Idiocy and incompetence

A Premier League weed farm

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💬 Quote of the day

“Xbox all day it is” - Luke Littler isn’t too gutted after getting knocked out of a tournament.

FOOTBALL

💼 But mum, all the other kids have Dan Ashworth briefcases

As Man United plot a £20m bid for Newcastle’s sporting director Dan Ashworth, fans are stocking up on ‘Ashworth 24’ laptop cases and kids are reeling off Excel formulas in the playground.

When Dan does battle his way past the hordes of selfie-hunting groupies at Carrington, he’ll be hoping to mine a few gems from the club’s famed academy.

And with the U21 side on a hot streak, which plucky young prodigy is leading the way?

None other than up-and-coming 37-year-old Tom Huddlestone, who you may recall bursting onto the scene back in 2003.

After joining United as a player-coach in 2022, the former Spurs man has been drafted in to help out the youth team, and netted the winner against hated rivals Man City on Monday.

None of his opponents were even born when he made his debut…

FOOTBALL

😵‍💫 Beale breaker

With a new series of Sunderland 'Til I Die out now, covering the Black Cats’ dramatic 2021/22 campaign, Netflix producers are promising “less chaos, more competency.”

It’s a frankly disappointing prospect, but we’re glad to report that back in 2024, the chaos is alive and well.

The club sacked manager Michael Beale this week after a calamitous 63 day reign, and now it turns out Beale himself was using a secret Twitter account to try and sway public opinion in his favour.

An account called @Player__id posted a string of strident defences against Beale’s reign, insisting Sunderland would struggle to replace him because of their “toxic fanbase” and a lack of transfer funds.

Growing suspicious, the sleuths at Sunderland podcast What The Falk did some digging, and discovered the account had also been fervently defending Beale’s disappointing spell as Rangers manager.

Scrolling a little further back, they found the account had originally been set up to promote a podcast hosted by… Michael Beale.

It’s pretty damning evidence, but at least some fans are giving Beale a fair trial…

Paper Cuts! It's like The Upshot for the news. Our daily podcast delves into the headlines but also the fun stuff - like Kyle Walker's innovative approach to relationships, Adrian Chiles' obsession with urinals and Gregg Wallace ignoring his family.

Out every week day at lunchtime, get the news without it making you want to throw yourself out of a window.

FOOTBALL

📹 Forgive me father for I have Cinned

Born in the God-fearing nation of Gabon, and stuck in Saudi Arabia for the last three seasons, Aaron Boupendza was licking his lips at the prospect of a move to American side Cincinnati FC.

After touching down in the Land of the Free, the striker wasted no time in embracing the local culture, hitting the Hard Rock Casino and guzzling down a chilli dog caked in hideous fluorescent cheese.

And of course, Penders got stuck into a past-time more American than Momma’s apple pie… filming himself having sex.

Unfortunately, when he returned to Gabon a few months later, his phone was stolen and thieves are now blackmailing him over the saucy vid.

This would be a sticky situation for anyone, but making porn is a crime worse than blasphemy in Gabon, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Guess he’s stuck in Cin City…

FOOTBALL

🤬 You call me a St Mirren again and I’ll show you who’s boss

It’s one of The Upshot’s all time favourite quick hits: ‘Dundee United’ is an insult in Nigeria, meaning a stupid person.

But when the fact cropped up on a recent episode of QI, we realised we didn’t know the backstory.

The insult originates from United’s ill-fated tour of West Africa back in 1972, when Jim McClean’s feted side were humbled by a cast of amateur clubs, including a 4-1 defeat to a team called Stationery Stores.

Nigerians turned out in their thousands to see them, but things went downhill when star striker Kenny Cameron branded fans who mobbed them at the airport “vultures and hyenas”, before berating the country’s traffic problems and postal strikes.

When the players finally left, the national press ran the headline “Don’t Come Back”, and one newspaper called for a public inquiry into why the team had been invited to Nigeria in the first place.

A decade on, when the Scottish side beat Roma 2-0 in the first leg of their European Cup quarter final, Nigerian gamblers lumped on them going through, only to see them thumped 3-0 in the second leg.

And so, according to the Nigerian Eye newspaper, “‘Dundee United’ became a byword for idiocy and incompetence”.

FOOTBALL

☘️ High life

After the runaway success of John Terry’s NFT range and Matt Le Tissier’s CBD gummies, more footballers are trying their luck as entrepreneurs.

But not everyone’s cut out to run a business empire. Take the Premier League star whose flat was invaded by drug dealers and converted into a a huge weed farm.

According to the police, the unnamed star only found out his buy-to-let property was filled with sacks of skunk when they raided it the other day.

It’s eerily similar to the story of Jermaine Pennant, who forgot he owned a £1m Cheshire mansion and only remembered when police told him it was Britain’s fourth largest weed farm.

Jermaine’s bad luck continued when the house burned down, and he declared bankruptcy soon after.

💉 Quick hits

🧑‍🎓 Wayne Rooney applied to study law at Nottingham University after the Wagatha Christie trial, but dropped the idea when he took a management job.

🌟 In Korea, the best-looking years of a person’s life are known as ‘Leeds season’ - after their brief stint as European heavyweights in 2000/01.

🍄 Celeb captain Michael Bublé turned up to the NHL all star game high on magic mushrooms.

On The Upshot podcast this week:

AND FINALLY

👀 Where’s Ronnie?

Ronaldinho pops up on the Turkish edition of reality series Survivor, wearing the full kit of NBA’s Boston Celtics.

In his native Brazil, Ronnie’s random cameos have become a running joke: in one heady period during 2015 he starred in a kickboxing film with Mike Tyson, played bongos at the World Cup and then popped up at an Arab summit on responsible policing.

That's it for today. Thanks to John.

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