You write fiction
That's the quote attributed to Joseph Blatter that appears on the back of Foul! by Andrew Jennings (Harper Collins, 2007), probably one of the most controversial books about football every written. Jennings exposes a culture of endemic corruption that runs throughout all facets of the largest sporting body in the world, FIFA. He is particularly scathing on his main targets, Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner. Other continental federations also rate a mention and Asia's very own Mohamed Bin Hammam cops a spray.
Both Hamish and The Football Tragic have posted excellent reviews on this book, which are probably much better than anything I can hope to write and I would be repeating much of what they have to say. I have probably the benefit of reading a slightly later edition which now includes the Jack Warner ticketing scandal of the 2006 World Cup and the VISA/Mastercard sponsorship farce that preceded that event. For those that have read the slightly early edition, it is certainly worth having a look at these couple of new chapters.
I highly recommend this book for all lovers of our beautiful game as it is a well written expose by one of the best investigative journalists going around. The first chapter is one of the most enthralling pieces of writing that I have come across. My only criticism of the book is that Jennings tends to repeat facts and stories in various parts of the book which tends to be a tad annoying at times.
If you want to keep up to date, with Andrew Jennings ongoing investigations into FIFA in both print and on film, check out Transparency In Sport.
Back in my not too distant past I was once told by a distinguished lady told that I had a good voice for radio. Now you can be the judge of that as I was kindly asked by Eamonn of Football In The Capital to make a guest appearance for his Christmas special on his Nearpost Radio Show. The show is going to air on Christmas Day at 6:30pm on 2XX 98.3fm. For all those outside the Canberra area, the show will be available shortly after the show as a podcast at Football In the Capital. Not only do you get hear my dulcet tones, but also the people behind Football Down Under & Beyond, The Football Tragic, MVFC Blog, The Round Ball Analyst and Totally Football. Hopefully it makes for interesting listening.
I will now take this opportunity to wish all my readers (there's about five or six of you out there) and my fellow football bloggers a safe and festive season. May all your football teams do well in the coming year unless of course they are playing Melbourne Victory.
Tough ACL draw
The draw for the Asian Champions League has just taken place at AFC headquarters. Melbourne Victory has been drawn in Group G alongside Chonburi FC of Thailand, Gamba Osaka of Japan and Chunnam Dragons of South Korea. This group is extremely tough and it will be a challenge for the team to get out of the group stages, remembering that only the top team qualifies for the next plus our current form isn't providing fans with much hope.
I am looking forward to the Champions League matches as it will be a great opportunity for football fans to witness a different style of football than they normally see week in week out. I am hoping both the Japanese and Korean teams have a healthy travelling contingent as they are reknown for the great support. Lets see how they match the support of the Melbourne fans. The guys at MVFCblog have provided a brief background to the teams and how they qualified for the tournament, and I will try to give you a brief history of these teams.
Chonburi FC is from the Chonburi Province in the eastern part of Thailand and plays its home games at the Chonburi Municipality Stadium, which has a maximum capacity of 5,000. They are nicknamed the Chonburi Sharks. The club was promoted to the Thai Premier League in the 2006 after it had won the Thai Provincial League in which it had participated since 2002. The team finished ninth in their first season in the Premier League. Chonburi FC qualified for the tournament by winning the Thai Premier League comfortably by nine points from its nearest rival, Krungthai FC, in only its second season in the top flight.
The origins of this team hark all the way back to 1980, and began life as Matsushita Industrial Electical Company Football Club. Gamba was one of the original members of the J-League in 1992 and took out its first J-League title in 2005. The team has qualified for the tournament by winning the 2007 J-League Cup and will also participate in the inaugaral Pan-Pacific Championships to be held in late February against American and Australian opposition. This will obviously gives us some indication of where we stand in terms of standard. They finished the recently completed J-League season in third place behind eventual champions, Kashima Antlers and Urawa Red Diamonds. The team is based out of the 1970 Osaka Expo Stadium which has as a capacity of 21,000 people.
Chunnam Dragons are based in the South Korean city of Gwangyang, and joined the K-League for the 1995 season. They have never won the K-League title with their best performance being runner-up in 1997. They have qualified for the tournament by winning the Korean FA Cup, a title which they have won previously in 1997 and 2006. They play their home games at the Gwang-Yang Stadium which has a capacity of approximately 14,000. They finished the recently completed K-League campaign in tenth position.
A different kind of review
This week's match review is going to be a little different as I was unable to attend my first ever Melbourne Victory home game due to clash between the game and the birthday festivities of my lovely, football-suffering girlfriend, Caroline. However I managed to keep in touch with what was going on only a few kilometres away through regular messages from fellow bloggers, Cecilia and Peter, for which I am extremely grateful. So here are the messages in chronological order that I received during the game illustrating their thoughts on the game that I thought I would share with you all and as my token effort of a review.
Kaz AND Hernandez starting.
Muscat gives away a free outside the box. Wasted as it hits an MV for a corner. Nothing comes from it really. Shit! Replay shows MV player's hand caused the corner and he was in the box.
Fuck. We're down. Controversial but I think he was on.
Or not. I dunno. I'll need replays for that. Still, no one was on Agostino. . . Our funeral.
We're all transporting the ball too much. Then we either pass it late so AU get it or pass it like shit because we've been running and out of puff.
0-1. Totally offside.
Kemp moves the microphone, cables and the kitchen sink for a corner. Shit corner as per usual.
Damn. Adelaide score again. EXACTLY the same goal. We don't learn.
0-2 damn it.
Djite on for Giraldi. Oh shit. :(
Penalty 4 us.
1-2 now 20 2 go
1-2 Muscat penalty
Burns may have pulled his hamstring. :( He may also be feigning. :( :(
2-2 own goal
Full time. 2-2
A signing to ward off the doomsayers
After a weekend of bad news, Melbourne Victory have provided us with some news that they completely haven't lost the plot. Today, they signed Olyroo Nick Ward on what is essentially a six month deal that will see him play a part in the remainder of the season and our Asian Champions League campaign. Is this the signing that will turn our season around? Hopefully it is, although it probably may mean that one of my favourite players, Kaz Patafta may get pushed further into the background. Or am I expecting too much from such a young player. Merrick doesn't seem to have the greatest record with young, attacking players and this is my only concern regarding this signing. The attacking midfield position is one that hasn't really been covered this season and may require a change of system from the man in charge. This signing may also spell the demise of Brebner, who has looked out of sorts all season, in the midfield. It looks like Ward will be available for the home game against Newcastle. Maybe a sense of optimism is returning. For all the details, click here.
Time to sharpen the knives
That would have to be one of most insipid and uninspiring matches that I have ever seen the Melbourne Victory play. Purely and simply it was a disgrace and it now looks like this blog will be taking a break in February before our participation in the Asian Champions League. Don't get me started on that - on tonight's performance we will be sitting on the bottom of our group with zero points.
In the days before the game, I thought we would quite possibly turn our season around with a good win over the bottom placed Perth. But in the car on the way to watch the game I should have realised that it wasn't going to be our night and turned the car around and headed back home and locked myself in a dark room for the following two hours. The reason for this change of heart was that I heard on the radio the decision by our esteemed coach to drop Hernandez to the bench and replace him with a player who hadn't played for three matches in Joseph Keenan. If he was going to drop him to the bench why not replace him with a similar type player. The name Kaz Patafta springs to mind. Patafta, who when called into action late on in the game produced one of the best attacking passes of the night only for Thompson to be wrongly called offside. Not that it would have made any difference.
Quite frankly, we were dominated in every aspect of the park. The Glory team, winless at home for twelve months made us look ordinary and deservedly took the three points. In fact we were probably luck that it wasn't more than the 3-1 scoreline. The main problem was our midfield, it simply didn't exist. Time after time we were dispossessed or simply made bad pass after bad pass. We missed the influence of Muscat in the midfield and his ability to galvanise the team as we were totally dominated by Colosimo and Prentice. And where was the creativity? I have a sneaking suspicion that it may be have left at the baggage carousel at Perth Airport because there was none apparent out there on the field of play. We are playing like a team that has lost all confidence. I mentioned after the Central Coast game, that how we reacted to that loss would define our season. It looks like it has taken the wind out of our sails and our season has turned for the worst.
Usually, I am loathed to single out players that I think should be dropped but after tonight's performance I will break with tradition. Two players that need singling out are Grant Brebner and Matthew Kemp. Brebner has looked unfit all season and consistently gets beaten to the ball. He has also not provided any drive or creativity in the midfield and its time for him to make way for some fresh blood. There are many people on the anti-Kemp bandwagon and I now I am joining them. Tonight, two of the Perth goals came from him being caught out of position in midfield and leaving Vargas exposed. Also his passes never hit a target all night. I'm calling for his head and to be placed by Sebastian Ryall. Its time for Ernie to take some risks and play his young players and give them a decent opportunity to show what they are capable of.
That is my rant for now. I am off to watch the Euro 2008 on the odd chance that everyone's favourite football draw host, Heidi Klum might make an appearance.
Victory In Melbourne now on Flickr
I am one who is prone to take photos whilst at a football game. Some are of the play and most are of the crowd. Therefore I have now set up a dedicated Flickr page for all my football related photos. To kick it off I have taken a couple of photos of the new stadium for the Melbourne Victory under construction. There's not much to see at the moment though. I hope to make a photographic study of the construction of the building in progress. That's the architect in me coming out.
For all those that are already users of Flickr I have also created a Victory In Melbourne group for you to submit all your Victory photos too as well.