An Uncertain Start

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It has been an awkward beginning to the season for Manchester United. A winning, if slightly shaky, start against Leicester gave us three points off the bat which was unpleasantly followed by two losses on the trot; a 3-2 embarrassment against Brighton and a 3-0 hammering by Spurs. The 2-0 victory over Burnley over the weekend gave the fans some hope and restored some of the faith in the players and the manager.

The two losses, to Brighton and Spurs respectively, were tough to watch. United seemed to be nervous in the back line for the whole of the Brighton game. The goals we scored were a penalty and a good piece of situational awareness by Lukaku, which gave some of us hope for the Tottenham game. That obviously didn’t pan out as he missed in front of an open goal after rounding Lloris brilliantly. The French goalkeeper was still absolutely steamin’ after he was caught drink driving. What a lout!
All jokes aside, the first half of the Tottenham game was OK. We attacked well and created opportunities, some of which should have been put away. That’s right, Rom, I’m talking about you again. Don’t @ me. However, within ten seconds of the restart, the defenders who had played so well in the first half, fell apart and allowed two easy goals past them. The third goal was painful to watch, especially as Moura eased past Smalling, who had played well by my estimations in the first half.
Following this loss, Twitter was abound with calls for Mourinho’s head and for Woodward to be burned alive at the stake.  Many fans wanted him gone immediately and for someone with a more attacking style of play to be instated. Others wanted all the fans’ total backing of the manager and the players. It was vintage Premier League era views on the value of a manager and how high his success rate should be.

As I just said, United fans seem to be divided into a, “Sack him now’, or a,”Back him until he’s sacked’, point of view. Neither option glows favourably on Mourinho and how he is pervceived by the fans. I would tend to agree with the second option. It is perfectly fine to want a new manager if the quality of football is declining and if the results are against us. However, it is a whole other thing to keep harping on about the manager when certain players aren’t pulling their weight or are in a slump. I do believe that Mourinho will be gone by the end of the season (as I don’t see us challenging for the top 3, especially if this level of play keeps up) but if he isn’t, and if the results are good enough that warrant him staying, then I won’t care. If he is gone and the results warrant him going then I’ll be delighted to welcome a new manager to the club, preferably one with an attacking style. I will not be happy if Mourinho is gone so early in the season because of outcry over the fans due to lack of spending in the transfer market; a transfer market that we trust Ed Woodward with, and who should be blamed.
Despite all this talk about Mourinho and whether he will have a job come the end of this year or the season, there have been some positives in the first four games.

  • Luke Shaw has been trememndous in the last three games for United. He has been bombing up and down the left wing, cutting in and getting the ball in dangerous areas, especially in the last two games. He seems to have responded well to Mourinho’s criticisms last year, and perhaps this success story will be what Mourinho needs to keep his job.
  • Andreas Pereira has had a solid opening to the season. I was delighted that he didn’t get loaned out, and the fact that he is with the Brazil sqaud for the International Break is testament to his prowess in the last few years.
  • Lukaku seems to have found his scoring boots in the last few games, even if he did forget them in the dressing room against Tottenham. Despite that glaring miss, I do hope he continues this run of scoring.
  • Alexis has continued to be the most creative player on the pitch. Even though he does frustrate me with how much he loses the ball, he is always trying to create something. He is a pleasure to watch and I think this will be the season where he starts to produce much more for us, especially with Champions League football back on the horizon.

It has been an uncertain start and it looks like it will get more confusing before we begin to see consistent results. That doesn’t bode well for José but it mightn’t do us fans any bad. We’re so used to success, trophies and accolades that perhaps another year in the wilderness of mediocrity will humble us before our inevitable rise to the top of English and world football. Before I start to go into a Third Reich style speech I will end this brief analysis of our season so far. Our next match is against Watford, who are also not to be taken lightly, especially seeing as they are joint top of the table! A bad result there could bring the Special One’s teetering empire toppling down.

Defining Decisions

 

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In my relatively short time on this earth I have come to the conclusion that there are a finite number of defining moments or decisions that lead us to our final destination and shape our personalities. It doesn’t matter whether we lead a long and fulfilling life or meet an untimely end. As Bruce Wayne, philanthropist and billionaire playboy from Gotham once said, “it’s not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us.” Bruce has recently been spotted around Paris with Selena Kyle, enjoying a frappé on le Avenue de Champs Elysee by the newest addition to my staff, Alfred Pennyworth. He is my roving photographer and although he’s going a bit senile, he has an eye for all things Bruce. Stay tuned.
Anyways, here are some of the defining moments of my life thus far.

Being Born

I don’t have a strong recollection of this event but I’m told I was one of the main cast. The events immediately before and after are a blur. In fact, the next few years afterwards aren’t very clear either but so far, in my twenty four and a half measly years on this earth, this has been the most defining experience of my life. It literally made me who I am. I distinctly remember that right before I emerged victorious into the world, a large, robed man with a glorious, white beard knelt beside me. We were in a sort of white, astral plane of nothingness. He put a hand on my tiny shoulder and said, in the thickest Cork City accent I’ve ever heard, “Go easy on them Newports when you’re in America, kid, all right? Ha ha. Go on ya chancer, chat ya later.” I’m sorry I haven’t heeded your advice, oh God almighty.

Crying in 4th Class

I was a sensitive child. I’m a sensitive man but I hide that with whiskey and cigarettes. As a child who expressed himself I did so with tears, and lots of ’em. The last time I properly cried outside of the house was 4th class during big break. Oh, how we lived for big break. The reckless abandon we used to have as we played ‘chase’ against the older classes. My family had just moved to Cork from Westmeath and while I didn’t have many friends in Westmeath, I had begun to fit in well with my new classmattes. I almost destroyed that one afternoon.
For some reason, the boys and the girls were ‘fighting’ during break, and both factions spent the whole break not talking and avoiding each other. I knew this was a joke but after break, as we spilled back into the class room, I burst into tears and told our teacher that the boys and girls were fighting all afternoon. I did Justin Timberlake a solid and cried him a fucking river. Bear in mind I was only nine years old and prone to being sensitive. The teacher gave out to everyone else and comforted me. I’m just thankful that kids sometimes have short memories and looked past my childishness and still became my friend. Obviously it was primary school but those kids helped me transition to a new school and I also learned that you can’t cry over just about everything. Not in public anyways.

Braces

I got braces when I was fifteen. Or rather, my parents got me braces when I was fifteen. Two years later they came off and the taunts of ‘brace face’, and ‘metal mouth’, stopped. At least from my parents. My grandmother still asks me if I’m going to the train tracks again every time I ring home. I laugh, but inside I cry.
In 2016 I had a dental check up and learned that I had two cavities that needed to be filled and two root canals that needed to be done. I admit that I have never been the most diligent with caring for my teeth but I brushed at least once a day and flossed at least twice a year, if not three times. I was surprised that my teeth weren’t in good shape but attributed it to working in the cinema and indulging in far too much popcorn.
I carried on with my life and got the procedures done. Before the last one I decided to chat with the orthodontist I had been seeing for years and we discussed my teeth. He told me that the problems I had been having were probably due to having braces in the first place. It was like the villain’s reveal in a made for tv movie about a white kid’s teeth. Fuckin braces. Braces that he had recommended. Braces that he put on himself. Braces that he charged thousands for to my parents.
So I have braces to thank for my first real nemesis that wasn’t caused by fighting them on a football field.

New York

I could write a paragraph on college and how it has defined me but it wouldn’t be true. I had an unreal time and loved every minute of the craic we had but honestly, all I did was drink and scrape by in class. I’m looking forward to doing my Masters and I loved college. Living away from home defined me but I couldn’t write much about that bar liking having the freedom to do sweet fuck all.
New York, however, and the decision to live here for a while has defined me. This place toughens you up and makes you work with a hangover like a champ. I’ve met some fantastic people and I’ve reconnected with old friends. I know now that I can survive in this city and that means I can pretty much survive anywhere. Of course it was handy being Irish and having family here but it would have been easy to leave last summer and slip back into not doing much at home.

I predict my next defining moment or decision of my life will be when I finally vanquish the evil orthodontist and destroy his lair on Patrick’s Bridge in Cork City. That’s right, Aidan Murphy, you fat prick. I’m coming for you. And please stop calling your patient’s parents, ‘mum and dad’. I was seventeen. It creeped me out. What did you make of that, Alfred?

“Oh, we burned the whole forest down, Master Dalton. Trees were a knickel for a dozen back then. We just wanted to watch it burn.”

Thanks, Alfred.

It’s Back!

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Rejoice, one and all! The Premier League returns today with the evening game between Manchester United and Leicester City. This summer has been choc full of sporting action. The World Cup was a fantastic tournament as always and threw up plenty of surprises, while the new system for the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship has given us some of the greatest battles in recent memory. However, when the hurling and the football are finished come September, we will not be facing any vacuum of sport as the Premier League will take its place on our T.V.s and, I daresay, in our hearts.

The hidden beauty of the World Cup is that it shields us from the rancid nature of the transfer window. I, personally, didn’t pay much attention to the window this year, opting to look to the wall until the sweat dropped down my balls. Ah, skeet skeet, motherfucker! Ah, skeet skeet, God Damn. The rumours I did pay attention to, though, I have jotted down here along with reasons as to why they will help or hinder their new team.

 

Arsenal

Arsenal’s new boss, Emery, has brought in a few meaningful signings. Lichsteiener arrived on a free from Juventus while Sokratis (I’m not typing his last name), from Dortmund, joined for an undisclosed fee. Lichsteiner enjoyed Switzerland’s decent run at this year’s World Cup and has been a solid performer for Juventus over the last couple of years. He and Sokratis will shore up the back line with Mertesacker retiring. Goalkeeper Bernd Leno, from Bayer Leverkusen, also signed as Cech, despite still performing well at this late stage in his career, will surely finish up or leave Arsenal in the next season or two. However, have ye seen the picture of Cech? What an absolute unit that man is.

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“Tell Stephen Hunt I just want to talk about what happened.”

Burnley

Sean Dyche’s men are still unsure whether they will be playing European football this season. They have the second leg of their third qualifying round next Thursday against Istanbul Basaksehir. The tie is tensely poised at 0-0 on aggregate and with Burnley playing at home they will have to be on song to secure a place in Europe’s second-tier competition. They had a phenomenal season last season but unfortunately their first choice and second choice keepers are injured. Nick Pope, who was a star last season, was injured during Europa League qualifying against Aberdeen and will probably be out until Christmas.
Joe Hart has been drafted in on a two year deal from Man. City. Hart has had a torrid few years; losing favour at the Etihad after one too many blunders was followed up by loan spells at Torino and West Ham respectively, both of which ended with, let’s say, mixed reviews. Hart has been remembered at both clubs for his knack for misjudging the flight of the ball or rushing off his line when he doesn’t have the pace he once did. Perhaps Burnley’s defensive set up will help him regain some form.

Chelsea

Chelsea also have a new manager this year. Maurizio Sarri, who made Napoli serious contenders in Italy over the last three years, has brought in some exciting signings in the form of Jorginho, from Napoli, and Kovacic on loan from Real Madrid. Kepa, the new keeper from Athletic Bilbao, was bought to replace the loss of Thibaut Courtois, the gigantic Belgian, to Real Madrid. However, a part of me thinks that Sarri might be clinically insane, as he also bought Rob Green from Huddersfield. There is no doubt that Green is a good keeper, but at this extremely late stage in his career he must be pinching himself. Who can forget his gaffe against the U.S. in the 2010 World Cup?

A lot of keepers make mistakes in big games, including De Gea in this World Cup, but Green had also made many mistakes domestically. Perhaps he’ll be used in the F.A. Cup and he’ll shine. Who knows? I do. He won’t.

Liverpool

The Scousers played the most attractive football in the League last year. The partnership of Firmino, Mane and Salah was a a joy to behold as a football fan and a horror to witness as a Liverpool hater. Klopp is still at the helm and I can’t wait to see what mad antics he gets up to on the line this year. Every time his team comes close or is pinning the opposition defence down, he makes a face at the crowd as if his team is on a roll and he just won a free-in from the 21 in the All-Ireland final.
They’ve made some great signings this summer, most notably Fabinho from Monaco and Keita from Leipzig. However, I think their best signing will be Shaqiri, who spent the last few years languishing at Stoke. He proved he can do it on a rainy night in Stoke and he proved in the International Champions Cup over the last few weeks that he can do it anywhere, He’s a special talent for such a little, blocky man.
They also signed Alisson from Roma as Klopp finally realized that his keepers were shite. Although Liverpool did put seven goals past him against Roma last year. So…yeah. Best of luck ye pricks!

Man. City

Guardiola and the rest of the blue wankers have finally added Riyad Mahrez, 2016 Premier League Player of the Year, to their squad. See, I can’t even write as descriptively as I want when I’m talking about Man. City. Liverpool was a stretch and a half to write about but Man. City get nothing but hatred from me.
I know that United fans get a lot of slack for being from anywhere but Manchester. That is true. The brand has grown and enveloped the whole world. Some fans know that we have to hate City and that that game is the most important of the season, no matter the standings, but I’ve always hated City. Reading up about United when I was young, I found out that City and Denis Law, our former star striker, relegated us to the second division with a FUCKING BACK HEEL GOAL in 1974. I still remember reading that and just wanting to get sick. Then there was a period in the 2002/03 season, I believe, when City and Robbie Fowler beat us 4-1. Tough times. Dark times. But good for them, they got Mahrez. Shitheads.

Manchester United

The majority of United fans are angry and frustrated with the way the transfer window has gone this summer. After an initial increase in activity just before the World Cup it seemed that Woodward and Mourinho just put the feet up and went back to choosing which young stars to send out on loan.
Diogo Dalot signed from Porto. The young Portuguese national (Portuguesan?) has been praised by sports sites all over the web but I can guarantee you that only a small handful of them knew who he was before he signed for United. I didn’t. And I’m one of the feckin’ best! Hopefully he can be a good back up for Bailly, if the African is fit. Oh, God I hope so.

The marquee signing was of course Fred from Shaktar Donetsk. The Brazilian didn’t see any action during the World Cup but did look good in spots against Madrid in the International Champions Cup. He will be effective in the middle between Matic and Pogba, if Pogba doesn’t go to Barca. If he isn’t, just don’t @ me. How good was his announcement video, though?
The best bit of business that Mourinho did, however, was to keep Andreas Pereira at the club instead of sending him out on loan for the fiftieth time. He excelled in midfield during our friendly matches and just looks like a complete attacking midfielder. Here’s hoping he can deliver.

Wolves

Wolves are going to finish in the top half of the table this season. They destroyed all in their path last year to comfortably win the Championship, with just a little help from Chinese owners, super agent Jorge Mendes and high calibre players such as Neves. They have added Moutinho and Rui Patricio from Portugal to their impressive squad, as well as Boly to shore up their back line and Afobe to continue scoring goals. I know that it takes time for new players to gel together but when one of those players, Patricio, is the starting goalie for the Portuguese national team, then you know he will fit in to any club. Watch this space.

It’t tough to know who will finish where this season but I can’t look past City as eventual winners for a second year in a row. Chelsea have added wisely to their squad so they will be in the top four. Liverpool have also added wisely but their ability to fall short is amazing and hilarious. Arsenal have not added enough firepower for my liking and will finish outside the top four. I would like to think that United will be in the top two again, and hopefully the gap will be closer this time. We will see. Anyways, get excited!

 

 

Differences

I’ve always been amazed at how fast time seems to go the older we get. I read that it is because when we are young, we are experiencing everything for the first time, such as school, inside jokes or playing sports. Time was not a blur of routine and familiarity that it is now. Indeed, the first time you take a new route to work or try a new bar or restaurant will stick clearly in the mind for longer than your fiftieth time at the same place, or the monotonous ride on the 4 train.
It is still alarming, however, to know that the older you get, the less new experiences you will get to enjoy. Then you realize that it’s already August and that colder weather is not too far away. The G.A.A. season is almost over in New York and the euphoria of the summer will be replaced by the contentedness of the Fall. That’s not a bad thing, but it leads me to question how many memories I will retain of this summer, or even of the whole year! Truthfully, it has been probably the best year of my life, narrowly beating out my years in college.
It doesn’t seem like a year and a half since I left Ireland, and I will be returning in the New Year. I have no doubt that I will be back to the States after my Masters but I know that initially I will struggle with whether or not I made the right choice of leaving this place that is filled with money, the craic, more women than I can handle and my best friends. It is something I struggled with after finishing college too, but I soon realized that not everything can last, and you have to do what you think is right. I am still in contact with the people I consider my best friends from U.L., and I know I will be in contact with both groups of lads for the rest of my life. As I said earlier, I’ll be back! I’ll probably do a post just for myself on some funny memories in the future. For now, I’ll get away from the totes emosh side of things and give you what I think are the major differences between New York and Cork. Forget about the weather and the money; this is some real shit!

  1. PigeonsImage result for pigeons album cover

     

    This is no joke. There is a stark contrast between the pigeons and general birds we see around Manhattan and Cork City (and I’m not just talking about yer wan from Gurran, wha!). The pigeons in Cork are numerous and annoying. They’re everywhere, sparking rumours of a gang war between the pigeons and the emos on Paul street. However, they’ll get out of your way in a hurry if you walk towards them, alerting all the other pigeons in their gang to the danger of human feet. A blur of grey-blue wings is all that meets the eye when you assert your dominant authority. Pigeons in New York, on the other hand, are a different breed. They’re arrogant and have no intention to give you the right of way. They’re like every other C You Next Tuesday on the feckin’ street that stops dead in the middle of a busy street to get their bearings. You walk towards a cluster of pigeons in Madison Square Park and they have the absolute audacity to look at you as if to say, “Oh, you tryna get through?”, and then move into your path. As you walk around them, they say, “That’s what I thought, bitch.” I enjoy cooing at pigeons as I walk by them. It’s funny for me, weird for passers-by and I assume, confusing for the pigeons.

  2. Public Transport 

    Cork’s public transport is seen as a bit of a joke, mainly with regards to buses transporting people outside of the immediate city limits. Now, I’ve never had any trouble with the buses I’ve needed to take, and while I might have had to wait for the next bus to Limerick once or twice, I decided to smoke a few rollies and move on with my life. However, I wasn’t in a rush and I have read enough posts on Facebook to know that waiting two hours for a bus to Bishopstown or Balincollig is not ideal. Not that I’d set foot in either of those places, am I right keeds?!?!?! NYC’s public transport system is full of problems and train delays and the like, but is only really seriously scrutinized by New Yorkers. I’ve cursed the 4 train and the R train and every other feckin’ letter train but without it I’d be lost. Since my schedule changed I haven’t had to deal with rush hour as much anymore, but By God would I prefer to be waiting in Parnell station for the 215 for forty minutes rather than chain smoke while everybody around me chain smokes, waiting a half an hour in the baking heat for the 34 bus or the 16. Everyone crams in, pressing up against people you don’t know and body parts you didn’t even know existed. Harrowing stuff. I still get nightmares and wake up screaming, “Please stand away from the door! Please stand away from the door!”

  3. Television 

    For the love of God, make sure you have a Netflix/Hulu membership or download Showbox or Megabox onto your phone or tablet because the amount of ads on television over here is sinful. Half an hour sitcoms are split into three or four parts, depending on how many times Celino and Barnes want to tell us that they are the best injury lawyers around. It will still only be a half an hour of your time but the enjoyment of your show will be diminished because of those two amadans. Catchy tune though. “Celino and Barnes, Injury Attorneys, 800-888-8888”. Although the T.V. in Ireland consists of sport in the summer and Friends reruns all year round otherwise, at least we don’t have to put up with ads every five minutes.

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    NYC wins in the food department. Local bars and restaurants in Woodlawn serve up delicious food, and the area surrounding us in Yonkers also has plenty to offer up. Meatloaf from the heritage is just class. Unreal. Followed by about eight pints of Heineken. Vitamin H. Unreal.
    Pizza from Angelo’s in Woodlwan and Bravos in Manhattan would put Fast Al’s to shame but I must say that Centra, Spar and Dunnes delis are a mile ahead of their New York counterparts. Give me a chicken fillet roll over a greasy, manky, end of the line chicken cutlet hero. Blegh.

  5. The Craic 

    I’m afraid to say that New York wins out again. I love nights out in Cork. It is great craic on a Thursday night when all the students are out and the weekend is fantastic with the older crowd and a load of Spanish Erasmus students floating about! But there’s something about the phrase, “Yeah, we went out in the Brooklyn to a concert in the park and then went to karaoke in Koreatown.” It sounds cocky and pretentious but that’s how it is. Don’t @ me.Image result for the craic is mighty

 

So with my limited time left in the Big Apple for the foreseeable future I’ll probably start doing some really clichèd ideas like, “5 best bars to go to”, or, “Best spots for a night out.” “5 really shit ideas for a blog,” would be a good one too. I’ll put my own spin on it but like I said, it’s all a bit of craic at the end of the day!

Transfer Shmansfer

We’re at that weird part of the summer where transfer rumours are splashed onto every back page but no real football is being played. Those of us who are lucky enough to have a vested interest in the G.A.A. have been spoiled, especially with the hurling. However, for sole fans of the Premier League, watching your team play against the Madrid reserves and barely scrape by is not that enjoyable. Yes, Mourinho, I know you read this blog and that was aimed at you. Don’t @ me.
That’s the reason that I sometimes write about home or about personal stuff, because I can’t for the life of me bring myself to tell ye what I think about the latest shite rumour to come out about United and their transfers. Oh, we’re getting Neymar and Messi, and Ronaldo’s going to come back to us the year after? And then Mbappe is joining us too? Unreal, man, great news. Fuck right off and stop spamming my Twitter feed with that shite. I want to see Paddy Power jokes and the odd gif of a dog being cute. I don’t need your thoughts on a transfer that is never going to happen. I’ve been stung before and I know what I’m worth. I am fierce. I am the night.

The first time I properly experienced this was with Owen Hargreaves. I know. He did eventually join United, winning the Champions League in 2008 before injury added a shade of disappointment to his stint at the club. However, for years before he joined I was hearing rumours and gossip on the news and the papers about Hargreaves joining. He was a fantastic footballer and I was fully sure he was coming. I would brag to my friends about how he was going to help us overcome Chelsea and once again claim our positions as the rightful champions of England.
I say, ‘we’, and whenever I’m drunk I pump out RA tunes like it’s going out of fashion. Lolz.
Anyways, I was talking shite because the gossip remained gossip and I was slagged to no end, cursing Hargreaves and the media for making a fool out of me. That’s why i write these blogs. For revenge. I’m going to rise to the top, defeating Murdoch and Branson in the final level and bring the media down from within. Nah, I was just too sensitive as a child and would take any light joke as a personal insult. I like to think I am better now and my temper has cooled but my housemates think I’m not a morning person and that I’m a grump. That’s not true. What I am not, is I’m not ready for a full on conversation while I’m trying to eat my cereal. So I’m calling ye out. Tom and John. There’s a fight down Woodlawn way tomorrow on Martha Ave. Bring yere best men and I’ll bring mine. Actually, we’re all very close friends so they’ll probably be the same guys. Is it worth it? Is any of this worth it? Did Tom really drop his trousers in front of those girls in Austin? Did Brian really punch that police horse in the face? We may never know.

I know that I am biased, but I feel like Manchester United get a disproportionate amount of transfer rumours each year when compared to the other big clubs around the world. I realise that Real Madrid and Barcelona and the like do get associated with monstrous money moves with young stars on the rise, but United get everything else. Apparently every Brazilian who has ever played football is moving to Old Trafford after Fred signed. The fact of the matter is that Old Trafford and Manchester United are not that attractive an idea anymore. Since the departure of the great Sir Alex Ferguson, there has been a lack of silverware and the style of play has deteriorated. Mourinho has disappointed me, and while I don’t want to be too harsh, because I know he’s a great follower of my thoughts and quips, he needs a big push in quality this season if he is going to stay on. He also needs two more transfers and needs to stop bashing the players after every game. I also wonder how many more players are going to be associated with United before the window is closed? Wesley Sneijder again, perhaps? That man is going to be retired and living happily in the Dutch countryside when he gets a call from Ed Woodward. “We’d love for you to come and finally join us. We could use your in-swinging free kicks in a big way.”

To answer a few questions from earlier: Yes, it is all worth it; yes, Tom dropped trou in front of a group of girls in a bar in Austin and they screamed and fled; and no, Brian did not punch a police horse in the face. He was simply whispering something into the animal’s ear and they both had a good laugh over the whole incident. They remain friends to this day. Chat ye next week!

That’s All Folks

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So, that’s it. The World Cup is over. Significant others all around the world who don’t have much interest in international football can rejoice. Television sets can be used by members of the family other than the dads and the older brothers. Ladies, ye can now unleash all of the recorded episodes of Love Island upon your fella. He has no argument anymore. You’ve waited it out. You’ve sat in the trenches. You’ve prayed to a God you were never really sure you believed in. Sure, you went to Mass every Sunday but there was always a doubt in your mind as to the truth. Is there a God? Anyways, you’ve prayed to something that this match doesn’t go to extra time. Now it’s your turn. Own it. Milk it.

In fairness, this World Cup has been tremendous. There has been some amount of worldies scored and a surprising amount of upsets. The two Kings of football, Ronaldo and Messi, exited in the second round, while the previous champions, Germany, left us in the group stages. Hahahahaha. I tipped Argentina and Germany to both possibly go on and win the tournament. I was so naïve then, so green. I had forgotten how ruthless international football could be. Still, the big stars for Germany and Argentina didn’t turn up at all. The same could be said for Portugal despite Ronaldo having a stormer of a first game.
It was an amazing World Cup, in my opinion and every World Cup has stellar moments. This one had countless such moments but I was either asleep or working for a lot of them so here are my five moments that made me say, “Wow, this is one of the best moments of the World Cup. I hope someone puts it in a list format on a blog. Wait a second. I could do it. I’m gonna do it.” And a part of me hopes they made you think that too. But don’t even think of starting a rival blog. And don’t @ me.

 

  1. Batshuayi kicking the ball into his own face.

This was the funniest thing I had seen in any sport in a long time. Third game of the group stage. England v. Belgium. The winner would go on to face the harder route to the final but would still obtain the bragging rights. A tense opening half saw us into a scoreless draw at half time. Adnan Januzaj, a player who failed to cement a place in United’s starting XI, stepped up in the 50th minute and unleashed a stunning, curling shot into the top corner, past the fingertips of former child film star of This is England, Thomas Turgoose (look it up). Celebrations ensued and Chelsea player, Michy Batshuayi, picks up the ball and with the intention of kicking the ball with force into the back of the net to show how fired up he is, proceeds to kick the ball and watch helplessly as it ricochets back into his fucking face. See for yourself.

 

 

  1. Mbappes lightning pace

The second round clash between France and Argentina was probably one of the best matches of the whole tournament, just behind the group game between Spain and Portugal. It ended 4-3 in favour of the frog bastards, obviously, as they won the whole thing, with Argentina scoring a late goal to make a French dominated second half more exciting. Kylian Mbappe scored two important goals and made his mark on world football but his turn of pace to get the penalty to open the scoring was frightening. He left Rojo in his dust and if you look at it in slow motion, he actually turns around mid run, puts is hand in his shorts as if to get something out of his pocket for Rojo, then pulls his hand back out and gives him the middle finger. Rojo, enraged, rugby tackles Mbappe to the ground, shouting, “Fool me once, shame on you!” Frightening times.

 

  1. Pavard’s bending beauty

I didn’t know who Benjamin Pavard was before this World Cup and I won’t lie to you when I say that if he stays at Stuttgart I won’t know much about him afterwards, but after a brilliant, consistent tournament he can almost be sure of a starting place in many of Europe’s elite clubs. His half-volley in the second round clash against Argentina was just outstanding and is probably the goal of the tournament. Bravo.

 

 

  1. Ronaldo’s Free Kick

The game was tensely poised at 3-2 to Spain in the opening game for them and Portugal. Ronaldo was on a hatrick and standing over a free kick in the 88th minute. He had bested De Gea twice already and was looking to provide some magic and rescue a point for his team. He spread his legs about shoulder width apart, almost as if he was preparing for a mondo deuce. The sweat was beading down his face, almost as if he was preparing for a mondo deuce. The concentration was etched onto his face, almost as if he was preparing for a mondo deuce. And then he kicked the metaphorical mondo deuce into the top right hand corner of the net, a hapless De Gea watching the round turd spin past him.

 

  1. Belgium’s Surprise Attack

 

Image result for wwe

 

In what turned out to be one of the more surprising and controversial events of the World Cup, there was an attack on the French players right after the final whistle. The whole stadium went black. The crowd remained silent, thinking this to be a gimmick by the tournament event manager. Suddenly, the Belgian anthem started playing. The lights slowly began to rise again as a group of about thirty men, all wearing Roy Hodgson masks, appeared at the end of the tunnel. They began to storm the pitch and beat the French players with steel tables, ladders and chairs. Two or three of the Hodgson’s would hold a French player down and another would frogsplash onto him, all the while gesticulating at the crowd. Jim Ross was doing guest commentary on the tournament for some reason I haven’t made up yet and said of the incident, “Bah Gawd, they just broke that man in half!” Eventually, the group removed their masks, revealing themselves to be the Belgian team. Vince McMahon and Vladimir Putin could not be reached for a comment. The group is still at large.

 

I hope ye enjoyed this trip to my brain. Don’t worry either, lads, as there are plenty of sports on for the rest of the summer, and then the beloved Premier League is back. Best of luck!

Things I’ve Learned – a 24 year old’s guide to nothing

The inevitability of growing old is a hard pill to swallow. We see our parents growing old. We return home to see teachers who once seemed larger than life suffering with the same trials and tribulations of every day life. In the same vein we see educators, coaches and authority figures turn from figures who denoted fear and possibly a lack of fun be normal human beings as we near adulthood. We had an Irish teacher up until Junior Cert who was a hard man, rarely joked and if he did it was at the expense of one of us. Usually one of the lads, a repeat offender. “How do I say, ‘the plane took flight’, in Irish, sir?” Oh, we broke our holes laughing. This teacher just exuded authority and power. He lost his daughter in an accident while she sledded down a snowy hill, lost control and hit her head on a tree. She died a few days later. I think we were sixteen at the time. That really opened our eyes to how short life could be but also to how our teachers were human too. Sure, we had seen them get angry with us and have a laugh with us. We went on trips with several of them, but that tragic accident allowed us to see their proper human side. The side that suffers and has real emotions.
I started thinking about this recently because I cursed one of my coworkers in my head for the fifteenth time that day, wondering how he could be so dense. He had to leave early to help his grandfather with a health issue. I was a bit ashamed at how I had reduced him to just being a coworker and not a fella with problems like the rest of us. We’re all in this together, after all. Shout out to Troy Bolton, high school musical alum. This got me thinking about how everyone fights their own demons. Everyone needs a break. Everyone needs to be alone sometimes and be surrounded by friends and family sometimes. Here’s some things you can do alone or alternatively with lots of people.

 

  1. Go to the cinema alone sometimes. I’m telling you, it is liberating. Up until I was eighteen I had never even let that thought enter my mind. ‘Go to the cinema alone?! But that group of younger teenagers in the back will think I’m a loser! How will I ever go on?’ It’s not an easy lesson to learn, especially in the age of social media, but not everybody cares about you or what you are doing. Not every stranger on the street is wondering why me, a handsome, strong young man is in the cinema on his own. They have their own shit going on. Once you can get past the psychological barrier of watching a movie alone, you can enjoy the benefits, which are plenty.
  • You can go see whatever the fuck you want. If you want to go see Brooklyn, or La La Land, or whatever movie the lads would slag you over, go see it. Let the world know you like musicals and rom-coms set in ‘50s New York.
  • You can eat whatever the fuck you want. You don’t have to get a medium meal because your pal got a small with a water and your other pal is on a keto diet and popcorn isn’t keto. YOU ARE IN THE FUCKING CINEMA! Get yourself a large popcorn with extra butter and a large coke, and give me a big bag of Munchies too, please, while you’re at it. Treat yoself, bitch.
  • You can sit wherever the fuck you want. You don’t have to sit up at the very back in an attempt at nostalgia, reminiscing about the time Johnny Mac an Tracy O’Whatever shifted up the back for the whole movie and missed the plot and had the absolute gall to ask us about it afterwards. I used to work in a cinema and the best seats are in the 4th or 5th row from the back, a little to the right of dead centre. The sound is just right. Quote me on that. Don’t @ me, though. Don’t fucking @ me.

 

  1. I could write a whole post about going to the cinema alone, but I would also recommend going to a restaurant or diner on your own, too. This isn’t revolutionary stuff, lads. A lot of people do this but I’ve had people ask me why I go on my own a lot of the time. It’s partly because I work evenings and nights and my friends and room mates are on different schedules or live in other parts of the city. It’s also because I like going on my own, taking my time and getting to know the servers and waiters. It’s partly because I am an antisocial bastard at the best of times if I don’t have about ten bottles of magners in me and would like to eat in peace. Sometimes, I’ll even bring my notepad or my laptop and pretend I’m writing the next great novel. I’ll puff on my mahogany smoking pipe, take my monocle off and twiddle my thumbs on the edge of my handlebar moustache. Thank God none of that is true.
  2. Take some time off. I don’t mean leave work unannounced. I’m talking about this more in the sense of taking some personal time, away from housemates and anyone else. Not everyone has dark days, but everybody has some bad days. Take a breather. Watch whatever you want on Netflix. Coop yourself up in your room. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. Everyone should understand. If they don’t, just turn around and walk away. Wait for them to turn away. Turn around and sprint at them. Give them the RKO and then continue running. This is your life now. You are a vigilante Forrest Gump. The rogue RKOer. You will be infamous wherever you go, doling out RKOs like they’re candy.

I lost myself for a minute at the end. Although I am only a young fella and I have done next to nothing in the grand scheme of things, please heed my advice. Lolz. I look a lot older though, through years of drinking whiskey and smoking, so taking my advice is like taking it from a half-drunk, middle aged man sitting at the end of the bar on his own. You didn’t want to talk to him and you didn’t invite him to stand right in front of your face as he tells you to, “Get out of Woodlawn, man. There’s so much more out there.” But you’re stuck with him for another hour as he buys you bottle after bottle. Take this bottle from me. Keep the head up anyways, lads and girls. I’ll be back with ramblings on football, hurling and soccer after the World Cup. That coworker is still a tit, though. His grandfather is fine again, so no worries there.

XI

Oi oi, what’s the craic? This is post number eleven on my now world famous blog. A bit of humour there to start! Seriously though, somebody in China and two people in Malaysia have read the blog. There is an enormous Manchester United fanbase in Asia so it’s kind of cool to see a view pop up from there. More than likely it’s someone I know who is living or working there. Which begs the question, why aren’t there more views from there? Why haven’t you shared my thoughts with your new group of interesting and culturally diverse friends? Prick.

When I started writing this, United had eleven players going to the World Cup and I thought, oh great! That’ll link up nicely. Then they went and signed Fred from Shaktar and fucked it all up. Thanks, Ed Woodward! Twelve players in the biggest competition in world football is a good return, and with plenty more from France and Spain in the squad who have been overlooked it is sometimes confusing to see how far behind we are Man. City at the moment. Anyways, let’s take a look at some of Manchester United players heading to Russia.

De Gea

Image result for david de gea hipster

The immense keeper from Madrid has been United’s rock for the last four years. After a somewhat shaky first few years where every cross and shot looked like an impending goal, he has come into his own and cemented his status as the best keeper in the world. Spain are real contenders for the World Cup this year and I know that De Gea will play a big part in that. If they can top the group ahead of Portugal they will obviously have an easier route to the latter stages of the cup but I think Spain holds too much talent across the pitch to worry about CR7 et al. As long as David has a good tournament I’ll be happy. And for Jesus’ sake get rid of the man-bun. Next he’ll have an e-cigarette, puffing away between acrobatic stops.

Pogba

The simple fact of the matter is that Paul Pogba needs to have a good tournament. There’s no denying he’s a special talent with a penchant for different colours in his hair. He’s calm and collected on the ball and can put an immense amount of power in his shots. But he hasn’t done enough in the red of United these past two years, especially with regards to his price tag. He’s still the most impressive looking player on the ball and has an eye for a pass but choose the right pass. Take the right shot. Stop putting blue in your hair when we play Chelsea and City, for fuck sake. The only thing I really remember Pogba doing over the last two years is his volley against Swansea. Sacre Bleu. Hopefully he finds some spark of form and carries it into the Premier League for next season.

Lingard and Rashford

I’ve lumped these two together solely because they need to have a good tournament for themselves but also England need to have a good run. In the sea of boring football that United played last season, Lingard and Rahford were two exciting waves crashing against defences (look at that for imagery!). They’re both not afraid to run at teams and cause panic. They can both shoot too. Lingard has scored some peaches over the last few years, and Rashford just put a thunderbastard into the top corner in a friendly against Costa Rica. Hopefully both start and maintain their positions throughout the cup and return to Old Trafford with a bit more confidence.

Rashford’s goal is at 0:45 seconds.

Lukaku

Having spent the latter half of the season injured, Lukaku came on in the dying stages of the F.A. Cup final defeat to Chelsea. A lot of our attack has been route one football with Lukaku or his countryman and fellow donkeyman, Fellaini. I like Lukaku. I think he’s a beast of a man and actually has quite good dribbling skills. I think if he can bag a goal in the first game then he’ll be a contender for the Golden Boot, providing Belgium don’t do a Spain and become the perennial underachievers of the Tweens (that’s what this decade is called, don’t @ me). If he stays injury free then that’s a bonus. If Fellaini goes to Arsenal, as has been rumoured, then that’ll just be DELIGHTFUL.

Fred

United have had a hit and miss relationship with Brazilians over the past fifteen years. Kleberson was supposed to be our new wonder signing after the 2002 World Cup. That didn’t quite work out. Anderson had a good season in 2008 when we won the Champions League and then quickly fizzled and filled out. The twins, Rafael and Fabio both had intermittent careers with United, Fabio going to QPR at one stage and Rafael going to Lyon. Fabio never did much but Rafael scored a few bangers including one beauty against Liverpool way back in the 2012/13 season. Our sole Brazilian, Pereira, is still young and has been on loan several times. Hopefully he can start getting a few starts under Mourinho because he ‘s class on Fifa. This tournament will be a chance for United fans to see what Fred is made of. Is he a Kleberson or a…..good United Brazilian player? Tune in in July.

Image result for fred the red man utd

Others

Image result for the others

There’s a number of other United players going to Russia. Phil Jones is going to pull more mad faces, the mad bastard. Ashley Young is going to his first world cup, so congrats to him. Rojo didn’t feature heavily this year so hopefully he has a good tournament for a bit of confidence. Matic has been solid all year and with his experience he should be fine. Lindelof is a favourite of mine so personally, I hope he plays well. I hope Fellaini gets lost in the airport on the way back. Obviously I hope he’s found, but not until the end of the year or something. He’ll be fine.

 

Sit down. It’s time we had the (transfer) talk.

Image result for Fellaini pele

Ladies and gentlemen, step right this way. The Great Fellaini has one last trick up his sleeve. He has managed to trick one more big club into allegedly offering to pay for his services. A.C. Milan are reported to be set to strike a deal with Utd for the Belgian midfielder for three years. By God. Milan might not be the titans of football they were about a decade ago but you wouldn’t put them and Fele together in any scenario. Maybe in a sort of club swap parody of Wife Swap. It would be aired on E4 weekly and we’d get to see Fellaini’s shenanigans in the fashion capital of the world. Oh, the afro possibilities!

As a seasoned Manchester United fan I now approach the summer transfer window with disdain. Sure, I look at the rumours and say, ‘Jaysus he’d be good’, but I never actually believe. We’ve been linked with so many notable names over the years that it’s hard to pick the best/funniest one. A report went around last year we were going to sign Neymar for over $200 million. Fuck off. We were linked with Owen Hargreaves for so long that I initially didn’t believe he played for us until weeks into the season. Granted, I think I turned 13 that year and had just discovered that girls were a thing. Every summer the ‘Ronaldo Return’, articles start pouring out. I don’t even want him back anymore. Keep the world’s best player (don’t @ me, Messi fans).

Despite all the bullshit and the fact that the World Cup has yet to be played, there seems to be a positive lead, mixed in with a few transfers based on pure conjecture. Let’s take a look.

Fred – Shaktar Donetsk

Image result for Fred the red

This Brazilian plies his trade in the Ukrainian league, making people take note of him in the Champions league this year and domestically with his skill and loping through balls. He turned 25 in March (what have I done with my time on this Earth?), and despite not scoring many goals he is a proven provider. It would be interesting to see him sitting in a midfield three of Pogba and Matic, providing Pogba pulls his socks up this season and performs the way he can and does/did for France and Juventus. Fred is only 5’7″, so will be dwarfed next to the two giants.
Apparently this is a done deal, according to Di Marzio on Twitter. Fred will cost 50 million Stirling, providing United get the deal done before he has a stormer of a World Cup. I’m more interested, personally, in the inevitable aggressive dynamic that will develop between the Brazilian and beloved club mascot, Fred the Red. Red Fred has a known violent temper, once coming to blows with Roy Keane over Fred’s performance on the sidelines at half time against Bolton in 2003. That’s the real reason Keano left the club. You heard it here never.

Malinkovic-Savic – Serbia

This is one of the bullshit deals I was talking about. Despite having a great domestic season in Italy and impressing all over the world, United have balked at the price tag associated with the Serbian. An initial bid was rejected and the price tag was set at 87.5 million pound (I have no pound symbol on my laptop so you’ll have to deal with me typing pound every once in a while. Pound pound pound pound). This fee is set to rise into 150 million territory if he has a good World Cup, which he  more than likely will, at least in the two games against Costa Rica and Switzerland in the group stages. Apparently United bid 100 mill in the last few days but Lazio are holding out for the big bucks. Ayyyyy, whaddreyagonnadoaboutihhhhh? Italians.
He scored 12 goals from midfield last season and has a proper footballer’s brain. I wouldn’t mind breaking the bank for this player but I’ll say it now: this deal won’t happen.

Bale – Madrid

This is my dream. This has been an ongoing saga for a few years too with nobody but United fans believing it could happen, me included. So it goes on this year too after Bale expressed displeasure about his lack of game time at the Bernabeu immediately after his immaculate overhead kick that put them in the lead against Liverpool in the Champions League final. According to all the Manchester based papers and fans he is coming to Old Trafford. Probably won’t happen but just imagine if he did. Oh what a sight that would be; Bale running down the wing, putting in a perfect cross for Lukaku to either mishit or bury past the keeper. He literally does one or the other, kinda funny.
I for one would go on the absolute tear around Woodlawn in the Bronx if Bale signed. I’d be dangerous. All we can do is believe this will happen.

Image result for Believe

All jokes aside, the signing of Fred would bolster our title hopes next year, as would the signing of Savic, although I suspect the price tag will be a bit too high. We need two midfielders with the inevitable departure of Herrera and Mata in the next two years, as well as the possibility of Martial looking for first team action. The arrival of Bale could prove disastrous for the continued development of Lingard and with Lukaku back fully fit next season I don’t see a whole pile of game time for Rashford under Mourinho. I personally prefer Rashford up front but Mourinho blocked me on insta so I can’t slide into his DMs anymore. Cheeky.
We need a left back and a centre back. We need more confidence and clinical finishing. And we need to stop losing to newly promoted teams and teams fighting relegation, fucking hell.

It’s important to source your work, so I got most of these tips originally from the United Stand, on Twitter and Youtube. I double checked but they are solid and admit if they’re talking about speculative rumours or fact. Give them a follow and give David Amoyal on twitter a follow too, as he’s the English page for Di Marzio, who tweets solely in Italian. I found that out when I set his page to give me mobile alerts whenever he tweeted and I was rudely awoken to pages and pages of Italian at 4 in the afternoon (night shift).
Any United fans getting annoyed at the team’s progress, or lack thereof, remember it’s still early in the summer and we’ve got the world cup to look forward to. At the end of the day, we’re all just surfing through life (Paul Guerin, smoking fags outside Plassey 49, 2015).

 

Summer in the Cinema

If you’re ghostly pale like me and get sunburned from even the shortest of exposure to the bastard Sun (shakes fist at sky) then you might spend a fair amount of time in the cinema. Or the movie theatre as it’s called over here. Fancy America, huh? It’s basically going to be sequels and spin-offs this summer, like it has over the last decade. A fair amount of remakes will be thrown in but there’s always going to be a few movies that will be worth the price of a ticket.

I used to work in a cinema in Cork and it was the best job I’ve had. Free popcorn, drinks and movie tickets for quiet shows, I put on some amount of weight lads. Thank God I’m tall or I’d look like the Goblin King from the Hobbit.

Skyscraper

I’ll start off with another movie in a long line of action flicks with a bit of comedy thrown in from The People’s Champion. Dwayne, “The human God”, Johnson, stars as Will Sawyer, a former U.S. war veteran, now a security assessor for skyscrapers with a prosthetic leg. With his family trapped in a burning super scraper and on the run from the law and a group of terrorists, he must save his family and clear his name.
This movie will take no effort to sit through. It’ll probably be fun and you can shut your brain off for two hours. Kevin Hart plays the prosthetic leg too and has some great quips.

Wildlife

Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan have been two of the most familiar leading dramatic actors of the last decade. The trailer tells the story of a couple, played by the aforementioned actors, who split up after the mother meets another, more financially stable, man, and how their son, Ed Oxenbould, deals with the news. You won’t know Ed from the Australian movie Paper Planes. It’s about a young fella who goes to the world paper plane tournament somewhere in Asia. I was so hungover one day it came on and I couldn’t physically sit up and change the channel. An emotional flick. Maybe that was the hangover.
This isn’t out in the U.K. and Ireland until November but keep an eye out for this come awards season. It already premiered at Cannes this January. The director, Paul Dano, you might remember from There Will Be Blood, and also when he goes batshit insane as the selective mute brother in Little Miss Sunshine. Good man, Paul.

The Sisters Brothers

Westerns have been done in some style in the last 20 odd years. The recent Netflix hit, Godless, about a town populated by mainly women in the wicked Wild West, was a slow burner but proved immensely dramatic and was full of wise barbs and action sequences. This movie, about a pair of assassins on the trail of a prospector protected by Gyllenhaal, looks to have the action, comedy and dialogue to be a hit when it is released around September 2018. Although the way cinema has gone and the way people stream nowadays it will probably be left in the wake of Ant Man or something like that.

Ant_Man and the Wasp

And I can’t fucking wait. When I started working in the cinema the first one had just come out. An American lady complained of a child making noise throughout so I went in and told the child and his mother that he had to calm down due to complaints, and excessive noise would mean he might have to leave. The mother waited for me after the show and I learned that the child was autistic. Morto. Not long after, a special Autism screening was put on on Saturdays which I’m sure is a coincidence. Lol.
It’s probably my favourite Marvel back story, due in part to Michael Pena’s turn as the sidekick thief with a beautiful story-telling ability. In this sequel we get to see Evangeline Lily’s Wasp showcase her skills, which look badass, as she fights alongside Paul Rudd against the Ghost. Plus, it has Walton Goggins in the cast. Go watch his show, Vice Principals. Comedy gold.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post. I love sports but I love movies too. I’ll do things like this a few times a week as well as Man United and football news and opinions too. Shout out to my old boss Gill. If by the off chance she reads this, thanks for not firing me for countless blunders as supervisor and for not firing me for stealing a sizeable amount of Munchies. Good times.