This week’s photo is of the Pancho Arena, home to Hungarian top flight side Puskas Akademia FC, and has to be one of the most unique and beautiful locations in world football. I’ve been to Huddersfield, Barnsley, Preston, Birmingham, West Brom, Bristol City, Hull, Stoke, QPR, Luton, Bolton as well as 14 of the grounds in the Moneybags League to watch Burnley so I know nice architecture when I see it. Located just outside Budapest, the 3,816-seater stadium was designed by Hungarian architect Imre Makovetz, who wanted to give fans a design like no other. The arena is named after arguably Hungary’s greatest ever player, Ferenc Puskas, who was nicknamed ‘Pancho’ at Real Madrid.
Well at last the Premier League is back. You know the hype is coming, although it’s more of a cash cow than a football tournament. The PR would have you believe it’s a chrome wheeled van selling artisan frozen delicacies, a pimped-up vehicle of peace and love, when we all know it sells ice cream made from cow’s fat and coloured frozen water on sticks. Luxury gelato it says on the rolling Sky Sports ads, we know it’s just a sweetened frozen food.
Sorry, had too much sugar today. Anyway, lots to catch up on from a week of utter madness on the transfer front, but we’re still waiting for Man United’s spending spree to reach the panic setting at the cash point machine after a large amount of harrumphing and haggling at the Theatre of Screams. Some of their transfer negotiations look more painful than a hip replacement. They won’t finish above Burnley this year, mark my words. Hang on…
I have no appetite to get involved in any kind of culture war, but it’s worth noting that the Lionesses’ Euro final game was played in front of 87,192 people, all of whom, save our friends from Germany, had a good day out. The tiresome song about German bombers was conspicuous by its absence, while I failed to spot any puce middle-aged-flabby-bellied-short-haired-shirtless-and-tattoed faces contorted with spittle-flecked rage. As England collected the trophy the crowd basked in rowdy bonhomie – taken up a notch by the girls themselves at a press conference – rather than jingoistic triumphalism. For once, proud to be an England fan.
There are under twelve hours left to parade your football knowledge with your fantasy league picks for the coming season, don’t be a stranger and left out from our little jamboree, invite friends along who you think would enjoy the banter and know their stuff about football, but obviously not as much as yourself. We have 21 folks signed up to our league, if anyone else fancies their chances pop over to the fantasy league web site and sign up with our league code: tsf.tech fantasy league Code: 8nq3fh. You can pick your own back four and then watch the games via an illegal streaming service.
So, let’s look back at the superstars from last season, how will they do this time around?
Nick Wright: Bolton Wanderers fan; First. Top banana all season, top from game weeks 1 to 36, and rose like a champion pike to hit top spot again for final week 38. So, what’s his approach to team selection for retaining the title? Grealish. You know he’s special. When he plays on snow, he doesn’t leave any footprints. He dribbles a lot, the opposition don’t like it, you can see it all over their faces. I look at each game and think either side could win it, or it could be a draw, and go from there. Odds: 5-1 favourite.
James S: Man United; Second. His ambition to win makes Kim Jong-Un look like a charity worker. Speaking to him yesterday from his Pyongyang pre-season training camp, James commented I couldn’t be happier than if I was a badger at the start of the mating season. Last season my midfielders had 99% of the game, it was the other 3% that let me down. As for Haaland up front. He’s tough. He could survive a nuclear war and a Manchester winter at the same time. Odds: 7-1
Aleksa Vukotic: Red Star Belgrade & Man C; Third. Aleksa is a thinker and brings an analytical approach to his squad selection. Look, I’m a coach not a magician. I’m not Harry Potter. He is magical, but there is no magic. Magic is fiction and football is real. I’m focused on midfield effectiveness. Pogba? Not for me, often he had an eternity to play the ball, but he took too long about it. Odds: 6-1 (second favourite).
For the rest of us mere mortals, don’t be too downhearted. Pick lively players. We don’t want our players to be monks. We want them to be better football players because a monk does not play football at this level. If you’re feeling down, seek comfort in fast food and hot baths, not necessarily at the same time. My philosophy for month one is this: £100m to spend on eggs for making omelettes. No eggs – no omelettes. It depends on the quality of the eggs. In the supermarket you have class one, two or class three eggs and some are more expensive than others and some give you better omelettes. So, when the class one eggs are in Waitrose and you cannot go there, you have a problem if you’re in Aldi.
Everton has formed a partnership with sports fashion platform Fancurve to create digitally wearable shirts. Yes, I know, but that’s what the press release said, and it got worse: As a Premier League team we are looking to build on technological innovation, introducing Toffees followers to officially licensed, non-replica club-branded shirts which fans can clothe their avatars in within the Metaverse. But they hadn’t finished: These photo-realistic custom collections are a series of high-end digital shirts functioning as fashion wearables with enriched media content to enable a hyper-immersive online fan experience.
It’s just nonsense, isn’t it? For me, the Metaverse will be a consensual hallucination experienced by billions of people who are connected through the internet akin to C21st emperor’s new clothes. Perhaps if Everton focused more on playing on the grass they’d do better. Why would I wish to live in an alternative digital universe as it runs parallel to my real life? Whatever next, a game where you pick a digital squad of players for fantasy money and play fantasy football on the internet? But this wasn’t the most newsworthy football news emerging from Merseyside this week.
Everton fans may be embarrassed, but if you’re a Liverpool fan, look away now. Horror upon horrors, Jacob Rees-Mogg and his kids support The Reds, and I guess want them out of Europe as soon as possible. But relax, that’s the 1920 team they support, obviously. Also, check out Amazon Prime All or Nothing, a documentary on Arsenal, now available. Eight episodes. There is a special discount code for Man United fans living in Manchester – where 8% of Season Ticket holders live – to purchase the Man City version of the series, playing as Alan Partridge says, liquid football.
Come Saturday at Turf Moor and you’ll hear a number of things. Abuse at the match officials, someone scoffing down a half-time pie (noisy eaters us Lancashire pastry munchers), raucous greetings for VK’s first game at home, and of course songs. Songs and chants are a must for any decent atmosphere. Music on the terraces is about identity. Each song has its own unique allegiance to one side or another.
I get knocked down, but I get up again is a famous Burnley anthem, sung by anarchic punks Chumbawamba from the town, who unexpectedly had a hit with the tune in 1997 and got a BRIT nomination. They reportedly turned down a million-dollar offer from Nike to include it in a World Cup ad, but the track found its way onto the FIFA World Cup game.
Music always helps to console and inspire, so come 630pm Sunday after the final match of West Ham v Man City in Gameweek one, some of us will feel it’s all gone wrong. This ditty springs to mind – happy melody from Johnny and sad lyrics from Stephen The Smiths Indeed, get stuck into the Smiths back catalogue, great tunes for staying in listening to whilst drinking alone and picking your Fantasy League team changes, or the solo work of Johnny Fuckin’ Marr Johnny Marr
Transfer deadline is Friday 630pm. Good luck to one and all, here’s to a great season and a bit of fun.