I like to maintain the conceit that at least one of our eagle-eyed 
readers will have noticed that Football Fracas, whilst never more 
than haphazardly sporadic in appearance, has taken an 
uncommonly lengthy leave of absence. Perhaps improbably, I 
shall assume that this same observer is a member of the 
semi-mythical minority that occasionally browsed the column 
and has, in the briefest of passing thoughts, wondered why this 
might be.

Inquisitive reader, the reasons are twofold: firstly, my sheer overwhelming lack of interest in our monumentally
dull national sporting obsession is such that even the cursory research required for the comic premise of
deliberately misunderstanding headlines is a grinding, soul-sapping chore. Secondly, I was smoking a lot of
weed and playing The Sims. Just Say Maybe Not Before Breakfast, kids.

However, while I still maintain that emotional withdrawal into a perfectly controlled fantasy world is an appropriate and reasoned response to the continual horror of the human condition, and I still hate football with the blazing intensity of a thousand suns, I have a massive ego and, like so many misguided souls in this new information age, I suffer the delusion that my ill-considered opinions should be easily available to a potential audience of millions globally.

So I’m back. Please save your applause until the end of the show. I should perhaps mention that during
my extended hiatus I’ve moved to Finsbury Park in North London. Our metropolitan audience will be aware
that this puts me in close proximity to the Arsenal Football Ground, so now I’m a “Gunner”. I’ll try to
ensure that my reputation for fair and impartial reportage is unaffected by this sudden arbitrary declaration
of allegiance.

Anyway, I’m sure you’re at least as eager as I am to bring yourselves up-to-date with the ineffable happenings of Association Soccer, so let’s take a look. The following headlines come direct from our live Reuters newsfeed, filtered through the Guardian website.  

(Old friends of the column may like to note the number 321 in their Fracas Statistics Notebooks.)

Beckett Goes On Disabled List, Johnson Changes Name

Bad luck for Beckett, and I’m sure we all wish him well. No doubt he’ll be back “off the bench” once he’s 
completed the period of physical therapy required to recover from his injury, which I imagine was quite painful. 
Johnson’s name-changing decision doesn’t appear to be directly related but perhaps he was somehow 
responsible for Beckett’s disability and, wracked by guilt, fled to Bolivia where he now seeks to make amends 
for his ignominious past by teaching football skills to the children of tribal forest dwellers displaced by the 
logging industry, under the pseudonym Juan Carlos Rodriquez Mendoza. That could happen. Let’s assume it has.

Zenit Coach Happy With Win, Closes Door On Arshavin Move

I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that footballing supremos Zenit have just beaten United to lift the
European Super Cup, and who wouldn’t be happy with that, eh? The European Super Cup?  That’s got to
be, like, the best of all the European cups, yeah? Fuck, yeah! Who the daddy? That two-bit prick
Arshavin ain’t goin’ nowhere, dig?

Zenit Beat United To Lift European Super Cup

See above.

Stoner Fractures Hand In San Marino

It was RSI in San Andreas with me.

Ferrari President Deflates Alonso Speculation

And with the once-mighty figure of soccer legend Alonso now reduced to a shrivelled, airless husk, questions were bound to be asked. Who other than the boss of a premier Italian car company would possess both the ruthlessness and technical capability to quite literally suck the living breath out of another human being? As yet, Interpol investigations have been hampered by the ingrained code of Omerta that still dominates the Sicilian rooted industry.

Red Star Belgrade Board Quit After UEFA Cup Eliminators

Red Star Belgrade, notable for once fielding Billy Bragg’s uncle, have taken their defeat in the UEFA Cup quite 
badly, apparently. Seems a bit extreme to me. I mean, it’s only UEFA, right? It’s not like it’s the European 
Super Cup. That shit’s boss. UEFA’s wack. Get over it, bitches.

Paraguay Name Squad For World Cup Qualifier In Argentina


Finland Name Squad For Germany World Cup Qualifier


Wenger Calls For European Ban On Debt-Ridden Clubs

This would be Arsene Wenger, who I happen to know manages Arsenal. The mnemonic link makes it easy to
remember, you see? Although he could be the club chairman. Some connection there, anyway. KEVin
Keegan manages EVerton, incidentally. So it looks to me like Arsene Wenger, of Arsenal, has called for debt
ridden clubs to be banned across Europe. What a bastard, eh?

Ivory Coast Call Up Gosso, Injured Drogba Left Out

And I’m sure you’ll agree that the innate tragedy of this story surpasses any attempt to capture it through the 
clumsy medium of mere words.

Print it, Al – I’m spent.

Till next time, Fly Emirates.

- Clint.
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