Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year from SMiA

It's that time of year now for SMiA to jump on the list bandwagon. I'm sure you've encountered several already, and we'll try to refrain from the obvious (best robo-dancing English striker over 5'11'') or the just plain mundane (best attacking/defending/leading the league squad).

Worst example of nepotism: Connections are half of the battle, or so we've been told. One of my first real jobs had me working alongside the nephew of the company president. We worked fairly hard, and with various stabs at intelligence, but we also got away with tremendous gaffes and a general lack of manners. Craig Allardyce has to be one of the best examples of nepotism gone wrong. Perhaps it was a bad idea on Big Sam's part, but working with your idiot son isn't going to win you many friends of the FA, especially when said moron offspring is on tape, trying to sort out bungs for his dad.

If you were recently outed in an expose for bribery, would you meet the media dressed like this? [SMiA]

Worst unsporting behavior: It's a tough one, with the cumulative comments of normally classy TH14 moaning about Barca falling about like women, and promptly doing a Rivaldo in the World Cup. Dan Smith's awful challenge on Abou Diaby when his squad was getting pummeled (and relegated). But this one has to go to Ben Thatcher, whose fifteen minutes of fame this season landed on Pedro Mendes' face, enough to give the Portuguese Pompey midfielder a seizure on the pitch. Further media scrutiny led to revelations that (gasp!) Thatcher's always been a thug. [YouTube]

Ben Thatcher Elbow On Pedro Mendes [YouTube]

Best way to wipe the sweat off your head: Yes, we know that is was perhaps the worst moment for arguably this generation's best number 10 to respond to Marco Materazzi's comments about mommy, but I've now seen so much about it I cannot even provide a link to the video out of principle. Inspiring a crap song, numerous video remixes, and a Nike commercial, Zizou's headbutt on MM will live forever, from every angle.

Best return to the Premiership: For me, it's a toss up between the revived Kanu at Portsmouth or the Return of the Incredible Sulk. Nicky Anelka could always score goals, but his attitude usually sabotaged him in the end. We're only halfway through the campaign, but the it seems the gifted journeyman has bought into the system at the Reebok, and his six goals in the last seven games points to why Bolton find themselves in fourth place over Christmas. As for Kanu, his time at West Bromwich Albion was unimpressive, given WBA's tendency to be unremarkable, and he's seen his career rejuvenated at Portsmouth, among the top goalscorers in this season's campaign. [Premiership Latest]

Anelka cutting edge makes the difference for resurgent Bolton [Times Online]

The Beeb gives us their funniest videos of the year. [BBC Sport]

Biggest waste of money, time and attention: So many to choose from, including Boca Juniors giving away the Apertura to Estudiantes, and Tottenham Hotspur missing out on a spot in Europe (the real Europe - CL) on the last day of the season. But who can forget the constant media scrutiny the WAGs of the England World Cup squad garnered over the summer? Shopping as if AMEX Black was going out of style, running up ridiculously huge bar tabs, and generally making pretty much most of England cringe with their crappy taste and unoriginal partying, the WAGs did little to draw attention away from the Three Lions' lackluster performance. In fact, they simply existed as just another excuse as to why some of the world's best players stink it up so much at the biggest stage. Top prize goes to Frankie Lampard's Elen Rives for dancing on a table while inebriated, and Becks' Posh for looking like a burnished handbag stretched over an assless skeleton. [Guardian Sports Blog]

World Cup WAGs Gallery [Orange]

Best image reconstruction: It's difficult to overlook the way Cristiano Ronaldo has improved his play, after what looked to be a negatively defining moment in the World Cup. Once the step-over queen who was a bit too cute at times, he's taken this bag of tricks and pace and become smarter and more instinctive. I think Mrs. BL may still hate the petulant little brat, after what he did to England, but it's hard to fault the guy for much now, besides having fans that are completely nuts. [YouTube]

Didier Drogba has become the savior of Chelsea this year, scoring decisive goals at crucial moments during the first half of the season, enough to secure a new deal with the Blues. It's arguable that he's stepped up his play because of the arrival of Andriy Shevchenko, who's been disappointing for Jose Mourinho's side at best. Gone are the dives and he plays like the physically powerful beast he is.

Best scandal: Now you'd think that this would be all about the Italian match-fixing scandal, and it should be, because it means so much to so many (fans, Nike) to have some of Serie A's finest mucking about in the lower leagues (Juve - AC's personal obsession this year) or simply not good enough to overcome their joke point deductions (Milan, Fiorentina). But seriously, could we expect anything less from Italy, the land of long lines, red tape and corruption genetically coded into everyone, from the diving striker in Serie C to Lord Berlusconi himself?

So it must be the bungs scandal in England. Well, not really, because much like Berlusconi, Big Fat Sam Allardyce just oozes impropriety in some way. Now Big Sam fans relax, I'm basing this purely on the fact that the man has a penchant for gold chains and he wears them with little irony, perhaps one of the more algebraic presumptions I emit. And Lord Stevens' overpriced investigation isn't really unearthing that much for me.

Mike Newell? So he's a male chauvinist, which is what I expected most of England's managers to be comprised of. Yes, it's unfortunate that people in influential positions hold these views, but it's hardly a big deal that Newell feels this way. I happen to know AC has a maniacal need to drown puppies, a condition kept in check with Sierra Nevada and the love of his lady, but that doesn't stop SMiA from picking his football brain.

Okay, the best I can do is the little bit of mischief Keano's boys at Sunderland got into at the beginning of December. I know it's nothing new, just documented and publicized this time, but you really have to feel for this poor girl "Stevie". Sunderland? Not even in the top flight. Surely she could have gone the extra miles to find a player (or six) from Newcastle. [The Sun]

Happy New Year


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