Betis put Paco out to pasture

Sadly (unless you are an Atlético fan), there’s only nine matches of Primera fun left till the season grinds to a horrendous halt.

But you can turn those frowns upside-down as there’s still plenty of time left for some sacrificial sackings by panic-stricken sides.

After the latest round of matches, two coaching heads were being held down on the chopping board of fate.

The first belonged to Victor Muñoz after a season spent RUINING Getafe and a hefty defeat against Valencia. The other was the Jagger-esque bonce of Paco Chaparro, the batty boss of Betis.

On Tuesday morning, the big-chinned chieftain of Getafe was handed a reprieve and released to prepare for another footballing failure. However his counterpart in the city of Seville was less fortunate.

As darkness fell over the Betis stadium on Monday evening - feeding time for Darth Manuel de Lopera - it was announced that Chaparro had been quietly returned to the city’s Home for Bewildered, from where he had been plucked the previous season when taking over the reins of the calamitous club.

Paco: Packed off

Sunday’s 3-3 home draw with Numancia, which included a last-minute equaliser for Betis’ opponents thanks to a Ricardo goalkeeping howler, left the club in its now traditional 16th spot, just one point and two places above the relegation zone.

Even more troubling for the Beticos is that they must face their next game away at Racing without the suspended Ricardo Oliveira and the injured professional idiot, Sergio García. The beardy-weirdy striker is out for a month having damaged himself on Sunday celebrating his club’s opening goal.

Taking over the Betis bench is the extremely cheap second team coach, José Maria Nogues, who made a promise on Spanish radio to “work hard and make sure they haven’t made a mistake” in his selection.

Nogues also revealed that he too could be sacked in a year’s time during another relegation struggle if things go tickety-boo over the next two months.

“Don Manuel told me that if we stay up he will renew my contract straight away,” beamed the former B-teamer.

Elsewhere in La Liga, Villarreal are preparing for a much-anticipated clash with Arsenal. Barcelona are preparing for a much-anticipated clash with Bayern Munich. And Real Madrid are preparing for a much-anticipated training session.

Spirits are very high indeed in the Kingdom of Catalunya with both Sport and Mundo Deportivo resorting to excited high-pitched squeals, journalism that only dogs and Barcelona fans can hear.

“Passion for the Champions!” yells Sport’s front page with Josep Casanovas, calling for the 47 or so fans who plan to go to the Camp Nou on Wednesday night to cheer their boys to victory.

Marca, on the other hand, want nothing to do with the overrated and somewhat tawdry Champions League. Instead, Tuesday’s edition sees them continuing their shameless and, dare La Liga Loca say it, whorish campaign to get Florentino Pérez elected as president of Real Madrid.

The paper published a photoshopped image of Kaka holding up a Madrid number five shirt (with a warning to some of its slower readers that it’s a mock-up). The accompanying story is just another part of the bizarre alternate dimension that Marca is currently residing in.

According to the latest edition, Pérez has already won the elections, selected Zidane as his sporting director, signed Kaka, roused Alfredo di Stefano from his nap and poked the club’s life president into presenting the Brazilian striker as his first summer signing.

“Pérez is producing heavenly music for the fans,” sighed Tuesday’s wistful editorial.

"Eh? I don't remember that..."

If that wasn’t enough to raise a titter on a Tuesday, Marca also publishes the latest update on the paper’s Alfredo di Stefano award - the annual prize given to Raúl as the season’s best footballer.

Each weekend, the paper’s readers vote for their player of the week. Points are then awarded to the top 10 of each round. At the end of the season these are then completely ignored when a jury of Marca writers and former Real Madrid managers give the trinket to Raúl.

After round 29, Marca’s voting populace decided that Gonzalo Higuaín was the best player of the weekend, followed by Raúl after his stunningly memorable performance against Malaga. Leo Messi’s rather plinky half an hour against Valladolid was voted the third best outing of the round.

However, despite this blow, the Barça forward still leads the pack in the season’s overall standings. Raúl is nestled behind him in second with Higuaín in third - a result that must leave the likes of Eto’o, Villa, Diego López and Forlán more than a little puzzled.

Meanwhile, another one of Marca’s polls has been quietly shuffled into the shadows after some 70 percent of readers voted that it was quite right for Juande Ramos to give Guti constant grief.

The online version of the paper put up a sniffy notice reporting that there had been signs of fraud on the poll, something that also occurred when a majority declared that Raúl should indeed have been left out of the recent Spain squad to face Turkey.

And something that also occurs when the paper happens to disagree with the results. Democracy rules in Marca-land.

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