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18 March 2011 ~

As a change from talking about the Champions League we were going to begin this week's Howl with some thoughts about the Europa League quarter-final draw. But we've been watching the preamble for two hours and it hasn't even begun yet. We thought it was about to start after the interminable film about the competing teams and final host city Dublin but the presenter has now introduced Ronnie Whelan who is just standing there chatting. So we've had to give up. Sorry.

Badge of the week ~ Bidvest Wits, South Africa
Now, you see, because Wits are affiliated to Johannesburg University, they are known as "The Students" or "The Clever Boys". The nickname rather dominates the badge – the central image being nothing more ambitious than the club's initials arranged at a rakish angle – and poses the question: is this actually a compliment or a slur? It seems somehow an unacademic phrase, as if a few jealous townies had come up with the name by way of a sneer. Surely "The Cerebral Men" or "Tertiary Education Dynamos" would have raised the bar a little? It all looks a bit hurried and does nothing to dispel the stereotype that students are lazy and knock up a bit of work at the last minute before heading for the student union bar to drink cheap lager out of plastic pint glasses. Which aren't really pint glasses anymore if they're plastic. But that's by the by. Cameron Carter

from David Stewart
"As a Derby fan whose side benefited directly from this, I have to congratulate Swansea for surely the most incompetent 30 seconds of play produced by any team this season."

The Swansea-Derby match also provided the Sunday Mirror's reporter Lindsay Sutton with an opportunity to mention the film of the moment. A commendable effort if a teeny bit forced."

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Deportivo La Coruña away, 2002-03
Founded in 1906, Deportivo La Coruña have been wearing their trademark blue and white stripes since 1912. The club have shown much less consistency with their change strips, however, especially in recent years, alternating manufacturers, designs and colour schemes to often hideous effect. The nadir came in the 2003-04 season, when the club unveiled a garish combination of blue and orange in an infamous 8-3 defeat to Monaco in the Champions League. Ditching the concoction immediately, they would go on to reach the semi-finals.

This more restrained design dates to the previous season and enjoyed a far happier European debut in a memorable 3-2 win at Bayern Munich. By the time Depor were being knocked out by an injury-time Igor Tudor goal at Juventus they had reverted to all red, though the pale golden yellow made a reappearance in neck, shoulder and waist trim in the 2008-09 home kit.

Deportivo's Champions League days are a fading memory now, and their then sponsors Fadesa have suffered a similar fall from grace. The La Coruña-based construction firm was a driving force of the Spanish property boom but was taken over by building magnate, and former Real Madrid president, Fernando Martín just before the bubble burst. Riddled with debt, the company filed for bankruptcy in July 2008, shortly after breaking ties with the club, whose shirts, which are currently black or royal purple on away days, are now sponsored by local brewers Estrella Galicia. James Calder

An Interpol investigation might now be underway if Man Utd had gone two down to Marseille in this week's Champions League tie at Old Trafford before winning 3-2. That's how the match played out in a simulation staged earlier in the day by UEFA.com and broadcast to their bemused followers on Twitter.

from Sam Kelly
"The Wikipedia entry for Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias seems to have received some amendments."


from Amanda Henderson
"This week Sepp Blatter continues his campaign for re-election as FIFA president by dropping in on his good friends in Myanmar. Meanwhile, US journalist Grant Wahl – whose stalking horse campaign for the presidency is mentioned in the latest WSC – is still casting around for a nomination. I admire his stoicism in the face of public indifference in this video, though his point about gender bias on the FIFA executive committee may need working on before his acceptance speech ('It's all dudes!')."

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Isaías, Coventry City Merlin's Premier League 96
Aidy Boothroyd's sacking earlier this week meant that Coventry have got through nine managers in the ten seasons since they were relegated from the Premier League. Yet prior to going down Coventry had spent an unbroken 34 years at the top level. They were also the first Premier League club to sign a Brazilian. Isaías Marques Soares (usually known by his first name) scored two of Benfica's goals when they knocked Arsenal out of the European Cup in 1991-92. He spent eight years in the Portuguese league, the last five of them with Benfica, but was nearly 31 when signed by Coventry's new manager Ron Atkinson in 1995. Isaías got a run of 11 consecutive games in his first season, but was then dropped and played only one more match in two years. The Portuguese interpreter hired by Coventry later revealed that he spent most of his time accompanying Isaías on fishing trips to the River Avon. After a leisurely year of reeling in tench and barbel, Isaías returned to the Portuguese league before playing out his career in Brazil.

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