It’s Only a Game…

by Sam Wheatley

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Welcome to a daily feature that I’ll be writing for the foreseeable future (if anyone actually likes it).  I intend it to be a light-hearted roundup of some of the more amusing events that football has to offer.  After all, the game’s supposed to be entertaining, isn’t it?  Today we kick festivities off with…

Malingering Irishman

Anthony Stokes has fallen victim to the gruelling Scottish Premier League season and failed to report for Ireland’s pointless Nations Cup game against Northern Ireland because he was ‘a bit tired’.  Trapattoni said “if they’re in hospital or are dead, that’s okay” in response to Stokes’ twist on the old Stephen Ireland “my grandmother died” blag to get out of an Ireland game in 2007.  It doesn’t matter too much anyway – authentic Reading-born Irishman Simon Cox wrapped up a 5-0 win in a game likely to be forgotten by everyone with alarming haste.

Neville’s Testimonial

Gary Neville lost his own testimonial last night, 2-1 to a Juventus side that contained spritely youngsters such as Pavel Nedved and Alessandro Del Piero.  With all the controversy surrounding the club at the moment, it must have been nice to divert attention, get out there and celebrate the career of one of the game’s real characters.  In what must have been a charming afterthought, brother Phil was invited to play – the poor man looking less than comfortable in the shirt of a club that unceremoniously flogged him to Everton back in 2005.

Ferguson was also seen by cameras trying to ban some bloke from Friday’s press conference, which of course he can’t do because it’s subject to UEFA governance, not Manchester United.  There was a lovely moment on Channel 4 news when a reporter accosted John O’Shea after an indoor training session and had a little chat with him.  When the reporter asked “how’s Ryan?”, O’Shea did an indignant about-turn and went off after this woman who was clearly there only to shepherd the players through the media maelstrom.

Ash Cloud Fears for Final

Josep Guardiola has been racking his brains about travel to England for his Barcelona side’s Champions League final match on Saturday at Wembley.  He fears the disruption to flights caused by the ash cloud may ruin the vital preparation required for the game.  Barcelona and aeroplanes clearly do not mix though – earlier in the season, an air staff strike caused the Catalan club to arrive late for a La Liga match against Osasuna.  Maybe it’s just a pre-packed excuse if his side fail.

Best of Twitter

Not much really, other than Cesc Fabregas sending evidence of him and Lukasz Fabianski (affectionately but somewhat inaccurately referred to as ‘Lukaszinho’) being the only two players at an Arsenal training session because everyone else had gone on holiday.  This morning, Michael Owen posted a picture of his gardener feeding eleven pigeons, which will obviously help to dispel the myth that he might be a little bit dull.

Spare a Thought For:

Lionel Morgan – remember him?  The Wimbledon winger that Spurs kept trying to sign in 2003/04.  Relentless injury caused him to pack in the game aged just 21, after the player had featured for England Under-19s and Under-20s and caused quite a stir.  If you’re a fan of clichéd media comparisons, Morgan was supposed to be the new John Barnes, and it’s a shame that injury prevented Morgan from achieving all he could in the game.

Don’t Think Twice About:

Freddy Adu.  He’s on loan in Turkey from Portuguese club Benfica.  I found an amusing video of the former ‘new Pèlé’ not hitting the crossbar, whilst his team-mate Michael Bradley (who is actually better but not dubbed the new anything) hits it.  You can watch it here.

Follow me on Twitter @samuelefrumento


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  • peggy

    nice feature, the old grandma story. i’m a photographer, i’ve heard this excuse over 100 times, it’s the standard one!

    you might want to make the headline more catchy, that way all the Newsnow crew will click and read this great blog

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