Poltergeists, Paella and Poppycock

If you are an ex-Real Madrid player and also happen to have popped your clogs, then you're rarely allowed to rest in peace.

Indeed, if you are a chilly gust of wind away from passing on to the other side like Alfredo di Stefano, then you are definitely not allowed to rest in peace, such are the commitments you are forced to undertake. Whenever Real Madrid are in a bit of a hole they always invoke the spirit of Juanito to dig themselves out of it. Juanito was a former player who was a bit of a comeback-king, by all accounts, but was killed in a car crash in 1992. But over the past few years, the club and Madrid press have called on him for help, so many times, there is a very real possibility of him becoming a peed-off poltergeist and sucking some of those sitting in the corporate boxes through their television sets. And that would be no bad thing. The latest appeal for the former player's help comes ahead of Real Madrid's Champions League clash with Roma - a tie they are 2-1 down in with a fifty-fifty chance of being knocked out in the last sixteen, yet again. But all this hullabaloo is of little interest to AS who are still raging against the Schuster machine because of last Saturday's snubbing of the press. "He disrespected a group of journalists, a city and the history of Madrid", complained the paper's hysterical editor, Alfredo Relaño. First off, there's nothing wrong with disrespecting journalists. Especially the one working for his paper who asked Gabriel Heinze, "do you have to have a cold head or a hot heart?" to play Roma. In other Champions League news, Sevilla came a cropper against Fenerbahce with Manolo Jiménez lamenting his side's "growing psychosis about set pieces that is costing us a lot". Frank Rijkaard will be spending Wednesday morning in his office, waiting for the gentle knock on the door and the humble apologies of long list of hacks who criticised him for resting Leo Messi, on Saturday, because of a risk of a muscle strain. As it turns out Frankie was quite right to suspect that not everything was right with Leo's legs as he broke down in the first half of Barcelona's 1-0 win over Celtic and left the pitch having a bit of a blub. As the Spanish general election is just around the corner, all and sundry are trying to make political hay while the sun is still shining. One electoral candidate in Cataluyna had a dig at the Barcelona city authorities for entertaining the 20,000 odd visiting Celtic fans by cooking up giant paellas and giving them places where they could sit in the sun, drink beer and urinate in proper facilities to their hearts content. Or "act as a tour operator to Scottish hooligans...and facilitate the consumption of alcohol", according to Jordi Hereu. Sadly this is just a continuation of the infantile level of debate in the current campaign - a level set by the two big party leaders who sat face to face to each other, on Monday, for the second television debate where they continued to call each other liars, make up statistics and point at graphs as if they were flogging Cilit Bang. (La Liga Loca takes a deep breath).  The Swiss based statistical group, IFHSS, has released the latest figures on who are the top dogs of world football. They place Atlético Madrid in 15th, Inter in 8th, Sevilla 3rd and Real Madrid in 29th, behind Rangers and Everton. Atlético Madrid's Simao clearly hasn't been studying the league table that hard as he looks ahead to their next game against Zaragoza. "They have a good side and it will be a tough match", he opined. No they don't and no it won't. Speaking of Zaragoza, their fourth manager of the season, Manolo Villanova, gingerly plumped his behind on the Romareda ejector seat, on Tuesday, and confirmed that, "I have complete confidence that we'll get out of this because of the abilities of the players and the passion I have". Which is good to know.

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