Archive for February, 2011

Bloomin' Eck!

Football isn’t just a sport, it’s entertainment. A good game of football can be a show higher in quality than anything TV’s best paid hacks can churn out, resigning even top notch programmes such as Young Butcher of the Year and Jersey Shore to the Sky Plus box. And like the best TV dramas, football can have stunning plot twists, brilliant characters, and can sway from the hilarious to the tragic in the space of a few short moments. Just ask Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny. Their performance in the final stages of Arsenal’s 2-1 Carling Cup Final capitulation to Birmingham City was the best example of miscommunication on live TV since this cringe inducing blunder on Australia’s Next Top Model.

Prior to the game, Arsenal had been waiting so long for silverware that Arsene Wenger had been forced to take even the Carling Cup seriously. However, a woeful performance from a side that overcame the majestic Barcelona only two weeks earlier left the Gunners’ boss on the verge of a Jimmy Corkhill style breakdown in front of a live audience of millions. The ghouls here at In Off the Ghost don’t want to detract from the performance of Alex McLeish’s Birmingham City side or overlook how entertaining the match was for the neutrals (particularly in comparison to some of the fetid FA Cup finals in recent years). So we decided to discuss the match with a Scotsman who knows a thing or two about good television. A cold welcome to Scottish engineer and the inventor of the world’s first practical, publicly demonstrated television system, John Logie Baird!

Logie Baird - Smarter than your average inventor

“I thoroughly enjoyed the game, it was exactly the kind of spectacle that I invented my amazing televisor for” said the square-eyed Logie Baird. “I was so pleased for Alex McLeish and I am always happy to see a fellow Scot doing well. The lad got his tactics totally on the button. He had Barry Ferguson and Craig Gardner providing a wide screen for the back four, Seb Larsson and Keith Fahey working the channels, and the height of Nikola Žigić provided Birmingham with a great aerial option. It was fantastic to watch the Serbian’s work in the box consistently unsettle Arsenal’s faulty defence and the reception the Birmingham fans gave their players throughout the match was incredible.”

“It was clear to me that Arsenal’s back four were too often static, and Andrei Arshavin and Robin Van Persie were too remote upfront. Koscielny and Szczesny were the funniest double act I’ve seen on the tube since Morecambe and Wise. Wenger likes to talk a lot about entertaining football, but his wee boys and their fruitless passing were no match for McLeish’s big men. To be honest, there is nothing I find more entertaining to watch on my celestial TV screen than a fast, exciting, end to end game of football, especially when a club outside the big four get to win a trophy for a change.”

(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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Rooney overhead kick

Rooney - On your bicycle kick (Courtesy of BBC Sport)

Ever since man looked up to the skies and saw the flight of birds, we have longed to fly. Many throughout history have tried and failed to reach the heavens and only thorough the use of giant, environmentally disastrous tin cans have we managed to join our feathered friends. However, Wayne Rooney seemed to defy gravity against Man City this weekend without the use of wax and feathers or a tonne of fossil fuel, and he also managed to score the most spectacular goal of the season while he was at it.

Here in the ethereal enclave of In Off the Ghost we have no trouble floating around. However, we do find it a little more difficult to hit a ball as sweetly as the much maligned Liverpudlian. Rooney’s wonder goal was the talk of the afterlife this week, and we were contacted by a man who not only experimented with aviation, but was also known to produce a touch of genius when he was in the mood. A cold welcome to legendary Italian painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, writer and all round show-off Leonardo Da Vinci!

leonardo da vinci

Da Vinci - Now that is a proper beard.

“I spent years trying to invent a machine that would suspend a man in the air, free from the clutches of the earth” started Da Vinci, taking a break from inventing different ways to haunt Dan Brown. “However, nothing that I came up with even came close to staying in the air as long as Wayne Rooney on Saturday. Now he has tasted flight he will walk the earth with his eyes turned skywards, for there he has been and there he will long to return.”

“It has been a tough season for Rooney. Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind. After his recent indescretions, Rooney has not had the playing time he is used to, which has had a negative impact on his performances. However with the goals he has scored recently, there are signs that he may be entering a renaissance of his own.

“The motions of men must be such as suggest their dignity or their baseness. However, Rooney’s touch and technique suggested anything but a man who could stoop as low as this. He has produced outstanding works of genius before, but his latest work calls to mind other masterpieces from artists such as Ronaldinho and Trevor Sinclair.

“It is often said that what is fair in men passes away, but not so in art. Although it may not take long for what is fair in Wayne Rooney to vanish, the glory of that goal will live on forever. I do not know whether Rooney would appreciate the Last Supper or the Mona Lisa (she may be a bit too young for him), but his stunning volley was a work of art every bit as beautiful and will be admired by generations to come.”

(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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IMAGINATION – Picture courtesy of El Rooneyo Illustrations (www.elrooneyoillustrations.tumblr.com)

This week’s decomposed ditty from football’s afterlife is the third instalment of ‘The Obituary’ series, where one of our posthumous pundits puts forward a eulogy for their favourite player in football history.

In football, as in life, there are different types of people. There are the do-ers, the high energy action men who get things done and don’t wait around to consider petty things such as reasons or consequences. Then you have the artists, whose sole mission in life is the creation of the divine, to represent the beauty of life though music, paint, and football. Also, the journeymen, who move from place to place, never to settle and destined to roam the land, from Crystal Palace to the Shed End. However, once life has rendered your spirit separate from your physical form, you are destined to float around the heavenly u-bend for all eternity, taking with you only your mind and a pale spectre of your former physical self.

So it stands to reason that it is the more intellectually endowed amongst us that often make the best of the afterlife, spending their time in football’s Valhalla mulling over the profoundly important issues of existence, such as why 4-4-2 is so rubbish these days, or how many times Steve Bruce must have been hit in the face to end up with a nose as hideous as this. It is fitting then, that this instalment of ‘The Obituary’ features one of the most intelligent and cerebral footballers in history. Zinedine Zidane not only conquered club football with his magisterial midfield machinations, but he guided France to World Cup glory on home soil in 1998 through the power of his mighty monkish noggin. So who better to provide us with an elegy for the genius of Zizou than one of the greatest thinkers of all time, Albert Einstein!

Einstein: ‘This is how it works. R stands for roulette, which equals O, or ‘on your arse’.

“My special theory of relativity proves that the faster you move, the slower time moves compared to that of a stationary observer” began Einstein’s ghost, still sporting a moustache almost as big as his gargantuan brain. “When Zidane was on the pitch, his awareness and footwork seemed to slow down time for him, yet speed it up for the opposition, who were almost always stationary observers.

“Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds. Zidane had wonderful vision and a spectacular football brain, but he was enough of an artist to draw freely upon his imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. Take this goal in the 2002 Champions League Final for example. It would not be possible with knowledge and technical ability alone. It is Zidane’s sublime technique coupled with his extraordinary imagination that made this goal possible. Imagination is why players with practically no knowledge whatsoever, like Paul Merson for example, were so devastating through their use of imagination and creativity.

“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. Zidane’s genius wasn’t boundless, as this clip proves, but using his colossal football brain to clobber Marco Materazzi 2006 World Cup final was infinitely stupid. However, as I always used to say, a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new, an accusation which no one could make against Zinedine Zidane.”

(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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