Posts Tagged ‘stoke’

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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In Off The Ghost Premier League Obituaries

'Ashes to ashes, Wigan to Wolves'

Friends, family and fans. The time has come for In Off The Ghost to pay its last respects to the final round of festive Premier League matches. Some of you will look back fondly at the good times. For others however, the pain will still be too fresh (our thoughts are with Wolves and Portsmouth fans in particular).

Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool

A Fernando Torres goal at the death snatched a vital win for Liverpool against Champions League rivals Aston Villa, who will be left mourning Richard Dunne’s untimely stumble.

This match is survived by: A sense of sympathy for Villa and especially the impressive Richard Dunne, who did not deserve to be the fall guy.

Blackburn 2-2 Sunderland

Darren Bent


A Darren Bent brace was not enough to earn a much-needed three points for Sunderland as fan favourite and all round nice chap El Hadji Diouf provided a lifeline for Blackburn.

This match is survived by: Unease from both sets of supporters as early season promise dies a slow and painful death.

Bolton 2-2 Hull

Bolton threw away a two goal lead, conceding two Stephen Hunt goals in seven minutes after Ivan Klasnic and the evergreen elbows of Kevin Davies had given them the lead.

This match is survived by: Bolton’s search for a new manager after the news that Gary Megson’s reign as boss had bitten the dust. Megson spent a significant amount of the Trotter’s cash during his tenure, with nothing to show but a Bolton side that are as potent as Pele after an all night drinking session.

Chelsea 2-1 Fulham

Didier Drogba

'Argh, there's my plane!'

A masterful Didier Drogba performance and an own goal from debutant Chris Smalling put a resilient Fulham to the sword after Zoltan Gera had given the Cottagers an early lead.

This match is survived by: The feeling that Drogba going to the African Cup of Nations will be the worst withdrawal at Chelsea since Adrian Mutu went cold turkey.

Everton 2-0 Burnley

Two goals in the final ten minutes from James Vaughan and Stephen Pienaar sealed Burnley’s fate and condemned them to a ninth successive league game without a win.

This match is survived by: Burnley’s capitulation after an impressive start to the season, as their league form plummets faster than the house prices. Fortunately, Burnley’s good fortunes at their home show no signs of fading.

Stoke 0-1 Birmingham

Alex McLeish

'Hmmm, what else I can sell?'

A scrappy Cameron Jerome goal was the final nail in Stoke’s Christmas coffin as Birmingham marched on to an eleventh game unbeaten.

This match is survived by: The growing certainty that Alex McLeish must have sold his soul to turn City into contenders for European football.

Tottenham 2-0 West Ham

The returning Luca Modric and West Ham favourite Jermaine Defoe netted to finish off a lifeless West Ham.

This match is survived by: Confidence in the Spurs camp. After a day of returns, Tottenham show no signs of leaving the Champions League places anytime soon.

Wolves 0-3 Man City

Jody Craddock

'Oh God, here he comes again!'

Wolves were led to the slaughter by two goals from a rampaging Carlos Tevez and a cunning Javier Garrido free-kick. Craig Bellamy exorcised the spectre of Robinho by consistently slaughtering poor Jody Craddock.

This match is survived by: The need for someone to tell Roberto Mancini that it takes more than beating Wolves to turn a ragtag bunch of millionaires into title winners.

Portsmouth 1-4 Arsenal

A Fabregas deprived Arsenal murdered bottom of the table Portsmouth at Fratton Park, with Eduardo, Samir Nasri, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Song all accomplices.

This match is survived by: The feeling that despite the potential of Arsenal’s exciting young prospects, they will inevitably flatter to deceive. Portsmouth seem to be on their last legs and the vultures are circling. Both rival clubs and the administrators look set to be knocking on the door of Fratton Park in 2010.

Man Utd 5-0 Wigan

Titus Bramble

Hands up if you belong in the Championship.

Another trouncing for Wigan as they continue to haemorrhage goals. The champions maintain their recent good form thanks to goals from Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Rafael Da Silva, Dimitar Berbatov and Antonio Valencia.

This match is survived by: Alex Ferguson’s belief that his side will only get stronger after this mauling. However, Fergie should take any result against a side with Titus Bramble and Emerson Boyce in defence with a large heap of salt.

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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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