA received a number of complaints over the weekend.

Many complaints were from parents whose children stayed up to watch Match of the Day expecting a football-based version of Harry Potter.

Their children were disappointed that there was no magic involved at all in defeats by Bournemouth’s reserves at Millwall – nor in Stoke and West Brom losing at home to decent opposition.

Clarke says: “We are calling on everyone to stop using the phrase ‘magic of the cup’ as we realise it’s become very misleading.

“Actually it’s just a knockout competition with a large number of ties between teams from different divisions, a few of which will produce surprise results.

“We think a more honest approach to the competition will work better in the future. We are therefore asking the media to stop imagining lower league sides might have a decent chance against Premier League millionaires.

“We no longer see a need for foreign managers to say the cup is unique or special before picking reserve teams.

“We think the competition still has some things to offer like talented Premier League stars being able to wreak havoc against limited defences, some pluckier backs-to-the-wall defending, grounds that never usually get on the telly being shown, an opportunity for everyone to boost their knowledge of lower league clubs, plus West Ham getting tonked.”

FA chiefs also want the phrase ‘romance of the cup’ to be banned, as new figures indicate that 96% of first dates held at FA Cup Third Round matches do not develop into relationships.

The plan for a more honest approach was chosen ahead of a number of other suggestions for boosting the FA Cup’s profile.

These include providing a Champions League spot for the winners, handing out more prize money, and introducing novelty games for TV viewers, such as Spot the Spectator, which was trialled during Sunday’s Cardiff v Fulham match.

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Tony Pulis gives West Brom players 40-minute winter break

Tony Pulis last week gave his West Brom players a 40-minute winter break to allow them to recover following the demands of the Christmas period.

Pulis says he has been inspired by technically superior European leagues, and reckons more rest time now might help the Baggies should they qualify for Europe next season.

One club insider said: “You could see the players were a bit stunned.

“They normally go straight from the third training session of the day to the fourth, but Tony said ‘Right lads, winter break time, what is it now? 11:20, off you go and just make sure you get back here by 12 sharp!’

“A few of them thought it was a joke at first but when the realised it was for real, they started walking off out of the training ground, enjoying the rest.

“James McClean even got as far as Costa Coffee and had a sit down. As there was a queue, he was seven minutes late back though, so Tony fined him three weeks’ wages.”

Image courtesy of IFCS – David Baumgartner via Wikimedia Commons

New Chinese teammate of Tevez a bit annoyed to earn 10,000 times less

A player at Carlos Tevez’s new Chinese club has voiced some frustration at the fact he is earning 0.01% of the Argentine striker’s world-record salary.

Tevez recently signed for Beijing Terracotta Wanderers on a £32m annual salary from Boca Juniors.

Por Sod Me, a second-choice left-back at the club, admits some of the players already at the club find the amount of money Tevez is to earn staggering.

He said: “Of course it’s fantastic for the club and the fans to get a world-class player in, and all that, but it’s also a little strange.

“We asked him how he was settling in the area when we met him on Monday, and he said ‘Fine, we saw five houses already at the weekend, and we weren’t sure which we liked best so we bought them all.’

“Then yesterday he was asking the goalkeeping coach where he could buy a 300-foot yacht as he wants a present for his son’s tenth birthday.”

Por Sod Me says that he hopes Tevez’s mega salary is not a source of jealousy in the dressing room but adds that it is not really the way communism used to work in China.

There have been some unusual consequences arising from the extent of Tevez’s wages.

Gus Poyet, who is coaching the Terracotta Wanderers, has been warned not to fine Tevez should he skip training or commit any similar indiscretions.

The fear is that the local banking system could collapse should Tevez try to withdraw two weeks’ wages from an ATM.

Image courtesy of Gordon Flood via Wikimedia Commons