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.

Image courtesy of Henrygb via Wikimedia Commons



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

Ranieri to try shouting “dilly ding, kick the f****ing thing!” in training

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has given his famous training bell call an angrier new look in the new year in a bid to boost the Champions’ mediocre Premier League form.

Instead of “dilly ding, dilly dong”, Ranieri says he will now shout out “dilly ding, kick the f****ing thing!” to players who are slow to pass or challenge in training sessions.

Ranieri made the pledge at his mother’s New Year’s Eve party in Italy,  saying “New Year, new Claudio, angry Claudio!”

It is not yet clear if Ranieri has put the change into practice.

One club insider said “Claudio has been making a few of these kind of threats recently, but you have to take them with a pinch of salt.

“After we got beaten by Sunderland, for instance, he said he was only going to punish the lads by imposing a limit of two scoops when he treats the players to ice cream.

“Then a week later I saw Jamie Vardy with him at the ice cream counter saying, ‘OK, I’ll have vanilla, and strawberry. And rum and raisin.’

“I could see Claudio wasn’t best pleased by that but to be fair to him, he did groan out load for a second, and when he does that, you know he’s not happy.”

Image courtesy of Roberto Vicario via Wikimedia Commons

Arsenal to extend Arsene Wenger’s contract by eight years just to see Piers Morgan’s reaction

Arsenal are planning to extend Arsene Wenger’s contract by another eight years, purely so they can laugh at celebrity fan Piers Morgan going absolutely nuts on Twitter.

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said: “Okay, even I would want Arsene to be well settled into a retirement home, sipping Merlot and watching DVDs of Ligue 1 matches by 2025, but could you imagine what Piers Morgan would say if we announced otherwise?

“I doubt the term ‘going apesh*t’ would come anywhere close to covering it. How could we resist?”

Morgan is a 51-year-old entertainer best known for inventing the #wengerout hashtag in 1987 during Wenger’s troubled third season in charge of Nancy.

He has since collected millions of Twitter followers who enjoy his hysterical reactions to the setbacks frequently suffered by his beloved Arsenal.

Friends of Morgan were horrified to hear of Gazidis’s plans.

Morgan has called many times for Wenger to be replaced in the Arsenal hotseat.

He recently pledged to hold a demonstration should Wenger’s contract, which expires in the summer, be extended by any time at all.

Morgan says he will wrap his body in Arsenal scarves from the 2003/04 Invincibles’ Season, sit down on the point of an Islington garden where the centre spot of Highbury was located, and publicly disembowel himself before arranging his organs in a straight line to represent a Winterburn-Adams-Bould-Dixon offside trap.

Image courtesy of Gordon Flood via Wikimedia Commons

Living in Manchester doesn’t make you miserable, insist Pep and Mourinho

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola today both said that living in Manchester does not make you miserable, thereby rubbishing an inaccurate stereotype about the northern city.

On being asked by a journalist if he felt miserable in Manchester, Jose Mourinho growled before saying: “What a stupid question!

“We’ve just won six games in a row. In fact, I can tell you every morning, I see the postman and he says ‘Jose, how come you are always so happy?’

“I tell him ‘Because your city is beautiful and we’ve just won six games in a row’”

After having to confirm that he was happy in an interview after Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Burnley, Pep Guardiola also praised his adopted city at a press conference today.

Guardiola said: “No, no, if I can maybe once or twice get a bit moody it has nothing to do with Manchester.

“People say it rains here a lot, but it’s soft rain – really nice – and it’s good for your hair.

“The culture here is very good, okay I’ve worked in Barcelona and Munich, but they don’t have anything quite like Granada Studios.

“Then you have the shops – what’s so funny about that? My friends all want to fly over just to see the Trafford Centre.

“And the footballers – well, you wouldn’t believe how hard I had to work in Barcelona to get that lot to pass a football. But here they all understand me perfectly!”

Image courtesy of Aleksandr Osipov via Flickr

Office worker calls in sick today with ‘Premier League exhaustion’

A sales consultant in the southeast of England has blamed exhaustion at following the Premier League for failing to show up for the first day back after Christmas.

Tim Whelan, 31, said: “I just got overwhelmed by it so quickly. I didn’t fall down with it until Monday morning.

“The previous night I’d been sleeping on and off, as I kept waking up and running Giroud’s goal through my head.

“Then I woke up a bit worse for wear, checked BBC Sport and, Christ, there was another six Premier League matches ahead that day! I then realised I had 17 minutes left to update my Fantasy League team – you can barely imagine the stress that caused.

“I switched the live football updates page on straight away. By the time Match of the Day finished I was really struggling – my head was throbbing and I was left with a fierce hatred of Mike Dean, but the rest was all such a blur.”

Whelan went straight to his doctor today, who signed a note ordering him to rest for a few days and take in a few meaningless FA Cup ties over the weekend to allow his exhausted mind to recover.

An expert at Cambridge University, Dr. Marcus Tofolus, says “While Premier League exhaustion is a rare condition, we do see it happening at this time of year in particular.”

One trade union, the Association of Lazy Office Workers, has even called for a winter break to be introduced to help football followers struggling with the demands of staying up-to-date over the frantic Christmas period.

Image courtesy of Soon on flickr