The S – Word


Riddled with debt – United and the Glazers
January 29, 2010, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Premier League | Tags: , , , ,

I’m thrilled to say that I’ll be able to watch Manchester United as they take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium this Sunday. It won’t be live but it will be shown over here, so I will be careful to dodge the result before the game is replayed at 6pm Maui time.

Alex Ferguson is touting the fixture as ‘the biggest game of the season’. Normally he says these things when he is trying to psyche-out the opposition, with his well-known and effective penchant for mind games. But in this case he has got a point.

At the time of writing, Chelsea – who have a game in hand – are topping the Premier League by one point, Arsenal trail United by the same margin. The Gunners, as it happens, are unbeaten in 10 whereas United have had a pretty shoddy start to 2010.  We were knocked out of the FA Cup by Leeds United, experienced a worrying injury crisis and registered the worst run of January results we’ve had in a long time.

But far more troubling news came to light earlier this month when United, the ‘most popular club in the world’ was revealed to be unbelievably, unquestionably, unequivocally RIDDLED with debt.

Love United Hate Glazer

My sentiments exactly

Figures released a fortnight ago  illustrate the extent of it. United’s parent company, Red Football Joint Venture Ltd, are reported to be £716.5m in the red, how is this possible? The American owners had to borrow over £500m to even buy the club in the first place! Sky-high interest, mystery payments to ‘family members’ and fees that paid for ‘management and administration matters’ seem to have deepened the fault lines that began to show when the Glazers bought the club in 2005.

David Conn explains the situation well in The Guardian online 

It’s a worrying situation, and one that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Especially when you contrast the financial situation with that of Arsenal, or (and I say this through gritted teeth) Manchester City – who are both in rude health when compared with goings on at Old Trafford. Oh well, at least Liverpool are in dire straits with their finances too…

Hopefully, in matters on the pitch, United will have the upper hand against Arsene Wenger’s team, who failed to break the deadlock in a 0-0 draw with Aston Villa earlier this week. The home side are the division’s leading scorers and they have taken 24 points from 10 unbeaten games. Er… crap! Well, we did beat them at Old Trafford in August. Back then Arsene Wenger accused United of playing ‘anti-football’ it ain’t pretty but if that’s what it takes to win again then I’d happily accept.

Okay – it’s nearly time for the sun to go down on another gorgeous day on Maui. Time to get a glass of wine and wander down to the beach I think.

Until next time…



Dancing leopards, small shorts and Ronaldo’s abs…
January 15, 2010, 10:36 am
Filed under: Uncategorized, World Cup 2010 | Tags: , , ,

There are 146 days, 2 hours and 13 minutes until the 2010 World Cup kicks off and naturally, being in Hawaii, my thoughts have turned to the official mascot for this year’s tournament…

Could it be any stranger than Goleo, the mascot for Germany 2006? I think he was meant to be a lion. One of those famous, ahem, German lions. I actually thought he was a camel, a fleabitten camel at that – which I hope illustrates to those of you who aren’t familiar with World Cup mascots at just how bad they can be. I hate to think how many people, how much money and how much time was spent designing Goleo. He was no World Cup Willie that’s for sure.

See - even 'Big Phil' Scolari was scared.

I just visited FIFA.com to find out who would be representing South Africa 2010 and I found this:

“Zakumi is a jolly, self-confident, adventurous, spontaneous, and actually quite shrewd little fellow. He loves to perform and always follows his instinct and intuition, yet sometimes has the tendency to exaggerate a bit. You will often find him fooling about and teasing people but not in a mean way. He is warm-hearted and caring, and wants to make as many friends as possible.”

Reads a bit like a dating ad, no?

And check out the picture:

Zakumi – he symbolises South Africa, apparently.

Were the green hot pants included to please Sepp Blatter? As we know, he is famed for his love of small shorts. The thrusted crotch, the androdgyny, the coy pose, is this the best they could come up with?

Surely there are better ways to sum up the spirit of South Africa? The ‘Rainbow Nation’ that is so rich in culture, beautiful landscapes and wildlife is hosting the World Cup and the poster-child for the tournament is this? Zakumi the, erm, actually what is it?

FIFA.com says: “So what can we say about him? One thing is for sure, Zakumi will be first on the dancefloor and last off it at the biggest party in the world. He wants to dance and entertain as many people as he can. He is an animator for fans, players and officials, for schoolchildren, teenagers and big kids alike!”

After more of this lonely hearts column-style fodder I found out Zakumi is a leopard. One with green hair, green spots and green hot pants. Nice. And one that sings, dances and likes to party. Regal lion anyone? Noble elephant? Nah, let’s go with the camp, manga leopard that promises to be the ‘last one off the dancefloor.’ Hmmm, actually perhaps he has more in common with modern day football than I first thought.

Which brings me to this. Ronnie, oh Ronnie what have you done this time? Inspired, no doubt, by David Beckham’s recent forays into the world of crotch shots Cristiano Ronaldo has outdone himself with these ads for Armani underwear and jeans.

Cristiano Ronaldo, pictured relaxing at home

Once there was a time when footballers were more known for their abilities than their abs. Aah, the halcyon days of the beautiful game. How I miss thee. But I had to include this picture in my blog, I just had to. The comedy value is just priceless.

Ronaldo has never been known as a shrinking violet, indeed he is as famous for his fashion choices, girlfriends and Bentleys as he is for his football. But this new picture takes the cake. What are you doing, what are you wearing? Is that make-up? Surely that position can’t be comfortable? Ladies and gentlemen I present to you – the world’s most expensive footballer.

Well, I think that’s it for today. The sun is shining, the beach is calling and I’m off to ponder bizarre choices in the world of coquettish leopards and washboard abs.



Finding Football
January 13, 2010, 1:14 pm
Filed under: Football in Hawaii | Tags: , ,

I have been thinking about this blog for a long time now and it’s about time I actually started writing!

There have been lots of stories in the football world over the last week – sadly, one that particularly stood out was the tragedy that happened on Angolan soil in the build-up to the African Cup of Nations. After travelling from neighbouring Congo, the Togo team bus was attacked by gunmen who reportedly opened heavy fire on the vehicle for 30 minutes. The driver was killed instantly and nine others were seriously injured. Manchester City striker and Togo captain Emmanuel Adebayor  revealed that the team’s press officer died in his arms as he spoke to The Guardian newspaper about the experience: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jan/13/emmanuel-adebayor-ill-terror-togo 

This was going to be a big year for the African Cup of Nations – a huge competition in its own right and also a curtain-raiser for the World Cup, which will take place in South Africa later this year, and it couldn’t have got off to a worse start. It’s so sad that Africa’s chance to shine has been taken away by some opportunistic killers. Togo pulled out of the competition before their first game was due to take place and sadly, the death toll has risen to three. Let’s hope that the rest of the tournament can continue in peace, with some fantastic games along the way.

Finding football in Hawaii can be difficult. If I didn’t have the internet it would be pretty damn impossible. My early mornings normally follow the same routine: get up, turn on the computer – check out the BBC Football website and gossip column, check The Guardian’s football section and perhaps take a look at Football365 and some of the tabloid websites too. Just in case there are any important stories I may have missed. After that it’s time to head to the beach and check the surf. If it’s good then football all but disappears from my thoughts until later in the day, when I am all surfed out and check back at my favourite news sources to get updated.

Maui

Maui. Not too different from England, as you can see...

As luck would have it, I have just returned from a great surf (when I say great I don’t allude to my own skills in the water – I am pretty new to the sport, but it’s always an amazing experience – I really love it and maybe, just maybe, one day I will be able to make it look easy. Like the good surfers do…)  and I have run into some good news! Sorry to all you fans from the red half of Liverpool but, thanks to Reading FC, who registered a 2-1 win at Anfield, you have just been knocked out of the FA Cup. That makes it no Champions League and no FA Cup for you this season… I won’t crow about this too much but I have to admit, it did make me smile. What is going on? Surely Rafa has to go. There really are some problems at Anfield at the moment, something I will have to discuss/examine in a future blog.

So, I have my news sources saved in my favourites list and it’s easy to find out what’s happening in football around the world 24/7 but I have been a little concerned about where to watch games. With the World Cup on the not-too-distant horizon and plenty of Champions League and Premier League games on the menu in coming weeks, I had started to get a little concerned about where I could watch the action. After all, how am I going to write about football if I don’t see any? But, after a chance conversation outside a cafe last week, I was introduced to another big  fan who, as luck would have it, shows any game you like in his bar/restaurant right here on Maui. It’s about 10 minutes away by bike and just perfect – they show soccer all the time. Hallelujah!