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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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Neil Adkins

DIAL R FOR RELEGATION – Picture courtesy of http://www.elrooneyoillustrations.tumblr.com

This post has an accompanying soundtrack. Please click here before you read if you wish to hear it (a youtube video will open in a new window/tab).

Fear. Life is full of it. Spine-tingling, gut-twisting, pant-soiling terror lurks around every corner just waiting to pounce. Everybody on the planet is scared of something, be it spiders, heights or Iain Dowie. However, here in the afterlife there’s nothing for us ethereal spirits to fear. You would be forgiven for thinking that this might be a desirable state of being, but you would be wrong. It is in fact terribly boring. What we would give to feel a thrill of bottom-quaking horror at the sight of Lee Cattermole thundering toward us. However, the closest thing we get to fear in Football’s Valhalla is seeing Robbie Savage’s horrendous outfits on Football Focus.

So imagine our jealousy as the sporting spectres at In Off the Ghost tuned in to Match of the Day on Saturday night to see fear flooding the eyes of the Southampton back four as they were mercilessly violated time and again by Arsenal during their 6-1 defeat at the Emirates Stadium. The bludgeoning bestowed upon Nigel Adkins’s perky early season optimism was so brutal, the highlights should’ve been given an 18 certificate.

So in the interest of providing an alternative to the insipid analysis offered up by the Match of the Day stiffs (punditry so dull it makes us look back on our death throws with misty eyed nostalgia) we sought the views of a pundit who is something of an expert on fear and excessive violence. A cold welcome to fear-peddler and director of classic horror films Psycho, Dial M for Murder and The BirdsAlfred Hitchcock!

Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock – A hit with the birds.

“Seeing one team murder another on television like Arsenal did Southampton this week can help work off one’s antagonisms” started Hitchcock, his ethereal presence still managing to cast his famous rotund silhouette, “and in the case of Match of the Day, if you haven’t any antagonisms already, Alan Shearer’s post match ‘punditry’ will surely give you some.

“When I was making my thrillers, I wanted to give the audience pleasure, but the same kind of pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare. Unfortunately for the Southampton fans, they experienced the nightmare, but there was no waking up and certainly no pleasure. Wenger’s side did a fantastic job of making his visiting audience suffer as much as possible as they rained blow after blow upon the fragile Saints defence.

“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it. Arsenal’s cultured passing and movement only extended the anguish for the Saints, whose performance was so poor that they even made Gervinho look like a star. In my films blondes tended to make the best victims, but in this display the Saints served just as well. Adkins and his young, inexperienced side were like virgin snow that showed up the bloody bootprints of Podolski, Cazorla, Walcott and Gervinho.

“Hopefully the Southampton manager has come to realise what I did: that the only way to get rid of your fears is to make films about them. He needs to take a video of this horror show back to the training ground, channel his inner Norman Bates and teach Maya Yoshida how to defend. This defeat needs to be an important lesson, for if they don’t improve Southampton will be dialling R for Relegation.”

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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David Dunn Chicken

POULTRY IN MOTION – Picture courtesy of http://www.elrooneyoillustrations.tumblr.com

Sometimes, life is so absurd you just have to laugh. Trod in dog shit just before that big job interview? Chortle the pain away! Got caught by the tabloids playing strip poker in Vegas? Have a chuckle and try not to let it ruin your day. A bunch of inept clowns take over your beloved football club, make them the laughing stock of the country and appoint a cretinous stooge of a manager who promptly relegates them to the Championship in his first full season? Hmmm. Even we would find that a bit hard to laugh off. However, there were plenty of people (particularly Burnley fans) who were willing to indulge in a spot of chicken based shaudenfraude by having a laugh or two at the farcical fate of Blackburn Rovers to make up for it. Having started their season in somewhat erratic form under the stewardship of the preposterous Steve Kean and his chicken peddling paymasters Venky’s, things still seem pretty dire at Ewood Park.

Here at In Off the Ghost we can sympathise with Rovers fans. We too are powerless as we watch people scurrying around destroying the things we loved and worked hard to create during our days on the planet. However, most of the stoical ghouls here still try their best to take some comfort in a laugh or two. So in this spirit we have spoken to erstwhile comedian and legendary funny-man Tommy Cooper about the plight of Blackburn Rovers to see if he can bring a touch of humour to an otherwise bleak situation.

Tommy Cooper – ‘Just like that!’

“I know with relegation and the protests and all that, Steve Kean hasn’t had a great time at Blackburn” understated Cooper, adjusting his fez,”but to be fair the owners have always stood by Steve Kean’s side. They had to really. They’ve only got one chair.

“Kean’s been unlucky with injuries too. Apparently, when Leon Best went to the club doctor with his injury, the doctor said, ‘It’s your anterior cruciate ligament.’ Steve Kean wasn’t too happy, and he said he wanted a second opinion. The doctor said: ‘Alright then – he can’t finish either.

“But Rovers injury problems should improve soon though. Kean has fired the club masseuse. Apparently he rubbed him up the wrong way. And in a bid to improve the fitness of his players the manager is always open to innovative nutrition ideas. David Dunn said he wanted breakfast in bed on match days, so Kean told him to sleep in the kitchen.”

“It’s been a difficult summer for Rovers. I heard the chairman told Kean to do a bit of window shopping before the deadline. He came back with four windows. They lost a few players in the transfer window too though. Apparently Kean and Nzonzi were fighting like hammer and tongs before his move to Stoke. Nzonzi won. He had the hammer. They get a bad press, but Venky’s are always looking for innovative ways to inject some cash into the club. The chairman even went for a job as a gold prospector, but it didn’t pan out.

“I worry some of the Rovers players haven’t got to guts to be footballers in the Championship. Apparently Morten Gamst Pedersen wanted to be a milkman rather than a footballer when he was a kid but he didn’t have the bottle. But I reckon Blackburn will bounce straight back to the Premier League. I know it’s early days but their football so far this season has been like poultry in motion.

“Just like that!”

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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Arsene Wenger

FORMLESSNESS – Picture courtesy of  www.elrooneyoillustrations.tumblr.com

So a new season of Premier League action has begun and it seems evident from the first three fixtures that the league will be more fiercely contested than ever. Unless of course you’re Charles N’Zogbia, who judging by his performance for Aston Villa has not just lost the will to win, but seemingly the will to live too.

After a summer of inspiring and uplifting sport featuring our brave, dignified Olympians, we for one are delighted to see some good old fashioned violence, diving and cheating on offer from the Premier League’s finest (and of course Swansea’s Chico Flores). As the opening matches have seen a truck load of controversy and more penalties than Mario Ballotelli’s driving license, the deceased denizens of football’s first spiritual supporters group have been asking one question in particular: ‘does football have to be so attritional?’ In Off the Ghost went searching for answers, and we were contacted by legendary Chinese General, military strategist and author of the The Art of War, Sun Tzu, a posthumous pundit with a background in the rigours of battle.

Sun Tzu – ‘Tzu – nil! To the Arsenal!’

“These days, every game in the Premier League is a battle in a war for untold riches.” began Tzu, “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles. After three games and the end of the transfer window the Premier League sides are all starting to learn about each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

“Although they have only won one of their first three games, Arsenal have impressed me so far. I have always said that to be successful in battle you must be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Wenger has followed this rule with blind devotion in recent years, but with Cazorla, Diaby and Podolski he seems to have got the balance right. The Arsenal will be challenging come May. Obviously, the Manchester clubs will also be dangerous. Although they both have defensive concerns, a team defends when their strength is inadequate, and they attack when it is abundant. With the additions of Van Persie and Garcia to already fierce battalions, their power is there for their enemies to see.”

In a sudden fit of rage that would make Paulo Di Canio blush, Tzu tried to throw a tea cup at the wall, only for it to float gently across the room.

“I have been greatly disappointed with Liverpool’s failure so far! Downing at left back? Martin Skrtel trying to pass it about like some sort of mutant Franz Beckenbauer? I see that Liverpool and Brendan Rogers have much to learn. What is essential in battle is victory, not prolonged passing operations. Speed is the essence of war. Too frequent rewards indicate that a General is at the end of his resources. With Carroll gone and no new strikers in to replace him, Liverpool and General Rodgers should expect to receive scant reward for his intricate tactics.”

Sun Tzu signed off with a final word of advice for all of the managers in the Premier League.

“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons and they will follow you into the deepest valley. But if your words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the General is to blame. AVB I’m looking at you – you won’t be able to fall back on the old ‘transitional period’ excuse forever.”

(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)

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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.)

 

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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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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.)

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