Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Changing Room

photo by RachelH_via PhotoRee

You'll notice some changes around here over the coming days and weeks. Probably not the changes you'd like to see -- for example, contrary to popular desire, Correspondent Ed is NOT leaving -- but rather the changes we'd like to see. And as this is our website we're going to make them. Because we think farlieonfootie will be the be better for them. And this whole endeavour is continually about trying to get better, sharper and more enjoyable for you, our valued readers.

For one, we won't be publishing our updates daily, as we've done every single day for the past eight months.  At least for the next 45-60 days or so. As we slip into a football off-season filled with non-events, transfer rumors and speculation, we'll take some time off to stop and smell the non-football roses in our life. I'm not sure yet as to the exact new schedule, but we'll take it as it comes. Please continue to check this page regularly as I hope we'll continue to put out quality writing --- just not as much of it in the short term. 

We're going to slant a bit more heavily toward beer reviews during the coming month or two. Sure, we'll offer our thoughts on new signings,  announcements, and world football news, but we'll also be sipping and reviewing the world's best craft beers in an effort to introduce you to some new favorites. Drinking beer is not a bad way to spend the summer, and we're kind of looking forward to the opportunity.

Monday, May 30, 2011

There's No Shame in Losing

photo by 99 James Kieran Nguyenvia PhotoRee

Some final thoughts on Manchester United's 3-1 loss to Barcelona in the Champions League:

o I'm incredibly proud of this team. Yes, they got beat, but the spirit with which they contested the match was nothing short of fantastic, and true to the United tradition. This pains me to say, but they were beaten by a better team -- on the night. Barcelona played absolutely stunning football on Saturday, spinning the pass wheel roulette, poking, prodding and probing in order to find and exploit even the slightest United weakness. Sometimes you just have to stand up and applaud, which is what I did at the game's conclusion, mesemerized by a little Argentine magician at the top of his game, spurred on to even greater heights by a Spanish maestro in the middle who dictated the game's tempo.

o Barca earned my respect on the night, but still has a long way to go to earn my admiration. Their beauty is often cheapened by their theatrics, diving and simulation, which appeared even as they won their fourth European Championship. Perhaps it is a sign of the youth in their squad, but Pep Guardiola would do well to remind his players that they are representing both a club and a culture, and their continued flopping, time wasting and overy-theatrical rolling around on the pitch do nothing to enhance their reputation.

o I was impressed by both Barca's speed and defense, and in particular by the wonderfully gifted Eric Abidal. Antonio Valencia saw little if any of the ball during the match, and much of that came down to Abidal's teriffic play on Barca's left flank.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Keep The Red Flag Flying High

photo by Paolo Cameravia PhotoRee

We'll never die, we'll never die,
We'll never die, we'll never die,
We'll keep the Red flag flying high,
'Cos Man United will never die

This is farlieonfootie for May 29.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I'll Take One of Those, Please

I'm hoping to see this is Edwin Van der Sar's hands in about six hours....

London Calling

photo by davidhcvia PhotoRee

More of the sites and sounds of a pre-match London:

o Well, the weather is doing its level best to cooperate for the weekend's festivities.  What started out as a gray, gloomy and chilly day has ended in near perfection, the sun finally peeking out from beneath the clouds and the climate becoming more temperate by the minute.  If we can just keep it this way a bit longer....

o What was the guy in line next to me at customs thinking when he told me my football warmup jacket should be blue? Maybe I have this wrong, but didn't Manchester United beat Chelsea four times this season?

o Is it just me, or does it sound slightly suggestive every time the recorded female voice on the Underground announces I'm headed toward "Cockfosters?"

Friday, May 27, 2011

Road Trippin'

photo by Global Jetvia PhotoRee

So, as with all great road trips, this journey began with a beer. An ice cold beer. Designed to smooth out the vague remnants of a hangover from last night's office sending off party, the 12 ounces of Sam Adams Light eased me into the initial stages of my 8-hour journey to London. I've headed to England's Capital, sometimes known as The Big Smoke, to see Saturday's Champions League Final pitting the underdog English Champions Manchester United against the favored La Liga winners, Barcelona.

As the wheels of the farlieonfootie Corporate G-5 left Miami terra firma, I tilted back the last of my beer to consummate the silent toast I had just offered, and pointed in the general direction of where I thought farlieonfootie's crack Correspondents Ed, James, Tom and Scott were.  Part of the farlieonfootie "Champions League invasion" of London, we'd only yesterday finished our staff planning session regarding responsibilities for our extensive team coverage of the weekend's festivities. What we hadn't planned was a raucous office party that spiraled hazily out of control, leaving me as the only one of our five intrepid reporters still standing, with two of the others hospitalized with debilitating hangovers, one arrested (I do believe you're innocent, Tom, but couldn't wire the funds in time for you to make bail!), and the fifth man still missing in action (names have been withheld to protect the innocent, but if Correspondent Ed's wife is reading this, please shoot me an email through our completely confidential office system to let me know where (if?) he eventually turned up. Last I saw Ed, he was looking slightly the worse for wear, with no shirt or belt, and only one shoe still on his person).

Tangerine Tears

photo by Amanda M Hatfieldvia PhotoRee

There we all were in the restroom of FOF headquarters, holding rolled up cold cuts – salami, ham, liverworst – in an effort to entice our curled up boss-man out of the stall he had been curled up on the floor of for several hours.  At first people weren’t sure where he was, but then the whimpering got louder and the frenetic shouts of names like “Hangelaand!!!”  and “Berbatov!!!”  and “Van der Vaart!!!” gave away his location.  

Perhaps it’s not easy being the boss some times, but I suspect it’s even harder when after all the bluster and chest pounding you end up LOSING YOUR OFFICE FANTASY POOL to guys like me and an office page named Raul or Mike or something like that (seriously, I don’t know who that guy is, but I suspect computer hacking had something to do with his ability to edge me out for first place in the league by 3 points).

I’m pleased to say that we finally did get him out of the stall – we grabbed him when he reached for some bologna  – and even then I was surprised to see him in such disarray.  I think I’ve seen the frayed blanket before (his light blue “woobie” (yes, I said “light blue” United fans!)), but I’ve never before seen the tiny stuffed deer that he was cuddling with.  I mean, seriously, I’d almost think it’s sad if it didn’t make me so hells bells happy.  So let me say it to all of you here first: 


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mistakes Were Made

photo by becca.peterson26via PhotoRee

In which I own up to the times when my prediction radar was slightly off:

Despite nailing the fact that Wigan would just edge out Brum in the relegation battle all the way back in mid-January, in the very same column I didn't quite manage to see how the bottom of the table would play out.  Witness this gem:

"West Ham will not be relegated.   Maybe they deserve to be, and maybe it’s just my latent sympathy for Avram Grant and our farlieonfootie columnist Ian, but I don’t think the Hammers are going down."
Umm, the worst team in the League usually gets relegated, and Hammers happened to be bottom of the table.  Guess you can't win them all.  Grade: F

Or  how about this terrific piece of football insight, from the very same column:
"...[D]espite my genuine affection for Mick McCarthy, I don’t see Wolves staying up..." 
Wrong again!  Mick's boys managed to get hot at the right time and prove me wrong.  But surely, you note, that's only two things from that fateful column you got wrong.  You didn't miss another, did you?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


photo by My Alternative Photosvia PhotoRee

Tuesday night was a fitting tribute to a legendary servant of the club. Huffing and puffing his way up and down the pitch, Gary Neville -- RedNev, to his legion of fans -- said goodbye to the 42,000 faithful at Old Trafford in an exhibition game played at a leisurely pace against Juventus of Italy. Fittingly, the former England right back was joined on the night by several other "kids" who created Fergie's Golden Generation of players: Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, who seem to be getting younger with each passing year, and David Beckham and Nicky Butt from Manchester United days gone by.

United "lost" the game 2-1, but the final scoreline mattered less than the heart and spirit shown by both sides on the pitch.  Herewith, some further thoughts while watching the game, along with some implications for Saturday's Champions League final:

  • What in the world are Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs doing on the pitch five days before the European championship??  I'm sure the Neville Testimonial was scheduled weeks ago, but did the Reds' front office have such little faith in the club's chances of making the final that they scheduled this game for the same week?  I can't imagine an NFL team preparing for the Super Bowl by giving a exhibition runout to two starters and some important bench players (Scholes, and possibly O'Shea, Anderson and Rafael) the week of the final.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I See Dead People

photo by riptheskullvia PhotoRee

While some of my readers out there see dead people, I see the future.  I see only the football future, though, and often I see it imperfectly.  But when I see it, I write about it.  So, in order to see how I've done as a prognosticator, let's check in on a few of the predictions I made this season to see if I was seeing something close to what actually happened.  farlieonfootie prides itself not on getting things right -- any blathering idiot can do that -- but rather by sticking our necks out and boldly going where no man has dared to tread before.  Often with good reason.

Today we'll examine the part of the scorecard where things went right for us, and later in the week we'll see if we can find anything we wrote that wasn't quite as accurate.  I'm sure I can find something if I look hard enough:

1. Let's start with a big one, going all the way back to the beginning of the season.  I'd say I got this one about Chicharito, written back in September, pretty close to spot on:
"As close friends...know, ever since I first saw him break onto the scene at the World Cup I've been predicting that young Javier Hernandez, United's Little Sweet Pea, would be an immediate sensation in his first year in England."  
I don't know many people other than Paul Scholes who thought the little Mexican would become a United mainstay this season, but I saw something special right from the get go.  We all know Scholes has impeccable football vision, but how about mine?  Grade: A+

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mission Accomplished

photo by mecredisvia PhotoRee

Random thoughts from the closing chapter to a record-breaking 19th Championship:
  • Pretty emotional stuff today, saying goodbye to Edwin Van Der Sar.  It was very nice that not only the Old Trafford faithful, but also Ian Holloway and the Blackpool fans, acknowledged VDS' career. Pure class all the way 'round.

  • A day of finality at the Theater of Dreams: Van Der Sar, Wes Brown, Owen Heargraves, and potentially Paul Scholes and Michael Owen going, going and gone. Also, Charlie Adam likely saying goodbye to his mates at Blackpool.
  • Almost overlooked amidst all the hoopla surrounding the nineteenth title: Mike Dean was in charge of the game today. Thank God he couldn't really hurt us at this point in the season. 
  • Dean did his best to try, though, overlooking a clear penalty on Charlie Adam against Ji-Sung Park in the first half, and later awarding a bogus free kick that led to Blackpool's equalizer, even as his linesman was signalling offside. Never mind, signalled back the eunuch, preferring not to let plain-as-day facts stand in the way of his obvious bias against the League winners.  Compounding the head referee's mistakes in the second half, Dean's linesman missed another obvious offside that led to Blackpool's second goal.  Is it an FA rule that Dean and crew must award the opposition an offside goal when overseeing a game at Old Trafford?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Boddington's Pub Ale

Boddington's Pub Ale
Boddington's Pub Ale by Galfridus73on Flickr
If you're reading this on May 22, it means that I drained my beer refrigerator of all its contents on the mistaken assumption that the world would end in Rapture yesterday.  Oh well, at least they went down in a good cause....  So, instead of celebrating the world's end, we'll raise a toast in honor of the Red Devils' journey to Wembley this week, as I review a beer born and bred in Manchester, England: 

Boddington's Pub Ale was poured on nitro draft into a Guinness pint glass, with an inch-thick head that only gradually recedes. It's a clear copper color, like a very weak cup of tea.  Boddington's has a bready smell that's mild, and maybe slightly sour. On tasting, it has a thin mouthfeel, and is only very lightly carbonated. 

Boddington's has a mild, creamy flavor, followed by a smoky, creamy, and maybe slightly metallic finish.  It's an easy drinker; not my favorite, but if you find yourself in an Irish pub watching the Red Devils, it's tried, true, and highly sessionable: B.

This is an enraptured farlieonfootie for May 22.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Getting it Off My Chest

photo by Jake Suttonvia PhotoRee

So, some final thoughts for the final weekend:
  • Sir Alex is threatening to stop Twitter for Manchester United players after the latest row, which now apparently involves a warning for Wayne Rooney from the ever-judicious FA.  Probably a good idea, especially for non-first team members.
  • I'd like to see Berba win the Golden Boot this year. He's led the League in scoring for so long and fully deserves to win the individual honor.  No kicks from the spot nor any free kicks mar his goal-scoring record, a la a certain Captain Caveman.  He's done it all on his own.  Nor has the Berbinator even played much recently: his last two goals were against Fulham and Bolton, dating back a month ago for the former and more than two months ago for the latter, a vitally important late game winner.  In a season in which the team's leading scorer has found his role usurped by a certain young Mexican, it'd be a nice reward to win this one honor, and I'm hoping his teammates help out.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Trouble with Twitter

photo by carrotcreativevia PhotoRee

Let me start out by saying this: I love Twitter.  I find it interesting to see the "unfiltered" thoughts of the various Manchester United players on the social networking service, as well as a useful form of communication with people of like minds around the globe.  But the focus of today's column is not about how much I love Twitter, but rather on how it may be leading to unforseen problems in the Manchester United camp.

Rather than the agent-polished, PR-produced ramblings of Cristiano Ronaldo's Twitter account ("I scored two goals today, and am very proud of the team's achievement"), the steady stream of "tweets" coming from the United camp of players is authentic, and often unfiltered.  Rio Ferdinand was first to the game, cultivating a direct and instant communication bond with his fans. Rio opened up the inside of an athlete's mind to his legions of supporters, and created a movement. He's been richly rewarded for his early adoption: Rio is now consistently the number one or two most followed person on Twitter in England, and has his own personal army of more than a million followers.

Rio was followed by Luis Nani, who has also done remarkably well on the medium, despite the fact that English is not his first language. Nani took to Twitter like a Portuguese duck takes to water, and was warmly greeted by the Twitterverse. In short order, Antonio Valencia and Michael Owen followed. The former has tweeted only infrequently, hampered by his admitted lack of command of the English language; the latter has been a revelation, adding some rich and well received insight into the beating heart of a true player. Michael Owen's foray into Twitter has been universally well received, and the former scouse heartbreaker has been transformed into Red Devil elder spokesman before our very eyes, both on the pitch and off it.

Then the story becomes more complicated. Owen was followed in short order by Wayne Rooney, and for a brief but eventful moment, by Darren Gibson, as well.  While Wazza's appearance in the Twitter-verse coincided with his overall return to form, and the outpouring of affection from his fans appears genuine, Gibson's foray into social media, brief as it was, marked another kind of reaction among the fan base: unfiltered abuse. So strong was the string of epithets and critiscism directed at the Irishman that he lasted a whopping 45 minutes or so before closing his account. Sometimes it's truly better not to know what people REALLY think of you.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's a Stretch

photo by docbatyvia PhotoRee

Long absent from our pages, Coach Tom returns with some helpful tips for footballers of all ages:

Driving home last night, as the precipitation froze on the windshield of my heated car(!), my mind predictably drifted to warmer times – like playing soccer in the summer. And it got me thinking about warming up in general.

When coaching little kids (under 10), a warm-up is really about trying to focus their tiny minds. Their bodies are so forgiving that they are years away from “Oh, I just pulled the crap out of my hammy!” These little Wolverines probably do pull muscles, but they heal as fast as they pull. I’ve called it the stem-cell-zipper-effect, but that hasn’t seemed to catch on.... I recommend about 10 minutes of warm-up – all of it with a ball. They can jog a lap or so, work on partner passing or dribbling skills, and then try a bit of shooting if there’s time. These kids are developing skills, so warm-up really should prepare them the practicality of play.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Favorite Cinderella

photo by OiMaxvia PhotoRee

Correspondent Ed offers some insight into the final weekend's action:

The fight for first place in the League ended this weekend with Manchester United getting the tie at Blackburn.  Yawn.  Congratulations to United.  Who knew you could pull this off?  I mean, you’ve only done it about 18 times before. 

Fortunately, there is a better battle going on right now, and that’s the fight for 17th place.  Why is 17th so much better than 18th?  Well, because when you come in 18th place (or 19th place or 20th place) you no longer can play in the EPL next year but are relegated to the lower and poorly named Championship Division.  As in:  “Sorry, please give us your ball and your arm patch, and be sure to return your ID to the man at the front desk.” 

FOF favorite Blackpool, the team that brought the fun back into the EPL, is unfortunately on the brink.  Two weeks ago they gave it their all and were snake bit by Spurs in the last ten minutes or so and had to settle for one point instead of three.  This week they played the game of the week against Bolton.  They went down 1 to 0 at the very beginning of the game, only to rally back and go up 2 to 1, and then 2 to 2, 3 to 2, 3 to 3 and finally, 4 to 3 on a Charlie Adam exclamation point to win the game and keep their hopes alive. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Full Moon

photo by The Travelling Bumvia PhotoRee

Week 37 on the calendar, in which Correspondent Scott checks in once again from Anfield:

Anfield / Liverpool, England / May 15, 2011 / Liverpool 0 – 2 Tottenham

If recent form were lunar cycles, Liverpool has been a waxing gibbous, atop the league with 16 points out of their previous 6 games, while Tottenham’s waning crescent has only managed 6 points during that same period.   But yesterday, with Europa League hanging in the balance, astronomy gave way to a moon of another sort as Liverpool consistently showed its ass over 90 minutes at Anfield.  Even the recently-hat-ticking “Maxi Man” Rodriguez played as if he had a posterior tear in his spandex. 

Although Spurs did not see their first real effort toward goal until the 7th minute when Rafael van der Vaart shot way wide, it was only a few minutes later when his lobbing volley, with a slight deflection, found Pepe Reina flat-footed and we heard the first ripping of seams.  In the 20th minute, Luis Suarez, frustrated by Michael Dawson going down easily from a challenge, kicked the defenseman and was very lucky not to see red from referee Howard Webb.  Ironically, but perhaps not surprisingly, Suarez took a tumble of his own in the 33rd minute after receiving the ball and being challenged, but it was a good no-call by Webb.  Liverpool was lucky again in the 42nd minute when Maxi Rodriguez escaped a yellow card for an obvious dive.  Clearly, including Andy Carroll up front and dropping Dirk Kuyt back behind him and Suarez was not working.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rants from a Stark Raving Football Lunatic

photo by u2canreedvia PhotoRee
  • Something I proved to myself this weekend: it's possible in one day to fully visit two Orlando theme parks, account for all major rides, and still manage to fit in two complete football games (via DVR, at night's end). It's possible, but not advisable.
  • Quick Question: How is it that Sir Alex gets charged by the FA for praising Howard Webb pre-game last week, yet Harry Redknapp does the same thing and no one says a peep. Double standard anyone?
  • Liverpool remind me of a classy team up front paired with a defense which should be playing U-18 football. Flanagan and Spearing may have a future in the league, but it's not tomorrow. Meanwhile, Luis Suarez looks like the real deal (albeit a deal with an extra large set of teeth), while Andy Carroll looks just like what he is: a real work in progress.
  • So, umm, now that Fernando Torres broke his duck a couple of weeks ago, and there's no pressure on the Spaniard, he's going to have a great game against Newcastle, right? Lots of goals pouring in, right? Not exactly. Torres with another "o-fer" against the Geordies, and Chelsea -- despite six home wins in a row -- betraying the problems which bedevil the side, hidden underneath an avalanche of points picked up against the 80 pound weaklings of the league.
  • The more I see of Sandro play for Spurs the more I like him. I wonder if Harry likes him enough to let Luka Modric go this summer. Only time will tell....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

We are the Champions

photo by eirikrefvia PhotoRee

More on the title later this week, as United's 1-all draw away at Blackburn handed the Reds their fourth EPL title in the last five years, and more importantly, their 19th overall, making them the most crowned team in the history of the English game.

In the meantime, however, a few thoughts on what was actually a fairly pedestrian game, the best part of which came with the final whistle:
  • Sir Alex went for the jugular, putting out a side that was built to go forward.   Although ironically the game ended in a draw, with the attacking team put on the pitch Saturday the Scot showed it's not really in his DNA to play for the draw United needed to win the Championship.
  • On the other hand, the more I see of Blackburn, the more I realize Chris Samba is their entire team. Offense and defense. End of story.
  • The United traveling crowd was in great voice at Ewood Park, and absolutely fantastic to hear. It's one of the few games this season in which at least some of the gameday atmosphere really carried all the way through the television and straight into the home. "Attack, Attack, Attack" has always been one of my favorite United chants, as it sums up what we love about our boys: a team not afraid to take it straight at anyone, home or away.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Game Day Beer Bar Review: The Meddlesome Moth

photo by Daquella maneravia PhotoRee

While in Dallas on a business trip, I recently had the opportunity to stop by the Meddlesome Moth. To borrow a line from Beer Advocate, the Moth is the real deal. This is a bar that takes its beer seriously -- but not too seriously. It's the kind of place I wish I had in my home town, and the future, I think, of the beer bar industry.

The Moth is an upscale, high-class place, that also happens to serve more than 40 beers on tap, and an endless number of beers by the bottle. The taps are placed off to the left as you enter, and the sleek silver bar is a work of art unto itself. Above the seemingly endless array of well -chosen tap beers is a chalk board -- all the better to rotate the taps according to what's in stock and on pour at the moment.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Flerve Cheers for United

photo by dullhunkvia PhotoRee

This article is reprinted with gracious permission from our friends at Stretford End Arising, where it ran earlier this week.  Please give them a visit; if you're a United fan it's well worth your time.

By farlieonfootie and Correpspondent Ed

It took exactly 35 games and 39 seconds, but it was all finally over when Carlo Ancellotti’s left eyebrow – you know, the one that seems permanently raised at press conferences – literally popped up and off his forehead and scuttled off the pitch at Old Trafford, all the while screaming and spitting out profanities at David Luiz’s inability to defend against the simplest of through passes. You laugh, but that eyebrow showed more emotion on Sunday than any of the high priced players on Chelsea except, perhaps, for the always offensive John Terry. 

So, to borrow a theme from the brilliant @runofplay, this most unpredictable of all EPL title chases has ended in the least shocking manner: Manchester United winning the league (let’s not be coy about this one, despite the fact that it’s not technically over), Chelsea trailing -- just so -- and Arsenal throwing away yet another bright start as the nerves got a bit tight down the stretch. With City looking poised to finish fourth, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who would have picked another team to finish in the Top Four when the season opened way back in August. Maybe the odd Spurs fan (and by odd, we mean “odd”), but if they were under the impression that Huerelho Gomes (coincidentally, “Huerelho” is also Spanish for “odd”) were up to the job when the campaign began, they have been repeatedly and thoroughly dis-abused of that notion during the course of the past nine months. 

Game Day Beer Review: Red Brick Brewing's Helluva Bock

(7.00% ABV).  Poured into a pilsner glass, Red Brick's Helluva Bock appears bright and golden, like the late Spring day on which I drank it. The beer is malty on the nose, and the taste confirms it, with perhaps just a touch of honey sweetness. There's little to distinguish this beer: it's mild-mannered and straight forward, but not the best of it's style. It's nothing to write home about.  Maybe it's just a southern thang? B-.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

From the Boss

photo by mdidvia PhotoRee

To:        Worldwide farlieonfootie Staff [US, UK, GER, GUAM, ITA, JPN, RUS, SPN, UAE]

From:    His Em. farlieonfootie [HQ]

Date:     May 12, 2011

Re:        Office Behavior

I’m sorry it’s come to this, but several office issues have recently come to my attention which I can no longer afford to gloss over.  Repercussions must occur, and the guilty shall be named and hung (figuratively, of course, as I can’t allow the bitter old broad who ran Human Resources any additional ammunition in her pending discrimination lawsuit).  Effective from this day forward, the following changes shall be made:

Correspondent James: Drinking in the office during office hours is strictly forbidden, even if you did graciously offer to share half the bottle with me.  Furthermore, I will need more complete documentation from the Cock and Bull Library in Columbia as to the type of research you have been conducting there every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon.   Also, a few follow up questions spring to mind: if the football books there are really sold on a 2-for-1 special between 5pm and 7pm, what are you doing with your now extensive collection, and should farlieonfootie consider buying more of these for our own office so you can conduct your future column research under my own keen eyes?

Correspondent Scott:  References in your columns to feminine hygiene are offensive to half of our readers and will no longer be tolerated.  Even if your favorite player is indeed named Maxi.  Additionally, it is no longer okay to walk around the office, shirt off, and chest waxed and oiled, asking your fellow office mates if you “remind them in any way of Cristiano.”  You don’t, and it’s gross.  Finally, although May 17 may be “Galician Literature Day” in Spain, it’s not a holiday here in the United States, so you will be expected to be at work that day.  All day, as opposed to your more common interpretation of our office hours.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Maxi Man

photo by scomedyvia PhotoRee

May 9, 2011, Craven Cottage, London, England
Fulham 2 – 5 Liverpool
Article by Correspondent Scott

Not to be outdone by Manchester United’s goal in the first minute of their clash with Chelsea a day earlier, Liverpool pounced on Fulham at Craven Cottage while the Cottagers were still pulling up their socks.  Shortly after kickoff, the Brazilian, Lucas, found Luis Suarez down the left flank and the Uruguayan unselfishly squared the ball to the charging Dutch boy, Dirk Kuyt, who saw the ball kicked from his path by the lunging Mark Schwarzer, only to fall appetizingly for Liverpool’s most in-form player, the Argentinean Maxi Rodriguez, who added to his recently impressive tally by completing the multinational effort with an authoritative strike.  And just like that, with only 30 some-odd seconds off the clock, Liverpool continued their scoring ways of late.

Fulham, not amused, replied with a flurry of fouls that were literally kick-started by Danny Murphy’s yellow card offense.  Nor did their mood improve when, in the 7th minute, Maxi struck again with a skillful, on-the-run, inside-foot volley that converted Glen Johnson’s arcing, yet accurate cross.

Liverpool, playing with the confidence of title contenders, weren’t even threatened until the 14th minute.  But Fulham’s time with the ball was short-lived as Liverpool countered and Schwarzer’s day got even worse when his second blatant error of the day resulted in a third goal, as Kuyt’s shot squibbled (let’s just say it's a word because it really seems to fit) by him at the near post.  After a quarter of an hour, it seemed as if Liverpool was the home side such was their dominance, and the Kop-ites that made the journey south were doing their part with raucous renditions of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.  If not for the sea of white shirts in the stands, you’d swear you were in Merseyside rather than London.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Like a Fine Wine

photo by derekGaveyvia PhotoRee

So it's finally here, and I still don't know how I'm supposed to feel.  Overjoyed?  Boastful?  Delirious?  Relieved?  I'm talking, of course, about how I felt at the very first realization that United have -- for a record nineteenth time in their illustrious history -- again won the English title.

Truth be told, I suppose my first reaction was pure relief.  After the agony of the Arsenal game the weekend prior, and the never-ending seven day span until the page could be turned, there was nothing but nausea.  Could we really be cocking this one up?  After leading the league for five months would the title vanish like a mirage as we reached the all-important end stage?  Could Chelsea -- a side I was convinced was over the hill, and benefitted from playing a bunch of weakened teams over the last nine weeks -- really come back from a fifteen (15!) point deficit to pip us right at the line?  Was the monster at the end of the book of the horror film variety, or was it just a playful reminder from United that they're still human after all?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Not Arrogant, Just Better

photo by Lincolnian (Brian) - BUSYvia PhotoRee

Sir Alex makes three changes to the side that lost to Arsenal last weekend, including John O’Shea in for an injured Patrice Evra, Fabio slotting in to right back to replace his brother Rafael, and Park Ji-Sung relegating Nani to the bench.  Chelsea go with largely the same side that has terrorized United in the past, their front line composed of Drogba, Malouda and Kalou, and David Luiz, no longer cup tied, in central defense.  Worryingly for United, Fernando Torres can’t crack the Blues’ starting lineup and remains on the Chelsea bench.  It’s an all or nothing kind of day, particularly for Chelsea, who need a win just to prolong the season.

Somewhat unbelievably, the game starts with a shocker, Chicharito sending David Luiz back to remedial defending school and opening the scoring for the home team inside of 40 seconds.  The little Mexican is picked out shoulder to shoulder with Chelsea’s newest defender, found on a perfect ball from Park, and there’s little work to do to put the ball past a stunned Petr Cech as United grab a shockingly easy and early goal.  The goal works front to back, Rio to Carrick, Carrick to Park, and Park to Hernandez as the Chelsea defense looks about as easy as a cheap hooker on a the day of navy shore leave.  Cue joyous hugging on the United sideline with Fergie reaching over for Mike Phelan and Berba and Ando celebrating, and Carlo Ancelloti sending Alex to the warm-up line for Luiz, whose pride seems to be the biggest injury sustained on the play.
United go all out on attack, looking to kill the game off early, with waves of intent being shown by Rooney, Valencia and Park in particular.  Rooney is almost on target with a 35 yard laser that would have rivaled his City goal of one of the season’s best strikes, but a stretching Cech is just up to the challenge, and tips it wide.   Park is everywhere in the match’s first 10 minutes, the Korean playing as if trying to erase the bad taste left from last week’s game at the Emirates.   Chicharito almost doubles the lead on 10 minutes, a stretching Luiz just getting an unspotted foot on a through ball to Hernandez, throwing off the Mexican’s timing by a mere milisecond.  On fifteen minutes it’s Rooney's turn to nearly double the lead, capping off a flowing move begun once again by Park with Valencia picking out the striker, who is not closed down properly by Chelsea.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


photo by JSmith Photovia PhotoRee

Thoughts from a busy football Saturday:

Fantasy Watch: Charles N'Zogbia and Yaya Toure -- Another weekend I've neglected to pick them for my fantasy team, another game they've each scored. That's three times in the last four games for the Frenchman; the guy is flat out hot.  And as a rule I try not to pick City players, but with my fantasy season getting even tighter than the real EPL, and City playing twice this game week, I have to admit I was tempted....

Swear Watch: Apparently you're allowed to swear at the referee, and even intentionally bump into him, if you play for Aston Villa.  If you don't believe me, just watch what Emil Heskey did to Mike Jones on Saturday. Somehow, though, the yellow card Heskey was given feels like a more appropriate punishment than the three game ban received by Wayne Rooney for a lesser offense. No need for confusion, though, as I'm certain someone from the FA will be along straight away to explain the incredible discrepancy.  ABU anyone?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's in the Stars

photo by Alëxvia PhotoRee

In which Correspondent Ed and farlieonfootie go mano a mano regarding the Champions League final:

Ed: I still hate Barca, but I have to ask: Can United beat these guys?  

farlieonfootie: Of course they can, Ed.  You don't win 18 English titles and three European Championships by being scared of the opposition.

Ed: Real, a team that I think is similar to United, had the ball all of 22% of the time in the first half.  What Barca doesn’t get enough credit for is how fast they are, and how well they shut people down when they lose the ball.  Real was taken completely out of their game Tuesday night.  

farlieonfootie: Your flaw's in your assumption, Ed.  Manchester United is like Real only in that Cristiano Ronaldo played for both teams, but the similarities end there.  Real plays like a pampered collection of stars; United plays like a team.  United may not have the pure celebrity wattage associated with Los Blancos, but I'll take a Nemanja Vidic, Park Ji-Sung and Antonio Valencia any day of the week over guys like Sergio Ramos, Kaka and Xabi Alonso.  Stars do win championships -- sometimes.  More commonly, though, they are won by teams.

Ed: All that said, Mascherano should have been tossed out for flopping ridiculously on several occassions, and I’d say about 50% of the penalties that were called in the first half were actual fouls, while 50% were pretty much touch fouls, if anything at all.  I’d also say Messi, who everyone says doesn’t flop, simply flopped on several occasions Tuesday night.  Once again, if I played like that at Wednesday night league it'd be laughable. 

Friday, May 6, 2011


photo by Christina Welsh (Rin)via PhotoRee

Tuesday, May 4, 2011 / Camp Nou / Barcelona, SPAIN

It was a dark and stormy night....

And then there was the matter of a certain football match in Catalonia Tuesday night, although the game was far from a classic. Sure, there was less flopping, diving and whinging than six days ago, but this game was more pure drudgery than jogo bonito. Nevertheless, herewith some observations about a few of the many transformations which occurred during the fourth and final clasico, a result which sent Barcelona to the Champions league final at Wembley to face Manchester United:

  • The game's announcer transformed Carles Puyol linto a "beast of a man."  Only in La Liga could that description be apt. Nemanja Vidic is a beast of a man. Vincent Kompany is a beast of a man. Christopher Samba is a beast of a man. Hell, even Brede Hangeland is a beast of a man.  But Carles Puyol is a bad haircut. He may be a decent defender, but his haircut alone is enough to make me totally discount him as both a player and a person.

One Bad Haircut

photo by Gerard Reyesvia PhotoRee
  • Jose Mourinho transformed from Special One to Absent One.  Apparently he had other things to attend to. You think there's any coincidence that Osama Bin Laden was killed earlier this week?  Some things are more important than football.

  • Emanuel Adenayor transformed from a semi-decent attacker in his Gooner days, to semi-decent goon in his Real Madrid days.  What is he thinking?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The B-Side

photo by dwhartwigvia PhotoRee

Sir Alex trotted out an alternate side for the Champions League semi-final tonight, electing to keep his ideal first XI on the bench and rest them for the EPL decider against Chelsea taking place in four days' time.  From the pre-match shrieks of protest on Twitter you'd have thought Sir Alex's choices today included Pogba, King, Morrison and Keane (Will, that is, not Roy). Instead, the side featured Dimitar Berbatov, the EPL's leading scorer, Paul Scholes, a veteran of two European winning United sides of the past, and Edwin Van Der Sar in between the sticks. It also included whipping boy Darren Gibson, another Twitter-abuse victim, and the oft-maligned Brazilian midfielder, Oliveira Anderson. All in all, not a bad side, but definitely a side that must have caused a certain Josep "Pep" Guardiola to wonder why he had traveled all the way from Barcelona to watch, as well as a side with something to prove. 

Which they did on 26 minutes, as Darren Gibson offered a perfectly-weighted through ball to Antonio Valencia, steaming in from the right and not having to break even the smallest bit of stride before he banged it past United's nemesis from the prior match, Manuel Neuer.  Gibson may have been awakened from a season-long slumber by a rib-rattling collision with Jefferson Farfan approximately 15 minutes before his pass settled the home crowd's nerves. It was only a mere five minutes later when Gibson hit back at his doubters yet again with a semi-final goal that stunned the home crowd as well as the 'keeper formerly known as the Berlin Wall.  Neuer reduced both his transfer price as well as his team's chance of a miracle three goal comeback when he had a bit of a howler, letting Gibson's soft-ish effort slough off his hands and into the net.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

photo by fattkatt and the hippy 2via PhotoRee

Columnist Scott returns to our pages by popular demand, reminding readers of who the real royalty are in the City of Liverpool:

Neither Andy Carroll’s absence from the starting XI nor the prominent shade darkening the far side of the pitch could overshadow the brilliant sunshine that drenched the majority of Anfield, as Liverpool welcomed Newcastle on a cartoonishly pleasant Sunday afternoon on Merseyside.  While the crowd was singing “Here Comes the Sun” (or they should have been, if they weren’t) as both a tribute to George Harrison’s most popular contribution to the city’s mop-headed quartet, and as a musical metaphor of the Reds’ recent run of form, Kenny Dalglish was caught, in an open-mic moment, calling Jamie Carragher  “Little Darling” before going on to note that “it’s been a long, cold lonely winter,” but now “the smiles [are] returning to the faces.”

Which comment proved to be an understatement when the overdose of all-natural vitamin D kicked in at the 10 minute mark, and Maxi Rodriguez extended his scoring streak with a volley that ricocheted in off a hapless Toon defender.  And just like that, when combined with the criminal refereeing that spurned Tottenham and awarded Chelsea an ill-deserved win a day earlier, Liverpool was knocking on Europa’s automatic qualification door.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Special Ops

photo by Jamiecat *via PhotoRee

Columnist Ed's take on OBL and the EPL:

Let’s begin by celebrating the eradication of Osama Bin Laden from the planet.  OBL was gunned down by some special ops Navy Seals while at home in his million dollar mansion in the middle of the affluent golf course community of Addamatta or Whatsamatta or something stupid like that.  Despite all the negative talk out there, the US of A still can and will put the hammer down when need be.  I should note that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing some guys from college who became Navy Seals, and recall them to be totally and completely nuts, totally and completely geared up with things that kill the bad people of the world, and totally and completely itchy to go anywhere to do so, whether it be a cave in Afghanisatan or the back nine at Riviera.  So thanks to you guys, and to the US military in general, and to the CIA, and to the President!!!!  And as Coach Tom pointed out to me with comically sarcastic glee, we know one guy who won’t be winning the club championship this year (See google maps at 34.154556, 73.226838). 

So riding that wave of patriotic joy, let’s return to the pursuit of happiness, which here at farlieonfootie means watching, writing, and chatting about football.  Where to begin?  How about with this question:  What happened to Spurs? 

Monday, May 2, 2011


photo by Marufishvia PhotoRee

For all the highs this United side reached mid-week versus Schalke 04 in the Champions League, the weekend represented a cruel comeuppance, as the team managed to hit a new low only five days later.  Mailing in an insipid, uninspired performance in which they never really got out of third gear, Manchester United lost 1-nil to Arsenal today at the Emirates, in a match that opened the title race back up.  Now faced with two crucial matches in the space of seven days, Sir Alex's side will be forced next Sunday to confront an increasingly confident Chelsea on only four days rest.

Not that you can say they don't deserve to be in this position: United were bland all afternoon and came out seemingly set up as if to generate a nil-nil scoreline.  Arsenal 'keeper Wojiech Szczesny was never really tested on the afternoon, and the number of true chances the Reds had in the game could be counted on one hand with several fingers to spare.

Call it a Champions League-sized hangover or whatever you want -- all four semi-finalists bit the dust in their respective domestic leagues this weekend -- but United never appeared to want the game, failing to show urgency even in the match's closing minutes.  The midfield combination of Carrick and Anderson once again failed to impress, and Nani and Park on the wings were relatively useless.  In the day's most shocking development, Park -- United's human dynamo, after all -- was seen lazily walking back toward goal and left Aaron Ramsey completely unmarked inside the 18 yard box on the play which turned the afternoon in the home side's favor.

Game Day Beer Review: Abita Brewing's Save Our Shore German-style Pilsner

(7.00% ABV). Pours a straw colored yellow into a pilsner glass. Abita's SOS shows lots of carbonation, and a head that just won't quit. The smell is mild hops, and even milder citrus. SOS' taste is bready, and only very mildly hoppy. It's a mellow pilsner that's incredibly easy to drink. Maybe it's because I'm on vacation as I write this review, but if this beer is sending out a message on conservation, I'm all in  -- except as it relates to SOS: I want more. A-.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spurs 1 - Chelsea 0*

photo by brightroyaltyvia PhotoRee

*We here at farlieonfootie have decided we want to live in world in which all refereeing decisions are correct, and only deserved goals are awarded.  Unfortunately, those two circumstances would negate the "hard earned" three points Chelsea picked up at the Bridge on Saturday, in which the only real labor was coming from Sky TV announcers as they tried ponderously to think of excuses why Chelsea still deserve to be in the title race.  And absolutely no one at the FA was up in arms at all, due to Spurs' sudden crumbling into "also ran" status, and the organization's desire to see Chelsea fight on 'til the final week.

Herewith, the "unofficial" write up from Saturday's game:

Season Over and Blues in Disarray

Saturday, April 30 / Stamford Bridge / London England

Spurs hung on for an uncomfortable 1-nil victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, effectively ending the Blues' hope of retaining their Premiership title.  This, despite Chelsea still having to travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United next week, with the London-based club now having almost nothing at stake and reduced to playing solely for pride.

Befitting a final scoreline showcasing the thinnest of margins, the match was not without its controversial moments. Linesman Mike Cairns incorrectly signaled for a goal on a Frank Lampard shot which Spurs' 'keeper Huerelho Gomes hideously mishandled, the ball skidding through the Brazilian's legs and onto the goal line.  But not over it, as Referee Andre Marriner correctly deduced from his angle, and the initial goal ruling was quickly and correctly overturned, despite Chelsea's heated protests to the contrary.  Skipper John Terry, belying his usual even temperament, managed to pick up a yellow card for dissent in arguing the incident with Marriner.

Terry was later ejected from the game when, in the 88th minute, Marriner once again managed to get his angle spot on, correctly adjudging Solomon Kalou to be in an offside position just before the Ivorian tapped in what he and the home crowd thought to be a last-gasp equalizer.   Terry's vehement protest earned him a trip to the shower only five minutes before the rest of his teammates joined him to wash their season away.