War of the Roses

I don’t know what it is about cup draws, but whatever competition they’re in they contrive some how to fuck me over. Last season we had just every single round of both domestic cups at home; ‘why are you complaining you Big Four fuck?’ the chippier among you might ask. Well as good as it was for the team, for the lowly programme staff it was just about the worst thing that could happen, especially as it usually meant that we would go from have two or three deadlines in one week to four. Aaah, how I look fondly back on those days when we had a Champions League programme, two home league games on each weekend bookending that match and if we were lucky, a magazine deadline on top. Fun, fun, fun. And now this season’s Champions League draw, which has pitted Chelsea against Roma, a scenario that is a trifle uncomfortable for me in the following ways:

  1. Spangles is of course a devoted Romanista. If either one of us knocks the other out of the group it will cause South Ossetia-style conflict.
  2. Uncomfortable conversation with those around me on Sunday. I can already hear the question; ‘ Sei inglese? Quali Squadra?’ Doin’t make me choose lads, you’re only going to come off second.
  3. I don’t want to be stabbed in the arse by badly dressed urchins passing on their scooters.

Now as things stand both teams should easily qualify from a group that contains dead rubber like Cluj, but there’s something about this I don’t like. Maybe it’s the ghosts of St Gallen’s passed, but I have a nightmarish vision of the pair of us squaring up on 4 November, both having slipped up at some point and needing a result to advance. May I refer you back to number three?

You Make Us All Look Bad

An old friend of mine came to Rome for a couple of days with his girlfriend recently. The pair of them are coming over to live for a year after Christmas and they wanted to check the place out. As you do we went out a few times for a couple of beers and something to eat. Nominally a Celtic fan, he’s been living in Portsmouth for a while and has developed a bit of an affection for them, we found somewhere to watch the Charity Shield. It’s a nice ‘Irish’ pub that I’ve done some shifts for that is popular with Brits and Americans and shows pretty much any sport you can think of. So naturally it was full of Man United fans.

We sat near the only screen showing the match, which was alongside one showing the Tottenham-Roma friendly from White Hart Lane. ‘Oh good,’ I thought to myself. ‘I can keep one eye on my adopted local side while everyone else watches the Charity Shield.’ There were a couple of problems; one was Roma’s performance, which was less than great. Being hammered five nil by a side as mediocre as Tottenham is a pretty poor show, even if Spurs were a whole month ahead in their pre-season preparations and they had a few key players missing. But that paled into insignificance when faced with a much bigger issue; a Tottenham twat sitting immediately to our right. This spectacular bell end thought it was a good idea to dribble on loudly about the following things (I’ve cleaned the language up for those of a more sensitive disposition):

  1. This Tottenham team is most definitely superior to the one of north London rivals Arsenal, who I consider to be a bunch of lady’s genitalia.
  2. We are *this* close to being in the top four.
  3. This is our year.
  4. Our sulky centre-forward is infinitely more skillful than your less sulky centre-forward
  5. These nefarious Italians certainly don’t know how to play fair, do they chaps?
  6. It was jolly bad form of AC MIlan and Juventus to cheat like they did, maybe if they ban both clubs from every competition forever that would adequately compensate the other clubs.
  7. I don’t agree with that decision referee, and you can open your sphincter and place that ruling up there, where there is no sunlight.
  8. This pre-season friendly result proves that the italian league is essentially worthless, and that the Premier League is most definitely the very best in the world.
  9. CAAAAAAHHHHHHHHMMM OOOOOOOONNNN YOOOOOUUUUUU SPUUUUURRRRRSSSSS!

He was an absolute weapon, in other words. Right the way through both matches he sat on his stool while same thing came out of his mouth, leaning forward and squinting at no-one in particular in a way that said; ‘you know what I mean don’t you mate? It’s common sense innit?’ It’s how I like to imagine Christopher Hitchens writes his columns, only at least he doesn’t start every sentence with ‘I’ll tell you what though Kev,’ while waving his pint glass around like like he’s pointing at a blackboard. Although come to think of it, he might do. Anyway we’ve all been around pub experts like this before. Hell we’ve all probably been that pub expert before. Nevertheless this chap took the biscuit; he was loud, rude, obnoxious and ratarsed by half three in the afternoon.

The drunker he got, the more of a cliche he became; loud exaggerated cockney postering, pint glasses under his top as makeshift tits, repeatedly calling everyone a ‘mug’. Then later on, as my friend’s girlfriend came back from the cashpoint, he was was doing that sort of weird Pearly King strut that only a complete try-hard ever does. ‘Tell them they’re a pair of Pompey maaahhhgs’ he dribbled in her ear, like the fat Spurs supporting arsewipe he was. Then a slurred cry from the safety of another room.

‘Oi mate. I heard all Pompey fans go bald at around your age hur hur.’

‘I’m not Pompey.’

‘Oh.’

What is it about people like this? Why do they feel the need to express their phoney machismo by attempting to belittle complete strangers, or better yet, entire countries? What makes it more annoying is that he’s the sort of tool who people immediately think of when the term ‘English football fan’ gets chucked around. He’s the public face of thousands of people who love the game and don’t think it’s an convenient vessel for their prejudices, or an excuse to puff their chests out and throw tinly veiled and ultimately empty threats of violence around. It’s arseholes like him who stop me properly supporting England; the type of arse boil that leers at intimidated foriegn woman and chants ‘get your tits out for the lads’ in the safety of a pack of similar apes. He’ll be around somewhere tonight no doubt, booing the Czech national anthem and embarrassing his mates. I hope they lose, frankly.

Really, really naff

I mean I don’t think I need to say much here, just check this out and weep. Or laugh, whatever.

Stamford Bridge’s newest addition will open tomorrow (Wednesday) when Frankie’s Sports Bar and Grill begins serving food.

Frankie’s is an Italian bar and grill, and is the result of the collaboration between champion jockey Frankie Dettori and world-renowned chef Marco Pierre White.

The new restaurant stands where the Blues bar presided last season and offers an array of Italian cuisine, including pizzas and pasta dishes, as well as meat dishes such as burgers and steaks, at reasonable prices in a family friendly environment.

They did the same thing last summer, gutting the imaginatively named Shed Bar, a hugely popular pre-match pub (with pool table) which did beambacks for away games, and renaming it Blues Bar, complete with wanky mood lighting (without pool table). Obviously if they had just kept it the way it was they would still be bringing in a shitload of cash on matchday and wouldn’t have to relaunch something every season. I can’t even be arsed to type any sort of scathing criticism, because this act in itself says it all about the direction of the club. It’s just a bit shit really, isn’t it? There’s only room for one midgety Italian in the collective hearts of Chelsea fans, and it certainly isn’t reserved for a Milanese gooner and his business empire.

By the way, after transcribing an interview with Pierre-White, I can sensationally reveal that he is a boring cunt.

Vieni a provarci se ti credi abbastanza duro!! (Part 2)

No readers, I haven’t met up with our old friend Danielle Daia to prove my manliness with a spot of pre-season football fisticuffs. I have in fact been spending my weekend with Spangles in the really rather delightfully middle class Tuscan tourist trap town of Siena, a bizarre place in all senses of the word. I gather most of you would have heard of the Palio, the bi-annual horse race around Piazza Del Campo, the main square in the heart of the city. Some of you might even know about the 17 contrade of the city and how important these are to the people that live in them (very, very important indeed), but that’s not why I’m writing to you today. I managed to find something much more interesting than most people do on their visit to the tiny medieval city, another monument to the Italian love affair with English football.

Oh yes, Top Lads – Terrace Style.  I don’t think I would have believed it myself had I not seen it with my own eyes. We walked past it while it was closed one night and I demanded that we went back to check this place out. Seeing copies of Congratulations: You Have Just Met the ICF translated into Italian alongside West Ham scraves as I goggle-eyed through the window gave me made me fall in love with the place immediately (Here’s their appalling MySpace site by the way, hopefully you’ll also be greeted by the banner ad ‘Incronti 100% Gay’). This is going to be absolutely superb I thought – just imagine the hooligan fetishist hilarity that could be had in here. ‘I can’t wait to read your blog post about this’, said Spangles. ‘The moment he realises you’re a Chelsea fan the man who runs this shop going to be all over you.’

So the next day we take a stroll inside the shop. The man behind the counter had a pair of ludicrous mutton chop sideburns and a belly that would rival that of the very best retired hooligans, with a I-don’t-give-a-fuck stare that he copied from BIll Gardner. Poking around it was obvious that this was some serious fetishism going on. Ben Sherman shirts, The Who t-shirts, books about casual culture (thinly-veiled excuses for talking about it all going off etc etc), Stone Island jackets, the works. There were ultras pictures slapped all over the walls, alongside those tacky calling cards that English firms apparently love so much. The conflating of Mod and Casual was pretty predictable as well, as though The Who had anything to do with the MIllwall meat heads who claim they ‘fear no foe’. So on with the culture-clash hilarity, right? Well no. Nothing happened. At all. He didn’t want to talk to us no matter how long we spent in there looking at things we were never going to buy, so we left. Sorry.

However we did take this callng card;

NAWTEE

A Long Overdue Chelsea post

Looking at my stats I got more traffic with my first post about working at Chelsea than any of my other subsequent posts. This means that if I want a decent number of people to read my blog on a regular basis then I suppose I should contribute to the mountains of shite already spewed out about us day after slow news day. So then, third place in the Russian Railways Cup, a glorified collection of pre-season friendlies that are little more than a thinly-veiled excuse for each club to promote their brands in a new market. It looks like both Lampard and Drogba are staying put, which puts an incredible strain on our midfield and stops us having to spend a shitload of cash on a new and probably not as good centre-forward. Quite how we’re supposed to fit Essien, Mikel, Lampard, Ballack, Deco, Wright-Phillips, Joe Cole and Malouda into what is apparently now going to be a four-man midfield without pissing at least a couple of them off I don’t know. At least if we play a conventional 4-4-2 we can play Nicolas Anelka up front and hopefully not just rely on Lampard and Drogba to score all our goals next season. As it stands the spine is still very strong, but there appears to be a bit of dead wood which should go but we can afford to keep (so we will).

As for how we will perform, I don’t know yet. I’ve never rated Scolari as a manager, yet I never rated Grant either and we did all right last year. The players from Mourinho’s time seem to be so well-drilled and professional that it was almost irrelevent who the man in charge was – there were enough leaders on the pitch and enough very good players that made sure that the team was playing as it should be. Now with Scolari in charge things will change, he seems like the sort of boss who likes to put his own stamp on things, piss off his own set of journalists and be one of those ‘characters’ that the press pretends to hate but really can’t wait to start slobbering over. However the lack of a huge splurge and the shipping off of cumbersome lightweight Tal Ben Haim is a good sign, although I’m not convinced about Deco at all.

All in all I don’t know how I feel about the start of the new season, which is the first one since 2003 that has an element of uncertainty surrounding it. Hopefully I’ll get a ticket for the Portsmouth game, which falls when I’m back in the UK for a few days. Here’s hoping for a nice stable season, with no silly sackings or player unrest. And please Peter Kenyon, can you back up your promise that the club will be self-sufficient in five years with some action please?