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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.)

 

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.)

Ruel Fox

Fox - Too Ruel for school

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

When the fanatical football fiends here at In Off the Ghost are bored, we sometimes think of the stories we heard, read or watched during our days on Earth to pass the time. Seeing as this weekend has been full of international football action, we have had plenty of time to think about our favourite tales. The stories that stay with us the most are the ones from our childhood, we vividly remember hearing about Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, or the last time Manchester City won a trophy. How those ancient tales filled us with wonder and amazement.

In fact, these childhood legends had such an impact on us that when we were offered the chance to interview one of our favourite yarn spinners for this week’s Obituary, we jumped at the chance to relive the innocent, ectoplasm free days of our youth. This week’s posthumous pundit wanted to talk to us about Subbuteo sized, former Norwich City, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion winger Ruel Fox. A cold welcome to former fighter pilot, screen writer and famous children’s writer, Roald Dahl!

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl - Tangfabulous Whizzpopper

“Hello my fellow Hornswagglers!” started Dahl, jiggling about with child-like excitement, “I want to tell you about my favourite ever footballer, Fantastic Mr. Ruel Fox. He was a player so fast he ran as if he was being pushed along by atomic whizzpoppers! When he was at Norwich City, he was the most wonderous whangdoodle in the Premier League. A great player in a great team with Chris Sutton, Jeremy Goss and of course the BFG, Bryan ‘Fantabulous’ Gunn. He could do it all, cross, score goals and he dribbled more than a kid chewing on a block of ‘Willy Wonka’s Super Sticky Stickjaw Toffee’. When he left to join Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United it seemed like a dream come true for our Mr. Fox, but things started to go a bit wrong. Football managers are complicated creatures, full of quirks and secrets. Why Keegan lost faith in Mr. Fox, my dear readers, we will never know. He was a wonderful player, he just needed his manager to believe in his magic. But some people absolutely refuse to believe in anything unless they are actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles. So Keegan signed David ‘Champion of the World’ Ginola, and sent poor Mr. Fox packing to Spurs and Gerry Francis.

“Mr. Fox flourished for a while thanks to Gerry’s Marvellous Medicine, but nasty George Graham took over as boss and eventually he stopped playing Mr. Fox too. Quite frankly, I think Mr. Graham was a twit. He was born a twit and when he sold Mr. Fox at the age of fifty-five, he was a bigger twit than ever. Nasty old George Graham got the boot not long after, but two rights don’t equal a left.”

“So our Mr. Fox ended up at West Brom, and he played like he would’ve rather been fried alive and eaten by Mexicans. Mr. Fox could’ve had a glittering career if it wasn’t for the Schnozzlebonkers who always said ‘I’m right and you’re wrong, I’m big and you’re small, and there’s nothing you can do about it.’”

“He may not have won many trophies or prizes, but to me Mr. Fox will always be fantastic.”

(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.)

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.)

Roy Keane

Roy Keane and Alan Shearer - After watching Shearer on MOTD, we feel like punching him too.

This week’s communiqué from the dearly departed of football’s elysium is the fourth instalment of ‘The Obituary’ series, where one of our posthumous pundits puts forward a eulogy for their favourite player in football history.

Anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time on the ball of rock and water we call Earth will start to ask deeply fundamental questions about life and human existence, such as “why are we here?”, “what kind of life should I lead?”, “how has Emile Heskey cost a combined £26 million worth of transfer fees?”. It’s only natural to question the nature of humanity and both the staggering beauty and depraved cruelty homo sapiens are capable of. In many ways, football sums up the duality of the human condition quite well. In a single game can we can see moments of exquisite genius and sportsmanship, and then the manager brings on El Hadji Diouf.

A multitude of philosophers have spent years of their lives, and many more of their afterlives, pondering the contradictions and complications of human nature. Luckily for you, the gaggle of ghouls here at In Off the Ghost have been tipped off as to the whereabouts of their final resting places, and we decided to go and hassle 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche for his views on his favourite player in the history of football, which turns out to be everyone’s favourite moody midfield monster Roy Keane.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche or nice?

“Roy Keane was my favourite player of all time. Although to some he was the Antichrist, to me he was one of the Übermensch of Premier League history” stated Nietzsche, every word twitching his gargantuan moustache, which is still impressive even here in football’s afterlife. “We all know God is dead, and for Manchester United fans that God was Eric Cantona. When God retired to become a horrendous actor in France, Roy Keane was the water with which United cleansed themselves.

“But Roy Keane embodies my theories about humanity perfectly. His career goes beyond good and evil. We are, all of us, growing volcanoes that approach the hour of their eruption. How near or distant that is, nobody knows, but Keane seemed always to be on the verge. He was gifted, there is no doubt. He not only broke up play, he could also pass, score goals, and was a momentous inspiration for two hugely successful United sides. You only need to look at his performance against Juventus in the 1999 Champions League semi-final for proof of his ability. But he was also incredibly cruel. However, we should not demonize him for this. We must think of players who are cruel today as stages of earlier cultures, which have been left over. Lee Cattermole is just a remnant of Roy Keane, and Keane himself an heir to the legacy of Vinnie Jones and Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris. They show us what we all were, and frighten us, especially if you are Alf Inge Haaland. However, they themselves are as little responsible as a piece of granite for being granite.

“In his rush to inflict pain on others he himself took considerable damage. I used to say ‘was ihn nicht umbringt, macht ihn starker’ but after seeing his knees I have my doubts. Many people deny it, but Roy Keane was honest enough to admit that it is a pleasure to inflict pain, and by that measure I am sure he will have no regrets. When the day comes that I meet Roy Keane I will say to him:

‘Was sagt dein Gewissen? — ‘Du sollst der werden, der du bist.’ ”

(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.)

We are the Champions League

Life is a gamble. Every day we try to predict the future and how things will turn out. What will happen if I tell my boss that he is a fat, balding prune? Can I get across the road before this lorry turns me into a fine paste? Who will shoot first in the hideous ten team orgy of a Premier League relegation battle? The future is hard to predict. Maybe if the writers here at In Off the Ghost were a little better at guessing what was going to happen next, we wouldn’t be bringing you the latest gossip from football’s Elysium. We could’ve got a nice job working for Northern Rock or Enron instead.

However, there are other posthumous pundits on our eternal terraces who feel that they’re a bit better than us at predictions, and with a fortnight of exciting UEFA Champions League ties ahead involving all four English clubs, we have decided to bring you the forecast from one of our most flamboyant residents. A cold welcome to Queen front man Freddie Mercury!


Freddie Mercury

Mercury - Master of the offside trap

Chelsea v FC Copenhagen

“After their recent poor form Chelsea will be asking themselves – is this the real life, or is this just fantasy? The Champions League represents an escape from Premier League reality. If Ancelotti fails to guide the Blues past FC Copenhagen then … mama mia, mama mia! Abramovich will have a devil put aside for him! But I think they will be fine, Lampard is back and in form for the Pensioners and fat bottomed Frank makes their rockin’ world go round.”

Prediction: 3 v 1

 

Manchester United v Marseille

“Man Utd have been in foul form and an even worse temper recently. If they can’t beat you they will rock you instead. Take Rooney for example. One minute he is leaping through the skies like a tiger, defying the laws of gravity. Next he has a scowl on his face, he’s a big disgrace, waving his elbows all over the place. And if it’s not Rooney, it’s Ferguson; purple nose on his face, “the ref’s a disgrace”, Marseille are gonna put them back into their place.”

Prediction: 0 v 1

Barcelona v Arsenal

“Barcelona and Arsenal have so much in common. They share one vision. They have one heart, one soul, just one solution to football: pass, pass, pass. Arsenal played brilliantly at the Emirates, but I can only see one goal, one outcome for Wenger’s men, and there’s only one direction they are going – out of the Champions League. Messi will want to break free and unleash his kind of magic on the Gunners at the Camp Nou.”

Prediction: 1 v 0

Spurs v AC Milan

“Tottenham’s run has been incredible and Redknapp will be hoping another one of Europe’s big sides bites the dust at White Hart Lane, especially now that the crazy little thing called Gattuso won’t be playing. Bale already put Inter under pressure, so Milan should beware because, hey, he’s gonna get you too!”

Prediction: 1 v 0

(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.)

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.)

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.)

IMAGINATION – Picture courtesy of El Rooneyo Illustrations (www.elrooneyoillustrations.tumblr.com)

This week’s decomposed ditty from football’s afterlife is the third instalment of ‘The Obituary’ series, where one of our posthumous pundits puts forward a eulogy for their favourite player in football history.

In football, as in life, there are different types of people. There are the do-ers, the high energy action men who get things done and don’t wait around to consider petty things such as reasons or consequences. Then you have the artists, whose sole mission in life is the creation of the divine, to represent the beauty of life though music, paint, and football. Also, the journeymen, who move from place to place, never to settle and destined to roam the land, from Crystal Palace to the Shed End. However, once life has rendered your spirit separate from your physical form, you are destined to float around the heavenly u-bend for all eternity, taking with you only your mind and a pale spectre of your former physical self.

So it stands to reason that it is the more intellectually endowed amongst us that often make the best of the afterlife, spending their time in football’s Valhalla mulling over the profoundly important issues of existence, such as why 4-4-2 is so rubbish these days, or how many times Steve Bruce must have been hit in the face to end up with a nose as hideous as this. It is fitting then, that this instalment of ‘The Obituary’ features one of the most intelligent and cerebral footballers in history. Zinedine Zidane not only conquered club football with his magisterial midfield machinations, but he guided France to World Cup glory on home soil in 1998 through the power of his mighty monkish noggin. So who better to provide us with an elegy for the genius of Zizou than one of the greatest thinkers of all time, Albert Einstein!

Einstein: ‘This is how it works. R stands for roulette, which equals O, or ‘on your arse’.

“My special theory of relativity proves that the faster you move, the slower time moves compared to that of a stationary observer” began Einstein’s ghost, still sporting a moustache almost as big as his gargantuan brain. “When Zidane was on the pitch, his awareness and footwork seemed to slow down time for him, yet speed it up for the opposition, who were almost always stationary observers.

“Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds. Zidane had wonderful vision and a spectacular football brain, but he was enough of an artist to draw freely upon his imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. Take this goal in the 2002 Champions League Final for example. It would not be possible with knowledge and technical ability alone. It is Zidane’s sublime technique coupled with his extraordinary imagination that made this goal possible. Imagination is why players with practically no knowledge whatsoever, like Paul Merson for example, were so devastating through their use of imagination and creativity.

“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. Zidane’s genius wasn’t boundless, as this clip proves, but using his colossal football brain to clobber Marco Materazzi 2006 World Cup final was infinitely stupid. However, as I always used to say, a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new, an accusation which no one could make against Zinedine Zidane.”

(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.)

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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