Friday, April 01, 2011
Absolutely Wacko! Fulham stars ordered to perform Moonwalk goal celebration on day of Jackson statue unveiling
Club officials have secretly organised a series of mini tributes for Sunday's match against Blackpool at Craven Cottage that could further anger the Fulham fans who are already fuming over the statue that has been erected outside the ground.
Sportsmail can reveal that every member of Fulham's first-team squad have been told they must celebrate any goals in Sunday's clash by performing the Moonwalk in front of the home fans. Although the order initially went down like a lead balloon, it is believed the players have now warmed to the idea and have been enthusiastically practising behind closed doors at their Motspur Park training base.
Huge Jacko fans Bobby Zamora and Clint Dempsey have taken charge of the sessions, with coaching staff barely able to hide their amusement while watching on.
Manchester United vs. West Ham
Paul Merson's Preview
Martin Lipton's Previews & Predictions
The Swede has to complete a two-match ban and that means the Serie A leaders will be without their leading scorer for one of the most important games of the campaign.
Adding spice to the encounter is that Inter coach Leonardo will square off for the first time against AC Milan, the team he spent many years playing for, and coached last season.
Napoli go into this weekend's games in third and just one point behind Inter.
The club have won back-to-back league games going into their clash with Lazio at the Stadio San Paolo. Napoli have not lost at home since October 25. Roma are running out of time if they are going to have a top-four finish. They host Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday night.
Fiorentina have not given up hope of playing in Europe next season.
They go into this weekend's game at Cesena trailing Roma by nine points.
Villarreal are locked on 54 points with third-placed Valencia as the two battle to be the best of the rest.
Valencia travel to Getafe on Saturday, while Real Madrid host Sporting Gijon, with everyone present at the Bernabeu set to pay tribute to recently retired Brazil striker Ronaldo, a former Real player.
As the details sunk in, it appeared more daunting. But on the face of it, Barcelona had drawn one of the weakest teams left. And a team that opens up: Shakhtar scores goals, true, but it concedes them as well. Guardiola's men had avoided the defensive tough nuts, the teams that, in Xavi Hernandez's words, come to frustrate them. Barcelona had also avoided the most dangerous sides: Chelsea and Manchester United and Inter Milan. And Real Madrid, of course.
Brazil's World Cup 2014 preparations hit by new blow as Maracana project is delayed by at least a year
Alarm bells are ringing over Brazil’s preparations for the 2014 World Cup. Plans have already been criticised by Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, and it emerged on Thursday that the Maracana stadium, which is to host the final, will require a new roof and may not be ready until 2013.
The last time Gascoigne addressed the public was last spring, when, dishevelled, distracted and more than a little confused, he arrived at the scene where the fugitive Geordie gunman Raul Moat had been cornered by police.
Armed only with a takeaway, he was offering his services as a mediator. When his approach was turned down, he responded with a barely coherent radio interview in which he blathered on about Moat being someone who could use a chicken curry.
Fifa and Uefa have suspended Bosnia-Herzegovina from world football, because its federation refuses to replace its three-member presidency with a single leader.
Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.
This week, Colombian fans smuggle a dead man into their stadium, the unfathomable mind of Mario Balotelli, a Russian club pays £156k compensation for beating up their own player, Shakira is banned at the Bernabeu and Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni scores his 100th goal.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
England star Jack Wilshere is to become a father at the age of 19.
The Arsenal midfielder has been told that his ex-girlfriend is pregnant - although the pair recently ended their three-year relationship.
CRYSTAL Palace Football Club’s cheerleaders have hit back at claims their saucy routines are to blame for the team’s poor form.
With The Eagles hovering just above the relegation zone, some fans on online forums have claimed cheerleaders The Crystals are to blame because they distract the players with their revealing outfits.
Perhaps SSN's resident Palace fan Dr. Payne will weigh in? Hmmm...?
A year ago on Thursday, Wayne Rooney was lifted onto a plane at Munich airport, his right foot encased in a protective boot and with more questions than answers about the Manchester United forward’s ability to shoulder the hopes of club and country.
Oops. Wrong Gareth...
Jack Rodwell is the most gifted player produced at Goodison Park since Wayne Rooney. He is also David Moyes' best chance of the sort of windfall that would enable him to overhaul his side. It puts the Scot in an unenviable position, pitting his idealism and his fierce pride in all things Everton against the pragmatic recognition of his club's financial position.
The day of his passing, 31 March 2001, happened to coincide with another north London derby. There were fears that the planned minute's silence would not be observed, given the rivalry between the two sides, and even David Pleat, then caretaker manager of Tottenham had advised the referee, Paul Durkin, to blow his whistle to bring it to an end as soon as any there was any interruption from the crowd. In the event, however, the silence was broken only by the sounds of some in the crowd crying.
I was lucky enough to attend that Derby in 2001. The moment of silence was a wonderful tribute...
Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of one of the greatest games in the history of the Premier League. Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle, on April 3, 1996, was a night of high drama at Anfield and was also the decisive defeat that all but ended Newcastle's thrilling title challenge as Manchester United's young team reeled in their rivals.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Ahead of the influx of football fans in the country next year, Polish authorities have vowed to adopt a zero tolerance toward hooliganism.
They don't look so bad, do they...?
More often than not, Germany games have gripped (or at least moved) the nation in the recent past. But the two internationals of the past five days - against Kazakhstan on Saturday and against Australia on Tuesday - seemed at best unwelcome, at worst like a pointless interruption of a tremendously entertaining league season.
With the qualifying series for both next year's European Championships and the African Cup of Nations roughly half-complete, a number of big names are in danger of missing out.
Liverpool's newly-appointed managing director Ian Ayre has revealed the club are actively seeking stadium naming rights partners, raising the possibility that Anfield may be rebranded.
Soon to be "This is Home Depot Stadium"...
But his friends decided not to let a simple thing like murder get in the way of his plans and took him to 'watch' his favourite team anyway.
They collected the coffin containing the body of 17-year-old Christopher Jacome from the funeral home and marched it into the General Santander stadium in Cucuta, Colombia, to join the 42,000-strong crowd ahead of their match with Envigado.
After the Argentina game the name on the lips of most observers was Juan Agudelo, the 18-year-old forward who scored his second goal in three U.S. games. But the name that stood out on Tuesday was Timmy Chandler, the German-American speed merchant who celebrated his 21st birthday by making a significant impact as a right-sided defender and midfielder in his first U.S. start.
Davis: U.S. Player Ratings
Wahl: Three Thoughts
Spain's 15 points puts it six ahead of the Czech Republic, which beat Liechtenstein 2-0.
Belgium beat Azerbaijan 4-1 to keep second place in Group A by a point from Turkey, which beat Austria 2-0. In Group C, Serbia drew 1-1 at Estonia and shares second place with a Slovenia side that drew 0-0 at Northern Ireland.
Adrian Mutu scored twice as Romania beat Luxembourg 3-1 for its first Group D win, while Israel won 1-0 at Georgia in Group F.
• Reduce the size of qualifying groups by forcing the international minnows to play a qualifying competition of their own to win the right to play top nations.
• Scrap friendly internationals during the domestic season and replace them with a handful of international squad get-togethers during the club season.
• Play all qualifiers in a one-month period during the summer. This would stop the interruptions during the domestic season.
• The extra weeks created in the domestic season could mean a later kick-off to the Premier League programme, with a late September start a possibility.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Now he'll work out a couple of times a week with the MLS team's reserve squad, which is what he was hoping for all along.
"This is so awesome I'm an honorary member of SportingKC and can train with the reserve team as long as I want," Ochocinco said in a tweet. "Totally awesome ILuvKC."
I guess this is what you get to do when you are rich and famous. Suck at soccer and get a spot on the Wizards' reserve team...
The mystery of who tossed a banana onto the field during Sunday's friendly meeting between Brazil and Scotland has been solved, with confirmation that the object was thrown by a German tourist with no racist intent.
Quite possibly the legs of the individual in question...
Tuesday's friendly in Nashville comes with the usual roll call of unknowns: Who might play? Who will rise or shine? Which side can muster greater motivation, etc.?
But we can safely predict this about the U.S. meeting with Paraguay down in The Volunteer State: it won't look much like Saturday's night's memorable occasion in New Jersey, when Bob Bradley's U.S. team fell under siege for 45 minutes, then rose admirably to punch back after intermission for an unlikely 1-1 draw.
A coming wave of U.S. lineup changes will alter the look Tuesday, for one thing.
Another Test for the U.S.
U.S. TV: 8pm EDT on Fox Soccer Channel
The six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver seemed willing but unpolished during a practice game Monday, the fifth day of his tryout with Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer.
He will meet with coach Peter Vermes on Tuesday and neither man sounded optimistic that his hope of playing professionally would go much further than Monday's reserve game against the Kansas City Brass, a local development team.
Spain have a tricky trip to Lithuania, while the Netherlands are firm favourites against Hungary as a host of countries meet in Euro 2012 qualifying on Tuesday.
S. Darius and S. Girėnas Stadium, Kaunas, Lithuania
DiBenedetto was mobbed by reporters and photographers upon arrival at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport, saying "Forza Roma," before being ushered into a waiting car.
We go behind the scenes with Thierry in New York.
Special Report's Georgie Thompson has spent a week with one of the greatest footballers of all time - Thierry Henry.
Georgie flew across the Atlantic and was given unprecedented access to the Red Bull New York striker as he prepared for the first game of the MLS season.
That's for you, Virginia...
Ghana are ranked 16th in the world and what sets them apart in Africa is the quality of their young players.
Ghana graft new generation on to Africa's top side.
All is not well in the Russian national team and critics are blaming Andrey Arshavin and Dick Advocaat.
Russia seem to be going backwards as the sun sets on 'golden age'.
The build-up to Tuesday evening's friendly against Ghana saw Capello forced to justify his decision to field an experimental side at a sold-out Wembley and to defend his command of the English language. The 64-year-old insisted he needs only "100 words maximum" to express his instructions to his players, although he was reluctant to use many of them when confronted by Mourinho's comments.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Early season is generally a time for optimism in sports but for Fire fans of the last four years who've seen multiple management teams and huge roster overhauls it's generally a pessimistic period and this season started no differently; a returning coach who never started the same lineup twice, a roster returning three starting players and shorn of name value, replaced with a bunch of cheap foreign players nobody had ever heard of and a front office which seems to have been gutted for the third time in four years. The team looked decent in winning a point on the road to MLS Cup-finalist Dallas last weekend so Fire fans headed to Toyota Park Saturday with a curious sense of optimism. The lack of 38 degree weather and pouring rain provided contrast to our last few opening weekends but the beautiful sunshine came accompanied by 29 degree temperatures and high winds resulting in the traditional disincentive for walk-up crowds.
The Fire this year are a curious mix of cheap B-grade foreign talent, (Josep Mikulic, Bratislav Ristic and Marko Maric from Eastern Europe, Gaston Puerari and Diego Chavez from Uruguay), young American washouts from Europe (Mike Vidiera, Gabriel Ferrari), seasoned vets returning to MLS, (Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares returning from Cyprus) and mid-level NCAA talent. Returning midfield players Patrick Nyarko and Marco Pappa are supposed to provide the supply lines from midfield but both have somewhat spotty records - Nyarko is great with the ball at his feet but seemly afraid to shoot when through on goal and Pappa is the Arjen Robben of MLS - dangerous on the dribble and a terror when shooting from distance but seemingly unwilling or unable to combine with the players around him, failing to make the team better as a whole. Fans used to seeing management splash out cash for name players have been wary of Head Coach Carlos De Los Cobos' tactical approach and team selection but the decent start on the road had fans buzzing about the work rate of our new imported strike team after watching years of Brian McBride, Collins John and Cuauathemoc Blanco amble about with little drive or energy.
Section 8 was in fine form from the beginning. Our new fan relations team has taken a lot of initiatives to put butts in the seats; some dubious, (Groupon!), and some quite savvy like providing incentives to Section 8 to sell a larger block of seats, supposedly 800 in all. The newly expanded section was packed and in good voice with a now-typical array of flags and banners. Healthy derision was heaped on the KC franchise including chanting, ("You are still the Wizards"), and a couple hilarious banners - one showing the old KC Wiz logo from the beginning of MLS next to a banner of the Simpsons Nelson Muntz pointing and laughing. The Fire started play well, winning the majority of possession in midfield and quickly moving the ball up to the forwards. Our defense, shifting between a three and four man line depending on Segares' positioning on the field, mostly looked solid but provided a new notable scares including a near own goal by rookie defender Jalil Anibaba which elicited a fantastic save from Sean Johnson. Just before halftime the Fire took a lead after Puerari beat Mexican Wizard Omar Bravo and was hauled down. The result was a red card to Bravo with the penalty converted with gusto by Chavez. The Fire doubled their lead just before the half thanks to an astute ball from Vidiera and a wonderful finish by Puerari. Up 2-0 with a man advantage at halftime and Fire fans were smiling despite the frigid conditions.
Sadly the second half saw the Fire revert to the kind of form which saw them barely eke out a point despite having a man advantage in Dallas. Sean Johnson spilled an easy shot after a corner and the loose ball was easily finished by KC. Shortly afterward Marco Pappa scored a slow-motion golazo which will be in consideration for MLS goal of the season, taking a ball from Vidiera and dribbling through the entire defense before slotting the ball past KC's fat Danish albino lab rat of a keeper, Jimmy Nielsen. Shortly afterward Segares sent an appalling back pass to Johnson which was easily intercepted by Teal Bunbury, who took it past a jogging Mickulic for an easy goal. Fortunately that was all that KC had to offer and the Fire were able to wrap up the full three points after watching a somewhat pointless display from substitutes Dominic Oduro and Orr Barouch.
The current Fire roster, especially the hard work and happy attitudes of our new Uruguayan front line, has most Fire fans feeling pleasantly surprised. There are a lot of questions still to be answered especially in midfield where we have solid players who don't seem to combine particularly well to keep the ball and in defense where the roles still seem fuzzy and Sean Johnson needs to take better command. Still this is MLS, where we've learned that depth is often more important than star power, and it's quite possible that the doom and gloom which were forecast by many (myself included) is unfounded.
Mario Balotelli has been warned he must 'mature' before he can return to the Italy team as Manchester City launch an internal investigation over an alleged training ground incident.
The 20-year-old Italy striker faces potential disciplinary action after it was reported that he threw at least 'one dart' in the direction of youth-team players at the club's Carrington HQ.
United are due to confirm the final details of their summer plans when Ferguson attends a press conference in New York on Tuesday. But plans are understood to be in place for United to launch their trip on the west coast with a game against Seattle Sounders.
United are also due to play in Chicago before ending their trip with a clash against Barcelona in Washington D.C following the All-Stars game.
Davies' coach at Sochaux thought he should move elsewhere on loan to find the first team action he needed after returning from life-threatening and body-mangling injuries suffered in a October 2009 car accident. His agent, his family members and his friends all had their say as well.
In the end, Davies relied on that advice and used his own broadened perspective to select his destination.
Wales 0 - 2 England
Richard Williams at the Millennium Stadium
Phil McNulty at the Millennium Stadium
Tom Adams at the Millennium Stadium
Five Things We Learned
Ireland 1 - 2 Macedonia
Gareth Maher at Aviva Stadium
Serbia 2 - 1 Northern Ireland
Norway 1 - 1 Denmark
Scotland 0 - 2 Brazil
Tom Adams at
The Emirates Stadium
Ewan Murray at
The Emirates Stadium
Racists? Rubbish! Scotland fans deny Neymar's claims after banana is thrown
Ewan Murray: Jeering Neymar does not make Scottish football fans racist