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Archive for January, 2011

Torres, Luiz, Suarez and Carroll - Movers and shakers in the transfer window

On the eternal terraces of In Off the Ghost, there is nothing our posthumous pundits would like more than a bit of freshening up. Things tend to get a bit stale and funky around here, and not in a good Parliament kind of way. The best way to freshen things up is through a healthy dose of change and the arrival of some fresh new faces tends to brings some more energy and gusto.

Although we can only recruit those who have recently shuffled off the mortal coil, several sides in the Premier League have used the transfer deadline day to ship out the dead wood in their squads and bring in some fresh blood. Liverpool and Chelsea were the biggest spenders, forking out £61.5 million and £71 million on Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll, Fernando Torres and David Luiz respectively.

With all this money flooding out of the transfer window, we were delighted to hear from a spirit who is no stranger to massive change and vast pots of cash. A cold welcome to former King of England Henry VIII!

Henry VIII

Henry VIII - Ahead of the game

“Well beloved subjects! During my reign I had to do a lot of chopping and changing, particularly chopping, as you must keep things fresh if you want to get results” bellowed Henry, as his rotund spirit floated majestically across the In Off the Ghost offices, “it’s a similar situation in football today. I wanted a male heir; Roman Abramovich wants the Champions League. So we both went out and got a Spaniard to do the business. I just hope he has a bit more luck with Fernando Torres than I did with Catherine of Aragon.”

“And a fellow King, Mr Dalglish, has splashed the cash too. Suarez looks like a good buy, and I like Andy Carroll. He is a man after my own heart, big, violent and uncompromising. But £35 million? I’ve spent a bit of money in my time; I built forty-eight ships, forty-three palaces and brought the economy to its knees in order to fund my wars on France, but even I wouldn’t spend £35 million on Andy Carroll.

“This transfer window shows that you must spend big money if you want to get ahead in this game. If Liverpool and Chelsea can use their new purchases to surge up the table, Dalglish and Ancellotti could see their respective reigns at Anfield and Stamford Bridge stretch out for many happy years. However, if they fail to get results for their masters, it could be their heads on the block next. That’s how it is in football these days. People criticise Richard Scudamore and the amount of money that’s in the Premier League, but I’m a big admirer of how they broke away from the oppressive Football League and set up their own financially profitable institution.”

(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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Darren Bent

Darren Bent delivers a £24M money shot.

Do you remember the first time? It may have been many moons ago for the deathly denizens of In Off the Ghost, but we still remember it well. The overwhelming anticipation, the tantalising potential of success and the nerve shredding prospect of humiliating failure. There is no getting away from the fact that the first time is crucial. If you make a flop of your first impression there may be no recovering. Forever judged on your earliest performances you could be earmarked for failure, cast aside and ridiculed. However, get it right first time and the possibilities for future success are endless.

It makes us nervous just thinking about it. So imagine how Darren Bent must have been feeling. With the weight of anywhere between £18 and £24 million pounds resting firmly on his shoulders before his debut for Aston Villa against Manchester City, expectation was astronomical. There was also much excitement here on the eternal terraces of In Off the Ghost, with our posthumous punters eager to see if Bent could up his game or whether Villa Park would witness the biggest balls up outside of a Labour Party shadow cabinet re-shuffle. As it turned out, Bent scored the winner in a hard fought 1-0 victory for Gerrard Houllier’s struggling side, leaving Roberto Mancini’s men empty handed. We were contacted by the afterlife’s most prominent Man City fan to discuss the game, a cold welcome to Venetian adventurer, author and notorious ladies man Giacomo Casanova!

Casanova

Casanova - No stranger to a blue moon.

“Although it pains me to say it, Bent made all the right moves on his big night. He was in the right place at the right time to ruthlessly pound the ball past Hart and exploit City’s loose defending. He didn’t let the pressure to perform get to him and he took his chance to make a good first impression with relish. He seems to have already seduced the Villa faithful who were chanting his name throughout” said Casanova, with a gleam in his eye and his hands in his pockets.

“Bent seems to be a man after my own heart,” added Casanova, leaving us to wonder whether he knew something we didn’t about Bent’s private life, “he takes great delight in scoring goals and he makes cultivating the most pleasure possible his chief business. Clearly economy in pleasure is not to his taste either, as his potency is there for all to see in his goal scoring record. 128 goals in 308 games shows that he is no stranger to indulging his lust for putting the ball in the back of the net.”

“Alas, for my beautiful Man City, it was clearly a frustrating night. We came so close so often, but we couldn’t quite muster the penetration our efforts deserved. After such a successful season I am not used to having my desires left so unfulfilled. I guess I’ll have to direct my energies somewhere else until our next fixture.”

So with City succumbing to Bent’s advances, the Villa faithful will be hoping that their new signing will bag the goals to thrust them up the division into the warm bosom of mid-table mediocrity and Premier League survival.

(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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Dirk Kuyt

Dirk Kuyt - Lord of the Mings

Life isn’t fair. Some people are born into poverty and servitude, with the added fun of being hideously deformed and stupid to boot.  However others enter the world blessed with wealth, power, talent and beauty. They are elevated above their peers to the status of royalty, using their gifts to dominate and suppress their fellow man in search of triumph. But once you leave the world of the living the playing field is levelled once again. Here everyone is but a spectre of their past physical selves, destined to while away infinity watching game after game of football as nothing but a shadow of their former glory.

However, recent events in the world of the living have seen football draw ever closer to life here at In Off the Ghost, as another formerly majestic entity returned to football as a ghost of their past success. ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish has once again taken the reigns at Liverpool and promptly led them to successive away defeats against arch rivals Man Utd and the mighty Blackpool. However, Sunday’s match saw ‘King’ Kenny return to his spiritual home of Anfield and rescue a point in an exciting 2-2 draw against neighbours Everton in the Merseyside derby.

After this epic encounter, we were given a ring by a spirit who wanted to share with us his views on the return of the king of the Kop. Please welcome novelist J.R.R. Tolkien!

Tolkien - Impressed with an epic derby battle

“The King has returned! He is back from the wilderness to lead his people through a siege of awful performances and hideously bad transfer decisions in order to restore the city back to its former glory!” bellowed Tolkien, drawing a parallel between this week’s Merseyside derby and his epic nerd-fest of a novel, The Lord of the Rings.

“It looked as if all was doomed for Liverpool as they were overwhelmed by the physical threat of Everton, with Victor Anichebe, Jermaine Beckford and Marouane Fellaini powering their way through Liverpool’s resistance. The twin towers of Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger (later replaced by the hapless Sotirios Kyriakos) swayed like corn tossed by the tempest of Everton’s second half attacking onslaught. Salvation arrived for Dalglish, however it did not come from the elvish beauty Torres, but the orc-ish good looks and dwarf like industry of Dirk Kuyt and Raul Meireles, coupled with the wing wizardy of Glen Johnson and Maxi Rodriguez.

“This battle was not lost, however the war is not yet won and the shadow of doom still looms large over Anfield. Long is the road for King Kenny’s fellowship if they are to make their way out of relegation peril and back into the havens of the top half of the Premier League.”

(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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Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott makes a splash.

The FA Cup third round, who could fail to get excited at the magic and romance? Who could wait for the prospect of Millwall v Birmingham City, Norwich v Leyton Orient and Torquay v Carlisle? Erm…well, us actually. It’s a shame, but when you’ve been dead for an indeterminable amount of time and you must while away years that stretch on endlessly, you tend to lose faith in romance, magic and all that guff. However, this season there was more to the FA Cup third round than the usual clichés. The oldest competition in the beautiful game showed a side of its weathered visage uglier than a constipated Ian Dowie.

So, with fighting, taunting and cheating evident in the biggest games of this year’s third round, in particular the contentious penalties in the Man Utd v Liverpool and Arsenal v Leeds clashes, we spoke to an expert in the field of diving, legendary French naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher Jacques Cousteau!

Jacques Costeau

Cousteau: "You call that a dive? Pah!"

“There is an art to diving,” began Cousteau, “lots of people attack the pitch when they dive, but Berbatov made love to it. Walcott was one with the turf. To be truly convincing you must embrace the deep green mistress and conquer her!”

“Berbatov is not just a diver, he is an impresario of divers. With barely a touch he fell, plumbing the depths of his talent to hoodwink Howard Webb. The Old Trafford crowd held their breath as the Bulgarian crashed upon the rocks of Agger’s knees, destroying Liverpool’s dreams of FA Cup victory” said Cousteau, repositioning his now translucent red hat firmly on his head.

“And Walcott, très bien! Arsenal were under absolute pressure when he flopped onto his back to salvage a point from the wreckage of Arsenal’s FA Cup third round tie with Leeds United. With that plummet Theo gave up his dignity so that his captain could save the day. Magnifique! And the half hearted apology after the game? Even I wouldn’t dare to go that low.”

“The only person who seemed to go to ground for a genuine reason was Stevenage defender Scott Laird, who sank like the Titanic after hitting this iceberg of a fist. And it was from one of his own fans too. Zut alors!”

(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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James Dean

James Dean - Live fast, die young. Then report for In Off the Ghost.

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

Click here to read legendary actor and Hollywood icon James Dean’s predictions for the upcoming January transfer window. 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 soon exclusively at www.inofftheghost.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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Just to let you know, football’s Valhalla has moved! We are now at www.inofftheghost.com. However, you can still go to our old domain and you will be instantly redirected here for more posts from the only insight into the footballing culture of the afterlife at www.inofftheghost.com!

(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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At the turn of each year, In Off the Ghost likes to recognise the achievements of the previous twelve months by presenting the illustrious In Off the Ghost ‘Tombstone Trophy’ to the most deserving teams or individuals for the football feats that have impressed us the most. We also like to have our annual awards as doing so gives us the opportunity to welcome the newest members of our posthumous punditry team that have joined us during the past year. So without any further ado, let’s get on with the show!

Leslie Nielsen Award for Comedy Value – Ian Holloway

Nielsen and Holloway - Naked Fun

We asked comedy legend and Naked Gun star Leslie Nielsen who he would give the award for comedy value during 2010, adding that surely it should go to Blackpool manager Ian Holloway.

“Yes, you’re right” began Nielsen “I am choosing Holloway, and don’t call me Shirley. He has done a fantastic job and they only have a fifty/fifty percent chance of going down, though there is now only a ten percent chance of that. Some of his quotes have been terrific, like this one:

“ ‘I am more than happy [at Blackpool] and I am afraid the chairman will need a hell of a tub of cream to get rid of me – I’m like a bad rash and not easily curable.’ ”

“Staying in the Premiership is like having sex. It’s a painstaking and arduous task that seems to go on and on forever, and just when you think things are going your way, you’re forced to go down.  Like a blind man at an orgy, he has had to feel his way in, but he has done his job with a smile, had a few laughs, and now it looks like the cows have come home to roost.”

JD Salinger Award for Questionable Mental Health Issues – Fabio Capello

Salinger and Capello - One was a recluse, the other has no excuse.

“I choose England boss Fabio Capello for this award” stated Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger, “for taking the piss out of Stuart Pearce on the touchline, for playing 4-4-2 at the World Cup, and hell, for playing Emile Heskey at the goddamn World Cup. He looked like he was standing on the edge of some crazy cliff, trying to catch his players as they ran, one by one without looking over the edge. Only, he was about as good at catching as Rob Green, and then he threw himself over for good measure.”

Bernard Matthews Award for Biggest Turkey   Wayne Rooney

Rooney and turkey - both stuffed up in 2010.

“I’ve seen some big turkeys in my time” said turkey specialist Matthews, “and especially at the festive season, but none in football bigger than Wayne Rooney this year. He has had a fowl 2010.”

The Gary Coleman “What You Talking About Willis?” award – Sam Allardyce

"You? Real Madrid? What you talking about Allardyce?"

“I’m not suited to Bolton or Blackburn, I would be more suited to Inter or Real Madrid. It wouldn’t be a problem to me to go and manage those clubs because I would win the double or the league every time.”

Dick Francis Award for Crimes Against Football – Holland & Inter Milan

Dick Francis and crimes against football.

“Both the Netherlands’s brutal display of violence against Spain in the World Cup final and Inter Milan’s away victory against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final are tied for this award” declared former champion jockey and prolific crime writer Dick Francis, “both were painful to watch, but for different reasons. Evil genius Jose Mourinho is the prime suspect in this case, having masterminded Inter’s pragmatic pummelling of Barcelona which went on to inspire the Dutch approach for dealing with many of the same victims in the World Cup Final.”

Thanks for following In Off the Ghost during 2010, we hope to see you again in 2011. Happy New Year!

(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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