Robbo 10: W**kin Frankel - Click On My Face To Listen!

Friday, 20 March 2015

Total Eclipse of the Premier League

WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN?

Well that's what the wife said when I got in, but it's what a lot of you have been tweeting darkly over the past few months, Well I've been working in America, home of the freak-based sports of basketball and US football, so I've not really caught up with the footy save by social media.

The fact that my absence both in the real and cyber worlds has coincided with a vein of form of Bill Gates-sized richness by my beloved Boro has filled your correspondent with no end of dread. Better surely to shut the fuck up until May and hope that sees Aitor's Avengers over the line?

Plus I've been working with this bloody Watford fan who keeps crowing about his scatty ragbag of a team so I really don't want to put the kybosh on my boys.

What we have agreed on though is that Championship football far surpasses Premier League footy for excitement, intrigue and unpredictability. And we'll keep saying that if neither of us get that promotion.

Then again, most Europeans would agree with that damning indictment of what they call the EPL. Any league that finds an absolute Horlicks of a team like Manchester United in third place has to be struggling.

The runaway leaders, mean-spirited ref-badgerers that they are, hardly represent the most thrilling entertainment you'll see this summer. Apart from the occasional glint of brilliance form Hazard, Chelsea seem to spend most of their recent games up the noses of the opposition. Everybody's bogey team, in other words.

PSG, shorn of their chief antagonist by a collective act of cynicism that would have made HSBC blush, deserved to grind their way past Mourinho's miserly misfits. But at least Chelsea got close.

Manchester City were taken apart like a poorly constructed Lego kit by a Barcelona whose early season travails seem long gone. Mind you if Burnley can roll them over then there's trouble in them their Etihads.

Arsenal failed to recover from an abysmal first leg v Monaco, and seem intent on provided plucky but fruitless second legs. Wenger will probably bag the FA Cup again and retain his job but if that club is going forwards then I must be walking backwards.

Liverpool ducked out at Besiktas and now have a bullish manager talking up an apparently revived squad. And Everton, the last hope, surrendered so meekly last night it was embarrassing. Rumours are that Martinez has got the team in early today to watch a film together: Escape From Alcaraz.

So should we be worried about the prevailing standards of our club football? Well first of all the days when we all got behind a British club in Europe are long since past. Celtic famously won the 1967 European Cup with a team made up of lads born within twelve miles of Parkhead. The next British club to win the Champs League will probably have at least two players from outside the Solar System.

It's hard to identify with a team whose only relationship with the country is that it is nominally based here. You look at Man City and you just see a collection of mercenaries who can't be bothered to be good for more than one season at a time. Had not Joe Hart De-Gea'd his way through the game at the Nou Camp we might well have seen one of the greatest humiliations in club football in recent times.

Chelsea too are little more than a managerial wish-list made real. You want to try and identify with the Brits involved but when the heart and soul of a club is John Terry even applauding them leaves you feeling soiled.

I think there's another factor at play here though. The rich clubs play with this ludicrous sense of entitlement, and with that comes complacency. It's as if George Osborne has designed the Premier League pecking order. Arsenal showed it against Monaco; Citeh against Burnley. The sheer delight of both of the uber-rich bastards getting turned over by Boro and Bradford in the Cup still brings me a rush of joy so complete that it almost means I have no need of alcohol.

The fans feel a similar inevitability about success too. It's partly why the Wenger fundamentalists are crumbling at the Emirates. And why Pellegrini has blown it, despite last season's success. And why even Brendan Rodgers, after a ridiculous level of over-achievement last season, was being ushered to the exit door by impatient Koppites before Christmas.

Then there's those of us that wait in line to see these moneybagses have to trundle up our street and take on our lively lads. Of course I'm desperate for the Boro to get there this season. They deserve it. But what to we get for it? Some top players at the Riverside. A better standard? Technically, yes, although compared to German and Spanish clubs, hardly the best.

But also you get to roll around in that trough of inbetweenness currently occupied by Leicester, QPR, Sunderland, Hull... Clubs that are on a weird extended holiday in a posh hotel but are really just waiting for some superior Maitre D to tap them on the shoulder and point them in the direction of Pontins.

Still, we'll take it, be grateful for 17th and hang around trying to become a Stoke or a Swansea. It could happen. We've got a top manager. We play nice stuff. But damn it, I'm getting ahead of myself, and putting the mockers on it already.

Because yes it'll be great to have these Euro also-rans down our way but we're not kidding ourselves. Citeh, Chelski, United... welcome back.

But don't get ahead of yourselves.

It's not like your Bayern or Barca is it?


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

New Year Predictions Part 2

JULY

The Tour de France begins and Yorkshiremen line the streets of hill and dale, shaking their heads ruefully and wondering what's happened to t'Tour, "It's not like it was in my day" says one.

England win the Women's World Cup Final, and the nation goes la-la for the ladies. Sepp Blatter is encouraged by the tournament's success and says it'll be even bigger next time, what with his plans for spilt-crotch shorts and half-time sports bra demonstrations. He is led away to a quiet fee-paying corner of the Alps and never seen again.

Following a decent start as England's one day captain Eoin Morgan (Irish) takes over the Test team, recalls Kevin Pietersen (South African) and wins the toss in Cardiff (Wales). ENgland are bowled out for 102, and Nigel Farage blames the foreigners.

At the British Grand Prix, there is a terrible deluge of rain and Bernie Ecclestone goes missing. He is later found in a pitlane puddle, breathing through a straw. Lewis Hamilton wins the race cos when it rains, that's the rule.

At the Open Golf Championships at St. Andrew's, normal service is resumed as a faceless American with a neat swing and an odd name - let's call him Bradson Duflieth III - takes the title.

AUGUST

The new football season hoves into view and Manchester United, fresh from a plucky fifth place in last season's Premier League, parade their new signings before their opening fixture against newly promoted Middlesbrough (Yes I know that contradicts my previous blog but I've got renewed confidence now). Van Gaal's new system involves a 0-5-5 formation on the basis that the lot he has at the moment might as well not be there anyway.

Mario Balotelli's signing for Arsenal is scratched at the last minute. "We wanted someone who could get the other side of the defence and fluff easy chances in front of goal and then I realised Theo was fit and raring to go" said a sheepish Wenger.

Joey Barton and Robbie Savage appear on the same episode of Match of the Day. The BBC are sued for millions as thousands of otherwise peaceable football fans stove in their TV screens with pint glasses.

The Ashes series turns sour as some of the Australian cricketers say nasty things to England's batsmen. Among the worst comments are "You're not very good", "whoops-a-daisy, you missed it again, Ian" and "Are you holding the wrong end, Alistair?" Jonathan Agnew is appalled.

SEPTEMBER

Southampton celebrate their qualification for the Champions League by actually keeping hold of all their players for an extra season. A bewildered fan says: "It was extraordinary, I recognised every player on the pitch."

Brendan Rogers' Liverpool start their Europa League campaign with a tough away fixture at Dinamo Godknowswhere in upper Slovenia. Ricky Lambert scores the opener for Dinamo but Liverpool get a late equaliser courtesy of one of Rogers' interchangeable new signings Whichiswhich.

The Rugby World Cup begins with great ceremony. The England team walk out past a line of ladies and are really polite to all of them, England v Wales is the first time the two teams have met since the Welsh broke away from the Union and it ends in a bloody draw.

OCTOBER

Manchester City have another crisis in the striker department when Sergio Aguero, after a brilliant start to the season, gets a groin injury. Pellegrini once again rustles up some sort of forward line from Dzeko, Jovetic, Bony and whoever the fuck else they bought in the summer. Jeez, it's hard at the top.

The Athletics World Championships take place in Doha, Qatar. Usain Bolt wins the 100 metres in a time slightly less fast than it took Sepp Blatter to decide to host the 2022 World Cup there.

England continue to canter towards Euro 2016 qualification as they scrape victories against Thingammy and Whatsitsname, all of which starts to give England fans an overinflated sense of optimism. People start saying 'Well it's hard to think of a more consistent right midfielder than James Milner' and given time Calum Chambers could be the next Paolo Maldini'. Oh dear.

The Rugby World Cup final is between New Zealand and England. Stuart Lancaster reveals his hidden weapon. The All Blacks perform their furious ha'ka only for it to be trumped with a 'Macca'. The front row  wheel out Paul McCartney with a guitar and the ex-Beatle strums his way through Mull of Kintyre while the home side insert ear-plugs. England are 20 points up before Dan Carter wakes up. New Zealand win 43-20.

NOVEMBER

Nothing unusual happens...

Manchester City join Chelsea at the top of the Premiership - Chelsea spend the next game literally falling over themselves to get a result. A numpty manager is sacked after his team lose three on the bounce. Neil Warnock stands by his phone and waits, Liverpool announced the loan re-signing of one Steven Gerrard. Ched Evans almost gets a job. Sepp Blatter announces that the frontrunners for hosting the 2026 World Cup are either the planet Mercury or death Valley. The bloke who owns Wigan says something that was fine in his day. Same old shit, really.

DECEMBER

It's Sports Personality of the Year and the winner is Golden Girl Jessica Ennis. One of them steep climbs in Sheffield is re-named Jessica Ennis-Hill.

All the managers in the Premier League wonder why they are playing so many games over the festive period. Apart from Arsene Wenger who just shrugs and takes it on the chin, given the Gooners win four on the spin.

Middlesbrough are relegated already, but you know, it was a helluva ride and we'll be back.

The draw for Euro 2016 sees England get a pretty comfy draw. Roy Hodgson insists there are no easy games in international football but admits that England 'should give the Jocks a good tonking in Match One.'

And finally Newcastle United appoint a manager... but how will Ant and Dec cope with a mounting injury list and an inability to speak French?
















Thursday, 1 January 2015

New Year Predictions Part One

How do and a Happy New Year to all of yus (Geordies included). Hang on, wait a mo - you UKIP voters can just fuck off.

Now where was I? The New Year is upon us and to a bloke who turned 50 just last month 2015 still sounds like stupidly far into the future. There'll be flying cars and dinner in a pill by tomorrow I reckon.

In the meantime footy changes and footy stays the same. No matter how many cheating little bastards seek to pervert the course of the beautiful game with their falling, feigning and faffing about, it still remains a game in which booted men (yes, okay and women occasionally) tonk a pig's bladder (yes okay a sheep's bladder occasionally) around a green sward for the sheer fun of it. What better waste of time can there be?

In time honoured fashion I should like to mark this turning-over of time with some predictions for our sporting year ahead.

JANUARY

Alan Pardew marks his first game back at Crystal Palace with FA Cup defeat at Dover. Neil Warnock tells Match of the Day that if he was still there it would never have happened. Pardew nuts Warnock. Warnock nuts him back. They both find themselves out of football for six months. The nation celebrates for a whole week.

Yaya Toure comes home early from the African Cup of Nations when none of his teammates give him a cake for his 31 and three-quarter birthday. He is also upset not to be linked with a move to Manchester United given that every other fecker has been.

Roy Hodgson's January get-together with the England squad is a revelation after Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, John Stones all tell him they think right-back is a numpty's position and can he pick someone's who's good at it. Two months later and Roy has ignored them and selected a fit-again Glen Johnson.

In Australia, somebody with a name that sounds like the name of every other player in the women's game wins the tennis. Djokovic wins the men's in a superfast twelve hours and seven minutes.

FEBRUARY

It's the Superbowl and the Green Day Pickers beat the Steely See Panthers by two touc-ups and a punt to one sacking and a flag on the play. And that's a night I'll never get back.

Luis Suarez is sent off for trying to bite Cristiano Ronaldo - however the Uruguayan was unable to follow through with the chomping as, it turns out, Ronaldo secretes an unctuous and tasteless substance through the pores of his skin. Turns out the best player in the world sweats his own vanity.

England begin the Cricket World Cup with defeat against the minnows. And when I say 'minnows' I mean 'minnows'. This lot couldn't beat a shoal of tiny freshwater fish.

The rugby Six Nations begin with at the Millennium Stadium. Wales and England fight it out until the English realise they've left their best player in France simply because they have a petty rule that stops them picking him. Wales win with tries by Lydiate, Phillips and Halfpenny. Who play in France. Oops.

MARCH

Oo! It's the final of the WhoTheFuckIsSponsoringItThisYear League Cup. Chelsea beat Spurs 2-1, the winning goal coming from a Hazard penalty after the ref gives in and awards a penalty for the Blues' 17th dive of the match. Tom Daley denies doing additional coaching for Mourinho.

Manchester City are knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona. Manuel Pellegrini is sacked. Tony Pulis moves from West Brom - who are up to 2nd by now - and takes over.

The World Cup cricket final is between India and Australia, The umpire review system is in place for the final and after several close calls, India decide that after reviewing the evidence the umpires need replacing. The ICC are appalled. But give in anyway. Australia win anyway. Not a dry eye in the house when the victory is dedicated to Phil Hughes. (Genuinely, that would be perfect.)

The F1 season begins with a cracking race in Melbourne. Not a single person with any interest in sport watches it.

APRIL

Celtic win the Scottish Cup Final against Hearts. Fans of both clubs are praised for the amount of loose change they donate to the Rangers benevolent fund collectors in the stadium.

Steve Bruce is sacked by Hull City after the Tigers fail to win in ten games. Bruce celebrates by becoming the Newcastle manager, replacing a slap-headed Fabricio Coloccini, who has been pulling his hair out for three months.

The University Boat Race is won in a record time when an extremely high tide breaks through the Thames Barrier.

In the Championship, promotion is now between eighteen teams, all of them separated by a single point. I book meself in for fingernail replacement surgery.

MAY

Alistair Cook scores a 300-ball century in the third test against West Indies. "It's ironic that having lost the captaincy of the one-day side I score such a rapid 100 here" he said. Without irony.

Middlesbrough win the FA Cup. Yeah? Wipe that smile off your faces. It's compensation for having failed to gain promotion on the toss of a coin after everyone in the Championship finish level on points.

Chelsea win the Premier League. Mourinho is very self-effacing about it all. "The Special One? That was a silly remark back then... Now I think we can say 'Touched by greatness' perhaps... or at God's right hand?"

Bayern Munich and Real Madrid win through in their Champions League semifinals. Manuel Neuer sealing a 3-0 victory over Chelsea with a stunning solo run and shoot from the edge of his own box, beating the dive of Thibaut Courtois - the only legitimate dive by a Chelsea player in the game.

At FIFA HQ Sepp Blatter is reelected for another four years and the Champagne flows. Well at least the blood of M. Champagne flows all over the carpet. FIFA orders an inquiry into the incident and Blatter appoints a bucket, two horses and a large chunk of emmenthal to head up the investigation.The fucking crook.

JUNE

A magnificent Ronaldo hat-trick graces a brilliant Champions League final which will live long in the memory of those fortunate enough to have witnessed it. 5-4 in extra time. Wow. (Sorry that's ridiculous. Arsenal (of course) win it with a fine victory over Madrid courtesy of world class strikes from Welbeck, Walcott and Sanogo.)

The European Games open in Baku with none of the competitors entirely sure as to why they're there, what they're there to do, or whether Azerbaijan is actually only in Europe during the Eurovision Song Contest (which incidentally was won by a Belgian bloke with knockers).

Wimbledon begins and as ever the first round is peppered with plucky Brits: plucked from obscurity and then totally plucked on court. They all lose, bar Andy Murray. Critics blame Amelie Mauresmo. She's a French lesbian so... y'know... inevitably she can't know much about the game she played as a professional all her life.

Gareth Bale signs for Manchester United. Unfortunately the club sells Old Trafford and Carrington to fund it and Bale's first training session is on an abandoned playing field in Wythenshawe.

There'll be more predictions in the next blog, by which time half of this one will look ridiculous.