Episode Three: Winter. (Extra) Traffic. Fuel Scarcity. They are all hereeeeeeeeeee!!!!

Wow! December already? How time flies. Just yesterday 2018 begun, Manchester United were about to make a lucrative deal in getting Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, the home-based Eagles were about to begin their adventure of getting walloped by Morocco at the CHAN final, Cristiano Ronaldo was still kicking it for Real Madrid, this column wasn’t up-to-date in Game of Thrones, and Lagos was swamped in traffic.

Now here we are, the final month of the year. Cristiano Ronaldo has swapped Spanish capital white for Italian old lady white and black, Monsieur Arsene Wenger is no longer Arsenal manager, Liverpool haven’t moved on from losing the Champions League final, England’s national team is actually made up of players, not white chess pieces, Thanos got all six stones, the Nigerian Professional Football League now has 148 teams, our president may be a counterfeit, and Lagos is still swamped in traffic.

But anyway, December also means a new month, which means we look back and give awards to those who deserve them the most, because no one else will…

Worst Goal of the Month

No matter how you do it, the ultimate aim of a football team in a match is to put the ball into the back of the net. Whichever way it happens, a 30-yard belter, a 12-yard penalty, a goalmouth scramble, or in the case the winners of this category, a goalkeeper making a mess of a back pass, and the ball is tackled into the net by the opposing striker, as was the case for Valladolid’s goalie Jordi Masip against Leganes’ Guido Carrillo.

Goal Buzzkill of the Month

Manchester City are nigh-on unstoppable of late, so much so that losing to the English champions by a single goal is almost a win. But one team that seems to have got their number are French side Lyon, particularly their forward Maxwel Cornet, who scored three of Les Gones’ four goals against Pep Guardiola’s side in the Champions League. Cornet’s second of those three goals looked a beauty, a curling shot that bent past Ederson and into the top corner at the Groupama stadium. Except, not quite, close look showing Cornet’s shot took a significant deflection on its way, rendering the praise given to him by commentators far too overblown, as overblown as the length of this particular category.

The Headline That Should Have Been of the Month

Chelsea at BATE Borisov. UEFA Europa League Matchday Four. The Blues managed a one-nil win in Belarus, thanks to Olivier Giroud. That gave the opportunity for this golden headline, but everyone decided not to do it. Bugger.

Biggest Reveal of the month

It was inevitable that Cristiano Ronaldo would score against Manchester United in the Champions League, and in early November he latched onto Leonardo Bonucci’s pass with a first-time volley against the Red Devils in Turin. As Ronaldo wheeled off in celebration, and showed off his abs, everyone missed the appearance of Steve Bruce, except this guy.

The Thank-goodness-for-the-offside-flag award for Miss that might have been

Yerry Mina for Everton at Stamford Bridge, who contrived to sky his shot from two yards out, and would have been relieved to see the linesman’s offside indicator.

How You Could Miss That of the Month

To paraphrase Andy Brassell’s line, how did Cengiz not put this Under the bar!

The Ted-Mosby award for Most romantic

Jose Mourinho, after Manchester United’s win over BSC Young Boys, quick to point out that of the 14 seasons he’s managed in the Champions League, he’s gone past the group stage in all of them, and the two seasons when he wasn’t participating in the Champions League, he was winning the UEFA Cup/Europa League, deeming it as a ‘message to my lovers’. While Jose Mourinho was blowing verbal air kisses and bringing verbal flowers to his heartthrobs, Ben Hayward summed up his de-evolution quite nicely.

Most Adrenaline Infused of the month

Still on Jose, over that win against Young Boys, taking his bit out on Gatorade bottles after Marouane Fellaini scored the late winner. But Jurgen Klopp ups that in the Merseyside derby, celebrating Divock Origi’s winner by running well into the pitch, before speaking about how he didn’t want to run into the pit... oh wait, this was December. Right. Carry on, Jurgen. See you next month.

Most Straightforward of the month

Hearts manager Craig Levein, explaining his team’s 5-0 hammering at the hands of Celtic, his first words being ‘the manager’s an idiot’. One for the Proper Football Men Association.

Most Thorough Description of the month

Sky Sports, who did their best to label Zeli Ismail. Top research, that.

Biggest Cop-out of the month

 

Ballybrack FC, an amateur football team in the Leinster Senior League in Ireland, got out of a match against Arklow Town by faking the death of their player Fernando Nuno La-Fuente. The match was postponed and there was even a minute’s silence for La-Fuente in every other LSL game, before league chairman David Moran dug deeper and found that the story was false. That’s one way to get out of a fixture, but what happens now, particularly after the minute’s silence? Does the league hold a minute of cacophonous noise in every game to even things out?

Mix of the month

Charlie Austin made the rounds last month, his outburst over Southampton having a goal disallowed against Watford making quite the impact, almost single-handedly bringing forth VAR. But that was little compared to the effect his rant gave to Parklife. Terrific.

Most Opinionated of the month

After that Southampton draw against Watford, manager Mark Hughes was quick to point out how the referees are costing them, and how VAR has to be implemented as soon as possible. After Southampton’s defeat to Leicester in the Carabao Cup, in which the Saints had a goal disallowed by VAR, Hughes hinted at how the technology might be hampering the game. Pick a side, Sparky!!

Stat of the month

A.) Alexis Sanchez has less Premier League goals in 2018 than Patrick Van Aanholt, as well as Chris Smalling, the latter two are defenders if you didn’t know, and have less than six goals.

B.) Manchester United ended November with a negative goal difference.

C.) Paco Alcacer has nine Bundesliga goals in two starts.

But the winner is undisputedly: D.) Chesterfield, who are winless in 19 league matches, their worst run in history. Yet in that run, The Spireites are also unbeaten in 12 games in all competitions, their best record in almost a decade. ‘It is confusing’, said coach Martin Allen, whose reaction on discovering the stat was just gold.

The It-has-to-be-Sergio-Ramos Award for shithousery

It is said that some elements of shithousery are so shithouse, they should be called ‘shithotel’, ‘shitmansion, or ‘shittowers’, just like this!

In Conclusion:

Bayern Munich won’t win the Bundesliga by 200 points this season, nobody wants to win La Liga, Serie A has just one team in it, and the next Avengers movie is likely to be out before the new NPFL season begins.

Now, get a coat and a helicopter, this will be a lonnnnnnggggg month.

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Published in International Watch

Fulham fans are already planning a title parade, after the club appointed Claudio Ranieri as manager. Fulham appointed Ranieri as manager after the departure of Slavisa Jokanovic, and with the veteran Italian having won the Premier League title in surprise fashion with Leicester City in 2016, Cottagers fans are very confident of him repeating that feat with the Londoners this term, so much so that they’ve gone forth and made plans for a title parade at the end of the season.

‘I’m dead-certain that, with the appointment of Claudio as manager, the league title will be ours this season, no matter what Manchester City are currently doing at the top’, said a Fulham fan. ‘People will laugh at us for believing because we’ve lost games in a row’, the fan continued, ‘but they did the same at the thought of Leicester being champions two years ago. ‘We haven’t kept any clean sheet this season, but that will be fixed very soon, especially as Claudio will promise the players sandwiches after their first shut-out.’

Another fan also stated how upbeat he was of the team’s league chances. ‘I think, with Claudio coming in, the league is pretty much inevitable’, he said. ‘It’s only a matter of time before Man City start drawing games excessively, then we go on a consistent 1-0 winning spree that will make our defence so good, Paul Merson will wonder why our American centre-back Tim Ream hasn’t been called up to the English national team just yet.’

This feel-good factor is apparently spreading to the players and the rest of the staff as well, with reports circulating that the club’s training ground entrance has been re-designed to bear the message, ‘The home of the 2018/19 champions’, with many players also said to be looking forward to playing the Champions League next season, and owner Shahid Khan has allegedly made plans for members of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team, as well as Ashley Greene and Wesley Snipes, to appear at Craven Cottage, on the final home game of the season, where they’ll receive the league trophy.

Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce is rehearsing his speech for BEIN Sports on how British managers continued to get overlooked for British jobs, with phone calls to Alan Pardew, Tim Sherwood and David Moyes having gone to voicemail.

***This news article is absolutely and unequivocally not true. Purely satirical, it should go without saying.

Published in International Watch

Episode Two: *Puts Music Player on shuffle play*. Not this song…not this song…not this song…

Throwback memories: Come back from school on a weekday. Hurry through the irrelevances like bathing (who cares), eating (meh), and not doing homework, then you put to the television to Channels Television, for some delightful Tom and Jerry. But midway through the probably sixth episode in a row, with suspense building in, the people in charge at Channels cut you off, the ‘pa ram pam pa pa ram’ sound signifies news, so that’s the end of it, and you’ll probably never get to see the end of that episode. So, do you: a) develop eternal hate for Channels TV (yes), or b) blame yourself for not just watching Silverbird Television instead.

But we digress. It’s the second edition of the load of gobbledygook, the awards people deserve and need, but don’t know it yet; yes, that’s how we’ll console ourselves that whatever this is has relevance, and we begin with (no, not this song either…):

Father of the Month

Luis Suarez grabbed a hat-trick in Barcelona’s Clasico demolition of Real Madrid, five days after welcoming his third child, and when congratulated on his treble afterwards, he asked ‘which one?’. Iago Aspas was in hospital to see his wife give birth, spent the night in a couch, then the next day bagged a hat-trick of his own, for Celta Vigo against Eibar. But our winner is the man who showed he’s the kind of dad who’s got your back. After Julen Lopetegui got sacked by Real Madrid, his father, Jose Antonio talked about the injustice his son suffered at the Bernabeu, in terms of the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo, his words being ‘they have stolen 50 goals from my son’. Speaking of his son…

The I-Can’t-Come-and-Kill-Myself Award for Putting things in Perspective

Before Lopetegui received the sack, ahead of the Clasico defeat, the (former) Real Madrid gaffer was asked about life after the Clasico for him. His reply? ‘I expect to keep breathing whatever happens’.

Best Delivery

Soccer Nation on Julen Lopetegui getting canned by Real Madrid.

Seems-about-right Award for Best Timing

Kylian Mbappe, reprimanded by PSG manager Thomas Tuchel for turning up late for training, signs a deal to become brand ambassador for Hublot Watches about 24 hours later. Nice.

The How Could You Miss That of the Month

This is hard to explain.

The Thank-goodness-for-the-offside-flag award for Miss that might have been

Edinson Cavani’s gobsmacking miss from five yards for Paris St. Germain against Napoli in the Champions League. The offside flag didn’t quite save him from complete scrutiny, though.

The Raymond-Reddington award for Fugitive Not on the Run

Jose Mourinho; the Manchester United manager speaking, after his side’s win against Newcastle, on how there’s a manhunt about him. For a man supposedly under a manhunt, he seemed comfortable knowing the world knew his location at the time.

The Headline That Should Have Been of the month

In the Nigerian Nationwide League One this month, Fortune FC suffered a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Barrier FC. The game went unnoticed, so everyone missed out on the headline ‘BARRIER BEAT FORTUNE’. That was sitting right there.

The Lasema-Response-Unit-becomes-LRU Award for most Redundant title.

Barcelona v Real Madrid is called The Clasico, or EL Clasico, not ‘The El Clasico’, please.

Best Substitution

Not the best substitute to come in, but the best substitution to be made. Nicely done Atletico Clube Goianiense.

The Boyfriend Award for  Thoughtful Gift With Bad Execution

Queens Park Rangers' gesture on wishing Angel Rangel a happy birthday on Twitter was nice, if not routine; except Rangel's birthday wasn't for another month. But you can't beat Romanian Dunarea Calarasi, who made a thoughtful choreo for manager Dan Alexa. As thoughtful as it was awful.

The Hunter-Zolomon award for Creating Time-Remnant

Bruno is a Brighton legend in more ways than one, as the Spaniard managed to watch and play in the Seagulls’ win over West Ham at the same time.

Most absent-minded

Thierry Henry to his translator in his first press conference as Monaco manager.

Stat of the month

At the middle of October, Paco Alcacer had seven Bundesliga in 106 minutes for Dortmund. Absurd. Here’s another: Paul Pogba took longer in his penalty ‘run-up’ for Manchester United against Everton than Usain Bolt takes to run 100metres. But our winner is: Gibraltar have won more competitive games in two months than Germany have in the whole of 2018.

The Federal-Government award for Most Reasonable Defence

Tottenham v Cardiff. October 6, 2018. Spurs win by a an Eric Dier goal to nil, but the talking point comes when Cardiff’s Joe Ralls is sent off for a wild tackle on Harry Kane. Cardiff manager Neil Warnock didn’t see it as worthy of a red card, though, his claim being Ralls didn’t endanger Kane’s life. Indeed. Well Warnock does have a refereeing license.

The Not-Lauren-at-Eastlands Award for Ludicrous Own Goal

Perhaps this should be the Juninho Bacuna award. Either way, look away now Jayden Bogle.

In Conclusion: This column doesn’t like Channels TV, Arsenal are back back back, and Solari will win three Champions League titles in a row with Real Madrid. Now to anticipate the relegation battles to come in the UEFA Nations League.

Not this song…not this song… Ha, Finally!

Published in International Watch

 

Episode One- The Calm After Watching Infinity War for the 486th Time.

 

 

 

Testing, testing. 1, 2, 3. If you’re reading this, you’re one of those privileged to view Spotkick’s first ever of its monthly alternative awards, with a brand of ingenuity and pizzazz.

 

Translation: if you’re reading this, you’re one of those who we probably have to apologise to for this load of gobbledygook- which may or not appear ever again, because we may or may not have had nothing better to do.

 

Either way, you’re reading this, no backsies, as we give out the awards that really matter, starting with:

 

Worst Goal of the Month

 

The category of goals always overlooked, because we selfish lot keep having a thing for the belters, howitzers, the crafty build-ups and what not. You’ve lived in the shadows for too long. Daniele Dessena’s scruffy goal for Cagliari against Inter in Serie A would have been a worthy winner, but got VAR’d off. So, step forward, Iker Muniain’s strike literally on the goal line for Athletic Bilbao against Real Madrid. Don’t thank us, you earned it.

 

Goal Buzzkill of the Month

 

If belters will always tickle your fancy, then you really should have seen John McGinn’s strike for Aston Villa against Sheffield Wednesday; a goal so good FIFA can’t wait to deny it the Puskas award. Then, closer analysis, turns out McGinn just about mistimed his effort, shinning it. Like admiring Andros Townsend’s goal against Manchester United in February, only to see that it took a deflection. Buzzkill.

 

Best retort            

 

Akwa Starlets goalkeeper, Franklin Akwari, who was having none of 3SC’s coach Edith Agoye’s masterminding of a draw in a Nigeria National League game, and responded by whacking Agoye in the head, with the gaffer getting concussed. Take it out of your system, Franklin.

 

The Lincoln-Burrows award for being vicariously punished

 

A tearful Cristiano Ronaldo at the Mestalla, sent off for touching Jeison Murillo’s hair with very murderous intent.

 

Best crisis

 

Barcelona have gone three league games without winning. Real Madrid haven’t scored in two. Mohammed Salah has just three league goals this season. Manchester United are winless in three, or maybe it’s make-believe; just like Southampton’s run of form. So, best crisis surely goes to, drumroll please, Bayern Munich, for having the audacity to follow up a draw with Augsburg with defeat at Hertha Berlin. The Bavarians aren’t even top of the Bundesliga!!!

 

The Thank-goodness-for-the-offside-flag award for Miss That Might Have Been

 

Trust Alvaro Morata to throw his hat in the ring for this category, a late September audition after coming off the bench for Chelsea to head well wide against Liverpool, only to the linesman’s flag. Romelu Lukaku’s header against Wolves is also worth a mention, but the winner has to be Lukaku’s Manchester United team-mate Anthony Martial at West Ham, primarily because it was funnier.

 

The Legends-of-Tomorrow award for eternally pointless graphic

 

La Liga’s 360 replay cam. Stop this madness, please.

 

The City-beat-Newcastle award for consistency

 

Or is it the Mark Hughes whinge award? Take your pick. But Juventus have won seven consecutive games to start the Serie A season. Even in their previous seasons of domination, they haven’t started this well; at least then they had the humanity to let the other sides think things could be different, and that they had a shot at the title. And you thought Cersei Lannister was cruel.

 

How Could You Miss That of the Month

 

This award is a pure no-brainer, going to the linesman who failed to notice Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang being three weeks offside for Arsenal’s second goal against Everton. Well according to John Brewin, the linesman was completely gobsmacked at seeing Aaron Ramsey make a mess of the initial chance that his mind blacked out Aubameyang.

 

Most subtle cry for help

 

West Ham 3-1 Manchester United at the London Stadium. Paul Pogba walks out of the United dressing room, then is asked for a word by a journalist. Apparently his reply was: ‘You want me dead?’ Light a candle on the highest window, Paul.

 

The Lauren-at-Eastlands award for most level-headed own goal

 

This!!

 

The Sarah-Jibril award for standing out

 

Chinedu Okoye, chairman of amateur football club Bimo FC, who decided to run for the post of Nigerian Football Federation president, and ended up with no votes, one less than Sarah Jibril did in her primaries for the 2011 general election. Is there a chance Okoye becomes Pinnick’s special adviser on ethics, or is this where he becomes a she, travels back in time, and joins Wakanda’s reputable King’s Guard?

 

Biggest reveal of the month

 

Kevin Keegan opening up that Newcastle United are a badly-run club. Who knew!

 

The Incompetence Escapology of the month

 

The Nigerian ‘Professional’ Football League, who decided to call off the league season with 14 games left, and did in the final few days of August. If you’re going to be incompetent, at least be timely about it. Help the content-seeking.

 

In Conclusion:

 

Huddersfield won’t win a game in the Premier League this season, Scott McTominay is not Bobby Moore after all, Alaves are the best team in Spain, and Frank Lampard is starting to look like a manager, except for how he celebrate goals.

 

Now, Infinity War 487.

 

 

 

Published in International Watch

 

It’s Wednesday, July the 15th, 2026, and from secondary school classrooms, newspaper stands, bus stops, holograms, and inside top-notch firms alike, the chatter won’t stop, a national holiday is about to be declared, as word is still very much about how the Super Eagles of Nigeria won the FIFA World Cup in the United States, much to the patriotic ire of Donald Trump, ex-American president, three days earlier; the Eagles have recently made history by winning the first World Cup with 48 teams.

Not that it was straightforward, though. Preparations for the tournament from the Eagles camp had been blighted by the continuous loot of funds, presumably by members of the Slippery Snakes Society (SSS, pronounced ‘sss’) who are still at large, and the lack of sufficient resources to the national team has led to dispute between the nation’s president, Odunlade Adekola, and Nigerian Football Federation chief, the Android version of Amaju Pinnick, placed there by the real Pinnick himself some four years earlier.

 

('No I will not remove money from my meme allocations to fund the World Cup')

 

This kerfuffle between both presidents almost led to the resignation of national team head coach, Garba Lawal, who has tactically revolutionised the Eagles setup with his ingenious 3-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 formation, but Lawal was persuaded by Nigerians to stay in the job, although some other reports suggest that he was blackmailed by human rights activist Toke Makinwa.

Nevertheless, the Eagles, led by captain, Rabiu Ali, who’s somehow still 31, depart for the United States, as they are paired in Group E with Ukraine and Transylvania, the latter of which had gained FIFA recognition in 2023. With only three teams in each group, and two progressing to the next round, Nigeria know they can qualify for the last 32 with two draws, and as it happens, their first game, against the Transylvanians, ends up goalless, with the Eagles not even daring to cross their own halfway line, before another goalless draw against the Ukrainians sees them progress in second place behind their Day Two opponents.

The last 32 pits them with Cameroon, coached by Samuel Eto’o, who incidentally is also the president of the Cameroon FA, and the country at large. The Eagles fall behind early in the second half, but two late goals from Samson Okoro, who looks suspiciously like the Stanley Okoro of 2009, but with what like seems like a bleached skin and a hair transplant, takes Nigeria to the last 16, where they face surprise packages, Westeros, another country given FIFA recognition in the previous five years. The minnows are no match for Nigeria though, a comprehensive 4-0 win, thanks to four Rabiu Ali penalties, takes us to the last eight, a feat we had never managed before. As expected, the quarter finals prove to be a tough test, as opponents Spain, coached by Xavi, score twice inside the first 20 minutes, Marco Asensio curling in a direct corner kick, and veteran Alvaro Morata adding the second. But a rousing team talk sees an inspired Eagles fightback after halftime, goals from Kelechi Nwakali, and Alex Iwobi takes us to extra time and penalties, where three Francis Uzoho saves send us to the semis, the first African side to ever get this far.

The semis bring a familiar face, in Gernot Rohr and Mexico, also making their first ever last four appearance. The game ends in a 2-0 win for Nigeria, but controversy is sparked when Eagles skipper Ali spits in Rohr’s face for not taking him to the World Cup in Russia eight years earlier. Ali is subsequently ruled out for the final, against Portugal, led by 41-year-old player/coach Cristiano Ronaldo. La Selaccao dominate the game for the entirety of the 90 minutes, but a glaring error from goalkeeper Anthony Lopes allows Kelechi Iheanacho to score a late winner, his only touch of the entire tournament.

The final whistle goes, from California to Calabar, from Seattle to Surulere, Nigerians at home and abroad spark into delirium. After the initial celebrations and commiserations with the fallen Portuguese heroes, suspended skipper Ali is handed the trophy by FIFA president Jorge Mendes, as Ghanaians watch on through the depths of Instagram, while back home a certain Easterner measures where to place 23 about-to-be-designed statues.

 

 

 

**Despite our greatest dreams, and hopes, the above news is utterly and definitely not real. We wish!!

 

Published in Awa Football

Real Madrid have begun celebrations for the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League. Los Blancos clinched a third successive Champions League title, a fourth in five years, with a 3-1 win over Liverpool in Kiev, and have already declared themselves as champions next season as well.

‘We know we are the best team in the Champions League, so it’s fair we announce to the rest that we’ve already won next season’s competition’ said midfielder Casemiro. ‘We’re putting this announcement out there to give one of the others the honour of losing to us in the final. Maybe it’ll be Atletico Madrid, whose stadium is hosting the final, and can complete an honourable treble of final defeats to us’.

‘We plan to begin the season is inconsistent form…’ added captain Sergio Ramos, ‘…to make things interesting. We’ll lose to Monaco in the group stage in October, even suffer a defeat in one of our knockout second legs, to make seem it like we have vulnerabilities, while our opponents- presumably Manchester City this time- gain plaudits for working their socks and coming up with 57 shots on target’.

Manager Zinedine Zidane was asked about such claims from his players, but declined to comment, all while hiding next season’s kit with the message ‘A Por La 14’ on it.

***Note: This particularly news item is in no way real.

 

 

Published in International Watch