Tag Archives: celtic

Sing when you’re… well, just sing.

That's right, lads. Put on a brave face...

Derby fans are a bit special, you have to admit it. I know a couple of kids from the East Midlands who might not agree, but the Derby supporters stick with their team through thick and thin. Lately though, it’s been as thin as gruel.

County’s 1-0 victory over Sheffield United on Saturday was its first in 10 matches. That includes their humiliating away defeat to non-league Crawley Town in the FA Cup. But even gaffer Nigel Clough admitted that it was not an inspiring perfomance for the 2,300 fans who made the trip to Yorkshire. Cloughie told a post-game press conference that it was the worst passing he had seen from his team all year.

What’s worse is that the Rams have not won at home since their  3-0 victory over lowly Scunthorpe United on November 20th… the last of six straight victories at Pride Park. 

It’s a bitter pill to swallow for fans who pack the place week in, week out.  Derby averages just over 26,000 fans per game, good enough for 2nd in the Championship… and better than about 40 percent of clubs in the Premier League.  Remember too that these fans were voted the best in English football after an infamous season, when the Rams were relegated with the worst-ever record in the Premier League: just one win and only 11 points.

What has two thumbs and got the hell out of Derby? This guy...

The Rams’ main problem seems to be finding the back of the net, having failed to score in six of their last 10 games.  Perhaps they are rueing the sale of local hero Kris Commons to Celtic last month.  But they boast a solid backline of John Brayford, vice-captain Shaun Barker, Liverpool import Daniel Ayala, and even central midfielder-cum-emergency right-back Paul Green.

Derby County are in that nebulous area of the Championship table, where they are probably safely above the relegation zone — unless their string of bad runs continues.  Their goal difference suggests they are a mid-table team that could go either way. 

That makes Derby not so different from Ipswich, Portsmouth, Coventry City, Bristol City or Barnsley.  It’s great if you are a die-hard supporter of one of these clubs, but really, where’s the fun in it?

Brent Lanthier

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Filed under Championship, Uncategorized

Weekend 10: The Misery of Others

Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow

My Mum always taught me not to revel in the misfortune of others, that it could be me getting the bad end of the stick.  Then my French-Canadian father taught me the age-old tradition of dancing gleefully on your enemies’ missteps.  Vive le Schadenfreude!!

1) Manchester United’s Unconvincing season of Invincibility has come to an end, after the Mancs lost 2-1 at Molineux to the league’s last-place team.  United has had this annoying habit of grasping points from the jaws of defeat…. instead they were left grasping their ankles on the weekend.  The loss meant the title race would have been broken wide open except…

2) Arsenal blew a 4-0 lead at Newcastle United.  The Magpies were supposed to be distraught over the loss of Prince Andrew, and probably were after conceding three goals in the first 10 minutes.  But then they remembered that Arsenal’s defence is pants, and let Joey Barton chew at the Gooners’ ankles.  But Arsenal were not alone in their misery because…

3) Chelsea thought they were making a massive move of football irony, playing newly-acquired Fernando Torres against his former club.  But the aging — and fading — champions were bereft of ideas against Liverpool’s back five, losing 1-0.  Three centrebacks! Two wingbacks! One of them is Glen Johnson! And he’s cut his hair AND he’s playing on the left!  It must have been confusing for the old buggers.

It hurts right heeeeeerrreeee...

4) Torres looked like a high school freshman who couldn’t find his first class.   This particular John Hughes movie saw Jamie Carragher starring as the school bully, taking the ball — and lunch money — away from the Spaniard, who thought he was joining the gifted programme, but instead accidentally showed up at remedial gym class.

5) Speaking of audacious debuts, El-Hadji Diouf appeared in his first Old Firm game, less than a week after joining Rangers on loan.  Never a favourite with the green side of Glasgow, The Human Camel was the subject of constant taunting by the Bhoys. Celtic captain Scott Brown received a yellow card for his efforts, calling it “the best booking I’ve had in my life.”

6) Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley says he will freeze ticket prices for the next 10 years.  A club spokesperson says, “We know these are tough times for everyone so we’re trying to do all we can for the fans. Mike is fully on board with this… it is a good way of showing commitment back to the fans… ”

In the words of Homer Simpson, “It takes two to lie: one to lie and one to listen…”

Um, doctor, it's my, er...

7) Schteve McClaren has lost his job at VfL Wolfsburg, after the Bundesliga team only won one match in the last 12.  But rumours abounded that McClaren was really turfed by a faux pas.  Ever the cunning linguist, McClaren was keen to show off what he learned from his German Made Easy cassettes, but then answered a question auf Deutsch about squad formation by mistakenly threatening the “annexation” of the owner’s wife…

8 ) Fabio Capello’s policy follows his predecessors: pick a player for their badge rather than their form.  A hugely slumping Wayne Rooney is getting a game against Denmark, as is Carlton Cole.  Of course, players like Blackpool’s DJ Campbell and Bolton’s Kevin Davies have more goals than them this season, but England managers have never been ones to let success get in the way…

9) West Brom fired manager Roberto Di Matteo after a run of bad results.  No doubt the newly-promoted team will replace him with a gaffer comparable to their other talismanic figures, like Bryan Robson and Gary Megson.  Hey, Roy Hodgson’s available!

10) Cristiano Ronaldo is still a horse’s arse… and I’m not the only one who thinks so

Brent Lanthier

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Filed under La Liga, Premier League

Bound for Bhoys? Don’t ask TFC

Sign this or I'll sign for Celtic!

Besides the fact that Tottenham can apparently defend as well with 10 men as they can with 11, the strangest story in football this week has to be Dwayne De Rosario’s dalliance with Celtic, and how little Toronto FC claim to know about it. As surprise announcements go, it’s a saga with far more grips, twists and turns than Newcastle’s Jose Enrique’s taking to the Twitterverse to spread news of an injury.

DeRo, who you might remember from his “show me the money” cheque-signing celebration after a superb goal this season, also caught his team off guard, or so they’d have us think, when news broke that he was to have a one-week trial with the Glaswegians. TFC first denied the story, but having their player get off a plane in Scotland made that look foolish, so they claimed it was news to them, too.

De Rosario is under contract for two more years, but his brother insists TFC was aware of the move, and happily made it sound as though the Scarborough-born Canadian international could make a long-term move to the SPL.  “If it’s long-term for a loan or he comes back has yet to be determined,” Mark De Rosario told the Toronto Star. “If it works out, fine, we’ll work on the particulars (between TFC and Celtic) later.”

Someone is full of shit here, maybe both sides, and it stinks pretty bad. Expect this one to get weirder before it makes sense. It’s hard to blame De Rosario for wanting to bail on the rudderless ship that is Toronto FC, still listing along without a coach or full-time GM. But while fans may wish the somewhat mercurial DeRo the best, they should be sharpening their knives for the stuffed-shirt stooges who run the team.

Ian Harrison

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Filed under MLS, Premier League, Scottish Premier

Luck of the draw? Yids learn CL fate

Welcome to the Champions League, Tottenham. And just in case you weren’t sure who the best team in the tournament was, it became painfully evident as teammate after teammate from reigning title holders Inter Milan sauntered up to the stage during today’s draw in Monaco (a painfully long event but one surprisingly well photographed by audience members) to receive player of the tournament awards. Goalkeeper Julio Cesar, defender Maicon, midfielder Wesley Sneijder and striker Diego Milito (who also won player of the year) were each honoured with a small trophy and the opportunity to pick little balls out of a cup and reveal the teams within. And when all was said and done, Spurs found themselves in Group A alongside Inter’s star-studded cast. Will the Italian treble winners still be the same team with Rafa Benitez at the helm? We’ll find out when the Serie A gets rolling this weekend.

Of course, it’s a better draw for Spurs than they would have faced in Group G, whose teams have won a combined 20 Champions League crowns and finished runner-up nine times. At least, with Germany’s Werder Bremen and Holland’s FC Twente rounding out Group A, the last three teams are fairly evenly balanced, meaning second place and passage to the knockout round should be up for grabs. Despite their lofty UEFA coefficient, I’d rather face Bremen (third in the Bundesliga last year) from Pot 2 than any of Real Madrid, Roma, Valencia, Marseille, Panathinaikos or Benfica. Twente, who won their first Eredivisie title last season but saw Schteve leave for Germany over the summer, were one of the highest ranked teams in Pot 4. It’s also a kind geographical draw for Spurs, with no lengthy excursions to Kazan, Donetsk or Tel Aviv required.

Whoever the opponent, health of key players is a big issue for Spurs with the first matchday just over two weeks away. I’ll be happy as long as Welsh winger Gareth Bale, who set up all four goals in Wednesday’s famous 4-0 win over Young Boys, is healthy and ready to run. He’s been become  simply brilliant since Arry told him to stop messing with his barnet.

Fans of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, all Pot 1 teams, are undoubtedly feeling pretty comfortable about their team’s chances of progression to the round of 16, with all three London clubs dreaming of a berth at the Wem-ber-lee final. In Manchester, the police force is already bracing for trouble when Rangers visit, based on their experience from the UEFA Cup Final in 2008, while the tie gives Sir Alex gets a chance to face his former team.

What’s also shocking is the number of big names  who’ll be watching from the wings this Champions League season, including Liverpool, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Porto, Sporting Lisbon, Olympiacos, Villareal, Zenit St. Petersburg, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe.

In today’s Europa League playoffs, a reeling Aston Villa met their match in Rapid Vienna for the second successive year, with a Stiliyan Petrov penalty miss proving fatal, while Celtic’s European misery continued with a 4-0 defeat at Utrecht. Liverpool and Manchester City, however, both booked passage to the group stages, with the Reds reversing an early 1-0 deficit at Trabzonspor and Citeh easing to a 2-0 win over Timisoara.

On this side of the Atlantic, current MLS champions Real Salt Lake watched a 3-1 lead turn into a 5-4 defeat at Mexico City’s Cruz Azul in CONCACAF Champions League play Wednesday night, meaning all four teams in Group A, including Toronto FC, have a win and a loss through two matches. As for TFC, they were busy today announcing Doneil Henry as the first academy player to sign a pro contract.

Ian Harrison

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Filed under Bundesliga, Champions League, English Football, Eredivisie, Europa League, MLS, Premier League, Scottish Premier, Serie A

The Kids Are Alright

Macheda has a habit of scoring big goals for United

Twenty-four seconds. That’s all it took for Manchester United’s Federico Macheda to score against the best that the MLS had to offer. The creme of North America had done well versus international competition over the last six years, winning five of those matches.  But facing Sir Alex’s youthful juggernaut — a team still smarting from a weekend loss to Kansas City — the league’s best players ran into trouble after 24 seconds… and likely sealed their doomwhen they allowed the 18-year-old Macheda to score again just 12 minutes later. 

A massive crowd was on hand in Houston — 70,000 plus — but put that down to fans wanting to catch a glimpse of the Red Devils, rather than a show of continentalism.  Toronto FC’s Dwayne DeRosario managed a goal, as did hometown hero Brian Ching.  However, United’s “B” side are as good as any team in the MLS and that’s why the end result was 5-2.

Macheda and new signing Javier Hernandez seem to be the vanguard of the new Busby Babes, with Ferguson looking for both players to help Wayne Rooney with goal production this year.  Sir Alex hasn’t been at the helm of Man U for a quarter of a century for nothing.  Look for them to challenge for the Premier League title again this year, with a young and mainly British team in support.

Fergie Glazes Over Fan Unrest
Sir Alex says he’s quite happy with the Glazer Family ownership. Even though the club is a billion dollars in debt, Ferguson says they basically leave him alone. Just one more reason for Liverpool fans to envy hate United.

Lennon's miserable European run continues

Champions League
Two former European club champions are fighting to keep their infant CL campaigns alive. Celtic were handed their sheleighlies in Portugal on Wednesday, losing to Braga 3-0. The Glaswegians failed to get a single shot on net, and have been woeful on the continent underneath Neil Lennon.

Meanwhile, Ajax’s Champions Leagues hopes hang by a thread after PAOK Salonika scored a valuable away goal, to end the match 1-1. At The Rails’ own Late Night Lenny Grammenopoulos has been kidnapped by his new wife back to Greece… but we know the long-suffering PAOK fan is licking his lips at the thought of European football.

Woy's Liverpool wins with... That Guy... and Whatshisname...

Europa League
Roy Hodgson’s gamble paid off, as Liverpool’s youthful side comfortably beat Rabotnicki Skopje in Macedonia 2-0. Maybe it was the harsh lighting and concrete decor of the Soviet era stadium… but that might have been the most boring match this writer has ever seen. Oh well, expect Rabotnicki to get a whomping at Anfield next week.

Irish eyes were not smiling, as Juventus beat Shamrock Rovers 2-0 in Dublin. Amauri scored for the Old Lady two minutes in, and it’s basically curtains for Rovers.

Other scores: Goteburg lost 0-2 to AZ Alkmaar, Galatasaray drew OFK Belgrade 2-2 in Istanbul, Red Star Belgrade lost 2-1 to Slovan Bratislava, and Greek powerhouse Olympiakos beat Maccabi Tel-Aviv 2-1.

Sin Citeh
Former Manchester City manager Mark Hughes has signed a two-year deal at Fulham.  Meanwhile the most expensive player he ever signed — Robinho — has been told to report to camp.  The Brazilian was loaned out to Santos last year.

Brent Lanthier

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Filed under Champions League, Europa League, MLS, Premier League

Berba brilliant in preseason opener

It cost Manchester United 26 million pounds to buy Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham Hotspur (or steal him away from Man. City, depending on how you look at it), but in games that matter the silky and sometimes sulky Bulgarian has not matched those millions on the scoresheet, notching 21 goals in all competitions in two seasons. He hasn’t satisfied many of the Red Manc supporters, often unable to deliver in the biggest of moments. But when the games don’t mean as much, like Friday’s pre-season friendly against Celtic in Toronto, he’s a magnum-winning Man of the Match.

Berbatov bagged one goal and set up two more, Danny Welbeck’s winner and Tom Cleverley’s deflected third, as United opened their 2010 tour of North America with a 3-1 victory over Celtic in front of an alleged 39,139 at SkyDome (screw the corporate name).

According to my man Ryan Johnston of Sportsnet.ca, the match would have been played at BMO Field if not for the Indy race going on in the vicinity this weekend. Speeding race cars and drunken football supporters don’t mix very well, but it’s a shame they had to play on a pitch that was only laid the day before (the only day free after the CFL’s Argonauts played at home on Wednesday).

I thought the place would be packed with Scotsmen, but instead it was a tiny Toronto Theatre of Dreams, a sea of red with just a few thousand Celtic supporters in the “away end” in one corner. Perhaps Bhoys fans were put off by the fact their squad came into this one fresh off a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the lowly Philadelphia Union, an MLS expansion team.

A banner behind United’s first half goal that read ‘Love United, Hate Glazer’ was gone within 20 minutes and I saw some of Toronto’s finest walking away from the section when I noticed it was gone. There were also more than a few vuvuzelas in the crowd, but they were by no means deafening.

Berbatov played a full 90, unlike Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, subbed off at half and cheered back to the bench already wearing their warm-ups five minutes after the interval. The Bulgarian opened the scoring in the 34th minute, neatly taking down a pass from Mame Biram Diouf and firing it home.

Chris Smalling hauled down Celtic’s Joe Ledley in the box and substitute Georgios Samaras tied it from the penaly spot in the 61st minute, but United won it in the 79th minute when Berbatov broke into the box and squared the ball for Welbeck, who lunged to slot it home.

No idea why the stadium crew felt compelled to play pounding dance music after every goal…do they think North Americans don’t know when to cheer? Pretty weak.

Man. United were dominant throughout most of the match, showing their class with some early great touches by Giggs and an end-to-end run by Berbatov after a Celtic corner.

Berbatov missed wide after breaking into the box in the 29th minute, less than 60 seconds after Gabriel Obertan had also fired past the post for United.

Sir Alex Ferguson bailed out of Thursday night’s presser at the Four Seasons Hotel for a family reunion on Toronto’s outskirts, flying in ahead of his team, who were delayed by bad weather in Chicago. Only Darren Fletcher was ever brought out to face the media masses, or the five (fool)hardy souls who stuck it out through the two-hour wait for five minutes of questions before the team press flak whisked him away. I got smart and went to the bar with Brent and Hadi…no regrets there.

But Ferguson did answer a few questions after this one, talking about the importance to Scottish football of Celtic and other domestic teams fielding homegrown players (you listening, English FA?), Celtic’s match-up with Braga in Champions League qualifying and Berbatov’s top class performance. And when the flak tried to wrap things up before Sir Alex had spoken to the Scottish media, Fergie was quick with the rebuke, saying “He’s Scottish, for chrissake!” Brilliant.

Ian Harrison

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Filed under Premier League, Scottish Premier