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Archive for April, 2011

Cristiano Ronaldo

Pissed-iano Ronaldo

This week saw a nation grind to a halt as the grandest, most expensive and ludicrously over-hyped coming together of two national treasures captured the imagination of the world. We think there might have been a royal wedding as well, but none of the deceased denizens of In Off the Ghost could give two hoots. Football’s afterlife was buzzing with talk about the latest El Clásico, with Madrid losing 2-0 to bitter rivals Barcelonathanks to two spectacular goals from the phenomenal Leo Messi. José Mourinho also added extra spice to the second leg with cries of conspiracy, accusing UEFA of favouring Barcelona with controversial refereeing decisions.

With Mourinho deploying tactics as cynical as we are about his conspiracy theories, it seems all but certain that we will see a Manchester United v Barcelona Champions League final in May. So, with all of this excitement already seen and with a second leg still to come, we spoke to a posthumous pundit who knows a thing or two about conspiracies, as well as being a leader of a group of people with vast amounts of money and an even greater sense of self entitlement. Please give a cold welcome to the 35th President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy!

JFK

JFK - "I wonder how many Madrid players will get sent off this time?"

“Conspiracy theories will always abound when people confront things they cannot understand,” said JFK with a brilliant smile and statesmanlike dignity, “but they are nearly always a mask for ignorance. Some people can’t understand why Lee Harvey Oswald wanted to kill me, so the conspiracy theories live on. Not much is different in Mourinho’s case. He can’t understand why he can’t outwit Barcelona, so he has turned to conspiracy to defend himself. The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Mourinho has created a mythology of Madrid fighting against the corruption of UEFA and Barcelona.

“Mourinho says his defensive tactics are necessary to face the passing play of his Catalan rivals. A man does what he must — in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers, and pressures — and that is the basis of all human morality. But if the methods are so abhorrent and the results so underwhelming, perhaps he must change. Mourinho must lead Madrid as I led the United States of America. In short, we must face problems which do not lend themselves to easy or quick or permanent solutions. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms.

“23% possession, 3 shots on target, 18 fouls? For Madrid this is not good enough. For of those to whom much is given, much is required. Madrid must put an end to this war-like football or this war-like football will put an end to the might of Madrid. Mourinho is a brilliant tactician and a knowledgeable student of the game. However, with his cynical style we see that the more his knowledge increases, the greater his ignorance unfolds.

We asked JFK whether Real Madrid and José Mourinho were in crisis. He rubbed in his chin, smiled and replied: “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word “crisis”. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger — but recognize the opportunity. Mourinho has the opportunity to become a legend at the biggest club in the world if he can overthrow the superpower that is Guardiola’s Barcelona.

“I believe that Madrid as a club should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of besting Barcelona, winning the Spanish League and returning safely to the pinnacle of European football. No single football project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the career of José Mourinho; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.

“The second leg must see a change in both playing style and personal behaviour. Courage— judgement—integrity—dedication—these are the historic qualities which, with their managers help, must characterize the final instalment of the El Clásico quadruple that lies ahead.”

(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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Mario Balotelli

Balotelli - Too hard to be bothered.

It’s spring time in the world of the living, a time for rebirth, April showers and FA Cup semi-finals. Unfortunately for the rotting residents of In Off the Ghost, sunshine is a thing of the past. As for rebirth, well, we can but dream. But never mind, at least we get to dust ourselves off and watch the inevitable march of one of the Premier League’s ‘Big Four’ to yet another piece of silverware for their bulging trophy cabinets. Well, at least that was what we thought. However, this year has been a little different.

While basking in an unseasonable weekend of glorious April sunshine at Wembley Stadium, Manchester City swept aside bitter rivals Manchester United with a 1-0 victory thanks to an opportunistic Yaya Touré strike, and Stoke City crushed Bolton Wanderers 5-0 with a display of unexpected brilliance to book their places in the final. So instead of fighting against the landslide of guff about the romance of the FA Cup, we decided to join in with the torrent of clichés and take our own stab at lazy journalism. But here at In Off the Ghost we have the advantage of being able to call upon a real expert in the field of romance. A cold welcome to terribly famous English romance novelist Jane Austen!

Jane Austen

Austen - Who says romance is dead? Oh...

“What a weekend readers! The Manchester City fans were ecstatic with joy after their 1-0 victory,” said Austen, twirling her paranormal parasol in a thoroughly lady-like fashion, “it must have been the happiest day of their lives. For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours and laugh at them in our turn? For City fans life has seemed but a quick succession of busy nothings, but now the romance of the FA Cup has sprinkled magic onto their season.

“I have always said that a large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of, and with their wonderfully expensive squad of talented fellows Man City have reached their first FA Cup final since 1981. And they have such strapping, handsome gentlemen on their side, gentleman one would love to dance with. My idea of good company is the company of Vincent Kompany.

“But the Manchester derby was not the only event of the weekend. Sunday brought another captivating occasion with Stoke City crushing hapless Bolton Wanderers 5-0. Exquisite joy for the Potters as they finally reached an FA Cup final, the last of the founding League members to do so, but hideous misery for the Trotters as their dreams lie in tatters. Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. Stoke prepared the better for this game, and how often is happiness destroyed by preparation. They played in the unfashionable style recently discarded by Bolton and derided by their peers. But how quick came the reasons for approving of the long ball! 3-0 in the first 30 minutes!

“This weekend one half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other. The beauty of the FA Cup leaves Man City and Stoke fans in raptures as United and Bolton fans are truly distraught. Now we can look forward to the social event of the season; the FA Cup final on Saturday 14th May! Stoke and Tony Pulis will have nothing to lose, and the pressure will be on the terribly dashing yet intriguingly broody Roberto Mancini. I’m an admirer of Mr. Mancini, but even if Man City win the FA Cup, will it be enough for Sheikh Mansour? As many Chelsea managers have found to their detriment, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of the Champions 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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The fight for survival - At first they were afraid, now they are petrified...

When the posthumous pundits at In Off the Ghost were alive, we took Mother Nature and all of her wonders for granted. Now we would give anything to feel the wind blowing through our thinning hair, the sun warm our sagging faces, or the grass tickle our knobbly knees, all as we get humiliated again at Sunday League football. But alas, we felt the wrath of Mother Nature and we were hurled, head first, into football’s Valhalla.

But there is still a lot we can learn from nature, which we can then apply to our pursuit of eternal contentment, or more likely to our half baked analysis of the latest football action. Yes, every day creatures great and small battle for survival, some gloriously snatching safety from the jaws of death, while others plummet into the void of extinction. Just like the Barclays Premier League you might say, which currently features the most thrilling relegation battle in years. There are currently only six points separating the bottom seven sides with six games left, and here at In Off the Ghost we have been so excited by the run in at the wrong end of the table that we have contacted one of our favourite conservationists to give us his predictions on this epic fight for survival. A cold welcome to legendary Australian wildlife expert, conservationist and croc-wrestling TV personality Steve Irwin!

Irwin - "Crikey!"

Aston Villa:

“Villa have looked as dangerous as a new born koala bear at times this season, but thanks to some serious conservation work in Darren Bent and Jean Makoun, Gerard Houllier seems to have steered them clear of danger. The chances of Villa getting relegated now are about as realistic as a Home and Away plot line.”

Steve Irwin’s relegation rating 2.5/5

Birmingham City:

“After that bonza League Cup win, the Blues seem to have ran out of puff. But I reckon with Obafemi ‘the cheetah’ Martins, Nikola ‘the giraffe’ Žigić and Ben ‘the octopus’ Foster they will fine. Well, as long as that bloomin’ drongo Liam Ridgewell doesn’t keep dropping clangers!”

Steve Irwin’s relegation rating 3/5

Blackburn Rovers:

“Crikey! You’re far safer dealing with crocodiles and western diamondback rattlesnakes than the Blackburn defence of Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelson, those boys are tough! But they have lost their pack leader in ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce and Steve Kean looks like a little boy lost in the outback.”

Steve Irwin’s relegation rating 3.5/5

Blackpool:

“If Blackpool were an exotic croc-like reptile, I’d be so worried about their survival that I’d be down to the pleasure beach like a giant flamin’ gala on a litre of Red Bull! Ian Holloway’s guys have had some season. I mean, I’m a thrill seeker, but strewth, Blackpool are even too much for me! Charlie Adam might look like a shaved gorilla, but blimey he can pass a ball. Still he can’t didgeridoo it all on his own now can he?”

Steve Irwin’s relegation rating 3.5/5

Parker - "XXXX!"

West Ham United

“West Ham might be moving to a new Olympic habitat in the next few years, however they’ve a lot of hard work to do if they want to have top flight football to show off to the new neighbours when they move in. But crikey, with the tireless Scott Parker, crafty Robbie Keane and the pacey Demba Ba, they can look more dangerous than a boxing kangaroo after a six pack of Castlemain XXXX!”

Steve Irwin’s relegation rating 3.5/5

Wigan Athletic:

“Wigan are looking more endangered than a Bridled Nail-Tail Wallaby. With players like Hugo Rodallega and Charles N’Zogbia they have a bit of a sting in their tail, but they also have a tough run of games. People are already saying that Wigan are destined for a sticky end, but then everyone said “we knew a croc would get him!” about me and they were wrong…a stingray did!”

Steve Irwin’s relegation rating 4.5/5

Wolverhampton Wanderers:

“Wolves are in serious danger of Premier League extinction. Mick McCarthy reminds me a bit of yours truly. We were both warriors. I was a wildlife warrior and Mick was a soccer warrior. Still, with Kevin Doyle laid up and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Steven Fletcher looking about as useful as a straight boomerang, I can’t see Wanderers making it out of this scrap alive.”

Steve Irwin’s relegation rating 4.5/5

(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 swearing

Rooney: Candid Camera

The internet necromancers at In Off the Ghost appreciate the power of language. Without language civilisation, and more importantly football, would never have been possible. Language is so varied and versatile that even the dead pop up in the never ending stream of words that accompany the beautiful game, from “ghost goals” and “team spirit” to “ghosting in at the back post” and “dead balls”. But the power of language is not always used for good. Ask the Football Association. They have got into such a towering funk of rage at Wayne Rooney’s gutter-mouthed celebration during Man Utd’s 2-4 victory over West Ham this weekend, they have started disciplinary proceedings against the granny bothering England striker, who now faces a two match ban.

Rooney isn’t the first man to have caused a stir over his use of the Queen’s English. Many others have also seen the fruit of their talents eclipsed by their descent into vulgarity. In the midst of the evangelical, sensationalist, Daily Mail led media storm that has been whipped up around the rant, the fantastic performances of both Rooney and Man Utd appear to have been forgotten. The spectral spectators here at In Off the Ghost know a dirty word or two, and we were contacted by a spirit who’s flagrant disregard for civilized language saw his publisher hauled up in front of the powers that be. A cold welcome for novelist, poet, playwright, essayist and literary critic D.H. Lawrence!

D.H. Lawrence

Lawrence: Profane pundit

“I contacted In Off the Ghost because I wanted to defend Wayne Rooney,” said Lawrence “I empathise with his plight. When my novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover was published they censored it, banned it, and called me a pornographer. My work was more than just a profanity filled bonk-fest, it was art. But it was ignored, just like Rooney’s exquisite performance against West Ham on Saturday. I have always believed that you should be still when you have nothing to say; but when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot. The FA may punish him, but it’s better to be suspended than live mechanically a life that is a repetition of repetitions.”

“This ridiculous “Respect” campaign is a sign of the times we live in. Ours is essentially a tragic age, but we refuse to take it tragically. To the puritans at the FA all things are impure, and may God help you if you display a little passion. The more scholastically educated a man is generally, the more he is an emotional bore. So how can you blame Rooney for being so lively? Leave the dull decency to the insipid intellectuals on the Match of the Day sofa.

“It makes me sad to think that the censors at the FA will once again dampen the emotion and humanity of football. Censors are dead men, set up to judge between life and death. For no live, sunny man would be an FA suit, he’d just laugh.”

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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