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7 January 2011 ~
When there's been a spate of sackings we like to play a game of matching the newly unemployed managers with the available jobs. But however we work it Sam Allardyce always seems to be spare.
Badge of the week ~ FC Obolon Kyiv, Ukraine
Many clubs have a wild or mythical beast on their crest to symbolise strength, aggression or some kind of metaphysical hunger. Obolon Kyiv's griffin is symbolising the forward basic step of the rumba. He is not so much thirsty for the blood of his enemy as taking us through the transfer of weight from ball to heel on the forward walk. Despite his obvious concentration, the griffin has made the basic error of replacing his heel squarely to the floor, rather than leaving it slightly raised, at the end of the cycle. This is actually quite clunky, will negatively affect the fluidity of his transitions and, crucially, will inhibit natural hip action. If the griffin continues to make this mistake, he will quickly be led into "forcing the hip" – attempting to summon all hip gyration from the hip itself – making him look and feel awkward on the floor. This awkwardness, and the sense that people are nodding their partners in the general direction of his jerky hip thrusts, will make him feel exposed and angry, and then perhaps FC Obolon Kyiv will have a proper mythical beast for their badge, rather than a Latin & Ballroom Intermediate griffin, which inspires less terror. Cameron Carter
from Ross Burton
"In case you missed the news over the holiday period, Gary Neville has resubmitted the plan for his futuristic carbon-neutral home-hub near Bolton which was turned down by the local council last June. The main change is that the wind turbine will now be only 100 feet high rather than 130 feet. A final decision is due in the spring – if it's rejected again, Gary is going to live up a tree."
Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear
Cambridge United away, 1998-99
The 1998-99 season was an unusually decent time to support Cambridge United. Promotion was achieved from what was then known as Division Three, the only time such a feat has happened in coming up for 20 years. The club also reached the third round of the League Cup, beating Watford and Sheffield Wednesday along the way, and all this was accomplished wearing one of the most stylish away kits in the club's history.
United's record in the 1990s when it came to picking away kits was decidedly dodgy. From 1993-95 they wore a blue-and-white patterned monstrosity which resembled rain running down a window. Patrick took over manufacturing duties in 1996, and two years later came up trumps with a nifty light and dark blue halves design, which to this day is still spoken about in revered tones by the club's fans. It had the added bonus of featuring a proper sponsor, international lighting firm Phillips taking the space usually reserved for local steel merchants or fly-by-night double glazing companies.
It couldn't last of course. Patrick got into financial difficulties soon after the champagne corks had finished popping at the end of the season, the club switched suppliers to the far inferior Super League, and the light blue/dark blue wonder was gone after just one season, to be replaced by another bland white design. It's arguable that the U's have never recovered. Matthew Gooding
The internet is full of bland footballers' personal websites and blogs. So credit to John Utaka for "Utaka in pictures", in which the Portsmouth winger portrays himself in a variety of guises – tactician, hero, targetman, warrior. We particularly like the Hamlet-inspired "playmaker" pose.
One of Alan Bennett's diary entries for 2010, published in the latest edition of the London Review of Books, suggests that he would make a fine match reporter.
from Andrew Cowie
"If you are going to pretend to be someone else for the purposes of getting a coaching job, you might at least aim high, like the man at Aston Villa claiming to be Gérard Houllier."
from Neil Porter
"Leicester City's complaints about their 3-0 defeat at Ipswich in the snow has produced a response on their Wikipedia page."
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