Latest from The Football Ramble
Football caricatures are ten a penny at the mo - the earning potential of a few sketches of players being significantly higher during an international football tournament - but these, by artist Nico Mendez, are by far the best we’ve seen.
Nico doesn’t limit himself to footballers either. All manner of celebrity imperfections are exaggerated to hilarious effect on his Facebook page, and he’s not afraid to turn his unforgiving eye on himself either.
I suppose when you’re that good looking and talented, you can afford to.
By Kelly Welles
All images ©Nico Mendez. Check out more of his work on Facebook.
The confluence of events enabling Luis Suarez to be banned from both international and club football for such a significant period of time that his first game back would be against his new club’s arch rivals was so serendipitous, we almost believed that Pepe would have taken anger management classes, just to counterbalance fate.
Thankfully, we don’t have that kind of influence over world events just yet. And the Portuguese madman has once again proved he’s as capable as ever of getting into rows, offering hope that his encounter with Suarez in October will be the meaty affair we’re all secretly hoping for.
Last night, Seydou Keita refused to shake Pepe’s hand prior to Madrid’s friendly against Roma in Dallas; a move that has been linked back to an unpleasant incident between the pair in a Supercopa game back in 2011, when Keita accused Pepe of calling him a ‘monkey’.
Keita then threw a bottle of water at Pepe, narrowly missing the defender’s head, but provoking El Clasico-esque scenes between the players.
At some time during the festivities a football match broke out, Sergio Ramos got nutmegged (2.26) and Fransceco Totti scored the decisive goal.
Best fighting trousers on, Ramblers! The real El Clasico is going to be a barnstormer this year.
Assuming Pepe doesn’t get himself a ban. That’d be suitably ironic.
By Kelly Welles
Images: larepublica, Twitter.
Hours after Morgan Schneiderlin took to the social networks to express his displeasure at Southampton’s refusal to let him leave for Spurs, rumours abound on Twitter that there has been a punch-up at Southampton’s training ground involving “three senior figures”.
That’s good news for Southampton fans, surely? The squad has been pillaged to such an extent it must be a relief to learn that they have some “senior figures” left.
By Kelly Welles
Images via Twitter.
Nope. Still looks like a weird Barcelona/Crystal Palace hybrid.
It’s fortunate that football fans operate their finances to a model perfected by FIFA.
Without those massive surpluses, there’s absolutely no way we’d be able to afford our respective club’s home, away, third, Champions League and training kits, new boot silos, not to mention all the other miscellaneous tat that emerges at this time of the year, literally days after we’ve shilled the best part of a hundred quid on our national team’s shirt.
So once you’ve taken delivery of the essentials - your St Pauli waffle iron being the priority - where do you start?
Real Madrid have turned their metrosexual up to eleven with this season’s away kit.
While the 2014/15 home shirt stays true to the Los Blancos tradition, the Galacticos have gone all Priscilla Queen of the Desert with their travelling garms and they’re as fabulous as you might expect. adidas’ detailing has been superb in recent months - the grandad collar we’ve seen across several of their designs is present here - and the font and three stripes look seriously classy against the innovative colouring.
Barcelona fans have already described it as “ugly” and “not very masculine”, presumably having forgotten that just a few short years ago they were sporting one of the most hideous away kits committed to polyester. And that’s before we’ve even mentioned the ‘Solero’ unpleasantness.
As for the masculine thing? Tell it to Pepe.
No shirt highlights package would be complete without mensh of the mayhem currently abounding in the lower tiers of Spanish football.
Above is the new Cultural Leonesa home shirt, which, as you can see, has been designed to resemble a shirt front with dickie bow. Of all the shameless attempts to attract the world’s attention, this is our favourite, simply because of it’s versatility. Wear it to the game, then straight onto the black tie do afterwards without having to go home and change. Win.
The new kits from CD Lugo offer similar convenience. Out in the pub and too drunk to order another beer? Simply point at your shirt and Bingo! A fresh pint will be winging its way across the bar at you and if your mate is wearing the away shirt, probably some poisonous bar snacks too.
Both of the behemoth boot manufacturers had a decent enough World Cup – the adidas adizero F50 claiming the most goals scored while Mario Goetze’s winning punt in the final was channelled through Nike’s Magista – but don’t be thinking either are sitting on their laurels.
Both companies have issued variations on their World Cup silos for the new season. Nike have rejected the blinding colourways of World Cup glory with a Stealth Pack, boasting what are essentially blackout versions of the HyperVenom, Superfly IV, Vapor X, Magista, & Tiempo, while adidas have gone the other way, updating the classic Predator with colourful version of their Battle Pack design.
Warrior have also been busy. In between finding time to design kits for the likes of Sevilla and Porto, the up & coming apparel company have issued classy colour upgrades to their Gambler and Skreamer silos, while Puma have followed up their gorgeously mismatched evoPOWERs with designer evoSPEED colourways.
It’s the beautiful symmetry you find in football that keeps us coming back, y’all.
By Kelly Welles
Not like that. Filthy.
No, the denizen of Sky’s Transfer Deadline Day coverage has been reanimated a few weeks ahead of schedule to help hapless football fans struggle with the reality of having to straddle the chasm between the World Cup and the new Premier League season starting.
Apparently, if you call 0333 202 2177, Jim’s dulcet tones will soothe you through the pain, right up until the 16th August when Sky’s coverage of the BestLeagueInTheWorld™ recommences, and an entirely different kind of pain begins.
Look at those hilarious photos. The Sky Sports marketing department is literally on fire, Ruud.
By Kelly Welles
What the hell is that?
You leave football unattended for ten days, and when you return, you find that not only has it gnawed through its lead and run off howling into the wilderness, it did so after shaving its head and slipping into a smart new Chelsea shirt.
Oh Cesc, we never knew you. And that, beloved Ramblers, is just the start of it. Over the next couple of days, we’re going to take a wander through some of the more startling sights of the closed season, including new kit releases, transfers and holiday photos.
Because while you lot might insist you’re serious football fans with no interest in pictures of babies, audacious swimsuits and players rolling about on the deck of expensive yachts, our traffic stats tell an entirely different story.
It’s okay. We won’t tell if you don’t.
First up, we have Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan scoring a hat-trick in an exhibition match to celebrate the opening of a new stadium in Istanbul.
Erdogan, who once dismissed recordings of telephone conversations between himself and his son during which they allegedly discussed hiding large sums of money, as “a treacherous attack” and a “shameless montage”, watched his team concede three before nipping on, restoring parity and nipping back off, all completely legitimately.
His former assistant Yusuf Yerkel was not present. A shame really, as the last time he was seen in public, kicking an anti-government protester, he appeared to have a right foot like a traction engine.
How many man points does one receive for scoring the winning goal in a World Cup final? Enough to cancel out the embarrassment of being photographed looking like a petulant toddler who’s just slipped over in some mud in front of a girl and is about to embark on the mother of all tantrums?
We’re going with ‘barely’. You’ve had yer one, Goetze.
Cristiano Ronaldo has had a busy off season.
He’s designed some shoes, shown an uncharacteristic burst of good humour with a Michael Jackson impression (although he did laugh a little too heartily at what was essentially his own gag) and visited Japan to shill ‘facial fitness’ devices that looked like sex toys.
Footwear and sex are both lucrative industries. You can’t blame the man.
Has all this left you feeling a little disorientated?
Fear not, because while all of those about you are losing their heads (or at least shaking them in a committed yet confusing manner) Fernando Torres remained solidly consistent during Chelsea’s friendly vs. Olimpija, missing an absolute sitter.
That, and the fact that El Diego is rumoured to have a new girlfriend twenty-eight years his junior almost restores the balance, doesn’t it?
By Kelly Welles
Unless you’re old enough to remember football before the 1990 World Cup semi-final, the impenetrable assurance and efficiency of the German national team will have been just history to you until last night - a reference point of the past like Brazil in 1970, Hungary during the fifties and the total footballing Netherlands side of the seventies.
That’s not to say they haven’t achieved since a broken Gary Lineker offered his somewhat backhanded compliment after England capitulated to West Germany in that semi-final penalty shootout, but they’ve arguably lacked the cohesion and ruthlessness required to carry them through the seven games required to win a World Cup since that time.
The fact that it was the 5-1 defeat to England in 2001 that contributed to the decision to rethink their strategy is even more ironic now, given that they won this tournament at a canter while the Three Lions have been on the beach for two weeks.
Is anyone ready to have that conversation yet? No? Ok.
Let’s concentrate on the positives instead, shall we?
There were so many highlights in this competition it would be impossible to list them all, but now the clouds of gas emanating from British pundits and summarisers has finally cleared we can see that Germany were easily the best team of the tournament.
From Neuer’s control of his penalty area and beyond to Muller’s GPS-like accuracy when it comes to popping up in the box, they are a team in the traditional sense of the term.
They had their stand out players but the strength in depth to perform even when they weren’t firing. They tested the referee without invoking his wrath. They had self-belief in buckets but even when they battered the host nation 7-1 in their own backyard they managed to do so without hubris. They didn’t fall apart when one of the best players in that game, Sami Khedira, was injured in the warm-up, forcing a last minute change.
And when the moment finally arrived, so typically in the dying minutes of extra time, a twenty-two year old came off the bench with the words “show them you’re better than Messi and can decide the World Cup,” ringing in his ears and did.
The Little Maestro himself, winner of four Ballon D’ors, breaker of so many records it’s actually a record itself (probably), could only dream of such composure in front of goal.
It was a fitting end to a tournament that offers plenty for historians to chew over, not least the dismissal of a forward for biting a defender. The end of a football dynasty. A crushing, humiliating defeat for a country who took a game and made it beautiful. A terrifying, gigantic insect attaching itself to a penalty taker. Fred.
And while they’re doing that, we’ll be concentrating on adjusting to a life that doesn’t include three football matches per day and the knowledge that even when that joy does return, we’ll all be four years older, four years fatter and four years further away from representing our country at the highest level of football.
On the plus side, at least Rihanna will be too old for ligging at football matches. Hopefully.
By Kelly Welles
This section is edited by Kelly Welles, to contact her please send her an email.