Julia Donaldson to release Liverpool FC versions of classic stories

His eyes are like pools of terrible fire, and his terrible moustache is tougher than wire

Children’s literary powerhouse Julia Donaldson is to release Liverpool FC themed versions of her famous classic stories.

Donaldson was quoted as saying, “I really liked Vegard Heggem as a player and was really sad he had to retire.” When asked about the recent criticism regarding the club’s now abandoned plan to join the breakaway Super League, she said, “I’m not interested in all that. I think it will be a wonderful experience for Liverpool fans of all ages to see their heroes transported to magical lands, and Roy Evans drawn as an owl.”

The initial run of titles will include The Grobbalo, The Heighway Rat, Stig Inge Man, What the Lawrenson heard, N’gog and the Flying Doctors, Room on Benayoun, and Mølby Puzzle.

I’ve lost Ray Houghton!

VAR to replace Robbie Savage and Chris Sutton on 606

The BBC has announced a shake up of its signature radio call in show, 606, replacing incumbent presenters Robbie Savage and Chris Sutton with the highly controversial Video Assistant Referee system.

“Whilst Robbie and Chris are well known for their left-field opinions and occasional hatred of modern football, we felt it was time for a new face for the programme,” said a BBC spokesperson. “VAR speaks to the younger listeners, those who understand that pixel-level offside decisions are the way of the future.”

Privately, senior BBC staff have discussed if Savage and Sutton would be able to conform to new OFCOM rules regarding Bantz~! levels, which are due to come in to effect on June 1st. It was felt Sutton’s generally more angry approach would meet the new standard, but Savage would be unable to dial back his bantzometer.

This is the first time VAR has taken on a role where the public can interact with them. “I may not be able to tick a box that asks ‘Are you a human being?’ on a website, but I’ve got this uncanny ability to draw lines on the screen and really suck the joy out of proceedings. And given that misery loves company, 606 felt like the perfect place to try and build a better relationship with the fans.”

An angry Sutton has refused to comment. Savage released a statement saying, “WOI OIIII!”

Predictions 23-26 April

Tough round this week. Leno’s already cost me dearly with that howler. Should have seen it coming as well, last time I was reading about Arsenal’s amazing home record against a specific team, it was against Burnley, and history just went and repeated itself. Cheers, history, you wanker. I think last time I banked on Leicester they got battered by Leyton Orient or someone shite. Don’t mess it up this time, lads!

Super League Surprise

I don’t believe anyone complaining about the European Super League is naïve enough not to believe that football’s all about the money. For as long as there has been chairmen to extract profits from clubs, football has been about the money. The Premier League emerged from the era that housed Ken Bates’s electric fences, Thatcher’s persecution of the poor, and Alan Sugar’s desire to sell more Amstrad Satellite dishes. Treating the fans like dirt whilst happily accepting their coin has been the Modus Operandi for the people at the top of the game since time immemorial. The idea that the Premier League was simply a “rebranding” because of football’s bad 80’s vibe is laughable.

So what’s different this time? The transformation of the top flight from “glitzy repackaged Division 1 games featuring Ronny Rosenthal” to “money-making powerhouse featuring all your favourite stars and Nicolas Pepe” was not instantaneous. It was a gradual gentrification, a country and a culture so intrinsically mistrustful of foreigners, slow to change its inward-looking ways. It wasn’t until the ’94-’95 season that we saw more than one foreign import in the top 20 most expensive transfers[1], according to data from transfermarkt.co.uk. Whilst there were many dissenting voices about the formation of the Premier League at the time – perhaps most notably Alex Ferguson, which has been mentioned elsewhere today – it was not a root and branch destruction of the very core of its being. All about the money, yes, a repackaging, yes, but it’s essence was the same.

What the gradual change has allowed to happen is a strange communal cognitive dissonance, in that because things didn’t change an awful lot when we went from point A to point B in 1992, and then things didn’t change that much when we went from point B to point C, and so on ad infinitum, we’ve been able to convince ourselves that relentless extraction of money that football became wasn’t that bad, because the change from what it originally was so slow. And now, worrying that they won’t have access to neighbouring wells to run dry at some point in the near future, the breakaway clubs have decided that they can create a new, safe, endless well of money that will secure the wallets of their owners for all time.

It was inevitable from the day Alan Sugar informed BSkyB of the value of ITV’s bid for the inaugural Premier League TV rights, and told them to “blow [ITV] out of the water.” It’s all about the money. It always has been, and it always will be, and the fans can go whistle. It’s the natural culmination of a sport that’s become obsessed with money above all else, and the most surprising thing is how surprised people seem to by this absolute “revelation”, which was really something everybody knew all along.


[1] Cantona from Leeds to Man Utd isn’t counted as an import

Football goes missing again

The FA are hoping to speak to Jon Stead (pictured) regarding Football’s disappearance (Photo from Wikipedia: By en:user:TuborgLight – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1503797)

In what has already proven to be the most tumultuous of seasons, the game of Football has once again disappeared from view in the middle of a set of fixtures.

Having last been seen in London on Sunday evening during Man Utd’s 3-1 win over Tottenham, Robbie Savage and Chris Sutton noted on BBC Radio 5 live that “the game’s gone” after yet another contentious VAR decision. It’s not yet known if this will affect the results following this game, however Sheffield Utd’s caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom is thought to be considering his options following his side’s 3-0 defeat to Arsenal, where the game was still yet to return.

“I don’t think it’s fair to continue playing the game after the game’s gone,” he told reporters. “It’s affected our players, the game being gone like that. Oli McBurnie got distracted thinking about what crisps were on offer in Tesco. It’s not right.”

Southampton, Everton and Brighton were all unable to locate the game in time for Monday night’s fixtures. It’s not yet known if West Brom scoring three goals in a match against someone other than Chelsea is a sign that the game might come back, or a potential warning that it might not return before the end of the season.

The game has gone missing multiple times this season, after several increasingly ludicrous VAR decisions caused uproar amongst fans and the punditocracy. It quietly returned in time for football to carry on as normal the following weekend, but it’s feared this most recent incident may cause a longer disappearance.

If you have any information regarding the game being gone, please dial 0 and ask for the FA.

A forensic analysis of the wank-tastic opening promo from MOTD2’s coverage of the NLD

Despite my hot-headed reactionary approach to everything that ever happens, I’m actually a big fan of dispassionate, reasonable analysis of football matches. As such, I don’t believe the two pundits selected for Sunday night’s NLD coverage on MOTD2 were the best choice. In opting for one lifer from each side, personal feelings were inevitably going to colour any opinion they had on the action. Jenas took the awarding of Arsenal’s penalty far too personally, and hugely overreacted to Keown’s suggestion that Lamela might want to learn from his red card. Similarly, I don’t think Keown would have been so quick to condemn an Arsenal player as “definitely knowing what he’s doing” in the tackle for Lamela’s first yellow.

Enough punditry analysis for now, let’s delve into the murky world of the opening promo. Gone are the days of a 15-20 second montage of the classic goals, the memorable incidents. It’s not enough for something to be a local rivalry anymore, it needs to have context, it needs to have fast cuts, it needs to have meaningless subliminal messaging.

We start off with 6 cuts in 4 seconds, incorporating the logos of each side, consecutive shots of Harry Kane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang puffing their cheeks prior to taking a set piece, and then black and white footage of Highbury and the old Spurs crest. We then at least get the obligatory “classic goal” bit, with Gazza’s thunderbastard in the ’91 cup semi-final at Wembley, followed by Brady’s cracker at the Lane in ’78.

“A battle for supremacy between two of football’s heavyweights,” narrates Mark Chapman over all this, taking us a whole 7 seconds into the spot, at which point we see a triptych of the famous image of Mohammed Ali standing over Sonny Liston in their 1965 rematch, followed by a zoomed shot of Ali’s shorts and left glove on the same picture, followed by the same image in full frame, all in less than 2/3 of a second. BECAUSE HEAVYWEIGHTS, SEE? GEDDIT?

“Until recently, Arsenal ruled the roost,” continues Chappers, as we see shots of Thierry Henry putting his finger to his lips with a “shush” gesture, a bespectacled Arsene Wenger from the very early days, a Dennis Bergkamp knee-slide, Robin van Persie celebrating with his arms open, before another sub-second triple cut with weird zoom and stretching of French strongman Charles Rigoulot. BECAUSE WENGER WAS FRENCH AND ARSENAL WERE “STRONGER” THEN, SEE?

“…but as the Invincibles became the Vulnerables,” says Chappers, as Pires finishes with his left foot and Tony Adams lifts the Premier League trophy in ’98, before switching gears to a morose and aged looking late-era Wenger, Alexis Sanchez moping around looking sad, and another sub-second triple cut of a big green sign for “Vunerability just ahead”. BECAUSE ARSENAL HAVE BEEN VULNERABLE IN RECENT YEARS, SEE?

“…it was Tottenham who took the ascendancy,” with Bale slotting past Fabianski, Harry Redknapp arms aloft in joy, Aaron Lennon diving full length after making it 4-4 in 2008, Eric Dier looking pumped, Dele Alli looking happy, Danny Rose’s thunderbastard sequel, Gareth Bale’s heart celebration close up to pitch-side camera, Spurs fans celebrating wildly next to some glum looking gooners. 10 cuts in 6.5 seconds.

“They’ve finished above their neighbours in the league for the last four seasons.” Slow-mo shot of Pochettino standing on the touchline near Wenger. As Chappers says the word “neighbours”, we get a sub-second triple cut of perm/mullet era Kylie & Jason, FROM NEIGHBOURS. BECAUSE THEY WERE IN NEIGHBOURS AND ARSENAL AND SPURS ARE NEIGHBOURS, SEE? Kane scores a penalty. Kane celebrates scoring a penalty. A Spurs fan holds up an A3 piece of paper saying “MIND THE GAP” (#bantz~!) Sub-second triple cut of a sign for the “Four seasons hotel”. BECAUSE oh my God. Oh my GOD. Kane scores from a tight angle and Guy Mowbray shouts “TOTAL TOTTENHAM TURNAROUND!” Kane slides on his bum in celebration.

LOL!

“A recent slump has seen Arteta’s men fall behind Mourinho and co. again,” as Xhaka punts it into Chris Wood’s hip for the Burnley qualiser the other day, Arteta claps furiously, Xhaka wipes his nose on his sleeve in slow motion, Kane smashes one in off the underside of the bar, Mourinho hugs Joao Sacramento, Spurs fans celebrate wildly (again).

“But there’s nothing like derby day to inject some life into a faltering season.” Spurs players have a group hug. As Chappers says “inject”, we see a post-animated black and white image of someone pumping up an old leather football. INJECT, SEE? Touchline fracas. Mourinho concentrating. Arteta looking stoic. Sub-second triple cut of an Arsenal banner that reads “KEEP THE FAITH”. Saka does a knee slide, Kane, Bale and Moura hug. Aerial shot of the Emirates as chappers says “Your commentator is Steve Wilson.”

So there you have it. 67 cuts in 40 seconds, an intro to the NLD that’s essentially an attack on your senses. It finishes leaving you disoriented, disconnected and nauseas, like after a Jose Mourinho post-match interview when Tottenham lose. A piece with all the subtelty and nuance of someone smashing you over the head with a cello.  

Anyway, here it is, in all its vomit-inducing glory: (CAUTION: may cause sickness)

Predictions 12-15 March 2021

Two of the in-form teams kick us off on Friday night, unfortunately the form they’re in is quite poor. I could see Villa nicking it due to Newcastle’s overall terribleness, but I’m declaring for a goal-free non-classic.

Elsewhere, I’m personally looking forward to a rousing defeat at home to Spurs on Sunday afternoon.