The day I finally visited the Bridge… Stamford Bridge

Chelsea vs Schalke 04
Champions League Group Game – November 6th 2014





A satirical take on the new EPL season



19th: Manchester City gazump United for Wesley Sneijder. The Dutchman, who arrives at the Etihad Stadium in a gold-plated limo with a big sack of £100 notes slung over his shoulder, says he chose them because they have the greater history, before being flown out of the ground in his new luxury helicopter made out of chocolate.

31st: The window shuts and Arsenal have not signed a defender. Gunnersaurus is named in Arsene Wenger’s 25-man squad as an emergency centre-back.


1st: Cesc Fabregas’s move to Barcelona falls through and we all have to put up with that hobo for another year. Carlos Tevez also fails to make a move anywhere and retires from professional football to be closer to his family in Argentina.

20th: David Moyes quits as Everton boss to take up a role in a West End musical version of Lord of the Rings. “I’d just been at Goodison for too long and with no money available to me,” he reflects. “Besides, how could I possibly turn down the opportunity to bring Gollum to life?”

28th: Gareth Bale undergoes surgery to have his ears pinned back to improve his straight line speed. The operation is a success, and he can now sprint the length of the pitch five seconds quicker than previously.

Speed monkey | Bale goes on to represent Team GB at London 2012 in the 100m sprint


1st: Mario Balotelli gets his first start of the season for Manchester City away to Blackburn. However, he gets lost on his way to the pitch from the dressing room and misses kick-off, earning himself a two-week fine.

10th: England confirm qualification for Euro 2012 with a win over previously unbeaten Montenegro, but Fabio Capello is still called a useless clown by the majority of the papers because he has a funny accent and looks a bit like Postman Pat.

15th: Liverpool take on Manchester United at Anfield and Nemanja Vidic and David de Gea hurl up their guts in front of the Kop after Andy Carroll leaps in the air and unleashes a last-minute noxious beer fart in the six-yard area.


5th: QPR boss Neil Warnock instructs his players to get themselves sent off when they host Manchester City. Asked whether he has brought the game into disrepute, the gruff manager simply knocks out the interviewer and spits into the camera.

28th: Kenwyne Jones’s right nipple is the league’s top scorer with 11 goals (all from set-pieces) scored from a cumulative distance of one foot away from goal for Stoke City.

30th: Andre Villas-Boas dismisses reports that the Chelsea squad are not taking him seriously due to his young age and explains that a recent training ground incident that saw him tied to to the crossbar while senior members of the squad took shots at him was merely a “team building exercise”.


1st: A stray Kevin Davies elbow lands to the side of Owen Coyle’s head in training. The knock causes the Bolton boss’s speech to slow down dramatically, meaning that for the first time in his life he now pauses between words ratherthantalkingreallyreallyfastlikeheusedto.

10th: Joey Barton, enraged after not being nominated for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, refuses to pay his TV licence and is sent to prison for a month.

26th: Roy Hodgson turns up for the Boxing Day game against Manchester City sporting a lovely Christmas jumper knitted by the wife. It has a big dog on it and he looks proper chuffed.

31st: Balotelli caps off a memorable personal year by joining Twitter. He immediately posts a picture of his man bits and is fined two weeks’ wages by Manchester City and his account is closed down.


1st: As the transfer window opens, Tevez comes out of retirement in Buenos Aires by signing for Inter, claiming that this will enable him to be closer to his family in Argentina.

14th: QPR lose their FA Cup third round replay to a pub team after Warnock picks a line-up with the average age of just 13.6 years. Asked whether he has demeaned the competition and angered the fans by putting out such a joke XI, Warnock tells the millions of TV viewers around the world that they can “**** the **** off if you think I give a **** what you bunch of ***** think”. He is fined by the FA for putting out a terrible team, for swearing on television and for being a ginormous ass.

21st: Having not overspent on a vastly overrated British player in a while, Kenny Dalglish buys Lee Cattermole for £20m. Presenting him to the media, the Liverpool manager says: “With only having Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Raul Meireles, Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, Jonjo Shelvey, Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen, Jay Spearing and Alberto Aquilani, it’s important that we have more options in midfield.”

31st: Arsenal finally sign a defender; unfortunately for the club’s supporters, it’s Sol Campbell. Meanwhile, Harry Redknapp says there’s “absolutely no way in hell” that he’d make a move for a player on deadline day. At one minute to midnight he offers West Ham £2.50, store credit at Argos and a couple of second hand Wii games for Scott Parker – an offer that Davids Gold and Sullivan instantly turn down. Redknapp fumes: “We tried our best and we thought we gave them a fair offer, but obviously those clowns don’t know what one of those is, do they?!”


1st: Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish becomes absolutely the most hated man in Birmingham by leaving Aston Villa to go back to Birmingham.

14th: The romantics write love letters about Swansea’s gorgeously free-flowing football. “They’re what the purists want to see,” says some pompous prig of a writer, ignoring the fact that the Welsh side are deep in the brown stuff of the Premier League.

25th: Rumours that Andre Villas-Boas is not being taken seriously by his squad gain further credibility as the 33-year-old is locked into a toilet at half-time against Bolton.

26th: Arsenal and Norwich meet in the League Cup final, with Gunners thrilled at the prospect of taking on relatively easy opponents as they bid to end their trophy drought. To avoid a repeat of their cock-up a year ago, Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny allow Sol Campbell to deal with everything that comes into the box. As a result, Norwich win 4-1.



1st: Steve Bruce cannot fathom why so many of his defenders are getting injured while training with Titus Bramble, who is now automatic first-choice centre-back after starting the season behind a dozen players a million times better than him.

4th: Blackburn’s owners sack manager Steve Kean, despite the team riding high in seventh, because the Scot announces that he is going vegan and thus cannot appear in one of Venky’s ridiculous adverts. Noted chicken nugget fan Rafael Benitez takes over at Ewood Park.

15th: Mike Ashley sells Newcastle to a local consortium consisting of Ant ‘n’ Dec, Jimmy Nail and a large group of unknown bare-chested fat men. They immediately sack Alan Pardew and replace him with Alan Shearer. They do not win a game again all season.

27th: Ryan Giggs announces that he will stay on for another season despite barely figuring for Sir Alex Ferguson, who explains that the Welsh pensioner’s decision to carry on playing means he will not have to buy a midfielder in the summer. Manchester United fans protest the manager’s reluctance to spend by wearing red scarves as opposed to the green and gold scarves they use to protest the Glazer ownership.


3rd: Joey Barton makes his millionth tweet of the season and proudly boasts of how much he has grown up over the past two years. On the same day he calls a 12-year-old a ‘helmet’ for having a different opinion to him.

15th: After a series of tabloid exposés, Gareth Barry is named England captain by virtue of being the only player in the squad not to have had an illicit affair. 

30th: Despite being out injured for the last four months, Gareth Bale is named PFA Players’ Player of the Year, PFA Young Player of the Year, and the Football Writers’ Player of the Year. Barcelona table a £150m opening bid that Harry Redknapp labels “an insult” to Tottenham.


5th: Chelsea defeat Wolves to win the FA Cup final at Wembley. As Villas-Boas is about to lift the trophy, John Terry throws him over the barrier and into the stands below. The rest of the players point and laugh as the Portuguese boss, lying twisted on the floor, insists that he was in on the joke and that is shows just how much togetherness there is in the squad.

10th: Martin Jol reveals he has a ridiculously deep voice as a result of smoking 50 cigarettes a day since the age of three. Nobody is surprised.

13th: The final day of the Premier League season sees QPR, Norwich and Wolves relegated. Neil Warnock, whose side was long sent down having picked up just one point, calls Kenny Dalglish “a despicable Scottish tramp” for putting out a weakened team that loses to relegation-battling Swansea.

Manchester City win the league but are docked 20 points for financial irregularities, as are second-placed Manchester United, third-placed Chelsea, and fourth-placed Liverpool.

The penalties see thrifty Arsenal jump from fifth to first. Wenger credits principles and Microsoft Excel for the club’s success – everyone else just calls him a tight-fisted, lucky sod.

28th: Carlos Tevez announces his intention to leave Inter in order to be closer to his family in Argentina.

29th: Tevez signs for Chelsea.



Howard Webb – Fergie’s best signing yet?

Howard Webb as posted on Babel's twitter account
Howard Webb as posted on Babel’s twitter account

Fans of Manchester United’s rivals are loathe to praise Sir Alex Ferguson. So much so, that when asked to consider who his best signing is, the more sarcastic among them reply sharply: “Howard Webb.”

Born out of a perceived bias on the part of the former policeman in favour of the Red Devils, it is a joke scornful enough to have resonated into the minds of the country’s football fans to the extent that his selection for this weekend’s potentially title-deciding clash against Chelsea has reached the back pages of the the national press.

A question few could answer, however, is where the opinion came from in the first place. True, the United manager’s apparent ability to influence the referees who officiate at Old Trafford is lamented across the country, with ‘Fergie time’ having entered the vocabulary of fans and pundits alike, but to target Webb specifically – does he really favour the champions-elect?

Webb’s rocky relationship with controversy stretches back further still and it was at Old Trafford in April 2009 where the jibes of bias appear to have been born.

With Ferguson’s side 2-0 down to Tottenham at half-time with the title race nearing a pulsating conclusion, Webb awarded Michael Carrick a more than dubious penalty after he was felled by Heurelho Gomes in the box.

Cristiano Ronaldo dispatched and United, much to their credit, went on to hammer Harry Redknapp’s side 5-2. Webb, on the other hand, was demoted to the Championship the following week as punishment.

The seeds of doubt had been sown. Speaking about the decision following the game, Spurs midfielder Jermaine Jenas said: “I think it was a case of a referee crumbling under the pressure at Old Trafford really than making decisions.

“One thing which struck me about it was that he didn’t even think. It was like he’d already made his mind up when he came out for the second half that he was going to give something.”

The Twit at Old Trafford

In spite of the uproar that the decision against Tottenham caused at the time, the supposed affinity between Webb and United was most potently thrust into the public sphere following the side’s clash with Liverpool in January.

Webb awarded an early penalty to Dimitar Berbatov to give United the lead, a decision that was dismissed as “a joke” by Kenny Dalglish and then half an hour later, the ref sent off Steven Gerrard for a two-footed lunge on Michael Carrick, all but settling the tie before the 35th minute.

Anger permeated from both Dalglish and his players after the game and Ryan Babel, who came on as a 60th-minute substitute at the Theatre of Dreams, took to his Twitter account to post a picture of the referee in a United shirt. An indictment, albeit light-hearted, of the supposed best referee in the land – and which prompted the Football Association to hand down a £10,000 fine and a warning over Babel’s future conduct.

Some have even called for Webb to be taken off games involving Ferguson’s side. Mud sticks, and the thought of his decisions, right or wrong, being scrutinised to the detriment of Sunday’s clash at Old Trafford must surely prey on the official’s mind.

Regardless of his performance, some will insist that his behaviour at Old Trafford has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. He has, for example, awarded Sir Alex Ferguson’s men three penalties in the last four games he has officiated at Old Trafford.

There is also the fear that, in an effort to prove that he is not in favour of the club, even subconsciously, Webb will begin giving unfavourable decisions against the Premier League leaders.

It is unlikely, however, that the FA will cave to the conspiracy theorists and stop him taking charge at the Theatre of Dreams. All Webb can hope for is that he calls the decisions correctly, aided by two teams that are willing to show him the respect he deserves.

And if he doesn’t, the FA might want to monitor Twitter on Sunday evening.


Torres to Chelsea, Carroll to Liverpool

It’s the news the majority of Reds fans will surely have been dreading… Liverpool confirm they have agreed a deal with Chelsea for the sale of Fernando Torres with the Spaniard now free to discuss personal terms with the Blues.
Liverpool have agreed a fee for Fernando Torres with Chelsea thought to be in the region of £50million and have given the striker permission to speak to the club.

Speculation has raged over whether the Spanish striker will conclude a move to the Premier League champions before the transfer window closes on Monday night.

And it now seems the 26-year-old is on the brink of completing a last-minute switch after the two clubs settled on a towering price for his signature following the Blues’ failed £35m offer earlier this week.

On the other hand, Liverpool have confirmed that Newcastle have accepted a club-record fee for striker Andy Carroll. That’s some quick use of cash generated from Torres sale.

The announcement represents a significant marker in what has been a twisting transfer saga on an incredibly dramatic deadline day of the 2010/11 winter window.

Liverpool failed in two initial bids in the region of £30million, but Carroll then requested a transfer and Newcastle were essentially forced to ‘reluctantly’ accept.

Liverpool negotiating with Chelsea over £50m Fernando Torres bid but want Nicolas Anelka included in deal instead of Daniel Sturridge

Liverpool have asked for Nicolas Anelka to be included in Chelsea’s £50 million bid for Fernando Torres as a stunning deal before the transfer window closes grows more likely. Contrary to Liverpool’s public stance that Torres is not for sale, the club is willing to negotiate with the Londoners as they fear the negative consequences of keeping a player who has publicly revealed his desire to move on.
Torres submitted a written transfer request on Friday night which was rejected by Liverpool, but that has not deterred Chelsea from making a second offer for the Spaniard of £40m in cash plus Daniel Sturridge, the England Under-21 striker.

With Torres, 26, pushing both clubs to negotiate over a move before the transfer window closes at 11pm on Monday, Liverpool have asked for Frenchman Anelka, not Sturridge, to be included in the deal to meet their £50m valuation.

Anelka is considered a proven goalscorer who can slot into the Liverpool side immediately and a more suitable partner for Luis Suarez, who is on Merseyside to complete a £22.8m switch from Ajax. Anelka spent a loan spell at Anfield in the 2001-02 season and could be open to a return as Torres’ arrival would cast doubt over the 31-year-old’s future at Stamford Bridge. He played the full 90 minutes for the Londoners in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Everton in the FA Cup fourth round but has played for eight different clubs in his career, including Liverpool on loan in 2002.

Chelsea would still prefer to offload Sturridge, who has failed to spark since joining from Manchester City in 2009 and attracted interest from Liverpool last month but is considered as a prospect for the future rather than someone who is ready to deliver now.

Liverpool turned down an opening £35m offer from Chelsea for Torres on Thursday and are determined that their star striker will only leave under their terms, despite the player’s desire to leave Anfield.

“Fernando is under long-term contract and the club expect him to honour the commitment he made to Liverpool FC and its supporters when he signed the agreement,” said the club in a statement on Friday night.

There are conflicting reports as to whether or not Torres’ contract, which expires in summer 2013, includes a buyout clause that will allow him to leave if a club offers £50m after the end of the season. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is determined to complete a deal for the World Cup winner, who he also tried to sign last summer but was rebuffed by the Merseyside club.

Luiz deal to spark Chelsea spending spree

Chelsea could go on a spending spree in the final week of the winter market.

Reports suggest that along with Benfica defender David Luiz, Chelsea are considering strengthening in other areas if they receive encouragement that long-standing targets have become available.

A list of potential signings has been drawn up in discussions between manager Carlo Ancelotti and the Chelsea hierarchy.

Players such as Ajax’s defender Gregory van der Wiel, the Anderlecht forward Romelu Lukaku, the Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and the forward Alexis Sánchez of Udinese are thought to be under consideration.

So much for youth system: Barcelona have spent €277M during Guardiola era

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola

For all the talk of Barcelona’s famed youth system, coach Pep Guardiola has been one of the biggest spenders in Europe during his tenure.

During his time in charge, Guardiola has spent a staggering €277 million on 13 signings – with several flops failing to make the grade, including Alex Hleb, Dmtryo Chygrynskiy and Martin Caceres.

Ibrahim Afellay (€3 million) became the 13th signing of Barcelona in the last two years.

Chygrynskiy cost €25 million, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic was valued at €50 million in his swap for Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto’o.

Keirrison and Henrique also arrived for a combined €22 million, but never saw action at the Nou Camp.