Real Madrid “optimise media relations”

In many ways, Real Madrid’s decision to permanently block journalists’ access to their players after training should be seen as a blessing in disguise for the Spanish footballing press.After all, as Marca’s Roberto Gómez puts it, the club is merely “optimising relations with the media, members and supporters.” Yes, it may mean that his colleagues have to work that little bit harder to make up stories, but it does free them from the humiliation of being herded into a pen just to watch ipod-clutching multi-billionaire footballers breeze past as they head for their Batmobiles.

Real Madrid training: No journalists allowed! 

The lethargic La Liga Loca’s one and only trip to this unseemly scrum was an odd experience. The blog was creeped out more than a little by the very unnerving Julio Baptista, was told by Wesley Sneijder that he, himself, was the player of the year and discovered that Royston Drenthe answers the simplest of questions with the same thought and intensity given to the ‘Sylvie Van der Vaart, your mother, on the Titanic, one life jacket’ conundrum.  In theory, the Spanish tabloid papers should have been very much with the public fury on the club’s new direction. But they have been curiously silent on the affair with AS dedicating just a teeny tiny paragraph to the decision and Marca allowing, groveller-in-chief, Gómez to more or less reproduce the official statement given on the club’s website. La Liga Loca’s evil wish to see the relegation of those super-smugsters Villarreal, just to see the look on their faces, looks like coming true. The club have lost their last three friendlies, the most recent of which was a 5-1 hammering by Valladolid in the Madrigal.“We are too comfortable,” fumed Javi Venta. “After being second last year, we think that matches are won on their own.” It was an opinion shared by Diego López who predicted that “we won’t win anything,” in the new season if his team’s current form continues.

Villarreal losing again in pre-season, against Liverpool 

Technically, Villarreal didn’t win anything last year, apart from plaudits. Or the year before that. In fact their list of past glories is shorter than Guti’s attention span. Villarreal’s slump has whipped the Marca message-boarders into a feeding-frenzy with one particular keyboard-bashing baiter shouting in capitals that “you are not gods, you are flesh and bone!” The Yellow Submarine may be suffering more metaphor-mangling turbulence before the season starts with the departure of Marcus Senna to Luis Aragones’ Fenerbahce. The ex-Brazilian’s agent confirms that there are talks between the two clubs with Senna himself admitting that “Luis asked me if I would like to work with him and I said it would be a pleasure.” Espanyol manager Tintin ‘sacked in September’ Márquez is blissfully unconcerned about his team’s recent tour of the Netherlands where they failed to win a game. “I’m happy with the way things have gone,” chirped the former number two. If that’s true then he’ll be dizzy with delight with the campaign to come if being beaten is how he gets his footballing kicks. Pep ‘Pep’ Guardiola has got the managerial seal of approval from former Spain international buddy, Michel Salgado. The creaky old full-back oozed that “the way he views football as a player and the way he exudes the Barcelona spirit, I believe he’s the perfect choice to coach Barça.”

Salgado: Just crazy about his old friend Pep 

Elsewhere in the Spanish capital, Maniche is continuing his charm offensive to woo both the fans of the Atlético Madrid and his boss, Javier Aguirre. “I want to stay here and show the manager things that I’ve not yet shown,” warned the big-boned-bottler. La Liga Loca can only guess that mooning will be the chosen method of protest the next time he is taken to task by Aguirre for being in no fit state to play a game of football. And that’s something Atlético’s soon-to-be shellshocked Mexican manager will never recover from.