The 2009 FSU Awards: Beach football, Beyoncé and Joe Stalin
ÃÂ¡ ÃÂÃÂ¾ÃÂ²ÃÂÃÂ¼ ÃÂÃÂ¾ÃÂ´ÃÂ¾ÃÂ¼! (Happy New Year!)
NMTB doesnÃ¢ÂÂt like this winter break lark the FSUÃ¢ÂÂs currently got going on.
ThereÃ¢ÂÂs a distinct lack of football, itÃ¢ÂÂs far too cold AND you to have to celebrate Christmas all over again on January 7.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs also the time of year when some berk suggests everyone goes walrusing.
ThatÃ¢ÂÂs not the Russian equivalent of dogging, by the way. Essentially itÃ¢ÂÂs a few people getting together in the woods, stripping naked, then splashing about in an icy pool before frolicking in the snow and drinking vodka for a bit.
(Actually, that description makes it sound EXACTLY like the Russian equivalent of dogging).
"Have you seen my keys?"
So while weÃ¢ÂÂre on this brief hiatus, NMTB may as well proffer you a review of the past year; itÃ¢ÂÂs one way of filling the gaping void of no football the blog is staring into.
The we-donÃ¢ÂÂt-give-a-toss-about-the-fans award: Megasport Depot/FK Almaty (Lokomotiv Astana), Kazakhstan
This pair of weasels from KazakhstanÃ¢ÂÂs largest city not only dropped a massive turd on their supporters by announcing in January theyÃ¢ÂÂd merged, but then proceeded to rub it in their faces like some giant s**t pie by moving 600 miles away to Astana.
Even with a bucketload of cash Lokomotiv failed to win the Premier League last year, so perhaps there is some justice in the world...
The Ryan Giggs I-donÃ¢ÂÂt-play-in-friendlies prize: Vitalie Manaliu, Moldova
At one point it was the pinnacle of a playerÃ¢ÂÂs career to be selected for their national team, even if that national team was Moldova. Not anymore.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs slim pickings just attempting to cobble together a half-decent Moldovan squad today Ã¢ÂÂ any side thatÃ¢ÂÂs laboured to successive 0-0 draws with Luxembourg clearly has problems Ã¢ÂÂ so itÃ¢ÂÂs no surprise some of the players have given up the ghost now.
Last summerÃ¢ÂÂs friendly in Belarus failed to enthuse the fans, let alone the squad, some of whom didnÃ¢ÂÂt even bother feigning injury to dodge the game.
Sergiu LaÃ Âcencov claimed he was too tired; Vitalie Bordeian didnÃ¢ÂÂt offer a reason; and then thereÃ¢ÂÂs the Iskra-Stal RÃÂ®bniÃ Â£a striker Vitalie Manaliu, who declared himself unavailable because the fixture clashed with a trip to the seaside heÃ¢ÂÂd got booked.
It wasnÃ¢ÂÂt as if the FMF sprung it on him at the last moment. NMTBÃ¢ÂÂs pretty sure football associations arrange these some time in advance.
The Sven-GÃÂ¶ran Eriksson IÃ¢ÂÂm-not-here-for-the-money prize: Luis Felipe Scolari, Bunyodkor
Some people will do anything for money.
A 15-year-old NMTB once hurled a MÃÂ¼ller Fruit Corner at a teacher for ÃÂ£5. Yes, the blog was an absolute s**t at school, and itÃ¢ÂÂs no wonder it was expelled.
Thankfully World Cup winner Luis Felipe ScolariÃ¢ÂÂs not at all like that, and itÃ¢ÂÂs purely altruistic reasons that took him to Uzbekistan after Chelsea.
HeÃ¢ÂÂs aspiring to create a lasting dynasty in Central Asia with Bunyodkor. Who wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt?
Big Phil and a fellow economic migrant
That ÃÂ£13 million-a-year contract means nothing to him; Big PhilÃ¢ÂÂd do it for nothing if he could.
The Joe Stalin best moustache award: Valery Gazzaev, Dynamo Kyiv
ItÃ¢ÂÂs been nigh on impossible to switch on a television lately and not see some rotund twit with a cardboard moustache belting out that infuriating ditty in that Gocompare.com advert.
Whichever failed actor it is, and letÃ¢ÂÂs face it, masquerading as an opera singer for an insurance company isn't exactly how he envisaged he career panning out, has a cracking facial appendage, although it pales in comparison to FSU legend Valery GazzaevÃ¢ÂÂs.
A proper soup-strainer
Maybe thereÃ¢ÂÂs an alternative career for the Dynamo Kyiv manager yetÃ¢ÂÂ¦
Worst stadium opening: Astana Arena, Kazakhstan
A flight to Kazakhstan is flipping expensive. It costs about the same price as it does to get to America Ã¢ÂÂ and people actually want to go there - so it isn't every day England visit.
The KFF couldnÃ¢ÂÂt believe it when they were drawn in KazakhstanÃ¢ÂÂs World Cup qualifying group, what with a ÃÂ£150m national stadium due for christening and promptly pencilled in the Three LionsÃ¢ÂÂ trip to showcase their 30,000-capacity behemoth to the world.
Shame nobody told the builders.
The Astana Arena experienced more delays than a Virgin Trains service and was due for completion well ahead of the Premier LeagueÃ¢ÂÂs season-opener way back in March, let alone EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs visit in June.
NMTB can only speculate what caused the hold-up that resulted in Fabio CapelloÃ¢ÂÂs team playing in Almaty, although the blog surmises itÃ¢ÂÂs something to do with all those frivolous extras the stadium boasts, like that ridiculous helicopter landing pad for example.
CouldnÃ¢ÂÂt they have just painted a massive yellow Ã¢ÂÂHÃ¢ÂÂ in the car park?
How often is it going to get used, anyway?
"Will that do?"
But even with Wayne Rooney et al out of the picture, surely ultra-ambitious president Nursultan Nazarbayev had another A-lister up his sleeve?
After all, he has aspirations of his new capital becoming AsiaÃ¢ÂÂs finest city.
Except Nazarbayev didnÃ¢ÂÂt. Plan B was a meaningless friendly between Lokomotiv Astana and the Kazakh under-21 side that had everyone thoroughly underwhelmed, including Pierluigi Collina who was brought in Ã¢ÂÂ possibly by helicopter Ã¢ÂÂ to officiate it and add an ounce of glitz to the occasion.
Conversely, to inaugurate the Donbass Arena in August, Shakhtar Donetsk managed to entice BeyoncÃÂ© to prance about in a skimpy outfit...
The it-could-only-happen-in-Moldova prize: beach football takes off
Quite how, where and why beach football has taken off in landlocked Moldova amazes NMTB; they havenÃ¢ÂÂt yet mastered ordinary football.
TheyÃ¢ÂÂve even formed the Moldovan Beach Football Federation.
That trumps even Olimpia BÃÂlÃ Â£iÃ¢ÂÂs recent antics of launching a chimerical auction to win a place in the starting XI for one of the clubÃ¢ÂÂs European fixtures which may, or may not, be an elaborate PR stunt.
They once attempted an Ebbsfleet United-style fansÃ¢ÂÂ ownership of the club (which also died on its arse), so itÃ¢ÂÂs not the first time theyÃ¢ÂÂve tried something like this.
Even if it is a PR stunt, has anyone actually benefited from the modicum of interest itÃ¢ÂÂs generated?
All thatÃ¢ÂÂs been achieved is an absolute hammering in the media, especially from Russia.
The X Factor weÃ¢ÂÂll-drag-this-out-for-as-long-as-we-can award: KyrgyzstanÃ¢ÂÂs Vysshaja Liga
NMTB would love to know which idiot dreamt up the new format for the Vysshaja Liga, and just how he managed to convince the FFKR it was a good idea.
WhatÃ¢ÂÂs wrong with just playing each other home and away? ThatÃ¢ÂÂs the accepted model pretty much the world over. And it works.
But some twerp reckons that to prove yourself a worthy champion in Kyrgyzstan you must go beyond that, and recommended to the FFKR that the top four Ã¢ÂÂ and thereÃ¢ÂÂs only nine in the entire division Ã¢ÂÂ should contest a mini-league upon completion of the regular season to decide where the titleÃ¢ÂÂs heading.
So after 16 games the quartet again faced each other twice.
But even that didnÃ¢ÂÂt settle anything because Dordoi-Dynamo Naryn and Abdish-Ata Kant both finished the group level on points and goal difference, resulting in the FFKR hastily arranging ANOTHER play-off to resolve the championship.
Dordoi-Dynamo won that. As they had the original league Ã¢ÂÂ unbeaten and by eight points Ã¢ÂÂ making it all an incredibly pointless endeavour.
A bit like the Vysshaja Liga, really.
FourFourTwo.com: More to read...