Archive for the ‘The Coroner’s Review’ Category

Lionel Messi Champions League Final

Messi - Lionel's riches.

This week’s UEFA Champions League Final held football’s Valhalla in thrall as two of Europe’s biggest clubs prepared to do battle at Wembley for the first time since 1992. And as in 1992, England prepared itself for an invasion of a Spanish force feared across Europe as Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona looked to defeat Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in their own country. Although Barcelona were clear favourites, many of the spectral football enthusiasts here at In Off the Ghost fancied Manchester United to give Barcelona a stern test following their defeat at the hands of the Catalans in the 2009 final. However, United’s Champions League hopes sank faster than the Mary Celeste as Barcelona romped to a 3-1 victory with goals from Pedro, Messi and Villa.

After the game we were contacted by a spirit who knows all about Anglo-Spanish battles, and was livid with the capitulation of Sir Alex Ferguson’s men. A cold welcome to Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth I!

Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I - Even less penetration than United

“My loving people, I watched with baited breath the invasion of the Spanish forces onto British soil, hoping for a repeat of our famous victory at the Armada in 1588” spoke Queen Elizabeth I, majestic in full amour aloft a ghostly gelding, “I thought with foul scorn that Barcelona, or any other of the princes of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm and carry away the European Cup at the expense of an English club. I thought that Manchester United could compete with the Catalans as a side who had been recently amassed a record amount of English football’s riches. But brass shines as fair to the ignorant as gold to the goldsmiths. The Spaniards routed our forces, battering United 3-1 and conquering the Wembley turf.

“A fool too late bewares when all the peril is past, and Ferguson must now rue his team selection. Sir Alex, may God forgive you for picking Giggs and Carrick to face Xavi and Iniesta, for I never can. United had no man of the stature of Sir Francis Drake to lead them to victory. In the midst and heat of the battle, one man with a head on his shoulders is worth a dozen without. Xavi controlled the midfield battle whilst the United midfield were crestfallen. They could not live with the devastation caused by the Spaniards most lethal weapon, Lionel Messi. I know it may look as if Messi has the body and haircut of a weak and feeble woman, but he has the heart and stomach of a king, and the ability to match the sport’s greatest ever players.

“However this game was not about individuals, and as a team Barcelona were imperious. Pique and Mascherano were like a rock that bends to no wind. With masterful displays from Abidal, Alves and Villa they used every one of their virtues on the field. Their superiority comes from many years of preparation, and now the end crowneth the work. It is a dark day for our nation. The Spanish forces and their merciless talisman Messi look set to dominate all of Europe for years 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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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 - "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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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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Karim Benzema

Benzema - Karim of the crop

In the world of the living there is a lot of speculation on the afterlife and how wonderful it might be. However, it turns out that life after death is pretty boring. After a munch on some manna and swig or two of milk and honey there’s not much else to do. That’s why so many of the late and great turn to In Off the Ghost to get their regular dose of football frivolity to spice up the mundanities of eternal life.

But when international fixtures come along, the soul crushing boredom usually returns with a vengeance. However, this set of fixtures seemed to be different. The long list of meaningless international friendlies was interspersed with still meaningless, but notoriously feisty international grudge matches. Brazil were pitted against South American rivals Argentina, Portugal faced their Iberian neighbours Spain, and England battled against their old enemies from across the channel, France. So, against their better judgement, countless scores of spirits tuned in to Styx Sports to watch a match-up that on paper was to die for, pitting two nations against each other that have locked horns throughout history. Unfortunately, the reality was a hideous England performance that dragged on so painfully it made the hundred years war seem like a breathless, five minute romp with Brigitte Bardot.

So, even though the vast majority of the celestial supporters who watched the game wanted nothing more than to forget it ever happened seconds after the final whistle, one of my cadaverous colleagues was desperate to dig up the rotting body of last night’s match and perform a pretentious post mortem especially for In Off the Ghost. She’s had a bone to pick with the English for sometime now and has finally decided to take out her fetid frustrations on football. Step forward French national heroine, Joan of Arc!

Joan of Arc

Arc - Joan Goal

“I know it was only a friendly, but I always love to see our glorious nation beat the tyrannous English! And this time, it was on your soil, not ours. There may have been more at stake for me than for Laurent Blanc in our respective encounters with the English, but our young stalwarts Valbuena, Nasri and M’Vila survived a real trial by fire at Wembley Stadium. They fought with a bravery and skill that I would have been proud to show on the battlefield, and Nasri was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of the game that he found no equal in all the ninety minutes.”

As Joan is well known for having a vision or two, I asked her what she thought the defeat meant for the future of Capello’s youthful England side.

“Of the love or hatred God has for the English, I know nothing, but I do know that they will all be thrown out of Euro 2012 if the continue to play like that. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. Capello’s adherence to his 4-4-2 dogma and approach play that is older than I am will surely put England’s football future in mortal peril.”

(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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Maicon: Can't wait to see the back of Bale...again

After a ten month near death experience, In Off the Ghost has recovered from an almost fatal lack of time and effort to bring you the views and opinions of the dead on today’s foremost football stories.

“Murder!” was the cry that rang around the underworld this week. Ghostly gasps and ghoulish grimaces adorned the faces of my fellow spirits. But this had nothing to do with Halloween or any of that rubbish the living seem so preoccupied with at this time of year. No, this was the reaction to the brutal slaughter of the player formerly known as ‘the best right back in the world’ at the hands of Welsh wing wizard Gareth Bale during Tottenham Hotspur’s 3 -1 defeat of European Champions Inter Milan. Bale, not content with repeatedly flaying poor Maicon, also laid on two goals for Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko.

So, after such an exhilarating display I had no shortage of posthumous pundits offering to give me their views on the match, and this instalment of In Off the Ghost features the opinions of another revolutionary left winger: Former Leader of the Bolshevik Party, Vladimir Lenin.

Vladimir Lenin

Lenin: Leader of the Bale-shevik Party.

“What I always said when I was alive” started Lenin, “was that a lie told often enough becomes the truth. I was proved right once again with Maicon. The best right back in the world? Just another example of how a motivated left wing can bring down big-spending established ‘leaders’. One man with a left foot like Bale could control a hundred right backs! Inter could have hauled my embalmed corpse out of its mausoleum in Moscow, flew it over to London and put it at right back and it still would’ve done a better job than Maicon.”

On the chances of Spurs progressing into the knockout stages of the Champions League, Lenin stoked his ethereal beard, floated in closer to me and spoke in a hushed whisper:

“There is a revolution going on at White Hart Lane! Of course a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation. The side Comrade Redknapp inherited from Jaunde Ramos was ripe for renewal. Some people say that he is as crooked as the soviet sickle, but he has shown all the qualities of a true leader. The domination of the big four bourgeoisie is crumbling, Comrade Redknapp must grind them between the midfield milestones of Bale, Modric and Huddlestone. And then, who knows? Maybe the Spurs movement can take on the decadent aristocrats of Europe!”

Although it is always wise to take Comrade Lenin’s words with a pinch of salt, if Redknapp can continue to exploit the power of the left through Bale and Van Der Vaart, as well as the iron fists of Gomes, the Spurs revolution will take some stopping.

(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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'Please God, don't send me back to the Galaxy.'

When I was lying on my deathbed, one of my many regrets was that I had never travelled the world. I had never experienced the cultural wonders of the continent, had never been harassed by street performers or relieved of extortionate amounts of money for local delicacies.

However, my time in the afterlife has given me the chance to discuss all things football with the late and great of many nationalities. So now In Off The Ghost can share with you, the world of the living, their opinions on the latest European news.

The biggest story in Europe at the moment is David Beckham’s return to the Serie A with AC Milan after his self-imposed purgatory in the MLS. Beckham helped the Rossoneri to a 5-2 victory over Genoa at the San Siro. I asked legendary opera singer and Italian football enthusiast Luciano Pavarotti what he thought of the performance:


'I bet you a tenor that Beckham gets in the England Squad.'

“I love the English, they are eccellente!” boomed the tenor. “Signor Beckham showed more invention than Da Vinci against Genoa! He has class and beauty, much like some of the other Inglese I have met. It also helps that his fan base is bigger than my waistline! Ha-ha! And Milan need all the popularity it can get with Signor Berlusconi as the owner.”

In Off The Ghost’s Spanish Football correspondent is famous Spanish painter Salvador Dali, who watched a surreal round of Copa Del Rey matches this week. Atletico Madrid were murdered by second division Recreativio 3-0 and Barcelona were beaten 2-1 in their first leg by Sevilla:

Dali - Strange

“The thermometer of success is merely the jealousy of the malcontents, and this was running high after Barcelona’s performance last year. Now the celoso are delighted  after this result.” pondered Dali, twirling his moustache around his fingers.

“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision. These results go to show that the big teams can be demolished by brave conquistadors!”

A final delve into the catacombs of European football takes us to the Bundesliga, where we have non other than 80’s Europop sensation Falco, who conquered the world with his smash hit ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ and was an avid follower of both the Austrian and German Bundesligas.

Falco - Impressed by a Leverkusen starke mannschaft.

“This season has been über competitive again, with Bayern München down in third and Bayer Leverkusen playing some wunderbar fußbal this season. In fact they have rocked me all the way to the top! Their goal keeper has been especially impressive. Come on rock me Rene Adler, ja!”

When I asked Austrian born Falco what he thought Leverkusen’s chances were of finally winning the Bundesliga, he was quietly confident:

“Like the Berlin wall, Leverkusen’s Bundesliga hopes normally start to crumble in November and are rubble by the summer. But this year they seem to have a more starke mannschaft so they might finally be champions.”

(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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William Wordsworth

'Methinks that there abides in thee, a love for the FA Cup round three!'

For some, the magic of the FA Cup has breathed its last. The once great competition is but a bloated, inconvenient corpse exuding a fetid stench of deathly decay amid more fragrant and important competitions.

But for others, the drama and romance of the world’s oldest cup competition lives on. That is why In Off The Ghost has decided to feature a round-up of the recent FA Cup third round ties from someone who can really appreciate romance, former poet laureate William Wordsworth.

‘Oh reader! The FA Cup returns! No competition in any walk of life that pits men against men in the game of football conjures the qualities in humanity that are so beautiful. The passion of the players, the joy of victory and the despair in defeat. From the Bescott Stadium to Bramall Lane, from Anfield to Sixfields. The FA Cup third round, above all other things, makes me wish with all my heart that I was alive again, to smell the atmosphere, to be a part of the unified voice of the common man in the sell out crowd. To hear them cheering their team on to impossible victory filled by hope’s perpetual breath. To witness that most wonderous of football phenomena: the FA Cup giant killing.

This year the third round has once again proven wrong those who doubt that the FA Cup is still the world’s premier football competition. There was a rollercoaster of wonder and excitement in the top tie of the round as the nation witnessed Man Utd 0-1 Leeds. Jermaine Beckford danced past the Man Utd defence with divine grace and rolled the ball past Tomasz Kuszczak to give the League 1 side a majestic scalp of the most sublime proportions. Dull would he be of soul who could pass by a sight so touching in its majesty!

Another tremendous encounter that my heart leapt up to behold was Reading 1-1 Liverpool. Simon Church’s goal had Rafa Benitez praying his side could redeem themselves as Grzegorz Rasiak wandered lonely as a cloud at the back post to provide the assist. However, salvation came in the form of Steven Gerrard, as he gracefully sent a shot skimming across the lush green turf of the Madejski Stadium to crush the tender hope blooming in Reading hearts.

Other results of note on this most magical of days include Portsmouth 1-1 Coventry, with another Championship side valiantly defying a Premiership outfit entry to the fourth round. The fact that the Premiership team was Portsmouth does not diminish this tremendous display of heroism and pride as a goal from City’s David Bell almost provided the upset we all expect to see from the famous FA Cup third round. But a header from Kevin Prince Boateng levelled the scores for struggling Pompey and sent the terraces into wild spasms of unmitigated ecstasy.

Finally, my heart cannot help but mention courageous Carlisle, who almost rocked the footballing world at Goodison park until being narrowly defeated as their game finished Everton 3-1 Carlisle.’

‘Here are the results in full of a momentous, magical, magnificent FA Cup third round:

Accrington P-P Gillingham
Aston Villa 3-1 Blackburn
Blackpool 1-2 Ipswich
Bolton 4-0 Lincoln
Brentford P-P Doncaster
Bristol City P-P Cardiff
Chelsea 5 – 0 Watford
Everton 3-1 Carlisle
Fulham 1-0 Swindon
Huddersfield 0-2 West Brom
Leicester 2-1 Swansea
Manchester Utd 0–1 Leeds Utd
Middlesbrough 0-1 Man City
Millwall 1-1 Derby
MK Dons 1-2 Burnley
Nottm Forest 0-0 Birmingham
Notts Co P-P Forest Green
Plymouth 0-0 Newcastle
Portsmouth 1-1 Coventry
Preston 7-0 Colchester
Reading 1-1 Liverpool
Scunthorpe 1-0 Barnsley
Sheff Utd 1-1 QPR
Sheff Wed 1-2 Crystal Palace
Southampton 1-0 Luton Town
Stoke 3-1 York
Sunderland 3-0 Barrow
Torquay United 0-1 Brighton
Tottenham 4-0 Peterborough
Tranmere 0 – 1 Wolves
West Ham Utd 1 – 2 Arsenal
Wigan 4-1 Hull

It has oft been said that nothing can breed such fear and awe, as that which falls upon us often when we see the FA Cup fourth round draw:

Southampton v Ipswich
Reading/Liverpool v Burnley
Millwall/Derby v Brentford/Doncaster
Bristol City/Cardiff v Leicester
Stoke v Arsenal
Notts County/Forest Green v Wigan
Scunthorpe v Man City
West Brom v Plymouth/Newcastle
Everton v Nottm Forest/Birmingham
Accrington/Gillingham v Fulham
Bolton v Sheff Utd/QPR
Portsmouth/Coventry v Sunderland
Preston v Chelsea
Aston Villa v Brighton
Wolves v Crystal Palace
Tottenham v Leeds’

(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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