The news branch of the Back of the Net wiki.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Brave Celtic's Champions League Run Almost Over

Scottish football faced heartbreak once more last night as Celtic's 1-0 home defeat by Dinamo Moscow left them on the brink of elimination, after a heroic run which has taken them to within ten months of the Final.

In the tradition of Scottish Premier League runners-up - who in the last ten years have included Celtic, Rangers, Rangers, Rangers, Celtic, Celtic, Rangers, Celtic, Rangers and Celtic - the Bhoys suffered bitter disappointment when the draw pitted them against a team from a league with some sort of competitive aspect. Nonetheless, hopes were high that under new manager Tony Mowbray, the Hoops might mount a serious challenge in Europe this season. Chairman John Reid told the press that 'this defeat is a serious blow to our hopes of scraping into the group stages, losing to Milan and PSV, drawing with some Danish team, and being essentially out by Christmas.'

Reid harshly criticised his fellow SPL chairmen last week over their deal with collapsed broadcaster Setanta, one of the only broadcasters who could be bothered to show the endless series of ugly or one-sided games which make up Scotland's domestic league. But after another in the interminable series of defeats for the Auld Firm at the wrong end of the European season, Reid admitted: 'Perhaps I should spend less time in-fighting, more time assessing why exactly Scottish football is such a pile of crap that it almost single-handedly killed off Setanta.'

'But there you go,' added Reid. 'I'm an ex-politician so I haven't got a fucking clue about most things, to be fair.'

Mowbray was still optimistic that the Bhoys would progress to the knockout, or 'actual', stages of the competition. 'All we've got to do is win in Moscow,' he said. 'I don't see what's stopping us, other than the fact that Russian teams are famously hard to beat at home and Scottish teams are useless away from home. ' He added that the club's Champions League run had 'already been creditable', since it will be 'well into August' before they are officially eliminated. This compares favourably to the 2004 Champions League bid of Rangers, who were knocked out as soon as they qualified for the competition, UEFA emailing them to say 'realistically, you're best off out of this.'

One Scottish football expert described this as 'our darkest day in Europe since Motherwell lost to Llanelli back in the middle of July'.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Pearson's Press Statement 'Officially Most Boring Of All Time'

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson has broken the world record for the most boring statement ever given to journalists, it was confirmed today. Experts emerged from a 10-hour emergency analysis of Pearson's remarks on possible signing Leroy Lita to publish their verdict this morning. The panel unanimously agreed that the comments 'did not contain a single word which was not a cliche' and were 'staggeringly dull'.

Speaking to BBC Radio Leicester about the Foxes' pursuit of big-headed talent Lita, Pearson said: 'We will see what happens. I know there's a lot of speculation about him [Lita] but I wouldn't like to make any comment at the moment. If we can improve we will but at the moment I can't really elaborate on that. I won't bring players in for the sake of bringing players in.'

Within minutes, the statement had been referred to the panel, who scanned it extensively to see if a single meaningful word could be found in it. When their search was unsuccessful, the scientists concluded that Pearson had 'set a new bar for managers talking pointless crap'. Pearson's record breaks that set in 2007 by Bryan Robson, who said after his Sheffield United side had drawn with Plymouth: 'we've started the game well and they've come back into it and in the end I think a point each is about right.'

Leicester chairman Milan Mandaric said he was 'delighted' Pearson - who won promotion at the first attempt after taking over from certified lunatic Ian Holloway - was continuing to put the Midlands club back on the map, and there is' no chance of him being sacked for five or six weeks at least.'

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Crouch's Purchasers Unsure How To Assemble Him

After announcing the £10m signing of Peter Crouch this morning, Tottenham admitted several hours later that they were 'still struggling' to put together the flat-packed striker, who was delivered in seven pieces from Fratton Park once negotiations had been completed last night.

'How the hell are you meant to...' a baffled Harry Redknapp asked reporters, studying an incomprehensible set of instructions scribbled down by Crouch's previous owner, Pompey boss Paul Hart. 'He said it went up in ten minutes,' Redknapp lamented, shaking his head in despair, half-an-hour later. 'Ten minutes! If this is ten minutes, I've never been investigated by the FA!'

At eleven feet tall, Crouch is an impractical size for most homes, but his wide range of functions - including heading, knock-downs, WAG-shagging, and briefly-amusing-dance-inventing - attracted Redknapp, who had been looking for a target man to spearhead Spurs' campaign for 10th place next season. 'He looked great in the catalogue,' said Redknapp, his face even redder than usual, 'but look at all these bits here. I mean, you need a degree in bloody engineering!' The permanently tired-looking boss was later said to be looking into the possibility of purchasing a degree in engineering online.

Crouch - manufactured by a team of German automobile technicians as a by-product of a secret experiment in the seventies - was unable to comment as he was still in pieces on the floor. He has previously played for (among others) Aston Villa, Southampton, and Liverpool, where he was out of action for three months after Sami Hyypia took him home to show the kids and lost the remote control.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Pre-Season Friendlies: Newcastle Find Positives After 6-1 Defeat, Man City Lose To Indie Band

Newcastle caretaker manager Chris Hughton was upbeat this evening after his side suffered a 6-1 defeat to League One side Leyton Orient, claiming that the margin of defeat 'could have been more like three or four if we'd had a bit of luck', and pointing out that 'other than the thrashing by a mid-table third-tier side, the trip to London was a success', after his squad managed to get on the coach back home without anyone getting lost. Meanwhile in South Africa, Manchester City continued to struggle to justify their £200-billion summer spending spree, as they went down 1-0 to Kaiser Chiefs, previously only known for their radio-friendly guitar pop.

Hughton's Newcastle, who have endured a torrid summer, year, decade and recent history, will be the subject of renewed mockery after their mauling at Brisbane Road, but the temporary boss - now into his fifth year in charge as the club continues to flounder in administrative chaos - insisted that they would take 'a lot of positives' from their latest indignity. 'For a start, we got a goal,' said Hughton, 'which would have been enough to win the game, had we not conceded a half-dozen. Then there was the good work done by all the backroom staff to arrange the fixture and decide on the kick-off time and all that, which went smoothly. Also, I thought the lads looked very neat in their kits. And Habib [Beye] won £5 on a fruit machine in the services on the way down.'

'So all in all we'll be approaching the new season with confidence.'

In Pretoria, Mark Hughes was disappointed to see his expensive side lose to the Kaiser Chiefs, who fielded only five players. 'We should have made better use of the space,' lamented the Welshman, who said his players 'allowed the Chiefs to dictate the pace, which was moderate to fast, with three chords'. He admitted City's defence had had trouble keeping Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson quiet. 'He just kept coming out with pithy observations about society, in a distinctive, slightly grating northern drawl. If he keeps doing that, he's going to cause a lot of trouble this season.'

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Angry LA Galaxy Hunt Down Beckham With Army Of Hollywood Monsters

From our American Correspondent

David Beckham was in hiding in the hills above Los Angeles tonight after his employers, L.A. Galaxy, responded to fans' disgruntlement at his patchy appearance by dispatching the full might of Hollywood on a deadly revenge mission against the deadball genius and underwear model.

Hundreds of CGI-generated monsters, robots, orcs and miscellaneous supervillains pursued Beckham - who caused fury by moving to AC Milan because the American league isn't a real league - promising Galaxy supporters 'a banquet of blood' in their 18-rated quest.

LA Galaxy owner Philip Anschutz, squinting at the scene through a special pair of glasses made from solid gold, said: 'Beckham seems to think the US is some kind of joke country where we don't know how to distinguish soccer from our many other glossy forms of entertainment. He thinks we aren't serious about the game and the whole MLS is a kind of showy, soulless publicity circus. Well, guess what! We're going to hunt his ass! We're going to bring him back here to the Home Depot Center [Galaxy's showy, soulless stadium]! And we are going to show him the United Status doesn't like being weighed up against a country with a vastly superior soccer heritage!'

Anschutz added that the avenging army's battle with Beckham will appear on cinema screens shortly. 'THIS FALL, ONE MAN WILL TAKE ON THE ODDS,' he bellowed.

Optimus Prime, the leading Transformer who is one of the figureheads in Galaxy's $560 million war on Beckham, commented: 'No sacrifice is too great in pursuit of freedom. However, Beckham should not have had the freedom to stay in Italy beyond the original terms of his contract. He must die.'

As the conflict entered its fiftieth hour, with an eerie darkness settling over the landscape, Beckham was nowhere to be seen tonight, although his wife Victoria was spotted fleeing by outsiders, who said that she looked 'tired, ill and pissed off. Exactly the same as usual.'

Southgate's 'Die For This Club' Appeal Backfires

With star assets Tuncay, Mido, Alfonso Alves and Stuart Downing either gone, openly soliciting a move, or dicking about somewhere in Africa and not replying to his text messages, put-upon Middesbrough manager Gareth Southgate admits that he wishes he hadn't told players that he 'only wanted people who are ready to die for this club.' Since Southgate made this emotional appeal, 29 of the 32 players under contract have left or submitted a transfer request, and the softly-spoken boss conceded yesterday: 'It would have been better just to say something like, I only want players who are really committed. Or just: 'let's all do our best this year''.

Southgate broke out the rhetoric a fortnight ago as transfer speculation dogged his newly-relegated squad. According to Riverside insiders, he was dismayed by - among other failures of team spirit - Downing attending the team meeting already wearing an Aston Villa shirt, and £12.5 million flop Alves shouting 'SO LONG, SUCKERS!' as he drove away from the ground in his Porsche. 'From now on, if you're not prepared to die for Middlesbrough, don't bother coming in,' said Southgate, pausing briefly to allow Tuncay to slip past him to the car park. 'If you don't eat, drink, sleep and shit Boro, there's no point in you being here. I don't care how many players leave, as long as I'm left with people who will walk through fire for Middlesbrough Football Club.'

Transfer requests began to flow almost immediately after this ultimatum, with the entire first-team gone by the end of the day. Many Boro players felt Southgate had set the bar too high. 'I mean, I quite like it here,' said defender Justin Hoyte, 'but who wants to die for Middlesbrough!? It's silly. The ground wasn't even full for half our games last season.' Popular German centre-back Robert Huth agreed, saying: 'Huth will play hard for Boro. Huth will sweat and toil for Boro. But Huth will not go to the grave for them. Huth still has much to offer this world.'

'If he asks us who will get a bit hurt for Middlesbrough, then maybe, OK, I am interested,' remarked playmaker Julio Arca. 'But death is the great unknown. Which of us will walk into the dark, into the infinite, of his own free will? Death is the river which all men must cross, but we cross it only when the ferryman can wait no longer. Also, I can get more money if I go back to the Premier League and half-heartedly play for Blackburn or someone.'

One of the few remaining players, David Wheather, said he would be staying, but 'hoped the gaffer [Southgate] wouldn't call our bluff on the whole dying thing. I was put off a move to Wolves because Mick McCarthy said he wanted players who'd cut their brother's eyes out and spit in the holes for Wolverhampton.'

With only a few weeks to recruit an entirely new playing staff, Middlesbrough are reportedly in talks with the similarly-understaffed Newcastle about a merger. Southgate said: 'if that does happen, I will only want players who are prepared to die for whatever we decide to call the new team.'

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Comedy kings ‘working through night’ to provide Lawro with zingers

An insider at the BBC has revealed that a ‘crack team of award-winning comedians’ are working overtime to provide dour pundit Mark ‘Lawro’ Lawrenson with material ahead of the 2009-10 Premiership kick-off.

A defensive stalwart of Liverpool’s unrealistically successful side of the 1980s, Lawrenson had no trouble finding work with the BBC after hanging his boots up, but the man once touted as the ‘third Chuckle Brother’ has failed to live up to the hype.

Hurt by the results of recent focus groups that saw Lawro lose out to Mark Pougatch in the popularity stakes after another season of workmanlike punditry, the Preston native called himself back from holiday in Magaluf ahead of schedule in order to begin top secret meetings with some of contemporary comedy’s keenest minds.

“Lawro wasn’t happy with his performances last year,” a BBC source told us.

“There was a period of real soul-searching where he was asking everyone whether they thought he was funny – it was really awkward.

“You have to remember this is the man who came up with such classics as ‘easy for you to say’ and ‘that’s one word for it’. Mark has high standards when it comes to comedy and he’s his own harshest critic.”

Reports from Broadcasting House suggest that a ‘psychotic looking’ Lawrenson has been putting in 16-hour shifts with a writing team that cost him £1m to assemble.

He has also reportedly told friends that his material ‘shits on Lineker’ and pledged that ‘people will have to reassess what they know about comedy after this season’.

Liverpool Players Begin Brawl Well But Lose Way Towards The End

Merseyside Police say that CCTV footage released today of the brawl at the Lounge Inn in Southport last December, which led to the arrest of Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, shows 'Mr Gerrard, although provoked, behaved in a disorderly and violent manner', and also that 'this was yet another occasion on which Liverpool players narrowly failed to turn a great position into glory.'

The Reds, whose season was marred by a string of draws, enjoyed a huge advantage at the halfway stage of the fight, but Marcus McGee and his mates - opponents who, Gerrard admitted, 'we would expect to beat nine times out of ten' - came back strongly to force a stalemate and leave them rueing lost points. 'It does seem to be a problem that we're not able to finish the job,' said Gerrard, who landed one punch but narrowly missed with two more, and watched in frustration as teammate Dirk Kuyt swung his fist wide of McGee from barely five yards away.

It was the fourth time in a row that Rafa Benitez's players had failed to win a fight on home territory. 'It's been our form on Merseyside that's let us down,' Gerrard lamented. 'Away from home we've been excellent, Steve [Finnan] has decked that fella in the club in Soho, and we were excellent in Porto thanks to Yossi [Benayoun, who urinated on a display of local artwork and called three women whores]... but in front of our own constabulary we just don't seem to be taking our chances.'

Asked why Robbie Keane and Xavi Alonso had been left out of the fight altogether - Keane, although fit, being made to accompany the reserves to a cheaper nightclub in Huyton - Gerrard said that team selection was 'a matter for the manager'. But Benitez was in no mood for questions when approached last night in his Anfield bunker, where is working on paranoid rants for next season. 'We are going to the right clubs and fighting well but not winning the fights,' said Benitez. 'I don't know why it is. We are unlucky. Nobody asks why Manchester United or Chelsea doesn't win a fight but if it is Liverpool, everyone is asking.'

'We will be stronger next season and I am confident we can be champions,' added Benitez, who has finished every press conference with these words since he took over in 2004.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

England Manager Joins League Two No-Hopers As FA Launch 'Season Of Crazy Shit'

The Football Association installed international coach Sven-Goran Eriksson as Director of Football at lower-league strugglers Notts County today, as part of a new campaign to restore interest in football by making loads of crazy shit happen.

A statement issued by the FA at lunchtime read: 'Let's face it, English club football has become pretty stagnant. Only three clubs can compete for the title, and one of them (Liverpool) never actually win it. Mediocre imports are squeezing local talent out of the picture at every turn. Many of our once-great clubs are now in the hands of faceless foreign investors, who bankroll mass migrations of mercenary professionals. The Premier League giants are showing less and less regard for cup competitions and traditions, for the overall health of the game, even for their own fans.'

'With all this in mind, the FA is proud to announce that 2009-10 will be the first ever Season of Crazy Shit'.

The spokesman then set off a series of Party Poppers before leaving on a unicycle.

Eriksson, famous for managing England to a series of quarter-final defeats, fucking Ulrika Jonsson even though you could never imagine it looking at the two of them, and being followed everywhere by a man called Tord Grip, said he was 'delighted' to move to Notts County to launch the FA's new programme of absurdities. 'I love to do funny things and maybe sometimes things which are a little crazy,' said the Swede. 'For sure, Nottingham is a dreadful place to live but this, of course, only makes the joke rather funnier.'

Speculation is now rife as to the FA's next plan. Although nothing has been confirmed yet, a document leaked to selected journalists hinted strongly that Cilla Black is poised to replace Martin O'Neill as Aston Villa boss, two teams have being approached to conjure up a 9-9 draw on the first day of the season, and Everton are planning to score their first ever goal not to come from a scrappy set-piece.

With football suddenly a funny old game again, Saint and Greavsie are rumoured to be planning a dramatic comeback. 'I tell you what, either football's gone mad, or I have,' said noted soccer funnyman Greaves from his London home. Ian 'Saint' St John was too busy laughing at Greavsie's remark to make any further comment.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Adebayor: 'This Is Totally About The Money'

Days after Gareth Barry and chief executive Garry Cook angrily refuted the idea that the summer's exodus towards nouveaux riche chancers Manchester City has largely been motivated by money, latest recruit Emmanuel Adebayor confirmed today that he was 'delighted to be getting a great big chunk' for the move North, and was looking forward to 'competing for major honours with City, but more importantly, having a huge great mansion in Cheshire and driving a vintage car around.'

Togo marksman Adebayor represented Arsenal with distinction for several seasons but became restless last season. He put in a transfer request, saying that he needed 'a new challenge, and about £350,000 in signing-on fees'.

'When I heard City were interested,' said Adebayor, 'I was keen straight away. Not so much for footballing reasons - after all, I was already at one of the most attractive sides in the country, and had guaranteed Champions' League football - but more because I knew I would absolutely coin it in if I went there.'

'Now that the move has been completed, I'm delighted. I'm fantastically rich now. I was earning a lot at Arsenal, but trust me, this is a whole new level. I am fucking minted. This is great.'

Adebayor had words of encouragement for City fans, too, claiming that the hastily-assembled, mercenary squad would 'go all-out to bring trophies' to the Eastlands club. 'Apparently we're on a big win bonus for every game,' said the Togolese centre-forward, 'and then on top of that, sweet extra bonuses if we, like, get into Europe and shit. So we'll definitely be trying to do all that, I reckon.'

Barnes Baffles New Team With Rapping, Lucozade Advice

A rusty John Barnes marked his return to management, at Tranmere Rovers, by delivering a rap wearing a shell-suit and lecturing his new players on the merits of isotonic Lucozade, it was reported today.

Former England star, dubious musician, hapless TV presenter and peculiar suit-wearer Barnes landed the Tranmere job last month, but detractors claimed that he was out of touch with the English domestic game, after a period in the wilderness managing Jamaica, appearing on celebrity dance programmes, and looking the wrong way during live broadcasts. These allegations were backed up by Barnes's introductory meeting with the Tranmere squad. 'You've got to hold or give, but do it at the right time,' Barnes told his new charges. 'You can be slow or fast, but you must get to the line. They'll always hit you and hurt you, defend and attack. There's only one way to beat them: get round the back.'

Barnes's assistant Jason McAteer seconded his boss's advice, adding: 'We're singing for England. Arrivederci, it's one on one.'

According to sources, Barnes went on to brief his players on their after-match fluid intake, advising them: 'After ninety minutes of sheer hell out there, you're thirsty. Isotonic Lucozade gets to your thirst fast.'

Barnes's words received a mixed reception from Tranmere players, with midfielder Chris Shuker admitting: 'We thought it was going to be more about the new season and our roles within the club, but he seemed very keen to rap. Would you call that rapping? I don't know, it sounded more just like talking, really.'

Veteran defender Ian Goodison added: 'He seemed really keen to talk about Lucozade. I didn't even know you could still buy that stuff. It tastes like shit.'

Mido Blames Two-Week Absence On Faulty Sat-Nav

Part-time Middlesbrough striker Mido, who has missed the first two weeks of pre-season training with the club he occasionally plays for, responded to criticism of his latest bout of absenteeism today, claiming that he 'set off ages ago' but 'must have put the wrong postcode into this bloody sat-nav'.

As mild-mannered boss Gareth Southgate prepared what he called a 'stiffly worded text message' to the disappearing star, Mido phoned in to say that he'd 'not allowed for there being so much traffic between Egypt and Middlesbrough' but would 'be there in a jiffy, definitely by Christmas.'

Southgate has endured a difficult summer as he attempts to rebuild for the Championship campaign. He was forced to sell star asset Stewart Downing, who won his 23-year battle to leave Boro last week; discovered that Boro would
play all their games at Plymouth next season; and underwent surgery to coax his face out of the philosophical pout of gentle disappointment in which it spent the entire period from September to May. 'Mido is pushing his luck here,' said a source close to Southgate. 'You don't want to see Gareth when he's angry. You've never seen anyone tut and shake their head so much.'

It's not the first time that Mido has made headlines by not turning up; in fact, the Egyptian troublemaker has missed almost three-quarters of his own career. While on loan to Wigan last season, he infuriated manager Steve Bruce, skipping a trip to Fulham because he 'wasn't feeling right in himself', disappearing to the shops between the ninth and eighty-fourth minutes of the visit to Sunderland, and famously sending pop star Dido to Arsenal in his place. Boro signed Mido from Tottenham for £6 million in 2007, after a medical check concluded that he was 'in perfect health and fitness, but a serious prick.'

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Back of the Net will return on July 20

Back of the Net's huge writing team are taking a hard-earned week off to prepare for the new season.

If your football satire levels reach a dangerously low level then visit our Back of the Net Wiki, which now has over 150 entries, including:

POINTLESS COMPETITIONS - Over the recent history of football, a large amount of time and effort has been wasted playing needless competitions... More

JOEY BARTON - One of the worst men there has ever been... More

JIM ROSENTHAL - A bits and pieces man for ITV who unconvincingly presents any sport put in front of him while looking like the devil... More

GARY NEVILLE - An inadequately moustachioed right back who plays for Manchester United and England... More

MARK LAWRENSON - A key component in Liverpool’s greatest ever defence, but he has overshadowed that achievement by becoming one of football’s most universally unpopular pundits... More

NEWCASTLE UNITED - A Championship club with a proud history of footballing mediocrity and administrative failure... More

Friday, 10 July 2009

Ferguson phone tap exposes 'one of the great poets of our time'

A journalist from the News of the World has disclosed the details of a number of Sir Alex Ferguson's telephone conversations which were illegally recorded last year and has emotionally hailed 'a uniquely powerful and beautiful artistic mind.'

Lowest common denominator filth rag the News of the World is being investigated for tapping conversations involving high-profile British figures and the latest name to surface is that of mahogany-faced Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson.

But News of the World operatives got more than they bargained on when they listened in to the dour Scotsman's calls.

"We were just hoping to get a bit of transfer gossip, but instead we found ourselves listening to a tortured soul, a fragile creative genius," an emotional Max Greene revealed at today's hearing.

"Every day Ferguson would phone at least one literary great like Margaret Atwood or Derek Walcott and read a poem or a short story he had created.

"His writing was so heartfelt and so beautiful - we would be sat around listening in with tears streaming down our cheeks.

"Maybe Ferguson doesn't want his genius to be exposed, but he owes the world the fruits of his gift."

Greene then choked back tears as he recalled a conversation between Ferguson and Newcastle United hero Alan Shearer.

"They were discussing whether there is such thing as a truly altruistic act.

"Alex gave a compelling argument for an innate desire to behave unselfishly, but Alan countered by suggesting that any biological basis for a good deed must be selfish.

"It was like listening to Plato and Aristotle. Oh, then they made some blinding jokes about Howard Webb."

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Zokora marks Spurs exit with insane goal rampage

Goal-starved midfielder Didier Zokora left his former Tottenham Hotspur teammates scratching their heads when he unleashed a devastating torrent of wonder goals in his final training session ahead of a move to Sevilla.

Ivorian international Zokora joined Spurs from Saint Etienne in 2006 and quickly became a popular figure. However, his lack of proficiency in front of goal was a source of both irritation and wonder for the White Hart Lane faithful.

The 28-year-old didn't get his name on the scoresheet in over 130 appearances but it seems that an imminent transfer to La Liga side Sevilla has caused a remarkable change in his fortunes.

Zokora stunned onlookers during his farewell training session yesterday, firing 13 sensational goals past Brazilian goalkeeper / nonsense man Heurelho Gomes.

"Didi was on fire," Spurs manager Harry Redknapp told journalists while negotiating a deal for half a washing machine on the Goldhawk Road.

"Usually he couldn't hit a barn door with a banjo, but he got some beauties yesterday. Every time he got the ball he scored - one was from about 50 yards.

"Granted, Gomes had accidentally tied his laces round the goalpost at time, but it was still a belter."

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Sant Julia boss has 'one hand on the Champions League trophy'

After last night's heroic penalty shootout triumph over Tre Fiori, Sant Julia manager Patricio Gonzalez Fernandez feels his side will only have themselves to blame if they don't lift the Champions League trophy next May.

Andorran giants Sant Julia overcame San Marino's finest in a gripping sudden-death penalty shootout after the tie ended 2-2 on aggregate.

The epic encounter captivated fans across the globe. Bars in Los Angeles opened in the early hours of the morning to screen the drama for the football-hungry public, while internet service providers reported bandwidth problems as they struggled to cope with the surge of visitors to streaming sites.

Speaking minutes after his side booked a second preliminary qualification date with Levski Sofia, Sant Julia tactician and respected collector of Spanish names Patricio Gonzalez Fernandez stated his belief that the Champions League was there for the taking.

"Now we fear nobody," he roared. "The likes of Chelsea and Barcelona will have seen what happened here tonight and we'll let them worry about us.

"I really thought we would go all the way in the UEFA Cup last year, but after this dramatic victory I feel 2010 will be our year. It's all downhill from here."

The Aixovall outfit fell to Bulgarian opposition last season when they were edged out by Cherno More Varna 9-0 on aggregate.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Tourist on stadium tour poses with scarf, bags Real contract

Real Madrid have been left red-faced after inadvertently handing a four-year contract to a Pakistani tourist posing for a holiday snap.

The bloated Spanish superpower have embarked on a sickening spending frenzy this summer, pouncing for Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo to bolster a squad already boasting such talents as Iker Casillas, Raul and Jerzy Dudek.

And greedy President Florentino Perez still doesn't seem to be satisfied, outlining a plan to sign 'a player every minute' for the next two weeks and to 'maybe one day buy a defender.'

But one new face for next season that Perez didn't bargain on is university student Kamran Asif.

The lucky 26-year-old was posing for photos during a stadium tour when club officials shepherded him into the offices to pen a lucrative four-year deal.

"We thought he was a new signing because he was doing that thing with the scarf," spokesman Luis Villarejo explained.

"At the moment nobody knows who anyone else is to be honest, so if we see any adult male below the age of 40 it's safest to presume we've just paid £10m plus for him."

Asif released a brief statement declaring that: 'It's a dream come true to play for Real. It is a great challenge and I will give 100 percent for this club and the fans.'

Meanwhile, soulless President Perez has spoken of his desire to set up a European Super League to ensure that the continent's giants don't have to worry about failure to qualify for the Champions League.

Perez has also called for the results of every game in the coming season to be agreed in July with the richer team always defeating the poorer.

Monday, 6 July 2009

'I'm Newcastle 'til I die', pledges half-dead Kinnear

Former Newcastle United boss and angry, angry man Joe Kinnear is determined to return to the St James' Park bench despite recent heart problems and has outlined his plan to 'die during a 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest.'

Jobbing manager Kinnear, who nobody had seen for 20 years, inexplicably resurfaced to take the Toon job last term when he received the call from jowly simpleton Mike Ashley.

The cockney wide boy immediately showed the PR skills he learned at Wimbledon in the 1990s by labelling every journalist in Britain "a cunt" and the managerial skills he learned at Wimbledon in the 1990s by leading the side into a bitter relegation struggle.

A pesky heart attack forced Kinnear to abandon football's most degrading post in February, but it seems the 62-year-old still hasn't had enough.

"I'd love to return to Newcastle," he barked at cowering journalists yesterday.

"I have so many happy memories there, like those two wins we got before we began our terrifying free-fall towards the Championship.

"I'm Toon 'til I die, which will be sometime in October when we're losing 2-1 to Nottingham Forest."

With around six weeks remaining before the 2009-10 campaign begins, Newcastle are without an owner, a manager or any players.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Darius Vassell Now President Of Turkey

Forgotten man-turned-Turkish hero Darius Vassell continued his remarkable run of popularity in his new home today, as it was announced that he would take over as President of Turkey as of Monday.

Outgoing leader Abdullah Gul offered his resignation to the government this morning after an estimated 45 million of Turkey's 71 million citizens signed a petition calling for the striker - who was greeted as a hero when he arrived at Ankaragucu this week - to be given the top job. 'I felt I was a good President,' said Gul in a brief statement, 'but I will not stand in the way of a man like Vassell. Our country is lucky to have him.'

Some in England were surprised when Vassell - discarded by deluded money-bags outfit Manchester City - received an uproarious welcome in the Turkish capital earlier on Wednesday. The former England marksman, however, seemed undaunted by the high levels of expectation, which will now reach fever pitch as he runs a country for the first time in his career.

'The fans have made me very welcome here,' said the one-time Aston Villa poacher, 'and obviously it's great to get such a big vote of confidence so early on.'

Vassell added that he was looking forward to attending his first training session with his new team-mates, and to finding ways to ease tensions between the Christian and Muslim presences in Turkey.

Owen's Man U medical reveals '1000 injuries in perfect harmony'

Michael Owen's sensational free transfer to Manchester United is in jeopardy after today's medical turned up a 'thousandfold web of injuries' and labelled the 29-year-old 'a walking corpse.'

The 2001 Ballon d'Or winner's career has been derailed by a baffling move to Newcastle United, an endless stream of injuries and not liking football that much.

In a strange twist, Manchester United are ready to pounce for Owen as a cheap replacement for greedy, self-employed hitman Carlos Tevez, but his health may be an issue.

A routine medical conducted at a private south Manchester hospital left doctors shaking their heads, turning up no fewer than 1000 separate injury hotspots.

A leaked copy of the written report contains scribbled observations such as 'flexibility of an 80-year-old', 'sellotape used to reattach limbs' and 'worryingly monotonous voice'.

"Owen is a medical miracle," Professor Mark Henshaw explained. "Technically he shouldn't even be able to walk, let alone turn in mediocre performances week in, week out.

"We have a unique case where Michael's body has adapted to balance out his injuries. At this stage a diving header, a slide tackle or even a vigorous sneeze could turn him into a vegetable. He's pretty much a dead man walking."

However, a United source confessed that the club would probably sign Owen whatever the result of the medical, confessing that Plan B was to 'black up Darren Fletcher and pretend he was a new Brazilian signing."

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Relaxed Hleb: There I was running around like a sucker...

In a surprising U-turn, Barcelona midfielder Aliaksandr Hleb has rejected suggestions he will start next season at Bayern Munich and outlined his plan to 'have a chilled one' at the Nou Camp.

The first Belorussian to do something of note, Hleb was a key figure for Arsenal before leaving for Barcelona in search of silverware.

Although Hleb picked up La Liga and Champions League medals last term, his involvement was limited and the the negligibly-named wide man had suggested he would quit the club, but it seems he has had a change of heart and rejected moves to Bayern Munich and Lyon.

"My intention is to stay at Barcelona," Hleb explained. "I've had a think about it and I'm on easy street here.

"At Arsenal I was always running about and I got nothing for it, here I just sit and watch and I get medals. By the end of the season I didn't even bring my boots, I just wore the clothes I wanted to go out in - it saved a lot of valuable drinking time!

"Some people say 'aren't you worried about your career Alex?' but I tell them I'm getting paid thousands to come to the Nou Camp and fiddle with my i-phone. That thing's got like a million apps so it's not like I'm going to get bored.

"I've bought a nice travel cushion and one of those mini fridges that holds 10 beers, so I'm all set for the new season."

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

New West Brom Boss Promises Fans Promotion, Relegation, Promotion, Relegation

Roberto Di Matteo took charge of West Bromwich Albion today and immediately vowed to return the newly-relegated club to the top flight at the first attempt, only to be relegated again, in keeping with the club's centuries-old tradition of alternating between promotion and relegation every season.

In his first press conference at the Hawthorns, Di Matteo - who joined this week from MK Dons - promised fans: 'This is a big club and it should be in the top flight, and that is what we will be aiming for.' He added: 'But only for one season. Then we will definitely go down again.'

Di Matteo has initially signed a one-year rolling contract, but revealed he is already looking as far ahead as 2011/12, when he plans to 'take the Baggies triumphantly back up to the big league', and 2012/13, when West Brom will 'start slowly, rally at Christmas time, but end up facing the drop once more.'

WBA chairman Jeremy Peace hailed Di Matteo's arrival, saying: 'Roberto is the ideal man to take us back up to the Premier League where we belong, and then back down to the Championship where we unfortunately also belong. With him at the helm, our fans can look forward to many more years of falsely raised expectations and repetitive disappointments.'

West Brom have been alternating between the top two divisions since 1921. Last year, BBC's Football Focus controversially displayed an 'R' for 'relegated' next to their name in the league table from the first day of the season onwards. Aside from their status as a yo-yo club, West Brom are best known for their numerous celebrity fans. It is estimated that in an average WBA highlights package shown on the BBC, up to seventy-five percent of the action consists of shots of a pensive Adrian Chiles in the stands.

June: A month in pictures

Chelsea confessed that their new boss may still be Guus Hiddink. (Full story)

After weeks of intense negotiations, Real Madrid agreed to present Kaka with a child as part of his signing-on fee.

Gareth Barry savoured his move to slightly worse team Manchester City. (Full story)

$60m in debt, Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett advertised 'heaps of great stuff' on eBay. (Full story)

Bayern Munich's plans to introduce the Haka before games in next season's Bundesliga campaign meant an early return to training.

Despite concerns over the level of opposition, Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce declared his interest in a Peruvian mother of four.

Shrewsbury stopper Michael Jackson couldn't conceal his delight at the passing of the King of Pop. (Full story)