The news branch of the Back of the Net wiki.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Pearce Rues 'You Are Already Winners' Speech As Whole Squad Switches Off For Final

England under-21 coach Stuart Pearce admitted today that it was a mistake to tell his squad they were 'already winners, whatever happens' before their Final with Germany, after the players took him literally and prepared for the big match by drinking, negotiating endorsement deals, and staging a huge karaoke party on PlayStation game SingStar, which culminated in Michael Mancienne and Jack Rodwell performing a version of '(Everybody Was) Kung Fu Fightin' - complete with dance moves - just twenty minutes before they took to the field.

Pearce had made the 'you are already winners' speech after watching his side dramatically overcome Sweden on penalties in the semi-final, ending years of penalty misery for England. However, as the rueful boss told a press conference, 'the lads have taken it much too literally. I've said it very much as a football cliche, but obviously the boys haven't played in a major tournament before and they've taken it to mean they should let their foot off the gas. In all honesty half of them was three sheets to the wind by kick-off, and James [Milner] in particular's really gone for the vodka fountain.'

His counterpart Horst Hrubesch, by contrast, had prepared the German side for the game by telling them directly after victory in the semi-final that 'defeat would be an unthinkable crime, and would cost us our homes and lives'. The Germans won 4-0, the all-important second goal something of a gift from England keeper Scott Loach, who was using his BlackBerry to order party poppers at the time.

Gunners release eight and admit: 'We thought they were caterers'

Arsenal have cut ties with eight players in a bid to streamline their squad for the coming season and warn that "there could be loads more deadwood hidden away."

The summer clear-out at the Emirates Stadium has begun with Amaury Bischoff, James Dunne, Rui Fonte, Abu Ogogo, Paul Rodgers, Rene Steer, Vincent van den Berg and Anton Blackwoood all given their marching orders this morning.

And as the players begin the search for new employers their fragile egos will be bruised further by a statement from assistant manager Pat Rice.

"We released eight lads today, but in honesty we had no idea who they were," Rice told the club's website.

"They all had tracksuits with letters on, so we must have signed them at some point, but it only clicked that they were players when they asked me when pre-season training started. I'd seen them around in the corridors every now and again, but I thought they were catering staff or something.

"Our only fear now is that there could be literally hundreds more of these lads around the place picking up a pay packet. We would like to ask the fans to give us a call if they think of anyone who could still be knocking about."

Monday, 29 June 2009

Allardyce left scratching oversized head at Ruud snub

Chewing-gum addicted, no-nonsense manager Sam Allardyce admits he is hurt that former Manchester United star and world-class goal machine Ruud Van Nistelrooy has laughed off links with drab Premier League makeweights Blackburn Rovers.

Having lost their only two interesting players in Roque Santa Cruz and Matt Derbyshire, Rovers are desperate to bring in an unwitting big name before the start of next season to ensure that somebody turns up to watch their uninspiring string of lower mid-table contests.

Allardyce set his heart on Dutch international Van Nistelrooy, who is on the brink of leaving Real Madrid, but it seems the horse-faced marksman isn't keen on becoming the first man to trade the Bernabeu for Blackburn.

Interviewed on Dutch TV last night, Van Nistelrooy's agent Rodger Linse lapsed into hysterical laughter when told about interest from Blackburn. With tears streaming down his face, Linse was helped off the set of RTL Nederland's prime-time show: 'Hey Let's Talk About Football, Why Not Guys?' occasionally spluttering "Blackburn? That's a classic."

Nonetheless, ex-Newcastle United failure Allardyce, whose head is roughly the same size as a Mini Cooper, hasn't given up on luring his man despite admitting it 'may be tough' to persuade Van Nistelrooy to accept a 95 percent pay cut. 

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Shrewsbury's Michael Jackson: At Last The Jokes Are Over

While most of the world mourned the death of King of Pop Michael Jackson yesterday, there was relief for the Shrewsbury central defender whose life has basically been ruined by having the same name. As tributes poured in from A-list celebrities in every corner of the globe, there was one dissenting voice - that of the former Bury and Preston veteran. 'I know it's kind of a tragedy, but obviously I'm delighted, in all honesty,' said the less-well-known Jackson, who has heard, on average, eleven jokes about his name every fucking day of his life since 1982. 'It's been a long twenty-seven years since Thriller came out.'

'Opposing fans singing about kiddy-fiddling. The [Bury] lads asking me where my chimp was. Even the guy in the bank glancing at my credit card and cracking up, going 'gutted, gutted'. You name it. I've had it.'

'So when the gaffer [Paul Simpson] texted me to say Jackson was dead, I actually punched the air in the middle of Wetherspoon's. At last people will know who the real Michael Jackson is. This is huge for me.'

'I've lived in his shadow for too long. Sure, he did some good songs, but I've made more than 400 league appearances. He played some big gigs, but did he have a League One Play-Off Final winner's medal?'

'Well, now he's dead. Thank Christ.'

After this, Jackson wrapped up the press conference in order to get in touch with his family, who had gone into mourning after hearing the news from L.A.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Redknapp In Surprise £40m Move For Redknapp

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp was at the centre of more questions about his transfer dealings this morning, when it emerged that his first high-profile capture of the summer would be Jamie Redknapp, his son, who is heading to White Hart Lane in a deal worth a reported £40 million. The transfer fee, one of the biggest in football history, has raised some eyebrows among commentators, not least because Redknapp does not currently play for any club, having retired in 2004-5 to concentrate on advertisements and laboured punditry. But Redknapp Sr. says there is 'nothing irregular' about the deal, mediated by agent Mark Redknapp, which will see the eight-figure sum paid directly by Spurs to Louise Nurding, Redknapp's wife. 'It was just convenient to do it that way,' said Redknapp, 'with us all having each other's numbers and that. Is this interview going to take long? I've got a couple of people to see down the Old Kent Road.'

When asked what he felt the retired Jamie could add to Spurs' midfield, Redknapp Sr. briefly looked even more tired than usual, his eyes disappearing altogether for more than ten seconds. 'He's just a tricky little player who can make things happen for you.' When it was put to him that Redknapp had not played at any level for three years, having been forced out of the game by a recurrence of some of the 3,405 injuries which plagued him throughout his career, the Spurs supremo fudged the question, muttering that Jamie had 'actually been playing for Wigan' since 2005: a claim which could not be countered as nobody could recall watching a Wigan game.

Jamie Redknapp was also evasive on the subject of the landmark transfer, saying: 'I'm not even joking, mate. You fuckers pay up the full amount by Monday or my old man's going to have one or two things to say, put it that way. What? Oh, sorry, I thought you was the boys from Nintendo.'

It's not the first time the man known to football fans simply as 'Harry', and to tax inspectors by a host of other names, has been subjected to scrutiny over his machinations in the transfer market. While at West Ham he attracted criticism for the mysterious signing of Marco Boogers, who made only two appearances for the Hammers, and in 2007-8 he was investigated by the FA after his wife Sandra joined Portsmouth as a right-winger on a £70,000-a-week contract.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Barcode causes Bolton kit catastrophe

Bolton Wanderers are rueing the decision to include a barcode on the front of their 2009-10 home shirt as the new kit is causing chaos in the city's shopping centres. 

The dour northerners were relieved to discard last season's much-maligned 'waistcoat' kit, but Reebok have produced another horror show.

Aside from the ugly grey/blue blotches on the sleeves and collar, the new shirt, which is sponsored by traditional local company 188Bet, strangely has its barcode emblazoned on it.

Captain Kevin Davies didn't seem enamoured with his No 14 shirt and insisted on wearing a jumper over the top of it while modelling for the publicity posters.

But the club have a greater headache to deal with as the new shirt has been setting off shop alarms and interfering with supermarket scanners.

"It was only when I got home from Tesco and looked on my receipt that I noticed 'Bolton Home S/S £34.99' on it four times," Trotters fan Colin Heaton told The Bolton News. "I thought £141.12 was a lot for a pint of milk and a snickers." 

It has already been a shaky pre-season kit-wise with Newcastle United inexplicably bringing yellow and orange together for their away kit and Tottenham promising an investigation into child-like scribbles on their goalkeeper shirt.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Setanta boss baffled by lack of takers for endless stream of missable contests

Setanta Sports went off air today after collapsing under the weight of vast debts, but the company's managing director Roger Hall is still adamant that "it's the public that are in the wrong, we gave them wall-to-wall classics."

The Irish broadcaster set itself up as an alternative to Sky Sports by picking up the rights to some England internationals, Premier League games involving Wigan or Bolton and the Blue Square Premier.

At £9.99 per month, Setanta boasted that "if you love football, you'll at least be fairy excited by one or two of these games."

However, the schedule failed to wow the fans and, with the exception of pubs, just nine subscriptions had been bought by the end of the 2008-09 season.

"I stand by everything that we did," Setanta chief Roger Hall declared. "The problem is that you people [the general public] are stupid.

"We gave you Wigan-Everton at 5.15 on a Saturday afternoon, we gave you Conference games on Thursday and Friday nights. 

"We had Setanta Sports News, it was just the same as Sky Sports News but everything was yellow and black and everyone was slightly uglier and stupider. What more do you want?"

ESPN have bought up Setanta's share of football for next year and have agreed a deal with Sky Sports that will allow paying subscribers to pay for the right to pay to watch games like Aston Villa-Fulham. 

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Universal embarrassment as Tuncay grossly overestimates ability

There were red faces all round this morning when Middlesbrough man Şanlı Tuncay restated his desire to play for Liverpool.

The curly-haired 27-year-old was the best of a bad bunch for Boro last season and claimed earlier in the month that he had been contacted by cash-strapped giants Liverpool.

However, Pool officials later revealed that they had no plans to snap up Tuncay and indeed "weren't even sure which one he was," although they confirmed they had "heard he was good on Football Manager."

Nonetheless, the snub doesn't seem to have stopped the fairly good Turk from dreaming of an Anfield switch and he again stated in an interview this morning that he was "really looking forward to following in the footsteps of Mark Gonzalez, Jan Kromkamp and Antonio Nunez." 

Tuncay then appeared to field a phone call, which he claimed was from Rafa Benitez, but it soon became clear that his mobile was switched off.

There was an awkward silence before one of Tuncay's advisors was heard whispering "Hartlepool" to the former Fenerbahçe man's ear and he left the room red faced.

Rafa Benitez has delayed any transfer decisions until he has prepared his paranoid rants for the 2009-10 campaign and any spending will depend on the success of a garage sale by oafish owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Scolari: I must have got Uzbekistan mixed up with somewhere else

Luiz Felipe Scolari made a stir in his first press conference as manager of Uzbekistani club FC Bunyodkor this week, with the admissions that he 'can't believe I have ended up in this shithole' and 'thought it was somewhere near Italy or something'.

The football world was stunned when Scolari, a World Cup-winner with an impressive CV, accepted the post with the Tashkent outfit in one of the least-talked-about leagues on the planet. Pundits speculated that the wealthy club had made the Portuguese boss an offer too attractive to refuse, but in fact, it now looks as if Scolari - noted for his eccentric decisions - simply misunderstood where he was going. 'I mean, Tashkent!' said Scolari, speaking through an interpreter to a stunned press corps. 'Who the fuck in their right mind goes there! When the plane came in to land, I was like, hang on, what is this? A refuelling break?'

Asked why he hadn't done more research into his new club, Scolari claimed that he had 'looked them up on Wikipedia' but 'hadn't been concentrating that much'. 'I was distracted by one of those pop-ups that offer you a bigger penis,' Scolari elaborated. 'Anyway, I was pretty sure Uzbekistan were in England's qualifying group so I thought it must be in Europe. I was thinking it would be one of these ones like Croatia that have some nice beaches and what-not.'

'Instead, I have come to the fucking back of beyond. I mean, have you seen this place! I'm struggling to even find a KFC!' When local journalists protested that Uzbekistan was an emerging nation with a proud heritage, Scolari backtracked: 'listen, I'm sure it's great if you like mountain-climbing and eating honey. All I'm saying is, you can't seriously expect me to manage a football team in a country where you can't move for fucking yaks.' Scolari finished his tirade by remarking that his travel agent 'would have a lot to answer for' when he returned home.

Officials from FC Bunyudkor stressed that Scolari had 'encountered some translation problems' in the press conference and was actually 'excited and stimulated by his new challenge'.

Monday, 22 June 2009

US man 'feels he could almost get into soccer'

The USA's remarkable Confederations Cup triumph against Egypt has gripped the nation and one Seattle man has even revealed he 'could almost imagine' subscribing to the Fox Soccer Channel.

In a bizarre twist of events, the US secured a place in the final four of the Confederations Cup with a 3-0 win over Egypt after world champions Italy were eviscerated by Brazil.

Strangely, the historic evening didn't bring America to a euphoric standstill, but Clint Dempsey's winner did have an impact.

Ethan Douglas of Seattle, Washington watched 'most of the soccer' during a rain break in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays'-New York Mets baseball game and seems to have fallen in love with the beautiful game.

"Honestly it wasn't that bad," Mr Douglas said. "I turned over to Fox and I saw like three goals before the Mets came back on. 

"Maybe sometime if there's no (American) football, baseball, (ice) hockey or basketball on I'd pay to watch it."

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Iaquinta: I was just resting my eyes

World champions Italy have been lambasted by the press in their homeland after an embarrassing Confederations Cup exit, but, despite spending much of the tournament asleep, striker Vincenzo Iaquinta insists the criticism is unfair . 

Marcello Lippi's Azzurri were sensationally eliminated from the race for football's 19th biggest prize after being mauled 3-0 by Brazil while the USA unexpectedly decimated Egypt.

The Italians failed to impress in South Africa and were given a hostile reception on their return to Rome's Fiumicino Airport as an angry mob of pink-shirted men gathered on vespas and made angry gestures before being distracted by an attractive blonde American tourist.

Overly emotional pink newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport took the exit particularly badly, running a 400-page poem entitled 'The Breaking of My Fragile Heart (Farewell Sweet Confederations Cup)'.

Juventus marksman Iaquinta, who was ineffective in the competition, received some of the harshest criticism after controversially spending much of the Brazil game taking a nap in the opposition box.

"Some hurtful things have been said about my role, but things could have been very different," the former Udinese man explained.

"Sure I did have a bit of a lie down, I'll be the first to admit that, but I'm pretty sure I was awake during the whole thing. Besides it would have just taken one of those through balls to land on me and deflect in and I would have been a hero."

Friday, 19 June 2009

Benitez Already Working On Paranoid Rants For Next Season

While other managers enjoy a much-needed break after the graft of a long season, sources close to Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez reveal that the Spaniard - hell-bent on ending the Anfield club's long spell without a Premier League title - is still putting in long shifts in his office, penning some of the bizarre rants with which he will attempt to explain the Reds' mid-season meltdown in around March 2010.

Benitez, whose Liverpool side flirted with top spot last year, appeared to lose his mental composure as they fell behind Manchester United, conducting a series of odd press conferences in which he made apparently meaningless references to 'things which were happening' behind the scenes at the club, and made unsuccessful attempts to undermine red-faced rival Sir Alex Ferguson. But according to friends, those ramblings were 'nothing' compared with 'some of the shit Rafa has lined up for next season'.

Although they were reluctant to divulge details, the sources enthused that Benitez's forthcoming rants included 'some of his best stuff yet'. 'He's really happy with it,' said one Anfield insider. 'There's one where he blames a home draw on a person who isn't even born yet. And he's considering trying to pin a couple of defeats on the Vatican. He's going to re-use some of last season's stuff as well, though, like repeatedly demanding 'respect' from everyone.'

The interviewee, who did not want to named, told journalists that Benitez 'had not definitely decided' how exactly Liverpool would blow the title next season, but speculated that 'he's done the whole drawing-with-Stoke thing now, so I reckon next year they'll go back to losing a load of away games around Christmas.' Earlier this week a private to-do list, on a leaked e-mail from Benitez's office, included items like 'sign Glen Johnson for ludicrous, unjustifiable fee' and 'get distracted by pointless Carling Cup run'.

Ancelotti takes scenic route to work

Carlo Ancelotti has made his first controversial decision as Chelsea manager by stating his intention to commute to training by yacht from his home in north Italy.

The Italian tactician left Milan to take the Stamford Bridge hot seat this summer after Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's lengthy search for someone with the same face as caretaker boss Guus Hiddink.

But there are already question marks over Carletto's commitment to the job as he has flatly refused to move house to London, preferring to make the 600-mile trip from his Lake Como villa on his beloved yacht.

Chelsea have confirmed that Ancelotti has promised to make it to training "at least once a week as long as he can find a mooring." 

Ancelotti isn't the first manager to make a bizarre commute to training. Ruud Gullit lived outside London during his brief spell in charge of Newcastle United and flew in by helicopter, while David Pleat rode a unicycle to work at Luton Town in the 1980s in his ill-fitting beige suit.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

North Korea's World Cup qualification delays nuclear apocalypse

Crazed North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il has declared that he will postpone a 'merciless attack' on the US west coast until after his nation are eliminated from the 2010 World Cup.

Barrack Obama condemned North Korea's nuclear programme last week, prompting despotic Korean leader Kim Jong-Il to threaten a 'thousandfold strike' on the USA.

But Kim Jong-Il's mood seems to have improved after North Korea qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1966 with a 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia last night and his thirst for nuclear devastation appears to have waned.

"Don't get me wrong I really do want to raze the western world to the ground, but I'm still just a normal bloke who loves football," the tyrant stated via North Korean news agency KCNA.

"It'd be silly to do this whole nuclear holocaust thing when we've finally got into a World Cup. 

"I want to see if we can maybe get a draw against Mexico or Serbia. The only red button I'll be reaching for next summer will be on the TV remote!

"I will get round to the World War III thing though, promise," he concluded.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Dozens Injured In Stampede For Carling Cup Tickets

League clubs across the country were picking up the pieces yesterday after the announcement of the draw for the first round of the Carling Cup provoked what officials described as 'an insane, sometimes violent struggle for tickets'. With most games sold out within an hour of the announcement, staff were left to deal with scores of furious punters, some of whom had queued outside grounds for up to 72 hours as the annual outbreak of Carling Cup fever struck the land once more.

A taskforce of special police at Cheltenham's Whaddon Road stadium had to use tear-gas to dispel a crowd of more than 5,000 fans desperate to see the tie with Southend, while at Nottingham Forest's City Ground, thirteen people were hospitalised after a brawl over the last ticket for Forest's plumb tie with Bradford. 'We knew there'd be mayhem as soon as Bradford came out of the hat,' said Forest chairman Nigel Doughty, as ambulance crews cleared a path behind him. 'The Carling Cup always causes these sort of scenes. What can you do? It's the second or third-biggest knockout cup competition of the season.'

At Sincil Bank, Lincoln, where fifty new ticket booths had to be opened to cope with demand for the clash with Barnsley, a blood-covered steward explained: 'The Carling Cup seems to turn people into animals. They know that if they get past this round, they've a chance of playing one of the big boys. Except the ones who get a bye to the third round. And even then, half of them only field their reserve sides. But still.'

Marjorie Vickers, a Huddersfield fan, had been camping outside the Galpharm Stadium for four nights and four days before finally laying hands on two tickets to the Huddersfield-Stockport showdown. 'It was a bit cold and we had to go into McDonald's every morning to wash in their sinks,' said Vickers, 46, 'but it's all been worth it. You can't miss a game like this, there's no knowing when Stockport will be here again. Apart from when we play them in the league, I suppose.'

The eagerly-awaited Cup kicks off on August 11th, and will be won in February by Manchester United again.

Fixtures computer crashes, Middlesbrough to visit Plymouth 46 times

The post-relegation hangover shows no sign of easing for Middlesbrough fans, as the Championship new boys face a gruelling journey to Plymouth’s Home Park for every one of their 2009-10 fixtures.

Boro lost their Premier League status on the final day of last season to drop down to the second tier for the first time in 11 years.

Fans at the Riverside had looked forward to the fixture list with some degree of trepidation, but they weren’t to know exactly how galling their 2009-10 schedule would be.

It has emerged that a virus on the computer system that generates the fixtures for the coming campaign undid hours of painstaking work from some of the keenest mathematical minds in the country.

While most Football League sides have been dealt a legitimate hand, Middlesbrough’s fixture list reads ‘Plymouth (A)’ for all 46 weeks.

The North-Eastern outfit are expected to appeal, but the man in charge of the process has hinted that wonky-nosed boss Gareth Southgate would be better served preparing his men for a weekly 630-mile round trip.

“Everyone involved is disappointed,” Glenn Thompson of Atos Origin IT services admitted.

“But this is why we have a computer, so people can’t claim there’s any bias. The computer has spoken and we must accept it.

“Obviously I did check through the list, but I was really just looking for things like two derbies on the same day or games that Sky wouldn’t want to clash, I guess I didn’t look at Middlesbrough. You have to remember that this job is really fucking boring.”

A statement on Middlesbrough’s official website has encouraged fans to ‘see this as 46 exciting road trips,’ or to ‘rent a second home somewhere in Devon, just for a year like.’

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Deco Never Existed, Chelsea Admit

One of the mysteries of the 08-09 season was explained last night when Chelsea officials admitted that 'Deco' - supposedly signed for £8 million at the beginning of the year, only to disappear almost completely from the public eye - actually never existed. 

'There never was any such person,' read a statement drafted on behalf of Roman Abramovich. 'We made him up so fans would believe we were signing a big star. In reality there was no-one we really wanted last summer, but the club's supporters would be disappointed if we didn't throw money at a rash signing, especially in an area where we already had more than enough talent. And so the idea of a player called 'Deco' was born.'

After being unveiled with the usual fanfare, Deco mystified the football world by disappearing almost totally from the Stamford Bridge outfit for most of the year. He made a smattering of appearances under hapless boss Luiz Felipe Scolari, before vanishing altogether in the reign of Guus Hiddink. Now that Hiddink has himself been replaced by a man with the same face, Chelsea have taken advantage of the clean slate to admit that footage of 'Deco' apparently scoring goals for Barcelona was 'created by computer simulation' - the work of 'the same guys who do Pro Evo'. 'It looked really fucking cool,' the press release remarked.

On the few occasions that 'Deco' did take the field in a Chelsea shirt, he was played by an actor: diminutive film-star Tom Cruise, who was paid a reported $11 million per game. This relevation clears up the mystery of why the much-hyped playmaker barely touched the ball in many of his outings for the Blues. 'We had to ask Tom not to get involved in the play too much,' confirmed one of the eight movement directors who worked with the fake Deco, 'or he would've been found out pretty quickly. There was a hairy moment when he appealed for a penalty in what was clearly an American accent, but apart from that, no-one suspected a thing. Luckily, Chelsea fans tend to nod off a bit during games.'

In another press statement issued yesterday, the Blues confirmed that they were close to sealing a thirty-million-pound move for Brazilian midfielder Pozzo. Although little-known outside Brazil, club sources say that the 18-year-old is 'really something special'.

Creator of Confederations Cup hooters: I am become Death

The man responsible for inventing the deafening hooters that have provided a repulsive backing track to the Confederations Cup has stated his infinite regret in an emotional open letter.

The staggeringly irrelevant Confederations Cup has brought a much-needed dose of football to a public suffering withdrawal symptoms after nearly a week of abstinence.

However, games in South Africa have been accompanied by the annoying drone of hooters wielded by fans – a noise so loud and piercing it can be heard from as far away as Kenyan capital Nairobi.

“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent,” hooter mastermind Professor Stephen Hootswell recalls in his heartfelt letter.

“Now I am become Death – the destroyer of worlds.” 

The level of irritation these hooters have caused is such that ‘Hootergate’ has endangered the future of the tournament, football and indeed mankind.

Monday, 15 June 2009

‘Joey Barton’s Sadistic Soccer’ hits shops

Kamikaze crisis club Newcastle United are aiming to deflect criticism for the financially devastating purchase of jailbird midfielder Joey Barton’s image rights with the release of a Nintendo Wii game based on Barton’s life.

As gelatinous simpleton Mike Ashley attempts to sell Newcastle for £100m, it has emerged that the Championship newcomers are paying psychotic waste of space Barton just under £700,000 per year for the right to use his image.

While United have made a reasonable profit from their ‘Barton Behind Bars’ merchandise range, they are looking to claw back more cash with the release of ‘Joey Barton’s Sadistic Soccer.’

“It’s the first game of its kind in that it allows you to see what it’s like to juggle the twin demands of being a top-level footballer and a despicable piece of shit,” game designer Michael Sapsford declared at the game’s launch.

“Of course you get to play in a few games of football and occasional training sessions, but the main action comes off the pitch – do you burn a teammate’s retina with a cigar? Do you punch a man in the face 20 times outside McDonalds? These are the real choices and on the Wii platform you’ll think you really are beating the shit out of Ousmane Dabo or racially abusing Gabriel Agbonlahor.”

Parent support groups have voiced concerns that ‘Sadistic Soccer’ will set a bad example to younger children, but Sapsford is unapologetic.

“If anything this will help kids see the sacrifices that need to be made if you want to earn £60,000 per week,” he stressed. “But I suppose anyone who wants something a little softer can always buy one of our other new releases like ‘Michael Owen’s Injury Nightmare’ or ‘Harry Redknapp’s Questionably Motivated Transfer Challenge.’”

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Iraq: 'Winning Confederations Cup Would Make Up For Everything'

Iraq looked forward to their Confederations Cup clash with South Africa today by stating that victory in the tournament would be 'exactly what we need to turn our country around'.

While some have questioned the value of this 'dry run' for the World Cup, which pits jaded and uninterested teams against each other at the tail-end of an already ruinously long football season, Iraqi captain Younis Mahmoud told press that winning the tournament would 'make up for a pretty disappointing decade' in the country's history.

'It's been a bit up-and-down recently,' Mahmoud said of his nation's morale, 'what with being invaded by the world's biggest superpower, having innocent civilians killed in their homes, watching our infrastructure collapse, being laid bare to bloody civil disputes, and receiving hardly any support from the international community. So lifting the Confederations Cup would obviously put a smile back on everyone's face.'

Mahmoud told reporters that people back home in Baghdad were 'crowded around their TVs' ahead of the South Africa clash, though that was partly because 'hardly anyone has one these days, since America and Britain destroyed almost every square inch of what we had spent our lives building up'. This remark momentarily stalled the press conference, but Mahmoud quickly recovered, adding: 'Anyway, the lads have done great to get here and we'll be giving it one hundred and ten percent. Which is roughly the rate of inflation in our shattered economy.'

But the Iraqis face stiff competition for the pointless trophy from hosts South Africa, whose Football Association are hoping that a win would 'momentarily deflect attention from our continued, appalling social inequalities and violence'.

The hype ahead of the Iraq-South Africa showdown has raised expectation levels around a tournament which had previously struggled to capture the imagination of the football world. Even organiser Danny Jordaan kicked off proceedings at the Opening Ceremony by wishing teams and officials 'a happy stay at this almost totally irrelevant affair', while the official song for the Confederations Cup, performed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, is entitled 'Let's Do This, Then, I Guess'.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Newcastle 'Reluctantly Call It A Day'

For the first time in 117 years there will be no Newcastle United when the League starts again in August, as the troubled giants announced on Friday afternoon that, 'with great sadness', they had taken the decision to stop playing football and relaunch as a budget holiday provider.

The error-prone North-East club have endured a difficult fifty years, plagued by farcical administration, under-achievement on the pitch, an estimated twenty-eight managerial comebacks by Kevin Keegan, and as many as nine hundred fan deaths caused by removal of shirts in dangerously low temperatures.

The club reached a nadir a few weeks ago when, despite the seemingly inspired move of appointing Alan Shearer - a temporary manager with no prior experience - they slipped into the Championship on the final day. Despite this, most observers had expected them to rebuild, spend money in the summer once a new owner had been found, and bounce back swiftly to the top flight.

Instead, a deputation led by Alan Shearer told shocked fans that it is 'probably best if we knock it on the head here'. 'We've embarrassed ourselves in pretty much every imaginable way over the past couple of years,' Shearer explained. 'We sold the club to a fat, rich man who never undersood how to handle it, spent millions on third-rate foreign imports, failed to relaunch Michael Owen's career, inexplicably hired Joe Kinnear although he was nearly dead, and had to cancel at least a couple of matches because we couldn't remember where we'd put the goalposts.'

'All in all, it's best if we cut our losses at this point and find something else to do on a Saturday. From my own point of view, I think I'll go back to doing workmanlike punditry on Match Of The Day'.

Hundreds of fans turned up outside St James's Park after the decision was announced. 'It's not for any particular reason, like,' explained one fan. 'It's not like we can do anything to change it. It's just that, as you will have seen when Newcastle have been on the news before, we have this weird habit of congregating at the ground at the drop of a hat. There's not a whole lot to do round here, I suppose.' He added that he would 'miss' Newcastle but was 'looking forward to getting me life back and not having to have me shirt off the whole time'.

Owner Mike Ashley announced that St James's Park would stay open as a memorial to a 'much-loved, but ultimately not very good football club', and that Mark Viduka would be retained as a permanent exhibit, marooned ineffectually just inside the opposition's half where he spent many happy hours during the 08-09 season. Ashley also reassured football-hungry fans that there are 'a couple of other perfectly good clubs in the area'.

FIFA present 'pre-pre season' to address football famine

With fans facing the horrifying prospect of nearly a fortnight without football, governing body FIFA have outlined plans for a 'pre-pre season' to fill the void.

The European Under-21 championship and the spectacularly pointless Confederations Cup have extended the sprawling football season to the start of July, but there are growing fears that fans may have to interact socially or spend time with their loved ones in the 14 days before pre-season fixtures begin in earnest.

"It is a worrying situation," FIFA president Sepp Blatter acknowledged. "I'm a family man myself and I share that lingering dread that I could be forced to take the kids to the park or trek round Ikea with the wife.

"We're looking into expanding the existing pre-season time fillers and the hope is that we can at least tack on a qualification stage to the Emirates Cup. We're looking to have a nine-team group with the winners getting a place in the actual competition. Aston Villa have expressed a definite interest."

Amongst the other plans on FIFA's drawing board is 'Intertoto 2', for teams not quite good enough to get into the Intertoto Cup, and the 'F Trophy' - a tournament open to any team with an 'F' in their name.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

World's Most Overrated Club Signs World's Most Annoying Footballer In World's Most Obscene Transfer Deal

After more than fifteen years of tedious speculation, bloated superpower Real Madrid announced today that they are signing arrogant playmaker Christiano Ronaldo for a sum of money which would feed most of the developing world.

Los Galacticos, fresh from parting with a stupid world record fee to secure the services of tiny marksman Kaka, offered an even more heinous £80 million pounds to clinch the signature of the PFA Player Of The Year, pictured here with one of his many shit haircuts. Although like a spoiled kid on holiday, Ronaldo had been hinting that would like to leave United since ten minutes into his Old Trafford debut in 2003, the two global corporations had struggled to agree on a suitably disgraceful asking price. But Real stepped up their bid this week after President Florentino Perez found £10 million in his coat pocket. 'It was change from the Kaka signing,' Perez explained. 'I paid for him with a £100 million note. I thought I'd spent all the remainder on groceries, but there was still a bit knocking around'.

With the acquisition of Ronaldo and Kaka, Real have recruited one of the most potent strikeforces in world football, but have done nothing about the defensive problems which saw them get barbecued in the knockout stages of the Champions League by also-rans Liverpool, and finish well adrift of superior rivals Barcelona in La Liga. Perez admitted: 'I guess it would make sense to strengthen our defence rather than spunk away a hundred million on goalscorers, since the back four has been our weakness for years now. But you see, it's really more about the prestige of having famous players than the actual balance of our squad, because I'm a bit of a dick.'

As for Ronaldo, he could hardly conceal his joy at finally leaving the club which has showered him with cash, affection and prestige. 'This is a happy day for me,' a spokesman read on the player's behalf while he bathed in ewe's milk with a selection of topless models from his private collection. 'Real have helped me realise my dream of being even more fucking rich than I was before. It is every footballer's dream to collect a signing-on fee which would house an entire community of displaced people in Africa.' He promised Madrid's legions of fans that the scrutiny attached to the historic transfer would not distract him from the task of 'diving blatantly, bitching about decisions, scowling when substituted, and doing that stupid little shuffle before taking a penalty.'

'But I am looking forward to leaving Real, too,' he added.

A spokesman for Manchester United said: 'We felt the offer was too good to refuse. Odd, perhaps, since we are one of the richest football clubs in the world, but I can't emphasise enough, we are purely a business these days: the actual game is almost totally irrelevant to us.' He consoled fans by revealing that Ronaldo replica shirts would be 'reduced from £50 to £45' in the Manchester United Superstore.

Andorra duo return home heroes

Sergi Moreno and Fernando Silva, the two Andorra players to cross the halfway line in last night’s World Cup 2010 qualifier against England, have been given a tickertape reception on their return to Andorra la Vella.

The tiny, insignificant nation of Andorra played a tiny, insignificant role in last night’s 6-0 mauling at a surprisingly full Wembley.

There have been calls for the introduction of a pre-qualification tournament for the likes of Andorra, San Marino and the Faroe Islands and FIFA have approved the use of a two-goal headstart for ‘genuinely shit nations’.

But it seems that Andorrans were proud of their side’s gutsy effort on English soil.

Although statistics show that all 11 of Andorra’s players spent at least 90 per cent of the game in their own box and goalkeeper Koldo Alvarez spent the second half standing inside the net hugging himself and muttering ‘please let it be over’, the Andorran people have focused on the men who did briefly venture into the England half.

Sergi Moreno and Fernando Silva returned home late last night to a hero’s welcome and regaled the crowds with tales of their adventures.

“People say that there is no sense in geographical anomalies like Andorra taking part in World Cup qualification but the spirit shown by Moreno and Silva has proved them wrong,” Head of Government Jaume Bartumeu declared.

“Obviously they would’ve been more wrong had we scored, but let’s face it that’s never going to happen.”

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Big Match Preview: Andorra To Be Given 2-0 Head-Start

FIFA confirmed this afternoon that in a revolutionary experiment designed to inject some interest into a lifeless fixture, Andorra will start tonight's game against England with a two-goal lead.

After it was revealed last week that nobody had yet bought a ticket for the visit of the 100/1 outsiders, who have yet to win a game in the competition so far, talks began on a way to make the game a bit more even. After consultation between the nations' soccer authorities, an FIFA spokesman revealed earlier: 'Andorra will be given two goals at kick-off time. They're really bad, you see, and this will keep people interested at least until the hour mark or so.'

'They really do stink,' he added. 'They'll be lucky to lose 4-2.'

Training-ground spies suggested that Andorra were hoping to employ other playground tactics once the game was underway, such as shouting 'we get Rooney' in the hope that Wayne Rooney will then be forced to join their team, or calling 'next goal wins' in the event that they force a corner or free-kick.

England head honcho Fabio Capello was unavailable for comment after his controversial antics in Kazakhstan, but captain John Terry - taking time out from watching 'Diagnosis Murder' with other members of his relaxed squad - remarked that the game was 'still one we'd be expecting to win'. Terry's side won the away fixture 2-0 in September despite all having one hand tied behind their backs. Terry added: 'How old is Dick van Dyke now? He's got to be eighty at least. Legend.'

Meanwhile, the FA said that ticket sales for the moribund contest were 'looking up', with the crowd now expected to be in the region of 1,000 after FA promotions offering free tickets to members of youth clubs, local schools, and former England deputy Phil Neal, who 'replied straight away' and 'will definitely be along if he can get a babysitter'.

Hartson regrets hot coals pledge

Former Wales captain John Hartson is regretting his declaration that he would ‘walk over hot coals’ to get the Swansea City job after the Championship side called his bluff.

Hartson retired from football in January 2008 and is desperate to launch a coaching career with hometown team Swansea his ideal destination.

However, it seems that Hartson’s claim he would ‘walk on hot coals for the job’ has left him in a sticky situation.

“John has said that he’ll walk on hot coals, so we’ve got some in and we’ll see what he can do,” Swans chairman Huw Jenkins told the South Wales Echo.

“We’ve got a lot of excellent applicants for the job, but obviously this would help John’s cause enormously.”

Reports suggest that Hartson has been in touch with the Moscow State Circus over the last few days and is ready to follow through on his rash promise, but he expressed severe doubts this afternoon.

“I don’t know why I had to go and say that bit about hot coals,” the egg-headed former hitman lamented.

“In truth, I’m not sure about it at all. What I should have said is that I would really like the Swansea job, not that bit about the coals.”

The unheralded John Hughes is the favourite to get the Liberty Stadium post after vowing to wire his genitals up to a car battery if he is selected.

New West Ham Owners Promise 'We'll Be As Mediocre As Ever'

After a turbulent week at Upton Park, CB Holdings - the corporation that has bought West Ham United - took steps to reassure fans yesterday that the backroom dramas would 'make no difference' to the club's 'commitment to not achieving much in particular'.

There were fears that the departure of Icelandic tycoon Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson might cause unrest at the club, which has enjoyed a steady period since famously cheating its way out of relegation in 2006/7. But the chairman of CB Holdings stressed: 'West Ham fans are justifiably proud of normally finishing about tenth and getting to about the Fifth Round of the FA Cup, and we can promise them that the coming season will be as unspectacular as ever. The new board will make all possible funds available for Gianfranco Zola to steer the squad to another underwhelming mid-table finish.'

The spokesman added: 'At least, that's what it says here. None of us will be going to any of the games, I don't think. We're not really into football.'

Zola told press that he was 'pleased another faceless paymaster has been temporarily installed' and announced that he has already drawn up a plan for the season which involves 'wins over the likes of Wigan and Bolton' and 'plucky defeats by the top four'.

Despite these reassurances, some West Ham fans remain unconvinced. Alan Rowlands, head of Hammers Independent Supporters Club, said: 'West Ham fans are very angry about the way the club's finances have been handled. Mind you, we're also angry about Lampard leaving, Joe Cole leaving, Michael Carrick leaving, the existence of Chelsea in general, Paul Ince leaving even though half of us can't even remember it, and we're pre-emptively angry about most of our home performances next season. So it does get a bit tiring.'

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Kaka celebrates Madrid move with X-rated Man City rant

Kaka has shattered the world transfer record with a £56m switch from Milan to Real Madrid, but the deal has been overshadowed by an explosive anti-Manchester City tirade in this morning’s press conference.

After months of speculation, the pious playmaker ended a six-year residency at San Siro and completed the Real Madrid move that has been reported weekly in the Spanish Press since 2006.

However, Kaka was uncharacteristically fiery in the press room at the Bernabeu and opted to dwell on Manchester City’s unsuccessful £100m bid in January.

“It’s nice to sign for Real,” he said. “Especially because that will stop all this bullshit about Manchester City.

“Manchester City? Seriously, can you imagine me, Kaka, playing alongside Nigel De Jong and Vincent Kompany. Of course you fucking can’t, I’m Kaka that’s why.

“I just felt embarrassed about the whole thing. The entire Milan team were pissing themselves when that oval-headed goon Gary Cook turned up with his piggy bank. I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me.”

After another 15 minutes of anti-Man City sentiment and a derogatory farted version of ‘Blue Moon’, Kaka wrapped up his press conference by taking aim at celebrity City fans Oasis.

“I don’t even like Oasis. Granted, ‘Definitely Maybe’ was pretty good and ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory’ was a defining album of the 1990s, but even then a lot of the songs were a little self-indulgent and ended up at around six minutes when four would have sufficed,” he roared. “So, in summary, delighted to join Real."

Monday, 8 June 2009

Man wakes from coma, expects Owen to play against Andorra

A Yorkshire man has regained consciousness after 11 years in a coma and caused hilarity amongst the medical staff at St James' Hospital in Leeds by tipping Michael Owen to star against Andorra on Wednesday evening.

Gavin Bardsley of Otley had been in a coma since July 1, 1998 - the day after Owen scored a wonder goal against Argentina in the World Cup second round.

"Mr Bardsley regained consciousness this morning and we asked him a few questions to assess his level of neural function," doctor Paul Furrow revealed. "As is standard practice, I asked him who he expected to start up front against Andorra and he replied 'Michael Owen'. Obviously we couldn't contain ourselves!

"We had to very calmly explain to the patient that Owen's career had taken a scarcely believable downturn since his kamikaze transfer to perennial underachievers Newcastle United. I think it'll take a while for this to sink in - there's no easy way to break that kind of news."

There was another shock in store for a groggy Bardsley, who had to come to terms with Adrian Chiles' appointment as anchor of Match of the Day 2.

"He looked terrified to hear that," Furrow said gravely. "He had this notion that Chiles' dry presenting style would quickly grow stale and that he would have to fall back on increasingly laboured 'long-suffering' West Brom references. He kept crying 'I can't live like that', but he seemed a lot happier when I told him that Garth Crooks had more or less disappeared lately."

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Capello's 'Insane 24-Hour Bender' After Win Over Kazakhstan

FA officials were still looking for England manager Fabio Capello last night, after the normally serene manager marked his side's 4-0 win over Kazakhstan with what onlookers described as a 'mad orgy of celebration'.

Since taking over the reins from Sven-Goran Eriksson, Capello has impressed many with his icy composure, and is credited by players with greatly improving discipline in the England camp. But all this seemingly went by the board in Almaty on Saturday night. No sooner had the final whistle blown to signal an efficient, if unexciting, win for England than Capello began - in the words of one senior player - to 'completely lose his shit'.

The normally guarded Italian stunned journalists by appearing in just his pants for the press conference. Before any questions could be posed by the wrongfooted press members, Capello wrenched the microphone out of its stand and began to sing Land Of Hope And Glory, although according to witnesses, he was rusty on the words and 'had to go la-la-la for most of it'.

At this stage Capello already appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, and after taking just three questions - dealing with Steven Gerrard's commanding performance, England's continued improvement, and the next match against Andorra - the manager suddenly declared: 'fuck all this. We are the greatest team in the world. We have beaten Kazakhstan. We are England! Death to our enemies!' To the amazement of the press corps, Capello then rose and staggered out of the room, 'swigging from an already half-empty vodka bottle and singing an obscene song about a girl called Pam', according to reports. A figure matching his description was then seen urinating into a fountain in a deserted Almaty city centre an hour later.

FA officials admit that they have been unable to locate Capello since then, although several England players report that he called their mobiles between midnight and four in the morning urging them to 'come out just for a cheeky one' and calling them 'gay' when they elected to stay in their hotels. There has been no statement from Capello's spokespeople, though on the front page of his official website, pictures have appeared of the former Milan manager flanked by blondes and sporting a hat shaped like a pint of Guinness, along with the caption 'Britons never, never, never shall be slaves'.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Japan book World Cup place, promise early exit

Japan became the first team to qualify for the 2010 World Cup after heroically fighting off Uzbekistan on Saturday evening but manager Takeshi Okada assurres the world: "you'll hardly know we're there."

The Blue Samurais have been present for each of the last three World Cups, but their contribution has been limited, only reaching the second round in 2002 when they hosted the event, which allowed them to choose their group opponents.

Once again the flimsy Asian qualification pool has allowed Japan to secure their invite to football's biggest event by fending off Qatar, Bahrain and Uzbekistan, but team coach Okada has reassured the watching world that his men have no intention of holding their own at the highest level.

"I hope my side haven't given anyone the wrong idea," he explained after being chaired off the pitch by his triumphant players.

"We are a truly mediocre football team and we won't get more than a point in South Africa. I have complete faith that we will be crushed by Spain, pushed aside by Argentina and contest a dire draw with Tunisia."

Friday, 5 June 2009

$60 Million In Debt, Liverpool Owners Advertise 'Heaps Of Great Stuff' On eBay

As press reports suggested that they were in danger of saddling Liverpool with enormous, crippling debts, the club's American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were in bullish mood today, announcing that they were 'confident of raising the cash' to meet the estimated 42-million-pound shortfall, thanks to a huge eBay clearout of stuff they had lying around back home in Texas.

'Sixty million bucks sure sounds like a lot of money,' said a defiant Gillett, 'but you wait to see what I'm bid for my life-size Elvis Presley mannequin. The reserve price is $200.' Hicks, meanwhile, is pinning most of his hopes on the entire Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series for PlayStation 2, which he is selling for $15 a game or fifty for the lot. 'Even the older ones, like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, are still heaps of fun to play,' Hicks reassured potential bidders at a press conference. 'They'd make a great gift.'

Many Liverpool fans were concerned in 2008 when the American pair bought a majority shareholding in the club, worrying that one of football's traditional powerhouses was in danger of becoming a plaything for a pair of wheeler-dealers with little respect for its history or traditions. Hicks sought to ease such fears yesterday, reassuring fans that Liverpool would not be left to pay for the Americans' excesses. 'Hell, no. If anything, the club stands to make a profit.' When asked how this could possibly the case, Hicks put his fingers in his ears and whistled America The Beautiful while Gillett gave reporters details of the eBay link for a Chinese lamp which he hopes to offload for 'somewhere near $100'.

At the time of going to press, the pair's eBay fire sale had raised only $3.50 plus postage of the required $60 million.

When it was put to Gillett that he and Hicks were a couple of poisonous dickheads who had irresponsibly toyed with a club dear to the hearts of millions, that they had little discernible interest in football or affection for its followers, and that they really ought to fuck off at the earliest possible opportunity, Hicks grinned goofily and said 'I guess so. Dang!'

Gel giants to Townsend: Thank you so much

Hair gel manufacturers Wella have voiced their gratitude to ITV presenter Andy Townsend for seeing the company through a tough 18 months.

The male grooming industry has been hit hard by the current economic downturn with many top names reporting worrying losses.

However, figures published this morning by Wella, who produce popular hair adhesive Shock Waves, reported a steady growth in revenue, which they attribute to slick-haired ITV goon Townsend.

“We can’t thank Andy enough,” a spokesman told City A.M. “His dedication to coating his hair in a greasy layer of our product has kept us afloat. We’re all very grateful to him because it’s fairly clear his hair would look exactly the same without the gel.”

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Barry savours move to slightly worse team

Gareth Barry has spoken of his delight at leaving Europa League contestants Aston Villa for mid-table makeweights Manchester City.

The fairly good 28-year-old completed a £12m switch on Tuesday afternoon as Manchester City’s supremely rich owners continue their relentless pursuit of reasonable players to lead next season’s march on eighth place.

Barry was on the brink of a move to Liverpool this time last year, but a fresh start at Eastlands seems more suited to his aspirations.

“In 30 years’ time I want a stoned student to say ‘do you remember Gareth Barry?’" the England international explained. “And then I want his mate to say ‘didn’t he play for Spurs? Wait, no, that was Gareth Bale…’ At Manchester City I think I can achieve that level.”

An emotional Barry travelled to Manchester this morning to meet his new teammates and admitted to feeling a little overawed. “It was incredible to see Wayne Bridge and Tal Ben Haim at work – they’re the kind of players that take your breath away,” he gushed. “I think I can learn so much from such great champions.”

The City new boy could also be playing alongside highly rated omnipresence God next year if recent transfer speculation is to be believed.

“Obviously it’d be great to have him on board,” Barry grinned. “At the end of the day, He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, who is and who was and who is come, the Almighty.”