Category Archives: Humour

My Xmas Present To Pep Guardiola: A Guide To Stan Collymore

It’s been another tumultuous week in the short life of Manchester City football club, not least when Pep Guardiola became embroiled in the latest of a number of manager/pundit/ex-player spats. What this has shown, apart from the fact that the media likes to stir up spats – no surprise there – is that ex-player pundits seem to have remarkably thin skins, getting irate even at non-existent sleights.
If you can’t take it, don’t hand it out. Players have freedom of speech the last I heard.

At City, a short clip, little longer than a vine, was misinterpreted as Pep having a dig at Mr Collymore, and the rest of the narrative took care of itself.

I thought it might be useful therefore, as Pep no doubt follows my work keenly, to give him a quick rundown on who Stan Collymore is, and the huge cultural impact he has and continues to have, to life in the UK for us all.

Of course as mentioned there was no put down from Pep in the press conference really – he seemed simply confused by the question put to him – damn those Spaniards and their lack of pronouns. After all, I’m pretty sure he is not a devout disciple of Stan’s Mirror opinion pieces, unlike the rest of us. He will though have immersed himself in British culture since arriving on our shores, so will no doubt have come across Stan Collymore on his travels.
You can insert your own punchline.

Stan considers himself a journalist, and an esteemed one at that, he’s won awards and stuff so it’s rather surprising, by which I mean not remotely surprising in any shape or form, that he didn’t do some fact checking before his entirely predictable hit back. Never mind, I’m sure Pep’s not losing any sleep. I’d suggest Pep googles Stan Collymore himself, to get a better insight to the man, the legend, but on second thoughts, that’s probably not a good idea.

So instead, here’s a brief overview for Pep. Take it all in so that you don’t embarrass yourself again in the future.

The name Stanley is derived from the old English word for stone clearing – this clearing could be anywhere, be it next to a modern multi-story car park or a lay by where one can crack open the picnic box and enjoy a nice scotch egg or ham sandwich with the crusts taken off and sausage roll as the rain lashes down on another miserable British bank holiday, as an adjacent car mysteriously bumps up and down as a woman screams “Oh Terry, that’s the spot!” at considerable volume.

Anyway, I digress. Stanley Victor Collymore is a retired footballer who now considers himself one of the greatest media commentators on this crazy place called earth – though before I get all sarcastic, as I am wont to do, and just have been, Stan has suffered hugely from depression and his work to bring the issue to the forefront of discussions about the game and life in general should be greatly applauded. He has also raised considerable funds to help those affected, and we must remember that his demons shape who he is and how he behaves (as it does in us all).

Enough serious talk for now.

You see, Stan was a forward Pep, who was so good that in 11 years he spread the love around 9 different clubs, before hanging up his boots due to the lure of Talksport.  His prolific scoring saw him capped for England, and he gained only 15 caps fewer than Carlton Palmer.  Collymore was good though, on his day, single-handedly keeping Southend up, taking Nottingham Forest to promotion, and catching the eye of a certain Alex Ferguson. Ferguson was prepared to kidnap Collymore from an airport to clinch his signing, but in the end plumped for a certain Andrew Cole instead.

But Stan was doing well. In fact, he was so popular with team mates at Forest, they would sometimes ironically refuse to celebrate goals with him because they loved him so much.

In the end he signed for Liverpool, and played really well in one great game in particular – you should check it out Pep, it’s such a good game it’s even used in adverts and promotional literature. That’s how good it was, and Stan was the goodest of them all that day, as Liverpool defeated Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle 4-3.

For Keegan, what followed was a breakdown that reached its nadir when he agreed to manage Manchester city. For Victor, the spoils.

Stan really tried hard to make himself part of the Liverpool family, by refusing to play for the reserve team and criticising the club and its methods in a club magazine. He even wore a white suit to a cup final. Fowler called him his greatest strike partner, and his most reliable tenant.

Strangely though these efforts went unrewarded, despite that game against Newcastle, and in 1997 he moved on to Aston Villa. He struggled there and moved on to Leicester, where his highlight was letting off a fire extinguisher in a hotel corridor. Top banter, before banter even existed.

He passed through Bradford, picking up an FA charge on his way, before, at the age of 30, signing for Real Oviedo, and showed his commitment to the club by suddenly retiring 5 weeks later. The fact was, Stan’s temperament was just not right for the career in which he had embarked.

But never mind, as the football was just a sideshow really. A warm up act before the main event.

Yes, it’s probably fair to say it was as the star of Basic Instinct 2 that Stan Collymore will be best remembered.
Critics at the time called it THE stand out performance by an ex-footballer from Staffordshire in a motion picture, many comparing it favourably with Vinny Jones’ multi award-nominated voice over as Freddie the dog in Madagascar 3: Europe’s most wanted.
Mark Kermode commented that Stan dominated the screen, more so even than Marlon Brando in the Godfather. Basic instinct 2 gets a generous average rating on of 4.2/10, though this time around you get to see even more of Sharon Stone’s naughty bits. Apparently.

The offers from Hollywood naturally flooded in after the film, but Stan’s heart lay in media work, and he did not want to deprive the British public of his opinion and expertise. Hollywood’s loss was talk radio’s gain.

And so began a long career in radio and TV that continues to this day. Naturally his hard-hitting opinions in print found their home at the mirror, the paper that hosted all the best columnists – Robbie Savage, Mark Lawrenson, Brian Reade, Derek McGovern and more.

Stan has often courted controversy, because he says it as it is, and we all love people who do that. Certain incidents are not suitable for a family site, but it seems dogging has beaten the stringent checks. Anyway, what Stan does in his spare time is up to him, though on this occasion the BBC disagreed and sacked him.
Just remember though that if you do fall out with Stan and he offers to meet up to sort things out, as occasionally happens, do take a miner’s helmet, an A-Z, and plenty of money for one of those exorbitant service station sandwiches.

And if you really must experience the carnal delights of Anson’s Bank car park in Cannock at which Staffordshire’s swingers routinely congregate, apparently you turn right at the German War Memorial and’ if you reach a café, you’ve gone too far.’

I digress again.

There are certain things that are ingrained in British life in 2016. Drizzle, the English countryside, Nigel Farage eating a Ferrero Rocher, and being blocked by Stan Collymore on twitter.

Stan is part of the fabric of modern football.  If you’re wondering who thinks modern defenders are rubbish, then it’ll probably be Stan. If you’re wondering who is handing out managerial advice to Guardiola, Koeman, Klopp and more- that’ll be Stan. Think Gareth Bale should be less nice to become a better footballer? Stan agrees with you. Think Jose Mourinho could learn a thing or two from Neil Warnock? So does Stan!
Check out his articles, his bold views are all there. Or don’t, and do something useful with your time instead – it’s up to you.

Yes, he has his finger on the pulse, and in a sport that moves so quickly, when news breaks every minute, there’s no time for those fiddly, annoying time-consuming practices such as fact-checking or full sentences. Get with the times all of you.

So there you have it Pep Guardiola. Next time you are asked an awkward question about Stan in a press conference, you will be fully prepared to answer. I’ve even posted you his autobiography, some Rotten Tomatoes reviews of Basic Instinct 2 and a Match Attax card from 2011. I’ll start on a Robbie Savage guide right now – it should be ready by early March.

2014 in Football: A Review – The Charming Man, Philosopher Rodgers and FIFA’s Crooks

So it’s goodbye to 2014, another action-packed year on and off the football field. It peaked as Manchester City overcame destiny, history, big flags, a ball-sucking Kop and Steven Gerrard to share the title with Liverpool. It also saw the Germans at their efficient best, leaving a whole country in mourning in the process.

January was cold and dark as it often tends to be, as Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City tied for the lead in the title race. Liverpool kept their counsel, for now. The teams jousted with each other through the coming two months, as Liverpool kept their counsel. Arsenal of course fell to pieces, as Liverpool kept their counsel.

AND THEN -they struck.

Yes, Liverpool swept all before them and went on a long winning run that confirmed the genius that is Brendan Rodgers, a run that put Liverpool right in the title race and even stirred up Gerry’s pacemaker. Destiny was calling, and it seemed it wanted its first Premier League trophy. In the end, all destiny got was the equivalent of a Blankety Blank chequebook and pen. Never mind, next year is definitely their year.

But first it briefly looked like it could even be Chelsea’s title to lose, but lose it they did with two capitulations at Crystal Palace and Aston Villa. Liverpool just had to beat Manchester City to surely win that title, and they came through the sternest of tests. Their fans could start celebrating now – there was no way they could throw this away.

Then Chelsea came to town, still hungry for points.  Rodgers was calm before the match, and gave a stirring speech to his players:
“Players, gentlemen, Romans. I come before you not to mock, but to praise. This is your moment – THIS – is your perfect moment. Carpe diem. Think not what you can do for Liverpool fans, but think what they can do for you. It is a far, far better place that we are going to than we have been. Alas, poor Pellegrini, I knew him so well. “
Sadly, his stirring speech was in vain as Steven Gerrard slipped on his arse, and gave it to Demba Ba. Steve Gerrard, Gerrard. City did the business at Crystal Palace, and the title race swung back in their favour. The following week, Liverpool lost a 3-goal lead at Palace and football witnessed the most joyous image of the whole year, one that may never be beaten – Luis Suarez crying. It was beautiful beyond words.


City won their two last games with ease and the title was theirs once more, and this time goal difference didn’t matter.  My season review book was out within the hour. Naturally, Brendan Rodgers won Manager of the Season- and they say you win nothing for finishing second. Liverpool fans (some of) committed the cardinal sin – they sang about winning the league before they had won the league. This is something that should not be practiced unless it is mathematically impossible to lose the league. I considered it acceptable to sing “championes” two minutes into injury time against West Ham.

But what a sad way for Alan Hansen to finish his job at Match of the Day. So, so sad.

The next day I somehow stowed aboard the 2nd parade bus, and thousands of people waved at me whilst wondering “who the **** is he?”. Sheikh Mansour even sorted the weather, and a great time was had by all.

Elsewhere, Alan Pardew applied the ‘Glasgow kiss’ to Hull’s David Meyler at the KC Stadium, having moved on from telling opposition managers to “shut your noise you old c***” or pushing over match officials. It was progress of sorts, I guess. Next on the “to do” list is not to lose against Sunderland, though it looks like he’ll be doing that at Crystal Palace. #babysteps

Away from the Premier League, Atletico Madrid secured a magnificent La Liga title with a draw against Barcelona, whilst FIFA continued their honourable stewardship of the global game, so nothing of interest to report on that front. Oh ok, maybe not, as we will see.

So onto the summer, which of course meant the World Cup, in the 2nd home of football, Brazil. England did what England do best, and exited with a whimper, though at least they could claim to have lasted longer than Spain.
With Harry “honest as a North Pole day is long” Redknapp spreading rumours that some players couldn’t even be bothered playing for their country, Ian Wright very sensibly suggested that each of those players should have to phone the parents of a soldier killed in Afghanistan to explain themselves. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with that?!

“Hi, is that Mrs Smith?”
“Erm, yes..”
“Sorry to bother you, but this is Andros Townsend, I pulled out of an England friendly against Peru last year to be with my heavily-pregnant partner and I’d like to apologise profusely and explain my actions.”
“Right..erm..I’m not sure this is really relevant to me, and it’s not a good time to be honest….”
“Yes I appreciate that, but I think it a fitting punishment for my indiscretion that I explain to a complete stranger why I did what I did in full and I think it fitting I explain to someone currently grieving who has no interest in football whatsoever…”
“Yes, but now really isn’t a god time, we all need privacy right now..”
“I respect that, but let me take you back to my departure from the squad, at a time when…hello… Mrs Smith…hello…?”

The tournament started with a riot of goals and riots in the streets. Protests around social conditions were followed up with protests over Adrian Chiles’ presenting skills, which resulted in the studio being pelted with rocks. Welcome to our world, Brazil. Matters came to a head when Chiles presented a show in shorts and flip-flops, and the internet fell over.

Things weren’t much better elsewhere. Some executive had the bright idea of inviting Robbie Savage into the commentary box, where he had a tendency to shout a lot and sound exasperated at every missed pass. Then of course there was Phil Neville, who single-handedly sent a nation to sleep with his vocal cords. He did us all a favour as England succumbed to Italy and Uruguay, though they did secure a plucky draw against the behemoths Costa Rica.

The worst of the lot though, again, was Mark Lawrenson, who in the early days of the tournament seemed to be residing under a canal bridge judging by his on-screen appearance. Eventually he got his s**t together, but once more Mark seemed rather inconvenienced at being paid handsomely to commentate on a match in the Maracana. To make matters worse, Jonathan Pearce struggled with the concept of goal-line technology, for some reason calling a goal proven to have crossed the line “a controversy” and we all pined for the days when he did Robot Wars.

FIFA themselves were embroiled in scandal, as is their natural state of existence – and as usual they swanned about the host country like royalty. Sepp Blatter was carried around in a sedan chair as specially chosen children from the favelas fanned him with gold-plated coconut leaves, whilst all the FIFA delegates relaxed in 5-star hotels, ate only the finest food and drank the finest wines known to humanity whilst taking advantage of the many spurious laws that FIFA impose during a world cup competition. These included:
•             Sepp Blatter to be addressed at all times as “your excellency”.
•             A masseur to follow three steps behind FIFA delegates at all times.
•             Budweiser to be the only alcoholic drink to be consumed by Brazilians during the month of June.
•             The FIFA logo to be projected by laser onto the moon for the duration of the competition.
•             Bendy hot-dogs branded illegal as they went against “the ethos and ideals” of the FIFA family.
•             Set times for tides.
•             A 75ft statue of Sepp Blatter to be erected outside the Maracana made entirely from hardened zero-fat cottage cheese.
•             All team kits to be one matching colour (oh hang on, that one’s true)

There was uproar on Mumsnet.

Brazil staggered onwards before having their pants pulled down by Germany, who eased off once six goals to the good. Sadly Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta and Martin Demichelis were reduced to tears as Germany triumphed in the final.


The 2014 World Cup was also the year Luis Suarez tripped up and accidentally ate part of another player. Again.
Such a clumsy player.
Suarez explained what happened: “I was running at full pelt, intending to get on the end of a deep cross, when I stumbled, and soon found my mouth coming into contact with Chiellini’s body. As a man with a powerful and troublesome gag reflex, I immediately panicked. I immediately closed and opened my mouth repeatedly in an attempt to get air down my throat, and it was at this point that I sensed a chicken taste on my palette. My front teeth really hurt.
“Anyway, in Uruguay, biting a man’s shoulder is considered a sign of respect. Some of my favourite boots are black.”

FIFA had soon moved on to new scandals. Its awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was understandably still raising eyebrows, and the predictable stories of corruption, bribes and Sepp Blatter swatting it all aside soon emerged. Naturally they decided to investigate themselves, found no wrong doings and the lawyer hired to make the report quit because it has been doctored so much. Crooks, liars and thieves continue to run the global game, and it’s not funny really. Our only hope now is the FBI, who have smelt a rat, or a few million of them to be precise. Go team FBI!

The organisation officially became a parody of itself with the release of United Passions, a vomit-inducing room-spinning portrayal of those that run FIFA, propaganda that Joseph Goebbels would have struggled to match. Russian newspaper PRAVDA called the film “rather far-fetched”. The film cost £17m to make, and took £120,000 globally. More money well-spent by the keepers of our game.

The final straw though was the vote for the 2026 World Cup. They were as follows:
England – 2
The ancient city of Atlantis – 5
Mamis, one of Saturn’s inner moons – 8
Tim Roth – 26

Soon after, Jack Warner was announced as official travel agent for “all the Tim Roth family, and his associates”.


The “quenelle”, which I assumed was mashed potato spooned into a fancy shape, became a gesture of great controversy. Arguments raged over the racist intent of various players, but the pertinent point that emerged from all of this was the reminder that some footballers are just really, really stupid. It was the death (que)knell for Nicholas Anelka and his facial hair’s English career (apologies for the pun – it won’t happen again).

Managerial changes were once more numerous during the close season. The biggest appointment was the arrival of Louis Van Gaal on our shores. His arrival was greeted by some journalists like the second coming, Ian Herbert laughing so hard at a Van Gaal put-down that his bladder split in two. Allegedly.
Herbert’s funniest moment of the year? This quote from Van Gaal: “I Think David De Gea is one of the team, so he is a goalkeeper, so he has to stop (the ball).”
Reminds me of Rossiter, Hancock or Sid James in their prime.

And then there was Wigan, and their chairman Dave Whelan. Little known fact – whilst researching this article I found in some old Rothman annual listings that Whelan once broke his leg in an FA Cup Final.
No really!
Anyway, as we all know, the older generations are a “bit racist” and Whelan put his foot in his mouth and decided to keep it there by first appointing a manager in Malky Mackay who was under investigation for comments made in private messages and then decided to try and outdo his manager with some lazy racial stereotyping of his own. It’s just banter though.

2014 though was the year of the chosen one. David Moyes was the unlikely successor to Alex Ferguson, and whilst it was somehow acceptable for his ballsy successor Louis Van Gaal to comment that Manchester United needed to be more like their noisy neighbours City, for Moyes it was the final straw, and soon after he fell on his sword, before seeking the move he’d always wanted anyway – Real Sociedad, in a climate more suited to his complexion. Moyes seemed overawed by the job at United, like the first form schoolboy asked to run the common room, finding out he had the job when visiting Ferguson’s home. Moyes wondered if he had dressed appropriately for the occasion. Everyone else wondered what strength wine Ferguson was sipping at the time.  Ryan Giggs took over as caretaker manager, an appointment tremendously popular with the playing squad, as it meant they knew where he was.

Ferguson’s band of not-so-merry men began to fall by the wayside. Roy Keane moved closer to his “Falling Down” moment, yet inexplicably continued to be employed in various posts. The beard got bigger, and angrier, and his high standards were predictably rarely met. Like the littlest, and most furious hobo, he never stayed for long in any one place.
For Roy Keane, down the road is where he’ll always be. Every stop he makes, he’ll make no new friends. He can’t stay for long – just turn around and he’s gone again.
Maybe tomorrow, he’ll want to settle down – until tomorrow, he’ll just keep moving on.

Steve Bruce ended the year wondering if Hull would ever win another game. The less said about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the better.

And so onto the current season, and Chelsea had the league officially wrapped up in early October, whilst Charlie Austin was the in-form English striker, a remarkable transformation for a man who only 8 years ago was delivering papers or working in a beetroot factory or something. Liverpool swapping Luis Suarez for Mario Balotelli mysteriously didn’t work out very well.

Yes, Mario Balotelli returned to our shores, and I battened down the hatches. Everything since has been utterly, utterly predictable, but some people JUST WON’T BE TOLD. Predictably, the media reported every fart, parking ticket or slightly wacky bobble-hat (and there were many, many wacky bobble-hats) and it was boring beyond belief. Just as predictably, Balotelli was of little use on the pitch, got suspended for a social media post, and Brendan Rogers wondered where it all went wrong. As we reach the New Year, we still eagerly await his first league goal.

Rodgers was bullish though: “Mario for me is not just a player. He is a giant amongst men, a revolutionary, an angel and a devil. He thinks in sections, and we like that in our players, he is part of our family, and it’s a unique family, the Liverpool family, like on Bread, but more of a family than that. The lad’s showed great character, even after those four consecutive red cards, and for me he has found his home here at Anfield, as we all have. All of us are on a magic carpet ride of development – our quest is relentless, as I cannot live a second without hope.”
Rogers’ utterances would be worthy of the great philosophers of the ages – Socrates, Descartes, Brand, Barton.
“I play Glen Johnson not because it is easy, but because it is hard,” he added.

By the end of the year, City and Chelsea both topped the table for points earned in the calendar year, but Chelsea had a three-point gap in the league table and went into 2015 as title favourites. And in the end City won the league, I met Tim Booth and finally changed my toilet seat. #holytrinity

Here’s to absent friends and a fascinating 2015.


Social Media/Online Highlights


If Henderson goes to the World Cup, I don’t see a place for James Milner. Not sure Italy and Uruguay will be on tenterhooks

Daily Mirror article: After Man City’s loss to Wigan, Mark Lawrenson wonders whether Manuel Pellegrini is actually that good a manager .
Pellegrini really does seem to have a blind spot with Demechelis. Every single time he plays he makes a mistake.
Sometimes he gets caught out, sometimes he doesn’t. But it is inexplicable that for all the money that they have at their disposal, City could not go out and buy a better quality centre-half.
Joleon Lescott must look at him and think: ‘What is going on here?’ because you would go with Lescott over Demechelis every day of the week.

Daily Mirror Article by Mark Lawrenson, May 12th: Manchester City’s title win vindicates decision to replace Roberto Mancini with Manuel Pellegrini.
“Whereas the Etihad was a madhouse under Roberto Mancini, it is a more calm, more serene place under Pellegrini and City’s decision to go for him has been vindicated.
“He also has the Capital One Cup in his locker so, all told, it has been a fine first season for him…. It has been brilliant management to keep all of his three strikers motivated and focused…”

Alan Hansen on Match of the Day; “When Steven Gerrard picks up that trophy..”
( )

Daily Mirror article: Dave Kidd on Manuel Pellegrini: He’s Nothing Special.
We’ve heard the question all season long from the red half of Manchester: Why did United appoint David Moyes when Jose Mourinho was available?
Pretty soon, the Blue Moonies at the Etihad will be asking: Why Manuel Pellegrini when City could have had the Special One?

Any team, even one as flamboyant and richly-assembled as City’s, is only as strong as its weakest link. And from Barcelona to Wigan, they all recognise that City’s is Martin Demichelis.
The Argentine’s blunders look to have cost the Mancunian Blues two trophies already and if Pellegrini continues to select him, he will scupper their title bid too.

Daily Mirror article: Liverpool aim to win this title in the most sporting way possible says Brendan Rodgers….

Jim White @jimw1  ·  Apr 21
Ryan Giggs/Gary Neville would be a managerial double act to revive Old Trafford…

ROB @1RobBeasley  ·  Apr 26
Jose has told Everton and spurs to forget about trying to sign Lukaku. He wants him back at Chelsea for pre-season.

James Maw @JamesMawFFT  ·  May 18
James Milner Rooneying his way to a £200k a week deal at City, who need to keep their home-grown quota up. What a world. Played, Jimbo.

Piers Morgan @piersmorgan  ·  Aug 2
My Premier League prediction: 1) Arsenal 2) Mercenaries City 3) Chelski 4) DisUnited 5) Spurs (as always)  6) Liver ‘not good enough’ pool.

Manchester City FC @MCFC  ·  May 11


Report: The Louis Van Gaal/Falcao Press Conference

Following another series of predictably sycophantic reports on Louis Van Gaal’s latest press conference, I have collated what happened for your convenience….

You could feel it in the room. A buzz. An essence. A sense of expectation rarely experienced within the stuffy confines of a media centre.

The sense that fireworks were imminent, a far cry from the snore-fest that accompanies any visit to United’s noisy neighbours down the road, a Pellegrini sound bite as rare as a misplaced Januzaj cross. This boring man. Back in the theatre of dreams, my eye caught that of Sam Wallace. A knowing nod from him spoke volumes. This was it, buckle in for the ride.

Louis, Louis wherefore art thou Louis?

And then in he came with his new protégé. His entrance was understated, as it always is with the Dutchman, a keen proponent of the Maoist philosophy of Chung Tao, which respects the entity of silence and careful travel. All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.

What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!

It wasn’t planned, but it felt right, a spontaneous acknowledgement from all the journalists present – we stood as one and applauded. Applauded what? The situation, the presence of giants and the return of United’s DNA in human form. An invisible force had hauled me and others to our feet and it felt natural.

Van Gaal, who probably speaks 17 languages fluently, maybe more, can express his desires and aims in many ways, and when he described Falcao’s sumptuous two-yard tap-in from the previous day’s training session you could almost smell the goal, such is his way with words, and he exudes a self-confidence that journalists find irresistible. Falcao shared the air of authority. A quality of English way beyond anything that the other South American nomad of these parts, that waster Carlos Tevez, who was still mono-lingual after seven years in England, the idiot god I hate City. And somehow he fits – you get the innate feeling he is at his spiritual home now. He looks good in red too.
“You suit the kit,” I said to him timidly after the press conference and the Columbian flashed a charming smile my way. I swear that for a brief moment in time I went weak at the knees.

It is Louis van Gaal’s habit to peer intently at the player sitting beside him at a press conference table. At one point he seemed keen to stroke his new signing, to express his confidence in his very being. He loves those who have powers of self-expression – a valued part of the Dutch “total person principle”, so fundamental to his philosophy. Vorsprung durch technik.

That is why Danny Welbeck had to go – he was not a total person. Van Gaal was blunt in why he was sold, and you can only admire such honesty in a manager, bereft of riddles and clues, he says it as it is, unlike that moribund entity down the road.

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

Van Gaal was clearly proud that Falcao is embracing the mother tongue. He demands this from his disciples. … the spontaneous round of applause which once more burst outwards from the collective seemed only natural. One good turn deserves another, after all. Somewhere towards the rear of the room, there was a crash and as it turned out, a journalist from a regional publication had fainted. Here we saw the other side of Van Gaal, a fatherly, protective side that would happily have you nuzzling in his bosom, as he enquired to the wellbeing of the fallen comrade. And when he then relaxed and said he would be fine, we all knew that he was right instinctively we knew.

And then it was all over, like a heady blur. The press conference was brief – that is Van Gaal’s way, and his way rules. This above all: to thine own self be true. Brevity is the soul of wit, after all.

And now onwards to QPR. Hopes of redemption lie at Falcao’s feet. No pressure. And as the manager strode confidently from the arena, his arena, a PR lady tried to pass him a drink which he kindly refused. She tried again, to no avail, and seemed taken back at his rejection.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Transfer Deadline Day: The Timeline

00:01: The Guardian begin their transfer deadline day live blog.

05:00: Sky Sports News begin their transfer deadline day coverage. They have five reporters outside Big Ben in St. Stephen’s Tower to report on the passing of time AS IT HAPPENS.

(the BBC only have two).

07:05: Guillem Balague appears on Sky Sports and states that Radamel Falcao is very close to joining Manchester City for £35m.

08:00: Harry Redknapp gives an interview out of his car window as he arrives at training. He states the chairman is working hard on a few possible signings, but he doesn’t think there’ll be much movement today. The chairman’s been great he adds, and has a real passion for the club, so we’ll see what happens.

08:30: Manchester United are linked with Wesley Sneijder.

09:08: Reporter M outside the Etihad states that City are no longer looking to buy Falcao. A man stood in the background with a tea-towel on his head starts a Happy Mondays dance.

10:15: The cameras cut to outside the Emirates. A lone piece of tumbleweed blows across the forecourt.

10:40: Guillem Balague appears on Sky Sports and states that Radamel Falcao is very close to joining Manchester City for £43m.

11:00: Harry Redknapp gives an interview out of his car window as he leaves training. He states the chairman is working hard on a few possible signings, but he doesn’t think there’ll be much movement today. The chairman’s been great he adds, and has a real passion for the club, so we’ll see what happens.

11:40: Guillem Balague appears on Sky Sports and states that Radamel Falcao is very close to joining Manchester United for £56m. He states Manchester City were never in for the player.

13:33: Sky Sports understands that a blue private jet is on standby at Seville airport.

14:00: The yellow ticker-tape bar on Sky Sports News starts scrolling so quickly it becomes invisible to the human eye.

14:02: JIM WHITE IS ON AIR! Jim is resplendent in a yellow suit, yellow tie and yellow cravat. A small trace of white powder can be seen under his left nostril.

14:05: Guillem Balague appears on Sky Sports and states that Radamel Falcao is very close to joining Manchester United on loan, with a £12m fee. He states United were never interested in a permanent deal.

14:10: Jim’s voice is recorded at 98 decibels, similar to that of a pneumatic drill, or the croak of an Amazonian tree frog.

14:40: Sky Sports understands a private jet has just landed at Barton Airfield.

15:00: Jim White is rushed to hospital with a perforated larynx. Doctors fear he may never shout again.

15:20: Manchester United are linked with a move for Wesley Sneijder.

16:00: Guillem Balague appears on Sky Sports and states that Radamel Falcao has joined Manchester United on loan, for a £6m fee, as he predicted yesterday.

16:10: Ed Woodward is talked down from the Arndale Centre multi-storey car park after a tense three-hour stand-off with police.

16:40: Harry Redknapp gives an interview out of his car window as he returns to the training ground. He states the chairman is working hard on a few possible signings, but he doesn’t think there’ll be much movement today. The chairman’s been great he adds, and has a real passion for the club, so we’ll see what happens.

17:00: Jim White, the true professional that he is, is back in the studio! He is sweating profusely and reports the latest rumours with a certain melancholy.

17:17: Ed Woodward is reported to be concluding some urgent transfer business.

17:40: Reporter V (2) announces that the West Brom manager Alan Irvine has stated there will be no more deals before the window shuts. Three 14 year old boys stood behind him high on fizzy drinks start booing and making rude gestures towards the camera.

17:41: The Sky Sports presenter apologises for the rude gestures behind the presenter at The Hawthorns.

18:40: Harry Redknapp gives an interview out of his car window as he once more leaves the training ground. He states the chairman is working hard on a few possible signings, but he doesn’t think there’ll be much movement today. The chairman’s been great he adds, and has a real passion for the club, so we’ll see what happens.

19:00: Sky Sports understands Wesley Sneijder will not be moving to Manchester United.

19:23: Reporter D outside the Britannia Stadium announces confirmation that Stoke have signed a player on loan from Real Zaragoza that no one has heard of. This is the cue for raucous cheering from a selection of gargoyles. Reporter D tells them to be quiet and is drenched in Sunny Delight.

20:13: A supporter behind Reporter C outside Goodison Park is dressed in a mankini and is sporting a false moustache.

21:00: Manchester United announce the signing of Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema and Titus Bramble.

21:22: BREAKING NEWS: Rochdale have signed a defender on loan from Bury.

21:30: Reporter F stands outside a deserted St James Park. Behind him a man in a luminous jacket sweeps some twigs from the road. A white van trundles past. A security man looks vacantly towards the camera. A Mercedes pulls up! Could this be, possibly, Alan Par… no, it’s someone from the catering department. Reporter F solemnly speaks into the camera. As suspected earlier in the day, Newcastle will not be doing any business today. Is it raining? Or does a solitary tear run down the cheek of reporter F? No one can be sure. He mouthes to the camera “Help me. Someone please help me.” A pigeon craps on his shoulder. The camera fades to black.

22:59: A moist Jim White begins the countdown.

23:00: BONG! Jim White completely loses his shit as Big Ben chimes to signal that it is 11pm. The transfer window is shut. This means there is a mere two hours left for deals to be announced.

23:30: Nothing happens.

03:00 – QPR announce the signings of Peter Odemwingie, Kolo Toure, Mido, Scott Sinclair, Micah Richards, Scott Carson, Billy Sharp, the entire Derby County squad and 1D singer Louis Tomlinson.

05:00: A lone pick-up truck removes the mangled wreck of Peter Odemwingie’s car from the gates at Loftus Road.

2014/15 – Predictions For The Season

In what Sky Sports are already calling the most exciting season in Premier League history, the 2014/15 promises to be a fascinating nine months as multiple teams challenge for the title, new stars grace the biggest league in the world ever ™, whilst a host of new managers promise to ensure that there’s never a dull moment. With that in mind, here’s my predictions for the upcoming season, from the title race to the relegation battle, the scraps, the arguments, the controversy and the most blatant book-whoring you’re ever likely to see.

As the season approached, Tony Pulis was sensationally sacked by Crystal Palace after he was caught ram-raiding the club shop. A police raid later found over 400 branded bobble-hats and numerous baseball caps in his attic. Two policemen were trapped under a mountain of merchandise for three hours after unwittingly opening a door under the stairs.

A new season brought new hope for all, hope that most had cruelly crushed within a fortnight. Paul Scholes came out of re-re-retirement. “It’s like a new signing for us,” said Louis Van Gaal.

Manchester United target Cesc Fabregas signed for Chelsea. The Telegraph reported that United never submitted a bid as Louis Van Gaal and his coaching staff were not convinced about his ball control.

Arsene Wenger questioned whether Manchester City were bypassing Financial Fair Play rules and sticking two fingers up to Michel Platini after signing Frank Lampard on loan for 6 months.
“This is not right I think, it is something the ruling bodies need to look at, for the good and integrity of the game.”

Brendan Rodgers praises the continued development of Raheem Sterling.
“I have watched Raheem develop from a young kid with only one child to a wonderful man, full of vigour and spunk and the way he runs on the pitch has to be admired, with those lithe limbs and that cheeky smile. I love him. He completes me.”

Rodgers was calm about the hole left by the exit of Luis Suarez: “We are comfortable with the replacements we have brought in here to Anfield. Luis must know that he will never walk alone, but we must move on, as a single entity, as a desire and movement that is above the norm and as a force that belies the traditional viewpoint of football, an essence, a belief, a state of mind. The guy was a nutter anyway.”


Roy Keane vowed not to shave until Aston Villa next won a match. The beard eventually became a health hazard before Keane suddenly quit his role and disappeared from public life. Eventually he was found foraging for mushrooms whilst living wild in the New Forest.

Arsene Wenger questioned whether Manchester City were bypassing Financial Fair Play rules and sticking two fingers up to Michel Platini after handing a new contract to Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and Samir Nasri.
“This is not right I think, it is something the ruling bodies need to look at, for the good and integrity of the game.”

Manchester United target Eliaquim Mangala signed for rivals Manchester City. The Telegraph reported that United never submitted a bid as Louis Van Gaal and his coaching staff were not convinced about his concentration levels.

Sam Allardyce wandered into a press conference sporting only a leopard-skin thong whilst sucking on a turkish pipe, before telling the startled press pack how he had “out-tacticed” Swansea after a 2-1 victory at Upton Park.
Later in the season, Karren Brady saved Allardyce’s life after she administered the Heimlich manoeuvre on him after a piece of gum became lodged in Allardyce’s throat after a Kevin Nolan chicken goal celebration went horribly wrong, breaking Mark Noble’s nose. Allardyce and Nolan left the club soon after.

Across the country, Louis Van Gaal, “The Iron Tulip” (TIT), had his own surprise for journalists as he whacked Olly Holt about the face with his testicles after Holt questioned his 3-5-2 formation against Hull City. Holt was whacked with such force that his alice band was dislodged and fell to the floor. Holt was later seen crying in the first aid room. Sam Wallace later commented that Van Gaal’s testicles were like “huge mangoes that had been left in the sun for too long”. United’s press department declined to comment.

After a throw-in went against his team, Alan Pardew went on a seven-hour rampage around the streets of Newcastle. Having head-butted the 4th official, Pardew destroyed the dugout armed only with a water bottle, before sprinting down the tunnel, out of the ground and into the city centre where he was seen brandishing a sharpened letter-opener with his tie firmly around his forehead. A McDonalds, two Greggs and a B & M Bargains all suffered major damage before Pardew was sedated with a blowpipe.
Pardew later told Sky Sports: “I regret what I did, I’m a passionate man. I’ve had a word with the chairman and we’ve agreed I’ll stay in the dugout in future. I apologise to Louis Van Gaal for comparing him to Butthead.”

The National Football Museum at Urbis proudly announced the second sale of Howard Hockin’s acclaimed 2013/14 Manchester City Season Review book, a mere six months after release. Hockin was said to be “delighted” and “a bit overcome with emotion”.

Manchester United target Arturo Vidal signed a new deal with Juventus. The Telegraph reported that United never submitted a bid as Louis Van Gaal and his coaching staff were not convinced about his upper body strength.

Arsene Wenger questioned whether Manchester City were bypassing Financial Fair Play rules and sticking two fingers up to Michel Platini after opening a new burger stand in City Square.
“This is not right I think, it is something the ruling bodies need to look at, for the good and integrity of the game.”

Manchester United signed a sponsorship deal with Durex, who became the club’s exclusive pregnancy-avoiding partners in South Asia, Oceania and Peru.

After Newcastle lost to Sunderland a Newcastle fan was arrested at Knowsley Safari Park for punching an ostrich.

Harry Redknapp gave an exclusive interview in the QPR car-park, where he complained that the squad was down to the bare bones after only adding 17 players in the summer transfer window.
“We’re up against it, that’s just the way it is you know?” said Harry. “We’ll try and get some more players in, but I leave that sort of thing to the chairman.”
Redknapp’s assistant Glenn Hoddle attracted more criticism after suggesting in a post-match press conference that Richard Dunne’s poor performance may have been due to him being a pimp in a previous life.

QPR though secured a famous victory at Anfield, and Redknapp dedicated the win to his dog that used to be alive, Rosie. “She was more than just a dog,” he said tearfully to a compassionate Martin Tyler.

Joey Barton stubbed an e-cigarette into the eye of a QPR youth player at the club’s Christmas do after the youth player questioned Barton’s views on Friedrich Nietzsche’s essays on life-affirmation and objectivity of truth.

Arsene Wenger took a bold and brave plunge into the market and purchased a new coat, which very much resembled his old one.
He said: “I have never been afraid to spend when necessary. The old coat had developed a small tear in the hood.”

Manchester United target Matt Hummels signed a new deal with Borussia Dortmund. The Telegraph reported that United never submitted a bid as Louis Van Gaal and his coaching staff were not convinced about his pace.

Mark Ogden fainted in a Manchester City press conference after Manuel Pellegrini said something interesting. Alan Irvine was sacked as West Brom manager but no one noticed.

Arsene Wenger questioned whether Manchester City were bypassing Financial Fair Play rules and sticking two fingers up to Michel Platini after painting one of the concourses in the south stand.
“This is not right I think, it is something the ruling bodies need to look at, for the good and integrity of the game.”

Manchester United target Falcao signed on loan for Real Madrid. The Telegraph reported that United never submitted a bid as Louis Van Gaal and his coaching staff were not convinced about his shooting. In January 2015, Ed Woodward jetted off on some urgent transfer business and was never seen again.

Wesley Sneijder was linked with a move to Manchester United. Wayne Rooney handed in his third transfer request before signing a lucrative new contract. Rooney was promised the next manager’s job and unlimited hair.

Ollie Holt was apoplectic after Leicester City change the name of their stadium to the Walkers Extra Ridged Grilled Steak Range Lineker Memorial Stadium.

Chelsea eventually triumphed in a close title race, though Liverpool won the moral victors title for the 2nd season in a row, despite finishing 5th. Brendan Rodgers handed out three envelopes to players after the season ended, but accidentally put his own name on one of the cards. He was forced to quit and later took over Swansea again.

As the season faded into distant memory, Yaya Toure celebrated his 32nd birthday. City hired Wembley Stadium for the occasion, baked a cake that fed 5000, and the Red Arrows flew over the ground spelling out a birthday message. The British government announced a national holiday, a gold-plated Ferrari was presented to the player and each squad member read out a poem they had written expressing their reverence for the Ivorian. Toure’s agent later complained that the cake was undercooked, the Ferrari had no sat-nav and that Toure was considering his future.

Jose Mourinho acted like a cock for nine months.