Tag Archives: korea

The 2009-2010 Gary Neville Awards

By Guest Contributor Brian Knapp

2009-2010 Gary Neville Award for Worst Passing 

Being a Liverpool fan can be excruciating at times. It’s particularly difficult watching a team go from breaking the league record for most points earned while coming in second last year, to a team that struggles to complete consecutive passes. This award could easily have gone to a favorite Manchester City midfielder, yet I felt it better to award not one single poor passer but the whole conglomerate that is Liverpool’s midfield. Javier Mascherano, Lucas Leiva, Dirk Kuyt and whoever the sucker is that had to play with them that match, i.e. Benayoun, Babel, Rodriguez, Gerrard, Aquilani… I often look at Mascherano as a pre-teen adolescent with ADHD. When he gets the ball, he becomes so excited that he doesn’t actually know what he’s going to do with it. Thus leading to him losing the ball and tracking down the next unfortunate player on the other team. God bless his tireless work rate and two footed, red card tackles. His passing still leaves a lot to be desired. Lucas could also be up for a number of other awards including Worst Face and Worst Overall Ability, but being lumped in with the whole of Liverpool’s midfield, gives him the same slack that the fat Spanish waiter gives him each week after his poor performances. Which brings us to Dirk Kuyt. Kuyt is more or less the engine of the team. His tireless blue-color hustle helps inspire the team. But let’s be honest if the engine of a nice car isn’t as good as advertised, the truth is it’s a shitty car. And that sums up Liverpool’s season. They’ve performed about as well as a brand new, shiny…KIA.

2009-2010 Gary Neville Award for Worst Whining

It’s always a challenge narrowing down the final winner for each category and 2009-2010 was no exception. It was another stellar year for whining, bitching, complaining and throwing temper tantrums around the world of football. This year’s award goes to Manchester City and Santos FC’s forward, Robinho. A constant critic of his managers and teammates, Robinho also managed to be part of one of the funnier moments in football this season, by being brought on as a substitute and off again in the same match. This led to more of his incessant bitching and eventual move back to Brazil where he could do endless step-overs without the threat of being flattened by real defenders.

2009-2010 Gary Neville Award for Worst Coordination

“Worst Cordination you say? But these are professional football players. How could they have poor coordination?” It’s a question non-Korean’s ask themselves every time they turn on a Manchester United match and are unlucky enough to see Korea’s #1 Best-Hero-Man-Highting!, Park Ji-Sung. In South Korea, he is known as “The Oxygen Tank” or “Three-Lung Park” for his ability to run industriously from 18 to 18. Everywhere that is not South Korea, he is often referred to as Park Ji-Slip or “잠수함“ “submarine” for his remarkable falling and diving abilities. Usually you can credit an Italian or South American footballer for their fantastic ability to fall when it doesn’t look remotely possible, but this year Park Ji-Sung has brought home another award for all Koreans to be intolerably proud of.

2009-2010 Gary Neville Award for Worst Hair

This award can be picked up annually by Portsmouth goalkeeper David James, however last summer’s passing away of Michael Jackson caused a change not only in pop music but also in football. It was not simply the death of the King of Pop, but it was at that time that the jheri-curl was officially retired. Unfortunately Manchester United’s midfielder, Nani, did not get the memo. While made extremely popular by Michael and his white glove in the 1980s, Nani continues to sport this greasy look all around England. A close second place was Liverpool’s Sotirios Kyrgiakos who has been known to have watched Frank Miller’s “300” over 1000 times and reverted back to the hairstyle of his Greek ancestors.

2009-2010 Gary Neville Award for Worst Face

Carlos Tevez. Scar or no scar.

2009-2010 Gary Neville Award for Worst Transfer (retrospective)

Many players under the rein of Rafa Benitez are very capable of taking this award. However, there is one player who has been more active over the past few transfer periods than a brothel in South Korea. That lucky man is Robbie Keane. After making his dream move from Tottenham to Liverpool in the summer of 2008, Keane did everything he could, to regularly miss gifted chances on goal and make a speedy return to White Hart Lane. Once again back at the helm of good ol’ Harry, Keane was re-established as captain where he continued to perform like a lowly Middlesbrough player. After realizing their dear captain may be out of his prime, the Spurs once again decided it was time to give Robbie a chance to excel on a level more fit for him; The Scottish Premier League. Thus keeping a consistent streak of 3 transfers on the trot with an inevitable return from loan to Tottenham in the next window making it a solid 4 for 4. My hat goes off to you Robbie Keane. You made almost as many transfers as you did goals for Liverpool.

And the 2009-2010 Gary Neville award for Worst Overall Ability goes to none other than Shaun Wright-Phillips. SWP has once again shocked the world with his incredible lack of footballing ability. The real question however is how he continues to be employed as a professional footballer. It’s been rumoured that due to his staggeringly short stature, managers and fans have often felt the need to sympathize with him. Fans and managers tend to close their eyes to SWP’s forgetfulness, both in dribbling and remembering the colour jersey his team is wearing. Falling out of grace with Manchester City, SWP looks ripe for the picking in the next transfer window. A dream move for him would be to join other washed up professionals in the SPL or possibly Middlesbrough. One can’t count out the chance of him looking to reunite with his undersized relatives from the land of OZ.

Advertisements

Group of Death: The Exes of Evil

By David S. Wills

The phrase “Group of Death” has been used in football since 1954, when England, Brazil, the Soviet Union and Austria were drawn together in the World Cup. In 1970 it was used again to describe the group consisting of Brazil, England, Czechoslovakia and Romania.

After that the phrase burst into the lexicon with use in most knock-out competitions. Anytime more than two good teams find themselves drawn together… “Group of Death.”

(Perhaps it’s my nationality that once again blinds me to reality… But looking back through the history of the “Group of Death,” I can’t help but notice how frequently Scotland are that sad fourth team, doomed to play against three of the best teams in the world. In 1992, the term “Group of Certain Death” was coined, specifically for the purpose of describing Scotland’s plight.)

It seems a little bit on an exaggeration. Very rarely to players die on the pitch, and even when they do the pundits hardly predicted that was going to happen.

But football isn’t always a particularly civilised sport. One could apply the phrase “Group of Death” to competitions in Africa, South America and the Middle East, knowing that an actual death is more likely than in the pansy Premiership.

Throughout history there have been teams for whom football hasn’t been about fast cars and loose women so much as avoiding torture or death. Ever wonder what happened to Wimbledon?

Under the reign of Saddam Hussein, the Iraq football team was encouraged to win matches by way of “motivational lectures.” These included having players’ legs cut off, and punishments were set for missed penalties and own goals.

In 1994, at the USA World Cup, Andres Escobar scored an own goal against the United States and sent his team back to Colombia. He was shot dead upon arrival, with his murderer screaming “goooooooal!” for each of the twelve bullets fired.

Death and football sadly have a little tighter relationship than we are accustomed to thinking. We don’t necessarily see the downside to football when we read about the massive contracts and the hot wives.

Today the groups were drawn for the 2011 Asian Cup. Group D (for Death!) is comprised thusly:

Iraq

Iran

North Korea

UAE

This, to me, seems like sitting a recently separated couple together at a dinner party. A couple with a history of extreme violence. A nuclear-enabled couple. And not just a couple… a veritable orgy of pissed off exes.

The exes of evil…

Back in Asian qualifying group for the 1994 World Cup, three of these teams were drawn again, albeit in a more regional-specific clusterfuck of a league:

Iraq

Iran

Saudi Arabia

North Korea

South Korea

Japan

This was actually dubbed the “Group of Death” by numerous humorous media pundits. The group consists of two of the most fearsome threesomes in recent history. Nations who’ve gone to war, never gotten over the horrors, and were somehow thrown into FIFA-sanctioned competition once again.

Thankfully there were no deaths on the pitch, but when a rogue camel ate a pot of kimchi it exploded and gave birth to modern terrorism.

Betting: Fun for all the Family

By David S. Wills

Some people are against betting. I think that makes these people uptight fools, but that’s just my humble opinion. I’m not saying betting is a good thing. On the contrary, betting is foolish, but so is drinking and smoking, and they’re both pretty cool.

For some people it’s a religious thing, and for others it’s common sense. I can understand the common sense factor. After all, I rarely bet. It doesn’t make much sense. Betting is silly. But it’s fun. And as I mentioned above, silly things are often fun.

What pisses me off is when people apply their morality to others. Religion is the biggest perpetrator of this foul deed. Just because your book says don’t bet doesn’t meant that others have to follow suit. You can find out soon enough that betting is silly. Try losing all your money to a faceless casino.

That makes me think that the sensible thing to do is to encourage betting. Why not have mandatory field trips to the casino for school kids. Let them lose their lunch money and go hungry for a few days. See if they still think betting’s cool.

I used to bet on the World Cup, even from a young age. I did it with my family and my friends, and I’ll do it again this year. (Just don’t go telling the authorities. That sort of thing doesn’t fly in Kimchi Country.)

The best bets involve small amounts of cash, or freakishly good odds. They also involve short waits. I wouldn’t want to stick $100 on Man Utd to win the Premiership. I’d rather choose teams for the World Cup with the winner buying drinks, or put a few pennies on the newly promoted team from the Championship to make it into Europe.

My favourite bet of all time (not involving myself – something another person did) was an old guy who bet that Xabi Alonso would score a goal from within his own half. He did, and the old gent made off like a bandit.

My own betting triumph came a few years back whilst watching Liverpool. Javier Mascherano walked onto the field looking more like a rapist than normal and I shouted to my dad. “Dad! Phone the bookies! Tell them he’s getting sent off by halftime! What odds?!”

I put a measly pound on Mascherano’s red card and he was sent off in about half an hour. The money meant nothing. The pride came in simply being right.

Which is why I enjoy Fantasy Football. I’m keenly aware that that makes me a nerd and a loser, but it’s also a glowing light in my life. I can bark at the TV all I like, but when I pick the perfect eleven and shoot to the top of the league I feel invincible.

(It should be noted that I’m currently bottom of my Fantasy Football league. The lesson: Never bet against Frank Lampard, regardless of how much you hate him.)

Here are some bets I plan on making in the coming years, with the odds I anticipate being given. They may not make me rich, but I like to back the right fighter.

Top non-Old Firm SPL player to sign for Rangers or Celtic and spend the rest of career on the bench – 1/10

Shaun Wright-Phillips to sprint past the ball at least five times during a game – 1/5

Arsenal to lose a key player to injury, having based their entire team around him all season, consequently costing them their title bid – 1/4 (Quote from Legbrokes.com)

Arsene Wenger to blame the injury on a conspiracy – 1/4

Craig Bellamy to switch teams in a storm of animosity – 1/3

Real Madrid to attempt to unsettle key Premiership player by having his friends claim he’s already agreed to move to Spain – 1/2

Alex Ferguson to say something racially/culturally/socially unacceptable, then to apologise and walk away without punishment – Evens

Sex scandal involving top Man Utd and Chelsea players – Evens

Rafa Benitez fired – 5/1

Non-Old Firm SPL team to win the league without Rangers or Celtic being penalized for sectarian abuse – 1000/1

North Korea to win World Cup – 2000/1 (this is an actual quote from William Hill)

Getting FOX’d Over Football

By David S. Wills

There are two words frequently used to describe me: honest, and biased.

I’m happy to put my prejudice out there and I could probably argue in my defense by saying that anyone who claims to be truly objective is a big fat liar… But I think I’m just lazy. There are some things in this world I like, and some I don’t, and I really can’t be bothered with pretending otherwise.

When it comes to football we all have our passions. Some of us try to hide those passions and fail miserably. Watching John Motson try to cover his erection when Wayne Rooney’s monstrous head comes into view is one such example. And everyone in Scotland recalls Chick Young’s first interview with Rangers’ Danish legend, Brian Laudrup: “Brian, why are you so good?!”

When it comes down to it, we’re all fools to deny our impartiality. As children we are raised by our fathers to play football, to watch football, to think about, talk about and dream about football. We are dressed in certain colours and indoctrinated from early ages to a certain mindset, and when we deny that we look as foolish as Republicans pretending they are anything but a well organized gang of bigots.

If I tried to write about Celtic’s defeat to Ross Country (!) on Saturday I would become a fraud. It would take me several rewrites to finally pick out each inappropriate use of the word “scum.” I would descend into Bush-like language, comparing Ross County’s victory over the forces of evil to… No, I can’t do it.

I was raised to feel a certain sickness at the sight of a green and white hooped shirt. And whilst I’m above the level of sectarian abuse, I cannot bring myself to approach the subject in a professional manner.

I could take a different approach, perhaps, and talk about the majesty of cup competition being its ability to bring the small and under-funded teams of the world to a position where they may vie for a shot a European success, playing in a national stadium in front of whoever the hell will honestly sit through an hour and a half of Ross County…

But then I rewrote that paragraph several times to remove all references to the stranglehold Rangers and Celtic have over the Scottish game, and that it is not a stranglehold built necessarily upon skill or managerial prowess, but rather upon religious division and financial shenanigans, resulting in a pressure upon referees and players to maintain the deeply unjust status quo.

Oops.

Or I could take a look at the other Scottish Cup semi-final and discuss Dundee Utd’s victory over a typically sub-par Raith Rovers team. But then there’s not a lot of attraction in a third placed Premier League team beating a First Division side. For anyone but a United fan it’s a bit of a disappointment, given this season’s gallery of cup-upsets.

But you see, I happen to be a Dundee Utd fan. I was extremely happy to see my team steamroll over Raith and progress to the cup final. After all, with the Old Firm’s ill-gotten grip on the Premier League, first and second place will probably never again fall to another team. The best United can hope for is third place plus a cup victory.

And a bittersweet cup victory it will be, provided Ross County don’t provide another shock and win at Hampden. Such a thing would be so romantic and provide another example of the beauty of cup football… But of course I’ll cry foul and bemoan the referee’s desire to see United lose the game.

Such is the burden of a passion for football. The only people who write about it should be bred especially for the job – isolated in labs beneath the earth until old enough to watch a game with no predilection towards either team.

Or perhaps we should all switch countries and only write about teams against whom we have no particular bias.

I could write about the Man Utd – Blackburn game that I watched on Sunday (from thousands of miles away in South Korea). But then I’d probably start talking about the moment when Park Ji-sung smashed the world long jump record (previously set by Cristiano Ronaldo). Park – who is fond of falling to the ground when caressed by a slight breeze – managed to leap into the box with no provocation, and expected a penalty in spite of the incident (which I shall refer to as the “foul”) occurring several metres outside the box.

Or I could write about the Burnley or Man City games… But then I’ve been involved in a deathly-serious fantasy football league all season, and both games were vitally important to my chances. I had both Carlos Tevez and Graham Alexander on my team, and so in spite of having absolutely no preference for any of the teams involved, I found myself screaming in celebration for four of the goals.

What about the Championship? No one cares about the crappy Championship…

Don’t spread it around, but I happen to be a Middlesbrough fan, and although I try and tell myself it’s not true, I can’t help but peak at the results each week.

And so I come to the conclusion that it’s all utterly hopeless. There is no such thing as professional, objective journalism. We are all slaves to our own stupidity. We are all hopeless.

The only thing to do is to get FOX’d and just except that we’re all extremely biased, prejudiced, fundamentally sick people. The world wasn’t meant to be full of reporters. After all, Hunter S. Thompson put it best when he said:

 

Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits – a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.

Korea’s Footballing Failures

By David S. Wills

As a lifelong football fan, and a current resident of South Korea, I thought it would be appropriate that my first post concern both these topics.

“But wait!” I hear you say… “I don’t give a fuck about the shitty K-League, and I’ve already heard of Park Ji-sung!”

I have absolutely no interest in the K-League, and I despise Park Ji-sung. The reason for both stems from being immersed in an overly nationalistic country with little to be proud of except excellent track records in suicide, domestic abuse and rape.

You see, Korea isn’t very good at football. That applies to both the North and the South. You might think that this is a terribly harsh thing to say, but it’s true. South Korea holds the record for the worst World Cup performance of all time. In 1954 they managed to concede a staggering sixteen (16) goals in two games.

As ESPN noted, years later, “[South Korea] set the modern standard for World Cup futility.”

Ouch.

But, as you will probably be aware, times have changed. South Korea was an impoverished nation, just emerged from a war, when they were humiliated in Switzerland. Now the country is unrecognizable. It’s one of the richest countries in the world, with mega-corporations like Samsung and Hyundai. It hosted the 1988 Olympics and 2002 World Cup.

“Ah yes, the World Cup. I thought that was in Japan…”

Yes, but it was a joint effort. South Korea made a name for themselves by finishing fourth.

“Which made them the fourth best team in the world, right?”

Not exactly. Two years later Greece won the European Championship, and nobody’s foolish enough to claim they were the best team in Europe, then or now.

South Korea beat Italy and Spain in the knock-out rounds by cheating. Their matches were fixed, and as a result Korea went on to be beaten by Germany in the semis and Turkey in the third-place playoff.

(Click here to view Korea’s World Cup cheating)

It may seem harsh for a Scottish person to judge South Korea’s football performances, but that is not the case. Scotland may be a historically shite nation at football, but we embrace that fact. We do not delude ourselves with the idea that we are the greatest team in the world.

It is rare to find a Korean person who does not consider the Korean race to be the supreme beings of this world. It is written into their culture. This is a philosophy that the Nazis embraced, and that now the Koreans embrace. They believe they are the chosen ones.

When Park Ji-sung joined Manchester Utd this only served to prove to Koreans that they are the master race. Park Ji-sung, they believe, is the greatest player of all time – in the same way that every Korean sportsperson with a modicum of success is also “Number One!” (For more on this observation, please see Kim Yuna.)

The problem is, however, Park was only signed so Man Utd could make money in the Asian market. He is a marketing ploy that has paid off tremendously. Try finding a Korean person who doesn’t like Man Utd…

Take a look at any Man Utd home game and you will see Samsung, LG and Hyundai advertisements littering the stadium. Some of these are even written in Korean, for the benefit of the entire Korean nation – who sit around watching reruns of Park Ji-sung’s “greatest moments.”

These “greatest moments” include the few complete passes he manages to make each season, the several occasions on which he was not knocked over in trying to get possession, and the horrendous injustice that is committed every time Park takes a dive and is not rewarded by the ref.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s not an awful player. He just shouldn’t make the first team as often as he does. He runs a lot and tries his best, but ultimately he’s there because you can’t turn on a TV in Korea without seeing his heavily Photoshoppped face.

(People in Korea don’t realise that Park Ji-sung is monstrously ugly. When he appears on TV here his face is digitally altered.)

The worst part is that an otherwise entertaining Man Utd game will be ruined by “player cam.” Thanks to the desire of the Korean people to see nothing but Korean faces, the broadcast will be altered to show Park running around the pitch for 90 mins, or sitting on the bench, as the case may be.

But at least Park’s place in the Man Utd team guarantees an interest in the Premiership over here. Thanks to Park, football is constantly on Korean TV.

Unfortunately, a top of the table, end of season clash will always be preempted for a Park Ji-sung highlight reel, or a repeat of the Korean national team’s glorious “triumphs” over Italy and Spain.

In Korea, nationalism trumps common sense every time. If there were a Korean player in the Championship they would broadcast his performance rather than the biggest game of the season. All Koreans want to see is someone from their mighty nation.

Thankfully there is now Lee Chung-yong, the youngster at Bolton, who has been linked with an £8 million move to Liverpool. He is undoubtedly better than Park, and certainly at a team more suited to his level.

I really enjoy watching Lee play, although I don’t care for Bolton. If Park is benched, you can bet that the Korean broadcasters will choose to show the Bolton game instead, so I hope that he does move to a better team this year.

I also hope that no more Korean players make their way into middle of the road English teams, because I can’t stand having an important match ignored for the sake of nationalism. Last year I was forced to sit through countless Fulham matches for the sake of Seol Ki-hyeon, a man whose performances were so poor he had his contract cancelled in the January transfer window.

Before that there was Lee Dong-gook, a Middlesbrough player of such low quality that he suffered a similar fate to Seol. His contract with terminated, and he went down in history as one of Middlesbrough’s shittiest players. He has plenty competition for that honour, but he’s holding his own.

At present, these Premiership failures are lighting up the K-League and inspiring Koreans to think they might just win the World Cup this summer. Lee Dong-gook (Boro’s shittiest import) is presently the highest scoring player in Korea, and regarded as one of the best players in Asia. He is, embarrassingly, Korea’s great hope for 2010.