Second week in and already we’ve had great goals, dodgy defending, and Gary Neville’s scarily untached face. In order not to dwell on that though, let’s get straight to it:
The legacy of John O’Shea – Manchester United have developed a trick in recent years where in they are no longer shackled by needing to play players in positions they can actually play in. Instead, being able to just slot any player in anywhere they like, and then blaming the subsequent defeat that would usually follow on tiredness, or the referee being too fat. This radical new way of thinking can be attributed mainly to the discovery of John O’Shea, a man born with the unique ability to be equally incapable of playing well in every single position on the pitch. Now, many years on, and even with John O’Shea departed, United have continued with the traditions he inspired.
On Monday night, Michael Carrick, the midfielder, played at centreback. This in fairness could be attributed to there being no actual fit centreback to play there instead of him. Meanwhile however, Antonio Valencia (the winger) played at fullback, while Danny Welbeck (the striker) played on the left-wing. Rafael Da Silva (the fullback) and Ashley Young (the left-sided winger) were deemed surplus to requirements on the evening.
Now, in line with this trailblazing new way of thinking, if one of the wheels on my car developed a flat tyre, and I had a spare tyre in the boot, would I become an innovative tactical genius if instead of using the spare tyre, I attached the steering wheel to the side of the car and then drove home using the handbreak as a make shift turning mechanism? Or would this just make me some kind of complete fucking moron?
Nani corners – In this day and age, players have every single aspect and detail of every single game or training session they participate in analysed, in order to enhance performance in every smallest way possible and try to make that slight bit of difference to the team as a whole. Clubs spend endless hours preparing for every possible detail for every single game. Entire teams of dweeby nerds are employed to monitor and computerize endless pages of stats and figures. Tirelessly working to leave no stone, pebble or grain of sand unturned. Yet despite all this, in five years, no one at Manchester United has bothered to tell Nani he’s shit at taking corners?
Football management, with QPR – Here’s how the running of QPR football club seems to work:
- concede more than 3 goals in 1 game = buy more defending type players
- Score less than 2 goals in any 1 game = buy more attacking type players.
…and that’s it. The quality of any potential signings is then gauged purely on whether or not they used to play for a big team. For example, a player who once played for Chelsea would be deemed better than a player of much younger age and better ability currently playing for West Brom. As a result QPR now have a squad of outcasted reject players who are too old, and either defend or attack a lot, with some people randomly stuck in the middle of the pitch who don’t really know which of the two they’re supposed to be doing, since QPR’s squad management method doesn’t take into account the middle third of the pitch actually existing. This is in reality the needlessly expensive method of buying a ticket on the relegation train, while pundits spend all season remarking that you’re “too good to be relegated” (then changing their mind to “no one’s too good to be relegated” around March time). The only surprise is that neither Teddy Sheringham or Sol Campbell have cropped up at Loftus Road yet.
Good news for any aspiring young goalkeepers this week, as some of the world’s top shotstoppers have taken time out to provide demonstrative coaching techniques, completely free of charge, and available to a worldwide audience:
Dealing with dangerous freekicks, with Peter Cech – First, position your wall in line with the near post, making sure it is not weak or disjointed. Then, position yourself in relation to the wall to gain as clear a view as possible and cover any part of the goal a shot might realistically be able to reach. When the shot comes in, sprawl across and make the save, crumple to the floor and simply scoop the ball haplessly into your own net. For added dramatic effect, glance around in amazement as if god himself couldn’t have prevented this from happening.
Dealing with simple backpasses, with Victor Valdes – First, make sure you are a clear distance from any opposing player, and that there is also no opposing player in a position to intercept any would be pass to you from your defender. Then, make yourself available to receive a simple ball into feet. Once you receive the pass, stand completely still and do nothing at all until an opposing player runs in and tries to tackle you. At this point, spin around in a circle and fall over whilst flailing your arms as if having some kind of fit, allowing the opposing player to tap the ball into an empty net. Make sure you do this feebly enough for the referee not to accidentally think you’ve been fouled.
Commanding your area from crosses, with David De Gea – Position yourself at the near post. When the cross comes in, carefully judge the flight of the ball, paying attention to the position of your defenders and any opposing players. Then, somehow hurl yourself away from your own goal area in order to leave an unguarded net, whilst simultaneously jumping directly in front of your defender in order to put him off, and managing to miss the ball entirely. Make sure you land in a crumpled heap at least a metre wide of the goal mouth, so that in the event your defender still does manage to temporarily clear the ball, any opposition player can simply tap it into an empty net. Glare accusingly at your defender whilst sporting a shit looking haircut.
How to defend, with Rafael Da Silva – Attack everything!
The voice of ultimate depression – I guarantee that the guy who works as the stadium announcer at Anfield has absolutely no living relatives or friends. This is because he’ll have driven them all to suicide by talking to them in his dull, toneless voice once too often (once). Computer nerds familiar with the original Team Fortress series will recognise him as the “Blue team, has captured, the flag” guy. He’s also sometimes employed at Liverpool Lime Street to announce train departure times when the powers that be become worried that the morning commuters don’t seem quite miserable or fed up with their lives enough. Manchester City’s lifeless performance on Sunday also came about after he spent the half hour before the game sat outside their dressing room, announcing their line up to them repeatedly.
- Why, every single week it’s broadcast, do the BBC advertise when Match of the Day is going to be on, on the channel it’s going to be on, immediately before it actually starts, and two minutes after it’s already supposed to have started?
- How do you know you’re a shit pundit? – When Gary Linekar dismisses your one and only point on the game you’ve just analysed by saying “I don’t think so somehow”, then immediately changes the subject before you can respond.
Rule change watch:
- Patrice Evra was bicycle kicked in the face in the build up to Fulham hitting the bar on Saturday. Apparently booting an opposition player in the face is no longer considered a foul or dangerous play, even when it leads directly to the offending player being unmarked to have a shot on goal
- Being or looking like Luis Suarez is however now apparently a bookable offence in all Premier League fixtures
Steven Gerrard award – Martin Skrtel, James Collins
Randomly remembered player award – David Seaman. Every generation of England team has to contain at least one player whose hair has been stolen from the Second World War. David Seaman was that player for his generation. Notable for his goalkeeping heroics for both Arsenal and England, and for his starring role as a British Army general in motion picture “A Bridge Too Far”, Seaman can also be remembered for all to often sporting goalkeeping jerseys that made it look like he was playing a game of tetris on his chest. Dave enjoyed a long and succesful career for both club and country, until one day he allowed Ronaldinho to cross the ball into the back of the England net from about 500 yards out, whilst being distracted by the lack of those useful L shaped purple brick things on the front of his shirt. Before he knew it he was languishing at Manchester City with pirate hair and was soon after forced to retire.
World’s strongest man award – Dembele. Staking his claim by not only figuratively carrying Fulham’s entire midfield on his back, but also spending much of the game literally carrying Manchester United’s entire midfield on his back. Occasionally sending limbs and bodies flying off into the gasping crowd.
The newdless fantasy football selection curse of death award – Sergio Aguero, Wayne Rooney, Luis Nani