The Football Ramble
Est 2007. The most entertaining voice in football

Churchill & Blatter: More in common than you might think

17 April 2015

blatterhill

“Never was so much owed by so few to so many.”

Well, now you come to mention it...

-

By Kelly Welles

With apologies to The Sugarhill Gang…

17 April 2015

A new series of “sports-based comedy panel game” A League of Their Own starts in May.

I seriously suggest you go out.

-

By Kelly Welles

Ich bin ein Telegraph reporter…

16 April 2015

klopp

We don’t go to press conferences.

That’s mostly because we’re not a proper press outlet and we don’t often get invited, but another reason is that a wilful lack of organisation leaves us wide open to the possibility of setting out to live blog an important announcement involving a major European club and at the last minute finding out it’s all in German.

bloom

Thanks to the Telegraph and Ben Bloom in particular for reassuring us that hideous gaffes aren’t confined to hapless,ill-prepared buffoons like our good selves.

-

By Kelly Welles

-

H/T @_dangibson.

Champions League: Bite me

16 April 2015

Paris St Germain 1-3 Barcelona

meg

Think what you like, but it’s a testament to Luis Suarez that he can generate more headlines through skill than a man who may or may not have bitten Mario Mandzukic in the same bundle of Champions League fixtures.

eiffel

But while the former Liverpool striker basks in the glory of the brace that effectively ended PSG’s hopes of a Champions League semi-final place, Sideshow David Luiz will need all of his famous sense of humour to appreciate the memes the internet spewed forth seconds after his equally notorious defensive indiscipline was exploited for the second time in twelve minutes.

“I had to nutmeg Luiz twice because there was nothing else I could do.” Suarez said afterwards.

You could have taken a chunk out of his face, Luis. At least he’d have been able to look in a mirror this morning.

-

FC Porto 3-1 Bayern Munich

 
A man who’ll probably be doing little else is Ricardo Quaresma.

The Porto winger wouldn’t have been criticised for looking on in bewilderment as Manuel Neuer and Dante made early errors, but he capitalised on both, putting Porto 2-0 up after ten minutes and startling the hell out of those of us watching events unfold via score update apps.

It ended 3-1, leaving us with the tantalising prospect of an incredible Bayern fightback at the Allianz, or the slightly less tantalising prospect of Porto sticking ten men behind the ball for ninety minutes.

Sigh.

-

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Real Madrid

mand

If tactical mindgames are a less enticing prospect to you than bloodshed and tarting about, you’d be better off getting your busy work done next Tuesday night, so you can devote your full attention to the second leg of this match on Wednesday.

bite

The 0-0 scoreline not only presents us with a ‘competitive’ replay of last year’s final but the very real possibility of Mario Madzukic being beaten to death on live television. Or eaten.

Either works.

-

Juventus 1-0 Monaco

 
I refuse to comment on Juventus until Arturo Vidal sorts out his hair.

arturo kid

Seriously dude. This is not ok.

-

By Kelly Welles

Iain Dowie: That’s what Sky Sports do to ya!

15 April 2015

We knew Sky Sports was having a detrimental effect on football in this country but we had no idea their influence was so pervasive.

This guy’s got a masters degree in engineering, for crying out loud.

jamie

That said, at least we now have a plausible explanation for Jamie Redknapp.

-

By Kelly Welles

 

Charles N’Zogbia: STOP! HAMMER TIME!

14 April 2015

hammer

-

By Kelly Welles

Portsmouth FC: Return of the Slack (jowled manager)?

14 April 2015

harry

There comes a point when supporting a football club becomes less of a vocation and more of a cruel and unusual punishment.

One wonders what crime Portsmouth fans could possibly have committed in order to earn this possibility from the cosmos, on top of all the other crap they’ve had to put up with in recent years.

Nah, you say. It’s just scaremongering by one of Portmouth’s news outlets.

pompey

Then you’re directed to the other runners and er…riders.

tayler

I reached out to our Portsmouth FC correspondent Luke Moore, but he was unavailable for comment.

He’s presumably on a flight to Bermuda.

-

By Kelly Welles

-

H/T @tylrwllsn.

Weekend Highlights: Hedging it

13 April 2015

tree

It didn’t take long for Manchester United to become annoying again, did it?

ash

There we were, all rejoicing in seeing the club who’ve dominated football in the Premier League era flounder about in the murk of mid-table, sack their manager, continue being awful under the auspices of a man whose tactical nous inspires nothing but awe in his fellow professionals, and then they go and put a run together that (at least mathematically) puts them in contention for the title.

It’s actually worse now, isn’t it? At least when they were dominant, we were used to it.

This feels like getting a glimpse of the sunshine only to have the trapdoor slammed shut on your head repeatedly to the sound of Simply Red’s ‘Fairground’.

-

neymar

Fear not though. There’s a race on in La Liga after Barcelona went 2-0 up and ended up drawing 2-2 with a sprightly Sevilla side whose unbeaten run at home now extends to thirty-two games

The first of Sevilla’s goals was scored byEver Banega, whose biggest claim to fame until this point was that he drove over himself at a petrol station.

knickers

One of the few feats in Spanish football that Cristiano Ronaldo is unlikely to emulate. He’ll have to make do with using his Twitter feed to shill his comfy, microfibre knickers.

-

 
If I wanted to be horribly unfair to Jon Parkin (who thankfully doesn’t shill pants on Twitter), I could say that the reason he went for this shot from just over the halfway line was that he couldn’t be arsed to run with the ball.

But then I’d be no different to certain pundits who dismissed Charlie Adam’s effort vs. Chelsea as a Goal of the Season contender because it was “long & straight”.

Where’s the joy (and dignity) in that?

-

 
NAC Breda manager Robery Maaskant made Tim Sherwood’s cagoule tossing antics look like the work of an amateur on Saturday evening, punching clean through his dugout after his side let a 2-0 lead slip against fellow relegation strugglers Dordrecht.

sarpong

In other ‘breaking’ Breda news, former T4 presenter June Sarpong appears to be playing midfield for Breda.

That’s nice, isn’t it? I’ve been wondering what happened to June.

-

Speaking of handsy men with anger management issues, Samuel Eto’o nutmegged Philippe Mexes in the build-up to Roberto Soriano’s opening goal.

mexes

Has he not seen what happened last time Mexes lost his rag?

-

By Kelly Welles

-

Images via facebook.

Dion Dublin’s Dube-ilant Debut

13 April 2015

dube

Five seconds into his ‘Homes Under The Hammer’ debut, Dion Dublin is already working the product placement angle.*

*He’s not. It’s a dastardly Photoshop gag. But if the BBC wasn’t a publicly funded organisation…

-

By Kelly Welles

From the inbox of Kelly Welles…

10 April 2015

schmuck

... this arrived in my inbox earlier.

I honestly can’t remember whether I signed up for ‘Lady Fashion’ or ‘Schmucks’.

I should be more careful with this interweb business, really.

-

By Kelly Welles

England U19 Women: You couldn’t write this

10 April 2015

 
If I was commissioned to write a piece of fiction specifically designed to articulate the differences in perception between men’s and women’s football, I’d probably talk about the vast discrepancies in investment, media coverage and grass roots support.

I’d also probably mention Sepp’s infamous shorts remark, but only because, eleven years on, it still irritates me.

 
I certainly wouldn’t come up with a convoluted story about encroachment into the penalty area that resulted in the referee awarding an indirect free kick to the opposition instead of a retake, seconds before the end of a match.

 
It wouldn’t occur to me in a million years that any reader would buy the idea that a men’s game could end, then be ordered to restart in injury time five days later and the penalty to decide whether a team qualified for a European tournament be retaken.

Mostly because that would be totally unbelievable and my credibility (shush) as a writer would rightly be in tatters, wouldn’t it?

-

By Kelly Welles

Mario Balotelli: Get well soon

9 April 2015

mario

The thermometer in a hot beverage to heat it up, the pained, weak expression.

Proof that we’re actually ill and not simply pulling a well deserved sickie is easy enough to fake, assuming you remember to not update your facebook page with pictures of yourself down the boozer later in the day.

In fact, the only confirmation that Mario was indeed too poorly to play in Liverpool’s FA Cup replay vs. Blackburn Rovers last night was that he hadn’t bothered to do his hair.

Poor bugger. He must be feeling like shit.

-

By Kelly Welles

Innocent Emeghara: By fair means or foul?

8 April 2015

fair

Guilty by way of foul.

Next case, Olmes Garcia. Has anyone seen him?

-

By Kelly Welles

-

Screengrab by Stephen I. Tucker. Thanks Stephen!

To gilet or not to gilet? That is the question

8 April 2015

Whether it was a gilet or a coat appears to be a point of contention.

What is not in dispute is that this mascot is definitely, certainly, unarguably sporting a gilet.

gilet

Something died in football yesterday evening, people. Mourn its passing.

-

By Kelly Welles

 

Easter Weekend Highlights: Voyeur-check Szczesny & other disturbing pictures

7 April 2015

shez

Benched since the smoking unpleasantness, it was always likely that Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was going to find something else to do in the showers.

Hanging about in your pants and socks with a camera though? Really? What will Arsene say?

arsene

Oh, never mind.

-

ronaldo

Being a football writer of sorts, I’ve given Cristiano’s Alaskan hat-trick against Granada a lot of thought.

My conclusion? He could have scored all nine and it still wouldn’t make me feel any better about this haircut.

cabella

It even startled Rémy Cabella, whose ‘do in the Wear/Tyne derby was brave to say the least.

-

lavezzi

Ezequiel Lavezzi. A popular figure on the Marseille football scene

-

knifes

Putting the utterly catastrophic timing aside for a second (seriously, does no-one involved have an advisor?) this has to be one of the most baffling product tie-ins football has ever produced.

toater

And yes, I’m including the St Pauli toaster in that, too.

-

By Kelly Welles

Raheem Sterling: Short changed

7 April 2015

 
Listening to Raheem Sterling’s now infamous interview, one thing is clear. For a footballer of twenty reportedly earning about thirty grand a week, he sounds like a remarkably well-adjusted, sensible person.

The kind of kid we’d all love to have in our team. Committed, mature, and eager to play football without the distraction of a high profile contract negotiation and the inevitable press furore that would provoke.

Not here, you don’t, son.

koptalk

If you read the media coverage of the interview with the BBC’s Natalie Pirks, rather than listening to it in full as I finally got round to doing on Friday, you probably believe Raheem Sterling’s assertion that he’s refusing to negotiate his contract because “he wants to focus on his game” is a tactic to alert ‘bigger’ clubs to his availability for the right price.

You might have shaken your head at the Machiavellian maneuvering of his agent Aidy Ward, and scoffed at how foolish he was to do the interview in the first place.

sakho

And that take on it may well be accurate.

But have any of the reporters and news outlets covering the story stopped to consider the possibility that Raheem Sterling might have been telling the truth? No, because that outcome is dull and conclusive. Not open to discussion or worse, further, wilder interpretation.

kyl

Come on, be honest, who’s not disappointed when the devious, feckless, frequently toothless protagonist passes the lie detector test on The Jeremy Kyle Show and proves he’s the kid’s dad?

It defeats the point of the whole sordid exercise.

Popular culture isn’t about the truth, it’s all about the narrative. At best, about getting the headline that generates the most sales, the most clicks, the most lather. At worst, having something to stick on that caterwauling front page that needs feeding every half an hour in these days of twenty-four hour news.

And that’s just the outlet.

For the writer it runs deeper. Finding that angle no one else has. Attracting the most attention so you’re spotted by the faces and yanked into the VIP area to be showered in champagne and the recognition you so richly deserve. Because otherwise, you’re just the same as every other fucker with a keyboard and an ambition.

I should know.

headline

No one would give a rat’s arse, or indeed know anything about Sterling’s contract negotiations if the press hadn’t made a huge story out of it.

In much the same way as no-one would have questioned Sterling omission from the team to face Estonia back in October if we hadn’t been obsessing over every detail of Hodgson’s team for that Euro 2016 qualifier. As it was, the question was asked, and answered.

steling

“He came to me and said: ‘Look I really am feeling a little tired,’” Hodgson told a press conference.

How was that honesty rewarded?

“How can a kid of nineteen possibly be tired?!” screamed the headlines, in a font usually reserved for impending nuclear attack. At the time, I found the question so ludicrous I was moved to write a piece about it for this very website.

The conclusion being that it we now live in an age where if anyone does anything that is perceived to be remotely unusual or different from accepted practice, the media go absolutely postal.

einstein

Despite the fact that Albert Einstein, senior football correspondent for The Daily Pillock, once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I read a book a few months ago about Aussie Rules football and the relationship between the clubs and media and how that influenced the public perception and development of the sport itself. Although the focus of the book (Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport by Anna Krien) was an allegation of rape on a female fan by a player, the book frequently cited the incestuous relationship between reporters and clubs as being an inhibiting factor in transparency and accountability of the sport.

The author concluded that, as fans of the game since boyhood, white, male journalists are thrilled to become part of the fabric of the game and this can, in turn, affect their impartiality.

supp use

Is it unreasonable to suggest that English football culture might suffer a similar malaise?

I don’t think so. Even putting aside a ‘jobs for the boys’ mentality that has been blamed by some for the game’s failure to limit incidents of racism, sexism and homophobia, this commitment to a particular way of doing things has to stem from somewhere.

tucker

In other words, we’ve become so used to the the media’s interpretation of events that we allow ourselves to be drawn into that narrative, regardless of whether it’s true, partially true or simply the fevered imaginings of some hack with a deadline to fulfill and an editor who thinks Malcolm Tucker is a bit soft in the delivery.

I’m very aware that I keep saying this. But while pretty much everyone else’s stock in trade remains “how shit are England?”, I plan to continue.

We, as fans who would collectively explode with the heat of a thousand suns if England were to lift a major trophy, need to remember that while a media narrative is entertaining, it’s not necessarily the only take on an issue. If there even is an issue. And it’s certainly not conducive to our players performing in major tournaments.

Let’s just take a breath before we start on Sterling for being a money-grabbing fancy dan, shall we? If nothing else, the kid seems to have a mind of his own.

We could at least do him the courtesy of the same thing if we want him to perform in a tournament for us.

-

By Kelly Welles

-

Images via koptalk, twitter.

The Magnificent Gorgie Boys: All Heart

2 April 2015

hearts

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better for Marcus Speller’s Magnificent Gorgie Boys, it’s been announced that Hearts will wear a charity logo on their shirts when they return to top flight football next season.

The club, whose financial state under the auspices of Vladimir Romanov was neatly (if not altogether sensitively) summed up by the logo of controversial payday loan company Wonga being emblazoned across players’ chests as they trudged Championship-wards, will wear Save The Children’s logo next season after a deal was struck between owner Ann Budge and a group of Hearts supporting donors.

wonga

The group, who have chosen to remain anonymous, are reported to be making a seven figure donation that will be split between the club and the charity; money Hearts say “will be used to repair key infrastructure at Tynecastle Stadium and strengthen [the] academy programme.”

rom

Budge said of the deal, “It demonstrates that - with a bit of lateral thinking - things can be done differently in football. We don’t have to be constrained by the statement that we hear all too often: ‘This is how things are done in football.’”

This really is tremendous news for football. And we’re saying this despite the fact that Spellsy’s gone all vain glorious.

Certainly not because of it.

-

By Kelly Welles

International Incidents: Pound Land!

1 April 2015

Italy 1-1 England

buff

Alright, it wasn’t the scorching, free scoring romp we were all secretly hoping for after Harry Kane’s debut, but when you look at how we’ve treated those who came before him and the effect it’s had on their careers, it’s probably for the best that the Spurs prodigy can return to his club, play for the U21s and be relieved of the pressure being England’s Great Hope brings.

I know. This “patience will be rewarded” approach bores the shit out of me, too.

But not as much as the It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming! football’s coming home! ... oh, wait, we’ve failed to get out of the group stages one.

-

Israel 0-1 Belgium

 
Vincent Kompany got sent off in Belgium’s Maroune Fellaini-inspired victory over Israel.

Not for this though, surprisingly.

-

Portugal 0-2 Cape Verde

Cape Verde fans celebrate/look on with rising disbelief as their side beat Portugal in their own backyard.

Pete Donaldson was just out of shot.

-

Netherlands 2-0 Spain

Spain lost.

Del Bosque’s face in this picture goes some way to explain their success in recent years.

I mean, you wouldn’t want to piss him off, would you? If Victor Valdes is in goal for Manchester United on Saturday, we’ll know why.

-

Switzerland 1-1 USA

brek

Instagram revolutionary and brief Barnsley botherer Brek Shea “pounded” one into the top corner last night In the USA’s 1-1 draw with Switzerland.

We love you, American cousins!

-

By Kelly Welles

Let’s see if we can get a couple of the lads…

1 April 2015

Given the resources at their disposal, you’d imagine that Manchester City could have come up with something a little better than their kit man in a ginger beard for April Fools’ Day.

Although, saying that… does anyone get the impression Bacary Sagna still doesn’t get it?

-

By Kelly Welles

20 Seconds In. AKA…

31 March 2015

... the startling moment when you realise that Dani Alves continuing to studiously ignore a media intrusion would have been the best course of action.

-

By Kelly Welles

Kevin Keegan says: Ooh, that’s a dig!

31 March 2015

 
“I had to make a decision on whether I wanted to stay at Liverpool after returning from my loan spell with Napoli and then Bayern approached me,” Pepe Reina has reportedly told German sports magazine, Kicker.

“It is not easy to join a club realising you will be a substitute. It was clear Manuel Neuer would be the No.1 at Bayern.

“But the prospects at Liverpool were not good for me. I preferred a move to a major club like Bayern over a spot on the bench at Liverpool.

kev

-

By Kelly Welles

-

H/T goal.com

What a contrast to the previous nudity!

30 March 2015

ramos

It’s Sergio Ramos’ 29th birthday today!

What better way to celebrate than to remind ourselves of the days when smearing yourself in chip fat and hanging around local recreation grounds seemed like a fun way to meet people.

Speaking of ill-advised nudity…

massive

A big (sunburned) thank you to Rambler Shane Rynn for bringing that to my attention.

He called it his ‘Highlight of the Week’.

You lot really need to get out more.

-

By Kelly Welles

England vs. Lithuania vs. Us?

30 March 2015

 
4-0. Top of the qualifying group with maximum points. Proper goals from players who won’t require walking frames by the time the next World Cup rolls around.

Super Harry Kane.

Reading that back, it’s perfectly clear to me why I thoroughly enjoyed Friday night’s game (before I even mention my Lithuanian friend who attended and told me it was shit), and why I tuned into BBC606 fully expecting to hear some good cheer and merriment.

Don’t I feel like a pillock?

606

There was the odd positive vibe, it’s true, but the majority of punters preferred to concentrate on the usual tropes of English football and fifty minutes later, The Problem With England was identified thusly:

 
‘Inferior’ teams like Gibralter, Andorra, Luxembourg and San Marino should be forced to pre-qualify for major tournament qualifying groups because in order to be in the best possible form for competition, England need to play against good quality opposition.

But England also play too much football so there should be a winter break and more specifically, fewer friendlies. For example, after the Lithuania game, the players should have been sent home, because travelling to Turin is pointless.

Each argument, taken in isolation, has its merits. But having listened to the debate in full, I can’t help but feel that our continual, yet utterly inconsistent, criticism of the format, scheduling and quality of opposition is at least partially responsible for England’s contrasting fortunes before and during a tournament.

italy

Surely the statement that the teams named above should be forced to pre-qualify because the argument that they will get better by playing better opposition has been disproved, contradicts the idea that England need to be playing more challenging opposition to improve. (And breathe.)

And the suggestion that England shouldn’t be playing Italy on Tuesday because too many friendlies are a bad thing conflicts with both?

You can see why I developed a headache. But in all seriousness, have we reached a point where we’re arguing because that’s what we’re used to doing and we don’t really think about the cogency of our points any more?

 
Maybe we should pack it in and concentrate on showing our support for our players as a nation like those present at Wembley did on Friday.

Otherwise we’re in serious danger of blowing out our next great hope before he’s even had a chance to shine.

-

By Kelly Welles

Copa 90: Oh, and they’ve smashed it on the volley, Clive!

27 March 2015

Social media is responding to the news that Mark Hughes has signed a new three year deal with Stoke City.

A massive congratulations to our friends at Copa 90, who won Friday afternoon by reminding us of this gem.

Stand down everyone. It’s over.

-

By Kelly Welles

International Round-up: You’re shit, you’re shit, you’re even shitter…

27 March 2015

Bahrain 0-6 Colombia

 
“Flop” Radamel Falcao sent a signal to Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal last night by scoring two goals against the team ranked one place above the Faroe Islands in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings.

Twitter confirmed that the striker scored “an actual goal, between the posts, past a keeper,” in the match that finished 6-0 to Los Cafeteros.

This apparently confirms that the player, who has scored 168 goals in 314 games for club and country isn’t rubbish after all.

It’s almost as though constant criticism and piss taking makes it harder to play to the best of your abilities, isn’t it?

-

France 1-3 Brazil

dunga

Brazil have a 100% record since Dunga took charge last July.

dunga1

He also seems to have stopped taking fashion advice from his daughter. Which is really disappointing, actually.

-

Denmark 3-2 USA

 
Never one to settle for a small victory, Nicklas Bendtner followed up his first hat-trick for Denmark by stating that he is now aiming to break the Danish goalscoring record of 52, currently held jointly by Jon Dahl Tomasson and Poul Nielsen.

bend

Bendtner’s currently on 29. Which hopefully means he’ll spend less time titting about on Instagram.

Germany 2-2 Australia

 
Second worst Serie A signing of the season Lukas Podolski took a different approach to scoring the winner for his country, asking reporters whether he should give up football altogether.

The notoriously serene striker took offence as the unfortunate award was brought to his attention once again after the game, telling journalists that, “People keep bringing up how the Italian media looks at me.”

“What can I do about it? Should I just dig myself into the ground and give up playing football?”

Probably just stop taking corners like this, LuLu. It would be a start.

-

In summary then, Ramblers, it’s the international friendly break of the out-of-form striker.

kane

That augurs well, doesn’t it?

-

By Kelly Welles

Port Vale: The Chairman deals with all that

26 March 2015

smurth

My next door neighbour is a Port Vale fan.

He’s a very supersitious chap and the complexities of his pre-match, in-match and post-match rituals render them unfathomable, even to someone to who spends as much time leaning over the fence sympathising with him as I do.

vayle

So you’ll understand my inner conflict when this monstrous advertisement for Port Vale’s end of season awards evening rolled past my eyes on social media.

What to do? Tell my neighbour and send him into a spiral of depression that can only result in the donning of three Vale shirts for the next away game (one of them back to front), assuming it kicks off at 3pm on a Saturday, unless it’s against Walsall?

Don’t tell him and let him find out on his own, potentially provoking him into rejecting his club, burning his shirt collection and suffocating on the toxic fumes?

smurthwaite

Bewildered, I retweeted the offending flyer, only to be availed with this series of photographs of club chairman Norman Smurthwaite, by long suffering fan and newly promoted to Friend Of The Ramble status, @valedave.

wet

Vale fans, I had no idea you were being traumatised to this extent.

I apologise for every thumping Cheltenham Town have given Port Vale on FIFA 15 while under my control.

onesie

I’m sorry for mocking the onesie I saw in the club shop when we drove up to Burslem to see Vale draw 1-1 with Brentford.

shirt

As for you, Alex, I’ll promise I won’t laugh when you hurl your keeper’s jersey into the nettles after Vale concede in the fifth minute. Again.

Meet you by the fence at six?

-

By Kelly Welles

-

H/T @Terry_Nutkin.

♫ Celebrate good times ♫... COME ON!!!!

26 March 2015

The moment elaborate goal celebrations jumped the shark.

-

By Kelly Welles

Don’t Worry. Be Happy?

25 March 2015

green

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has this morning announced plans for a joint initiative to tackle the approach to mental health problems in sport.

Governing bodies including the FA, RFU and the England & Wales Cricket Board will sign a charter aiming to eliminate the stigma attached to associated discrimination, while promoting further investment and accessibility to help from Mind and Sporting Chance.

The relationship between sport and depression is an awkward one.

On one hand, there is the fact that exercise is proven to be as effective as antidepressants for those with mild clinical depression. On the other, you have the (necessarily?) bullish, “pull yourself together and work through the pain” mentality that defines sport.

Arguably the last thing those suffering from mental health problems need to hear.

For many years, these two realities have co-existed peacefully, the former rarely disturbed by the acknowledgement of the latter. But an increasing number of events involving high profile athletes – Robert Enke, Gary Speed, Jonathan Trott, Victoria Pendleton, and Clark Carlisle to name just a few – have forced us to face the fact that athletes are as susceptible to depression as the rest of us.

But while investment in mental health provision and encouragement for sporting bodies to increase awareness of the issues surrounding depression will always be welcome, is this initiative likely to force sport to undertake a critical examination of itself and why the problems have remained hidden for so long?

pend

In an interview with 5Live back in 2012, Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton spoke about how she had felt discomfited by the training regimes she was subject to as an athlete, the motivation techniques used and the psychological environment of a sporting team. She implied that she may have benefitted from a less ‘tough it out’ approach.

While this may seem at odds with what’s required to achieve at the elite level, the number of athletes whose careers are blighted by anxiety and depression suggest that sport is obliged to at least look how it conducts itself, and whether there are alternatives to the traditional paths to success.

With violence, racism, sexism and homophobia still leaving their mark on sport, it might seem like an impossible task.

But the most important step we can take as sports fans and participants is to talk about mental health issues.

If this initiative and the accompanying press coverage helps one person to step away from their abyss, it’s a great thing for all of us. 

-

By Kelly Welles

-

Lead image via theguardian.com.

Dion Dublin: A good day to bury bad news?

25 March 2015

gem

Are the BBC seeking to mitigate the Clarkson ‘fracas’ with this glorious (if utterly baffling) announcement?

If so, congratulations. Your work here is done.

-

By Kelly Welles

All together now: I AM FLORIAN DICK!

24 March 2015

Let’s be honest, there aren’t many days you’d be thrilled if you had answer to the name Florian Dick.

Apart from April 20th 2014, of course. That’s the one day in history you’d be thrilled to leap to your feet, wave your arms in the air and scream “ME! IT’S ME! I AM FLORIAN DICK!!”

A volley in off the bar. Wear that shirt with pride, Florian.

-

By Kelly Welles

Less Manuel Neuer, more Manuel from Fawlty Towers

23 March 2015

Or Rob Green, if you want to be really harsh on the Bayern Munich keeper.

-

By Kelly Welles

Weekend Highlights: Stamp duty

23 March 2015

stamp

Late back to your seat after queueing for a wee at Anfield?

That’ll teach you to go to football matches.

slip

If, like most of us, you were enjoying the delights of Super Sunday from the comfort of your couch, you’ll have appreciated the rewind facility even if you saw Steven Gerrard’s opening minute on the pitch live.

Since his unfortunate slip against Chelsea last year, Liverpool’s talisman has been under pressure from sponsors adidas to prove that his boots do work to specification and with time running out before he departs for the MLS Retirement Complex, it was imperative he leave his mark in a big game.

heat

As his ‘heat map’ clearly demonstrates, he wasted no time in doing just that.

Rumours that casts of Ander Herrera’s calf have been taken for data verification purposes have been made up. By me.

But it’s a good idea, no?

-

madrid

While we’re on the subject of heat maps, have a look at the Global Hypercolour-esque effort created during Barcelona’s 2-1 victory over Real Madrid in El Clasico last night.

alves

Let’s try and keep this away from Dani Alves, shall we? He’ll invariably use it as a template for a pair of commemorative trousers.

-

While El Clasico was the usual blend of spite and petulance interspersed with incredible football, the Scottish Championship was a far more grown up affair.

Rangers beat Hibernian 2-0, handing the title to Marcus Speller’s Magnificent Gorgie Boys, but as this Vine suggests, some Hibs fans struggled to overcome old rivalries and celebrate the victory for football.

On the plus side, at least we’ve learned theres a man in the world with more anger issues than Pepe.

-

Many are seeking an explanation for David Villa’s baffling free kick vs. Colorado Rapids.

dan

If, like Rambler Daniel McKenna, you’ve just caught a glimpse of Rapids manager Pablo Mastroeni’s magnificant moustache, you are not one of them.


-

By Kelly Welles

-

Images via Twitter.

Lionel Messi: Causality. With a chance of meatballs

20 March 2015

rex

According to reports, Lionel Messi got fat and crap at football because he ate too much pizza.

Lionel Messi stopped eating pizza and is now brilliant again.

Is this a thing? Are we fat and crap at football because we eat too much pizza? If we were to give up eating pizza would we, in a matter of weeks, be as fleet footed and fantabulous as the diminutive Argentine?

What a ludicrous suggestion.

pizza

As if we’d ever give up eating pizza.

-

By Kelly Welles

-

Image via bleacherreport.

#PeakEclipse

20 March 2015

peak

-

By Kelly Welles

-

Image via https://twitter.com/PReina25”>@PReina25.

Google Translate says: The referee’s a ... what now?

19 March 2015

Here’s Ceahlaul Piatra Neamt (sixteenth in Romania’s Liga 1, you ignoramus) defender Milos Markovic getting all cross after a refereeing blunder saw him receive a red card for a team-mate’s handball. (3.22)

Fresh from failing to deliver a decisive blow to the advertising hoardings, young Milos explained his behaviour thusly:

wizard

Ah well, he almost certainly meant to call the referee something beginning with ‘W’.

-

By Kelly Welles

Pep speaks for all of English football when he says…

19 March 2015

-

By Kelly Welles

Stephanie Roche: Kicking like a girl

13 March 2015

Scoring one goal worthy of nomination for a Puskas Award in your career is one thing. But two?

If Steph Roche carries on like this, FIFA president Sepp Blatter is going to have to actually consider rethinking his organisation’s attitude towards women’s football.

Well, assuming he sees this and still thinks the goal would have been better if she’d been wearing tighter shorts when she scored it, that is.

-

By Kelly Welles

 

 

Chelsea 2 - 2 Paris St Germain: Dirty deeds…

12 March 2015

We neutrals rarely have anything to get TOO excited about in football because our masts remain firmly colour free but the sniff of an upset on Tuesday night put us all in the mood.

And at the risk of irritating you Blues even more, Jose’s all conquering bandwagon being brought to a shuddering halt by an unusually stubborn Paris St Germain side was a sight to behold.

This was likely to be a sizzling steak of an encounter after the rather continental-in-style chilled platter of the first game, but Jeremy Clarkson once again left a venue disappointed after his team failed to live up to expectations.

queue

Chelsea’s precious away goal dictated the pace and tone of play until Zlatan fouled Oscar and found himself at what is becoming a British tradition; a queue of Chelsea players waiting to have a go at him.

Then it was simply foul and counter foul until Gary Cahill broke the deadlock on 81 minutes and Chelsea were all but through.

PSG’s Brazilian defensive contingent then took it upon themselves to offer a timely reminder of the World Cup; David Luiz scoring and celebrating like a madman before replays of Thiago Silva’s handball in the first half of extra time had us all squinting and trying to work out whether what we had just seen could possibly be true.

Thank god he rectified the situation. It’s possible that he’d have been sporting matching black eyes if he hadn’t equalised to send PSG through on away goals and Jose Mourinho directly into the do-do.

Who left that there anyway? Was it you, Zlatan? Have you even got a dog?

-

By Kelly Welles

Spray it again, Ref!

12 March 2015

Actually, don’t.

They’ll be a global shortage and then where will we be?

-

By Kelly Welles

-

Gif via reddit.

Real Madrid 3-4 Schalke: Cris Cross

11 March 2015

Real Madrid eventually won this frenetic tie 5-4 on aggregate , but did anyone think to mention it to Cristiano Ronaldo?

Football’s premier preener had a right one on him last night, ‘celebrating’ his first goal with a grim faced stomp around the pitch, the second with a defiant version of his now notorious Jumpy Stamp Roar (PPP)*.

The word in the Spanish media is that he is pissed off with his supply line and the lack of support the team are receiving from the Bernabeu crowd. The flames have been fanned by footage showing him murmuring “shame, shame” at Karim Benzema as they watched Nacho take a throw-in.

Either way, they’re claiming he stated in the mixzone last night that he won’t be speaking to the media for the rest of the season.

That’ll thrown ‘em off the scent, won’t it?

*Patent Pendng Presumably.

-

By Kelly Welles

 

Steve Mandanda: Football casual

11 March 2015

Everyone saw this video of Steve Mandanda catching a water bottle hurled at him from the crowd during an interview after Marseille beat Toulouse 6-1, right?

Cool. Just checking.

-

By Kelly Welles

 

Jozy Altidore: Universally adored

10 March 2015

altidore

-

By Kelly Welles

Manchester United 1-2 Arsenal: There’s a good tradition of love and hate

10 March 2015

Arsene Wenger made his name by shrugging off tradition in this, the most traditional of sports.

Rejecting steak and booze in favour of chicken and mineral water.  Playing good players out of their favoured positions and thus shaping them into legends.

arsene

Transforming the standard stadium coat into a object of humour.

Is eight years of something sufficient to call it a tradition? In football, a game in which a split second decision is sufficient to wreck lives, I reckon so.

keown

It feels like tradition for an Arsenal side to travel to Old Trafford and get beaten anyway, and for a significant proportion of the first twenty minutes of last night’s FA Cup quarter-final, Arsenal appeared to be respecting it; a touch off the pace, lacklustre and a bit bewildered by all the noise in the cauldron that was Old Trafford.

Per Mertesacker looked ready to drop a proverbial at the first available opportunity and his boss, watching from the dugout, was every inch the agitated budgerigar as he (and we) waited for the inevitable.

But even Wenger’s innate innovator would have been startled by the manner in which that tradition was broken. Nacho Monreal,  a left back of reasonable (but nothing more) repute running onto the end of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s neat pass and opening the scoring.

keano
Roy Keane and Alan Shearer simultaneously realise that Ian Wright is wearing guyliner on the telly.

When half-time had rolled around, Wayne Rooney had restored parity and with it, the natural order of things.

Danny Welbeck, the United alumnus deemed surplus to his club’s requirements by Louis van Gaal, scored what turned out to be the winner on the hour mark, propelling social media into a bants fest that then descended into an Angel di Maria pun-off after the Argentine pulled referee Michael Oliver’s shirt and got himself sent off.

oliver

What did we learn? Well, Arsenal can hold onto a lead when it suits them (although the precise conditions that suit them have yet to be narrowed down), Angel di Maria’s on pitch decision making is dodgier than his fashion sense off it and Robbie Savage doesn’t even have to be ‘in and around’ the studio to receive criticism for his punditry.

sav

As I say, it’s tradition.

-

By Kelly Welles

Because Gunnersaurus

9 March 2015

g

You beautiful denizens of Twitter will already be aware of #DancingMan.

If not, it’s a story that offers hope to those despairing that social media can only be used to bully and hurt people and tangentially involves Gunnersaurus.

A win/win, if you will.

Sean from London was photographed having a bit of a jig at a public venue. As you can see, Sean is a big guy, which, as we all know, means he shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy himself in public.

dance

They took him aside and quietly reminded him of this. By taking his photo, yelling abuse at him and posting the resulting images on 4Chan, thus ensuring that anyone else who isn’t as physically perfect as them doesn’t commit such an offence.

gunner

A bunch of people saw this, were rightly disgusted and set about finding him, so they could throw him a party.

moby

One Twitter campaign later, Sean is off to LA to dance with several thousand people, to music supplied by Pharrell Williams, Andrew WK and Moby. Twats aren’t invited.

do

Bet Gunnersaurus is, though. He loves a caper.

-

By Kelly Welles

We think this is what Chris Waddle means when he says ‘Pelanty’

6 March 2015

Austrian side FC Pinzgau have effectively legitimised the dizzy stick by incorporating it into a training routine.

The Football Ramble approves.

-

By Kelly Welles

-

H/T @mikeylaidlaw

Eva Carneiro: White lines? (Don’t do it)

6 March 2015

carneiro

This is Dr Eva Carneiro. She’s a qualified medical practitioner with an MSc in Sport and Exercise, whose experience includes stints with the British Olympic Medical Institute’s Intensive Rehabilitation Unit and the UK Sports and Exercise Medicine Specialist training programme.

She’s also Chelsea FC’s first team doctor.

Eva was the target of verbal abuse at recent games between Chelsea and Arsenal and Chelsea and Manchester United. A group of grown men shouted “Get your tits out for the lads” and “Show us where you piss from, you slag, show us your minge” at her while she was treating an injured player.

Obviously, it’s pathetic, but I’ve heard worse at football matches.

It’s the inconsistency that kills me.

carneiro

Imagine for a moment that one of these guys was seriously injured outside the stadium and required immediate medical attention. Carneiro, being both a professional and a normal human being, would treat them, regardless of whether they’d been vile and offensive towards her five minutes earlier.

But would they have the nuts to scream “Get your tits out for the lads” into her face as she helped them? Or even refuse her assistance on the basis that she’s female and, according to their logic, an inferior object?

Doubtful. So why does the white line between the stands and the pitch make a difference?

Seriously. Pull yourselves together. For the sake of your mothers and daughters, if nothing else.

-

By Kelly Welles

Ralf Haley: Living the dream. So you don’t have to

4 March 2015

nuts

Ralf Haley has just kicked himself in the nuts. For most blokes, that’s an achievement in itself, but Ralf is not most blokes.

Ralf’s a maniac.

kick

At the age of 23, most of us have grudgingly acknowledged that the possibility of being scouted and signed by a professional football club has passed us by.

If it ever existed at all.

That’s not to say we don’t still surreptitiously glance about the sidelines on a soggy Sunday morning after scoring a screamer, just in case a bloke in a cagoule is making notes, but y’know.

We’ve mostly come to terms with it.

Not Ralf. He decided that his desire to play for a professional club was too great to be allowed to die a peaceful, dignified death and set about getting himself a trial, despite being, in his own words, “a terrible footballer”. He wrote a thousand emails and seven clubs across the world offered him the opportunity to strut his stuff.

As insurance against that lucrative professional contract failing to materialise, he wrote a book and didn’t prevent his brother from filming his adventure for documentary purposes.

bib

The Beautiful Dream is the story of an ordinary man ignoring good sense and the advice of his friends to pursue a desire that has, at one time or another, burned within us all.

If it still burns within you, you owe it to yourself to see what happens when reality smacks into your dreams, studs up.

-

By Kelly Welles

-

The Beautiful Dream, a witty, entertaining but cautionary tale about a man running blindly after his dream is available for purchase right here. y’all.

Aston Villa 2-1 West Bromwich Albion: An apology

4 March 2015

I tried so hard for you, Ramblers. I know you rely on me but I’ve let you down. Badly.

I’m ashamed.

fletch

I watched the whole shebang on BT Sport last night.

Build up, pundits, Fletch and Sav’s supposedly endearing but actually horrendous post-ironic bants, but could I summon up contempt for Tim Sherwood’s increasingly animated touchline performance as Aston Villa hauled themselves to their first win under his stewardship?

No. No, I couldn’t.

Not one but two abortive goal celebrations. The pre-penalty hysteria. The post-penalty hysteria. The blood pressure check.

All of them, in isolation, are bench presses to my sarcasm muscle but it simply buckled under the weight of the significance of this win for Villa, who played well vs. West Brom and on balance, deserved the win.

hut

Apart from Alan Hutton, obviously.

-

By Kelly Welles

El Clasico: Slappy talk keep talkin’ slappy talk

3 March 2015

slap

With just under three weeks to go until the first El Clasico of 2015, it’s no surprise that the smack talk has started.

But Barcelona’s opening salvo suggests that the route to the biannual happy slapping event we have come to enjoy will be more circuitous than usual, and unless Real Madrid are careful, their response could get them into more trouble than Sergio Ramos at a refereeing convention.

rex

“Florentino Perez looks at the world market and wants a team of Galacticos for everyone to admire. Do you understand what I mean?” Barcelona’s assistant director of football, Carles Rexach (above), told Catalan media outlet Regio7.

”[Cristiano] Ronaldo is the flagship of the club. Perez is selling an international brand.

“Vicente del Bosque and Di Maria are too ugly for Real Madrid. They are different from Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez.”

pepe

Unless you’re prepared to stoop to their level (in which case, publishing photos of Pepe and Luka Modric would be the obvious course of action) the only way to deal with this is to maintain a dignified silence.

We look forward to their inevitable, inflammatory riposte with interest.

-

By Kelly Welles

-

H/T goal.com

adidas Present: The School Shoes Collection?

2 March 2015

Everyone loves it when a manager takes a spill on the pitch because he’s wearing ‘proper’ shoes, but this is probably taking it a bit far.

boot

The question that’s vexing me is whether adidas have released these patent leather look boots - the latest in their #ThereWillBeHaters campaign - for the benefit of players or managers?

liverpool

Oh well, as long as the studs work*, I’m sure they’ll be fine either way.

-

By Kelly Welles

*Sorry Liverpool fans. That was cheap. But irresistible wink

-

Image via soccerbible.com

Weekend Highlights: Help us, Obi-Wan Pellegrini. You’re our only hope…

2 March 2015

Or at least you were, until you abdicated from your position as the people’s representative, effectively ceding the title to Chelsea and ensuring more scenes like the one above.

Sorry Chelsea fans, but you know the score.

Your captain’s superb form and your manager’s annoying habit of being right (not to mention the routine hatred that trails in the wake of whichever side happens to be strolling to honours) are extremely irritating to the rest of us, and when the only team with a hope in hell of preventing South West London’s Death Star from gaining control of the footballing galaxy crashes spectacularly into a hostile planet managed by the footballing equivalent of Jar Jar Binks, it can be quite galling.

Like you care.

-

sher

At the other end of the table, Aston Villa’s love affair with Tim Sherwood is on the wane after just two games.

gilet

Was it ever a love affair though, or more like a quick shag round the back of the pub that was never going to amount to anything meaningful and wasn’t really worth the trouble of removing the gilet?

Fear not though, Villa fans. For your enthusiastic suitor has a devious plan to win your affection and a place in next season’s Premier League.

“We need six wins. We have 11 games left and, as players, they need to start taking responsibility. Now is the time for points. We need a siege mentality.”

With that kind of Machiavellian genius at work, how can they fail?

-

Anyone know what Lu-Lu-Lu-Lukas Podolski was trying to do here? No? Ok, move on.

-

Here’s Sean Wright Philips, down in the tunnel trying to make it pay.

No wonder his career is in Dire Straits. BA-DUM-TISH!

-

ten

Thanks for all your enquiries regarding the health and wellbeing of our illustrious presenter after his beloved Jambos put ten past Cowdenbeath.

Last time we saw him, he was driving up to Edinburgh in his bare feet. We have no idea whether he’ll be back in time for the recording of this week’s show, but that (as long time listeners will testify) could be a mixed blessing in itself.

-

By Kelly Welles

 

The Unbearable Triteness of Being (Joey Barton)

27 February 2015

barton

Dear Lord,

Please don’t ever let Joey Barton become self-aware.

Lots of love,

Football.

-

By Kelly Welles

-

H/T @PaulSarahs.

MLS Flashback: Tasty dip, anyone?

26 February 2015

Lovely scenes from the magnificently named Dax McCarty there.

Want more? How’s about this from Newcastle United Hall of Famer Obafemi Martins during Seattle Sounders game vs. San Jose Earthquakes?

 
That won the MLS Goal of the Year Award 2014.

So, you know. Watch more MLS n’ that. It’s great.

-

By Kelly Welles

Champions League: “It’s mental”

26 February 2015

Arsenal 1-3 Monaco

Alright, it wasn’t the most spectacular collapse of the evening.

But unlike Madonna’s cape-related collapse at the Brits, Arsenal’s performance against Monaco failed to live up to expectation.

Once again they were defensively inept and woefully susceptible to the counter attack; a point articulated beautifully after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s attempt to grab the game by the scruff of the neck in a David Beckham vs. Greece manner resulted in him scoring on ninety minutes and his team getting caught on the break seconds later.

All this begs a question. Does there come a point when dragging Arsenal, kicking and screaming, into fourth place is less of an achievement and more of a burden to Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal massive? They’ve qualified for the competition for the last eighteen seasons but haven’t moved past the last sixteen since the 2009/10 season. And unless something utterly spectacular happens in the Stade Louis II in a couple of weeks, they’ll be on their way again.

I think yes. Which has given me one of my ideas.

Let’s say, (hypothetically, please don’t blast my inbox with the financial implications of what is, quite obviously, a joke) regardless of where they finish in the 2014/15 Premier League, Arsenal should be suspended from European competition for next season.

Stay with me. You’ll love this.

arsene

Instead of midweek Champions League games, they can all go to the water park and relax, watch videos of other games to learn about the importance of “nerve & rationality” in high pressure situations and more generally how to play football for 90 minutes.

Their confidence will improve, they might even break out of this ridiculous qualifying/crashing out cycle, their spot can be passed on to someone who might use it and the fans can be spared the ignominy of performances like the one that unfolded last night.

crater
The Emirates East Stand, yesterday.

The gaping holes in Emirates stands opening up like those craters in Siberia suggest something drastic needs to be done.

We should take our lead from FIFA here, who have this week proved what has long been suspected; f**king about with the rules is fine if it suits our purposes.

It’s for your own good, Arsenal fans. You’ll thank me when you’ve stopped banging your head off the nearest solid object.

-

Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Atletico Madrid

Yep, that’s him.

Think of it this way. The likelihood of Arsenal coming back from a two away goal deficit is so low that you’re freed up to watch the second leg of this game, which is delicately poised after ten man Atletico Madrid conceded their first goal in six games.

Bayer Leverkusen will take a slender advantage to the Calderón and despite misfortune finally relocating Fernando Torres in glorious fashion, the chances are the Mattress Makers (almost up there with the Chair Boys, that one) will have enough to overturn the slender deficit at home.

There will be some sort of game, anyway. No one needs him to see him cross again.

-

By Kelly Welles

 

Sam Allardyce: Royale with gravy

25 February 2015

noble

You’ve all seen it. But exactly where did John Travolta get the terrible idea to approach Scarlett Johansson from behind at this year’s Oscar ceremony?

Big Sam. It seems he’s bigger than we thought.

-

By Kelly Welles

Champions League: He’s behind you!

25 February 2015

Manchester City 1-2 Barcelona

behind

Rumours of Barcelona’s demise have been grossly exaggerated.

That’s the impression they gave at the Etihad last night, particularly after speculation that their loss to Malaga at the weekend was due to their having half an eye on this game gained traction.

There were moments of respite for City, but Pellegrini’s boys spent most of the first twenty-five minutes camped in their own half, desperately trying to repel wave after wave of what appeared to be quick footed toxic waste.

Cheap sartorial criticism aside, Barcelona might as well have been radioactive, for all the contact Manchester City were able to have with them. And by the time Luis Suarez had reacquainted himself with English soil, they were 0-2 down and staring down the barrel of a cricket score.

kun

Fair play to the home side, though. Their diminutive Argentine (every team should have one) grasped the rapidly withdrawing lifeline and despite having Gael Clichy sent off for a second yellow card and conceding a penalty in the final minutes, they remain in the fixture.

Seriously. Joe Hart saved a Messi penalty. Between that and the death stare, I can’t imagine he got any sleep last night.

-

Juventus 2-1 Borussia Dortmund

vida

Should Ashley Barnes be honoured that his tackle on Nemanja Matic was emulated by the ambitiously coiffed Arturo Vidal?

This is just one of the questions no one was asking as Juventus huffed and puffed their way to a narrow 2-1 home win over Borussia Dortmund.

An early goal by Carlos Tevez gave the Bianconeri an early lead, but Dortmund, who’ve become used to overcoming adversity in recent weeks, quickly equalised via Denzel Washington... sorry… Marco Reus. Klopp probably keeps a copy of Reus’s recently signed contract extension next to his bed, such is the player’s importance to the relegation threatened Germans.

klopp

And fair play to the blonde, toothy lunatic. Juventus were unable to capitalise on Dortmund’s perceived weakness; despite several more chances for Tevez, Pereyra and Chiellini they will only take a one goal lead into the second leg, courtesy of Alvaro Morata.

Expect scenes in the Westfalenstadion, people!

-

By Kelly Welles

Kelly’s Game: YOU are the ‘supporter’

24 February 2015

Your team is in last place in the Bundesliga. Your eighteen year old centre back has just failed to control and distribute the ball and the last person you want to see bearing down on him in that situation has just nicked it and scored, putting the result beyond you.

What do you do?

1) Adjust your combat shorts and run across the pitch, simultaneously attempting to symbolically rip your season ticket up and hurl the pieces into your baffled manager’s face?

2) Start booing until Timo Baumgartl (who looks like he should still be in nappies) feels so bad he actually gives up football and becomes a milkman?

3) Hug him and tell him it’s ok?

Can we try number three for a bit? Seriously? Just for a change?

-

By Kelly Welles

So here it is, Seppy Christmas, everybody’s having fun!

24 February 2015

boardroom
Austerity measures at FIFA #702: The boardroom

You’ve got to hand it to FIFA.

As global leaders in identifying brands that give people of all economic backgrounds pleasure and then commercialising the life out of them, it was only a matter of time before Christmas popped up on their subterranean volcano HQ radar.

comm

In case you missed this morning’s news, a FIFA task force (above), has recommended that the World Cup 2022, awarded to Qatar on the basis that it would take place in the summer, should be played in November & December of that year, with 23rd December earmarked for the final.

scuda

We can only assume that the task force considered the implications of holding a global football tournament in and around the festive period -  the impact on domestic leagues and other competitions, player fitness, transportation difficulties for travelling fans, Richard Scudamore feeling “a little bit let down,” - but decided these were all surmountable and went with it anyway.

Not massively surprising, given that the issues already prompting concern about the tournament itself - the exploitation of migrant workers, perilous working conditions, infrastructure, Qatari law, to name a few - have either been ignored or dismissed.

qatar

The decision has yet to be ratified, but with the momentum heading in that direction, the only conclusion we can draw is that FIFA act in the best interest of FIFA.

The good of the game, the pleasure of the fans, the safety of workers, player welfare, even the legality of the bidding process are all matters of little to no significance when viewed alongside the organisations desire to open football to a new world and a new culture.”

pete

As a great man once said, “Don’t make me sick in my mouth”.

-

By Kelly Welles

Weekend Highlights: And the testosterone flowed like cash…

23 February 2015

Drug testers were on high alert this weekend as several on-pitch incidents led to speculation that someone has been slipping testosterone into players’ pre-match sippy cups.

It wasn’t all fun and bodyslamming though, despite what you might have seen on social media.

mou

Commentators found themselves in the invidious and confusing position of agreeing with Jose Mourinho as he issued malevolent threats to Martin Atkinson via his numeric code algorithm; a fact that propelled our own Luke Moore further into patent law than he ever wanted to be.

 
Chelsea have already appealed against the red card issued to Nemanja Matic for his response to Ashley Barnes’ attempt at amputation; a response that prompted Chris Waddle to state on BBC 606 that, given the nature of the tackle “any player would have done the same”.

Whether Ashley Barnes will receive retrospective punishment remains to be seen, but given that it was just one of four decisions Jose had an issue with, it’s fair to say that the FA and Referee’s Association will be having a good old look at the game.

-

 
It’s easy to agree with Waddle once you’ve winced your way through the different angles on that tackle. We’ll hazard a guess that he’d be less inclined to commit on Shab Khan’s work at Worcester City though.

Mainly because most players probably couldn’t pull such an efficient body slam on a fellow professional without months of practice.

Terrifying, both in reasoning and execution.

-

But astonishingly, not an isolated incident.

Admittedly not *quite* as impressive in terms of clean and jerk, but still.

Dude was wearing a reflective vest, for goodness sake.

-

barton

Need a rest from unusual behaviour? Let me ease you back into more familiar territory by telling you that QPR captain Joey Barton flicked Tom Huddlestone in the knackers and got sent off.

His teammates are getting tired of it.

Next!

-

Barcelona put forward two entries for the Football Ramble Durrty Award in their game vs. Malaga.

Well, three really, if you count Neymar’s horizontal body slam, the shin pad efficacy test he issued seconds later AND Jordi Alba kicking Juanpi in the back like he’s just a ballboy.

-

I could go on and tell you about Oxford United having their goalkeeper sent off for the fourth time in six games. Or the triple jeopardy rule that’s giving Bayern Munich the hump and Bundesliga officials a headache.

But instead I’ll just leave you with elegant wordsmith Carlton Cole’s guide to dealing with social media trolls, which also functions as the most efficient summation of the current football climate I’ve seen lately.

cole

Thank you, Carlton. That hit the target.

-

By Kelly Welles

Chelsea FC: Distance learning

23 February 2015

Football fans don’t generally need any encouragement to mock their rivals, but a group of West Ham fans seized the opportunity to get one over on Chelsea this weekend by issuing this video tutorial of train etiquette.

It provided some much needed levity after a weekend pondering a BBC Radio 5Live interview with a Chelsea fanzine editor on Friday evening. David Johnstone of CFC UK told Anna Foster & Simon Cox of the station’s Drive show that the incident on the Paris Metro was “in no way the club’s responsibility, and they cannot be held accountable for actions of four or five individuals.”

He went on to say that the account of the victim, Souleymane S, was “full of inconsistencies” and a defence lawyer would “rip his story to shreds”.

“My heart goes out to him,” Johnstone continued, “but if he’s experienced racism all his life [as Souleyman S has claimed], why is he so devastated about something that’s been caught on film? It’s a terrible thing to have happened, in the back of my mind I feel like he might be trying to make the most of it.”

Naturally, everyone is going to have their own opinion on this matter, and that includes Johnstone, but his words were, at best, unhelpful to his club, their fans and the current situation.

The Guardian’s Barney Ronay, interviewed immediately afterwards, made his opinion clear from the outset.

“I’d like to distance myself completely from what David Johnstone just said.” he told Anna Foster.

Unfortunately, I can only presume that by that point, the vast majority of Chelsea fans were too mortified to hear him.

-

By Kelly Welles

Vintage Kits: Unleash your inner geek!

20 February 2015

lead

We’ve long since given up lamenting the fact that we’re utterly sad acts when it comes to football memorabilia.

So without any apologies whatsoever, I’ll tell you that we’ve spent a highly productive morning dribbling over this gorgeous gallery of retro shirts from world football, designed by Emilio Sansolini for our friends at goal.com.

What have we learned? Well, we like polyester mix a lot more than is healthy and picking a favourite is a bitch.

Still, after getting all 50 Shades on the boys (and not in a good way) I was able to narrow their choices down. Well, apart from Marcus, who picked a top three.

Then awarded himself the points.

-

Luke ‘Algorithm Hunter’ Moore: Celtic

celtic

Pete ‘Diggory’ Donaldson: Valencia

valencia

Marcus ‘ MC Skibadee’ Speller: Marseille

marseille

AND Fiorentina

fiorentina

AND Paris St Germain

psg

James (or Jim) Campbell: Monaco

monaco

(The Elusive) Lord Ramble: Sampdoria

samp

Kelly ‘Kellstrom Kellinha Kelloggs’ Welles: Velez Sarsfield

velez

Honorable Mench: Newell’s Old Boys (for obvious reasons)

nob

-

By Kelly Welles

-

Images courtesy of
goal

How do you solve a problem like Mario?

20 February 2015

Javier Zanetti.

Done. Move on.

-

Via @copa90.

The Football Ramble Live in London in May!

19 February 2015

LukeLive

After the success of their sold out shows in January and the sojourn across to Oslo in February, The Football Ramble are delighted to announce they’ll be performing the show live again at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London on Friday 22nd May.

Expect all your favourite football chat, as well as a multimedia extravaganza and one or two surprises thrown in for good measure!

Tickets, priced at £15, go on sale at 11:00 on Friday 20th February from this link and are sure to sell fast so make sure you’re in and around a computer to avoid disappointment…

Doors on the night open at 19:00 and Marcus, Jim, Pete and Luke look forward to seeing you all there!


For press/media enquiries around the show please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Champions League: Ooh, very bold

19 February 2015

Schalke 0-2 Real Madrid

stat

Cristiano Ronaldo might have 58 goals in 58 Champions League games after scoring in last night’s 2-0 victory over Roberto Di Matteo’s Schalke, but as illustrated by this lovely graphic, it was Marcelo who dominated play.

The Portuguese rose like a roaring salmon (mainly because he was dressed like one)  in the penalty area to nod in on 26 minutes, but the Brazilian left back not only marauded up the wing at every opportunity, he produced this gorgeous finish to set up a second leg at the Bernabeu that should be so straightforward, eleven year old Martin Ødegaard is expected to start.

salmon

Assuming his parents give him permission to be out that late, obviously.

-

FC Basel 1-1 FC Porto

The venue was Switzerland but the game was anything but neutral, as our very own Mark Clattenburg issued nine yellow cards during the course of this chippy encounter.

The carefully coiffed Clatts then assured himself of a warm welcome from Porto fans next time he’s in the area, by disallowing a goal that would have given them a crucial edge over the tie, then awarded a late penalty which did that anyway.

ferg

The Referees’ Association might have a point, you know. Even when they get all the decisions right, and put in a thoroughly professional performance in the competitive phase of an elite European game, we still find space to mock them for their sartorial choices.

clat

I guess thatswhatfootballdotoya! 

-

By Kelly Welles

Anderson: The air is thick with irony

18 February 2015

The heady heights of the Manchester United treatment table have left Anderson giddily unprepared for life at 3500 feet.

The hapless midfielder, who signed for Brazil’s Internacional in the January transfer window, was a starter in the club’s Copa Libertadores away tie vs. Bolivian side The Strongest (snork) but had to be subbed after thirty-six minutes and was pictured moments later in the dugout with an oxygen mask over his face.

The oxygen tank did not subsequently explode, taking his eyebrows off. But if it had, we wouldn’t have been remotely surprised.

-

By Kelly Welles

Champions League: Train of thought

18 February 2015

Modern football is all about creating a spectacle and collecting the profits, right? 

racist
The Chelsea Brain Trust, yesterday.

So instead of punishing the small group of (alleged) Chelsea fans aboard the Paris Metro last night by issuing lifetime bans, let’s have them on the pitch at Stamford Bridge next week, shouting “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it!” into the faces of a Chelsea representative eleven selected by Didier Drogba.

mou

Big JT could stand on the periphery in his kit, Jose could run up and down the touchline protesting about something, The Premier League could sell the rights to Sky for twenty-eight billion pounds and rational people everywhere could exercise their inner idiot.

Everyone happy? Good. Now let’s talk about football.

-

Paris St Germain 1-1 Chelsea FC

At times last night it was hard to see exactly why Paris St Germain are so easy to ruffle in Ligue Un.

Any team boasting the power of Ezequiel Lavezzi (a name that, when approached at speed, can prompt even the most experienced commentator to stumble, Clive), the precision of Edinson Cavani, the skill of Blaise Matuidi and the patented Zlatan Panic Radius™  (more on that later) should already have their names engraved on the trophy and be playing the youth team in the league to rest players for a Champions League push.

paris

Maybe they don’t like the trophy. It is pretty hideous.

Laurent Blanc’s side were imperious at times last night, and it’s a credit to Chelsea and (grudgingly) to Mourinho that they were not only able to repel wave after wave of PSG attack, but keep their wits about them while on the ball to create Branislav Ivanovic’s beautifully worked header, via Gary Cahill’s Zlatan-esque touch.

Zlatan. A warrior in search of a war.

Speaking of the Swede, his performance last night was effectively a crash course in How To Zlatan. He stands about a lot, we know this. It’s the basis for most of the criticism levelled against him. But his influence over opposition defenders while not actually doing anything was tangible last night, with several minutes of the first half given over to the Chelsea back four passing the ball between themselves while he loomed over them, daring them to try and pass it out.

The Zlatan Panic Radius™  is now a thing. And thankfully, far more memorable that a bunch of fat bald blokes in anoraks asserting their limited understanding of power.

-

Shakhtar Donetsk 0-0 Bayern Munich

I didn’t watch it. But I’ve heard Xabi Alonso was sent off, so I’m going to believe Bayern, who reckon the referee was a “catastrophe”

-

By Kelly Welles

Energy drink heist: Suspect sighted

17 February 2015

Police advise caution. The suspect, Thomas Muller, 25, of Oberbayern, Germany, is said to be unarmed and incredibly excited.

-

By Kelly Welles

Copa90: The view from the Curva Sud

17 February 2015

The Premier League has just negotiated one of the most staggering television deals in history, and yet complaints about flat atmospheres in stadiums, designated singing sections, corporate hospitality and the silence of an ageing, wealthier fanbase, are more prevalent than ever.

This film by Copa90 is a fascinating and timely reminder of what football once represented to us, and still does to some.

tats

‘For the Rest of Your Life – Tattooing the Juventus Ultras’ is a short film exploring the lives and culture of a small group of football’s most notorious fans.

They describe how, for them, football is escapism from an economic climate that offers few opportunities to the poor, and instead they pour their raw energy into supporting their club.

curva

“I wasn’t even that interested in the results of the match,” one man says, wistfully remembering the days he attended games as a boy with his father. “Other things mattered to me; I liked the drums, the smoke, the torches, the megaphones, the scarves.”

“Football is the best sport in the world.”

stad

Set against beautifully shot film of the Curva Sud, Juventus Stadium and Turin itself, it’s easy to see the attraction. Young men with no prospects, no hope, no family, give themselves instead to a cause that embraces them, makes demands but rewards them with riches money can’t buy.

Unsurprisingly, they devote their lives to it.

scarf

A romanticised portrait of an organisation whose history is steeped in violence and intimidation? Maybe. But every family boasts its share of idiots. That shouldn’t distract from the wider point; that there is nothing finer than standing in amongst a group of like minded people, singing your heart out and living or dying by what your team do on the pitch.

And neither should a TV deal.

-

By Kelly Welles

-

Images by @robinbharaj via COPA90.com.

Ramble Masterclass: Bicycle kicks with Luis Suarez & André-Pierre Gignac

16 February 2015

Do this.

Don’t do this.

 

Well, that was surprisingly straightforward, wasn’t it?

-

By Kelly Welles

Weekend Highlights: Bundesliga Fashion Week

16 February 2015

klopp

From runners- up last season to relegation battlers this, Borussia Dortmund’s calamitous Bundesliga collapse has been one of the stories of the season so far.

But is a surge on the cards?

Some might say so. Barely ten days after a 1-0 defeat to Augsburg secured them the drop spot, Dortmund are roaring their way back up the table. A 4-2 result vs. Mainz on Friday night propelled them out of the relegation places and within thirty points of leaders Bayern Munich.

tyne

We spoke to our Scottish Championship correspondent Marcus Speller, who confirmed that with thirty-nine points still up for grabs, Dortmund are still very much in the running for the title and could potentially snatch the league and Champions League from under the cultured noses of their rivals.

bayern

It’s clear to see that Bayern Munich are feeling the pressure of a late surge (and Marcus’s prediction). This weekend they took steps to ensure their goal difference remained plump and juicy.

muller
He’s wearing braces and scored a brace. Geddit?

The unfortunate victims were Hamburg, who you’d imagine would have been expecting something like this after conceding nine to Bayern back in March 2013, but they were helpless in the face of Bayern’s belt and braces approach.

bas

Despite Arjen Robben, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller exercising their fashion sense at the Allianz, none could emulate the performance of Wolfsburg’s Bas Dost, who scored four (a HAUL) at Bayer Leverkusen.

Eager listeners who attended the Ramble Live in Manchester (download the highlights here, clumsy link fans) will have been expecting this.

pele

Our influence on the game has been a truth universally acknowledged for some time and the boys are just delighted to have propelled Mr Dost into the spotlight simply by mentioning how brilliant his name is while sitting near an ill-conceived effigy of Pele.

koln

Less sartorially elegant were the Koln fans who invaded Borussia Monchengladbach’s pitch after Granit Xhaka’s last minute headed winner.

They were dressed as budget extras from Breaking Bad.

However, their odd choice of garmentage was no surprise for those of us who remember the last time they made a splash across the football press.

Their work with “disgusting missiles” practically demands the use of HazMat suits.

-

By Kelly Welles

The Football Ramble Live in Oslo - Available to download now!

14 February 2015

Norwegian Statue
This is a statue that actually exists in Oslo. Pete discovered it.


Not content with touring our live show around several cities in the UK, we decided to head to Scandinavia to take our own unique brand of football-based entertainment to the unsuspecting people of Oslo, Norway.

And, if you couldn’t make it there in person (although several of you did, which we thank you for), we’ve got some great news for you - you can download the entire show from iTunes and Sendowl!

Marvel as all four of the boys shamelessly suck up to the people of Norway with a Norwegian-themed opening question! Have your heartstrings pulled when a Rambler by the name of Stephan presents Pete with a jar of pickled herring during the show! Listen in wonder at the sheer surprise when the Ramblers discover that Zlatan is actually popular in Norway, despite being Swedish!

It’s all there, ready to be downloaded and enjoyed for the small sum of £1.99 through iTunes and £1.79 through Sendowl/Paypal. Go get it!

Click here for the iTunes link

Click here for Sendowl/Paypal link

Diego Corner: Do you even lift?

13 February 2015

full

You can never prepare yourself for what you might see when you peer through the cobwebby windows of Diego Corner.

Footage of the great man lamping a journalist? A barfight in progress?

Little Diego?

face

This morning’s visit was comparatively peaceful. Just this picture of El Diego, 54 (FIFTY-FOUR), and girlfriend Rocio Oliva, 24 (TWENTY-FOUR), having a jape in their lovely home, pinned to the door that hangs limply off broken hinges.

He’s looking well, isn’t he?

Startlingly well, compared to this photo.

Taken ten days ago.

We’re not judging. Just observing.

Apart from anything else, it’ll only come back to bite us in the arse when we start spending thousands on disconcerting facelifts.

-

By Kelly Welles

-

H/T @Jack5on5000.

Internet acronyms with Amy Lawrence

12 February 2015

law

The marvellous Amy Lawrence was researching a piece for the Guardian about the recent Premier League TV deal and apparently found this nestling in her collection of used tickets. It’s from 1990, and therefore pre-Prem.

Seven quid for QPR vs. Arsenal? In Block WTF?

ROFLMFAO.

-

By Kelly Welles

-

Image via twitter.

South Korea U22: Oh come on, ref! I’ve been kicked in the face!

12 February 2015

The Uzbeks are losing interest in football. Their football association has sought to rectify the situation by introducing elements of mixed martial arts to their national game**.

If this recent performance by the U22 team vs. South Korea is any evidence, it seems to be going pretty well, wouldn’t you say?

-

By Kelly Welles

-

**This is a lie

Xabi Alonso: Wanted. Dead or Alive

11 February 2015

xabi

♫ ♫“He walks these streets, a loaded six string on his back.

He plays for keeps, ‘cause he might not make it back.

He’s been everywhere, and he’s standing tall,

He’s seen a million faces and he’s rocked them all.”♫ ♫

Anyway, enough about Marcus Speller… here’s Xabi Alonso in a handlebar moustache!

-

By Kelly Welles

-

Image via Twitter, Lyrics: BonJovi ‘Wanted Dead Or ALive, Writer(s): Jon Bon Jovi, Richard Sambora.

The Premier League: Dystopia Rising

11 February 2015

Let’s be honest, Liverpool’s thrilling 3-2 victory over Spurs at Anfield couldn’t have come at a more convenient time.

Earlier in the day, Richard Scudamore came perilously close to rubbing his hands with glee as he announced the Premier League had sold the TV rights to their matches for £5.1 billion.

The fact that the first view of the product after the news was delivered was a cracking encounter between two sides bursting with young English talent intent upon clawing their way into the league’s VIP section could have been scripted? Well, it didn’t hurt, did it?

It even reminded Mario Balotelli what he was there for. Although you wouldn’t know it to look at him.

Mario is a product of this Brave New World. He’s not just a footballer; in recent months you could argue that kicking a ball in anger is the least interesting thing about him, but his cars, his clothes and his attitude are symptomatic of a world awash with money, in which talent, although necessary, isn’t sufficient to ensure elevation to the elite.

It must be accompanied by a personality that offers a reliable supply of fodder for the other arm of Rupert Murdoch’s commercial ventures. Mario is a tabloid story waiting to happen, and they love him for it.

balo

But this isn’t Roy of the Rovers. Beneath the chrome vinyl wrap, behind the funky chicken hat, are real people. Fans who travel every week to crap grounds to watch awful teams on shit pitches.

Ordinary men and women who spend their working life looking forward to the early start on Saturday morning which will see them clambering into an elderly saloon with five other people to drive two hundred miles to watch a football hit the ground a total of seventeen times in ninety minutes.

oppo

The opposite end of the football spectrum, if you will.

Opinions (and let’s be honest, there’s no shortage of them as BBC 5Live has been discussing this almost exclusively since the announcement) are a cacophony not dissimilar to a poorly trained horn section; honks of outrage, glee, idiocy and the occasional insight, but one clear note is audible above the rest. The call for ticket prices to be reduced for the ‘ordinary’ fan.

It’s only right, we nod. It’s about time the game gave something back to ‘proper fans’. But by focussing on this point, are we just unconscious actors in a convenient sub-plot while the larger, more sinister narrative unfolds around us?

Last year’s Deloitte Football Money League, the annual report that ranks football clubs by revenue income, found that “the amount generated from matchday revenue streams, including ticket and corporate hospitality sales, has fallen to its lowest ever percentage of total revenue.

Conversely, “the percentage of revenue that the top 20 clubs generate through more indirect means such as broadcast rights and commercial activities has reached an all-time high.”

fans

It’s not necessary to drill down into the figures to understand the overall trend. The money you pay on the turnstile, for food, programmes, merchandise etc, is gradually becoming less and less important to your football club.

You are less and less important to your football club. And that was last year. What will that trend look like by 2016, when the latest deal kicks in?

This isn’t news. Fans forums and phone-ins are awash with people concerned that their opinions aren’t being heard, that their club isn’t being run in their best interests, but until recently, we at least had a weapon, even if it was unwieldy. A club’s income, once totally dependant on matchday revenue, is now broadly made up of TV rights and commercial deals.

According to one report, Paris St Germain would still be in the top ten if no-one bothered to turn up.

The “we pay your wages” argument will, if this continues, become an irrelevance. The Premier League clubs will surely continue to pay lip service to the people who make the noise for the time being, but commercially they would be foolish to conduct their business according to the whims of the paying public.

If Sky or BT Sport want the game to be moved to three am on a Wednesday morning, they’ll probably get it, and bugger you.

This would be bad enough if the TV money was sustainable. We can all watch games on TV and with the admittedly great coverage and analysis provided by Sky it’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience; it’s their job to distract us with shiny graphics and oversized iPads.

But as any economist (or person who bought property in the UK before 2008) will tell you no growth is permanently sustainable.

When this bubble bursts - and it will - what will be left? A generation of fans who don’t know what it’s like to go to an actual game? Who can’t afford to, or whose interpretation of football is fuelled by replays and opinions rather than mud and the perceptions of incidents that sweep around the stands and instantly influence the mood and behaviour of the crowd? Half empty stands?

It’ll make good copy, if nothing else.

-

By Kelly Welles

Manchester United: Just the stats, maam

10 February 2015

She’s spent the last three days photocopying these down the library.

You can hardly blame her.

-

By Kelly Welles

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Wax to the left of me…

10 February 2015

zlat

♫♫... ego to the right, here I am Stuck In The Middle With Zlatan ♫♫

-

By Kelly Welles

Sebastian Giovinco: That awkward moment when…

9 February 2015

...you realise that massive cuddly dinosaur is not rolling on by, but stopping and forcing you to stand up and be applauded by people who came to see a basketball game and quite clearly have no idea who you are.

Nevermind. At least they didn’t make the former Juve striker pose with a group of Toronto Raptors players, thus emphasising his diminutive stature.

raptor

Oh, ffs.

-

By Kelly Welles

Weekend Highlights: ‘Arry Up!

9 February 2015

kane

You’d think as a nation we’d be excited to have a homegrown lad knocking them in for fun at big games, wouldn’t you? But no.

Far from revelling in the notion that we have another prospect to ruin in the national team, Harry Kane’s snatching of the North London bragging rights from under the duvet coat of Arsene Wenger propelled most people into the drawer where they keep the old photos.

kane1

Inevitably someone found another picture of Kane wearing an Arsenal shirt, so like, he’s totally not one of yours, Spurs fans. Alright?

-

liv

Aside from the last twenty minutes or so of that game, the Most Envied League In The World™ failed to deliver on derby weekend.

Nevertheless, I bravely sat through at least the first half of Everton vs. Liverpool before being tempted to stick the old Xbox on and listen to the game on TalkSport while piloting a helicopter through a combat situation on Call of Duty: Ghosts.

Within seconds, Stan Collymore was describing to the nation how he’d “shot his bolt on social media” with an earlier on-air prediction. He might have got away with it too, if commentator Sam Matterface hadn’t spattered the airwaves with his failure to contain snorts of derision.

morgan

I don’t listen to TalkSport often enough to know whether this is a regular occurrence, but if you’re wondering how painful it was, I was looking forward to changing the channel to listen to Robbie Savage on BBC606.

Panic ye not though, Ramblers, for I was duly punished for my optimism moments later when Piers Morgan called in.

I could spend the next three hundred words failing to find adequate prose to describe the noise of Morgan and Savage going at it, but @FC Hoya_ saved me the trouble and you the boredom by sending me this.

 
This is what it sounds like, when doves die.

-

ron

The annoying thing is, while all this was going on, I could have been watching Real Madrid get their arses handed to them on a plate by Atletico.

klopp

The smiling faces of Jurgen Klopp and his boys after picking up their first win in six games.

Thiago Silva giving his jacket to a cold mascot before PSG’s draw with Lyon.

 

Even this catastrophic swing and miss from Micky van der Hart vs. Ajax.

-

herve

In world news, we tweeted an image of a shirtless Herve Renard after Ivory Coast beat Ghana on penalties to win the Africa Cup of Nations 2015.

Not me, a woman. Them. The men.

I was more concerned with this.

blats

If Marcus finds out that even Sepp has fallen in love with the handsome Frenchman too, there will be blood.

-

ramb

If this isn’t enough to sate your lust for hilarious football chat and baffling twattery, the Football Ramble shows in Manchester, Edinburgh and London have been distilled into a tasty, tart compilation for your listening ecstasy.

You can buy it now on iTunes or SendOwl.

We’re hoping to raise enough to pay the fines accrued in the aforementioned cities.

-

By Kelly Welles

The Football Ramble Live - Download and listen to the best of our live shows on iTunes!

9 February 2015

Ramble Live Bloomsbury


We’re back from our mini-tour of the UK, delivering football-based nonsense to Ramble listeners in Manchester, Edinburgh and London!

But if you couldn’t make one of our live shows, don’t fear, because we’ve edited together all the best bits into one 90 minute show for your listening pleasure. So, instead of venturing out into the cold and having to sit there and actually look at our faces, you can get all the funniest stuff in the comfort of your own headphones.

From Pete’s barely acceptable jokes about a variety of subjects to the pressing issue of the largest animal that can be single-handedly cling-filmed to a lamppost, it’s all here.

It’s available for £1.79 (£1.99 on iTunes due to exchange rates with the US), and once you buy it, it’s yours forever. How’s that for value eh?

Click here for the iTunes link

To buy the show through PayPal, click here

AFCON 2015: So near & yet so far

6 February 2015

A game of football briefly broke out at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo last night, Ghana snatching the brief window of opportunity in between fighting, shouting, throwing and pelting to score three goals and propel themselves to a final vs. Herve Renard’s Ivory Coast.

What else is there to say? A great final in the offing, a thrilling tournament that is all the more incredible when you consider that six months ago, everyone thought Morocco would be hosting it.

And yet once the smoke has cleared, the chances are that our enduring memory of Africa Cup of Nations 2015 will be the image of that helicopter trying to disperse a crowd using the power of wind and crisp packets alone.

players

We’ve said it all before. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a stand in Italy, Poland, England, Argentina or Equatiorial Guinea; if you’re chucking stuff at the referee, opposition players and trying to injure their fans you’re not a supporter, you’re an idiot.

Using football to give your aggression a run out is one thing. Retaining self control and respecting the opposition is another and quite frankly, the least we should be able to expect in 2015.

The eyes of the world were on you, Equatorial Guinea fans.

blood

You’ve shown yourselves up there.

-

By Kelly Welles

Borussia Dortmund: What a difference a year makes…

5 February 2015

Shit’s getting a bit real over in Dortmund.

It’s good to see senior players taking responsibility for their lack of success on the pitch, but similarly Roman Weidenfeller and Mats Hummels’ gesture (not to mention the faces of their coach and teammates) could be perceived as an acknowledgement that they have no clue how to rectify the problems that saw them lose 1-0 to 10-man Augsburg last night.

This is the club that less than two years ago pushed Bayern Munich pretty close in the Champions League final. A lot has been made of the departures of Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski to Bayern, and while the loss of players of such calibre will always hurt a team, a glance at the teamsheets reveals that eight of the players involved in that 2013 final were also ‘in and around’ in last night’s line-up.

As it stands, they remain rooted to the bottom of the Bundesliga, and with a run of games against struggling opposition forthcoming, they’ll be playing for their top flight lives.

If they balls them up, it’s going to take a damn sight more than a bit of gentle cajoling to appease the Westfalenstadion massive.

-

By Kelly Welles

Francesco Totti & the Fanboy Ramble of Lovely

4 February 2015

What? You wouldn’t react like that if you met Francesco Totti?

Get out. Yer heathen.

-

By Kelly Welles

Umbro Velocita: The pitch, the pitch, the pitch is on fire

4 February 2015

Umbro are so thoughtless.

Don’t they know there’s a playing field crisis in this country?

one

How is inventing a pair of boots that emit pink smoke, set off land mines and leave crevasses in their wake, remotely helpful to the future of the game?

c

Obviously we’ll try them, because a) they will make us look sexy and b) who hasn’t wanted to set fire to that dog mess ridden, inadequately mowed, grass deficient rectangle that the council laughable call a ‘playing surface’, but still.

It’s really irresponsible, right?

-

By Kelly Welles

QPR Managerial Vacancy Announced: Apply within

3 February 2015

gilet

-

By Kelly Welles

Jonathan Pearce: Kaboom!

3 February 2015

Given his difficulty with matters in and around the goalmouth, this defensive strategy by Nice B vs. Grenoble recently may well make Jonathan Pearce’s head explode if it’s replicated in one of his commentary games.

scan

Football? It’s over to you.

-

By Kelly Welles

Mauro Icardi: The new Dennis Wise?

2 February 2015

Sir Alex Ferguson once described Dennis Wise as a man who “could start a fight in an empty house.”

wise

Of course, Wise resigned from the mad bastard Hall of Fame live on Setanta last week, so there’s a vacancy.

Might we humbly nominate wife snaring, team-mate enraging, Inter fan baiting Mauro Icardi for the spot?

Assuming he survives this latest spat (and doesn’t turn up to Wednesday’s Coppa Italia game vs. Napoli in an astonishing hairdo), of course.

-

By Kelly Welles

Weekend Highlights: Don’t mention it

2 February 2015

pearce

Just don’t, ok?

-

bay

The Bundesliga emerged from hibernation on Friday, with Bayern Munich apparently still removing their moss plugs.

Pep Guardiola’s football machine was brought to a jarring halt by Wolfsburg, who put four past Manuel Neuer and doubled Bayern’s goals against record for the season.

Given the above, it’s likely just a blip; an explanation that Jurgen Klopp is increasingly unable to fall back on. Dortmund drew 0-0 at Bayer Leverkusen, but Freiburg’s 4-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt was enough to dump them back to the bottom of the table.

Don’t be downhearted though. Kloppo isn’t.

“We’re going to put pressure on everybody ahead of us.” he cheerfully told the post match presser.

You’ve got to admire his boundless optimism, haven’t you?

bee

No? Alright. Fine. Here’s that picture of him with a giant bee again.

-

sav

Word reaches Ramble HQ that Robbie Savage is feeling a bit threatened this morning.

It’s a generally accepted fact (even by Sav himself) that he is the most ridiculous man in football, and yet there appears to be some sort of charge going on for that particular crown.

mac

Barely a week after Dennis Wise unleashed his hair on an unsuspecting nation, Steve McManaman tipped up to the KC dressed like an entirely unnecessary hybrid of Inspectors’ Gadget and Clouseau and then this fella tipped up at Stamford Bridge with his cagoule and sellotape, sending football into spasms.

bloke

Honestly, it’s been said on the show but we’ll say it again. If you’re going to make a point (which, by the way, we think you’re perfectly entitled to do) put some bloody effort into it, will you? Otherwise it’s open season on the Ramble Facebook page and we find it really hard to disagree with people like Ross Hunter when they say:

“This bloke’s 5 year old child is currently making one of her own saying ‘don’t come home dad, you fat embarrassment’.”

Just think of the children, will you?

-

Enough of all that buffoonery. This is supposed to be a Weekend Highlights post. Let’s break from tradition and have some highlights. What would you like?

late

A late charge for the New Year’s Honours List from Sammy Ameobi (OBE)?

 

Nolito’s shout & swerve for Celta Vigo?

 

A bit of admirable (if largely unsuccessful) manspreading from Stefan Kießling?

 

Or Botafogo’s Jefferson showing Asmir Begovic how it’s done vs. Boavista’s Anselmo.

Not Phil Anselmo. No one would try to nutmeg Phil Anselmo.

 

Even hardcore metal fans think he’s a bit mad.

-

By Kelly Welles

#ramblelivemanchester: Behind the curtain

30 January 2015

ben

It was at least fifteen seconds before someone mentioned Marcus’s infamous “sex tour” of Thailand. Our beleaguered anchor, who will take at least his and Pete’s share of the Ramble ribbing before the evening ends, offers a critique of our fact checking (he actually went on a cultural tour of Vietnam with friends) before shaking his head in disappointment and walking away.

Needless to say, it’s all rubbish, but that’s hardly the point, is it?

nat

The third of the live shows saw the Ramblers, me, the unnecessarily talented Ben Bailey Smith (AKA Doc Brown) and Lord Ramble himself, pack our bags and head north to The National Football Museum in Manchester. The venue, a glass and stone homage to football and its importance in our cultural history, is a fan’s paradise; signed shirts mingle with imagery of England teams past and present, while information panels throw light and shade on spine tingling stills of our heroes in action.

As with the vast majority of live events I’ve attended, the first three hours after arrival at the venue consisted of the following: finding the toilets, locating the Green Room, losing the Green Room key, hunting for food and listening to burly men shout at each other over various lengths of cabling.

Fortunately, live show logistics are not handled by the Ramble themselves but by experts in the field; much fabled man herder Lord Ramble and production guru Ben Bailey Smith. While Pete swore into his laptop (more on that later) and Jim, Marcus, Luke and I speculated as to whether the Pele figure in the corner was meant to resemble the great man at the age of seventy despite full kit and baseball cap, they effortlessly steered the transformation of a big glass space into the ‘National That’s What Football Do To Ya Museum’ for one night only. It was humbling.

boys

Preparing Ramblers for a live show is a path riven with hidden potholes. They need to do their interviews, eat something, get their mics checked and argue over which of the two running orders Marcus prepared is the correct one, all before the floor is cleared for showtime.

If each of these tasks isn’t completed in an orderly fashion, anarchy swiftly follows, as Marcus will tell you. He left his recently acquired and much coveted tuna melt on the Green Room table for barely five minutes after he was called to mic check. It was a narrow window of opportunity, but sufficient for Lord Ramble to enquire as to the provenance of the rapidly cooling snack, take three large bites and leave the room.

Needless to say, reader, I got the blame.

natfoot1

Within seconds of the doors opening, the National That’s What Football Do To Ya Museum was filled to capacity with some of the most sharply dressed, intellectually superior football fans this country has ever produced. They came to Ramble and were raring to go by the time the lights went down at 8pm.

Hold on. There’s an implication there that the lights went back up again. Just to clarify, due to the proximity of audience members to the stage, it was felt that the boys’ movie star looks might prompt heartbroken Ramblers to hurl themselves platform-wards. The backlighting was a move designed to minimise the view of those beautiful faces and the ignition of any subsequent lust.

We needn’t have worried. The only chance of a crush at the front of the stage was in the rush to the toilets. Were you lot mainlining coffee outside the venue or something?

I won’t ruin the show for those of you planning to attend a future Ramble Live experience. But I’m also going to assume that by the time that happens, Marcus’s Scottish Football section will be treated with more respect than it was here; upon its announcement Pete buggered off the the bar, returning only when enticed with Africa Cup of Nations coverage, Jim browsed a copy of Four Four Two and Luke made a phone call.

Questions for the Ramble was born under a hashtag and if we learned nothing else on this night, it’s that you guys are at least as funny as we are, and twice as mental.. Luke’s haircare routine came under scrutiny and a roundup of what football may or may not do to ya in 2015 was undertaken but credit for inspiring the most hilarity goes to Sam, who submitted the following query:

lamp

A beaver, Marcus? Seriously?

A computer oversight by Lord Ramble leading to a horrifying glimpse into the contents of ‘Pete Donaldson’s MacBook Air’,some rather crude and unsubstantiated allegations scrawled onto a paying customer’s t-shirt and Pete’s critique of WagonWheels brought the evening to a rip roaring conclusion.

Thanks to everyone who came up to chat (it was emosh) and if you didn’t manage to get tickets this time, keep an eye out for news about upcoming forays into distant lands. As someone who’s been a long time fan of the show, I can assure you that the live experience is as good as you might imagine and more.

Literally brilliant, Ruud.

TO BUY THE BEST OF THE FOOTBALL RAMBLE LIVE THROUGH PAYPAL FOR £1.79, CLICK HERE

-

By Kelly Welles

Bayern Munich: Bane of the Bundesliga

30 January 2015

You don’t have to be a German football fan to appreciate how annoying the dominance of one club can be.

And if this video made by satirical TV show Extra 3 is any evidence, you don’t have to speak German to enjoy that club getting the piss ripped out of them either.

Marvellous.

-

By Kelly Welles

Jürgen Klinsmann: Show the world you’re better than Götze

29 January 2015

You know, just in case the German public get a bit carried away with this World Cup business and forget their history.

-

By Kelly Welles

-

H/T @MLS

Arda Turan: Who throws a shoe?!

29 January 2015

Oh, how fickle we are, Ramblers.

We’ve spent the last three years bemoaning Fernando Torres’ lack of form in front of goal, then the poor bugger moves back to former club Atletico Madrid, scores three goals in five appearances (including one in the first minute in a Copa del Rey quarter-final vs. Barcelona) and all we want to talk about is a man hurling his footwear in the general direction of a linesman.

fern

Sorry, Fernando. But still, it is epic, isn’t it?

-

By Kelly Welles

St Pauli: Hold on, have you got a (sausage) train to catch?

28 January 2015

If you’ve been hanging around these dank environs for long enough*, you will be familiar with the work of St Pauli.

Well, the off-pitch work, anyhow. The second tier German side’s football related activities pale into insignificance when considered alongside their ‘unconventional’ approach to politics, inclusivity and catering.

Or at least, that used to be the case. But if this footage from St Pauli’s recent friendly vs. FC Winterthur is any evidence, they’re in a hurry to bring top flight football back to the Millerntor-Stadion.

Usually teams wait until it’s their kick off before attempting to score from in and around the centre circle, Julian Koch.

saus

But you know, if it expedites a return to scenes like this on a Saturday afternoon, we’re all for it.

All aboard the sausage train!

-

By Kelly Welles

-

*If you haven’t, listen to their DWHoF entry here. We won’t tell if you won’t.

Chelsea vs. Liverpool: Mourinho’s New Clothes

28 January 2015

mou

Some months ago I wrote a piece observing that in certain games, referees appear to be intimidated into making or not making the correct decisions, either by players or managers.

joe

It was prompted by Joe Hart’s controversial head nuzzle of Michael Oliver during the Manchester derby, and Oliver’s subsequent decision not to address it, either in the game or his report. My point (and surprisingly, I did have one) was that we shouldn’t blame officials for making mistakes under such pressure, we should encourage the authorities that supposedly represent the wider interests of football fans to punish the aggressors.

On the balance of play, last night’s Capital One Cup result was probably the correct one. Chelsea edged it - in possession, in shots on target and of course, in goals. But imagine if the crucial header had been scored at the other end by Martin Skrtl or Emre Can.

Jose Mourinho, who was so apoplectic with rage that Michael Oliver had failed to award a penalty to his side on the half hour mark that he missed Ivanovic’s header, would have issued one of his theatrical, thinly veiled critiques in the post match interview and probably been fined.

Again.

He’d have denied it, just like he denied that Costa’s stamps were intentional when everyone with access to a television set, the internet and/or eyes saw that they were, paid the fine and continued along his merry path of wilful chicanery without a care in the world.

mou2

On one hand, let’s not delude ourselves. Football is one giant overinflated ego these days, and we all live quite comfortably on its big fat back. Mourinho’s escapades are a huge part of the modern game’s colour and I’ve been known to defend his tarting about on the basis that it occasionally saves me from having to actually look for something meaningful to write about.

But even I’m finding it a bit wearing now. Even worrisome. We wouldn’t have a game without match officials and continually seeking to undermine them through obfuscation and theatre, employing sleight of hand and verbal dexterity to distract from players’ misdemeanors and occasionally spiteful tactics to edge even the slightest advantage, serves no one but the team the offender is representing.

bren

Mourinho is far from the only one, but he’s the one they all look to now that Fergie’s retired, as Brendan’s enthusiastic greeting last night helpfully confirmed.

Remember, this isn’t a club thing. We, as fans, shouldn’t tolerate it when our club’s representatives do it simply because we benefit from it in the short term. We need to take the long view and support match officials, even if it feels unnatural and frankly weird at first.

If we don’t, and the authorities remain either unable or unwilling to impose meaningful sanctions, the future of our game rests on the hope that people like Mourinho will start self-regulating and do something truly controversial, like behave themselves.

Don’t hold your breath.

-

By Kelly Welles

Stoke City: You give a little love & it all comes back to you

27 January 2015

When he began his senior career at Barcelona, it’s reasonable to assume that Bojan Krkic never imagined himself leading the line for Stoke City in an FA Cup fourth round tie at Spotland.

Last night, as he celebrated this ludicrous strike that put Stoke City one up and his name became a refrain that echoed around the stands, he looked as though there was nowhere he’d rather be.

The weather, it seems, is irrelevant if you feel loved enough.

-

By Kelly Welles

Weekend Highlights PT2: It’s LITERALLY unwise, Ruud

26 January 2015

savage

BT Sport have hijacked the trailer that Sky keep all their yellow costumes in between Deadline Days.

This is the result.

-

wise

Dennis Wise appeared on Setanta Sport with this on his head.

The internet responded thusly.

williams

-

And finally, someone purporting to be the Ghanaian Pot Man turned up at the Africa Cup of Nations again.

two pots

We love his enthusiasm. But there does come a point where you’re just an arson attack waiting to happen.

-

By Kelly Welles

-

H/T #FriendOfTheRamble @Terry_Nutkin for the Pot Man update.

Weekend Highlights: Seeing red

26 January 2015

city

It’s back.

TheMagicoftheFACup™, last seen slinking away from Wembley Stadium (probably after a semi-final which shouldn’t have been there in the first place) looking pale, lethargic and thoroughly bored, returned to us with a sun tan, a new hairdo and some serious swagger this weekend.

mou

Of course, not everyone was pleased to see it.

The Chelsea fan who called BBC 606 on Saturday night, fresh from his side’s embarrassing trouncing at the hands of Bradford City, who claimed that the FA Cup is meaningless and irrelevant to elite players.

 
Joe Hart, who conveniently appeared to confirm the point by getting ‘caught on camera’ in the tunnel telling teammates, “We don’t need to win this competition, man” before watching his teammates capitulate to a resolute Middlesbrough side.

Allegedly.

Swansea City and Spurs, who also lost to less glamorous opposition, and Manchester United and Liverpool fans who will suffer the ignominy and inconvenience of replays in an already congested fixture schedule. 

But they’re either bitter or fictional. For everyone else it’s nice to see the imperious Chelsea dumped on their backsides, their hubristic manager “ashamed and embarrassed”.

falcao

The likes of Radamel Falcao (or Raymond Falcon, if you prefer) getting repeatedly dumped on their expense arses, while the Cambridge United crowd roared at Angel Di Maria’s repeated attempts to stick every ball they had over the stand and into the street.

The rest of us? We don’t give a crap about your feelings. In fact, we love seeing passion and will to win overcoming the financial disparity that dogs football occasionally.

It restores the faith.

-

 
While no one managed to outdo Gervinho’s hilarious response to the red card issued against him during last week’s ACON2015 game between Ivory Coast and Guinea, a few of our favoured sons had a go this weekend, with mixed results.

 
Cristiano Ronaldo got a bit handsy (and footsy) with Cordoba’s Edimar.

-

mexes

Noted pacifist and AC Milan defender Philippe Mexes tried to strangle a man. He was unsuccessful, so probably not *really* trying.

-

No one has claimed they were provoked, although Anderlecht’s Steven Defour may have a case.

He was sent off for a second yellow card after kicking a ball into the stands during Anderlecht’s visit to Standard Liege.

They were waving this at him.

defour

You’ve done your club proud there, chaps.

Well done!

-

By Kelly Welles

Martin Odegaard: Danger money

22 January 2015

ode

Real Madrid have completed the transfer of sixteen-year-old Martin Odegaard from Norway’s Strømsgodset.

odegaard

We know this because a photo of him having his medical at the club’s Valdebebas training ground has emerged, despite the fact that he’s so young it’s probaby some sort of sex offence.

In the tradition of extraordinary youngsters tipping up at massive Spanish clubs, Odegaard’s dad, Hans Erik, will be offered a job at Real, while his son will train with the first team and play for the Castilla under Zinedine Zidane.

ramostie

Assuming he survives Sergio Ramos’ banter, that is.

No wonder they’re paying the poor little sod 80k a week.

-

By Kelly Welles

-

Images via twitter, unamadridista.

Does Pete Donaldson STILL hate Tim Cahill?

22 January 2015

As trailed on last week’s show, you are invited to send questions to the boys for possible inclusion in the live Rambles using the hashtags #ramblelivemanchester #rambleliveedinburgh and #ramblelivelondon.

Here’s your starter for ten. Does Peetles still nurse his well publicised dislike for Australia’s greatest striker? Or is this the best goal that has ever been scored in the history of the world (this week in the Asian Cup)?

Expect swearing, either way.

-

By Kelly Welles