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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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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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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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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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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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Nero

So Nero yet so far for Hughton...

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

Click here to read former Roman emperor Nero defend Mike Ashley’s decision to sack Chris Hughton. 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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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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Sol Campbell

Sol Campbell - Mr. Popular.

When I was but a child in the world of the living, my father gave me two pieces of advice that I took with me to my grave: ‘always be loyal to those closest to you’ and ‘never go back’. As a young boy, I tried my best to follow these words of wisdom. However, I soon learned that not everybody adheres to these rules. Sol Campbell broke the first rule back in 2001 when he left Tottenham Hotspur for fierce rivals Arsenal, and today he broke the second with the sensational news that he has rejoined the Gunners after his ill-advised stint at Notts County.

Since his decision to spurn the Spurs and join Wenger’s boys, Campbell, 35, has been the subject of some of the most poisonous venom that the terraces have ever produced. The news of his return today has captured the imagination of my fellow spirits, and In Off the Ghost was contacted by none other than the legendary Guy Fawkes, who was dying to tell us what he thought of Campbell’s move.

Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes - an explosive character.

‘I sympathise with Sol, I really do,’ said Fawkes, who coincidently was also 35 when he had a disastrous dealing with an arsenal.

‘I was also accused of treason and treachery, and I too was hated and reviled by my rivals. But Sol has to do what he feels is right for him. Regardless of what Spurs fans say, after his move to Arsenal his career sky-rocketed. He won the Premier League, the FA Cup and scored in the European Cup final. His performances fizzled out somewhat a few years ago, but I think that this move might just put a spark back into his game  and a fire in his belly. On his day there isn’t a defender in the league who can hold a Roman Candle to Sol, and I back him to come back with a bang against Bolton.’

It is a risky plan by Wenger, but if Campbell can replicate the form of his prime this might be one plot that proves successful.

(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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'Now which is the quickest way to the January transfer window?'

Despite almost being bored to another death by the FA Cup third round last Saturday, I settled myself in to watch Manchester United v Leeds United on the afterlife sports channel ‘Styx Sports’. After witnessing Leeds crush the ‘Red Devils’ by playing with more pace and energy than a whippet race, I felt the need for some match analysis from the football’s very own Valhalla, In Off The Ghost.

As we strive to bring you the best spiritual perspective on the football news of the day, we managed to chat with legendary former King of England, Richard III. Richard was delighted with the result as he was himself a veteran of several fierce battles between Yorkshire and Lancashire, and he was arguably even less successful in these encounters than Leeds United used to be at Old Trafford.

Richard III - Even less popular than Leeds United

‘Was ever a match in this humour won in such a manner? Woe to the club that is defended still by Gary Neville. And Jermaine Beckford! So wise so young, they say, never stay in League 1 long. Thou cam’st on Earth to make it their hell, and my heaven! And yet Sir Alex is always determined to prove a villian. Talkest thou to me of ‘ifs’ and ‘not enough injury time’? I had no time added on at Bosworth Field! Harp not on that string Ferguson. I will say but one more thing, as an honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.

Every week! Every week! My Kingdom to play thee every week!’

So as Richard’s final battle saw the decline in the House of York, Sunday’s match put an end to Sir Alex’s FA Cup hopes. With a result like this, some fans are starting to believe that it may also be the beginning of the end for United’s stranglehold over English 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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