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Archive for September, 2012

BEAUTY – Picture courtesy of http://www.elrooneyoillustrations.tumblr.com

This week’s paranormal post from the crypt of football is the sixth instalment of ‘The Obituary’ series, where one of our posthumous pundits puts forward a eulogy for their favourite player in football history.

Football, we are so often told, is the beautiful game. It is undoubtably true that, whether it’s the graceful stride and epic cheekbones of Edinson Cavani, or misty memories of Iain Dowie and Steve Ogrizovic wrapped in a muddy goal mouth scramble at a rain soaked Loftus Road, the cliche of beauty residing in the eye of the beholder is rarely more applicable than in football. There are few other facets of our society that can evoke such contrasting opinions amongst otherwise like minded individuals.

However subjectivity, aesthetic value and the ability to serve up absolute dirge and charge a fortune to see it are all things that football has in common with it’s distant cousins the arts. Here at In Off the Ghost we rarely give two hoots about the art, but today is different. We have been contacted by an posthumous painter who has expressed his wish to share with us a eulogy for a footballer whose success, much like his own, was often tainted by accusations of ugliness. So for the fifth instalment of our Obituary series, please welcome Pablo Picasso with his tribute to his favourite footballer; Peter Beardsley!

Pablo Picasso

Picasso – No oil painting

“Some philistines joke about Beardsley’s lack of beauty, but he is the truest embodiment of art in football.” said Picasso, with a wave of this paranormal palette. “Peter Beardsley is proof that the conventional thinking on beauty is false. We have been misled, but so completely misled that we can no longer find so much as a shadow of a truth again. Beckham, Ronaldo, Aguero; these faces do not represent the beauty of human experience. Their superficial beauty is redundant in the face of Peter Beardsley in his majestic pomp.

“Whether he wants it or not, man is the instrument of nature; she imposes on him character and appearance. Nature may not have been kind to Beardsley in terms of looks, but her gifts were offered with abundant generosity on the pitch. Many teams found out the hard way that you cannot defy nature. She is stronger than the strongest of men.

“I would have loved to have painted a portrait of Beardsley. With me, a picture is a sum of destructions. I do a picture, then I destroy it. But with Beardsley I wouldn’t have had to change much at all. And his art was the same as mine, he could destroy defences with a deft dribble or a perfectly weighted through ball.

Peter Beardsley Liverpool

Beardsley – Eye-Candy

“When I created my Cubist paintings, my intention was not to produce Cubist paintings but to express what was within me. With balletic footwork and sublime vision, Beardsley was a kindred spirit, his internal expression manifesting itself into countless beautiful goals and assists for the likes of Rush and Lineker that defied the asymmetrical nature of his exterior projection.

“Pundits who tried to explain a game in which Beardsley was playing were usually barking up the wrong tree. Football isn’t about false nines and inside out wingers, just like art it’s a form of magic designed as mediator between this strange hostile world and us. In my opinion Beardsley was the most perfect embodiment of the art of football that the world has ever seen.”

(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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Neil Adkins

DIAL R FOR RELEGATION – Picture courtesy of http://www.elrooneyoillustrations.tumblr.com

This post has an accompanying soundtrack. Please click here before you read if you wish to hear it (a youtube video will open in a new window/tab).

Fear. Life is full of it. Spine-tingling, gut-twisting, pant-soiling terror lurks around every corner just waiting to pounce. Everybody on the planet is scared of something, be it spiders, heights or Iain Dowie. However, here in the afterlife there’s nothing for us ethereal spirits to fear. You would be forgiven for thinking that this might be a desirable state of being, but you would be wrong. It is in fact terribly boring. What we would give to feel a thrill of bottom-quaking horror at the sight of Lee Cattermole thundering toward us. However, the closest thing we get to fear in Football’s Valhalla is seeing Robbie Savage’s horrendous outfits on Football Focus.

So imagine our jealousy as the sporting spectres at In Off the Ghost tuned in to Match of the Day on Saturday night to see fear flooding the eyes of the Southampton back four as they were mercilessly violated time and again by Arsenal during their 6-1 defeat at the Emirates Stadium. The bludgeoning bestowed upon Nigel Adkins’s perky early season optimism was so brutal, the highlights should’ve been given an 18 certificate.

So in the interest of providing an alternative to the insipid analysis offered up by the Match of the Day stiffs (punditry so dull it makes us look back on our death throws with misty eyed nostalgia) we sought the views of a pundit who is something of an expert on fear and excessive violence. A cold welcome to fear-peddler and director of classic horror films Psycho, Dial M for Murder and The BirdsAlfred Hitchcock!

Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock – A hit with the birds.

“Seeing one team murder another on television like Arsenal did Southampton this week can help work off one’s antagonisms” started Hitchcock, his ethereal presence still managing to cast his famous rotund silhouette, “and in the case of Match of the Day, if you haven’t any antagonisms already, Alan Shearer’s post match ‘punditry’ will surely give you some.

“When I was making my thrillers, I wanted to give the audience pleasure, but the same kind of pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare. Unfortunately for the Southampton fans, they experienced the nightmare, but there was no waking up and certainly no pleasure. Wenger’s side did a fantastic job of making his visiting audience suffer as much as possible as they rained blow after blow upon the fragile Saints defence.

“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it. Arsenal’s cultured passing and movement only extended the anguish for the Saints, whose performance was so poor that they even made Gervinho look like a star. In my films blondes tended to make the best victims, but in this display the Saints served just as well. Adkins and his young, inexperienced side were like virgin snow that showed up the bloody bootprints of Podolski, Cazorla, Walcott and Gervinho.

“Hopefully the Southampton manager has come to realise what I did: that the only way to get rid of your fears is to make films about them. He needs to take a video of this horror show back to the training ground, channel his inner Norman Bates and teach Maya Yoshida how to defend. This defeat needs to be an important lesson, for if they don’t improve Southampton will be dialling R for Relegation.”

(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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David Dunn Chicken

POULTRY IN MOTION – Picture courtesy of http://www.elrooneyoillustrations.tumblr.com

Sometimes, life is so absurd you just have to laugh. Trod in dog shit just before that big job interview? Chortle the pain away! Got caught by the tabloids playing strip poker in Vegas? Have a chuckle and try not to let it ruin your day. A bunch of inept clowns take over your beloved football club, make them the laughing stock of the country and appoint a cretinous stooge of a manager who promptly relegates them to the Championship in his first full season? Hmmm. Even we would find that a bit hard to laugh off. However, there were plenty of people (particularly Burnley fans) who were willing to indulge in a spot of chicken based shaudenfraude by having a laugh or two at the farcical fate of Blackburn Rovers to make up for it. Having started their season in somewhat erratic form under the stewardship of the preposterous Steve Kean and his chicken peddling paymasters Venky’s, things still seem pretty dire at Ewood Park.

Here at In Off the Ghost we can sympathise with Rovers fans. We too are powerless as we watch people scurrying around destroying the things we loved and worked hard to create during our days on the planet. However, most of the stoical ghouls here still try their best to take some comfort in a laugh or two. So in this spirit we have spoken to erstwhile comedian and legendary funny-man Tommy Cooper about the plight of Blackburn Rovers to see if he can bring a touch of humour to an otherwise bleak situation.

Tommy Cooper – ‘Just like that!’

“I know with relegation and the protests and all that, Steve Kean hasn’t had a great time at Blackburn” understated Cooper, adjusting his fez,”but to be fair the owners have always stood by Steve Kean’s side. They had to really. They’ve only got one chair.

“Kean’s been unlucky with injuries too. Apparently, when Leon Best went to the club doctor with his injury, the doctor said, ‘It’s your anterior cruciate ligament.’ Steve Kean wasn’t too happy, and he said he wanted a second opinion. The doctor said: ‘Alright then – he can’t finish either.

“But Rovers injury problems should improve soon though. Kean has fired the club masseuse. Apparently he rubbed him up the wrong way. And in a bid to improve the fitness of his players the manager is always open to innovative nutrition ideas. David Dunn said he wanted breakfast in bed on match days, so Kean told him to sleep in the kitchen.”

“It’s been a difficult summer for Rovers. I heard the chairman told Kean to do a bit of window shopping before the deadline. He came back with four windows. They lost a few players in the transfer window too though. Apparently Kean and Nzonzi were fighting like hammer and tongs before his move to Stoke. Nzonzi won. He had the hammer. They get a bad press, but Venky’s are always looking for innovative ways to inject some cash into the club. The chairman even went for a job as a gold prospector, but it didn’t pan out.

“I worry some of the Rovers players haven’t got to guts to be footballers in the Championship. Apparently Morten Gamst Pedersen wanted to be a milkman rather than a footballer when he was a kid but he didn’t have the bottle. But I reckon Blackburn will bounce straight back to the Premier League. I know it’s early days but their football so far this season has been like poultry in motion.

“Just like that!”

(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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Arsene Wenger

FORMLESSNESS – Picture courtesy of  www.elrooneyoillustrations.tumblr.com

So a new season of Premier League action has begun and it seems evident from the first three fixtures that the league will be more fiercely contested than ever. Unless of course you’re Charles N’Zogbia, who judging by his performance for Aston Villa has not just lost the will to win, but seemingly the will to live too.

After a summer of inspiring and uplifting sport featuring our brave, dignified Olympians, we for one are delighted to see some good old fashioned violence, diving and cheating on offer from the Premier League’s finest (and of course Swansea’s Chico Flores). As the opening matches have seen a truck load of controversy and more penalties than Mario Ballotelli’s driving license, the deceased denizens of football’s first spiritual supporters group have been asking one question in particular: ‘does football have to be so attritional?’ In Off the Ghost went searching for answers, and we were contacted by legendary Chinese General, military strategist and author of the The Art of War, Sun Tzu, a posthumous pundit with a background in the rigours of battle.

Sun Tzu – ‘Tzu – nil! To the Arsenal!’

“These days, every game in the Premier League is a battle in a war for untold riches.” began Tzu, “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles. After three games and the end of the transfer window the Premier League sides are all starting to learn about each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

“Although they have only won one of their first three games, Arsenal have impressed me so far. I have always said that to be successful in battle you must be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Wenger has followed this rule with blind devotion in recent years, but with Cazorla, Diaby and Podolski he seems to have got the balance right. The Arsenal will be challenging come May. Obviously, the Manchester clubs will also be dangerous. Although they both have defensive concerns, a team defends when their strength is inadequate, and they attack when it is abundant. With the additions of Van Persie and Garcia to already fierce battalions, their power is there for their enemies to see.”

In a sudden fit of rage that would make Paulo Di Canio blush, Tzu tried to throw a tea cup at the wall, only for it to float gently across the room.

“I have been greatly disappointed with Liverpool’s failure so far! Downing at left back? Martin Skrtel trying to pass it about like some sort of mutant Franz Beckenbauer? I see that Liverpool and Brendan Rogers have much to learn. What is essential in battle is victory, not prolonged passing operations. Speed is the essence of war. Too frequent rewards indicate that a General is at the end of his resources. With Carroll gone and no new strikers in to replace him, Liverpool and General Rodgers should expect to receive scant reward for his intricate tactics.”

Sun Tzu signed off with a final word of advice for all of the managers in the Premier League.

“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons and they will follow you into the deepest valley. But if your words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the General is to blame. AVB I’m looking at you – you won’t be able to fall back on the old ‘transitional period’ excuse forever.”

(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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In Off the Ghost – Back from the dead…again!

After more resurrections than your average George A. Romero flick, In Off the Ghost is back from another year long sabbatical to bring you the latest insights from the football’s afterlife!

So stick with us for needlessly verbose opinions pieces from your favourite latest and greatest (as well as a ghoulishly bad gag or two) on all things football!

(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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