KEEN AS MUSTARD: 5 OF THE MOST PASSIONATE DERBIES IN THE UK

Attending a football match is akin to losing your virginity: it’s incredibly nerve-wracking, you’re blind drunk and that breezy girl from the kebab shop probably has a turnstile on her bedroom door.

Yep, much like your pathetic love life, football performances often fail to live up to expectations, frequently leaving behind a trail of disappointment, regret and an unexplainable stinging sensation when you pee.

But a derby match is a different kettle of fish.

Although the beautiful game can be an unforgiving lover, its derbies throw up thrilling footballing orgies, allowing thousands of men and women to lose themselves in the unbridled ecstasy that only the pleasure of spanking your nearest neighbour can bring.

Fancy learning more about some of the most passionate derbies from around the UK? Course you do, you sexy punt …

LIVERPOOL V EVERTON

Head to a Merseyside derby – the longest running top-flight derby in England – and you’ll likely witness more badly timed tackles, bookings and pissed-up Cilla Black’s than any other. While these hotheaded Scousers should all probably calm down, calm down, there’s no denying this fixture is right up there with the most passionate anywhere in the UK.

RANGERS V CELTIC

Although Rangers were sent to the naughty step for their well-documented financial problems, the Old Firm derby remains one of the fiercest rivalries on the British Isles. It was first contested in 1888 – the same year Vincent Van Gogh chopped his ear off after hearing his beloved Rangers were sliced open in a 5-2 defeat – with the blue side of Glasgow boasting 159 victories to Celtic’s 144.

ARSENAL V TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Despite the recent Norf London derby being a bit of a damp squib, you wouldn’t Adam and Eve how deep the rivalry between Arsenal and Spurs goes. Far from being brown bread, this game is still well worth a butcher’s hook – but if you can’t wrestle the custard and jelly from the cows and kisses, head to the battle cruiser for a well deserved pint.

ASTON VILLA V BIRMINGHAM CITY

As it stands, the most interesting things about Birmingham are Ocean Colour Scene and Pato Banton – and those aren’t very exciting at all. Of course, Brummies aren’t renowned for their glamour or excitable character, but they love their football. Although the teams haven’t met since January 2011, it’s always a furiously contested fixture, which would be a welcome addition to the EPL.

MANCHESTER CITY V MANCHESTER UNITED

First contested back in 1881, the Manchester derby has historically been dominated by the red half of the city, much to the chagrin of Liam Gallagher who famously attacked Bobby Charlton by viciously shouting “SUNSHEEEEEINEEEEE” in his face on the way out of Old Trafford. Recently, however, City have been on top, culminating in their 3-0 thrashing of United back in March.

Now it’s over to you …

Let us know what your favourite football derby is, at home or abroad, by dropping us a line via Facebook or Twitter – we’d love to hear from you.

MANAGERIAL MELTDOWN: THE RISE AND FALL OF ALAN PARDEW

It’s easy to loathe Alan Pardew.

Aside from a reputation as a bit of lunatic, he looks like the kind of bloke who’d skip in line at the bar, nip your girlfriend’s arse and blame it on his mate.

As a long-suffering Magpies fan, this would be the final straw, as you drag him out of the pub before beating him with a bin bag full of broken Byker Grove mugs.

When we add in last weekend’s 4-0 drubbing at Southampton, it’s safe to say Alan Pardew is less popular round St James’ Park way than a duffel coat on a female reveller at the Bigg Market.

Even before the Shocker at St Mary’s, however, fans held aloft “Sack Pardew” banners, with one Geordie later restrained by stewards after invading the pitch, furious at his team’s lacklustre performance.

Undeniably, pressure is mounting on Newcastle chairman Mike Ashley to swing the axe, as just five league wins from the last 25 games (17 goals scored and 45 conceded) has made Pardew’s charges unlikely relegation candidates.

We should’ve seen it coming, really.

TEMPERS FLARE ON THE TOUCHLINE

As the Toon Army’s Chief of Staff, Pardew’s tenure has been shrouded in controversy. He’s clashed with Manuel Pellegrini, famously calling the Manchester City boss a “f***ing old c**t”, and stuck the silver head on Hull City midfielder David Meyler.

If he’d been holding a kebab and sporting a ripped shirt, nobody would’ve been surprised.

After being found guilty of “pushing Meyler away with his head”, Pardew was given a seven-game ban, fined £100,000 from the club and hammered for a further £60,000 from the FA.

Additionally, when he was manager of West Ham, Pardew was involved in a dramatic touchline tussle with Arsene Wenger after celebrating a last-minute goal like an amphetamine-fuelled orangutan.

When he’s not acting like he’s on a stag party in Amsterdam, Pardew can be found at Darsley Park training ground nursing a hangover, making prank telephone calls to Joe Kinnear and stroking a picture of Faustino Asprilla.

One thing’s for sure, however – if his team’s current form continues in the same vein, the Newcastle United gaffer could be relieved of his duties before Christmas, with David Moyes, Steve McClaren, Steve Bruce and Tim Sherwood all being touted to replace him.

Just remember to keep your missus indoors if Pardew is eventually given his marching orders…

WHITE NIGHT: PICKING OVER THE BONES OF DEADLINE DAY

Jim White is having a bad dream.

He’s in his birthday suit. He’s being pursued through the corridors of Sky Sports HQ by a mob of faceless Aston Villa fans. They’re baying for blood.

Rather than fighting back or reasoning with them, however, all he can offer is a wretched shout of “the clock is TICKING!” before being mauled by a bloodthirsty Brummie.

The excitable Glaswegian wakes up in a cold sweat. He mops his brow with a yellow tie. Quickly, he turns to his concerned missus. He warns her that if he has another nightmare she’ll “hear it here first” and to “hold on to her hat”.

This always happens to Jim White after Deadline Day.

For the rest of us, the real terror is to wake up and discover our manager has signed a 7ft Romanian janitor who has “good feet for a big man”, but will inevitably end up on a boat back to Bucharest before Bonfire Night.

Despite this, Deadline Day is better than Christmas for football junkies. But there are real problems with buying things when you’re desperate AND against the clock: you end up paying over the odds and you usually regret it.

PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS SMASH TRANSFER SPENDING RECORD

With Premier League clubs forking out a combined £835m on new players – that’s enough to buy 417 Michu’s, fact fans – it’s unavoidable that some chairmen will eventually look at their latest signings like a drunken one night stand …

… it was a good idea at the time, but your big man eventually flopped.

Over at Sky Sports HQ, excitement levels reached fever pitch as Welbeck headed for Arsenal, Falcao swapped the glamour of Monaco for the meat and two veg of Manchester, and Tom Cleverley clinched a late loan deal to Villa.

Whether these deals will prove to be good business or not remains to be seen, but unlike running a fantasy football team, these players can’t be replaced at the click of a mouse or a damning swipe of a finger.

Ultimately, football managers live and die by the signings they make, the results they chalk up and the cliches they spew to the press. Get it right and they’re modern-day Bill Shankly’s. Get it wrong and they’re karate chopped harder and faster than Mr. Miyagi on a Red Bull binge.

As for Jim White, he can go back to resting easy, dreaming of the witty repartee between Chris Kamara and Jeff Stelling, and wishing he was the cheese in their triple-decker banter sandwich. Until the next Deadline Day, that is …

25 GIFS TO PULL YOU THROUGH ANOTHER FOOTY SEASON

The football season is full of incredible highs and desperate lows – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, to celebrate the start of the 2014-15 campaign, we’ve compiled the ultimate gif guide to the ups and downs experienced by almost every football fan around the country.

 

Enjoy …

THAT FEELING OF IMPATIENCE BEFORE THE SEASON KICKS OFF

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BUT ONCE IT DOES, YOU COULDN’T BE HAPPIER

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SO YOU TELL YOUR GIRLFRIEND YOU NEED SOME ALONE TIME

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YOU DODGE WORK TO TINKER WITH YOUR FANTASY FOOTBALL SQUAD

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BUT YOU SOON REALISE YOUR TEAM ISN’T UP TO SCRATCH

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ALTHOUGH YOU’RE STRUGGLING TO CARE

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BECAUSE YOU’RE DREAMING OF LEAGUE AND CUP GLORY

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BUT THEN YOUR TEAM PLAYS LIKE THIS

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AND THIS

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AND YOU’RE ALL LIKE THIS

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THINGS CONTINUE TO FALL APART

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BEFORE BRIEFLY COMING TOGETHER

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AND SUDDENLY THEY’RE PLAYING LIKE THIS

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AND YOU’RE ALL LIKE THIS

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AND THIS

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YOU TELL YOUR GIRLFRIEND YOU’RE HEADING FOR EUROPE

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BUT THEN YOU RECEIVE A KICK TO THE CROWN JEWELS

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YOUR TEAM’S IN FREEFALL

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AND YOU’RE STARING RELEGATION IN THE FACE

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YOU’RE UTTERLY INCONSOLABLE

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BUT SOMEHOW THEY SURVIVE

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AND YOU’RE ALL LIKE THIS

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AND THIS

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AND JUST A TINY BIT OF THIS

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WE’LL SEE YOU NEXT YEAR, SOLDIER …

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THE HALFWIT’S HANDBOOK TO FANTASY FOOTBALL DOMINATION

Have you had the email yet?

The one from that insufferably smug bloke in your office urging – nay, DEMANDING – you to register for Slumdog Mignolet, his yearly fantasy football league.

Deep down, beating yourself to death with a pillowcase full of shin pads is preferable to playing second fiddle to him again, but don’t be so hasty, you emotional punt …

Rather than bicycle kick his pious call to arms into Row Z, our halfwit’s handbook to fantasy football is here to guide you to the table’s summit and straight into the office lovely’s warm embrace.

BAG YOURSELF A GOOD TEAM NAME

This year, calling your charges FC Steve simply won’t cut the mustard, as everyone knows success depends on a witty team name. Scratching your head trying to come up with something sidesplitting that’ll make you a workplace legend? Take your lead from the puntastic names below …

  • Dyslexia Untied
  • Fiorentina Turner
  • Follow the Jelavic Road

AVOID PICKING BENCHWARMERS

It sounds obvious, but don’t waste your budget on players who’ll be shunned like Ashley Cole with chronic BO. Instead, once you’ve blown your load on three obligatory top drawer strikers, aim to bolster your squad with other players who, although unlikely to set the heather alight, are guaranteed to play every week.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO TWIST

It’s inevitable early season injuries will scupper your big plans, and those involved in the World Cup may still be shaking off some lingering fatigue, so the first few weeks are typically the toughest. At this time, the discerning fantasy football manager should be ready to chop and change his team with all the precision of a Japanese fugu chef.

SELECT A SOLID GOALKEEPER

Aside from splashing the cash on big-name strikers, reserve some funds for a keeper who’s likely to keep his fair share of clean sheets. But who to pick? Well, over the years, Tim Howard at Everton has done remarkably well, along with Arsenal’s Szczęsny, Julian Speroni at Crystal Palace and Simon Mignolet at Liverpool.

ALL GUNS BLAZING

In fantasy football, goals mean points – which is why selecting a crop of attacking players really is the only option. Consequently, recruit a few defenders likely to notch a few goals and swap out defensive midfielders for more creative types, as they’ll likely chip in with set pieces AND some invaluable assists.

REGISTER TODAY FOR PREMIER PUNT

However, if all of the above sounds like too much of a slog over a long season, prove your ex-girlfriend’s accusation of commitment issues correct by signing up for fantasy football with Premier Punt.

Why?

Because, unlike other leagues, we allow you to play one week and not the next, which means you can dip in and out when it suits you. Fancy it? Sign up here and get the ball rolling …