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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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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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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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Steve Bruce

"Zombie Bruce ... want ... BRAINS! Oh and three points please."

Everybody makes mistakes from time to time. Back when my heart was beating and blood pumped through my veins I sometimes scored an own goal or two. However, I always managed to make amends. The petrol station bouquet, the two quid bottle of Lambrini and discount box of Matchmakers always managed to turn things around. And judging by his team’s performances in their last three games, Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has also mastered the art of getting himself out of trouble. After taking more of a beating than their gaffer’s nose at St. James Park a fortnight ago, the Mackems have claimed seven points from nine, including a spectacular 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge last Sunday. After such a shock result, In Off the Ghost decided to talk to a man who also knows a thing or two about great performances at the bridge, pioneering civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel!

Brunel

Brunel - Hats off to Sunderland

“Of all the wonderful feats Bruce has performed since he has been in this part of the world, I think Sunday he performed most wonderfully. He produced unanimity among eleven men who were all rubbish against Newcastle” boomed Brunel, his translucent top hat teetering perilously on his ethereal noggin.

“He engineered a victory that will live as long in the memory as my Great Western Railway bridges. Sunderland’s season seemed to have gone off the rails after the Newcastle game, but they have returned to form and demolished the champions on their own patch. The team are constructed using a similar blueprint to Bruce’s Wigan and Birmingham City teams. With quality players like Jordan Henderson being the architect of some fine passing play and Asamoah Gyan using his industry to gain access to the previously unreachable territories behind Chelsea’s back four, this Sunderland side are starting to build a reputation for themselves.”

I asked Brunel how important he thought the victory would be for Steve Bruce’s side. He chomped on his macabre cigar thoughtfully before replying:

“It is difficult to gauge the significance of this result for the Black Cats, but hopefully it will be the platform that Sunderland need to make inroads towards Europe. At the very least it is clear that recent results have gone some way to help Bruce build some bridges with the Sunderland faithful.”

(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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Nicolas Anelka

Even though the score was 7-2, the goalkeeper was Sunderland's star man.

The Big Smoke has seen its fair share of crime. From the Gunpowder Plot to the Kray Twins, the capital has been a hotbed for all sorts of illicit activity. However, even London has rarely seen a case of exploitation as blatant as was on display at Stamford Bridge this weekend. Sunderland were like a blindfolded tourist, waving around their valuables and staggering into the HQ of Roman’s ruffians, begging to be taken advantage of. Chelsea duly obliged and helped themselves to a gluttonous 7-2 slaughtering of the Black Cats.

So after witnessing the ugliest annihlation in the capital since the days of Queen Victoria we recieved a letter from a man who knows all about preying on the weak in London town: notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper.

Jack the Ripper

Doctor, murderer, football pundit, a real Jack of all trades.

‘Dear Boss,

I was very impressed with the clinical accuracy with which Chelsea went for the throats of Sunderland’ wrote ‘Saucy’ Jack who, for obvious reasons, wished to remain anonymous.

‘They tore the Mackems open, right through the middle. I bet Bruce was gutted, ha ha! Time and time again Cole, Malouda and Lampard all sliced their way through the Sunderland defence with sadistic ease. McCartney and Da Silva were so hapless! They reminded me of the London Met’s finest scrambling around after me back in the 1880s. And that Anelka boy is as sharp as my knife. Sunderland were flat on their backs and begging to be beaten; who would pass up that opportunity?

Until the next time, good Luck In Off The Ghost.

Yours Truly,

Jack the Ripper.’

(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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Joe Mourniho

Mourinho has the Premier League all shook up.

Just like the world of the living, the realm of the dead has been buzzing with talk of one thing; the return of José Mourinho. The former Chelsea boss has stated his desire to return to the Premier League at the end of the current campaign.

“I want to come back to England. I’m not the kind of guy to keep his feelings hidden,” stated the Internazionale boss. “I have always said the same – I love it here, I love it here, I love it here.”

So with excitement mounting about the possibility of someone with an actual personality returning to the Premiership, I was besieged by my fellow spirits wailing and moaning for an opportunity to tell In Off The Ghost what they thought about the Special One.

However, In Off The Ghost was only interested in hearing the opinion of one man. Like Mourinho, he too is a Special One. Just like José’s Champions League win with Porto, he too has performed miracles with meagre resources. He also has a good deal of experience with second comings. Yes you guessed it, the King himself, Elvis Presley!

Elvis: Also a snappy dresser.

‘Although I would love more than anyone to see José back in the Premier League, I would warn against making grand comebacks.’ said Presley, in his sultry southern drawl.

‘Yeah sure, it is great at first. Your name up in lights again, fans going wild, all the fast food you can eat. But you soon find out that it just ain’t the same as the first time. Everyone is out to get you. Suspicious minds are everywhere and they are gunning for the King. I got fat. I started wearing ridiculous suits and I ended up playing shows out in the middle of nowhere. I would hate to see that happen to Mourinho.’

Although there is no suggestion that José would take up a job in the North East, and his dress sense is still as sharp as ever, Mourinho should still take these words of warning seriously. After the tender love he received from Chelsea fans during his first stint in English football, he might find that fans can indeed be cruel to a heart that’s true.

(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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Premier League Predictions

'Who needs Mark Lawrenson?'

Many years ago, when I first shuffled off the mortal coil, I was quite fed up. However, I have come to realise the being dead has certain advantages. I no longer have to worry about my weight, the excruciating pain of toe stubbing and, perhaps chief of all, I no longer have to rely on Mark Lawrenson for my Premier League predictions. The afterlife has no end of people infinitely more qualified to share their paranormal predictions on the latest set of Premier League fixtures with In Off The Ghost.

This week, our supernatural speculations will come from George Orwell, the author of the visionary dystopian novel 1984.

Premier League Predictions

'Do I have to watch Bolton v Hull?'

Aston Villa v Liverpool

‘The idea of someone else other than the ‘Big Four’ qualifying for the Champions League is tantamount to thoughtcrime and Benitez runs the risk of being becoming an unperson if they miss out. Oldthinkers may be hoping that Villa will be a danger to the ‘Big Four’ Innerparty.  I am backing the established regime.’

Prediction: 0-2

Blackburn v Sunderland

‘After the fans reaction to the draw with Everton this weekend, Sunderland boss Steve Bruce commited facecrimes of every possible description. Still, Blackburn’s recent ungood form will continue and I predict that the Sunderland fans will once again be vocalising in a more happywise fashion after this game.’

Prediction: 1-2

Bolton v Hull

‘To know how both of these teams play and still believe that this game will be anything other than awful would be doublethink of the highest order. Watching this will feel like a 90 minute stint at a joycamp.’

Prediction: 0-0

Chelsea v Fulham

‘Fulham are another member of the Outerparty that have dared to challenge the dominance of the Innerparty without the appropriate upsub. I having a feeling that their resistance will be vaporized at Stamford Bridge.’

Prediction: 3-0

Everton v Burnley

‘I have come to bellyfeel Burnley’s status as a Premier League side. Still, an away win for them does not seem to be part of the PremSoc agenda. The chances of a home win are doubleplusgood.’

Prediction: 2-0

Stoke v Birmingham

‘Another game that is unlikely to feature highly on the BBC’s prolfeed. The recdep informs me that Birmingham have the second best defence in the league and Stoke have scored the fewest goals. Still, you can’t always trust everything you hear can you?’

Prediction: 4-0

Tottenham v West Ham

‘Jermaine Defoe visits his former club still looking to cement a place in the Airstrip One first team. Former West Ham boss Harry Redknapp is a goodthinker and won’t follow through on any threat to the Innerparty’s top four territory.’

Prediction: 1-2

Wolves v Man City

‘After the vaporizing of the previous non person Mark Hughes, new boss Roberto Mancini will want to continue his good start. I fullwise expect Man City to continue in their attempt to enter the Golden Country.’

Prediction: 0-3

(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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Premier League Review

'Now where did I put my scalpel?'

Now that this round of fixtures are over, the time has come for the resident In Off The Ghost pathologist to snap on a pair of rubber gloves, grab the scalpel and dissect the bloated corpse that is this week’s Premier League action.

Birmingham 0 – 0 Chelsea

Birmingham City held the league leaders to a scoreless draw at St. Andrews after an unfairly disallowed goal for Birmingham’s absurdly monikered Christian ‘ChuCho’ Benitez and some wayward finishing from Ancelotti’s outfit.

Deceased: Chelsea’s record of scoring in every game this season.

Cause of Death: The centre back pairing of Roger Johnson and Scott Dann accompanied by keeper Joe Hart did enough to starve the Londoners of a much-needed goal. Malouda missing a sitter late on added insult to injury.

Burnley 1 – 1 Bolton

David Nugent - Rubbish.

Burnley clawed their way back from the brink of defeat thanks to a David Nugent header cancelling out a lethal Matthew ‘Matty’ Taylor free kick.

Deceased: Those jokes about David Nugent being rubbish (well for a day or two at least).

Cause of Death: Nugent propelling his squama frontalis into a Wade Elliot cross. A stunning display of defensive rigor mortis from Bolton’s Gretar Steinsson was also a contributing factor.

Fulham 0 – 0 Tottenham

Stalemate at Craven Cottage as any decent opportunities were duly snuffed out by in form keepers.

Deceased: Tottenham’s swashbuckling, free scoring football.

Cause of Death: A well organised and hard-working Fulham rear guard action and some top-notch goal-keeping prevented anyone striking first blood.

Liverpool 2 – 0 Wolves

Steven Gerrard heads Liverpool's opener

How to get ahead.

Liverpool return to winnings ways after the horror show at Fratton Park, killing off a Wolves side weakened by the loss of Stephen Ward to a red card.

Deceased: Steven Gerrard’s recent poor form and Andre Marriner’s vision.

Cause of Death: Steven Gerrard turned in a glorious performance and got higher than heavenly Hendrix to head home Liverpool’s opening goal. Andre Marriner however must have been hoping for Anfield to swallow him up after booking Christophe Berra instead of Stephen Ward.

Man City 2 – 0 Stoke

Roberto Mancini’s Man City reign began with a victory as Martin Petrov (remember him?) and Carlos Tevez struck to seal Stoke’s fate.

Deceased: The Mark Hughes era at City was laid to rest at Eastlands.

Cause of Death: The spectre of ghoulish defending that has haunted Man City’s season so far was banished by a solid display from Vincent Kompany and Kolo Toure. Also the absence of Micah Richards for the first 66 minutes may have helped.

Sunderland 1 – 1 Everton

Marouane Felliani’s thumping 86th minute equaliser salvaged a point for Everton after cancelling out Darren Bent’s 17th minute opener.

Deceased: Steve Bruce’s composure appears to be on its last legs after seeing his Sunderland side booed off for drawing at home to Everton.

Cause of Death: In a game with more twists than Steve Bruce’s nose, Felliani and Stephen Pienaar were the stand out performers as Everton outplayed the Black Cats. Unrealistic expectations from some sections of the Sunderland faithful are only adding to the gloom at the Stadium of Light.

West Ham 2 – 0 Portsmouth

West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola

Just shave it off.

An Alessandro Diamante penalty and a bullet header from Radoslav Kovac fire West Ham to victory and blow a hole in Portsmouth’s survival hopes.

Deceased: The brittle confidence that Pompey had mustered after their win over Liverpool was smashed by defeat in this relegation six pointer.

Cause of Death: The midfield dynamism of Scott Parker coupled with the creativity of Diamante enabled West Ham to claim the points. The return of the influential Jack Collision will be welcome to a West Ham squad thinner than Gianfranco Zola’s hairline.

Wigan 1 – 1 Blackburn

Hugo Rodellega buried Maynor Figueroa’s cross to cancel out an early Benni McCarthy strike as the points were shared at the DW Stadium.

Deceased: Benni McCarthy’s barren run in front of goal bit the dust as he scored his first goal of the season.

Cause of Death: Transparent marking allowed McCarthy to ghost in behind the Wigan defence and score. A fine save from Chris Kirkland was needed to deny McCarthy an acrobatic winner.

Arsenal 3 -0 Aston Villa

Fabregas bags a brace for Arsenal

Let's talk about Cesc baby.

A 27 minute cameo appearance from Cesc Fabregas stopped Aston Villa dead in their tracks as the Arsenal captain bags a brace before limping off with a hamstring injury.

Deceased: Aston Villa’s run of 8 games without defeat and 5 games without conceding a goal comes to an abrupt end at the Emirates.

Cause of Death: The introduction of Fabregas served to unravel a resolute Villa defence and provided the best 30 minute Spanish show since the demise of Eldorado. Abou Diaby fired home a third as Aston Villa gave up the ghost, however Villa are still firmly in the hunt for the hallowed ground of fourth place.

Hull 1 – 3 Man Utd

Wayne Rooney had a hand in all four goals as the Champions overcame a spirited Hull City at the KC Stadium.

Deceased: Manchester United’s defensive worries appear to be coming to an end as both Wes Brown and Nemanja Vidic impress.

Cause of Death: Rooney scored United’s first before playing a catastrophic back pass which led to a penalty for Hull. Rooney made amends for his error in the second half by creating both of United’s subsequent goals. This mercurial performance was apparently spurred on by the fear of the famous hairdryer treatment from Ferguson. This comes as some surprise as he has told us before that he finds the sound of a hairdryer quite soothing.

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