Football excuses are no different to normal excuses: the weirder the better. Suffice it to say, the whole ‘Yaya Touré birthday snub’ affair at Manchester City has everyone wondering what he and his agent are hoping to achieve from it all.
Because it sure as hell ain’t a bigger birthday cake. Unless of course you use birthday cake as a metaphor for either money or a nicely lubricated escape route to Barcelona.
So which other great football excuses from recent times satisfied our lust for such skullduggery, such shameless shenanigans? Why, dig the following ruses, tall tales and wacky theories…
Michael Jackson statue removal = Fulham relegation
That’s the opinion of ‘outspoken’ former owner Mohamed Al Fayed, who laid the blame for the Cottagers’ recent demotion to the Championship squarely at the door of his successor Shahid Khan.
Or rather, more precisely, Khan’s decision to remove that bizarre statue of Michael Jackson from outside Craven Cottage – the one that no one could make much sense of in the first place.
Earlier this month, Al Fayed prattled on thusly:
This statue was a charm and we removed the luck from the club and now we have to pay the price. When [Khan] asked me to move it I said: ‘You must be crazy.’
This is such a fantastic statue which the fans are crying out for. But now he has paid the price because the club has been relegated. He called me because he told me he wanted Michael to return. I told him, no way.
Can statues of deceased pop stars be signed outside of a transfer window? Perhaps an emergency loan…
Joseph Yobo miracle healing
In the 2009-10 season, the then Everton defender declared himself unfit for a UEFA Cup clash during the midst of an injury crisis, and therefore at a time when he was most needed.
When he turned out for the Nigeria national team shortly afterwards, it’s fair to assume that David Moyes was far from impressed.
It’s also fair to assume that even a god-fearing man such as Moyes would not have had his doubts assuaged by the supposed account of a miracle healing which then surfaced.
Some choice quotes from the account, posted by one Emeka Igwe:
I waited to see what would happen. Sometime later, I saw Yobo walking out, a huge smile on his face. I was taken aback as he neared and it became all the clearer – he was no longer limping, but walking freely.
Mind you, he also stated his belief that Yobo would hold a press conference later to tell the world how he had been healed. We’re still waiting on that one.
After eight years and well over 200 appearances, Yobo was bombed out on loan to Turkish club Fenerbahçe and never played for Everton again.
He’s now back in England having signed for Norwich City in January, although there was to be no miracle for the relegated Canaries. Maybe they should have signed the Michael Jackson statue instead.
Invisible Manchester United kit
The Red Devils found themselves 3-0 down at half-time at the Dell, former home of Southampton, during the 1995-96 season.
Noticing a trend of poor performance while donning their grey away kit, Sir Alex Ferguson decided that his players couldn’t see each other well enough and ordered them to change into a blue and white strip.
They ‘won’ the second half to finish the game at 3-1, so perhaps there was something to it all. Either way, the grey kit was never worn again.
No, not boisterous Frenchmen – (sorry) – but actual frogs.
Ukraine blamed their 4-0 thrashing by Spain in the 2006 World Cup on aforementioned amphibians keeping them up at night with their incessant croaking.
Defender Vladislav Vashchuk said:
Because of the frogs’ croaking we hardly got a wink of sleep. We all agreed that we would take some sticks and go and hunt them.
Shouldn’t have stayed at a lakeside hotel, eh?
In 1996, Blackpool let a two-goal lead slip in a playoff match against Bradford City and fingered, as it were, a spooky scapegoat.
The club’s boardroom paneling was apparently made out of wood from Lord Nelson’s ship The Foudroyant, so it stood to reason that the old navy hero’s ghost was irked and affected the match accordingly.
Bloomfield Road stadium manager John Turner explained:
It is an old maritime superstition that sailing folk take exception to anything on their ships being touched, which could explain these strange events.
So, any time you see a team fight back from two goals down, chances are they were spurred on by a spectre.
Ball too bouncy?
When Kenny Dalglish’s Newcastle United were held to a shock 1-1 draw by Stevenage in the 1998 FA Cup, he asserted afterwards that the strong wind and resultant bouncy balls had “suited them more than us”.
This offhand comment was pounced upon with relish by a media keen to paint Dalglish as a daft old sod moaning about the ball being too bouncy – if we’re being honest, that was perhaps unjustified.
Still, it’s far less of a yarn if you refrain from misquoting him slightly.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Which were your favourite football excuses?