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Word Association Prediction: Sparta Prague v Liverpool

February 17, 2011

If Arsenal-Barcelona last night proved one thing (and it probably didn’t) it was that football can be more about the result. Football can be about creating a feeling, sustaining emotion. Hats tipped and all to Mr Rohan Ricketts, for correctly calling the score and the scorers, but imagine if he had accurately foretold the real patterns in the game, the lulls and waves? How the game would feel?

Anyway, welcome to the first attempt at a very different kind of football prediction. One that does away with the need for money, and, with it, the reward of money.

Here’s how it works: remember that gubbin about the monkeys and typewriters coming up with Shakespeare/Bacon/Marlowe? Well, all this monkey needs is a team-sheet and his version of Microsoft Word. By listening to the Freudian instructions the computer gives when it doesn’t recognise a players’ name (so, eg. Xavi becomes ‘Avid’), the overall timbre of the match becomes evident.

Tipsters, hipsters, lend me your tweets. This is Word Association Football. Literally. Read more…

Keys change? [part 3]: The new boors, same as the old boors

February 15, 2011

The worrying thing, for those hoping for real change in football coverage, is the emergence of another generation of players turning pundits, having only really known the culture of the sport as defined by Keys and Sky. Read more…

[Part 2]: Throwing away the Keys

February 14, 2011

Richard Keys’ spectacular showing in the talkSPORT interview he gave to clear up the sexism row – which led to him having to resign – demonstrates another layer of the alienation that separates even commentators of his previous status from today’s football.

First in this Alan Partridge-esque breakdown was Keys’ insistence that he came into the radio studio without an agent or a manager. Of course he didn’t – he’s not one of the footballers that he interviews. This was just another facet of the affair that showed how the dominant media became obsessed with its own idea of ‘the language of the changing room’. It is this same force that operates at either end of the punditry spectrum. It guarantees a showing for ex-pros in the commentary seats. However, the mediating presence of the ‘journalist’ – Keys and Gray – did not evolve to match the attitudes of more recent retirees.

Put simply, the pair had been there too long. Read more…

The Keys and Gray Saga [part 1]: Welcome to the new football…same as the old football

February 13, 2011

So, the game was preparing to wake up in a brave new world, one without Andy Gray and Richard Keys, a world where savvy owners from America could hold a conversation about ‘pass and move’, where punters could watch the Premiership via a foreign feed.

And then…what? Gray and Keys get snapped up by talkSPORT, with a new flagship show to go live on Valentine’s Day (going head-to-head for ratings with Woman’s Hour). Former Liverpool owners Hicks and Gillett return to the courts for another legal set-to, and Niall Quinn “despises” fans who watch Sunderland on foreign feeds rather than sit in the Stadium of Light. Oh, football. Read more…

Three Lions, and a seal.

February 11, 2011

To celebrate England’s 2-1 victory over Denmark in a friendly, WAF begins a new series looking at the badges of football’s governing bodies, beginning with the three lions. Read more…

In which WordAssociation witnesses a psychic melding of footballer and fan

January 17, 2011

The Merseyside Derby at

Cubar, West Street, Brighton

CUBAR is a bar like many others: a bit of a dive, with constantly changing staff and a breeze from Brighton beach trying to hold the doors open. But on Sunday this dive was witness to a small instance of perfect behavioural choreography from Brighton to…New Brighton… Read more…

Fraud or Freud? Fernando Torres, workrate, one-and-a-half jokes and a cricketing anecdote

January 13, 2011

LIVERPOOL slipped to yet another defeat last night, allowing Blackpool to complete a League double over them even after a third minute goal from Fernando Torres.

That equalled the Spain striker’s quickest Premiership goal, and went some way towards ending the media hoo-ha over a perceived lack of effort. This had deepened in its intensity since the disappointing draw with Birmingham in September. Jamie Redknapp’s tinny outrage and Roy Hodgson’s implied critique fuelled the fire.

There was always going to be a dip in Torres’ form – even if, as new manager Kenny Dalglish has stressed, greater names have gone through worse.  Few players could maintain the kind of form that saw Torres become the fastest Liverpool player to 50 goals. And, of course, the British media loves a foreign player lacking the appetite for destruction inherent in our Bartons, Bellamys and Gerrards.

There was a moment in the Blackpool game, though, that got WAF wondering whether there was something more malignant going on than just a mix of schadenfreude and jingoism.

Read more…