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Archive for November, 2010

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson - He won't stop 'til you've had enough of tenuously linked football based puns.

The restless spirit of In Off the Ghost has possessed fellow football website footballfarrago!

Click here to read ‘The King of Pop’ Michael Jackson’s tribute to the ‘Clown Prince’ of English football, Paul Gascoigne. And while you’re there, check out the other great articles too!

More posts from the only insight into the footballing culture of the afterlife will be coming next week exclusively through the medium of www.inofftheghost.wordpress.com, so be sure to come again soon!

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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Dimitar Berbatov

Berbatov - "High five!"

The number five has given the world so much, from musical legends 5ive, to the glorious beverage Five Alive. And if you still need any more convincing of the importance of the number five, it’s even the atomic number of everyone’s favourite metalloid element, boron.

Here at In Off the Ghost, our deceased denizens are far from being boron, but sadly our days of drinking, or even being, Five Alive are very much over. However, we were given a chance to revel in the glory of another fabulous five this weekend as Dimitar Berbatov bagged five goals in Manchester United’s 7-1 demolition of Blackburn Rovers.

In order to get the coldest, most fetid reaction from the Premier League’s biggest story of the weekend, we spoke to a man who after having a quintet of wives should know all about scoring five times. A cold welcome to star of the silver screen and legendary moustache Clark Gable!

Clark Gable

Gable: "No, no! I said 'did you see the match?' "

“Berbatov is my kinda guy,” drawled Gable. “They said I was the ‘King of Hollywood’ in my day and Dimitar is the King of Old Trafford after that display. He makes football look easy. Look at his goals against Blackburn, pure … class. His critics say he smokes too much and he’s lazy, but he put in a blockbuster of a performance today. And hell, who doesn’t like a damn smoke or two?”

Gable stopped and took a long puff on his own celestial cigarette before continuing.

“He has a style and flair that people will pay good money to see at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’. With Nani and Obertan he was one of ‘the misfits’ that didn’t really justify their superstar status, but now Ferguson’s discarded his striker-less formation and has gone with the wings again, Berba has been outstanding. The only criticism I can think of is that I preferred his old hair style.”

I asked Gable whether he thought Berbatov could finally cement his place in the United line-up.

“Why not? No one thought he would ever score five times in one go, but it all happened one night in Manchester. He could really be an A-lister at United if he continues this form. I’m sure Sam Allardyce will be very disappointed with his side, but frankly my dear … Berbatov won’t really be that bothered I don’t think.”

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author)

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Lee Bowyer

Lee Bowyer - A well placed left hook floors Chelsea

From everything we’ve seen on the telly and the silver screen, In Off the Ghost gathers that it feels great to be a champion. After years of blood, sweat and tears the winner can now bask in the glory of victory, revel in the adulation of their fans, and enjoy hearing Queen replayed over and over again. But once you’re at the top the only way is down and, after three defeats in four games including this weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Birmingham City, Chelsea are finding out the hard way that it’s tough keeping your status as the best in the business.

Fortunately being the best in the business isn’t something that In Off the Ghost has to worry about. However, there are many amongst our posse of expired experts that know what it’s like to be a champ under pressure. This week we have former middleweight champion and best pound-for-pound pugilist in the history of boxing, ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson, to give us his views on the biggest story of Saturday’s Premier League action.

Sugar Ray Robinson

Sweet talking 'Sugar' Ray Robinson

“It was a great result for Birmingham,” said Sugar Ray, floating like a butterfly around the room, “they have a top class trainer in their corner in the shape of Alex McLeish and they fought a tactical, counter punching fight. Pound-for-pound they are no match for Chelsea, but the Blues were punching above their weight this weekend. When Lee Bowyer jabbed the ball into the net it gave the reigning champions another bloody nose.”

I asked Robinson who he thought were the stand-out performers for Birmingham City in a match which saw the Midlands club climb to thirteenth in the table.

“Ben Foster and the Birmingham City back four, especially outstanding centre backs Roger Johnson and Scott Dann, who ended up being punch bags for the normally heavy hitting Chelsea front line. They were on the ropes for most of the match and they looked a little punch drunk by the end of the ninety minutes, but they managed to stay on their feet and claimed the victory.”

Finally, I asked the champ what he thought of Chelsea’s title credentials after another damaging defeat.

“If they continue to play this badly, they might as well throw in the towel now. The ‘Italian Stallion’ Carlo Ancelotti has a lot of work to do, but I think Chelsea will be able to take this on the chin and come back fighting. It will be close, but I predict they will defend their title and come out ahead on points.”

The title race is wide open and if Chelsea can’t get up from this latest set back quickly, it may well prove to be a knock-out blow for their title chances.

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author)

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Karim Benzema

Benzema - Karim of the crop

In the world of the living there is a lot of speculation on the afterlife and how wonderful it might be. However, it turns out that life after death is pretty boring. After a munch on some manna and swig or two of milk and honey there’s not much else to do. That’s why so many of the late and great turn to In Off the Ghost to get their regular dose of football frivolity to spice up the mundanities of eternal life.

But when international fixtures come along, the soul crushing boredom usually returns with a vengeance. However, this set of fixtures seemed to be different. The long list of meaningless international friendlies was interspersed with still meaningless, but notoriously feisty international grudge matches. Brazil were pitted against South American rivals Argentina, Portugal faced their Iberian neighbours Spain, and England battled against their old enemies from across the channel, France. So, against their better judgement, countless scores of spirits tuned in to Styx Sports to watch a match-up that on paper was to die for, pitting two nations against each other that have locked horns throughout history. Unfortunately, the reality was a hideous England performance that dragged on so painfully it made the hundred years war seem like a breathless, five minute romp with Brigitte Bardot.

So, even though the vast majority of the celestial supporters who watched the game wanted nothing more than to forget it ever happened seconds after the final whistle, one of my cadaverous colleagues was desperate to dig up the rotting body of last night’s match and perform a pretentious post mortem especially for In Off the Ghost. She’s had a bone to pick with the English for sometime now and has finally decided to take out her fetid frustrations on football. Step forward French national heroine, Joan of Arc!

Joan of Arc

Arc - Joan Goal

“I know it was only a friendly, but I always love to see our glorious nation beat the tyrannous English! And this time, it was on your soil, not ours. There may have been more at stake for me than for Laurent Blanc in our respective encounters with the English, but our young stalwarts Valbuena, Nasri and M’Vila survived a real trial by fire at Wembley Stadium. They fought with a bravery and skill that I would have been proud to show on the battlefield, and Nasri was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of the game that he found no equal in all the ninety minutes.”

As Joan is well known for having a vision or two, I asked her what she thought the defeat meant for the future of Capello’s youthful England side.

“Of the love or hatred God has for the English, I know nothing, but I do know that they will all be thrown out of Euro 2012 if the continue to play like that. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. Capello’s adherence to his 4-4-2 dogma and approach play that is older than I am will surely put England’s football future in mortal peril.”

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin - Naturally selected the best young players around

The restless spirit of In Off the Ghost has possessed fellow football website www.footballfarrago.com!

Click here to read In Off the Ghost’s Charles Darwin and his views on the evolution of four of England’s brightest young players, as well as other great articles!

More posts from the only insight into the footballing culture of the afterlife will be coming next week exclusively through the medium of www.inofftheghost.wordpress.com, so be sure to come again soon!

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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Steve Bruce

"Zombie Bruce ... want ... BRAINS! Oh and three points please."

Everybody makes mistakes from time to time. Back when my heart was beating and blood pumped through my veins I sometimes scored an own goal or two. However, I always managed to make amends. The petrol station bouquet, the two quid bottle of Lambrini and discount box of Matchmakers always managed to turn things around. And judging by his team’s performances in their last three games, Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has also mastered the art of getting himself out of trouble. After taking more of a beating than their gaffer’s nose at St. James Park a fortnight ago, the Mackems have claimed seven points from nine, including a spectacular 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge last Sunday. After such a shock result, In Off the Ghost decided to talk to a man who also knows a thing or two about great performances at the bridge, pioneering civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel!

Brunel

Brunel - Hats off to Sunderland

“Of all the wonderful feats Bruce has performed since he has been in this part of the world, I think Sunday he performed most wonderfully. He produced unanimity among eleven men who were all rubbish against Newcastle” boomed Brunel, his translucent top hat teetering perilously on his ethereal noggin.

“He engineered a victory that will live as long in the memory as my Great Western Railway bridges. Sunderland’s season seemed to have gone off the rails after the Newcastle game, but they have returned to form and demolished the champions on their own patch. The team are constructed using a similar blueprint to Bruce’s Wigan and Birmingham City teams. With quality players like Jordan Henderson being the architect of some fine passing play and Asamoah Gyan using his industry to gain access to the previously unreachable territories behind Chelsea’s back four, this Sunderland side are starting to build a reputation for themselves.”

I asked Brunel how important he thought the victory would be for Steve Bruce’s side. He chomped on his macabre cigar thoughtfully before replying:

“It is difficult to gauge the significance of this result for the Black Cats, but hopefully it will be the platform that Sunderland need to make inroads towards Europe. At the very least it is clear that recent results have gone some way to help Bruce build some bridges with the Sunderland faithful.”

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author)

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Emile Heskey and Gerard Houllier

Gerard Houllier - Making the most of limited resources.

After eagerly awaiting yesterday’s midweek round of Premier League fixtures, the dearly departed here in football’s Elysium felt mixed emotions. Many spectral supporters were wailing and moaning after watching the fetid corpse of the Manchester derby stink up their spiritual screens. However, I had the ghoulishly good fortune of watching Aston Villa scrape past a weakened Blackpool side 3-2 after an eighty-ninth minute header from Welsh centre-back James Collins sealed the points for the Midlands side. Although they have been scoring less than Anne Widdicombe of late, there are signs that Villa’s newly installed French boss Gerard Houllier is putting in motion the beginnings of a stylistic revolution at Villa Park.

As soon as the words “French” and “revolution” came together, one candidate predictably came forward to speak to In Off the Ghost about the game of the week. Step forward Napoleon Bonaparte!

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon - "Making Villa a success again is a tall-order."

“I have been watching Houllier’s progress at Aston Villa with great interest since he arrived at the club” started Napoleon, the vertically challenged former Emperor of the French. “I can see many similarities between the Midlands club and France during the glorious revolution! Players who were in the side as favourites of Martin O’Neill are being given a short-shrift now that his traditionally British style of football has been given the chop by Houllier. It is more glorious to merit a place in the team than to possess one, and young players like Ciaran Clark, Marc Albrighton and Barry Bannan are finally earning their places in the side. Some previously established first team players like John Carew are learning that ability is nothing without opportunity, and Stephen Ireland personifies my maxim that going from the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step-over.”

As a great military leader and tactician, I asked Napoleon what advice he would give Houllier in his quest to bring the glory days back to Aston Villa.

“I like Houllier, but he still has much to learn in my opinion. In football as in battle, he who fears being conquered is certain of defeat. Houllier’s defensive tactics have stunted his progress before. Changing from the defensive to the offensive is one of the most delicate operations in war, and Houllier must learn to do this more effectively or the people of Birmingham may be calling for his head sooner rather than later. Villa fans tend to exercise their memory much more than their judgment, and their temper is short. What Houlier has done up to now is nothing and only just conquering a weakened Blackpool side on home soil is not a thing to boast of. However, the Villa faithful should give Houllier time. Impatience is a great obstacle to success and he is only at the beginning of the course he must run. Making Villa a success again is a tall-order.” Napoleon continued, floating back and forth, one ghostly hand gesturing wildy, the other tucked into his replica Villa shirt.

“I never was truly my own master but was always ruled by circumstances. Houllier however, is ruled by the Randy Lerner. I always respected the Americans, but Mr. Lerner must give Houllier funds in the transfer window to take his revolution to great heights. Everything tells me Houllier will succeed, but will Lerner prevent him from doing so for the want of £100 million?

Finally, I asked Napoleon how far he feels Houllier can take Aston Villa in the coming years.

“I think that Houllier can take Villa to the Champions League or, who knows, maybe even the title itself! Some would scoff at the idea, but remember, “Le mot impossible n’est pas français!”

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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Roberto Mancini

"More defensive midfielders, we need more defensive midfielders!"

Before I kicked the existential bucket, I spent seven years of my life as a teenager. And as a teenager, I did all the things most teenagers do. I drank disgustingly cheap booze in public places, I wore clothes that were spectacularly ridiculous, I stringently avoided any form of both exercise and personal hygiene, and I rebelled against the loving attention and affection of my long suffering parents.

However, it’s not just spotty teenagers that indulge in a touch of rebellion from time to time. Ask Roberto Mancini. Even after their 2-0 victory over Roberto Di Matteo’s West Bromwich Albion side on Sunday, rumours continued to swirl around football’s Valhalla this week that an uprising is on the horizon at Manchester City as rotten results, a brutal training regime and more incompetent millionaires than your average bank boardroom threaten to throw the club into turmoil.

Fortunately, the afterlife has its fair share of souls who know a thing or two about rebellion, and one of those restless spirits has offered to share their expert opinion on events at the City of Manchester Stadium with In Off the Ghost. We spoke with legendary political leader and revolutionary figurehead Ghandi to give us an insight into the turbulent events in the Eastlands dressing room.

Ghandi

"If Man City win the league I'll eat Mahatma!"

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” spoke Ghandi, “and it seems that what Mancini thinks, what the players say and what the team does on the pitch are all very different indeed.” Ghandi said pushing his spectral spectacles back onto his nose.

“The overbearing rigidity of Mancini’s regime will be his undoing if he does not change his ways. I wanted freedom for the full expression of my personality, and why shouldn’t footballers want the same? Carlos Tevez, Adam Johnson and the exiled Craig Bellamy have all been begging to throw off the shackles of Mancini’s prescriptive rules and Emmanuel Adebayor and Gareth Barry seem to have perfected the art of non violent, passive protest with their performances this season. This is in contrast to Mancini’s trusted midfield marshalls Nigel De Jong and Yaya Toure’s more violent approach. Mancini must learn that a victory attained by violence is tantamount to defeat, for it is momentary. However, the after effects of City’s 2-1 victory over Newcastle in October are more likely to last a few months for poor Hatem Ben Arfa. ”

I asked Ghandi what he thought was the root of the unrest and what advice he would offer Mancini if he was the Manchester City manager.

“Mancini must give his players more freedom if he wants to end the dressing room rebellion. However, freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes, and let’s face it, if you play with Lescott and Bridge at the back, mistakes are bound to happen sooner or later. It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom, especially if you have lost three out of your last four games. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will and not playing three defensive midfielders in one team.”

Despite their 2-0 victory over an impressive West Bromwich Albion side on Sunday afternoon, it is clear that unless results continue to improve, this dressing room unrest won’t be the last rebellion that Mancini will have to deal with.

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

The restless spirit of In Off the Ghost has possessed fellow football website Football Farrago! Click here to read the views of your favourite posthumous pundits and other great articles!

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Maicon: Can't wait to see the back of Bale...again

After a ten month near death experience, In Off the Ghost has recovered from an almost fatal lack of time and effort to bring you the views and opinions of the dead on today’s foremost football stories.

“Murder!” was the cry that rang around the underworld this week. Ghostly gasps and ghoulish grimaces adorned the faces of my fellow spirits. But this had nothing to do with Halloween or any of that rubbish the living seem so preoccupied with at this time of year. No, this was the reaction to the brutal slaughter of the player formerly known as ‘the best right back in the world’ at the hands of Welsh wing wizard Gareth Bale during Tottenham Hotspur’s 3 -1 defeat of European Champions Inter Milan. Bale, not content with repeatedly flaying poor Maicon, also laid on two goals for Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko.

So, after such an exhilarating display I had no shortage of posthumous pundits offering to give me their views on the match, and this instalment of In Off the Ghost features the opinions of another revolutionary left winger: Former Leader of the Bolshevik Party, Vladimir Lenin.

Vladimir Lenin

Lenin: Leader of the Bale-shevik Party.

“What I always said when I was alive” started Lenin, “was that a lie told often enough becomes the truth. I was proved right once again with Maicon. The best right back in the world? Just another example of how a motivated left wing can bring down big-spending established ‘leaders’. One man with a left foot like Bale could control a hundred right backs! Inter could have hauled my embalmed corpse out of its mausoleum in Moscow, flew it over to London and put it at right back and it still would’ve done a better job than Maicon.”

On the chances of Spurs progressing into the knockout stages of the Champions League, Lenin stoked his ethereal beard, floated in closer to me and spoke in a hushed whisper:

“There is a revolution going on at White Hart Lane! Of course a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation. The side Comrade Redknapp inherited from Jaunde Ramos was ripe for renewal. Some people say that he is as crooked as the soviet sickle, but he has shown all the qualities of a true leader. The domination of the big four bourgeoisie is crumbling, Comrade Redknapp must grind them between the midfield milestones of Bale, Modric and Huddlestone. And then, who knows? Maybe the Spurs movement can take on the decadent aristocrats of Europe!”

Although it is always wise to take Comrade Lenin’s words with a pinch of salt, if Redknapp can continue to exploit the power of the left through Bale and Van Der Vaart, as well as the iron fists of Gomes, the Spurs revolution will take some stopping.

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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