Borges, Borring and Billy the Fish

European football in 12 paragraphs...

Ironic slogan of the week

Newcastle United’s invitation on its homepage: “YOU could be Newcastle’s best signing of the season.” Although, wait zenaba minute, that’s not ironic, it’s true. Anyone of us could be… even Fulchester United’s keeper Billy The Fish.

World Cup shock of the week

Romania 0-3 Lithuania in Bucharest. Austria’s 3-1 triumph over a discontented, disorganised France, courtesy of a couple of Philippe Mexes errors, isn’t on the same Richter scale as Lithuania’s triumph.

Lithuania upset the odds in Romania 

Jorge Luis Borges inspired headline of the week

“Toon battle with Spurs over Poyet”. This is the football equivalent of the Argentine fabulist’s famous characterisation of the Falklands War: “Two bald men fighting over a comb.” And, like so many of these headlines, it has since been denied by the interested.

Most predictable headline

Kaka: “I never want to leave Milan.” Can’t Manchester City, Chelsea, Doncaster Rovers et al just leave him alone? The poor lad has said this every day – or something similar – for the last year. Think of the wasted carbon footprint involved in just running a story in which the only significant change is the name of the spurned club.

Maxim of the week

“Under normal circumstances, anyone buying a football club will end up looking an idiot within a year.” Hats off to The Times' Simon Barnes for this one. You can read his deliciously entertaining rant here.  Green shoot of recovery

For the first time in 10 years Belgium have opened their qualifying campaign for a major tournament with a win. Okay, the Red Devils did only beat Estonia (ranked 121st by FIFA) 2-1 but it was enough to have coach Rene Vandereycken crowing: “This is the best squad I have worked with so far.” Damned with faint praise? Perhaps. But Belgium do, as uefa.com point out here have some decent young players emerging. So promising are these youngsters that a bunch of legends like Paul Van Himst and co have rallied behind them with a “We believe” campaign. Maybe Banks, Hurst and Charlton (Jack or Bobby) could do something similar for the Young Lions of 2008?

Borring but important

The thumb-sucking one’s arrival at Manchester City dominated Britain’s back pages but in Denmark a 23-year-old midfielder called Jonas Borring has just left OB to join Midtylland for what is said to be the largest ever fee paid by one Superliga club to another. It has been one hell of a summer for Borring who starred as his new club gave Manchester City a scare in the UEFA Cup and was called up to the Danish national team for the first time. Definitely one to watch.

Jonas Borring? Not in the slightest

Football legend in need of a new business card

Dennis Wise. Needs to hand in cards that read “director (football) Newcastle United” and order new ones that read: “director (shambles) Newcastle United”.

The sack race

So far, Stefano Colantuono (Palermo), Kevin Keegan (Newcastle), Alan Curbishley (West Ham United), Oleh Protsavov (Dnipro Dnipropetrosvk), Zdenek Zeman (Red Star Belgrade), Itzak Shum (Beitar Jerusalem), Michael Der Zakarian (Nantes) and Ioan Andone (the coach who led Cluj to their first ever UEFA Champions League campaign) have all lost their jobs, either being fired, replaced or leaving on principle.

Season’s greetings

From Albania, where after 45 minutes on the opening day of the season, the score in all six matches was 0-0. Luckily Shkumbini Peqin ran amok in the second half of their game and beat minnows Bylis Ballshi 4-1.

Manchester United crisis!

But only, alas, in Gibraltar where the Red Devils’ less illustrious namesakes finished fifth – and bottom – in the First Division.

Prophetic book title

Kevin Keegan Against The World, co-written by Mike Langley (published in 1979).

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