May 12, 2014, Posted by Tom in Football, Sport

Our Barclays Premier League Team of the Season 2013/14

The Premier League season is over, and after 380 games, over 1050 goals and the crowning of Manchester City as the new champions, it’s time to reflect on who has stood out this year. We’ve picked our team of the season, playing a good old-fashioned 442 (with subs too, naturally), so have a look and see if you agree with us…

GK: Tim Howard (Everton)

RB: Seamus Coleman (Everton)
CB: John Terry (Chelsea)
CB: José Fonte (Southampton)
LB: Leighton Baines (Everton)

RM: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
CM: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
CM: Yaya Touré (Manchester City)
LM: Adam Lallana (Southampton)

FW: Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
FW: Luis Suárez (Liverpool)

Subs: David Marshall (Cardiff City), Curtis Davies (Hull City), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Ross Barkley (Everton), Jay Rodriguez (Southampton), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)

Manager of the Year: Brendan Rodgers

Why this team? Everton have been brilliant this year, and this success has been built on a rock solid defence featuring full backs who are superb at going forward in Baines and Coleman. Tim Howard has been immense too between the sticks. John Terry has had his best season in years, and alongside him is one of Southampton’s unsung heroes.

In midfield, Stevie G has powered Liverpool ever so close to the title (let’s ignore that slip), Hazard has provided Chelsea with real flair, Yaya has been a beast and scored a ridiculous amount of goals for a midfielder, and Adam Lallana deserves to start for England in Brazil on this basis of his performances this season.

And up top, can anyone really argue with that selection?

A couple of honourable mentions for players who didn’t make the bench. Aaron Ramsey could have been the player of the season if it wasn’t for such bad luck with injuries, Jordan Henderson has finally shown himself to the the midfielder we all thought he could never be, and Wayne Rooney has battled admirably to try and rescue any kind of success for Man Utd this term.

We also asked our intern Matt to put his team together, to provide a bit of contrast and expose our lack of footballing knowledge. Here’s who he went for…

GK:  David Marshall (Cardiff)

RB: Seamus Coleman (Everton)
CB: Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
CB: Martin Skrtel  (Liverpool)
LB: Luke Shaw (Southampton)

RM: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
CM: Yaya Touré (Manchester City)
CM: David Silva (Manchester City)
LM: Adam Lallana (Southampton)

FW: Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
FW: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Subs: Petr Cech (Chelsea), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), John Terry (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Jay Rodriguez (Southampton), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Raheem Stirling (Liverpool)

Manager of the Year: Tony Pulis

Why did I pick this team?

This season has had a whole lot of goals and I feel as though this is partly because full-backs are getting much further forward than in previous years. Two prime examples are Seamus Coleman and Luke Shaw, who have contributed massively to their club’s good performances this year.  Cardiff have had a terrible season but David Marshall’s form never seems to fluctuate. The top two clubs (Liverpool and Man City) have also been very solid in defence due to the solidity of their main centre-backs, Vincent Kompany and Martin Skrtel.

On either side of midfield I have chosen Adam Lallana and Eden Hazard. Hazard’s magical feet have been perfection and torn teams apart. Manchester City are possibly the best attacking force in the Premier League and Yaya Touré and David Silva have been the core strength of this, providing a huge number of goals and assists between them.

Up front I have firstly gone for the obvious player, Luis Suarez, who has been the best Premier League player by far this year. Secondly I have gone for Wayne Rooney. Manchester United have had a dreadful season yet Rooney still has 12 assists and 17 goals, which shows his sheer talent.

 

Still hungry for more football? Of course you are. The World Cup is just a few weeks away, and the genius that is Football Clichés has written a free ebook guide to the tournament, which you can pre-order now. It’s the perfect accompaniment to watching the tournament this summer, as we navigate the treacherous terrain of Dutch in-fighting and the dreaded Group of Death:

cliches world cup

And don’t forget that the one and only Jimmy Bullard’s first book is also out later this month. You don’t want to miss BEND IT LIKE BULLARD! Order here.

9780755365500

Images: Tim Howard [© Photo Works / Shutterstock.com] / Luis Suarez [© mooinblack / Shutterstock.com] / John Terry [© mooinblack / Shutterstock.com] / Vincent Kompany [© Photo Works / Shutterstock.com]

May 9, 2014, Posted by Tom in Books, Football, Sport

Jimmy Bullard answers your questions

A few weeks ago we sat down with former Premier League hero Jimmy Bullard to ask him your questions. Here’s what he had to say…

And here’s part 2…

And a lovely part 3…

 

BEND IT LIKE BULLARD by Jimmy Bullard is out now. Order your copy HERE

9780755365500

May 1, 2014, Posted by Ben Willis in Books, Sport

Luis Suárez autobiography set for autumn 2014 release

He’s scored 30 Premier League goals so far (ten more than his closest rival, and at the extraordinary rate of very nearly a goal a game), helping to fire Liverpool towards their best top-flight campaign for 24 years. He’s banged in 38 goals in 77 games for his native Uruguay – a figure likely to double with Uruguay being drawn in the same group as England at this summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil. Oh, and he was recently voted the PFA’s Player of the Season.

And even after all that the Liverpool number 7 has announced he is penning an autobiography this September, to be published by Headline.

Headline publisher Jonathan Taylor says to prepare for something  ‘open, frank and hard-hitting, and will be the perfect way for the fans to celebrate such a successful season for the legendary Merseyside club. Everyone here is absolutely delighted to have Luis on the Headline team.’

Suárez himself announced: ‘I am very excited to be publishing my autobiography with Headline in September. My book means a great deal to me, and I am working very hard to make sure I do a good job of telling my story to the fans’.

Headline will publish ‘My Autobiography: El Pistolero’ in hardback, e-book and audio book on 25th September 2014.

April 22, 2014, Posted by Richard in Football, Sport

Our top 3 dream replacements for sacked David Moyes

1. Danny Dyer (chosen by Ben)

I can see the Sun Sport headlines now: ‘Not content with REANIMATING the smelly, green corpse of PAST-ITS-SELL-BY-DATE Eastenders, Dyer has managed to give the KISS OF LIFE to another down-on-its luck mega brand…’

In his bestselling autobiography STRAIGHT UP, Dyer claims he wants to ‘push himself on to bigger and better things’ – and what can be bigger than guiding one of the world’s biggest clubs through not one but two rounds of Europa League qualifiers? There’d be no ‘blowing smoke up people’s arses’. Plus, he’s used to ‘ugly bastards’ lining up ‘to have a pop at me’. That to me spells a man impervious to both the bizarre ill-thought-out criticisms of Roy Keane and those annoying tweets from Piers Morgan.

Actually, I take it back – maybe Danny for prime minister?

 

2. Nicholas Cage (chosen by Richard)

One of the things the beleaguered (see: @footballcliches for more) David Moyes clearly lacked was the famous Fergie anger. We never saw him marching around his technical, furiously chewing gum, barking menacingly at a fourth official. His ‘Hairdryer Treatment’ would be a bit like a morose mallard farting in your face. What they really need is someone to shout nonsensically and generally be that breath of fresh air. So who better to add that real air of anger and vitality than Nick Cage? ‘Who are we playing? Brentford? Oh God. Not the bees!’

 

3. Saul Goodman (chosen by Beau)

After running off to Nebraska with a new identity and his main clients Walt and Jesse no longer on the scene, top criminal attorney Saul will probably be twiddling his thumbs thinking what to do next. He only needs to open any of the UK papers this morning for the answer.

He could bring with him a sturdy staff with Huell Babineaux as first-team coach and the outspoken Francesca as club secretary. No doubt he’d out-do Harry Redknapp in the wheeler-dealer stakes and bring in some much needed big-name signings (for a third of the price). The players would fall for his charm, wit and original ideas and if they were lagging at half-time he could offer the perfect pick-me-up.

The answer’s simple. Saul Goodman is the chosen one.

jimmy bullard book

April 8, 2014, Posted by Tom in Books, Sport

Jimmy Bullard book cover reveal

Jimmy Bullard is a footballing hero.

He may not have had the perfect hair-do, his Granada Ghia may not have been the flashiest of cars, and he definitely didn’t have a string of Page 3 girls trying to sell kiss and tell stories about him to the tabloids. But what he has in spades is a genuine love for The Beautiful Game that few of his peers can match.

We are extremely excited to be publishing the first Jimmy Bullard book, BEND IT LIKE BULLARD, in May this year. We’ve read it, and trust us, it’s hilarious. Any real football fan will love this books, regardless of who you support.

So today we’re delighted to be able to reveal the cover right here. We think it’s a cracker and we hope you like it too…

9780755365500

 

April 8, 2014, Posted by Ben Willis in Books, Sport

Phil Tufnell’s Ultimate Ashes Cricketers

In this exclusive extract from Phil Tufnell’s new book, TUFFERS’ ALTERNATIVE GUIDE TO THE ASHES, Tuffers imagines the ultimate Aussie and England player…

On my journey back through the history of the Ashes, I’ve encountered many great personalities who have represented England or Australia with distinction. It’s been a delight to learn more about some fascinating characters from the past who’ve brought their own flavour to the biggest fixture in world cricket. What has become obvious is that there’s no single way to win the Ashes, a team needs a combination of many qualities to succeed. So what if you were to combine the qualities (and quirks) of the legendary English and Australian players of the past into two ultimate players to represent each side? What would they look like? What special skills would they possess? How many tinnies could they drink after play without falling over?

I donned my white coat and goggles, went in the lab and these are the monsters of Ashes cricket I came up with. Be very afraid . . .

The Ultimate Aussie Player

With an Australian international cricketer, there’s only one place to start and that’s on top of the head – the baggy green cap. The only way to get one is to play for Australia; it can’t be bought and its importance cannot be underestimated. As Steve Waugh once said, ‘Everyone wearing the baggy green just seemed to send out amessage that this team was really together and hard to break down.’ This baggy green has a couple of holes round the sides for the devil’s horns of Fred ‘Ain’t I a Demon’ Spofforth to poke through. Underneath is the luxurious hairstyle of Keith Miller and to add a bit of variety, the ever-changing hair colour of Colin ‘Funky’ Miller – during the final Test of 2001, Funky dyed his hair canary yellow on day one, changed to peacock green on day three and then burgundy red on the last day of series.

My ultimate Aussie has the gimlet eyes of Steve Waugh and the ginormous nose of Bill Lawry (although it was a toss-up between him and Fred Spofforth who was also blessed with a magnificent conk). There have been some wonderful moustaches sported by Australian cricketers over the years, but I plumped for the droopy ’tache of Merv Hughes, as I personally got to see it very close up, tangled with snot and dirt when he bounced me and then followed through down the pitch to call me a ‘Pommie bastard’. And on his left cheek is the scar of Ricky ‘Punter’ Ponting (© Steve Harmison).

Of course, to be a top-class Aussie cricketer, you also need to be excellent at sledging . . . oops, sorry, Steve Waugh – I mean ‘mental disintegration’. So many contenders to choose from here, but as we’ve got Merv’s moustache he might as well provide the sledges too. But to give Merv’s basic insults a bit more charm, my ultimate player will say them in the voice of Richie Benaud – how beautiful to be called a ‘****ing arsewipe’ in Richie’s rich tones . . . Then there’s the broad shoulders of Matthew Hayden (and as the Aussies love a barbie, Matty’s cooking skills would come in very handy too on a long tour) and the chest hair, medallions and shirt open down to the navel of Dennis Lillee circa 1975. My man has the guts of Warwick Armstrong in his 22-stone prime, and the Big Ship also provides his proven gamesmanship skills.

As a multi-purpose bowler, he combines the wrist and spinning fingers of Shane Warne, the speed of Jeff Thomson, the relentless consistency of Glenn McGrath, and just to freak the batsman out a bit more, the mixed-up legs of Max ‘Tangles’ Walker. With the willow in hand, he has the hand–eye coordination of Doug Walters, the anticipation and sheer run-gettingness of Don Bradman, the insane shotmaking of Adam Gilchrist and the bollocks of Stan McCabe – anyone who could stand up to the Bodyline bowlers without a helmet and score a century must have had balls of steel.

In the field, he has Ricky Ponting’s all-round excellence, Andrew Symonds’s speed and throwing arm and the hands of Mark Waugh (perhaps, wearing the ‘iron gloves’ of Rodney Marsh, which didn’t seem to do Rodney any harm). His personality mixes the permanent upbeatness of Mark Taylor with the nuggety attitude of Allan Border and the daredevil spirit of my old dad’s hero, Keith Miller. Off the pitch, he’ll have the dubious dress sense of Ian Chappell in the seventies, who turned up to a press conference back then wearing a purple shell suit, looking like one of The Scousers from Harry Enfield & Chums. And after a tough day’s Ashes cricket, my ultimate Aussie cricketer is going to have worked up a hell of a thirst, so who better to drink for Australia than the record-breaking ‘Keg on Legs’ himself, David Boon.

The Ultimate England Player

To take on the bionic Aussie, I was tempted to create a cricketer purely in the image of 1986/87 Ashes-winning captain Mike Gatting, for his all-round British bulldogedness, and leave it at that. But there’s too many other great players’ attributes to call upon, so, starting from the top, I’ve gone for the cap of Geoff Boycott (he even wore it when he was bowling) and the manky old sunhat of Jack Russell which Jack’d insist on wearing underneath.

The hair could only be that of Keith Miller’s Brylcreem twin, Denis Compton, and as for our player’s brain, I would have offered mine but I lent it to an Australian heckler, so we’ll have to make do with that idiot Mike Brearley’s grey matter instead.

When it comes to facial features, I’ve created a whole world of horror for our Aussie opponent. Behold the intense staring eyes of Bob Willis (Headingley ’81), the ears of my old team-mate/wingnut, Andy Caddick, the nose of Nasser Hussain (to discourage the close fielders from fielding too close) and the beard, of course, of W. G. Grace (his gamesmanship will match up nicely to the Big Ship’s too). You wouldn’t want to run into that on a dark night in the Bourbon and Beefsteak, would you Ricky Ponting?

Rather than the cut-glass, Queen’s English accent of David Gower, I’ve chosen the, ahem, classic English voice of Kevin Pietersen, just to get on the Australians’ nerves.

My ultimate player to wear the Three Lions has personality traits for all occasions, from the brass-necked pomposity of Douglas Jardine to the huge heart of Freddie Brown, the macho combativeness of Tony Greig to the effortless nonchalance of Gower. He also has a strong, er, middle order with the gut/guts of Gatt, the knob of John Emburey (I’m saying no more . . .) and the ‘golden balls’ of match-winning all-rounder Ian Botham.

Alec Stewart’s regimental neatness will ensure our player’s coffin is kept nice and tidy. The immaculate dress sense of Colin Cowdrey and the ballroom dancing skills of Strictly Come Dancing champion Mark Ramprakash will mean he cuts a dash at social occasions.

In the field, he has the reflexes of a young Botham to stand ridiculously close at slip, the speed and agility of Derek Randall to patrol the covers and the arm of Jimmy Anderson to arrow in the throws. As a bowler with the silent feet of Harold Larwood, smooth action of Freddie Trueman, nasty streak of John Snow and shotgun speed of Frank ‘Typhoon’ Tyson, he’s enough to test even the greatest players of fast bowling. And if he fancies bowling a bit of spin for variety, Jim Laker’s fingers will allow him to give it a fearful tweak.

At the crease, he boasts the elegance and power of Frank Woolley, the strike rate of Gilbert Jessop and the ability to make score after big score of our own ‘Don’, Alastair Cook. And at the end of the chicken legs of Goochy, he’s got the feet of Fred ‘Mistletoe’ Titmus, who lost a few toes in a boating accident. Ideal for when Jeff Thomson is bowling toe-crushers at you at 95 mph – less to aim at.

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