Friday, May 12, 2006

Telegraph: 'Pristine Chapel' and a Poll dancer

Source: Telegraph (edited from main article, the paragraph that mentiones FCUM has been moved to the top)

By Henry Winter

The Good, The Barton and The Ugly: That was the season that was - so far...

Non-Premiership success story:
1 Reading: good players, good manager, good chairman.
2 Accrington Stanley: welcome back and don't forget the milk.
3 FC United of Manchester: big gates, big promotion.

Footballer of the year

1 Wayne Rooney; 2 Steven Gerrard; 3 Thierry Henry.

Team of the year
(5-3-2): Given (Newcastle United); Chimbonda (Wigan Athletic), Toure (Arsenal), Terry (Chelsea), Carragher (Liverpool), Gallas (Chelsea); Gerrard (Liverpool), Carrick (Tottenham Hotspur), J Cole (Chelsea); Rooney (Manchester United), Henry (Arsenal). Subs: Lehmann (Arsenal; g), Reo-Coker (West Ham), Makelele (Chelsea), Nolan (Bolton), D Bent (Charlton).

Players to watch next season
1 Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
2 Giuseppe Rossi (Man United)
3 Adam Johnson (Middlesbrough)

Noisiest home fans
Premiership: Portsmouth
Champions League: Liverpool
International: Northern Ireland

Best quote
"I've just been to the Vatican in Rome. I loved that Pristine Chapel." The one and only wonderful Sir Bobby Robson.

Best tackle
Arjan de Zeeuw's determined tone-setter for the season on Frank Lampard, Wigan v Chelsea, Aug 14.

Most worrying sign of Premiership footballers losing touch with reality
Those players who claimed reimbursement from their club for presents bought for a visit to a children's hospital at Christmas. You know who you are.

Most bizarre juggling
Robbie Fowler with chewing gum during kick-in at Anfield before match v Arsenal. Fowler flicked the gum up twice with his left, volleyed it 5ft into the air and then caught it in his mouth. Don't try this at home, children.

Most worrying statistic
Heart problems detected in 48 of the 83 managers attending League Managers Association health screenings.

Premiership manager of the year
1 Jose Mourinho (Chelsea)
2 Alan Pardew (West Ham)
3 Harry Redknapp (Portsmouth)
4 Paul Jewell (Wigan Athletic)
5 Mark Hughes (Blackburn)
6 Martin Jol (Tottenham)

Best player's text
"Police have just found a middle-aged male England fan wandering around Belfast in bra, suspenders and high heels. Police removed his England shirt to save embarrassment to his family." Text buzzing between Northern Ireland internationals the morning after they beat England 1-0 last September.

Best referee
Graham Poll. He may fancy himself but Fifa and Uefa can't both be wrong.

Best hospitality
A night out with the doyen of World Cup chroniclers, Malcolm Brodie, Belfast (Sept 6, plus a day to recover).

Chairman of the year
1 Steve Gibson (Middlesbrough): business mind and a fan's heart.
2 David Moores (Liverpool): a man who cares.
3 John Wardle (Manchester City): nous and passion for the cause.

Best goal
1 Morten Gamst Pedersen's volley of Marco van Basten brilliance, for Blackburn v Fulham.
2 Xabi Alonso's 60-yarder for Liverpool at Luton in the third round of the FA Cup.
3 Anton Ferdinand's immaculate belter for West Ham United against Fulham.
4 William Gallas' last-minute gem for Chelsea at home to Spurs, a massive goal.
5 Thierry Henry's cool 20-yard finish from Emmanuel Adebayor's flick for Arsenal v Aston Villa.

Biggest frisson among receptionists
Eric Cantona, entering hotel in Covent Garden (Feb 7). A career is temporary, charisma is permanent.

Best PR
Wigan Athletic.

PR disasters of the year
1 Brian Barwick, the FA and the England managerial recruitment 'process'.
2 Joey Barton's hopelessly misguided stance in his contract talks with Manchester City.
3 Multiplex, the FA (them again), and the interminable Wembley delays.

Most deserving of a knighthood
Jimmy Armfield, for services to football, past and present, and for unstinting, unpublicised civic work.

Most deserving of a sainthood
Glenn Roeder, for dignity in the dugout, for turning Titus Bramble into a match-winner and for working with Freddy Shepherd.

Best business
1 Arjan de Zeeuw, Wigan's outstanding free-transfer signing from Portsmouth.
2 Richard Scudamore, Premier League's astonishing £1.7bn TV deal.
3 Darren Bent, Charlton's prolific £2.5m purchase from Ipswich.

Worst business
Albert Luque (Deportivo La Coruna to Newcastle United, £9m).

Most ambitious attempt to get a reaction off the FA (over story of Wembley sinking into a hole):
"Can we quote you as saying 'you are looking into it'?" Answer: "NO!"

* 'our' paragraph was here *

Most surreal moments
1 Interviewing Wigan's rugged centre-half, Arjan de Zeeuw, in a dance studio.
2 Sven-Goran Eriksson coming down the back of delayed press bus in Baden-Baden, shouting: "I should fine you for being late. You are worse than a bunch of schoolboys."
3 John Fashanu demonstrating the art of shirt-pulling on air during a Eurosport African Cup of Nations' broadcast (my buttons nearly popped).

Best commentator
John Murray (Radio 5 Live).

Things they don't teach you at journalism school
Measuring England hotel beds at Baden-Baden to see if they were long enough for Peter Crouch. They weren't.

Sickest moment
Liverpool fans attacking Alan Smith's ambulance outside Anfield.

Politest player
Hernan Crespo, signing personalised messages to fans at Stamford Bridge on Feb 22, first checking spelling of recipient's name, before elegantly writing good luck notes.

Funniest exchange with hotel staff (after Champions League tie in Liverpool):
Me: "There's no lighting in my room." Concierge: "No problem, sir, you wait in the bar and we'll fix it." After five minutes, smiling concierge appears in bar: "Problem solved, sir." Me: "That was quick." Concierge: "Yes, there's no problem, I've sent housekeeping off to fetch you some candles." Me: "Bit dangerous." Concierge: "How about a torch then?"

Best pies
West Brom.

Best overseas performance
1 Arsenal at Real Madrid
2 Middlesbrough at Roma
3 FA international development team coaching and raising awareness of HIV/Aids in Mali.

Best sound
That great Geordie roar just before kick-off at St James' Park.

Best sight
1 Johan Cruyff darting effortlessly between cars while crossing Rue de Rivoli after 50th anniversary of European Footballer of the Year in Paris. The great Dutchman even sent two Peugeots the wrong way.
2 Benfica's eagle swooping on to the pitch before Manchester United game at Stadium of Light.
3 Any Teddy Sheringham pass.

Worst prediction back in Autumn

1 "Wigan to go down with all hands."
2 "Birmingham to push for Europe."
3 "Kieron Dyer to enjoy a memorable season."
All copyright H Winter.

Best John Travolta impression
Graham Poll warming up to The Jam's A Town Called Malice before Everton v Liverpool, Dec 28. Either that or the Pollster had St Vitus' Dance.

Advice of two halves from a cabbie
'Of course you can have a swim in the river, but be quick because the crocodiles come out at 10.' Cabbie in Bamako, Mali's capital, during FA coaching trip.

Lost in pronunciation
Two journalists at John Lennon Airport after Liverpool flight. Hack 1: 'What were you talking about with Steven Gerrard?' Hack 2: 'Kids.' Hack 1: 'Keats? Steven Gerrard was talking about Keats! Blimey!'

Best book
1 A Season on the Brink, Rafael Benitez, Liverpool and the Path to European Glory by Guillem Balague (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, £16.99);
2 The Perfect 10, Football's Dreamers, Schemers, Playmakers and Playboys by Richard Williams (Faber and Faber, £14.99);
3 Behind the Curtain - Travels in Eastern European Football by Jonathan Wilson (Orion, £16.99).

Players to watch long-term
Manchester United's brilliantly-coached crop of eight to 12-year-olds.

Fond farewells
1 Alan Shearer
2 Highbury
3 England's World Cup dream after Wayne Rooney's injury.

Best chant
He's big, he's red, his feet stick out the bed - Peter Crouch
The Kop

Best bet to be next Manchester united manager

Mark Hughes