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Monday 21 January 2013

Lance Armstrong Made You Look Stupid

It was a week when Luis Suarez spoke fairly candidly about the perception that he cheats (presumably in a bid to win over the public or at least stop people trying to hunt him for ivory - yes, that was a joke about his teeth - because it didn't do him any favours with his boss, football's answer to David Brent, Brendan "if you don't believe it, you can't achieve it" Rodgers), and Lance Armstrong's Oprah confessional was broadcast. In news terms, this was a week where crime and punishment in sports was a pervading theme. Well, that and imaginary dead Canadian women, but I am still far too confused by the whole Manti Te'o "Catfish" debacle to organize my thoughts into a post on that.

Lance Armstrong's fall from grace has been a story that has enthralled the sporting world, and rightly so - it's an interesting one that teaches us a lot about the way certain recesses of professional athleticism operate. However, the outrage accompanying it from some camps really teaches us more about the media's need to have a narrative, heroes, villains, triumph over adversity, the whole fucking Star Wars shebang, when it comes to sport.

This is why people are so pissed with Lance Armstrong, and why his punishment, which he somewhat histrionically refers to as a "death sentence", has been so much more severe than the punishments received by other cyclists found guilty of doping: he's done something far more offensive to the person on the street than cheating at cycling. He's defied the narrative created around him as a shining beacon of all that is good and pure, as a role model for the otherwise morally doomed children of our age, and he's made anyone who'd guzzled down that particular flavour of Kool-Aid look a bit fucking stupid.

Lance Armstrong had, you see, overcome cancer, and returned to his professional cycling career, only to reach even more amazing peaks of success. And we wanted that to be true, because in the narrative world only good people ever get cancer, and if the bastarding X factor has taught us anything over the past decade, only people with a tragic past deserve to win anything.

The thing is, first of all, cancer isn't really like that. Cancer is one of the fucked up flaws with the human body (well, animals get it too - which is super sad, especially when it's kittens - but you know what I mean), and can develop seemingly arbitrarily, in just about any organ, in anyone. In your lifetime, people you love will get it, but that doesn't mean it is some intelligent evil that preys on good people - there is just as much chance that, had he lived longer, Hitler would have got it too. The fact Lance Armstrong had cancer, therefore, doesn't tell us anything about him other than that he isn't superhuman. It was surviving it and picking his bike back up that made him one of the heroes the media believes we so badly need to keep us interested in sport.

Surviving cancer depends on a lot of factors, but it is widely known that mental fortitude can have a huge impact on your chances, providing other things are in your favour too. There is a lot to admire about someone being brave, determined and tough enough not only to get through the illness and the aggressive treatment, but also to stop cancer from preventing them from enjoying life and achieving their personal goals afterwards. There is even more to admire if they take their experiences and use them to try and do good for other people going through the same thing, by getting involved with charities. But apparently, it isn't enough to admire that in and of itself and find it inspiring when it is a celebrity rather than a nice lady you know. Because once the media has got its claws into someone's "narrative", the cost of admiration is the responsibility to behave like a saint, or face its wrath.

The other thing, then, is that sport isn't really like that either. Being the best at something, when it comes to sport, requires a lot of things - some inherent, some mental - but not one of them is "being a lovely person". Talent is also arbitrary, and that means that the highest echelons of sport are filled with the same complicated combination of personalities as most other populations. There are extremes of goodness and philanthropy and cuntish Joey Bartonyness, but most sportsmen, like the rest of us, exist somewhere in the middle, just sort of bodding about being human and sometimes a bit shit. And that shouldn't matter in sport. This is where this obsession with creating a narrative that fits with our age old understanding of how stories are supposed to go just shouldn't be applied to sport.

You see, while talent is arbitrary, results are absolute. If a guy is the fastest, or scores the most points, or has the most skill, then he is a sporting hero. It doesn't matter whether he has Didier Drogba's record of giving to charity or Kaka's story of triumph over adversity, or whether he's a perceived asshole who cheats on his wife or gets in fights outside of nightclubs - those things don't alter the results. Sport isn't a movie where you are likely to get the ending you want. Sport isn't there to teach us how to live better lives or to shine a light on the human fucking soul. It is ultimately, just a bunch of stuff that happened.

For me, that makes it better than a movie. It's not escapism, it's real, and that means it can still surprise you. There isn't that sense of security you get with knowing that, while you can't see how just yet, good will ultimately prevail and everything will make sense - and that's a sense of security that you can't always depend on in real life. But this is something the media, especially in America, struggles with, and why sportsmen falling from grace offends people more than really, it logically should.

When you build up a story about someone and get people to buy into it, sometimes it turns out to be a load of old crap, and that upsets people disproportionately to the actual crime committed, because as has been demonstrated, people get really fucking pissy when someone makes them look a fool.

Lance Armstrong cheated, and lied, and supposedly did a whole host of other things he isn't very proud of, like bullying people who threatened to call him out on his bad behaviour. But he isn't even the only one in his own peer group to do that. Be angry with him, by all means, for denying the people who should have won the 7 Tour de France trophies that now have no winner, be angry with him for making a mockery of the grand and noble sport of, er, cycling, but don't be angry with him for not turning out to be the fucking angel you were promised he was by an industry desperate to make every person of note's journey fit a literary template.

Thursday 17 January 2013

Internet Tough Guys

A couple of days ago, I wrote an article on here about some Liverpool supporters who had been giving me grief on the Twitter after the Manchester United game. I thought this was good, funny material to use in a post, and while it would almost certainly piss off some people, well, there's not really anything on this blog that wouldn't piss off somebody, so if I'm prepared to rip into religions, celebrities, journalists and, er, cyclists, a bunch of Twitter lobotomites wasn't going to be the one I stayed away from.

When I finished the post and published it, as always I put the link out on Twitter, but I also tweeted at the people mentioned in the article so they could take a look. Sure, this was going to fan the flames a bit, but it also, I thought, gave them an opportunity to, if they were really butthurt about it, ask me to remove them from it. While the main reason I wrote the thing in the first place was that I just thought it was funny, and thought my readers might too, there was also an element of "well, you've been needlessly and pointlessly aggressive to me and you think, like every other time you've done that to someone, you can just go away and feel self satisfied about it. What if this time, someone called you out?". In order for that to mean anything, the people talked about had to know about it. 

None of the people mentioned did contact me and ask me to remove them, but one of them did enlist the help of an "organization" (though I'm 90% sure it's just one guy who thinks he's fooling people with his multiple Twitter accounts) called The Honourables, who is, I found out, quite literally (cue fanfare) the worst person in the world. 

The Honourables, who you can get an idea of the mentality of from the comments attributed to them on my last post, pose as a group protecting the memory of the 96 people who died in the Hillsborough disaster online. That sounds like a good thing, right? Well, no. What they actually do is find anyone who writes anything bad about Liverpool supporters, even if (like my post), it has absolutely nothing to do with the Hillsborough disaster, and play the Internet Tough Guy with them, all in the name of "Justice for the 96", basically trying to use the trademark of human suffering that many people have adopted to act like a very shit thug, and claiming that anyone who doesn't like it "mocks the dead". This is why their website is always getting taken down for abuse. It was suspended yesterday, which they have been blaming me for, and I'm telling you readers, I believe in free speech more than anyone, and I couldn't really be bothered with that sort of cry baby bullshit anyway, so it was probably one of the many other people on their little "shit list".

So, what did the League of Extraordinary Fuckwits do with regard to me? Well, it started with the thinly veiled threats on the comments on the post, which are all still there if you want to see (as if I'd delete anything that funny), claiming that my post was "libelous" and that LFC would be "very interested in it from a legal point of view". 

Well, I didn't buy that. You see, all I had done was take a few public tweets sent to me and used them in my post. I had taken the piss out of the posters for their basic rape of the English language and their illogical points, but I hadn't tried to find anything out about the people who tweeted them, or lied about them, or really said anything particularly contentious. If that's libel, then I am amazed I can't paper my walls with letters from lawyers for the jokes I've made over the three or so years I've been writing this blog.

Also, after the Jen Chang fiasco, I can hardly see LFC wanting to get into another PR disaster by taking me, and every other blogger who has written anything suggesting that, guess what, some of their fans are fucking wanksmiths (and masters of the trade), to task. What are they going to do, get Luis Suarez to come to my house and personally kick me in the shins? I would fucking welcome seeing exactly how seriously a Premiership football club takes the bleatings of one of the kind of fans it probably would rather do without about some blogger in America being mean about some pointless LFC supporter's inane tweets.

The comments got more and more threatening, and then took a bizarre twist when the guy told me to "stick to writing Pokemon". This was frankly baffling at first, and I just put it down to a very crap attempt at humour (as I said in my reply "I can see why you don't go in for the jokes much"), but it turns out it was something even weirder than that. You see, The Reckoning this guy had been threatening the whole time, actually involved him Googling me, in order to find out personal details he could post on one of his Twitter accounts (and if you want to see this shit, take a look at the timeline of one @ANonyMousse2) as he does with anybody who doesn't like him and his ragtag bunch of arsehole followers. The Internet Tough Guy thing had begun.

So, how did he come to think I "wrote Pokemon"? Well, in his "digging", he found my LinkedIn page. I find LinkedIn horribly boring, and only actually have a LinkedIn page because at the time I set it up, I was writing a book on social media and was doing some research. I haven't updated it for about two years, but the last time I did update it, I had set up a copywriting business called Ninja Mongoose. I have since stopped using that business name in my work, but I haven't updated LinkedIn because, and I can't stress this enough, LinkedIn is fucking boring. 

The Honourables found the name Ninja Mongoose, and then Googled that, finding someone who, completely coincidentally, had been using the same name as a handle on a site where they wrote Pokemon fan fiction. They are a 14 year old boy. 

So, The Honourables did the Honourable thing, and started telling his moronic throng of mouth breathing buffoons that I write Pokemon fan fiction posing as a 14 year old boy, thinking he had found out some dark secret. They all found this hilarious and ripped the piss out of Ninja Mongoose's work (which actually, considering it is stories about electric rats written by a kid, is not that bad - he can certainly structure his words better than the cretins I wrote about), thinking it was me and oh, how hilarious, what a sad twat. Trouble is, it wasn't me, was it? They were all ripping the piss out of an actual 14 year old kid, as well as (and this probably would count as "libel", were I to be that special kind of whiny twat who hurls that word around all the time), telling people that I like to pretend to be 14 years old and male on the internet, like some kind of pederast.

So, so far, The Reckoning had involved some light Googling and being mean to a child. What good cyberbullies they are! I felt the need, once I'd worked out where the hell they'd got the idea this kid was me, to disabuse them of this idea in a tweet, which The Honourables responded to with more of their impotent brand of terrifying menace. They had already been talking about me on their timeline, posting things they thought they had found out about me (basically they had managed to find my Facebook page, which you would obviously need some l33t haxor skills to do), including some photos, the names of some people I know and, weirdly "where my dad lives". They didn't even get the right country for that one, so again, congratulations on being the most inept cyberbullies ever. 

At one point, he says to the girl mentioned in my original post (yes, the one with the "alluring" profile picture), "She has her location and her family on Facebook, what a stupid bitch". 

Well no, actually. Having your location and your family on Facebook is fucking normal, if you aren't some pussy hiding behind an anonymous Twitter account or three who goes around threatening people, and you just use Facebook to, you know, interact with people you know. Implying that the fact that he managed to find this (in any case, very inaccurate) information means I am stupid implies that this information is in some way useful to him and his army of gobby little twats, but what does that mean? Are they going to beat up a guy my cousin bought a dog off of outside of a KFC? No, they're going to sit there tweeting away hoping that one of the people who reads their nonsense is enough of a psycho to do something more than just tweet at me that I am a slag or something.

He then encourages his followers to block me and "report spam". Obviously my personal Twitter account is not a spam account, I pretty much just talk about football and whatever I'm watching on TV, and joke around with my mates, so what does that mean? Well, if an account gets reported as spam enough times, it gets automatically suspended. The Honourables wants people to falsely report my account for spam so I won't be able to use it. This doesn't matter, because like him I have a few other Twitter accounts I have used for various business or writing projects that are currently idle, so it would be nothing more than a minor inconvenience to switch to a different one, hell, I recently stopped using Twitter altogether for a couple of months for no other reason than to knuckle down and get more work done without the distraction, but seriously, what a twat. 

He then encourages his band of Scousers to come after me on Twitter. The ones who decided that was a good idea, in spite of the fact that it was Scousers coming at me on Twitter that caused me to write the offensive article in the first place (I actually suspect a lot of them would like me to include them in a post and were trying to provoke just that, but the way I see it, I picked out three examples for the first post, and the rest of them were all exactly the same so a second post in the "let's all laugh at the stupid people" vein would be redundant and gratuitous), were mostly going with "You're a fat, ugly fucking Yank so you don't know shit about football and you've never even met a Scouser". Those of you who know me, or who have been reading this blog for a while, or, I don't know, aren't completely retarded, will see the several obvious flaws in that line of insult that stopped it from having any meaning whatsoever, but I didn't let them in on the joke, it was too priceless to ruin.

One woman seemed particularly keen to get a mention on here, absolutely refusing to fuck off with her repetitive nonsense and insults. I didn't want to encourage her by saying this at the time, because seriously, she would not fucking go away, like a scrappy little Jack Russell biting away at your ankle and refusing to fuck off even though you really don't want to fight it because you could just kick it against the wall and kill it and it doesn't seem right, but she first appeared with a picture that made her look like a Tuesday afternoon stripper, and then replaced it with one where she looked like a Tuesday afternoon stripper's mum. God, this woman was boring, and boring for a long time. She did "educate" me about a lot of shit that I couldn't possibly have otherwise known though, what with being a Yank and spending all my time eating cheeseburgers in my Chevy pick up truck and all, like that "the stereotype of Scousers being criminals and benefit frauds went out of fashion before Chelsea FC even existed". Again, so many things wrong with that statement. She got very frustrated that I didn't want to satisfy her endless, harpylike tweets, which in my head all came through in this horrible, shrieky version of Mimi from Shameless' voice, that she put it down to me "having a lack of football knowledge" and not wanting to pit it against her "encyclopedic football knowledge". I expect, being an LFC fan, the "encyclopedia" she is referring to is one that came out in about 1988.

Anyway, I have never blocked anyone on Twitter before, because it does seem like a bit of a dick move, but I got so bored of her I had to do it. A couple of my followers had been so pissed off with the stuff she was saying that they decided to get in a row with her after that, even though I did warn them that her idea of winning an argument is just basically boring the will out of you to the point where all you can do is take an Advil and lie down in a dark room for a couple of hours until the headache goes away.

Still, apparently people should not associate with me, now I'm on The Honourables' shit list. If people talk to me now, they are apparently instantly deemed worthy of the "tweeting information about you to our followers" crap. They tweeted location and name information about two guys who spoke to me, just to be cunts. They are not crusading to protect the memories of the fucking 96 by starting on a random person who happens to agree with something I, the one who supposedly mocks the dead (I don't though, I just made a mild joke about the fucking charity record) said. They never include the person they are talking about, instead preferring to tweet screenshots of their tweets and their names, meaning that if you didn't look at his stupid timeline, you wouldn't even know they were targeting you. If you look at it, he will say you are stalking him. This guy is a grade A moron who is doing nothing more than using the tragic events of Hillsborough to be a bastard to people, and that, if you ask me, is far more "disgusting" (and illegal) than anything I or Alan fucking Davies or anyone else who doesn't agree with him, has ever done.

So, what have we learned from this? Not much. My site and my Twitter account are still up. The original post is still there, unchanged. Everybody I know is still alive and well, and I haven't heard from LFC's legal team. In fact, given their site is down, and I've now written again, exposing what a shitty operation this douche is running in the name of the victims of Hillsborough, you could almost suspect that I'm not scared of them at all, and that you shouldn't be either.;

Sunday 13 January 2013

Pointless Twitter Arguments With Liverpool Fans

One of the best things about following football is having some fun banter with supporters from other teams. Most of the time. When they are good at it. People often ask me what it is that makes me so anti-Liverpool, and I think my experiences today go some way to explaining it.

Today Man U and Liverpool met at Old Trafford, in a game that was never going to be friendly, and therefore promised a whole host of opportunities to take the piss. I was looking forward to it. As a Chelsea supporter, on paper a Liverpool win would have been better for me, given that Man U have been pulling away from us and everyone else in the Premiership, but fuck that for a game of soldiers.

In general, I have always respected Manchester United and Alex Ferguson (though I can't look directly at him because for some reason he makes me feel really nauseous. I think it's the chewing). A good team, who back up their record historically by still being, you know, good. Manchester United are one of football's biggest teams, and not just in the minds of people who are all nostalgic for the days when footballers retired at 35 and bought a pub, but in everybody's minds. Manchester United's fans are also, in my experience, good fans to banter with. They get the spirit of it. I can happily argue for hours with an articulate Man U fan about their team and ours, and will generally end up wanting to buy them a beer rather than set fire to their dog. Of course, if an argument between a Chelsea fan and a Man United fan gets too heated, one of you can always defuse it by saying "Fuck Liverpool, though, right?".

For these reasons, I have quite a lot of Manchester United supporters on my Twitter, and like many of the Chelsea supporters I talk to on there, I have a propensity to back them up in the banter against the Liverpool fans. The trouble with this is that it seems that all of the smart Liverpool fans are in a bunker somewhere working on a time machine to take them back to the days of Ian Rush, leaving only people whose debating skills begin and end with "I know you are, but what am I?", and whose imagination when it comes to finding things to have a pop at Chelsea fans about begins and ends with some nonsense about plastic flags, which I believe was first brought to their attention by that Go Compare guy looking fool who reckons he's going to manage Real Madrid when we finally get rid of him.

My story of Liverpool fan induced rage begins, as these things are wont to do, with the inevitable "Munich thing". This is the single most irritating thing in a cacophony of irritating things Liverpool supporters en masse will do. For all the bleating they do about Justice for the 96 (including that bloody Christmas record, which if you ask me took the piss. He Ain't Heavy? For people who got crushed to death? Seriously? Why not go the whole way and do Harder to Breathe by Maroon 5? Actually I have quite a few of these "songs they should have done" jokes but unlike Liverpool supporters for the last 23 years, we'll move on), they think it is absolutely fine to go on about the Munich disaster when they meet with Man U. By all accounts the Munich chants were out during the game (and you could hear it on TV during the bits where the Liverpool fans weren't silently sulking), and on Twitter, #Munich was trending in Liverpool, and I don't think it was because they were all discussing the Bundesliga.

Whether the other stories coming out of Old Trafford, like that there were Liverpool fans spitting on disabled Man U fans, were true only someone who was there could tell you, and I wasn't, but frankly, would you put it past them? The Munich stuff was there for all to see.

A Chelsea fan I follow on Twitter said something about Liverpool fans thinking it is fine to sing whatever they want, but crying if anyone does anything back (e.g. raising the whole "Heysel thing", you know, with the murdering and such - the one part of their "history" they don't want us to bang on about for the rest of time, because it's more than a little shameful). I replied to him, saying "90% of their songs are about Munich, aren't they?". It was a mild barb that I thought he would agree with the spirit of, nothing I thought anyone other than him would really notice, but it started this whooooole thing, which basically served as a microcosm for all of the things I hate about Liverpool fans and their lack of banter skills.

First came somebody calling themselves @ILOVEFOWLER - I have provided the link so you can see exactly what kind of semi-literate we are dealing with here, because it makes what she said all the more amusing. I know that really, saying anything remotely mean about someone who really loves Robbie Fowler and lives in, as she calls it "shit wrexham" (sic), is like beating up a retarded kid and therefore not cool, but if you're going to get all ad hominem on me over a tweet about the classless behaviour of your team's fans, then I'm probably going to write about you.

She replied with:

I can see why someone might think I was a thick fuck if I had done a statistical analysis of all of Liverpool's chants and reached the solution that 90% of the chants were about United (I had actually said 90% were about Munich, but we'll gloss over that for now) - that would be wrong and show me to be appalling at maths - so I explained as follows, that that was not the case:

I'd wager quite a lot of money that ol' Charm School here does not know what "hyperbole" means, and would probably, were she to try and say it, pronounce it "hyperbowl", so I know this was kind of a smug wanker sort of reply, but hey, whose go to response for being called a "thick fuk" isn't to use a long word and criticize the spelling and grammar of the antagonist? Standard. Her reply, I suspect, was also standard:

Well, at least she learnt to spell "fuck" the second time around - I feel like one of those people who's taught a monkey to count to potato or something. Nobody's ever called me ugly before, but I am so hurt that on the back on my tiny Twitter picture this person can tell that indeed, I am a hideous beast, and presumably nobody has ever had the heart to tell me before, that rest assured, I'll be calling a cosmetic surgeon first thing on Monday morning.

Later, she despairs at the pasting all the nasty people on Twitter have been giving her for saying things like the above to me, and something along the lines of "u hit evry branch on da way out of da ugly tree" to some man (I am paraphrasing, I am not great at this spelling like a cretin thing), by announcing to her followers:


Elsewhere, there was this guy:

Incorrect, fucktard. I used to live a short walk from the Bridge and go all the time. I live in Seattle now, so not so much (though I do have a season ticket at Seattle Sounders, which apparently offends these people, who don't believe you can be a "real fan" and support two teams in completely separate leagues but fuck, what am I supposed to do, live and die within ten miles of where I was born like some kind of dark ages peasant? Give up liking football because I emigrated and get really into the Mariners instead? Become an "armchair fan" and take all their shit for that equally heinous crime?), though thanks to Chelsea's US tour last summer I did get to see them play live once in 2012, which is one more time than a lot of Liverpool fans I know in the UK. This guy is a season ticket holder at Anfield, so I'm not having a pop at his dedication, but he suggested I wasn't a real Chelsea fan because I was (heaven forfend) talking about Liverpool instead of Chelsea (on a day when Chelsea didn't play), when he has as his Twitter page background... Well, take a look: - if that isn't about Chelsea then I don't know what is.

The glory hunter thing came up a few times, and seriously, it is deeply meaningless when it comes from Liverpool supporters from places like "shit Wrexham". These people have no idea how long I have supported Chelsea (it's since about 1994, when I first got into the sport), but in any case, to assume that a team that was consistently top six before Roman (I got told off for calling him by his first name in a tweet as well, so I'm doing it again) bought them, which featured great players like Gianfranco Zola, and had success in the FA Cup and European Cupwinner Cup had no supporters at the time is just assinine. In reality, Liverpool's non Liverpudlian fanbase comprises almost nothing but glory hunters if you think choosing a team that win things and has players you admire when you're a kid is a bad thing, it's just that the kids that picked Liverpool in the 80's have now grown up to find the glory isn't coming, and they are so butthurt about it they have to knock people who made better fucking life choices, and consequently not only get to enjoy watching good football, but also don't have to pretend to like Luis Suarez or that they don't find the Scouse accent as horrific as everybody else does.

Check out this guy:

His Twitter backdrop says he wants to be buried at Anfield, because that's where he was born and where he will die. He called me and a few of my friends glory hunters. Pretty tough talk, I bet he's Liverpool through and through, probably lived there his whole life and... No, wait, he's from Canada. The French part too.

Good football banter is about the players, the culture, the managers, the topical stuff going on. It is imaginative, funny, and somewhat tongue in cheek, and you get into it fully prepared to take a "mullering" yourself from time to time. You get to crow about it when you win, but when your guy skies it, or you lose to fucking QPR, you know you're going to get it in the neck and you have to take that with good humour. You don't cry, you don't say "it's disgusting for you to say that X player was a bad buy because of X tragic thing that happened a really long time ago", you don't refer anyone who criticizes your team to some arbitrary point in history when you were good, and you don't have a hissy fit and start making baffling and unfounded personal insults. And you certainly don't do this:

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Monday 7 January 2013

Football Awards

I have to admit, I wasn't expecting a lot of surprises from the FIFA awards, especially not for the main award, the coveted Ballon D'Or (which is French for "ball of gold" or "golden ball", and is the name FIFA have given to the trophy, as well as, as we all know, the singular name for what David Beckham's scrotum houses a brace of). I was thinking before it was announced that it may as well have been called the "Forgone Conclusion of the Year" really (you know, only in French), because with Messi having beaten the all time goal scoring record previously held by Gerd Muller, and apparently also possessing the ability to make the blind see, anybody else winning would have looked fucked up and, FIFA don't do fucked up things (insert your own list of fucked up things FIFA have done here)...

There was the potential that the Women's Player of the Year award could have thrown up some surprises, if Abby Wambach had perhaps turned up wearing a J-Lo dress held on with toupee tape, but no, as expected she looked like she'd raided KD Lang's wardrobe circa 1995.

Still, watching the "gala", which was much gayer than Abby with its shirtless karate dancing men and weird "guy in an armadillo suit" mascot, I did find myself very surprised indeed to discover that overnight, every football league in the world except for La Liga had blinked out of existence. That's La Liga, the league that has become marginally interesting this year because it now has three teams instead of two, but is generally about as exciting from a competitive point of view as the SPL before Rangers went the way of the pear. That's right kids. It's just possessionball and tiki-taki (which is what all the houses that look just the same are made out of, isn't it?) and players with just one name from here on out. Everyone else is dead.

Sure, the players in the FIFPro World XI are all fucking great, but they are all from Real Madrid or Barca except for Radamel Falcao, who despite the media trying to link him with moves to everyone from Chelsea to Heart of Midlothian and Exeter City, plays for Atletico Madrid. And that kind of pisses on the Bundesliga, Serie A and the Premiership, and I imagine Zlatan Ibrahimovic's normally present erection withered in seconds when he heard. Christ, I bet even Heskey was a bit gutted he wasn't considered, now he is enjoying kinglike status in the A League, where his Newcastle Jets, last time I looked, were in a healthy 7th place (out of 10 teams).

So much for the players then, what about the managers? Well, the three finalists were Del Bosque, who lead Spain to win the Euros (despite employing that weird "we don't need a striker" strategy - not that that is a bad strategy when your best striker is Fernando Torres), Mourinho, who I quite honestly worship as a God but who they all hate at Real Madrid, and Pep Guardiola.

So, er, Pep Guardiola. For what he did in 2012. Well, at the start of 2012, Pep Guardiola was manager of Barcelona, who just about everyone agrees is the best team in the world, and featured The Great and Powerful (but quite short) Leo Messi, as well as fellow Ballon D'Or nominee Andres Iniesta, and over half of FIFA's World XI. With that team, in 2012, he won exactly fuck all trophies. Mourinho's Real, in stark contrast to this season so far, bettered them at every turn, and RDM's Chelsea managed to break his winning formula with their defensive tactics, knocking Barca out of the Champions League which as we know from experience, UEFA really, really like them to be in the final of. Pep then basically had a nervous breakdown and fucked off to New York, mumbling something about Andy Warhol. He is currently still on his little sabbatical, allegedly waiting for Fergie to retire so he can manage Man U (which I imagine is a bit like being Prince Charles, waiting for the Queen to die). Likes a challenge, then, our Pep.

Basically, the whole thing may as well have been called the Bola de Ora and the ceremony just have been replaced by an hour long broadcast of Sepp Blatter noshing off the King of Spain while a man in an armadillo costume pranced around awkwardly at the side. Though, in fairness, then we would have missed Pia Sundhage's surprisingly good country singing. They didn't even bother translating all the acceptance speeches that were in Spanish (though at least Cristiano Ronaldo telling kids to be "humble" if they want to become great players like him was in English, so no kids watching it in the UK or America have any excuse not to become legends of the sport now), and I was watching it on American TV - they give us subtitles to help us get through Being: Liverpool (and rightly so given Jamie Carragher's voice sounds like someone going at some pig iron with a chainsaw).

Given how the awards were a bit bollocks, then, I have decided to name my own award winners. There are no trophies and no gala, and no armadillos. I can do any dance off of Dance Central 2 on medium difficulty - you can picture that if you feel there absolutely needs to be some dancing.

Note - I'm not doing the women's ones, because a) I basically agreed with Pia Sundhage and Abby Wambach's wins, and b) other than Abby I can only name about five female football players, all of whom are American. Abby is my favourite. Mostly because she plays like a man and men's football is much better.

Ballon D'Or

This should be Messi, as I said before, it'd be fucked up if it was anyone else. Grant Holt has been doing quite well for Norwich, though... No, Messi - it's Messi. Having said that, as amazing as Messi is, he isn't the type of player I tend to like best from a personal taste perspective. I like the big, terrifying Drogba type players. In the same way as a lot of people will tell you boxing at lighter weights is much more impressive, and I will tell you I still prefer watching bigger guys hit each other. It makes a nicer sound. This is why I am looking forward to the future when Belgium dominates instead of Spain and I can give this award to Romelu Lukaku.

Manager of the Year

I would like to give this award to Roberto Di Matteo for doing what nobody else had managed to do and winning the Champions League with Chelsea, as well as for breaking Pep. It might seem a bit mental to give the Manager of the Year award to someone who was only actually a manager for a part of the year though, so I offer up a couple of other names for those of you who don't agree with me to choose from:

Roberto Martinez - A lot of clubs have tried to lure him away from his beloved Wigan, but he's not having a bar of it. He's just bloody adorable, isn't he? During the Euros, he appeared on American coverage to let us know what was going on on the scene like the BBC's Kate Adie in the first Gulf War, reporting with her army hat on from some shithole. It was great. Granted, that's partly because it meant Michael Ballack wasn't talking. Ballack is a lot more boring than you expect when he speaks, even when arguing with Alexei Lalas. By the way, Alexei Lalas doesn't like it when people say "cunt" on Twitter. Use that information as you see fit.

Alan Pardew - I just like him.

Roy Hodgson - Clearly attempting to troll Kenny Dalgleish, he attempted to do well in the Euros with King Kenny's (sorry, what is he king of exactly? Mount McTwattybollocks?) sorry assed Liverpool team. The Liverpool team in question, when reduced to only its English members, being the saddest thing imaginable. Did better than most people expected. Comes across like a nice uncle who might give you a fiver when you go and visit him.

Paolo di Canio - Fucking mental, and therefore amazing.

Jurgen Klopp - Will nobody think of the Bundesliga?

World VI of People Who Don't Play in La Liga


Joe Hart (Manchester City, England), even though he's been a bit crap lately. Not as crap as Reina has been, but you know... He gets extra points because he's English, and we were despairing (and that's not hyperbole - it was genuine despair) that there might never be a good English goalkeeper again after David Seaman, and we'd be condemned to use Rob Green forevermore.


Ashley Cole (Chelsea, England) - The best left back in the world, and one of the hardest working players. Sure, he likes putting his Nokia where no Nokia should have to go, up his actual arse, but he saves both Chelsea and England's metaphorical arses just as regularly.

Jamie Carragher (Liverpool, England) - HA! Just kidding.

John Terry (Chelsea, England) - I know it's a bit predictable that a Chelsea supporter would choose JT and Ashley Cole (hell, why not throw a Gary Cahill in there for good measure?), but Ashley really is the best left back in the world, and JT adds a level of leadership you really miss when it isn't there (especially when Frank Lampard isn't there either). He is also one of the most hated and divisive players in the world, and that's cool.

Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund, Germany) - Will nobody think of the Bundesliga?

Vincent Kompany (Manchester City, Belgium) - Belgium is TEH FUTURE. But Kompany's pretty good now. Very tall too.


Juan Mata (Chelsea, Spain) - Little Juan Mata is Spanish, but he doesn't play in La Liga so he can be in the "anti FIFA XI" XI. In a team in a league full of excellent midfielders, Mata is still one of the greatest and most reliable guys you could ever want on your team, and his patience trying to feed a struggling Torres shows what a team player the little 'un is.

Andrea Pirlo (Juventus, Italy) - Just fucking outstanding in the Euros, and for Juve, Pirlo shows that if you treat a player in his mid thirties well, he can outplay other guys in their prime. This is something Chelsea's board should pay attention to - Andrea and Frank Lampard are roughly the same age.

David Beckham (formerly LA Galaxy, formerly England) - If you're reading this in the UK or elsewhere in Europe and aren't all that familiar with MLS, perhaps believing Piers "the cunt" Morgan when he compares it to a pub league, you're missing out; it's actually pretty fucking tough. Beckham's now former team, the LA Galaxy, won a second consecutive MLS Cup in 2012 despite fierce competition (and as a Seattle Sounders supporter I am still pretty butthurt that we didn't get past them in the Western Conference final, but it's Beckham, and you can't stay mad at Beckham, it's like kicking a puppy), and while he did have a lot of help from Landon Donovan (while he wasn't off writing emo poetry and generally having a sad) and Robbie Keane (who in America is somehow really good - like actually good, not just perceived as good like our Heskey down under), Becks was still in a class of his own. Neglected by Stuart Pearce for a spot in the Olympics, Beckham deserves some recognition for what will probably end up being his last year in a major league, so here you go, mate!

Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich, Germany) - It was a bit of a toss up for me (and the one person I discussed this list with - see, I have a panel, just like FIFA) between Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben, and in league and Champions League play both had serious merits. However, Robben and his whole team were a bunch of arse in the Euros, and Arjen was simply unable to score against his former team, Chelsea, in the Champions League final, so that decided it.


Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund, Poland) - Lewandowski was on fire in the Euros, and the link to Manchester United that never came to fruition over the summer sounded like it was going to lead to some pretty terrifying things. Man U probably don't mind too much given how well Robin van Persie has bedded in so far (and if I do one of these next year, it's going to take a quite horrific slump between now and then to keep RVP off the list), but Dortmund's Polish striker would be a tasty proposition for any top flight club.

Edinson Cavani (Napoli, Uruguay) - While a lot of what made Cavani so impressive in 2012 at Napoli was his partnership with Lavezzi, who has since left the club to become a feature in the Paris St Germain menagerie, even alone his work rate and prolific scoring mark him out as one of the stand out strikers of the year.

Goal of the Year

Papiss Demba Cisse for Newcastle, against Chelsea on May 2nd 2012. Why? Well, because I remembered it, so it must have been the best one I saw all year. Flawless logic. In any case, it was better than that Neymar goal that was on FIFA's shortlist.

So there you go. Feel free to argue with me below if your favourite player/team/manager wasn't represented.