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Worst food trends of the noughties

The Authentic Prada Outlet Online Usa end of any year is always a time for reflection, a chance to look back at the 12 months which have just passed and how they have changed us as people or a society.

The end of a decade brings with it even more opportunities for navel gazing, and although it usually takes us longer to digest a whole 10 years’ worth of trends and events, it won’t be too long before the character of the noughties really becomes clear.

Just to make sure we have covered all the bases, here is my selection of the 10 worst food trends of the last 10 years. It was a surprisingly hard task replica prada cosmetic bags, not because I struggled to fill the coveted places with fashions and things which really ticked me off, but because I could easily have filled each spot 10 times over.No room then for the neglect of our traditional snacks in favour of foreign interlopers in the form of bahn mi (never heard of them? You will have by this time next year) burritos and cupcakes. No slot for overpriced farmers’ markets, micro greens, corporate food festivals, the inability of pubs to serve a full pint of beer and a very definite « no » from the editor to my suggestion that the whole article could consist entirely of pictures of Jamie Oliver. Instead, I have whittled it down to the 10 suggestions below.

10. Slates, smears, commas and skidmarks

Chefs should never ever forget that, in the end, all they are doing is making dinner. Most of us have very simple needs – I know I do. I want my meal served on a plate not a piece of rock which looks like it has been hacked off a menhir at Stonehenge, and I want a proper amount of sauce, not a small blob formed into a comma with the Bicester Village Prada Online back of a spoon.

9. Small plate dining and international tapas

Constructing your own menu from small plates may seem like a fun idea at first, particularly if you are with friends and want to sample lots of dishes. The true horror only emerges once the bill arrives. It is always about 50% more than you expected and inflated by the aggressive up-selling of the waiting staff – « what, you only want 16 courses for the three of you? Really? » – oh, and when did it suddenly become OK to call anything served on a side plate ‘tapas’?

8. Cheap cuts at cut-throat prices

Ten years ago my butcher used to throw a couple of lamb breasts into my weekly order because he « couldn’t give them away ». Now, supermarkets are selling them for the price I paid for my first car. The same is true of belly pork, ox cheeks and lamb shanks, marketed now as « forgotten cuts » for which we must pay through the snout. Who says nobody makes money out of a recession?

7. Underground pop-up restaurants

It seems that every restaurant now needs to come complete with a concept. Now they must ‘pop-up’ so we realise we only have a few weeks to experience the chef’s brilliance or go ‘underground’ which as far as I can tell is like a dinner party you pay for. What ever happened to the days when the only concept a restaurant needed was to be any good?

6. MasterChef

MasterChef Authentic Prada Shoes Outlet used to be a low rent Sunday afternoon diversion with the longest vowels on telly. Now, there are about eight Authentic Prada Canvas Bag different versions as every subsection of Black Prada Bag With Gold society tries to show an ever-expanding bald grocer and a glassy eyed Aussie that they have learned a lot from their « incredible journey. » Its natural conclusion will obviously be « Serial Killer Cannibal MasterChef » where Gregg can tell someone their mother needed another five minutes in the pan.

5. Molecular gastronomy

Cooking is a broad church and even if I don’t consider espuma as a course, I can see why so many people become excited about the skills of Ferran and Heston. A foam gun costs as little as £20, which means that any halfwit with access to the internet can declare themselves a practitioner of the Authentic Prada Clothing fine art of molecular gastronomy. The words of an old college lecturer come back to me; « Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. » Most of them shouldn’t.

4. Gastropubs

There is nothing wrong with pubs serving food or with pubs becoming restaurants to stave off closure. It is that grey area in the middle when they Authentic Prada Handbags For Cheap can’t decide what they hell they are that is the problem. Not comfortable enough to linger over a meal, but too full of diners to find anywhere to sit with a pint. End result – confusion and a scotch egg costing a fiver.

3. Seasonal and local

It used to be all about ‘organic’ but now ‘seasonal’ and ‘local’ have become the marketing buzzwords de jour. Harking back to a golden age of Black Prada Bag With Gold British food which never really existed they are paraded with such regularity to have become meaningless. The last person to berate me for buying unseasonal produce was drinking a cup of tea. ‘Nuff said.

2. Bloggers

I know, I know, I am one of them. I have asked to be moved in a restaurant because, and I quote « I need better lighting » and told my fiancée that her cooking was « great but Bicester Village Prada Refund not bloggable ». But even I admit that it is all getting out of control. Where once there were only a handful of us, now we are legion and the noise from the blogosphere is becoming deafening. Perhaps it is time we all put our cameras down and started enjoying our food again?

1. Chef as brand extension

Is there anything chefs won’t agree to put their names on in the name of profit? Pots, books, gadgets, ‘jellified’ stocks and sauces, the list is endless. No one begrudges anyone the right to make a dollar, but please don’t insult our intelligence by telling us that brand extension does not come at the expense of the quality of food from your kitchen. I have spent hundreds of pounds proving you wrong. If I had to sum up the noughties in just two words it would be ‘flavour shaker’.

Some of the trends above were bad ideas to begin with and just plain wrong. The others are more evidence that Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Online Shop we in Britain are able take a perfectly acceptable concept and ruin it by assigning its control to the media and those with less imagination and ability than the originators.

So do you agree or am I being horribly unfair? What are your least favourite trends of the last decade?

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Once Barberino Factory Outlet Prada we would have thought they were ‘soooo Sarah Authentic Prada Shoes Sale Harding’ (see above), but Burberry has shown us Authentic Prada Bags For Sale Philippines the error of our ways.

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Worked Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Shoes Uk last summer, still working this time round.

US Vogue documentary

How excited are we? So excited! Let’s hope it’s a bit more gripping than that Grazia pap …

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Bugger British weather. This summer we’re going to Dubai.

Going Authentic Prada Milano Handbags down

Brass band ‘irony’

Yeah, you know we’re excited about Bassey at Glasto but that, coupled with Mark Ronson’s overly horn-based album, is getting Authentic Prada Wallet For Sale Philippines a bit much for our About Prada Products irony-o-meter.

Open-necked shirts

Sorry, guys. Your summer look has been Blair/Cameronised for ever.

Men in wigs

Attention Mr Spector – not helping your defence.

Eddie Murphy

Fast becoming a regular here. Heavens, did you read that Mel B interview in OK!? Axel Foley, shame on you.

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Re Get a Grip: flush, flush, ooh, it’s the sound of someone’s career going down the pan.

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Pellegrini defiant after Manchester City lose at Crystal Palace

Manuel Pellegrini insists that he does not fear for his job despite Manchester City falling to a defeat at Crystal Palace that leaves the reigning champions fourth in the Premier League, nine points behind Chelsea at the top and in a battle for automatic Champions League qualification.

City were beaten 2-1 in south London despite dominating for large periods of the game, Glenn Murray and Jason Puncheon scoring for Alan Pardew’s side before a late strike from Yaya Touré set up a tense finish. The result means they have not won away from Eastlands since mid-February and increases the pressure on Pellegrini.

The Chilean did not concede the title to Chelsea in the aftermath of defeat, defiantly claiming that he is focused on his own team’s results rather than potential permutations at the summit of the division. However, Chelsea have a game in hand over City and any turnaround now would require a remarkable collapse from José Mourinho’s side.

Asked if he Authentic Prada Fairy Bag For Sale was worried for his job, Pellegrini said: “No. [I am] never concerned about Are Prada Mens Shoes Good my job. That’s the only thing I’m never concerned about. I do my work and am very happy. You Authentic Prada Leather Handbag maybe have a difficult season, but you never worry about things like this.

“It’s difficult to understand the result. We played a very good game from beginning to end, had a lot of chances to score. Crystal Palace scored the first goal which was clearly offside, and then a beautiful free-kick. It’s Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Clothing Uk difficult to understand, but football happens like this.

“In different moments in football, you can win or lose. I hope we continue playing like we did today and we are more lucky. Every point you drop makes it more difficult, but it’s the same answer. We are not thinking about Chelsea or the title. Just about the next game at Old Trafford.”

Palace’s opening goal from Murray came in controversial circumstances. Scott Dann appeared to be in an offside position during the buildup and City’s players protested vehemently to the referee, Michael Oliver.

“It was a clear offside,” added Pellegrini. “The first minute, there was another Barberino Factory Outlet Prada clear offside. The mistake the referee can do … there was Are All Prada Products Made In Italy also after that a clear penalty and a lot of things happened in the game. But with the way we played replica prada belts, we must win this game.”

City go into their next match, at Manchester United on Sunday, trailing their local rivals by one point in the hunt for a Champions League spot. Only the top three qualify automatically for the tournament but Pellegrini dismissed such concerns. “I’m not thinking about that,” he said. “I’m trying to win the next game.”

For Crystal Palace and Pardew, the mood Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Online Shop About Prada Products was certainly contrasting. Selhurst Park was buoyant once again as Palace propelled themselves to 11th in the table, a fine feat given they were embroiled in a relegation fight when Pardew succeeded Neil Warnock in January.

“There wasn’t too much Authentic Prada Bags For Sale Philippines of a secret tonight,” said Pardew. “It was about resilience and good organisation. Great character in the team. It was an important first goal tonight to set the mood for the game. We managed to get it. I was disappointed we didn’t control it better in the first half than we did, but we got another immediately in the second half. We got a bit of luck.”

Regarding the title race, Pardew said: “It’s difficult now, with nine points being the gap. A long haul. Psychologically for Chelsea, with all the pack closing in on them, the next defeat or draw for Chelsea will be a big test. You wouldn’t want to lose Authentic Prada Canvas Bag that kind of lead.

“City are going to have to play on that. There’s a long way to go still, a lot of points up for grabs. But I can only look at us: we came up against a committed team; they weren’t lacklustre or poor. They were very good and we had to ride our luck.”

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The thing I like about sorrel is its absolute dependability. A few drab seeds in the ground, grow bag or window box, and you’re set with sorrel for ever. Every year up it comes, regular as clockwork, at the first touch of warm weather, shafts of brilliant green against the brown earth, a sharp and lively forerunner to all those bits of greenery that are to come.

The thing I don’t like about sorrel is that it keeps on coming all summer long. No matter how often you pick it, it never knows when it’s beaten. Pick it until there isn’t a shoot left to pick, and then go back a week or so later, and it’s as if you had never picked it in the first place. This invincibility is admirable in some Authentic Prada Handbags Outlet Uk respects, but rather wearing in Authentic Prada Leather Handbag others. What do you do with all the stuff?

The French, who traditionally have been fonder of sorrel than we are, have a whole raft of recipes with sorrel as their backbone – potage Germiny, saumon à l’oseille, oseille au jus, anguilles au vert, to name just a few. That may be because they civilised the wild weed and turned it into an altogether more refined – what? Herb? Salad? Vegetable? I am not quite sure which – and have been nibbling at it since the middle ages.

We Brits showed characteristic Anglo-Saxon caution in food matters, and didn’t really get the sorrel kick until the beginning of the 16th century. But once we got a taste for it, there was no going back. In fact, John Evelyn in his Acetaria, A Discourse Of Sallets, of Authentic Prada Messenger Bag For Sale 1699 (Prospect Books, if Authentic Prada Bag For Sale Philippines you want to take this further) describes three varieties of sorrel: French « with the round leaf »; « the broad German »; « but the best is of Green-land: by nature cold, abstersive, acid, sharpning appetite, asswages heat, cools the liver, strengthens the heart ». I couldn’t have put it better, myself – in modern parlance, sorrel is packed with vitamins A, B1 and C.

True, you have to get over the rather unprepossessing khaki sludge colour that sorrel goes when cooked. It is difficult to make a sorrel dish look really sexy. But you’ll also find that it’s packed with a distinctive, sharply acid flavour, which takes a bit of taming when it comes to cooking. (Nikki Duffy will provide the lowdown on where to get it in her Super Ingredients column next week, as well as some more ideas on what to do with the stuff.) In my view, sorrel benefits best of all from the restraining influence of stock, cream, butter – or all three.

All recipes serve four.

Sorrel mousse with cannellini bean cream

The cannellini cream, as well as the cows’ cream in the mousse, brings the acidity of the sorrel under control. Beans and sorrel go very well together, incidentally.

For the cannellini cream

200g cannellini beans (or ½ 410g tin)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 stick celery, finely chopped

115ml vegetable (or chicken) stock

½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper

For the mousse

500g sorrel leaves

50g unsalted butter

250ml double cream

3 eggs

Salt and pepper

First make the cannellini cream. If your beans are dried, Authentic Prada Handbags For Cheap you’ll need to soak and cook them first (boil in unsalted water until soft, for up to two hours). Heat the oil in a pan and, when mazy, add the onion and celery. Fry until soft – about five minutes. Tip the drained beans into the pan, add the stock, and bring up to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes. Pour the contents into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth (pass it through a fine-mesh sieve if you want it smoother still). Stir in the parsley and seasoning (though if you’re feeling lazy, add them before blending).

Now for the mousse. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Wash the sorrel thoroughly, and strip away the stalks from the leaves. Put the butter into a saucepan and heat until it turns light brown. Throw in the sorrel – the leaves will almost immediately collapse and go an unattractive khaki colour. Cook for one to two minutes. Scrape the sorrel into a food processor or blender, add the cream and whizz until smooth. Taste. Season. Add the eggs and whizz again.

Butter four ramekins (or one large dish). Pour in the mousse mixture, then place in a roasting tray with a piece of folded newspaper underneath (this promotes even cooking). Pour boiling water into the pan until it comes three-quarters of the way About Prada Products up the sides of the ramekins. Cover with loose greaseproof paper or foil and bake for 35-40 minutes. You can tell when they’re ready by sticking a knife into one of them – if it comes out clean, they’re done. Turn them out, surround with the cannellini cream and serve.

Cold sorrel, potato and wild garlic soup

This year, the wild garlic leaves popped up at much the same time as the sorrel.

2 eggs

50g butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

300g sorrel

½ cucumber, peeled and sliced thin

1 big handful wild garlic leaves

400ml vegetable (or chicken) stock

115ml crème fraiche

Salt and pepper

Hard-boil the eggs, then cool them under running water until completely cold. Heat the butter in a saucepan until foaming, add the onion and fry gently for five minutes. Add the sorrel, cook for 30 seconds, stir, then add the cucumber, garlic leaves and stock. Cook for five minutes more, then whizz in a food processor or blender. Add the crème fraiche, whizz again briefly and pour into a serving bowl.

Peel and chop the hard-boiled eggs click over here, stir into the soup, then season to taste. Cool and then chill. And then serve.

Pork steaks with sorrel and shallots

I came across some pork steaks cut from the shoulder in the freezer, and wondered Black Prada Chain Bag what on earth I could do to jolly them up. Then I remembered the glut of sorrel (how could I forget?) out in the garden – its sappy sharpness would be just the thing to cut the good-humoured richness of the meat, I thought. And so it was. Serve with a few carrots glazed in butter – sour/sweet, Authentic Prada Bags Uk jolly nice.

55g butter

6 pork steaks

4 shallots, finely chopped

115ml vermouth (or white wine)

1 handful sorrel leaves

115ml chicken (or vegetable) stock

Salt and pepper

Heat the butter in a deep frying pan until foaming. Brown the steaks on both sides, then remove from the pan and keep warm. If the butter in the pan is burnt, tip it out, wipe clean with kitchen towel and melt another 55g butter. Toss in the shallots and fry gently until translucent. Add the vermouth, boil until reduced to a couple of tablespoonfuls, then add the sorrel. Return the pork to the pan and pour over the stock. Poach gently for 10 minutes.

Poached brill with sorrel sauce

A classic of the Norman kitchen.

500g sorrel

115ml fish, vegetable or chicken stock

250ml double cream

Salt and pepper

1 brill, weighing 1.4-2kg


First make the sauce. Wash the sorrel and strip off the Black Prada Chain Bag stalks. In a saucepan, bring the stock to a boil, add the sorrel and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the cream, bring back to the boil and cook until the cream reduces and you Authentic Prada Milano Handbags have a thick, khaki-coloured purée. Season to taste. It won’t be much of a looker, but it wins out over a lot of prettier sauces on the flavour front.

Poach the brill by placing it in a large pan. Cover with cold water and add two dessertspoons of salt. Bring gradually to the simmer. Turn off the heat and leave the brill in the hot water until needed.

To serve, carefully lift the fish out of the pan, peel off the skin, lift off the fillets and serve with the sauce and some boiled potatoes

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Fortnum & Mason customers still awaiting £5,000 Christmas hampers

Tradition dictates that Black Prada Bag With Gold if Christmas decorations are not tidied away Black Prada Bag With Gold by today, households will be plagued by bad luck for the rest of year.

The centuries-old Twelfth Night tradition could leave hundreds of the nation’s wealthiest in a spot of bother as many Bicester Village Prada Refund are still awaiting Christmas hampers costing up to £5,000 from Fortnum & Mason.

The world-famous Piccadilly emporium has been forced to admit that it still has not delivered orders placed weeks before Christmas.

Fortnum, which traces its roots back to 1707, said it has still not been able to deliver all of its orders for festive treats, including its £40 Queen Elizabeth Christmas pudding with gold-leaf almonds.

The Queen’s favourite grocer said it was still reeling from an IT glitch that brought down its electronic delivery system before Christmas. Despite drafting in 100 extra customer service staff, including managing director Beverley Aspinall, the store is Bicester Village Prada Online still faced with a significant backlog almost two weeks after the big day.

A spokesman for the company, which has previously managed to deliver a hamper to an expedition up Mount Everest, said the « vast majority of customers received their orders before Christmas » but admitted there many are still awaiting their box of treats.

« Fortnum & Mason experienced severe issues with IT Black Leather Authentic Prada Shoes Sale Prada Milano Purse Authentic Prada Bags Online Singapore infrastructure that caused delays to some Christmas deliveries, » the spokesman said. « This was not acceptable and we are working with our IT suppliers to ensure that we do not disappoint our customers again in the future.

« We are very sorry that this situation occurred. We have been doing everything in our power to rectify it for our customers, so that we can deliver the excellence of service that they expect. We will offer a full refund to anyone who did not receive their order and our customer service team is working through any outstanding issues on orders. »

The company would not say how many people were still awaiting delivery.

The long delay is likely to embarrass the company, Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Dresses Uk which has boasted Queen Victoria, Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra among its celebrity clientele.

On Authentic Prada Handbags Outlet Uk its website, the Piccadilly store states that: « It’s at Christmas that the Fortnum’s hamper really comes into its own. After all, what could be more satisfying than to have Christmas delivered to your door? Our Christmas hampers are designed to provide just that, as each one contains all the essentials and luxuries that one needs for a proper, slap-up feast.

« A Fortnum’s hamper is the ultimate Bicester Village Prada Discount indulgence at Christmas – filled with edible and drinkable delights and luxuries, it is quite the best thing to find on your doorstep on a snowy morning.

« When the Fortnum’s Christmas hampers are put together each year, it is done with two things in mind. Everything inside must be the finest of its kind; and there must be a Fortnum’s hamper for everyone. »

Fortnum sells 40 different hampers including a £5,000 Imperial Hamper packed with Beluga caviar, foie gras truffles, cognac butter, a magnum of Cristal 2002 and a bottle of 32-year-old whisky.

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Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool to move on Premier League title in stages

Brendan Rodgers has been playing down Liverpool’s title hopes all season, apart from the short time where he built them up and performances Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Clothing Uk suffered, but as of last week the club’s cover has been blown. Liverpool touched the top Agata Ruiz De La Prada Shop On Line of the table with six games to play and, though the same could be said of Manchester City, the title is theirs to lose.

« The finish line is a long way off, there is still a lot of work to do, » Rodgers said. « Some people think that with six games to go the finishing line is in sight, but every club will have difficult games between now Authentic Prada Handbags Online Australia and the end of the season. I only think of the next game. If we win that, I start thinking about the one afterwards. It is usually a mistake to look too far ahead, it gets too daunting. That’s why you plan ahead in stages. We don’t do it in one hit. »

The visit of Manchester City to Anfield on 13 April still looks to have title Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Shop Online decider written all over it, though to stay in charge of Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada their own destiny Liverpool need to negotiate West Ham away on Sunday afternoon. As Chelsea found at Crystal Palace last week, opponents in the bottom half of the Premier League table cannot be taken for granted.

« It’s a big game, they are all big games now, » Rodgers said. « West Ham are in good form replica prada satchel, six wins out of nine, and are a difficult opponent because of the way they play. The other results last weekend gave us a boost, but I can’t say they surprised me. This is why we keep saying the Premier League is the most competitive in the world.

« Bayern Munich’s domestic season is over with seven games to play. The Spanish league is tight at the top, and in Italy Juventus are well Authentic Prada Online Shop in front. But in England a team like Palace can peg back a side going for the title. Whether you are playing the top team or the bottom team in this country, you always have to go into the game with the right mentality. You have to respect your opponents and then try to bring your own game to bear on the match. »

If it is true that West Ham are difficult opponents because of the way they play, that must have something to do with Andy Carroll, the attacking spearhead Rodgers allowed to leave Anfield for Upton Park, along with Stewart Downing. It would, of course, be embarrassing were a goal or two from Carroll to knock Liverpool off course, though, on the other hand, Black Prada Chain Bag it appears unlikely the club would be on the lofty perch they occupy had Rodgers retained an old-fashioned centre-forward and compromised the attacking style that has evolved this season through the direct pace and penetration that Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suárez can offer.

« Andy wasn’t let go because he wasn’t good enough. I think both he and Stewart Downing are fantastic players, » Rodgers explained. « But Andy wanted games, he needed to play every week, and I just couldn’t offer him that. West Ham play in a different way, and for that style of football there’s not many better than Andy. He is one of the best players in Europe at attacking the ball in the air. »

Excited as Rodgers is to be in sight of the end of the season and a possible first title for Liverpool in almost a quarter of a century, he is keen to emphasise that his main aim is consistency over a period of time. Bicester Village Prada Store Number A title would mean everything, particularly to a player such as Steven Gerrard, who had practically given up hope of getting this close before retirement, but Rodgers would be disappointed were his side to prove unable to match this season’s standards in the years to come.

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« We are a little ahead of schedule at the moment, but you could see against Tottenham last week, when we had the chance to go top, that we stayed calm and played with composure as well as aggression. Now I am hearing that we are only doing so well because we are not playing in Europe. I keep having that thrown at me. But coming from where we started has been unprecedented. I have been watching the Premier League for a long time and I have never seen a team from outside the top four going anywhere near winning the title. »

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A team even more over than ripped jeans, Hard-Fi and Kenny Dalglish


The way some people have been going on since Saturday, you’d think Pep Guardiola had spent the last few days sat on a bar stool telling anyone who’ll listen he used to manage the European champions you know, while an Bergdorf Goodman Prada Mens Shoes unshaven Lionel Messi had Authentic Prada Messenger Bag For Sale been walking around the streets of Barcelona, like Ron Burgundy after he’d been sacked from Channel 4 Evening News, shouting: « It’s so damn hot! Milk was a bad choice! » And, indeed, it is hot in Barcelona today, a sweltering 21C with clear blue skies in fact, meaning Chelsea’s hopes of a wet, windy Tuesday night in Stoke look slim, and not just because they’re in Barcelona.

But Biggest Prada Outlet In Italy their chances of reaching Big Cup final are not, for Barcelona come into this game on the back of two defeats for the first time under Guardiola since May 2009, reeling from losing El Clasico at the weekend. That means it’s BARCELONA IN CRISIS!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, a team that has already won three Authentic Prada Americas Cup Sneakers trophies this season and could end it with five out of six is even more over than ripped jeans, Hard-Fi and Kenny Dalglish. Get with the picture guys! Barcelona are so old news! Move on. It’s done. Messi? Overrated. Andres Iniesta? He’s no Fabio Rochemback. Xavi? The Daily Mail had it right all along.

Only, that’s not really the case, is it? While an excellent Madrid side made Guardiola regret his tinkering, there wasn’t too much wrong with Barcelona at Stamford Bridge last week. If they match that performance tonight, they should stroll through to a third final in four years, as long as Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez decide not to act like eejits in front of goal again. Even then, Chelsea will still have to stop Messi from adding to his 63 goals this season. Although he has never scored against Chelsea. Hmm. Back Chelsea.

The hot news to emerge from yesterday’s press conferences is that both football managers think their football teams are going to do a win in the football match. For his part, Roberto Di Matteo insisted Chelsea will try to mount an attack or zero. « I do think we’ll have to try and score a goal, » he sighed. « That would give us a greater chance. » Yes. Goals do tend to be quite handy in football matches. « They’re strong and have the weapons to hurt us, so this is a big challenge, » Guardiola said in response. « But I have no doubts that Ap Lei Chau Prada Factory Outlet we’ll get to Munich. I can either sit here and be depressed about the result of the first match or I can be optimistic. And I have faith. »

It was left to Gerard Pique to inject some much-needed light relief and claim that Didier Drogba is not a diver. « Every time a player goes down and complains, I believe he’s been hurt, » he said. « If he keeps doing that, you might end up thinking that’s the case. But, for now, I believe in his honesty. If not, we’d have to start to talk about football not having fair play and being all about cheats. » Comments that would have only been more amusing if they had been uttered by Sergio Busquets.

Join Jacob Steinberg from 7pm for live MBM coverage of Barcelona 3-1 Chelsea (3-2 agg).


« Beckham and Lampard and the whole Man U team » – Pele has Black Prada Doctor Bag a new rival for the Utterly Useless Rent A Quote Of The Year Award! Ronaldo names his favourite young English players during his trip to the London 2012 football draw. The big-boned one has also tipped Pitt the Elder as Britain’s next PM and Austrian teen heartthrob Wolfgang « Woolfy » Mozart to win Best New Act at the Smash Hits Poll Winners’ Party.


« All this fuss about Messi scoring 63 goals in a season. There was even a letter about it in the print version of Big Paper. No one mentions that Liverpool have managed 60 in all games so far, and we’ve still got five games to go » – Tony Lynch.

« In homage to Real Madrid and Chelsea’s results against Barcelona, I would like the Fiver to start a START BUS PARKING campaign. I believe this would also be useful at one’s office, where one can park the bus to desperately avoid work by: Black Prada Bag Mission Impossible a) blocking all work coming to your desk; and b) constantly tripping over things and rolling on the floor as if shot by a sniper » – Herman H00ker.

« Re: Sam Miles on Shay Given (yesterday’s Fiver letters). I have been saying this for years about Given, and I’ve never really understood why no one else seems to be able to see it (apart from Barry Glendenning). Our defence has got noticeably better since he left Newcastle. And if I could be bothered to do any research on this at all, then I reckon the pattern would repeat with Manchester City. Brilliant keeper my … » – Sally Paterson.

« Re: yesterday’s ZX Spectrum-related last line. Ah (audible reminiscent sigh), the 1988 flashback to the past took me back to a better time. When all matches were more blocky and rugged and were decided purely by skill. Not by refereeing decisions/spineless officials/too much added time/the 12th man/fixture scheduling/balls that didn’t cross the line but were given as a goal/balls that did cross the line but were not given as a goal/inept suits stuck in a time warp failing to implement goalline technology/boardroom issues even though no one on the board would be playing in the match anyway/Twitter/fan protests/traffic/ridiculously expensive and overly accurate statistical software/weather/the questionable groundsmanship of the playing surface/the roundness of the ball (because, of course, back in 1988 the ball practically had corners, see the video, adidas have done the footballing world a cracking service)/the ergonomic aerodynaminism of the respective kits worn/the time of kick-off/transfer budgets/strong winds/phantom beach balls/foreign managers that cannot speak a word of the Queen’s/inanimate woodwork that seems to move every time a Liverpool player shoots (although that’s no excuse, but still worth saying in the post-match interview)/pre-match handshakes/24-hour rolling media circus/Mr 15% and so on! I could go on but I don’t want to ruin this sense of nostalgia, after all it’s just a game … oh » – Paul Munro.

Send your letters to And if you’ve nothing better to do you can also tweet the Fiver.


Denmark’s players have been banned from social media during Euro 2012. Lucky Denmark followers. « There was a time when we lived without Twitter and we’ll be able to do it during the Euros replica prada saffiano handbags, » tapped Thomas Sorensen, Authentic Prada Vitello Daino as Danish journalists cried into their Midsomer Murders box sets at having to find other sources for stories about what Nicklas Bendtner is eating for breakfast.

In a desperate attempt to inject some jeopardy into the situation, Stuart Pearce has said David Beckham is not guaranteed a place in the Team GB squad for London 2012. But we all know that he’ll be there in the end. And who really cares anyway?

Meanwhile, Team GB’s team of perfumed, beautifully coiffed semi-professionals are applying their make-up and Authentic Prada Bags Uk getting ready to play Uruguay, UAE and Senegal at London 2012 while – wait for this one to zing – Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Shoes Sale the women’s team will play New Zealand, Brazil and Cameroon.

Once again showing that he has his finger on the pulse of the nation, Roberto Mancini has played down the significance of Monday’s fight to the death between Manchester United and Manchester City. « For us it will just be one more game, » Mancini said. These mind games are really getting to him.

And assorted football hacks have proved themselves even more clueless than the pros by voting Paul Scholes third in their Footballer of the Year award. Whether that’s for his displays in the first half of the season or the second is unclear.


Cristiano Ronaldo stars as a gladiator, chewy sweet and his big-boned namesake in this week’s Gallery.

Team GB’s group opponents Uruguay are likely to select Diego Forlan, Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez as their three overage players for the Olympics. Stuart Pearce may choose those bastions of the Olympic idyll Lee Cattermole and Craig Bellamy in his, as Louise Taylor explains.

If you were wasting time on the internet this afternoon instead of doing your job you could have posed a question for Dominic Fifield on Barcelona v Chelsea. As it is you can just make do with reading the questions of others.

And Chelsea must better perfection against Barcelona, declares Daniel Taylor, little realising that particular oxymoron was achieved during Aston Villa 0-0 Wolves back in August.


Want your very own copy of our free tea-timely(ish) email sent direct to your inbox? Has your regular copy stopped arriving? Click here to sign up.


I like studying things and I enjoyed the learning process

Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. I like studying things and I enjoyed the learning process. I took calculus and economics and all that stuff. I just enjoy those subjects. ».

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Same old story for Chinese football as suspicions of corruption linger

The Eastern Dawn restaurant Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Clothing Uk next to Black Prada Bag With Gold Hongkou Stadium in Shanghai was aptly named – last Saturday at least. Prior to the first match of the Chinese season, blue-shirted fans packed in for pre-match noodles, rice and tofu. Inside the stadium, Shanghai Shenhua fans were already warming up. « I am Ben, » one said. « I am a Hammer, » he laughed. He then turned to his friend, who was sporting a fake Manchester United shirt under his blue Shanghai one, threw his head back and shouted « West Ham till I die! » in a passable cockney accent stolen from the hooligan-glorifying movie Green Street.

Soon after, the Blues were on easy street as they led Shenzhen Shangqingyin 2-0, roared on by 15,000 Bicester Village Prada Opening fans on a chilly and murky Saturday night. Shenhua Are Prada Trainers Made In Vietnam Authentic Prada Canvas Bag are one of the biggest clubs in Shanghai, itself one of China’s biggest cities with a population approaching 20 million.

They may not be short of supporters but staying power has been lacking in the past. One title and seven runners-up spots since 1996 suggest Shenhua’s reputation for fading near the finish line is deserved. The quest for a first championship since 2003 had head coach Wu Jingui desperate for a good start, and with three home games to start the season, the pressure was on to take advantage. « Always before a new season, the feeling is the same, » said Wu at the club’s training ground deep in the south of the city. « We are excited, a little bit nervous and we also have a vision about the season ahead. »

The vision of the season behind is not a pleasant one. The past three years have been turbulent for football in Shanghai – a city that enjoys an intense rivalry with Beijing to the north. « Beijing can have the Olympics handbags, we get all the good sporting events – formula one, tennis and golf, » a reporter told me. In 2005, there were three top flight teams. Then Shanghai International relocated to Xi’an. Blues fan Ben missed the fights but was even more unhappy in February 2007 when Shanghai United and Shanghai Shenhua merged.

Zhu Jun was the man behind it all. The flamboyant businessman made big money in online gaming and tales are still breathlessly told of bags of cash handed to players before and after games at Shanghai United. Whatever the truth of that, he handed over around $20m to buy a controlling interest in Shanghai’s other top flight club, Shenhua. He merged the two and replaced Wu with United’s Uruguayan boss Osvaldo Gimenez.

United had little history and few followers, so the name Shenhua and the blue shirts were retained, but the team was a mess. The fans, already unhappy at having to vacate the Hongkou Stadium for a season as it was renovated for the Women’s World Cup, booed Zhu and the ex-Shanghai United players. The Asian Champions League campaign was a disaster and rivals Beijing Guoan won their first ever game in Shanghai. Gimenez was soon out and Wu reinstated. « I am Chinese and knew the team and the club and knew what we needed – in my head at least! » said the coach.

Wu is diplomatic about the owner these days. That may change if reports that Zhu intends to bow out of business and take a more hands-on role at the club turn out to be true, though as Zhu already trains with the team on a regular basis, it is difficult to know how much more involved he could be. For now however, Wu Authentic Prada Handbag Uk has more pressing concerns with the new season ahead.

The launch of the professional league in 1994 was supposed to be the stimulus that finally woke the sleeping dragon of China’s 1.3 billion-strong population. It started well and by the turn of the century, Chinese football was booming. Attendances were high, players were swapping clubs for over a $1m, big business was enthusiastic and in 2002 the national team qualified for their first ever World Cup.

That, however, turned into a disaster. China returned from South Korea pointless and goalless. Things had already started to go wrong domestically; the 2001 promotion play-offs saw to that. The Black Whistles Affair may sound like a slick Raymond Chandler novel but actually concerned blatant match-fixing. With five minutes of the season remaining, Changchun Yatai needed to score four goals to get promoted on goal difference. They did just that. There was much more besides and before long coaches were suspended, a referee was behind bars, players fired, league sponsors Pepsi quit and attendances started to fall.

Suspicion of corruption has been hard to shake. The 2004 season saw two teams penalised for walking off the pitch in protest at refereeing decisions that were perceived to be biased. Finding sponsors for the league is an annual battle. But Shanghai’s ex-Middlesbrough marksman Hamilton Ricard believes that things are slowly improving. « I have heard rumours about money, » said Ricard. « That makes it difficult to become a strong power in football but now they are trying to clean everything up and this is a new start for football in China. »

Chinese football journalists blame the Chinese FA, one of the few public bodies open to criticism, and accuse it of lacking direction, intelligence and leadership. Many of the locals hardly have a good word to say about the domestic league, preferring to watch European football. This is not unique in Asia but it is hard to blame the fans when most clubs are owned by the government and they change names and locations on a frequent basis. Instead then of Zheng Zhi and Li Weifeng, it is the faces of Michael Owen, Kaka and David Beckham that light up the sides of buses and buildings in Shanghai. Yet despite the popularity of the English football, loyalty is not deep. The Premier League’s decision last summer to sell live TV rights to a Pay-TV station has reportedly seen viewing figures fall from millions to tens of thousands.

Whether Authentic Prada Milano Handbags the Premier League maintains its popularity or not, Coach Wu believes that the Middle Kingdom needs to look to England for inspiration. « Chinese players are good physically but we need to change the way we play and think. The Premier League brought in Ferguson from Scotland, Wenger from France, Benítez and Ramos from Spain and Mourinho. If we want to progress and improve, we Authentic Prada Bags Online Singapore also have to bring in high-level coaches from outside. »

The 2,000 or so Blue Devils, Shenhua’s largest fan group, look to Korea for their role models. The hardcore had watched the Korean derby in the same stadium three days previously and were as moved as everybody else when, at the end of the game, southern players bowed to the northern fans and the northern players did the same to the Red Devils. The Shenhua fans view the Korea fans as a benchmark, and study videos of them in action. It is easy to see the similarities – non-stop singing, jumping up and down, clever flags, cute banners and goal celebrations that involve fans ending up some distance from their seat before dancing back again.

And the faithful had two opportunities to dance as former Celtic loanee Du Wei headed Shanghai into the lead and midfielder Yu Tao sealed the win in the second half. The performance of the fans was smoother than those of the players though perhaps it was due to early-season rustiness. The opposition tried to pass their way to success but the final ball was lacking – Shenzhen, champions in 2004, are a shadow of their former Authentic Prada Clothing selves.

It was a deserved win in a decent game and Ricard was happy. « It is not easy to score. Technically, the standard of the league is pretty good and I am enjoying it. » He certainly seemed to be having a good time with his team-mates. Agatha Ruiz Prada Online Shop On Thursday they had gone to the cinema, and Friday was coffee night. Carpet bowls is only a matter of time. Despite the activity on and off the pitch, the 34-year-old still thinks of Blighty. « I miss Middlesbrough. The traffic is much better than here, » he laughed.

A new subway station made it easier for fans and they went home happy at the end of a disappointing week for Chinese football. On Wednesday, the national team drew 0-0 at home to Australia in a qualification game for the 2010 World Cup. Midfielder Shao Jiayi wasted a penalty with two minutes left with the tamest of efforts. With two points from two games, even progressing to the final round of qualification is far from guaranteed.

Many of the headlines in the newspapers on display in the stand by People’s Square station in Shanghai were of a similar vein – ‘Same old story’. But Wu Jinqui is quietly optimistic that there is light at the end of the tunnel. « Chinese football is improving but it is like the high jump, once you reach 2.20m, it is difficult to jump higher but that’s what we must do. »