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Manchester United came as close as they probably will to winning a trophy this season at the weekend, after Manuel Pellegrini briefly became confused over which Manchester club he had just led to the Capital One Cup trophy.

“I love pressure so to manage a big team as Manchester United and to have options in all the competitions is very good, is very beautiful for all of us.” Pellegrini told reporters in a post match interview.

Unless he was actually pitching for a jobshare managing his arch rivals. Given the pressure Moyes is under of late, some advice from the guy whose side could still win an unprecedented quadruple might be just what’s needed.

If only Alan Pardew had been available for comment.

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Rest easy, Ramblers. The pretty faces of Spain’s players will be preserved now that Cesare Prandelli has dropped Daniele De Rossi from the Italy squad for punching Inter’s Mauro Icardi. The midfielder, whose episodes of unfettered on-pitch lunacy include elbowing Brian McBride in the face, punching Lazio’s Stefano Mauri during the Rome derby and wearing a beard in a threatening manner, escaped punishment for the penalty area offence during Roma’s feisty but ultimately fruitless encounter with Inter, but will no doubt face some kind of censure when the Italian FA get hold of the footage.

Assuming they can find his hideout in the woods, of course.

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How does a keeper get on free kicks? At Millonarios, it’s when he’s already scored three goals this season. Alright?

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hoo

Not celebrating a goal against a club you might have joined is now a thing. Cheers for that, Wes Hoolahan.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via edp24.

Manchester United, Italy, Manchester City, Manuel Pellegrini, Wes Hoolahan, Daniele De Rossi

 
Regular viewers of Soccer Saturday will know that it doesn’t take a great deal to get Jeff Stelling into a foaming frenzy (a result for Hartlepool United is usually sufficient) but of all the reactions we’ve seen to the moment Alan Pardew headbutted Hull City’s David Meyler on the touchline during Newcastle’s 4-1 win, Stelling’s is probably the most efficient summary.

So far we’ve only caught a glimpse of the contents of the weighty tome the presenter refers to, but no author would bother to make it up. It opens with Pardew being sent to the stands for his offence, takes in a £100,000 fine from the club, condemnation from commentators, fans and the press as well as the early exchanges of a promising row with Graeme Souness.

Plot developments will include (but not be limited to) an FA enquiry, an extended ban and a ‘difficult’ conversation with club chairman Mike Ashley.

Keep reading, Ramblers. This one has real potential for our internationally renowned Book of the Week award.

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By Kelly Welles

Alan Pardew, Newcastle United, Football Association

 
Well, Jose Mourinho does, anyway. Prior to tonight’s colossal game vs. Galatasaray, the Chelsea manager told adidas gamedayplus that the fullback possessed the qualities and character required to compete at the highest level of club football and that an eleven made up entirely of the man they call ‘Dave’ would “probably win the competition”.

We wouldn’t be entirely opposed to this experiment, were it possible. If nothing else, it might inspire the tabloids to headline their match reports with something other than references to local cuisine.

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By Kelly Welles

Chelsea, Jose Mourinho, Galatasaray

300

They won the battle for Wayne Rooney’s heart and/or wallet last week and he rewarded them with a cracking goal vs. Crystal Palace on Saturday, but sceptics remain unconvinced as to whether he’ll win the war for Manchester United.

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zlatan

There’s no such prevarication with leader of men Zlatan Ibrahimovic. During PSG’s 4-2 victory over Toulouse, he had time to flub a panenka, score a hat-trick anyway and have a little sit down. He’d also almost certainly look better than Wayne Rooney in a leather thong too, although given that photographic evidence probably already exists in Zlatan’s ‘personal’ photo collection, it’s best not to think about that too much.

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On the plus side, Weidenfeller can’t say he didn’t see it...

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slocombe

Opportunities for good cheer and merriment among Portsmouth fans were few and far between on Saturday, so fair play to Bradley Saunders for attempting to liven things up by grabbing a selfie with unsuspecting and underemployed Scunthorpe keeper Sam Slocombe.

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Holland was the place to be at the weekend if Temuri Ketsbaia-esque explosions of emotion are your thing. Having just watching his Feyenoord colleagues concede a last minute equaliser to FC Twente and with it the opportunity to leapfrog them in the Eredivisie table, Graziano Pelle went on a mission of mass destruction with his feet. He kicked the dugout, a door and a camera tripod before disappearing into the changing room, where he presumably set about punching the living shit out of a tray of sandwiches.

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By Kelly Welles

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Image: 101greatgoals, @Penfold3.

Manchester United, Portsmouth, Paris St Germain, Borussia Dortmund, Wayne Rooney, Feyenoord, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Scunthorpe, Eredivisie, FC Twente

 
How often have you wished that you lived in a hot climate? A climate offering temperatures of up to 28 degrees in February, allowing you the freedom & opportunity to go to work in your casual summer garb, meet friends and even have a kickabout with your mates without the risk of losing a limb to frostbite?

You need to meet Daniel Cordoba. He’s the manager of Peruvian side Sport Huancayo and the reason why you should be grateful you live in a country where winter temperatures demand that the likes of Arsene Wenger, Sam Allardyce & Steve Bruce are forced to don bench coats, scarves, snoods and other maximum coverage garments before they even think about stepping outside.

British weather eh? Best in the world.

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By Kelly Welles

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H/T dirtytackle.

Arsene Wenger, Steve Bruce, Sam Allardyce, Daniel Cordoba, Sport Huancayo

 
It started with Alan Green.

The gruff Northern Irishman’s incessant chipping about match officials’ decision-making abilities became a feature of his slot on Sunday’s 606, and remains thus, despite the fact he’s long since been replaced with the eminently more relevant and easier on the ear style of Kelly Cates and Ian Wright.

webb

Green may well have exploded had he still been in the hotseat last night. Fans flooded the football phone-in with calls about Howard Webb after Arsenal’s 2-1 FA Cup victory over Liverpool yesterday, criticising both his failure to award a penalty to Liverpool after a clattering challenge on Luis Suarez by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and his response to Raheem Sterling’s electric touch earlier in the match.

He would no doubt have been thrilled to hear his legacy continues to inspire. Wright briefly broke from the necessarily snug confines of broadcasting protocol, muttering ‘Homer’ during one call last night – teasingly implying that Webb, like many refs, tends to favour the home team in a fixture and that was why he overlooked what many consider to be a cast iron penalty shout, despite it happening under his very nose.

cates

Unlike Green’s emotional and frequently provocative outbursts though, Wright’s claim is backed up by statistical evidence. According to a survey reported by the Guardian last April, decisions made by officials across a range sports tend to show a bias towards the home team, particularly in games involving a large crowd.

Which brings us once again to the interminable question of video analysis. According to the Guardian piece,  “…when the instant-replay challenge was introduced to the NFL in 1999, it led to a 29.4% drop in home advantage. In football the effect could be even greater: because the game is low scoring, one decision – a penalty, red card or offside goal – is more likely to affect the result.”.

This is grist to the mill of the technology lobby, but while the benefits of constant quantification and retrospective assessment of football matches are persuasive given the implications that one incorrect decision can have on a club these days, it might do to remember that the heart of football is man, not machine.

Like it or not, our game is one built on errors; the highs of witnessing a moment of outrageous skill are only so high because we’ve all been on the end of a catastrophic player error that results in us threatening to burn our season tickets, only to slink back into our seats for the next home game a fortnight later.

The more certainties there are, the less exciting something is. A referee’s fallibility might be more visible than the players on most occasions, but that makes a balanced view all the more important. Apparently, officials make up to six hundred decisions per game, the majority of which they get right.

In a world increasingly driven by statistical evidence, that one rarely gets an airing on the UK’s biggest football phone-in. Perhaps it should.

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By Kelly Welles

Liverpool, Arsenal, Ian Wright, Kelly Cates, Howard Webb

 
“Why is it like death in this stadium?!” shouted Herve Renard, as his side cantered to their 4th (FOURTH) victory of the season.

Don’t worry too much, Herve. At the rate Fulham are going through managers, you’ll be asking the same question at Craven Cottage within weeks.

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By Kelly Welles

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H/T @101greatgoals. They know.

Fulham, Herve Renard, Sochaux

It seems fitting that the Ramble’s favourite fail magnet was born on Valentine’s Day. The man is a lover, not a fighter, and to prove it, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite Keggy moments for you all to enjoy.

It’s our Valentine to you guys. Browse it while you’re waiting for your postman to arrive.

We’re sure he or she will be there soon, although it is getting late, isn’t it?

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Keggy vs. Machine

 
It’s impossible to over emphasise how exciting BBC Superstars was to the unfortunate generations who missed out. It’s persecution and reckless endangerment of athletes in the prime of their career is crystallised beautifully in this clip, which sees our man pedalling the hell out of a racer before stacking it, sliding across several feet of gravel before coming to rest, legs akimbo, on the track.

What. A. Guy.

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Keggy vs. Gender Stereotypes
pink

Real men wear pink.

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Keggy vs. Gravity

 
Some Newcastle United players have come to regret their association with helicopters, but not Keegan. This, one of his finest moments, sees him plucked, in full kit, from the St James’ Park pitch after announcing his retirement.

Despite his best efforts, Graham Souness failed to spoil the party.

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Keggy vs. Biology

 
The seventies. Quite homoerotic really.

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Keggy vs. Football

Ever since then I waited for the teamsheet before changing. Keegan, for example, would come in and tell us if we were playing straight away. His team talks were always very simple and he’d often say, “Just two minutes of your time, lads.” Once he came in and was about to speak to us when he went back out again to get his coat. Tino stood up, put on a coat and went, “OK lads just two minutes of your time,” in that accent of his. Seconds later KK walked in and just told Tino to carry on! Some managers would have gone spare but Keegan always laughed and joked with the rest of the lads.”

                                                              John Beresford. Newcastle United Defender, 1992-1998

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Keggy vs. The Football Ramble
panini

No man can call himself an elite footballer until he has survived the scrutiny of the DWHof panel.

He did, therefore he can.

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By Kelly Welles

Kevin Keegan, Newcastle United, Hamburg

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