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Racism sweeps through the Anfield dressing room

February 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Racism is sweeping through Liverpool’s once proud history, brushing away all sense of the club’s achievements, past glories and honour.

Why? Because after Suarez, the big racist, called Evra something, Pepe Reina has made an ad that apparently depicts black people as “backward, stupid, and animalistic homosexuals.”

According to the Guardian, Operation Black Vote director Simon Woolley said: “I’m shocked on so many levels. Firstly, how would the Spanish feel if the English stereotyped Spanish people as backward, stupid, and animalistic homosexuals?

“Secondly, what does this say about Pepe Reina? The Liverpool goalkeeper has lived and worked in the UK for nearly a decade; does he think it’s OK to characterise black people this way? Does he think his black team-mates will laugh at his joke? It’s back in the fifties this kind of stuff. They [Groupama] said they were ‘going to withdraw it immediately but have done nothing wrong. But if you’re upset then we apologise’.

“Given that Liverpool football club is trying to move forward from the Suarez affair, it is a shame that another one of their players has caused offence by appearing in an advert that seems to come from a bygone era. Those who are old enough might remember those despicable Zulu ads for cigarettes of the 1970s.”

Blimey. The video below shows that not only is Pepe Reina a racist, but he also laughs at black people while he’s being racist*.

Ever seen a Dolmio ad? Unbelievable the way it depicts Italians as pasta-guzzling, mamma-mia screeching bafoons. Ever seen an ad with Irish men? Chances are they’re in a pub. Ever seen a goalkeeper in full gear in the middle of a tribe being ‘wed’ to its leader?

*Or else this is all a big pile of nonsense….

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Barcelona: The modern greats.

December 1, 2010 2 comments

Jose Mourinho is considered by many to be the best football manager in the world right now. His phenomenal success since guiding FC Porto to Champions League glory in 2004 has sparked almost a decade of non-stop winning. League titles with Chelsea and Inter Milan along with a second Champions League success last year with the Serie A winners, led to the hottest job in football, Real Madrid.

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts at the end of his Spanish first division soccer match against Barcelona at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona, November 29, 2010.  REUTERS/Albert Gea

When we say hot, we mean park your arse in that cauldron Jose, hot. Galacticos and sackingos galore in the past decade have left the job as a mouth-wateringly attractive proposition to a consistent winner like Jose, but also a little bonkers. 1-0 wins earlier in the season had the Bernabeu shouting their displeasure.

Then Madrid started hammering their opposition, Cristiano started averaging two goals a game and everything seemed fine. La Liga was looking easier by the day as Madrid’s stars assembled at the top and Jose ‘I’ll take your big club and raise you’ Mourinho was looking like the saviour.

A decade of occasionally interrupted under-achievement set to be banished to history. Until that pesky little thing called Barcelona invited Madrid onto the Nou Camp and then played them off the park.

Monday’s 5-0 drubbing of Madrid was imperious. Magestic. Lots of words that you don’t use in everyday sentences come to mind. The execution of the goals was spectacular, for instance Iniesta’s ball for Xavi to open the scoring. Or Messi’s through ball for Villa’s second. However as this highlights package shows, the overall play was simply irresistible, even when Barcelona failed to turn the magic into a goal.

It’s hard to remember a time when a team of Mourinho’s has seemed so hopelessly out of its depth. A 2-0 defeat to Liverpool that was more routine than Chelsea supporters would have liked led to the end of his Stamford Bridge project. But this was simply something else.

Who would have thought that Madrid with Ronaldo, Casillas, Alonso and all could have been blown away in the manner that they were. The match will surely end the ludicrous notion that Ronaldo is a better player than Messi. While the Portugese complains about his treatment, in some cases fairly, at the feet of defenders, Real resorted to kicking Messi while Barcelona didn’t really need to afford Ronaldo the same treatment. He simply wasn’t in the same league.

Funnily enough Madrid may end up winning the league. Results have been stranger this year than in the past with Barcelona dominating the field. What is amazing though is that defenders still haven’t been able to get to grips with Messi. While many players sparkle and then fade somewhat as their tricks are learned by opposing players, Messi is still able to do the same moves at the same cost for opposition goalkeepers.

His trademark move infield from the right-wing to poke the ball with the outside of his right foot through the defence exposed Madrid again on Monday. How many times is that he’s performed the same trick? The pass infield and mad dash past the defence to retrieve the one-two seems like an old trick. But he’s still getting away with it. And above all he takes pride in his work. Every game is like his last and his desire to win still burns. Plus when he;s booked for diving, as he was on Monday, he invariably isn’t guilty. Wish we could say the same for Mr Ronaldo.

This Barcelona team has established itself as one of the greatest in modern football history. THE team of this decade. Comparable with the AC Milans of the late 80s-early 90s, Liverpool of the 80s and beyond. And long may it continue.

The state of play: Euro 2012 tables in full

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’s a look at how things stand in Euro 2012 qualifying after tonight’s fixtures, with competition not set to resume till 2011. Notice in particular the strength of the usual European superpowers Germany and Spain, with Italy, France and the Netherlands all looking strong again. England will most likely be the sole UK team involved, with Northern Ireland blowing a good start with a draw with the Faroe Islands tonight. Ireland will struggle to top the group after a home defeat to Russia and will face a tough battle for a play-off spot having blown a good chance to beat Slovakia tonight.

Group A

Teams Pld W D L F A +/- Pts
1 Germany Germany 4 4 0 0 13 1 12 12
2 Austria Austria 3 2 1 0 9 4 5 7
3 Turkey Turkey 4 2 0 2 6 6 0 6
4 Belgium Belgium 4 1 1 2 8 8 0 4
5 Azerbaijan Azerbaijan 3 1 0 2 2 9 -7 3
6 Kazakhstan Kazakhstan 4 0 0 4 0 10 -10 0

Group B

Teams Pld W D L F A +/- Pts
1 Russia Russia 4 3 0 1 6 3 3 9
2 Republic of Ireland Republic of Ireland 4 2 1 1 7 5 2 7
3 Armenia Armenia 4 2 1 1 9 4 5 7
4 Slovakia Slovakia 4 2 1 1 4 4 0 7
5 FYROM FYROM 4 1 1 2 4 4 0 4
6 Andorra Andorra 4 0 0 4 1 11 -10 0

Group C

Teams Pld W D L F A +/- Pts
1 Italy Italy 3 2 1 0 7 1 6 7
2 Slovenia Slovenia 4 2 1 1 7 3 4 7
3 Estonia Estonia 4 2 0 2 6 5 1 6
4 Northern Ireland Northern Ireland 3 1 2 0 2 1 1 5
5 Serbia Serbia 3 1 1 1 5 4 1 4
6 Faroe Islands Faroe Islands 5 0 1 4 3 16 -13 1

Group D

Teams Pld W D L F A +/- Pts
1 France France 4 3 0 1 6 1 5 9
2 Belarus Belarus 4 2 2 0 3 0 3 8
3 Albania Albania 4 1 2 1 3 4 -1 5
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina 3 1 1 1 4 3 1 4
5 Romania Romania 3 0 2 1 1 3 -2 2
6 Luxembourg Luxembourg 4 0 1 3 0 6 -6 1

Group E

Teams Pld W D L F A +/- Pts
1 Netherlands Netherlands 4 4 0 0 12 2 10 12
2 Hungary Hungary 4 3 0 1 12 4 8 9
3 Sweden Sweden 3 2 0 1 9 4 5 6
4 Moldova Moldova 4 2 0 2 5 3 2 6
5 Finland Finland 3 0 0 3 2 6 -4 0
6 San Marino San Marino 4 0 0 4 0 21 -21 0

Group F

Teams Pld W D L F A +/- Pts
1 Greece Greece 4 2 2 0 4 2 2 8
2 Croatia Croatia 3 2 1 0 5 1 4 7
3 Georgia Georgia 4 1 3 0 3 2 1 6
4 Israel Israel 4 1 1 2 5 5 0 4
5 Latvia Latvia 4 1 1 2 3 5 -2 4
6 Malta Malta 3 0 0 3 1 6 -5 0

Group G

Teams Pld W D L F A +/- Pts
1 Montenegro Montenegro 4 3 1 0 3 0 3 10
2 England England 3 2 1 0 7 1 6 7
3 Switzerland Switzerland 3 1 0 2 5 5 0 3
4 Bulgaria Bulgaria 3 1 0 2 1 5 -4 3
5 Wales Wales 3 0 0 3 1 6 -5 0
Group H

Teams Pld W D L F A +/- Pts
1 Norway Norway 3 3 0 0 5 2 3 9
2 Portugal Portugal 4 2 1 1 10 7 3 7
3 Denmark Denmark 3 2 0 1 4 3 1 6
4 Cyprus Cyprus 3 0 1 2 5 8 -3 1
5 Iceland Iceland 3 0 0 3 2 6 -4 0
Group I

Teams Pld W D L F A +/- Pts
1 Spain Spain 3 3 0 0 10 3 7 9
2 Czech Republic Czech Republic 3 2 0 1 3 1 2 6
3 Scotland Scotland 4 1 1 2 4 5 -1 4
4 Lithuania Lithuania 3 1 1 1 2 3 -1 4
5 Liechtenstein Liechtenstein 3 0 0 3 1 8 -7 0

Javier Mascherano: A disgrace

August 23, 2010 Leave a comment

It has been reported that Javier Mascherano has refused to play in tonight’s Liverpool game against Manchester City, with the reason being he is demanding a move to Barcelona. Mascherano has been left out of the squad but the player and club have yet to confirm the reason why.

Mascherano has refused to play for Liverpool

If this is true it is an absolutely disgraceful treatment of Liverpool FC and its fans.

Javier Mascherano has more reason than most players to be thankful to his club. After a high-profile move to West Ham, the Argentine began to suffer along with compatriot Carlos Tevez. While their ability was not in question, neither player was able to perform at their peak as questions surrounded the legitimacy of the deal that brought the pair to London.

When Rafael Benitez stepped in to sign Mascherano he offered the player a lifeline and Mascherano began to pay off the estimated £18m transfer fee with a string of impressive performances in the centre of the park. Under a coach with tactical prowess, the Argentine blossomed and was names the fans man of the match against AC Milan in the 2007 Champions League final. His performances were crucial as part of the team that came so close to Premiership glory in 2009.

Mascherano was also named as Argentina captain in November 2008 by incoming coach Diego Maradona. Tonight Mascherano was expected to line up in a crucial game against Man City but has dealt the club a bitter blow by refusing to make himself available for selection.

The tough tackling midfielder was made Argentina captain in 2008

This is an absolutely disgraceful decision. There are reports that Barcelona have offered £12m plus Hleb and Caceres and Liverpool have rejected the offer. Whether this is the reason Mascherano has gone on strike remains to be seen, but the club are not acting in any way unfairly by refusing the offer. Hleb and Caceres are not believed to be wanted by Roy Hodgson and Mascherano is probably the best defensive midfielder in Europe right now, so in fact the offer is desultory. Liverpool should make Mascherano play in the reserves rather than accept an offer of half what he is worth, particularly from a club who seem so willing to spend £40m on Cesc Fabregas.

Another disgrace is Mascherano apparently agreeing “personal terms” with the Catalan club. Under the rules of transfer activity, the clubs must agree that (a) the player is available for sale and (b) a transfer value. In this case Liverpool have made clear they want to keep the player but will accept an appropriate offer.

While from a personal point of view it is easy to sympathise with Mascherano, he has crossed a line tonight and will never wear the Liverpool shirt again. That his family are unhappy in England is a genuine reason to need to leave. However to effectively strike after his recent comments that he loves the club and fans and would like to play for Liverpool (just in another country) is an appalling way to treat the club and fans just weeks later.

Cesc Fabregas has his heart set on Barcelona. It is obvious for all to see. But as Arsenal captain he has knuckled down and decided that since the club do not want to sell, he stays and will no doubt play his heart out for the club. He came on against Blackpool at the weekend with a smile on his face.

In contrast, Mascherano came off after a terrific performance against Arsenal clutching a hamstring. That injury ruled him out of Liverpool’s Europa League clash with Trabzonspor making him free to play in Europe with a new club. However with the return leg approaching Maacherano knows he needs to move soon as Hodgson would no doubt play him on Thursday and thus he has orchestrated this act of petulance, on the eve of a massive game for the club.

Now is a true test for Hodgson to show he won’t tolerate this behaviour from the players. Unless the right offer comes in, Mascherano should be forced to stay at the club that rescued his career. The Argentine need look no further than the man who replaces him against City tonight, Lucas. The Brazilian has endured nothing but abuse since arriving at Liverpool from pundits and a majority of Liverpool fans. In the face of this, he has knuckled down and always gives his all – Shame on Mascherano.

Ozil: El Especial persuaded me

August 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Real Madrid’s latest (and apparently final) signing has revealed why Jose Mourinho (and not the delightful wages and weather) convinced him to join the club.

Ozil praises Mourinho at a press conference to announce his signing

Mesut Ozil has completed his move from Werder Bremen to the Spanish giants for a fee of around €15 million and joins German compatriot Sami Khedira as a new signing at the club after impressing in this year’s World Cup. Ozil has been signed with one eye on the future as he is only 21-years-old with a new and shiny six-year contract in the bag.

Speaking at his unveiling today, Ozil said: “I spoke to my advisers and looked at the options but I always wanted to join the best team in the world, and to play under the best coach in the world, Jose Mourinho. I chatted to him and he convinced me. What we spoke about will remain between him and me but that’s why I am here.”

The move will see Ozil competing against the likes of Kaka to try to replace playmaker Guti who left last month. Kaka is currently injured however meaning Ozil will have a chance to impress sooner rather than later. The playmaker also denied reports he refused to train, like any modern-day mercenary footballer would, with Werder Bremen ahead of their Champions League qualifier with Sampdoria tonight.

Ozil was heavily linked with Manchester United and Chelsea before Real Madrid announced he had signed to play in Spain.

‘That’ Penalty

July 25, 2010 Leave a comment

The penalty that’s got everyone talking.

Ezequiel Calvente shapes to shoot with his right and send the keeper the wrong was by toe-poking with his left foot to give Spain a 3-0 lead.