The news branch of the Back of the Net wiki.

Monday, 28 September 2009

A-League chief: Oh, who are we kidding?

The future of Australia’s A-League looks bleak after competition chief Archie Fraser admitted in a TV interview that even he was having trouble following this season.

Australians have embraced the Socceroos and will willingly watch an international match. But the domestic game is generally ignored if there’s a game of footy (Rugby League), footy (Australian Rules Football) or footy (cricket) on.

Aside from the fierce competition for spectators, the A-League has been hindered by its quasi-erotic name, many poorly named teams with purple or orange kits and Robbie Fowler.

With six games of the new season played and crowds already dropping off, A-League boss Archie Fraser hasn’t helped to steady the ship.

“Look, I’ve not really been watching myself,” he roared at smirking journalists.

“It’s all Central Coast Mariners this and Gold Coast United that. One team from New Zealand just thrown in. Honestly, who cares? I just can’t get into it. I mean North Queensland, where even is that?”

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Uncommitted Campbell to link up with world’s most demanding manager in incomprehensible marriage of inconvenience

Sol Campbell is edging closer to a move to Roy Keane’s Ipswich Town with both parties happily predicting a “messy contract rescission after a few weeks, if not days.”

Ipswich are short of players after psychotic ex-beardy man Keane told 90 percent of the squad they would never play for him again following a sluggish start to the season.

Meanwhile, Campbell is again without a club after significantly reducing his commitment to Notts County from five years to seven days.

And Keane has made his interest clear, stressing that he would love nothing more than to snap up the England international and fall out publicly with him.

“I’m really keen to sign Sol,” Keane stressed. “I demand 100 per cent commitment from my lads and when I don’t get what I consider to be 100 per cent I start a vicious public spat and sack them.

“Bringing in Sol would give me a great opportunity to be disappointed by, start a training ground fracas with, and curtail the career of, one of the best central defenders in the country.”

Campbell, who has stated that he “would quite like to find a new club, I suppose’, also seems happy with the Portman Road option.

“Ipswich would work I guess,” he yawned. “Really anywhere’s fine. I’ll just have a kick around, get to know the lads and if I don’t like it I can always leave under a cloud, no biggie.”

Thursday, 24 September 2009

UN Summit: Gaddafi demands explanation for Jermaine Jenas

NEW YORK—In an hour-long address before assembled UN diplomats on Wednesday, Libyan leader Muammar al-Gadaffi called on the international community to come clean over years of alleged Jermaine Jenas. 
“For years the United Nations has done nothing, despite repeated instances of Jenas”, claimed the eccentric premier, who seized power forty years ago in a coup d’etat. 
“We are told there are secret documents that justify Jenas, but there can be no justification. He is not a defensive midfielder. He is not an attacking midfielder. He is nothing but an imperialist nonsense.”
After a rambling, twenty-minute digression that took in topics from the Iraq war to the versatility of shoe polish, Gaddafi resumed his denunciation of the Nottingham-born 26-year old. “This is Tottenham”, he said, arranging his microphone, water glass and the contents of his pockets into a rough 4-4-2 formation.
He then asked delegates if anyone present could explain the frequent outbreaks of Jenas, “the insidious spectre created by Israel, probably, to blight the rest of the world”.
Colonel Gadaffi has previously demanded a permanent seat for Libya on the UN Security Council, the abolition of Switzerland, and the reinstatement of Livingston into the Scottish First Division.
Jermaine Jenas has played in the English top flight for seven years, according to reliable sources, though he is best known for a brief appearance in the 2005 film ‘Goal’.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Manchester Derby Still Going On

More than 72 hours after it kicked off at Old Trafford, Sunday's eventful derby between arrogant superpower Manchester United and arrogant non-superpower Manchester City was still going on last night, weary supporters reported. Using Twitter, Facebook and other means of communicating with the outside world, fans of both clubs appealed for the game to be brought to an end as United went 45-44 ahead, Darren Fletcher scoring from a header after being left unmarked at a corner for the eleventh time by City's expensive back four.

'Atkinson [match referee, seen above encouraging Kolo Toure to stay awake] has now played 4,360 minutes injury time,' reads one fan's Twitter post. 'Third official only held up three on the board.'

With the teams level at 25-25 around three in the morning on Tuesday, officials seemed on the point of bringing the game to an end, but the sight of a furious Sir Alex Ferguson on the sidelines, pointing to his watch, deterred them for long enough for Ryan Giggs - wearing his pyjamas and carrying a mug of cocoa - to put United ahead for the twenty-sixth time.

The match, still in progress at the time of going to press, is still some way short of the record: United's 2005 win over Middlesbrough, when they came back from a three-goal deficit after referee Mark Halsey controversially played a week of injury time after a game with few stoppages. But the FA's refereeing guru Keith Hackett has defended Atkinson's timekeeping, saying: '4,360 minutes might sound like a lot of injury time, but you've got to remember City took their time over several throw-ins'.

Carling Cup: Coyle wakes up in cold sweat realising Barnsley defeat was giant-killing

Burnley boss Owen Coyle has told journalists of the terrifying moment when he realised last night's Carling Cup exit at the hands of Championship side Barnsley could be labelled a "cup shock".

The Premier League new boys came unstuck against Mark Robins' Tykes on an evening of true northern grit at Oakwell that saw 14 Burnley players injured by no-nonsense tackles and scores of fans get hypothermia while bleating incomprehensibly at events on the pitch.

With the two sides having had similar fortunes in football's recent history, it was perhaps not immediately apparent that the result was in fact an enormous feat of giant-killing for Barnsley.

"It seemed just like a normal defeat to me," Burnley manager Coyle growled this morning screwing up his tear-stained cheeks.

"But I woke up in a cold sweat at 5am and it hit me that technically we had been giant-killed. I sent an email to the FA and they confirmed that this was a 'fairytale David and Goliath story.'

"Obviously I'm gutted and also stunned because you do tend to expect cup shocks to involve an unglamorous side upsetting a team of recognisable world-class stars, here it was more a case of functional underachieving Championship players narrowly beating functional overachieving Premier League newcomers."

Thursday, 17 September 2009

FIFA demands age tests as Nigerian Under-17 squad displays 'love of Volvos, worrying knowledge of 80's power ballads'

Nigeria's Under-17 squad may have to take MRI bone scans ahead of October's World Cup as FIFA investigate claims that several of the players are "the wrong side of 40" following a team-bonding karaoke session last weekend.

There is a strong tradition of Nigerian players using false passports when moving to Europe in order to raise their value.

The most notable example is former Newcastle United nearly man Obafemi Martins who famously divided his age by two and subtracted three when he signed for Inter in 2002 at the official age of 18.

The latest furore has come as Nigeria prepares to host the Under-17 World Cup after more than half the squad were unable to present documents proving their age.

And the problem has intensified with claims that a number of the players are not in fact young prospects but jaded veterans.

Suspicions were raised when a group of players showed up to a team bonding night in Volvos and the whispers intensified when members of the squad performed seamless versions of 'Here I Go Again' by Whitesnake and 'The Boys of Summer' by Don Henley while nursing half-pints before leaving at 10pm when the music was "turned up too loud".

"Sure we have had our doubts about ages," Nigerian Football Federation chief Sani Lulu admitted. "It's inevitable when some of your Under-11 lads are already shaving and your Under-21s remember the Moon landings.

"But we just kept quiet because it's really hard to find genuine 16-year-olds who are any good. Kids are really bad at everything."

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Triesman Harpoons Warnock's Car

In a development that has fuelled rumours of a massive personal vendetta against him, Neil Warnock has accused FA chairman Lord Triesman of firing a harpoon into his car.

The temperamental Crystal Palace manager has seen his week go from bad to worse following a humiliating 4-0 home defeat to Scunthorpe United, which saw his side booed off by disgruntled fans.

Last week Sheffield United ‘keeper Paddy Kenny was given an eight-month ban from professional sport as punishment for openly associating with Warnock for a period of five years.

And earlier today the habitually seething 60-year old tactician was facing a hefty hike in his insurance premiums after a long spearlike implement was pulled from his vehicle. No-one was hurt, according to a Crystal Palace spokesman, though Warnock nemesis Triesman, 65, was caught on CCTV scurrying away from the scene in a suspicious manner.

“The rear left door of the Neilmobile has been wrecked by what appears to be a toggling harpoon,” said an Eagles press officer, referring to Warnock’s stricken Suzuki Liana. “This is yet another example of the FA’s 40-year campaign to victimise Neil for their own perverted entertainment.”

"Neil does not bear grudges for no reason at all”, the statement continued. “His tremulous fury is both reasonable and proportionate. The bloodless mandarins of Soho Square have only themselves to blame for incurring his wrath.”

Lord Triesman could not be reached for comment. An FA spokesman would neither confirm nor deny reports their chairman was injecting a containment of oranges bound for Selhurst Park with arsenic while sending abusive text messages to Warnock’s children.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Domenech under fire for making team put on play about missing out on World Cup on eve of Serbia qualifier

The pressure is rising on eccentric France boss Raymond Domenech after members of his squad revealed they spent the week leading up to World Cup 2010 qualification draws with Romania and Serbia learning lines for a Domenech-directed stage show called 'Here Come The Blues - Goodbye South Africa'.

During his five-year reign over the French national side, Domenech has made some controversial decisions.

The keen amateur dramatist prematurely ended Robert Pires' international career because he 'didn't trust Scorpios', has repeatedly ignored David Trezeguet, Sebastien Frey and Philippe Mexes despite their outstanding performances in Serie A and famously handed the Faroe Islands a walkover in a qualifier because he 'felt an ill wind blowing.'

But the latest revelations about Domenech's oddball behaviour may be the final straw as Les Bleus struggle to secure a play-off place in Group 7.

It has come to light that rather than prepare for crunch matches against Romania and Serbia, Domenech penned a five-act musical drama, which he forced members of his squad to perform in.

Worse still, the play titled 'Here Come The Blues - Goodbye South Africa' tells the story of a fading football superpower failing to qualify for the 2010 World Cup after becoming overly reliant on ageing stars, not putting away the weaker opponents in the group and struggling to understand the often baffling tactical decisions of the manager (played by Domenech).

"Quite a few of us were up really late trying to learn lines for the big performance on Wednesday night (the night of France's 1-1 draw with Serbia)," Thierry Henry explained.

"We kept saying that maybe we should be doing some tactical drills, but the gaffer (Domenech) was only interested in getting the musical finale perfect."

"I had mixed feelings," goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who was dismissed in the 12th minute for hauling down Milan Jovanovich in the box, admitted.

"It was a technically dazzling, emotionally charged production that we put on and I was proud to be a part of it. But, on the other hand, maybe we should have been focusing on trying to qualify for the actual World Cup rather than doing a play about failing to reach it - I suppose those are the tough decisions that managers have to make."

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Redknapp among suspects as transfer window is broken

Police confirmed today that they are speaking to 'a number of Premier League managers' as they attempt to unravel the mystery of the transfer window, which was found shattered yesterday afternoon, plunging British football into chaos.

The window, which was closed for the autumn last week, prevents clubs from conducting transfer business for most of the season, after being introduced several seasons ago for reasons nobody really understands. Made of specially reinforced glass, its alleged magical powers - which include the ability to make players appear far more valuable than they are - had made it one of the most popular glass fittings in the modern game. But FA officials visiting Soho Square for a liquid lunch with FA Cup sponsors E.ON yesterday were shocked to find that it had been broken, seemingly by someone seeking to conduct an unauthorised deal.

'It's a sad day for the game,' said an FA spokesman. 'Without the transfer window, we're back in the Dark Ages of football when clubs could try to do deals at any time, just like in any other business in the world, rather than being constrained by an arbitrary limitation.' The spokesman promised that the perpetrator would be punished to 'the full, feeble extent of the FA's powers'. 'Any club found to have a connection with this incident could be fined up to £1,000 and forced to field a serious side in the Carling Cup.'

Suspicion has inevitably fallen upon Harry Redknapp, a popular theory among bloggers being that he inadvertently broke the glass while trying to force lanky centre-forward Roman Pavlyuchenko through it. But Redknapp, speaking to journalists at the dog track, denied any knowledge of the incident. 'The window? That thing's been dodgy for years, mate. Accident waiting to happen.'

Redknapp added: 'It was probably Benitez or one of them other foreign ones that done it.'

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Bilic takes time out from howling at moon to mumble incomprehensibly about 'Englishness'

England's preparations for their must-win-but-probably-doesn't matter-if-they-don't World Cup 2010 qualifier against Croatia have ground to a halt while the leading minds in the country try to decipher the meaning of Slaven Bilic's latest press conference.

Bilic, who is more wolf than man, is a master of mind-games and famously tied the hapless Steve McClaren in knots before the two sides met in a Euro 2008 qualification decider to the extent where the England boss turned up to Wembley with a Croatia shirt on.

While the inscrutable Fabio Capello may be a tougher nut to crack, the Italian's Lego-man face surely betrayed some confusion as Bilic murmured apparently contradictory epithets and chewed on a grasshopper.

"England have lost some of their Englishness," the rabid tactician claimed. "This is not an insult but a compliment."

Bilic's comments have thrown the FA into panic as they try and work out whether or not the England side 'have a point to prove' and if they should come out 'like a raging bull' against the Croats.

An emergency meeting of the nation's leading psychologists called late last night hasn't yet produced a definite ruling on what Bilic said and this morning's training session was cancelled after Frank Lampard's attempts to solve the riddle resulted in the Chelsea midfielder lapsing into a trance-like state and losing bowel function.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

After spectacularly soiling Georgian clean sheet, Kaladze homes in on own hat-trick

Georgia captain Kakha Kaladze was in a bullish mood after helping Italy to a World Cup 2010 qualification win in Tblisi with two superb own goals on his return from injury.

The world champions looked short of ideas at the Boris Palchadze Stadium and at one point managed 135 uninterrupted passes for a cumulative gain of eight yards before Vincenzo Iaquinta sneezed and sent the ball into touch.

But Marcello Lippi's men had an ace up their sleeve in Georgia defender Kaladze, who marked his return to action after six months off with a knee problem by putting through his own net twice when there seemed to be no threat at all.

"It's great to be back," the skipper beamed at bemused journalists. "Sure I have a few kinks to iron out, but all in all it was a really nice evening.

"I got to stretch my legs, get the heart going a bit and see all my mates. I had a great time. Hey, I even got it in a couple of times, even if it was the wrong end! Funny how it goes..."

After claiming he could "get even more goals playing like this", the unrepentant Kaladze had to be escorted from the room by police as angry members of the Georgian press pack threw pencils at him. However, Kaladze's crazed performance has won him friends in Serie A, especially at San Siro.

"It gave us tremendous confidence to have Kaladze there on the edge of the box," club teammate Gianluca Zambrotta enthused in an interview for Italian TV.

"We just felt that any ball into the middle could be deadly - he's that kind of player, he makes things happen," he concluded as showgirls licked whipped cream off his thigh.

Kaladze's next outing may be a friendly against Iceland tomorrow evening and all the pre-match talk has revolved around whether the prolific defender can manage the Holy Grail of an own hat-trick.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Angry Chelsea 'will fight for their right to buy success'

Chelsea today confirmed that they would appeal against a 'completely unfair' FIFA ruling which, if upheld, will force them to stop throwing billions of dubiously-earned oil money around and compete on equal terms with the rest of the football world.

After illegally capturing Gael Kaukta from Lyon by negotiating secretly with his parents just three months after his conception, Chelsea were sensationally hit with a transfer ban which prevents them from buying any more silverware until 2011. But super-rich owner Roman Abramovic, who picked up Chelsea as a briefly amusing toy in 2003, vowed that the Blues would 'fight tooth and nail to regain our right to trample the rest of the football world underfoot'.

'It's completely insane,' said Abramovic, speaking from the back of an elephant which was flown in from Africa to take him down the King's Road for a Sunday shopping spree. 'What are we meant to do if we can't buy the cream of international talent? We'd be reduced to bringing players through our youth system, working hard to improve the ones we've got, and engendering a genuine team spirit. I mean, no disrespect, but fuck all that.'

Abramovic added that attempting to succeed by 'things like training, tactics and sheer hard work' was 'all very well for these people like Stoke and Wigan', but 'not part of the Chelsea ethos'.

'We have a proud tradition of forking out £25m a time to parade international stars in front of our increasingly uninterested fans,' said the Russian, as his 100-strong entourage set about purchasing luxury goods on his behalf. 'We are not suddenly going to start playing by the same rules as everyone else.'

The vaguely-interested-in-football billionaire also dismissed rumours that Chelsea were investigated on three more charges of tapping up players, including 9-year-old Spanish prodigy Francisco Perez, whom they allegedly lured away from Seville by offering him several Nintendo Wii games and buying the borough of Kensington for the exclusive use of his family.

Argentina unexpectedly undone by decision to appoint troubled loon as coach

Argentine football is in shock after another World Cup 2010 qualification defeat against Brazil left Diego Maradona's men needing a win from one of their next three games if they are to avoid the terrifying possibility of a play-off with Costa Rica or someone like that.

The decision to appoint Maradona as national coach in November 2008 met with some criticism as the dwarven playmaker genius/revolting drug-addled cheat had very little management experience and a tendency to do stupid things to get attention.

The naysayers seem to have been proven correct. Maradona has inspired little confidence, often naming 11 strikers in his starting line-up and, infamously, selecting five of his 1990 World Cup teammates, a trio of famous Argentine poets, several characters from children's books and a type of cheese to face Bolivia.

Fortunately for Maradona, South American qualification is a tiresome affair with four teams qualifying by right and another simply needing to whale on some CONCACAF cannon fodder to book their place. It's a system that has enabled Paraguay to bore the world for the last three competitions and it should allow the demented Diego to save his job for the time being.

Nonetheless there are a few question marks over Maradona's future and the Argentine Football Association has admitted that for the first time in recent memory they may consider sane candidates for the job.

The rumour mill in Buenos Aires has gone into overdrive after reports that Terry Butcher was seen entering AFA headquarters late last night.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Le Tissier's darkest confession: I was fed answer on Countdown

Enigmatic former Southampton star Matt Le Tissier continues to spew forth truths from every orifice and revelations that he took part in spread betting during his football career have been overshadowed by the shocking confession that he was provided with an answer on Countdown.

In his highly-rated autobiography, 'Taking Le Tiss', which was labelled 'the debut of one of the most original and seriously funny narrative voices in recent times,' by Sean O'Hagan of the Observer, Le Tissier admitted to betting on the time of the first throw-in during Southampton's 2-0 win over Wimbledon in April 1995.

While the nation seems willing to forgive the inconsistent playmaker for his betting shame, the latest bombshell that Le Tissier didn't in fact solve the numbers game on Countdown at the start of July may prove harder to swallow.

"I just wanted to be accepted by the academic community," Le Tissier explained, looking much like a scarecrow as ever.

"I wanted my book (Taking Le Tiss) to be treated like a new release from the likes of Jonathan Franzen or Phillip Roth, so I got them to tell me the answer."

Le Tissier's scheduled appearance on BBC's The Culture Show to promote his book 'Taking Le Tiss' may now be pulled.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Dunne Pulled Unharmed From Collapsed Transfer Vortex

Premier League officials have expressed their “profound relief” after Richard Dunne was pulled alive from the transfer vortex that collapsed just after 5.00pm yesterday.

The Irish centre-back had been attempting to travel through the quantum wormhole from Manchester City to Aston Villa when it began to fluctuate violently.

As representatives of both clubs tried desperately to bring the player to safety, the vortex imploded, leaving no trace of itself or of Dunne except for some ambiplasma and a smattering of condensed tachyons.

“At that point we feared the worst”, said Villa assistant manager John Robertson. “We knew stuff had happened in the past, like Preben Elkjaer leaving Lokeren in the 1984 vortex and turning up at Verona six years younger."

"Or that time when Giuliano Giannichedda and Stefano Fiore entered a vortex together and emerged as a single player with eight limbs and two heads. But you don’t expect that sort of thing to happen in this day and age.”

Fortunately Villa Park nanotechnicians were able to temporarily re-open the vortex and tractorbeam the defender to safety. He is said to be shaken but unharmed. The superluminal hyperyacht in which he was travelling was written off, however.

FA scientists expect the vortex to re-open in approximately three months’ time. 

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Rotherham under fire after away teams find nails, U2 fans on Don Valley Stadium pitch

Huddersfield Town are ready to follow Rochadale in making an official complaint to the FA at the state of Rotherham United's pitch with manager Lee Clark comparing the Don Valley turf to 'someone's living room after a house party'.

After moving out of their traditional home Millmoor due to a dispute with the landlords, Rotherham have taken up temporary residence in the 25,000-seater Don Valley Stadium.

While the lack of cover, the 15,000 plus empty seats every week and the 200m gap between supporters and the action have caused minor nuisance, the ground playing host to large music gigs is a larger headache.

The visit of unremarkable, Irish three-chord assemblers U2 on August 20 has taken its toll on the pitch.

Rochdale complained at finding pieces of glass and nails, but Huddersfield were even more irate during last night's Johnstone's Paint Trophy epic when goal scorer Robbie Simpson was upended by a bass amp and midfielder Jim Goodwin spent much of the second half trying to direct stoned gig-goers home.

"It was a disgraceful situation," Terriers' boss Clark scowled. "The place looked like someone's living room after a house party.

"There were pizza boxes, hundreds of empty cans of beer, hundreds of half-empty cans of beer and a few sheepish red-eyed couples sleeping on a pile of coats."