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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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Rene Higuita scorpion kicks drink at TV when celebrating Giroud goal

Legendary Colombian goalkeeper Rene Higuita was so thrilled to see Olivier Giroud pull off his own version of his trademark scorpion kick that he jumped off his sofa to recreate his moment of fame with a can of Fanta.

Friends of Higuita said he was at home watching Arsenal v Crystal Palace. On seeing Giroud’s outrageous goal, the former goalkeeper knocked his table over in excitement, chipped his can of Fanta in the air and then scorpion kicked it at the television – landing the can with a fizzy burst on images of celebrating Arsenal players.

A laughing Higuita then repeatedly scorpion kicked his computer keyboard to tweet, with his toes, a series of smiley faces and clapping hands.

A friend said “Rene was just overjoyed. He was barely over the delight at Mkhitaryan’s goal on Boxing Day.

“He thinks he was put here by God to bring the scorpion kick to the world. For so many years he’s been sitting at home saying ‘It will happen again, it will.’

“He’s so happy as he thinks it takes him one step closer to his ultimate dream of seeing a scorpion kicked shot saved with a scorpion kick by a keeper. The day that happens though, Rene is probably going to just disappear in a puff of smoke.”

Image courtesy of Robinson Ospina via Wikimedia Commons