MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 7.8.1999

The last ever pre-season of the 20th century dawns, and Ryan Giggs is the cover star of Shoot, an edition where you can win signed England shirts.

In news, Andy Cole is launching a pop career with the release of his single ‘Outstanding‘, dubbed by Shoot (possibly sarcastically) as “Britain’s answer to Will Smith”

Also at United, they launched a new away kit in Central Manchester, while in rumours, Portsmouth were linked with a move for Georgi Kinkladze.

Jonathan Pearce is featured in a Q and A as Bristol City’s celebrity fan, who admits to having a Crystal Palace season ticket.

Ryan Giggs gets a four page interview, looking back at the past year (United won the treble, in case you didn’t know) and looking forward to the future.

When asked what else he can achieve, he points out that Juventus played in three successive European Cup Finals, though Giggs would go on to play in three out of four, a decade later.

When asked about his favourite position, he give the standard footballer answer of just being happy to be picked, adding “I’d play in goal as long as i’m playing for United”, commenting on how footballers have a much higher public profile since he made his United debut, and how he can’t see himself playing for another club.

George Boateng, having just joined Aston Villa, is interviewed on the move, stating that he wanted to join a bigger club to raise his profile so he could force his way into the Dutch squad for Euro 2000, being co-hosted by Holland.

Boateng did force his way into the Dutch squad, but not until 2001, only winning 4 caps.

John Beresford is interviewed in a Desert Island Discs style feature, except that it is about one item to take onto a Spaceship. He would take a Robbie Williams CD. He wasn’t fussy about which one, describing Williams as “A top singer”

He would also take a copy of “The Life Of Brian”, Milk and Chocolate, and invite Paul Whitehouse as his celeb guest.

Kevin Phillips gets a feature on his favourite game, which he chose as making his England debut in a friendly away to Hungary the previous season. Little did he know, he would go on to be the Premier League’s top scorer in the forthcoming season.

Chelsea’s new signing Chris Sutton makes an appearance at a football tournament sponsored by a chocolate bar to hand out prizes and sign autographs, giving advice to aspiring footballers, while adding that he believed Chelsea could win the league. Chelsea finished 5th that season.

Jermaine Pennant, Britain’s most expensive 15 year old gets a poster, where the bio says “Expect him to be hitting the sports pages for all the right reasons soon”, a reference to an FA investigation into agents payments in his move to Arsenal.

Shoot writers then make their season predictions. Of the ten featured, five correctly predicted Manchester United to win the League.

Adam McEwen predicts that Gianluca Vialli would be the first Premier League manager sacked. He was a season early.

Martin Keown is interviewed, giving the lowdown on his Arsenal team-mates. then poses for a photo as a spy. Agent Keown, reporting for duty.

EUROBOLLOCKS – THE KNOCKOUT STAGES

The group stages are over and the serious stuff was ready to begin, as eight sides battled to be crowned the Champions of Europe.

First up, were Czech Republic and Portugal, in a game that was known as The Cristiano Ronaldo Show.

Christiano Ronaldo was on a one-man mission to get Portugal into the Semi-Finals, which he succeeded in doing, winning the game, and the heart of Jonathan Pearce, in a show of fawning not seen on the BBC since they wheeled out a load of 40 something minor celebs to reminisce about the Bay City Rollers and David Cassidy et al on the ‘I Love The 70s’ series during the early 00s

To give you an idea of the mancrush, when Ronaldo scored, Pearce let out a scream not heard since Volcanosaurus obliterated Titanorator in the 1999 Robot Wars final.

Meanwhile, Portugal had a penalty shout in the first-half, to which Martin Keown commented “It’s just like WWE”

You have to admire Martin Keown for his research, as most football commentators describe penalty area manhandling as “It’s just like WWF” which as everyone knows, is no longer the name for the Wrestling organisation.

Next up, was Germany v Greece, or, Christmas for people who like doing shit topical jokes.

You see, Germany are meeting Greece in the Euros (And I fucking hate that term, it’s the European Championship) and off the pitch Germany and Greece are in some shit about the Euro, the currency, or something like that.

Having covered the FA Cup for the last four years, ITV have perfected the art of being patronisingly biased towards an underdog, and my word, ITV made sure Greece were the mid table League Two side of Euro 2012.

ITV were so biased, if Greece won, I would have expected them to cut back to the studio, and Adrian Chiles is dressed like he is in Dad’s Army, and proceeds to sing “Who do you think you are kidding Angela Merkel?”

Thankfully, Jamie Carragher wasn’t on punditry duty for that game, and thus, we were spared him talking about the nucleus of the Germany team that plays for Beyyynnn Mooonik.

Greece were heroically holding the Germans 0-0 for a long period of time, promptong co-commentator Jim Beglin to remark that “Germany are struggling to break down the Greece wall” which was surprising, as if any country specialised in breaking down a wall, it was Germany.

The following night, Spain met France in a game which was boring, which prompted a debate as to wether Spain are boring.

Spain are boring, but it’s boring to say that Spain are boring, but it’s boring to say it’s boring to say that Spain are boring.

I don’t know what position to take in this debate.

Sunday night, the one we are all waiting for, England v Italy.

Italy of course, are in decline with their worst ever team, there should only be one winner.

Before the match coverage had even started, modern journalism hit a nadir, as journalists queued up to provide live coverage of the England team getting off the bus at the stadium.

Yes, live coverage of people getting off a bus.

The pre-match analysis focused on the job Roy Hodgson had done with England, with Alan Hansen commenting on his ill-fated spell at Liverpool “It was the first time he’d managed a big club”

In Alan Hansen’s parallell universe, 18 time Siere A champions and 3 time European champions Inter Milan aren’t a big club.

Any big match these days isn’t complete without a wanky pre-match montage, and England v Italy didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t the worst one of the tournament though, as the BBC previewed England’s match against Sweden with a Joe Hart montage.

No harm to Joe Hart, but he’s a goalkeeper. You know a team is crap when the goalkeeper gets a montage. Prior to England’s opening game, the BBC had a montage of Stewart Downing prepared but had to scrap it.

It wasn’t the fact that Downing wasn’t selected for the game against France that saw the montage scrapped, but the fact that they couldn’t find any footage of him scoring or setting up a goal for Liverpool.

Italy is of course, the home of dirty tricks, and they pulled a real dirty trick by unveiling a player nobody had ever heard of before, Andrea Pirlo.

Apparantly, Andrea Pirlo has two European Cup winners medals and a World Cup winners medal, while Scott ‘Scotty’ Parker starred in a McDonalds advert. Amazingly, Pirlo turned out to be a bit better than England’s midfield.

England were in trouble, and Alan Shearer had a cunning plan …… that England should bring on Andy Carroll as “Italy won’t have played against a player like him”

In Alan Shearer’s parallell universe, there are no tall players in Siere A.

Ironcially, when Andy Carroll did come on, the only person who struggled with him was commentator Guy Mowbray, who kept calling him ‘Ashley Caroll’

And so to penalties, the most frustrating part was that Italy’s Christian Maggio didn’t take a penalty, purely for the commentator to say “So here’s to you Christian Maggio, a nation turns it’s lonely eyes to you …….”

So, England lost, and the end credit montage music was an acoustic cover version of ‘In The End’ by Linkin Park. Hadn’t England fans suffered enough?

The first Semi-Final between Spain and Portugal was boring, which wasn’t surprising as Spain are … wait, what’s the official line?

As the game was in extra-time, Martin Keown spoke for no-one when he commented “Nobody wants penalties”

Fuck off! When a game we don’t care who wins goes to extra-time, the thought of a penalty shoot-out is the only thing that keeps us going throughout extra-time.

The following night, as Italy went 2-0 up against Germany, Jonathan Pearce described it as “A major upset”

Yes, four time World Champions Italy now reduced to that status of a League Two team in the FA Cup 3rd Round.

Balotelli’s two goals against Germany made Alan Shearer look stupid (nothing new there) who dismissed him as “Having done nothing in his career”

When this was brought up in the build-up to the final, Shearer um ahhed that he meant at international level.

Fair point.

In an unrelated note, Lionel Messi has done nothing of note in his career*

(*In Irish League football, how many County Antrim Shields has he won?)

And so, to the game itself, Spain go 1-0 up through David Silva, prompting Guy Mowbray to quip “Silva strikes Gold for Spain”

No mater how many times you say it, it’s a pun which just doesn’t work.

I’m not even sure what the final score was, as I was too busy watching the match on CBBC.

Yes!!! CBBC showed the game live with various stars commentating on the game, including Hacker T Dog, who unsurprisingly made more sense than Mark Lawrenson and Andy Townsend combined.

If only this had existed in past European Championship finals.

Just imagine Saturday Swapshops’ Noel Edmonds and Keith Chegwin commentating on Panenka’s chip, or a Dream Team of Sarah Greene, Edd The Duck and Gordon The Gopher commentaing on Marco Van Basten’s goal against the Soviet Union.

And so, that was it, Euro 2012 was over, there was only one more battle …….. the end credit montage-off.

ITV had ‘Tonight Tonight’ by Smashing Pumpkins, while BBC went with an acoustic version of ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson that was so depressing, it was almost as if Mark Lawrenson was singing it.

Fair to say, ITV won the montage-off.

Gary Lineker signed out on “The reign of spain continues in Ukraine”

I’ll go fucking insane if Gary Lineker tries a joke like that again.

EUROBOLLOCKS – WEEK 1

We are now one week into this “Festival of football” which is harder to win than the World Cup, and always guarantees heavyweight clashes in the group stages.

Not only that, it guarantees bullshit punditry. I haven’t watched every game of the competition, but what I have watched hasn’t failed to see me bang my head against the wall at some of the punditry.

In the opening game between Greece and Poland, Mark Bright commented that neither side should provide too much concern to the players of Russia and Czech Republic “Sat in their hotel rooms with their feet up watching this” – Despite the fact that there was less than an hour before kick-off in that game.

As the game meandered to a draw, both commentators spoke about how “The opening games in tournaments are always draws” without any statistical analysis to back it up, suggesting that they were just spouting off cliches as the game entered the stage “When it is all about who wants to win it” and “Both teams will settle for a draw”

During the Poland-Greece game “Sir Chesney” trended on Twitter, in reference to Mark Bright’s pronounciation of Poland’s goalkeeper rather than Chesney Hawkes getting an overdue knighthood. At the end of the game Gary Lineker joked about it. It’s enough to make you want all analysis to be a blank screen with a compilation of tweets appearing on the screen.

The following day was Group B, taking on the role of “The Group Of Death”, though not literally.

BBC’s intro to coverage of Holland v Denmark began with a montage of previous “Groups of Death” which was hopelessly flawed. The montage included England’s Euro 88 group, though possibly because they were shite and lost all three games, and ignored the fact that the other Euro 88 group (Spain, Italy, West Germany, Denmark) was actually tougher.

Other “Groups of Death” ignored were the Euro 92 group with both Euro 88 finalists and the 1990 World Cup winners, and the Euro 2000 group with the Euro 96 finalists competing against the winners of 84, 88 and 92.

If you’re going to do a montage, at least do it right.

The Holland v Denmark game took place in Kharkiv at a stadium, which according to Jonathan Pearce, “Cost 50m Pound Euro to build” – I literally have no fucking idea what that means. Is it some sort of supercurrency he has created?

Denmark ended up getting a surprise 1-0 win, which some commentators seemed to equate with a non-league side winning at Old Trafford in the FA Cup 3rd Round.

Denmark, currently 9th in the FIFA Rankings, have reached the European Championships 7 out of the last 8 times, won it in 1992 and reached the Quarter-Finals as recently as 2004 ……. and yet BBC’s pundits and commentators viewed their win over Holland as a massive shock.

ITV have taken the step of hosting their coverage in the middle of Warsaw, doing their pre-match analysis of Spain v Italy in a cafe. You were kinda hoping the guy in the table behind them would be looking at porn on his laptop. Instead, we got Emiliano from Milano to give his opinions.

When talking about Italy, we are informed that “This is not a great Italian side” and “Italian football in decline” as Italy now appear to take on the Germany role of the footballing giant that pundits lazily declare as in decline with their worst ever team.

Meanwhile, Gordon Strachan’s analysis of Croatia v Republic of Ireland suggested that Republic’s players would be more hungry for this game, having not been in a tournament for ten years, and that Croatia players might be blase at always reaching tournemants. Croatia failed to qualify for the most recent international tournament.

Meanwhile, on Monday night, co-hosts Ukraine beat Sweden 2-1 in a game which, according to Lee Dixon “Had everything – two World Class players on the scoresheet”

Yes, the game that “Had everything” had two players scoring. That was it.

The “Had everything” is of course, a classic Shearerism, and not to be outdone, our hero reeled it out after a timefilling montage of Holland v Germany matches.

According to Shearer, Marco Van Basten “Had everything – pace and power”

Yes, according to Shearer, the player who ‘had everything’ only had two skills, basically running very fast and charging past people.

ITV, based in the centre of Warsaw, quite literally in the thick of the action as Polish and Russian hooligans beat seven bells out of each other nearby meant everytime Gordon Strachan opened his mouth, he was immediately drowned out by police sirens.

Last time there was that number of police sirens blasting out on ITV in the evening was in the glory days of The Bill.

Talking of grudge matches, the BBC weren’t slow in hyping up Holland v Germany. Somehow, nobody told Mark Lawrenson who sounded underwhelmed throughout.

Arjen Robben’s reaction to being subbed brought Lawrenson to life as he managed to fit in a bad pun that doesn’t really work that “There’s no Arjen team” – Geddit?

Amazingly, it got worse, as he morphed into full David Brent mode, proclaiming that TEAM means “Together Everyone Achieves More”

If the match lasted ten minutes longer, he would have started dancing to Disco Inferno and started singing ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ by Harold Melvin

Mark Lawrenson : Friend first, Entertainer second, probably a Football Commentator third

Talking of bad puns, Tuesday’s Daily Mirror (There was a copy lying about in the cafe I was having my lunch) backpage headline led with “KINGS OF JOLOEN” in reference to England’s draw with France.

I’m just as confused as you are

Talking of bollocks in the written press, today’s Belfast Telegraph led with a story about shameless bandwagon jumper Gary Lightbody being “attacked online” for cheering on the Republic of Ireland in Euro 2012.

The report had no examples of this ‘Abuse’ nor did they quote any of this ‘Abuse’

Typing ‘Gary Lightbody’ and ‘@garysnowpatrol’ into Twitter doesn’t bring up any abuse. Strange that.

It’s almost as if they pre-empted a story which didn’t happen. Pretty fucking pathetic if you ask me.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : WORLD SOCCER – AUGUST 1997

The latest segment in the “Magazine Archive” series takes us back to a time when Ibrahim Ba was the future of French football and Glenavon fans were unhappy, because their team “only” won the Irish Cup. It was a strange world in August 1997.

That month’s edition of World Soccer had Ibrahim Ba as it’s cover star. Back then, Ba was the biggest rising star in French football tipped for a move to a major European side and to be one of the leadcing lights of the following year’s World Cup, which was to be held in France.

Also on the cover was Marc Overmars, who had recently signed for Arsenal, to highlight a feature on football’s biggest transfers that summer. Other headlines on the front cover include reviews of the World Youth Cup and Copa America.

Editor Keir Radnedge takes a look at the new-look Champions League, which now featured 2nd placed teams from selected countries, pointing out that of the clubs benefitting, only Barcelona and Parma had a realistic chance of winning the trophy. Both teams were eliminated in the group stage.

The following season, however, both finalists qualified for the competition by being 2nd in their league the previous season.

A round-up of the qualification for France 98 so far is featured in the magazine, taking a look at the hosts France and their preparation, which included Le Tournoi, a 4 team group competition featuring England, Brazil and Italy, which was won by England.

When looking at old reviews of youth events, it’s always fun looking at the line-ups to see who made it as a professional footballer in adult life. The team line-ups for the 1997 World Youth Cup includes Walter Samuel, Esteban Cambiasso, Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen, Thierry Henry, and Trevor Molloy.

There is a picture of Cambiasso celebrating a goal wearing Argentina’s away kit, in a similar pose to when he scored his iconic goal against Serbia in the 2006 World Cup.

In the round-up from various countries, cover star Ibrahim Ba gets a full page dedicated to him.

Not long afterwards, he signed for AC Milan before suffering a dip in form which saw left left out of France’s squad for the 1998 World Cup.

Ba is probably best known to UK fans for a brief spell with Bolton Wanderers during the 2003-2004 season.

The four countries of the UK get a double page spread with the England piece looking at England’s Le Tournoi success and a look at the new signings in English football, with the accompanying picture being of Teddy Sheringham, signed to replace Eric Cantona at Manchester United.

In manager news, Southampton were unable (and some could say had a lucky escape) to persuade David Platt to be their player-manager, while Everton were rejected by Bobby Robson, and Andy Gray, who couldn’t be persuaded to leave Sky.

The offer of managing Everton couldn’t get him to leave Sky, but off-mic comments about a female official did, although not on his accord.

In Northern Ireland, the lack of signings at Linfield, Glentoran, Glenavon and Portadown grabbed the headlines, as these clubs had endured disappointing 1996-1997 seasons by their standards.

Ironically, it was a signing during the season which grabbed the headlines, as Glenn Ferguson moved from Glenavon to Linfield for an (still standing to this day) Irish League record of £55,000

Choice quote from the article “Even though top scorer Garry Haylock is at Portadown, one wonders if his club’s supporters rate him worth the £1,000 a week he is reputedly paid” – Though Haylock no doubt rates himself worth it ………. and then some more.

“Brian Glanville’s Last Word” focuses on the TV commentary debut of Jonathan Pearce, who had covered the World Cup Qualifier between Poland and England for newly formed terrestrial channel, Channel Five, and had suffered negative criticism for his performance, though Glanville’s article was very supportive of him.

Pearce eventually got a big move to the BBC, although, it was to commentate on Robot Wars, before eventually joining Match Of The Day.

Glanville also remarked that Paul Gascoigne wasn’t good enough to play international football anymore, and that Paul Scholes should now be the centrepiece of the England team.

This proved to be prophetic, as just under a year later, Gascoigne was left out of England’s World Cup squad, while Scholes was included, scoring the decisive 2nd goal in the 2-0 opening match win against Tunisia.