HELLO the Internet, and welcome to a new regular feature I’m going to be doing here on The Anfield Wrap, taking a light-hearted look at the goings on in the wider world of football over the last week(ish). It may include news stories, video clips, photos or tweets. It might cover the Premier League, the lower divisions, international football or lads that play on tarmac in South America.

We can all take football a bit too seriously at times, so this regular piss-take is designed to remind us all that the game is a ridiculous, over-the-top shitshow that needs to be laughed at. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Football, Bloody Football.

Big Sam Binned Off

BOLTON, Lancashire, in the North-West of England. A portly man peels himself off his leather couch, sets his dinner plate down on the floor, and exhales — his stomach bursts forward and rolls over the top of his jeans, like the tide of a particularly dirty sea riding over the shoreline.

“Fucking hell, Lynne — never give me that amount of beans again. My bowels feel like bloody Hiroshima here. I’m going for a shite.”

Sam Allardyce ambles through his home towards the bathroom, dazed after eating a meal which could easily have sustained an entire family for a week.

He takes the Daily Star with him, biting it between his teeth as he arrives at the lavatory, using both hands to hoist up the buttons of his pants to undo them one-by-one. He sits, his enormous buttocks billowing over the sides of the toilet seat, the sides of his cheeks folding down against the icy cold exterior of the porcelain pan.

He suddenly feels a release deep within his insides, and faeces falls out of him like wet shoes falling from a great height. Then a bigger rush comes, and King Kong’s thumb slides out and into the murky depths below.

Then his phone rings from his pants pocket. He fishes it out and sees ‘FA’ on the caller ID. He wonders whether or not he should answer it mid-bowel movement, but Sam Allardyce is the kind of live-in-the-moment man who answers a phone-call whenever it comes, even while taking a shite.

“Hello?” he enquires.

“Hi Sam…it’s Greg Clarke from the Football Association here. Listen, some very serious allegations have been made about a meeting you had in the summer, and we need to discuss your position.”

And that was it. Over the course of the next ten minutes, in amongst the plips and plops, Sam Allardyce learned that he had completely fucked himself over and lost the job of his dreams.

Now, whether or not Big Sam actually did lose his job while on the shitter is up for debate, but lose it he certainly did and the man can only have himself to blame. It takes a frankly ludicrous level of naivety to walk into a meeting just after being hired as the manager of the national team and tell people you have never even met before that you are willing to work around rules set out by your employers.

It is not like it has not happened before either; he was named as someone partial to a bung by the BBC’s Panorama investigation 10 years ago. But he did not learn his lesson, and now he has exiled himself to his villa in Spain (which, deliciously, he has named ‘Big Sam’s Villa’), drinking pints of white wine alone, and is apparently considering a return to management in the MLS at some stage. He has absolutely fucked it.

Goodnight, sweet prince.

Villa Gonna Villa

villafans

IN news that surprised absolutely nobody, Aston Villa have parted company with their fifth manager in just over a year as new owner Dr. Tony Xia took five minutes away from his Twitter account to pull the trigger on Roberto di Matteo.

Since Paul Lambert left in early 2015, none of di Matteo, Eric Black, Remi Garde, and Timmy ‘Tactics’ Sherwood have been able to stop Villa’s drop from the mid-table mediocrity of the Premier League to the mid-table mediocrity of the Championship. It was bad beforehand, but once Liverpool bought Christian Benteke the final nail was put in the Villa Park coffin and the relegation that had felt inevitable under Randy Lerner’s leadership for years was practically confirmed before a ball had been kicked in 2015/16. It feels like the right time for them to go down, so they can learn a little humility and stop banging on about being a big club.

Di Matteo’s fall from grace is of a similar level to the Midlands side. It’s easy to forget, because nobody really gave a shit at the time and Chelsea have no genuine rivalries with any other football club of note, that the man won a European Cup only four years ago by beating Bayern Munich in their own back yard. His time at Schalke was poor, though, and he left after the Gelsenkirchen side after a run of two wins in 10 matches left them sixth in the Bundesliga.

And so, Villa are left looking for a manager who can prevent a slide into League One. Apparently they’re after Klopp’s mate David Wagner from Huddersfield, even though they are now are markedly less attractive proposition than the Yorkshire outfit. Neil Warnock was linked before he took over at Cardiff City, with the bookies’ favourite Steve Bruce now being in the uniquely bizarre position of being in the running for the manager’s position at a Championship club fighting relegation and also the England manager’s job.

Remember the picture of Villa fans ‘celebrating’ Steven Gerrard’s birthday after they defeated the Reds in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley? I can’t wait to post it again the day Aston Villa go bust.

North Korean Disaster

OH bloody hell, lad. Oh bloody hell.

This is the kind of thing that you simply struggle to live with afterwards. The kind of thing that follows you everywhere you go. The kind of thing that crops back into your mind any time something good happens just to remind you that you are worthless and will never amount to anything and do not deserve happiness.

But let’s analyse it piece by piece, in all its glory. Firstly, why on God’s green Earth is he coming for that ball anyway? There is absolutely no need — it is miles from his goal and there is a covering defender. Then there is the mistimed jump. Now, I’m no meteorologist but it does not look that windy to me, so it seems completely incomprehensible to me that his judgement could be so far off that he makes his jump when he is absolutely nowhere near the ball. But now he can still prevent the goal; the ball is moving slowly across the turf towards the net and he has plenty of time to get back. But then the slip. That slip. It does not even look real. I am convinced he has deliberately thrown himself over so he does not catch up to the ball, for some inexplicable reason. And then it does roll over the line, and the laughter, oh the audible laughter that comes as it does. Imagine it. Imagine it was you. My God.

Worth remembering also that this lad is playing for North Korea, and thus, the best case scenario for him is that he was put in a work camp on return to Pyongyang for causing such national embarrassment. Worst case scenario — put to death.

It actually reminds me of an own goal I scored playing Sunday League at the age of about 10. I was at left-back and the ball was played over the top of our defence. I moved over to the centre to track the striker’s run and clear ball, when I noticed our goalkeeper had come running out for it as well. I was much nearer to the ball and did not want to leave it him, so I swung my right foot at it to hook it out for a throw/corner. Except I was slipping as I made contact and the ball came off the outside of my boot. It flew off at completely the wrong angle and as I fell to the ground and saw the look of disbelief/utter dejection on the keeper’s face, I knew I had lobbed him on the volley from 20 yards. I lay on the ground for what felt like an eternity afterwards and simply did not wish to exist any longer. I got up and played on but nothing really mattered any more.

It still haunts me to this day.

EFL Hell

https://twitter.com/Ed_DawesBeeb/status/783370047129518080

It remains absolutely fantastic to see a complete lack of support at grounds across the country at fixtures in the EFL Trophy, the competition revamped by the Football League prior to this season to include Premier League ‘B’ teams among clubs from the Football League.

The Football League states it brought about the changes in order to encourage the growth of homegrown footballers, and to add intrigue to a competition which was seen as little more than a distraction by most of the clubs involved.

But boy, oh boy, did it not go down well.

Firstly, a majority of Premier League sides, including Liverpool, declined to enter a team into the competition and so Championship clubs were invited to take part instead. In the immediate aftermath of the announcement, at the Football Supporters’ Federation AGM, a motion was comfortably passed opposing the use of ‘B’ teams in any way, shape or form within the Football League structure.

Protests were organised by supporters across the land, with some floating the idea of a walkout before eventually settling on just not turning up to the games at all. Portsmouth, for example, had an attendance of 16,950 at Fratton Park for their League Two fixture last weekend, but only 1,635 went to the following EFL Trophy game against Reading’s under-23s.

If the tournament was not already farcical enough, it descended into absolute joke territory on Monday night as Bradford City substituted their goalkeeper after just three minutes in order to find a way around the rule stipulating that Football League clubs must start a minimum of five first-team players per match.

Spare a thought though for the competition’s sponsor, Checkatrade, who must have believed that having their brand advertised in matches between lower league teams would have done wonders for their business — only to now be forever associated with one of the least popular innovations to the English game in modern history.

Maybe give it a bit more consideration next time, lads.

An Actual Child Plays for Celtic

I MEAN I know Brendan Rodgers likes to use young players, but this is a bit much, surely?

That’s right — a human being who has barely hit puberty is playing competitive youth football with men seven years his senior for the biggest club in Scotland, in a kit that looks like something your mum made your wear as a hand-me-down from your older brother even though it was about four sizes too big, because she absolutely was not forking out for another full-strip so soon after she got you the previous one.

Karamoko Dembele was introduced with nine minutes to play in Celtic under-20s 3-1 victory over Hearts on Monday night — while his mates his own age had most likely either been sent to bed by their parents already or were frantically copy and pasting off Wikipedia for the homework they had due in at school on Tuesday morning. Imagine how jealous everyone was of him in first period Geography the day after, the talented little fucker.

These kinds of story seem to pop up all the time, and it rarely ever works out well in the end. There was Freddy Adu, supposedly out-performing grown men in the MLS around the age of 15 before he began his whistlestop tour of heavyweight world football clubs such as Aris Thessaloniki, Jagodonia and KuFu-98 (loan). More recently you’ve got Michael Johnson, who actually looked the business at Manchester City, but liked his cakes and ale a bit too much. Now there is Martin Odegaard, who flew around every single training ground in Europe a few years ago before deciding he might actually like to play for Real Madrid — where he never ever plays.

It remains to be seen then, whether Dembele will make a successful career in football. But whether he ends up winning the Ballon d’Or five times, or doing five days a week in B&M, he’ll always be able to look back on that Monday night at Greenock Morton where he held his own against the bigger boys.

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