Archive for July, 2008

July 31 – Carrick Lands at Old Trafford

IN June 2006 Spurs manager Martin Jol was trying his best to make it plain that Michael Carrick would not be leaving the club.

“We are building something here and I can’t do without him,” he said.

“I told the chairman I want to keep him and the board don’t want to sell him. He’s got a contract for two years and that’s it.

“Spurs is a good club and Michael knows that. We will do a good job in the next couple of seasons and he will be happy at Spurs.”

Today in 2006, just a month after Jol’s words, Carrick signed for Manchester United.

Sometimes you have to wonder if Fergie had just got too much cash to spend at Old Trafford because he shelled out a whopping £18.6m for the midfielder from Wallsend, just days after selling prolific striker Ruud van Nistelrooy to Real Madrid for just over £10m.

United had lost their most potent goal threat, and signed a young midfielder for a net loss of £8m. Had Fergie lost it? Mark Longden of the Independent Manchester United Supporters’ Association thought so. He told BBC Sport at the time: “I cannot understand what is going on.

“I have not spoken to anybody who, when £18.6m became available, would have spent that on Michael Carrick.

“But people have questioned Sir Alex Ferguson’s judgment in the past and finished up with egg on their face and I hope it happens again.”

The deal represented a massive profit for Spurs who had paid just £2.75m to West Ham for Carrick in 2004. Bernie Kingsley, of Tottenham fanzine Cock-a-Doodle-Do, said the White Hard Lane fans were not too bothered to lose him: “The general view among Tottenham fans is that it is a good deal. I don’t think fans will be desperately upset.

“You should not let good players go, particularly to clubs you are hoping to be competing against.

“But for that sort of money – and with midfielders Tom Huddlestone and Didier Zokora at the club – it has got to be good business.”

Zakora aside, Carrick’s departure did not seem to impact on the team’s results as Tottenham finished fifth in the league, the same position they had achieved the previous season with him in the side.

Meanwhile, Manchester United managed to wrestle the title back from Chelsea with Carrick playing regularly in their midfield, so perhaps Fergie was right after all.

Here is Carrick scoring in United’s 7-1 demolition of Roma at Old Trafford in the Champions League in 2007, and come back tomorrow for a tale that should serve as a warning about the perils of being promoted above you abilities.

July 30 – First World Cup Final

WHEN England won the World Cup at Wembley in 1966 their victory coincidentally fell on the same day as the first ever World Cup final in 1930.

On home soil Uruguay had made it all the way to the final thanks to victories over Peru, Romania and Yugoslavia. Their opponents were South American rivals Argentina, who defeated France, Mexico, Chile and the USA to reach the final. They had to play one more game that Uruguay because the odd number of entrants (13) meant Argentina’s group had four nations in it, rather than three.

The two finalists were set to resume hostilities after meeting each other in the 1928 Olympic Games football tournament final. The contest had been a close run thing with the first game ending in a 1-1 draw. Uruguay won the replay which helped them get the nod to host the first ever World Cup.

The final was held in the brand new Estadio Centenario in Montevideo and some 93,000 fans had filled the ground at least two hours before kick off in anticipation of the match.

Before the game could start there was a disagreement over who would provide the match ball with some sort of sense prevailing in the end, with the first half played with an Argentine ball, and the second half with a Uruguayan one.

The first player to score in a World Cup final was Pablo Dorado who nutmegged Botasso in the Argentine goal as Uruguay drew first blood. Argentina soon hit back through Carlos Peucelle and Guillermo Stábile (top scorer at the tournament) to lead 2-1 at the break.

After half time the Uruguayans seemed happier playing with their ball and a goal each from Santos Iriarte and Héctor Castro saw them cruise to a 4-2 win over their rivals and become the first ever World Champions. Their place at the summit of world football was secure as they were both Olympic and World Champions while Argentina were again the bridesmaids and had to settle for second place, just as they had at the Olympics two years earlier.

The following day was declared a national holiday in Uruguay as they celebrated their win. Four years later they became the only winners not to defend their title when they declined to take part in the tournament in Italy, as a mark of protest at the poor showing from European sides in the 1930 competition (only four, Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia, had bothered to make the trip).

Here is a film of the final with some curiously ill-fitting music, and come back tomorrow when we will bringing you some more skeletons from football’s collective closet.

July 29 – Iraq Win the Asian Cup

IF YOU were unlucky enough to have been an Iraqi international footballer during the Saddam Hussein era then a bad performance meant a whole lot more than a slating in the press. Under the auspices of Saddam’s eldest son Uday, who was the head of Iraq’s national Olympic Association, poor performances were punished by lashings, being pushed into vats of sewage or even spells in a prison that would make Midnight Express look like a stroll in the park. We wouldn’t even wish that on Joey Barton.

Today in 2007 the Iraqi side gave their fans something to smile about, as they beat Saudi Arabia to win the Asian Cup as their nation struggled to rebound from the American-led invasion four years earlier.

Like all walks of life, sport had been hit hard since Bush and Blair let loose with ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’. With the nation’s infrastructure in ruins few expected that Iraq would even make it out of the group stages.

Lead by Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira Iraq beat Austrialia on the way to topping Group A. In the knockout stages they defeated Vietnam before beating South Korea on penalties in the semi-final.

However, as jubilant fans poured onto the streets of Baghdad to celebrate their place in the final, tragedy stuck when two car bombers killed 50 and injured scores more. Other celebrations during the week had killed at least 12 people, from stray bullets as fans shot their guns in the air.

The Iraqi players wore black armbands to honour the dead as they took on the heavily-favoured Saudi Arabia side. Captain and player of the tournament Younis Mahmoud scored the only goal of the game to spark scenes of jubilation that offered a rare respite from suicide bombs and insurgent fighting for the nation.

Celebrations took place all across the divided country, as the team drew on Kurds, Sunnis, Shias and Turkomans, leading president Jala Talabani to describe the side as “a true symbol of national unity”.

In a change from the days of Uday Hussein the side were rewarded with a bonus of £5,000, rather than the threat of having their legs amputated. See footage of the Lions of Mesopotamia’s famous win below and check out what OTFD was on about last year here.

July 28 – Serbia and Montenegro Go Their Separate Ways

OVER the last few years football has added yet another cliché to it’s ranks: “there’s no easy games in international football anymore.” We think that’s baloney when minnows such as Andorra, Guam and the Cook Islands are knocking around in the international game. Today in 2006 another side was added to Fifa’s numbers when Serbia and Montenegro split to become two separate sides.

As a joint team, the last S&M action (no Max, not that sort) to be seen was at the 2006 World Cup where they were beaten 6-0 by a devastating Argentine performance on their way to finishing bottom of their group, failing to register a single point.

Despite this poor showing, the Football Associations of the two nations decided to split, as national pride proved to be more important than progression in major tournaments.

To their credit, the Montenegrins haven’t done too bad. After nine games they have beaten Estonia, Hungary, Kazakhstan and Norway as their Fifa ranking has gone up from 199 to 146 and are about to embark on qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in a group that features Italy and the Republic of Ireland.

If Montenegro wanted to go for glory though, we think they should’ve thrown their hat into the ring for the VIVA World Cup. This is a competition for states that are not members of Fifa, featuring a host of countries or regions that you’ve never heard of. This year’s tournament was won by Padania, which represents a district in northern Italy who beat Arameans Suryoye in the final. Told you no one had ever heard of them.

Now that Montenegro have secured their place in the international game, they’ll be delighted by Uefa who, in their infinite wisdom, voted to expand the European Championships to a 24-team format by 2016. This decision, aimed at milking yet more money out of the tournament, came at the end of one of the most enjoyable and high quality tournaments in years. An expanded version will see poor sides such as today’s protagonists clogging up the group stages and also devalue the qualifying process, as even England should be able to qualify without too much drama.

Right, rant over. Here’s a highlight reel of Montenegro’s leading light Simon Vukcevic doing his thing for Sporting and The Brave Falcons. Enjoy that, have a look at what we were up to last year here and join us tomorrow for something a bit less obscure.

July 27 – Carvalho Goes Blue

EVERY manager has favourites, players they feel they can trust and who they always like to have in their squad. Harry Redknapp has always had a bit of a thing for Shaka Hislop, while Leeds fans will shudder at the thought of Terry Venables bringing his old pal Paul Okon to Elland Road during his ill-fated spell as manager.

Jose Mourinho is no different and he is currently trying to chat up Frank Lampard to take the man he once described as ‘the best player in the world’ to Internazionale.

When he was appointed as Chelsea’s new manager he was up to the same old tricks and on this day in 2004 he raided his former club Porto to buy centre-half Ricardo Carvalho for a whopping £19.85m.

The fee may have been big but Chelsea owner Abramovich has the deepest pockets in football and Carvalho had been doing everything right to ramp up his price tag. The previous season he had been the defensive lynchpin of Mourinho’s team which had won the Portuguese league title along with the European Cup.

He had followed this up by being the best defender at Euro 2004 as Portugal made it all the way to the final on home soil before they were beaten by Greece.

Meanwhile Mourinho had been drafted in at Chelsea to start winning some trophies, and Carvalho was seen as a vital piece of the jigsaw to ensure the club did not end up empty handed come the end of the season as they had under previous boss Claudio Ranieri, especially as Marcel Desailly at left.

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon had on his best smug face when he announced the signing. “We are delighted Ricardo has signed for us as he was being chased by top clubs all over Europe,” he said.

“He proved during Euro 2004 and in the past two seasons with Porto that he is one of the top centre-backs in the game.”

The capture of Carvalho took Chelsea’s summer spending in 2004 to £89m, with Didier Drogba, Mateja Kezman, Tiago, Arjen Robben and Petr Cech also arriving at the club.

After that outlay it would have been criminal not to end up with some silverware that season and Mourinho did what he does best and delivered, with the club winning their first League title for 50 years, and the League Cup for good measure.

Have a look at Carvalho making an impact at the other end of the pitch when he scored a long range effort for Chelsea against Spurs (Blackburn fans note the former Tottenham ‘keeper who lets it in), and watch out for Abramovich’s chumpish celebrations.

Tomorrow we will be back trying to alleviate your Monday morning blues just a touch so join us then, and check out what else happened on this football day here.

July 26 – Paisley Suits Anfield

WHEN Bill Shankly resigned as manager of Liverpool in 1974 the city went into shock. Shankly had transformed the club into the giant on English football it had become by the mid 1970s and his early retirement rocked the club to its core. The team was riding high and koppites obviously feared that their position at the top of the pile might be under threat.

Few would have thought that Shankly’s retirement would herald the beginning of the most successful period in the club’s history. On this day in 1974 the Anfield suits decided to hand the managerial reigns to Shanks’ assistant Bob Paisley, a man who had joined the club as a player in 1939 and following his playing retirement had served as a coach, and then Shanks’ number two for twenty years.

He did not really want the job, he was content to be the man behind the scenes, but the club came calling and he could not refuse. He did not have to wait long for his first trophy, beating Leeds to lift the Charity Shield at Wembley. It was to be the first of many – in nine years as Liverpool boss Paisley won an incredible 19 trophies with the club, including six League titles and three European Cups – he said once, “Mind you, I’ve been here during the bad times too – one year we came second.”

His record outstrips that of his illustrious predecessor and former boss Shankly, but there is no doubt that Paisley’s success was a continuation of the foundations laid by Shanks. Having said that it would be an insult to Paisley to ignore the work he did to keep Liverpool at the top, and he also had a good eye for a player and signed some of the club’s greatest during his spell in charge. Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen, Graeme Souness and Ian Rush were all Paisley buys.

He retired in 1983, having won the League yet again to finish his remarkable career on another high. Perhaps his great secret was keeping it simple. He said once: “If you’re in the penalty area and don’t know what to do with the ball, put it in the net and we’ll discuss the options later.”

Have a look at Paisley enjoying the Anfield applause below, and click here to see our account of one of football’s biggest scandals from this day last year. That’s it folks, but more tomorrow as usual.

July 25 – Barry Blitzed in Oporto

BARRY Town were headed into unchartered waters today in 2001 when the provincial Welsh side faced Porto in the Champions League second qualifying round. And to continue the nautical theme, they were hopefully out of their depth, losing 8-0 to the Portuguese champions.

Having become the first League of Wales side to win a Champions League tie when they defeated the Azerbaijan champions FC Shamkir, Barry boss Peter Nicholas was aiming high. “It would be nice if we could perhaps get a draw”, he said someone optimistically.

After the first 45 minutes in the Estadio das Antas Nicholas had to change his plans somewhat, as the team from the valleys found themselves 5-0 down. A young Deco was the heartbeat of the side netting a first-half hat-trick. The new Chelsea midfielder didn’t even get the matchball that night though as Renivaldo Pena scored twice in each half as Barry were humiliated.

When the two sides met a week later the gulf between was highlighted after Porto announced they had signed Jardel from Galatasaray for £8m earlier that day.

The Dragons were playing simply for pride and showed more bouncebackability than a check from Luton Town when they recorded a surprise 3-1 win in front of a sold-out crowd at Jenner Park. Barry’s European tour was over, with a 9-3 aggregate loss.

Their opponents that night went all the way in the Champions League in 2004 as Jose Mourinho quietly announced his arrival on the world stage. Tough times followed for Town though, as crowds of 500 didn’t provide the money the team needed to operate professionally causing the club to go into administration in 2003 with debts of almost £1m.

Another 8-0 loss followed, this time to Caernarfon Town, as the club were relegated into Welsh League Division One, where they currently reside following another relegation and subsequent promotion.

Unfortunately youtube doesn’t have too much Barry Town action, so you’ll have to make do with some alternative Barry-action below. Enjoy that, have a gander at what we were up to last year and join us tomorrow for more of the same.

July 24 – Fat Freddy Goes to the Dogs

WHEN Pele coined the phrase ‘the beautiful game’ in his autobiography you can bet your life he wasn’t talking about the nefarious characters that football attracts in the boardroom.

Today in 1998 it was the turn of Freddie Shepherd to hit the headlines for the wrong reasons as he voted himself back onto the board at Newcastle United, only months after falling victim to one of the News of the World’s legendary “Fake Sheikh” stings.

We’ve already brought you the story of Sven falling for Mazher Mahmood’s 2006 scam,
where the then-England manager told Mahmood what he really thought of his England charges, but he didn’t come out half as bad as fat Freddie and co-hort Douglas Hall.

Thinking that they were setting up a business deal with the wealthy Arab, the pair took him to a brothel in Marbella and proceeded to lay into Newcastle fans, women and their star player.

Labelling those lovely ladies of the Toon as “animals” was never a smart move as they proved they could bite back. The pair followed this up by mocking the Toon Army for spending extortionate amounts on merchandise and even Alan Shearer wasn’t spared as Shepherd called him the “Mary Poppins of football”.

Naturally, outrage ensued. The Newcastle Independent Supporters Association called for the pair’s heads and even Tony Banks, the Minister for Sport called for them to resign. After two weeks of heavy media pressure Shepherd and Hall finally fell on their swords and quit the club. The “Fake Sheikh” meanwhile won “Reporter of the Year” for the exposé.

But, with football being football, where the normal rules of common sense don’t apply, the pair remained the majority shareholders at the club, so voted themselves back onto the board. PLC chairman David Cassidy immediately resigned as chairman, six months after taking over, so Shepherd was back in the hotseat quicker than you can say “with King Kev back in charge we’re going to win the Champions League next season”.

As you really don’t want to look at Freddy Shepherd any longer than you have to here’s a clip of Mary Poppins himself doing what he does best. Marvel at his many celebrations and also have a gander at what we were up to this time last year here.

July 23 – Saint Kev

WHEN the Southampton manager Lawrie McMenemy arranged a press conference in February 1980 at the Potters Heron Hotel near Romsey, he told the media to come along to meet “someone who was going to play a big part in Southampton’s future.” No one had any idea who the mystery person was, with some speculating it was the architect hired to design a new stadium for the Saints.

The gathered hacks and the rest of the football world were stunned when big Lawrie Mac unveiled the European Footballer of the Year Kevin Keegan as his new signing. The deal had been done in total secrecy and Keegan, who was playing for Hamburg at the time explained in his autobiography: “Even when I arrived at Southampton Airport nobody twigged. It was just assumed I was flying in to do a commercial for Faberge or one of the other companies I worked for. My dramatic appearance at the press conference was greeted with total astonishment.”

The astonishment was not just because the deal was conducted so quietly, but because KK was 29, at the top of his game. After a distinguished and trophy laden career with Liverpool and Hamburg, he had won the Balon d’Or twice and was expected to move to one of Europe’s top clubs. Despite winning the FA Cup in 1976, Southampton were not among the elite although the charismatic McMenemy was building a good team with Mick Channon and Alan Ball also at the Dell.

KK had been pursuing a move to Juventus but after his wife Jean decided she did not want to live in Italy, they decided to return to England. Meanwhile McMenemy had called Keegan on the pretext of obtaining a certain light fitting from Germany. Keegan takes up the story in his autobiography: “One thing led to another and I began to think about how great it would be to win the League Championship with an unfancied club like Southampton.

“Lawrie wanted to follow up his earlier unexpected FA Cup win by putting Southampton emphatically on the football map, and I was his man.”

It was on this day in 1980 that KK made his debut in a Saints shirt in a friendly match against Shamrock Rovers at Lansdowne Road. Despite an injury which curtailed his first season somwehat, he would go on to spend two free-scoring years with the Saints in the most exciting era the South coast club has ever had. Keegan said: “Fans would be sure to see goals at both ends, whoever we played. Mick Channon and I used to ask our defenders how many goals we needed to score to win.” In his second season at the Dell KK won the golden boot for being the League’s top scorer as the Saints finished 7th.

He left for Second Division Newcastle in 1982 after falling out with Lawrie Mac, although KK says not seriously: “The story being touted around was that Lawrie and I had had a major bust-up was only partially true: we had disagreed, but only over football matters.

“I admire Lawrie McMenemy for what he achieved and it was sad we parted on poor terms. Our wives, Jean and Anne, remained friends and eventually Lawrie and I overcame our differences. Oh yes, and that lamp is still halfway up the stairs on the landing of his Hampshire house.”

Here is Kev introducing the best goal he ever scored that never was againat Manchester United, and come back tomorrow to read about more footballing memories, and click here to see what we were on about last year.

July 22 – Hello Emirates, Goodbye Bergkamp

IT is always easy to forget that Dennis Bergkamp was not an Arsene Wenger signing, so perfectly suited was he to the Frenchman’s beautiful football philosophy. It was actually Bruce Rioch who rescued the Dutchman from his unhappy spell at Internazionale when he brought him to Highbury for £7.5m in 1995.

Wenger joined the club a year later and set about building the rest of the playing staff into a team worthy of playing with Bergkamp. Today in 2006 Bergkamp and the Gunners bade each other a tearful farewell when Arsenal took on his first club Ajax in his testimonial game.

Former stars such as Ian Wright, Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira and Marc Overmars were some of the names to return for the Gunners while Johan Cruyff and Holland manager Marco van Basten came on for Ajax in the last 10 minutes. Thierry Henry even chartered a private jet to fly back from a family holiday in the USA for the match.

Bergkamp’s last competitive match for Arsenal had been the last ever match at Highbury when the Gunners had said goodbye to their former home with a 4-2 win over Wigan Athletic.

Fittingly, his testimonial was the first match to be played at their new Emirates Stadium. It was an opportunity for the fans to say goodbye to one of their best loved heroes, while also getting a first look at the new stadium – crucial to the future success of the club.

Ajax’s Dutch international striker Klass-Jan Huntelaar had the honour of scoring the first goal at the 60,000 capacity stadium in the first half before Thierry Henry netted the first Arsenal goal at the ground to equalise, with former Gunner Kanu scoring the winner for the hosts.

In an emotional speech after the final whistle Bergkamp said: “If I was to have a testimonial it was always going to be against Ajax and their fans have put in a lot of effort to come here.

“My mum and dad were always there from the beginning and have probably seen every game.

“And my wife has been amazing over the years. You can’t do a career like this alone and if it wasn’t for her I would not be here.

“It’s difficult to say goodbye. I’ve had a fantastic time over the last 11 years and a big part were the fans and how they treated me – they have been fantastic.”

In 11 years at the club the B.A. Baracus of football (I ain’t gettin’ on no plane fool!) scored 120 goals in 423 games, won the Premiership three times and the FA Cup four times.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for another tale from us, but before you go take a couple of minutes to watch Bergkamp’s greatest hits below – it’s well worth it.

Also on this football day, Fergie was splashing the cash at Manchester United.