Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Potential banana skin

It seems that the Met and Arsenal have now identified the banana throwing culprit - a German tourist! Hands up who guessed that one? Nope. Massively random.
And he appears to have been instantly exonerated from being a racist, which gave him the benefit of the doubt that many weren't giving to the Scotland fans.

But really, who throws a banana? Bizarre.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Bananaman - BRA 2 - 0 SCO

Yesterday's friendly between Brazil and Scotland has been somewhat overshadowed by Neymar's accusation of racism from the crowd. Now there was no doubt that a banana was thrown on the pitch. However it came from a stand consisting of 75% Brazil fans who were celebrating the side's second goal. Whoever was running the Sunday Times Sport twitter feed said: 'I saw the offending fruit thrown (was standing 30 yards away) by a Brazilian fan celebrating Neymar pen'. And besides - what would a Scot being doing with a piece of fresh fruit anyway?
Banana aside, there was absolutely no other indication of any racist behaviour from the fans. Neymar has said he was getting booed throughout the game, especially during the penalty, but that wasn't in protest against his colour - it was against his theatrics. If any player had corkscrewed to the floor like that after the merest of taps, they would have also been booed.
The racism row has left a sour taste in the mouth of what was a good natured match with supporters of both teams mingling without problems. In fact getting off the tube at Arsenal threw us into a cup final atmosphere, with singing from both sides, samba drums, fancy dress and lots of laughing. It was great.
Just before the national anthems, Brazilian legend Ronaldo was introduced to the fans and got a great reception. Considering the guy is only a month older than me and has played professional football for the last 20 years or so - he looked bloody terrible. No wonder he's retired.
On the top tier a Brazillian band had managed to gain access and played throughout the game - it was so loud that it mainly drowned out the crowd, which was a bit of a shame, but combined with the sunshine did lend a bit of a carnival atmosphere. I didn't want to use the term, but it sums it all up perfectly.
The game, in comparison, was rather flat. Brazil's play was reminiscent of Barcelona's in that they put pressure on the player with the ball until they make a mistake, which given they were playing a jittery Scotland happened quite often. In fact this gave the Scottish players the chance to show their full array of last ditch tackles and Brazil pressed and pressed. When the opening goal did come, it was courtesy of an exquisite finish by Neymar, the boy with a haircut so ridiculous that even Beckham wouldn't try it. It was sort of a cross between a mohawk and a mullet. Scotland had come close with a header from a set-piece that went narrowly wide, but that was all.
Second half was much like the first, apart from a five minute period around about the hour mark when Scotland were actually pressing and won a few corners and got a couple of shots on target without troubling Cesar in goal. But 5 minutes was all it lasted and Brazil got their second and should have probably got their third and fourth, Chelsea's Ramirez being particularly wasteful.
Even after the match, the Tartan Army was still managing to have a laugh. In the pub we were in there was a bit of traffic on the side road alongside, so fans were laughing, joking and singing with the drivers as they waited to get out of the junction. It was all good, until the headlines this morning.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Inevitable - EVE 2 - 1 FUL

On one of the roads alongside the reassuringly old school Goodison Park is a terraced house painted in a lurid red with two massive Liverpool FC flags hanging from the upper floors specifically designed as a massive fuck you to the nearby club. You have to wonder about the mentality of the fan that owns the house - they clearly get some kind of perverse pleasure from their quite confrontational actions when surely if their feelings for their club run that strong they could just move. It's far more in your face than the Chelsea supporting owners of the Eight Bells at Putney Bridge who are glad to welcome all the away fans at Craven Cottage. Anyway the house typifies the problem that Everton has in the city - the more numerous Liverpool fans looking down their noses at a less successful club, which also happens to be every club in the country.
I was fortunate enough to be a guest of the football pools for this match and so watched the game from some of the country's more idiosyncratic executive boxes. Retro fitted into an old style stadium, these boxes are much lower down than what you'd normally see. Our box was actually directly behind the Fulham 'dug out' which offered an unusual alternative spectacle to the game - a welcome diversion in a tepid first half. You could hear the curses of both managers very clearly and it seems that the job of Hughes' number two is to continually talk to the fourth official. Watching Hughes and Moyes was quite fascinating actually - their body language was almost identical. At times it felt like they were mirroring one another for some variety stage show. Moyes also loved up to his growly image by barking at a ball boy to get the ball, even though it was still on the pitch and they'd probably been trained not to enter the field of play.
The number of Fulham fans who made their way up to Goodison Park was quite low - which is not really surprisingly considering the late evening scheduling of the game meant that the last train down to London had gone while the match was still in progress. Still they were in relatively good voice - you were more likely to hear Fulham songs than Everton ones for the first half hour of the match - the 33,000 home fans were pretty quiet until Coleman opened the scoring.
I'll be honest, I wasn't too upset at this development. When I saw Salcido was starting and knowing how good Everton's right winger was, I had a fiver on the your Irishman to score first. In fairness to Salcido, it wasn't really his fault and for his standards he hada  good game. Also knowing how much stronger Fulham are in the second half, there was a likelihood that they would peg the toffeemen back. Unfortunately Saha scored soon after the restart, Ethuhu unfortunate to give a way a free kick that the former Fulham man arrowed past the wall and into the bottom corner.
Fulham were getting the ball, but not doing anything with it. Zamora was flung on and immediately provided a focus and an assist, Dempsey abruptly sweeping a lay off past Tim Howard from outside the area which caught everyone in the stadium by surprise. Fulham kept pressing, with Everton on the break, but didn't really fashion a clear cut chance. The second half was actually quite entertaining with Hughes going for it by putting on Kakuta, who was surprisingly wayward with his passing, and the porcine Gudjohnsen who seemed to be playing in midfield. In the end Everton were good enough for their extremely predictable win - that's 18 in a row for them against Fulham at Goodison Park.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Off the Wall? Or just Bad?

My very first album was Bad. My very first CD was Dangerous (bought the same time as the Blues Brothers Soundtrack). So I like MJ as much as the next guy - as long as the next guy isn't Chairman Mo.
I cannot see why a statue of MJ would be appropriate at any football ground. And that corner between the Hammy End and the Riverside gets busy enough as it is without a hulking great statue. I suppose we should just be pleased that Mo didn't try and put it next to the family stand.
But Fulham fans will have to lump it - regardless of how eccentric the decision is. The recent financial results demonstrate just how dependent the club is on the little businessman and if having a statue of one of his mates (who had dubious personal tastes of his own) is the price they have to pay for it, then so be it.
I can't help thinking that if Al Fayed had offered the statue to the O2, they would have snapped his hand off though. It's a far more appropriate location, given that he was due to put on a series of shows there.

EDIT: It seems it's Bad

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Off roving for Rovers' visit

Not going to make it for the visit of Blackburn Rovers due to several reason - in fact I think only Nic is making it today - but there is real danger of Fulham taking Blackburn a bit too lightly given recent games, much like they did with Bolton in the cup.
Blackburn are not as good as Bolton, but are adept at the physical game which Fulham tend to struggle to overcome (again cf FA Cup match v Bolton and the away game at Ewood Park). Blackburn have Roque Santa Cruz up front, who always seems to score against Fulham regardless of how well he is playing, and Jason Roberts who plays exactly the sort of game that the defence struggles with (cf Carlton Cole) and has scored against Fulham at the Cottage before.
But with a bit more protection from the referee than the last home game:
And they should be fine and starting to reach mid-table boringness, if such a thing is possible this year. Birmingham's victory in the league cup means a European Spot will probably be 6th place and up, but there is always the fair play route.

Rich Text