March 26th, 2009


The England top 3, or the England top 5? tl;dr?

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Why More English Teams Should Qualify For Europe, Not Less

UEFA President Michel Platini has dropped hints in the past about the possibility of reducing the number of English, Italian, and Spanish teams in the Champions League from four teams to three.

He claimed that by reducing teams from major leagues, more teams from minor leagues can actually progress further in the competition.

The Champions League in the recent seasons has shown that English teams are doing very well in the competition, with all four English teams qualified for the quarterfinals last season and this season.

In fact, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United all reached semifinals in the past two seasons. Former Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard claimed that if Arsenal didn't have to play against Liverpool, last season's Champions League semifinal spots would be filled with the Premiership "Big Four".

Michel Platini even argued that the English Premiership is "boring" as the same four teams occupy the top four spots every season. Is it more boring than the same team winning the Ligue 1 for seven consecutive seasons and on course for clinching the eighth?

Gareth Barry has previously declared his desire to play in the Champions League. He wished to join Liverpool in the summer but Liverpool failed to meet Aston Villa's valuation on the versatile English midfielder.

The same thing is happening to other clubs. Players want to leave their current clubs for clubs that play regularly in Europe.

Yet clubs like Tottenham, Aston Villa, and Everton failed to finish in the top four over the past three seasons despite putting up a good fight for the fourth spot.

Imagine what will happen if the number of English teams participating in the Champions League is reduced to three teams. The biggest concern is not the fact that at least one of the "Big Four" will miss the chance to play in the elite competition, but the other teams' chances of qualifying for Champions League.

Then the players from the average teams will want a transfer to the Big Four in order to play in Champions League. The gap between the Big Four and the other clubs will drift further apart.

The bottom line is the team who finishes fifth in the English Premiership should be eligible to play in Champions League, from the first qualifying round.

Do you agree with the author? For a good part of the season, Aston Villa were playing well to earn a forth place spot, but now we're nearing to the end of the season and the "Top Four" clubs, as always, have sunken back into their expected positions while Villa are back competing for the UEFA Cup. The season is still not over, but it seems like Arsenal have found the momentum to secure their place in the top 4 while the opposite is happening on Villa's end. Should a 5th place spot open for CL qualifications to give other challenging English teams an opportunity to compete?

Or, should the number of CL spots be reduced to 3, as Platini suggested, to give clubs from other leagues a chance to advance in Europe? Does it seem unfair to take away opportunities from English sides, simply because they've outplayed their competition over the past few years? It seems like the English dominance in Europe is the main cause for opening up these discussions but the rule could be also applied to the other top leagues as well. Should UEFA limit the number of English teams so others will have a higher chance of surviving the competition? Or maybe you're like Goldilocks and like it "just right" and think UEFA should keep the number at 4. Thoughts plz.

this icon can multitask

back to this again

Hull given more time to compile Fábregas dossier

The Football Association has granted Hull City five extra days to compile evidence relating to the Cesc Fábregas incident at Arsenal last week as the alleged victim, Brian Horton, is out of the country.

After Hull's FA Cup defeat by Arsène Wenger's side, Phil Brown, the visiting manager, claimed that Fábregas had spat at Horton, his assistant, in the tunnel . The Arsenal captain, who was not playing as he was still recovering from injury, denies the allegation and his club are supporting him. Indeed, some at Emirates Stadium have indicated that Fábregas was subjected to a foul-mouthed tirade from Horton.
Further aggrieved that Arsenal's clearly pumped-up captain was dressed in "jeans and a hoodie", Brown was positively incandescent at the time. The FA duly asked Hull for their "observations" of the incident and gave them seven days to respond. The deadline was this morning, but with Horton abroad and seemingly incommunicado, KC Stadium officials asked Soho Square for more time.
An FA spokesman said: "We have now received a request from Hull for an extension of time to provide their observations. We have considered the request and have allowed an extension until 30 March."
While Hull's stance suggests they are still determined to pursue the matter and perhaps also indicated they may be playing for time to gather additional evidence or procure a fresh witness, the whole issue seems bizarre.
It is understood that Horton has only recently left the country and was around all last week – when the club's chairman, Paul Duffen, opened a special dossier on events in north London – to supply his version of events. In any case it would be extraordinary if Hull's assistant manager was not in phone or email contact.
Many observers doubt whether anything will eventually come of Brown's allegations. While there appears to be a lack of independent witnesses – no match officials were present in the tunnel at the time and nothing was mentioned in Mike Riley, the referee's report – Fábregas vehemently maintains his innocence and enjoys Wenger's wholehearted backing.
Arsenal's captain also stresses that, contrary to popular rumour, he did not spit at Michael Ballack, then with Bayern Munich, during a Champions League game four years ago.
The League Managers' Association has, however, confirmed that Horton contacted them for advice relating to what was a clear row with Fábregas last week. Indeed, if the FA discovers wrongdoing, the LMA could well become involved in resolving tensions.



oh, cool.

Robinho and Adriano party for twelve hours with a tranvestite model

Brazil’s European-based stars hold ‘wild party’

Few people in the world will ever have the honour and privilege of playing for Brazil, so it’s nice to know that those selected for upcoming qualifiers with Ecuador and Peru are taking things seriously.

According to Brazilian newspaper Extra, Robinho, Adriano and various other European-based Brazil stars held a ‘wild party‘ on Monday night, which was also attended by legions of sexy ladies. The soiree at Adriano’s Barra da Tijuca villa began at 5pm, and revellers did not emerge until 5am the next morning, not long before the players had reported for training.

Among the guests were Fabiana Andrade- the model who may have had an affair with Diego Maradona - and Adriano’s ex WAG Veronica Araujo. As if this wasn’t sexy enough, transvestite porn star Patricia Araujo [Google him/ her if you dare] was spotted leaving the villa at 4am.

Apparently, huge parties like these are ‘traditional’ for Brazilians returning from Europe for international duty. Something tells us that the three gentlemen in the picture above are responsible for starting this hard-partying custom…

awooo waka waka espagna

Dimitar scores the double

Dimitar Berbatov. Bulgarian superstar. Manchester United goalscorer. Part-time Dracula impersonator. Enjoys the occasional cigarette. Art-enthusiast. Wait -- he likes art? Here's a little refresher, just in case you were too busy swooning over his luscious eyelashes to remember:

'I live in an apartment block surrounded by security fences. It's quiet and pleasant and people can't bother me. I feed squirrels from the balcony. I paint or draw. I'll open a magazine and if I see something I like I'll try to copy it. A few days ago I drew an angel with a pen. Maybe God has given me a kind of talent!'


It looks art may be the key to this striker's heart, or at least that's what a certain porn star thinks. Simba, as she calls herself is an Italian pornstarmodelwhatever who has painted a portrait of Berbatov (Boobatov?) and is planning to head over to England to show him the finished product. I wonder what she's expecting in return?

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Can Fergie risk losing his star-striker due to injury and herpes at this time of the title race?
Found this gem over at

Fun - Kitty Claudia
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Transfer Gossip

Manchester City are setting their sights high, with Bayern Munich midfielder Franck Ribery, Barcelona striker Thierry Henry, Chelsea skipper John Terry and Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz all transfer targets. (The Times)

Liverpool may make a £9m bid for Valencia centre-back Raul Albiol if Daniel Agger refuses to sign a new deal to keep him at Anfield. (Various)

Real Madrid's Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart says he would like to join Chelsea, if his compatriot Guus Hiddink stays on as manager. (The Sun)

Hiddink, meanwhile, has urged Chelsea to bid for Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko. (Various)

AC Milan are lining up a £15m summer bid for Arsenal left-back Gael Clichy. (Various)

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Dirk Luis

Justice has never been done but their memory will carry on

Watch the new Hillsborough video free here -

 A new music video recorded to raise awareness of the Hillsborough disaster - and starring ex-Reds Kenny Dalglish, John Aldridge, Phil Thompson, Bruce Grobbelaar and Alan Kennedy - is now available to watch for FREE online.

Featuring local bands and members of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, this newly created version of Kop favourite 'Fields of Anfield Road' - which includes an extra verse penned by LFC TV regular and Farm frontman Peter Hooton in tribute to the 96 - has been produced in remembrance of those who lost their lives at Hillsborough. 
The song will be available to download from April 6 - so make sure you stay tuned to for further details. All monies raised from the single will go directly to the HFSG. 

Hooton, who along with John Power of the La's, Mick Head of Shack, Nick Kilroe from Echo and the Bunnymen, James Walsh from Starsailor and Rob Taylor of the Troubadors, was involved in the making of the single, said: "Before Christmas the Lord Mayor Steve Rotheram got in touch and asked about the feasibility of doing this. I spoke with Phil Hayes from the Picket and Kevin McManus from Merseyside ACME and with friends and colleagues to see if they would support the project and there was an overwhelming response. 
"Because of the nature of the song a lot of people volunteered to get involved. It is a reworking of a Kop classic and I hope it raises awareness of the Hillsborough disaster and is a fitting tribute to the 96 and the survivors." 
Councillor Rotheram added:
"Hillsborough affected so many lives, not just on Merseyside but across the whole of the UK. I attended the match 20 years ago and the passing years do not diminish the importance and the poignancy of this occasion. 
"This record, the memorial service at Anfield and all the other Hillsborough remembrance events are a symbol of the fact that we will never forget the 96 young and old Liverpool fans who died."

united: my ground is prettier than yours

This is a Manchester City post. From a Manchester United fan. Damn I'm confused.

Robinho place "could be under threat"

Daily Mail

 "Bench beckons for flickering City star Robinho"

 Ian Ladyman writes: Robinho is facing a battle to keep his Manchester City place at Arsenal on Saturday week.

 The Brazilian is struggling for form and confidence and has been particularly disappointing away from home in recent weeks.

 City manager Mark Hughes would have already left out Robinho (pictured) if he had options available, but now he has the opportunity to give the 24-year-old a rest after welcoming back key players to first-team training.

 With Craig Bellamy fit again after knee trouble, Stephen Ireland on his way to overcoming an ankle knock he suffered in the UEFA Cup last week and Bulgarian Martin Petrov stepping up his own fitness work, Hughes will have a greater array of attacking options next week.

 Forwards Benjani and Daniel Sturridge were also due to play for the reserves against Blackburn last night, while even troubled 21-year-old midfielder Michael Johnson is finally back in the picture.

 Johnson has not played for City since the Carling Cup defeat at Brighton in September but has recently taken great steps towards overcoming an abdominal problem and is due to feature in a practice match behind closed doors next week.

 Hughes is wary of appearing to make Robinho a scapegoat for City's poor away form, but a woeful penalty miss in the home win over Sunderland on Sunday, coupled with his dreadful work-rate away from the City of Manchester Stadium, certainly makes him a strong candidate for an afternoon on the bench in north London.

Oh, this tickles me, it really does. Sorry Grandad!


 Daily Star

SAMBA footie star Robinho loves playing at gnome. Manchester City's Brazilian hotshot has turned into a keen gardener to relax after matches and training. Robinho, 25, loves strolling round garden centres with his wife Vivian, 24, and spotted four ceramic and stone-made gnomes for £100.

Both from here.


Also, I heard on the radio this morning that boxer Ricky Hatton had this done:

Pride in Battle is, I believe, Manchester City's motto and Ricky Hatton is definitely a City supporter. I was wondering if anyone has/would consider having a tattoo done in honour of your team. Or, what's the most crazy/obsessed thing you've done in support of your team?
football - i'm not your babe fernando

Fernando breaks a record

Torres is one step from becoming the youngest player ever to make 60 appearances for Spain

The moment the Spain number ‘9’ steps out onto the Santiago Bernabeu pitch, a national record will be broken, and a new one will be put in its place. The owner of new record will be Fernando Torres; the youngest player in the history of Spanish football to make 60 appearances for his country.

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John Terry wants to be a soldier. I only approve if he brings fatigues to bed.

John Terry: I Would Love TO Serve Queen and Country

As an old-fashioned English centre-back John Terry is used to putting his body on the line for club and country. On Tuesday, though, the England captain went a sizeable step further and outlined an ambition to place his life on the line by serving in the armed forces.

"They love their football, they like to look up to us but I would like to be in their shoes and do what they do," Terry said. "It's great they want to do that and they are brilliant at their job. I would love to [serve], of course. Put your life on the line for the country – I would love to, but I don't think many of us could."

Terry spoke after spending part of yesterday with members of the Royal Air Force, Army and Navy, who had watched England training in preparation for the matches against Slovakia and Ukraine and then been invited to meet members of the squad.

Many of the servicemen and women had just returned from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and clearly humbled the likes of Terry, David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand with their stories. Matt Kingston, for example, who had been shot in the ankle in Afghanistan, removed his fake right leg and had it signed with a gold marker pen by the England squad, while Ben McBean, who had lost an arm and a leg to a landmine presented his fake arm to Beckham for an autograph. "I was shocked. I didn't expect that," said Beckham.


I've got something you can serve, Private Terry. And it ain't appetizers.

Real Madrid Legend Raul Not In Florentino Perez's Starting XI - Reports

The former president has big plans should he return to the club...

reports that Florentino Perez will not be including Raul in his preferred starting lineup if he returns to Real Madrid this summer.

The former president is rumoured to be planning a comeback, with opinion polls suggesting that he would win by a comfortable margin.

However, whilst many Madrid fans might want him to return, they might not be too happy with his plans for their captain.

Reports suggest that the influential Spaniard would not be in the starting XI as Perez plans to build a new Madrid side.

If he were to take over this summer then reports claim that he would not only be prepared to spend a mammoth amount of
money, but also would be willing to buy some of the best players in the world.

Up front the report believes that Perez would have David Villa, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Arjen Robben and Kaka all playing behind him in

In the centre of the pitch he would have both Lassana Diarra and Xabi Alonso.

At the back, Iker Casillas would start between the posts, with Maicon, Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Marcelo as the defenders.

Whilst that team might well sound like a pipe dream there is no doubt that Madrid appear to be close to luring a couple of stars to the capital, and a lot could depend on whether or not Perez is at the helm.