The Football Ramble
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You remember that bit from Raiders of the Lost Ark when the chap in the fancy outfit offers our hero a lesson in swordsmanship, only to be shot by as unimpressed an archaeologist in a hat as you’re likely to see?

Course you do. You wouldn’t be reading this if you were a fool.

Liverpool vs. Chelsea was like that. Having spent most of the season beguiling the neutrals with their flamboyant, proactive football, Liverpool yesterday found themselves neutered by Chelsea’s relentless marking and pressure on the ball. Brendan Rodgers can complain all he likes about Jose Mourinho parking the bus and encouraging his players to timewaste, but the truth is, he’s missed the point by a country mile.

 
Mourinho is an astute coach who drills his team to concentrate for ninety minutes because he knows that eventually, the opposition will make a mistake. It’s no accident that both Chelsea goals came by way of errors, but even the Machiavellian Portuguese couldn’t have foreseen that the first would be the result of a catastrophic slip by Liverpool’s talismanic midfielder, given the history between the two. He didn’t need to. He simply knew when that inevitable mistake arrived, at whatever point in the game, the man closest to it would need to be ready to take advantage. Ba was, and so were Willian & Torres.

Instead of moaning about it and annoying everyone who’s been admiring his brand of attacking football this season, Rodgers should be more pragmatic.

Like Zlatan was when he got megged by Aurelien Chedjou during Lille’s game vs. PSG back in January.

Obviously he’s going hunt Chedjou down with a Bowie knife when the season finishes, but y’know. There’s a dignity involved in being seen to accept a pounding occasionally.

stourbride

Speaking of dignity, does anyone know this Stourbridge fan? He borrowed Pete’s suit and we’re going to be needing it for the live show.

Answers on a postcard to the usual address, please.

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By Kelly Welles

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H/T @Danny_Loo, Beautiful Soccer Goals.

Liverpool, Paris St Germain, Chelsea, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lille, Stourbridge

mcnulty

When Footballers Get Fat’ is a typical Football Ramble Forum thread. Started by Sadface a mere thirty-six hours ago, it is academic in function - examining the trend for football players to gain weight after their playing career is over, using photography as its principle medium.

Already, the likes Alan Brazil, Micky Quinn and Neil Shipperley have been cited as examples of this phenomenon, but it’s only when attention turns to Luton’s Player of the Season, Steve McNulty, that the true nature of the Rambler is revealed.

ade

Unlike most of the examples on the list, Steve McNulty still plays, but like Ade Akinfenwa, somehow manages to do so while apparently consuming enough food to sustain an army unit on extended manoeuvres.

But as arbiters of fairness and truth the Ramble Forum-ites would not ask whether a man had genuinely won the Player of the Year award or simply eaten it to prevent anyone else getting hold of it, without drawing attention to his talents too.

 
So after laughing for several minutes at photos of a man rising into the sky like an air balloon, check out this video of McNulty smashing an absolute screamer into the net, posted by Joe Totale.

Balance people. It’s all about balance. And cake.

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By Kelly Welles

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Images via burndenaces.

Steve McNulty, Luton Town

 
This footage of a ‘ghost’ in the Estadio Hernando Siles, taken during a Copa Libertadores game between our new favourite Bolivian team, The Strongest, and Defensor, has had everyone scratching their heads.

Was the shadowy figure caught by a Fox Sports camera as it raced through the stand and inexplicably passed straight through a fence before disappearing, a ghost? An unruly Defensor spirit displeased with his team’s recent run of poor form? The recently relocated Loch Ness monster? David Moyes?

ghostramblers

No. According to Bolivian news site eju.tv, it was nothing more than a bloke sneaking into the game at speed via an door someone had carelessly left open and the fence he appears to dissolve through is actually a step.

Done. Remember, kids, If there’s something weird and it don’t look good… it’s almost certainly us on the way to a terrible fancy dress party.

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By Kelly Welles

Bolivia, Defensor Sporting, copa libertadores, The Strongest

alex

Only FIFA would be complacent enough to imagine that gluing a bit of discarded dire wolf hair to Zico’s top lip would prevent one of his biggest fans from identifying him.

Still, inviting a Brazil 2014 volunteer to the Maracanã and having Zico present him with his uniform is a nice touch.

If they weren’t such a stand-up bunch of fellas, we’d think they were trying to distract us from something...

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By Kelly Welles

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Image via facebook.

FIFA, Brazil 2014

 
To a soundtrack evocative of the parps and farts that a cyber goth band might emit as they get to grips with their Korg squelch function, Gareth Bale and Dani Alves strap their boots on and smash footballs at liveried bags of paint someone happened to conveniently leave in a warehouse.

This is almost Bywater-ian in it’s abstraction and execution, no?

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By Kelly Welles

Gareth Bale, Dani Alves, Copa del Rey

nando

Wow. When Jose wants rid of a player, he doesn’t mess about, does he?

Just kidding, everyone. It’s just a glimpse behind the scenes of Chelsea’s 2014/15 home kit ad. They’ve gone for a more serious approach than last year’s blue paint bonanza, immersing the likes of Petr Cech, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and Oscar in papier mache goop, filling the resulting mould with more goop and letting it set with a view to capturing a moment in time forever.

 

It’s narrated by Mourinho, although this might not be the full extent of his involvement.

ceramic

While there’s imagery of Sad Nando lying on a slab amidst some broken pottery, there’s no *actual* footage of him being released from his cast.

guys

We reckon he might still be in there…

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By Kelly Welles

Chelsea

 
We stumbled over this delightful FATV video of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jordan Henderson while we should have been doing more productive things.

Having watched it closely, we think it might hold the answers to England’s inexplicable ineptitude in major tournaments, rendering Simon Kuper & Stefan Szymanski’s excellent tome, ‘Why England Lose’, utterly redundant.

    Observation ‘A’

    Despite being a great player and an astonishingly determined young man, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
    carries the specifically English ‘Midas –In-Reverse’ gene that afflicts all promising players.

    0:11 “This is what being a footballer is about, you’ve got to perform under pressure. “.
    0:14 Collapses under pressure.

    This video was made in 2012. It’ll be rampant now.

    Observation ‘B’

    Part of the reason why England aren’t very good in international tournaments is that they stay up late
    videoing themselves. We’ll concede that keepy-ups are marginally better than other nocturnal activities
    they keep getting busted for, but they’re still quite tiring and take longer to complete.

    Observation ‘C’

    They’re using a tennis ball. Elite players use oranges.

And that, kids, is why Simon Kuper & Stefan Szymanski are highly respected authors and Kelly works from the Biffa bin parked outside Ramble HQ.

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By Kelly Welles

England

 
These goals from Barcelona’s famous youth academy were the best of the last week. Not like, a collection of the season so far, or ever, as might be more realistic, but the last week.

Precocious simply isn’t the word, particularly for No.3 (0:37), a lovely chip from Maxi Rolón that the keeper gets a hand to and has to watch roll in anyway. And if you’re there, you might as well check out the winner. That insouciance in front of goal belongs Pau Servat, who was born on 10th February 2003.

Shall we go for staggering with a bouquet of sheer terror?

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By Kelly Welles

Barcelona, La Masia

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