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Archive for the ‘Premier League Post Mortem’ Category

Juan Mata Chelsea

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

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Not many of us are fans. The uncertainty, the anxiety, the rubbish situation that makes you need to change in the first place. It’s rarely good news. However, there are a few people that thrive on change. These revolutionary spirits like to break things down just for the fun of building them back up again. The first few weeks of the 2012/13 Premier League season have revealed Roberto Di Matteo as a man with a passion for reform, transforming Chelsea from the combative, direct and repugnant side of yester-year to an aesthetically pleasing, creative and fractionally less repugnant (they still have Cole and Terry after all) team with a seemingly insatiable craving for spectacular goals and three points.

However, Robbie’s revolution took a major blow this weekend as Manchester United pitched up at Stamford Bridge and crushed the Blues 3-2 in a controversial Sunday afternoon showdown. Here at In Off the Ghost, we don’t want to focus on farcical refereeing and shameful racism. We will let proper football websites do that. All we want to do is make terrible puns and talk to dead people about football. So who better to discuss the potential impact of the game on Di Matteo’s aesthetic revolution at Stamford Bridge than perhaps the most famous revolutionary of all time? A cold welcome to Argentinian Marxist revolutionary and cigar enthusiast Che Guevara!

Che Guevara

Guevara – Close but no cigar

“I hate Chelsea and everything the club stands for. It is the embodiment of capitalist exploitation, and John Terry is still their captain” said Guevara, pale fist defiantly in the air, ragged beard floating through the ether, “but I can’t help but admire Roberto Di Matteo’s stylistic revolution at Stamford Bridge. However, yesterday’s defeat to Manchester United is a significant set-back for the Italian. Revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. Clearly Fernando Torres is the only one at Chelsea who understands this concept. He was making himself fall all afternoon.”

“I have always said that the ultimate and most important revolutionary aspiration is to see human beings liberated from their alienation. The self-pitying isolation of Torres has become commonplace, but the listless figures of Hazard and Oscar was painful to watch. With the exception of Mata’s sublime free-kick, Chelsea failed to liberate the Subbuteo sized standard bearers of their tactical reformation and consequently were made to pay the price by Fergie’s flying wingers. But that shouldn’t set them back too much, Roman’s still sitting on enough ill-gotten petrodollars to pay the price a billion times over.

“Look Torres, if I send you off I’d be doing you a favour.”

“The basic clay of revolutionary work is the youth; we place our hope in it and prepare it to take the banner from our hands. This applies to Di Matteo too, although he might have to fight John Terry first. Di Matteo must trust his revolution to his youngsters, but with the exception Daniel Sturridge. Judging by his performances this season, if the revolution was handed to him he would probably run around like a headless chicken for ten minutes and then punt it out for a throw in.

“After this painful defeat to their title rivals, Chelsea must remember that the road is long and full of difficulties, but I have one bit of advice for Roberto before I go – liberate comrades Mata, Oscar and Hazard and hasta la victoria siempre!”

 (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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UNCHARTED TERRITORY – Picture courtesy of http://www.elrooneyoillustrations.tumblr.com

The desire to explore is deeply embedded within human nature. Many of us have experienced the longing to branch out and adventure beyond our usual surroundings, master virgin territories, maybe even try the new takeaway that’s opened up down the road. This instinct was crucial for our survival as a species. However, sometimes this desire for pastures new is so strong that it goes beyond survival, pushing ordinary folk to undertake astonishing feats of reckless endeavour to be able to say that they conquered nature and its most treacherous obstacles.

Here at In Off the Ghost our days of exploration are sadly over. Destined to haunt the same 115×74 yards of football’s Elysium for all eternity, we must satisfy our desire for the thrill of adventure vicariously. This season we have been getting our fix from the intrepid explorations of West Brom up into the rarefied air of third place in the Premier League table, unleashing an outbreak of nosebleeds across the blue and white half of the Black Country. Inspired by the Baggies sensational form, we spoke to a posthumous pundit with a genuine love of exploration and adventure. A cold welcome to legendary polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton!

Ernest Shackleton

Sir Ernest Shackleton – Pole Dancer

Men wanted for hazardous season. Small wages. Long months of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success. This is the advert I put in the local newspaper before my expedition to the South Pole.” said Shackleton, resplendent in his ethereal long-johns “and I suspect West Brom may have recruited many a player under a similar brief over the past decade. My nickname for Albion used to be ‘the seals’ because they were beaten by clubs so often.”

“But things started to get better after they appointed the well-travelled Roy Hodgson. Now with the arrival of Steve Clarke and some superhuman effort from his players, West Brom find themselves exploring the harsh, unforgiving terrain at the top of the Premier League table. We all know superhuman effort isn’t worth a damn unless it achieves results, just ask Park Ji-Sung at QPR, but the Baggies are finally wracking up the wins that make their efforts all worthwhile. People are saying it’s too difficult for Albion to be in a Champions League place come May, but that’s exactly what they said to me about exploring the Arctic. My advice to Steve Clarke is to turn a deaf ear. Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all.

James Morrisson

Albion’s James Morrisshhhhhhhon.

“Optimism is true moral courage. Even so, to suggest Albion have the players to conquer the summit of the Premier League, the pinnacle upon which the great round globe of football turns, is like tipping Garth Crooks to win a Pulitzer. However they must now have the belief that they can reach the Europa League positions come May. At the very least they are in pole position to be top dogs in the Midlands.

“We all know nature can be more brutal than a late Peter Odemwinge studs up special. However, so far this season the industry of players like Shane Long and Youssuf Mulumbu has shown that it is by endurance we conquer. Despite their good start the Baggies and Steve Clarke must not be under any illusions – it’s early days and they’ve still got a long hard road 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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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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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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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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John Terry

John Terry - While my skipper gently weeps.

When the ghouls at In Off the Ghost were alive and kicking, there were certain rules everyone had to abide by. “Work hard” we were told, “don’t take what isn’t yours” and “make sure you don’t give away silly free-kicks against Stoke”. However, there were some people who didn’t pay much heed to daft things like rules or laws. They refused to work, stole everything they could get their hands on and generally did the dirty on everyone they came into contact with. Thankfully, the long arm of the law would normally get to these ruffians and deliver swift and brutal justice in the form of community service or meaningless ASBOs, allowing them to carry on with their lives having thoroughly learned their lesson.

Football is no different. After indulging in both debauchery and buffoonery on an epic scale, John Terry was stripped of his England captaincy as punishment. Now thirteen months later, strict disciplinarian Fabio Capello has decided that “J.T” has been left out in the cold long enough, reinstating the Chelsea centre-back to his former role as England captain. After much negative press attention this week, some at Stamford Bridge were concerned that the news may have an adverse affect on Terry’s performance in the crunch Premier League game against Man City this Sunday. As it turned out, the new(ish) England captain put in a flawless performance as Ancellotti’s team brushed Mancini’s men to one side in a 2-0 victory, thanks to goals from David Luiz and Ramires.

After this week’s events we were contacted by a spirit who was incensed by Capello’s decision to reinstate Terry as England captain. Please give a cold welcome to infamous pirate and captain of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Edward Teach, more commonly known as Blackbeard the pirate!

 

Blackbeard

Blackbeard - Not such a jolly roger after this week's events

Captain Blackbeard has asked for his interview with In Off the Ghost to have an accompanying soundtrack. Please click here before you read if you wish to hear it. (WARNING – this soundtrack may begin to irritate some readers after a short while…)

“Yarrr!” began the captain, with a swish of his crumb collector, which seems more grey than black these days. “I cannot believe that John Terry is the new England captain, when I heard the news it sent a shiver down me timbers. I was proud of being the most loathed captain in all of history, now I have been replaced by this blundering oaf!

“Although, as much as it pains me to say it, we do have some things in common. We don’t let morals or ethics stand in the way of what we want, we have ridiculous nicknames and, of course, we love to plunder booty that doesn’t belong to us. However, there is one big difference between me and John Terry. I didn’t turn into a lily livered land blubberer when things didn’t go my way. Terry has shed more salt water in the last few years than I sailed across during my entire career as a pirate. Rio Ferdinand must be as sick as my parrot after being replaced by that scurvy dog.

“Even though I have nothing but contempt for Terry as a man, he showed his qualities as a footballer in Sunday’s match against Manchester City. Unlike myself he took no prisoners and he was the rudder that guided Chelsea through the waves of Man City attacks. He even battled on after being injured by YarrrrrrrYarrrrrrr Touré. Aye, it was a good win matey, and one that couldn’t have happened without Terry, but there is no way he should be England captain and I still think Capello should be made to take a long walk off a short plank.”

(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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