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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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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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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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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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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.)

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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.)

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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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