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SHARES
20 March 2008
I was going to write about the magic of the FA Cup – specifically about how the magic of the FA Cup will, if it keeps producing semi-finals containing the likes of Barnsley, Cardiff, Portsmouth and West Brom, destroy the magic of the FA Cup – but this seemed a bit churlish.Then I was going to suggest that Gary Megson should be locked in a bedsit, forced to sit on the floor, with a single dingy lightbulb swinging above his head and told he will not be released until he has read the whole of Hunter Davies’ The Glory Game, can recite the Danny Blanchflower remark that football is about doing something with style and has admitted that, even as Bolton manager, he should aspire to higher things than 17th in the Premiership.
SHARES
19 March 2008
In the wake of two deaths related to football violence, a new fight amongt the highly orgaanised Boca Juniors barra brava 'El Doce' has broken out, resulting in the non-fatal stabbing of a 44 year old barra member.
SHARES
19 March 2008
Corriere dello Sport have scooped Tuttosport on Juventus and the never-ending saga of whether Frank Lampard will be joining the Turin club in the summer.According to the northern editions of the Rome-based daily, the Chelsea man has had enough of empty promises over a new contract and is ready to jump on the next Ryanair flight to fall into the arms of the Old Lady.A cool 700,000 euro a month would make the England international the club’s highest earner and begin the process of easing Alex Del Piero towards retirement within the next two seasons.Lampard would lead a revamped midfield along with Werder Bremen’s Brazilian playmaker Diego who has already sat down for some top-notch nosh with Juve powerbrokers to ensure Inter don’t scupper the deal.AC Milan have also been in London claims La Gazzetta dello Sport although it’s not down the Kings Road to land Didier Drogba but up to Seven Sisters to prise Dimitar Berbatov away from Tottenham.However, the notoriously tight-fisted Rossoneri owner Silvio Berlusconi would have to stump up a reported 23 million euro for the Bulgarian plus he’s only 27 and much too young to join a grown-up club like Milan.Apart from the wads of cash, Spurs would acquire Dario Simic who claims he has forgotten what it’s like to be a footballer, having made all of two appearances this season.Meanwhile, any Manchester United players in need of some political debate when they are in Rome next month can always call on Alberto Aquilani.The AS Roma midfielder informed La Gazetta dello Sport that although his didn’t know much about the finer points of politics he had very firm views on Italy’s emigration policy.“There are too many foreigners in the country and most of the violence and trouble you see is caused by them,” he claimed. The 23-year-old also harked back to the times when the trains ran on time and revealed: “I have a few photographs and portraits of Mussolini at home. My uncle gave them to me as a present.”
SHARES
19 March 2008
Most Primera club presidents carry chips on their shoulders the size of Strasbourg. They are some of the paranoid men on the planet, primed to come over all Kenneth Williams and declare, "infamy, infamy, they've all got in for me", at any perceived slight from those nominally in charge of the game in Spain. And considering those pulling the footballing strings in La Liga are often men of a certain age with generations old axes to grind or bury in each other's spines, some of them may have a point. On Monday, Zaragoza boss - and the meanest looking mutha in the game - Eduardo Bandrés, decided to discount his alarming turnover in coaches as the cause for his club's troubles this season and blame referees. "You can't cry to mummy about it," he whined, "sometimes the only way of being heard is to give a thump on the table", or complain endlessly in the press, perhaps. But this whinge was topped - and then some - by the rant from Betis puppet president, José Léon, who donned a silver foil beanie hat and went before the media, on Tuesday, to declare that the LFP boss, Angel Villar "wants to send us to the second division". The reason for this pique of paranoia is the decision taken by the league competition committee on what to do with the suspended Betis v Athletic Bilbao game from Saturday night. The organisation have decided to award the 2-1 win to Athletic, taking into consideration that there was only 19 minutes of the game left to play and the visitors were down to ten men with no substitutes left. Betis have been ordered to close the de Lopera stadium for two matches - a punishment that would have been four had it not been for the actions of home fans in apprehending the culprit. Marca agree with the decision admitting it is a harsh punishment on the remaining 40,000 fans but argue that a club is responsible for what happens in their ground. Betis, meanwhile, continue to feel that having Javier Tebas, "an intimate enemy of Villar", says Marca, as their representative in the league is the reason for the strong action. Athletic Bilbao, aside from having their first two keepers out of action, are pleased as punch with the arbitration which moves them into 10th at the expense of Valencia. "Justice has been done", confirmed Fernando García Macua, president of the Basque club. There is still trouble at t'mill in the Kingdom of Catalunya concerning the declaration by Barça's medical staff that there is nothing wrong with Ronaldinho. El Pais report that the striker has declared that he wants to play Thursday's cup tie against Valencia, "with or without problems". Only 40% of Sport readers agree, in their latest on-line poll. Sunday's edition of El Periódico wrote that Ronaldinho was out disco-dancing, last Wednesday night, and was in no fit state to train the following day, hence Frank Rijkaard's cover story that the fallen star was injured. Mundo Deportivo have gone a step further and risked annihilation by Joan Laporta's android army by declaring that this is just one of many occasions when the players aren't injured, but fancy a break and get a sickie - a policy that the coach is complicit in, apparently. "The most guilty in these episodes that are so common in the dressing room is Rijkaard", j'accuse's the Barcelona sports daily. Marca are continuing to hound Diego until either he or one of his family admit that he is desperate for a move to Madrid in the summer. Having failed with his father, a lacky has been sent to Bremen to track down the striker, but all the Brazilian would say is that "what's been published is a lie. I've not signed for another club". If Real Madrid are to lure Diego to the Spanish capital they are going to have call in Predrag Mijatovic's black ops wet work team to do so, it would appear. "If someone wants to buy Diego, they have to kill me first", warned Werder Bremen president, Jurgen Born.
SHARES
19 March 2008
Two young fans killed in seperate incidents, bringing the total number of football violence related deaths to 224.
SHARES
18 March 2008
Further evidence that Diego Maradona may still be as high as a kite was produced on Tuesday, with Marca revealing that the rotund rebel has recommended that Bernd Schuster be the next manager of Boca Juniors. Delirious Diego is under the impression that a man who reacts to pressure as a club president does to a tax return, would be ideally suited to a league where they are likely to set fire to his moustache, should he lose a match. "Schuster is tactically perfect, as he was as a player", cooed his former Barcelona team-mate admiringly, before he watched the German coach stick Mahamadou Diarra at left back, on Saturday night. Unfortunately, for Maradona's marvelous dream to come true, barmy Bernd may have to be tranquilised and shipped to Argentina, over the summer, as he is continuing to crack up in entertaining style. At Friday's press conference, the Teutonic titan lost what little of the plot he still possessed when asked about de Guzmán's now tedious 'no sex for a year' promise. "You think the Real Madrid press room is the right place for such questions?", blasted Bernd at the cowering hack. Schuster then defended his recent record by announcing that, "if you look at other big teams and the career of their managers, you see that in no case do they win titles in their first season". Apart from Fabio Capello. Or Jose Mourinho. Marca have interviewed Djair da Cunha, father and agent of Werder Bremen striker, Diego. Having failed to get any assurance that the Brazilian is desperate to play for the greatest club in the world, the despairing journalistic minion asked, "won't he like the sun of Spain more than the cold of Germany?" - which is about as in depth as Predrag Mijatovic gets when signing a player. More fun and games at Barcelona, with the club's medical team denying that there is anything wrong with Ronaldinho, despite Frank Rijkaard's constant claims. "There is no tendon or muscle injury", fumed an irate official declaration from the desperate doctors. With this ringing in his ears, Ronaldinho took to the training pitches, on Monday, to prove to all his doubters that he was ready and willing to lead his side to the Copa del Rey final - but then thought better off it by retiring after nine exhausting minutes. AS is reporting suspicions that Giovani may also be a work-shy malingerer. Barcelona advised over the weekend that the Mexican had a fractured bone in his foot, but one of the guests on Catalan talk show 'El Rondo' advised that, "it hasn't stopped him dancing away with his girlfriend". A double dumping is on the cards in Valencia, this week, with sporting director, Miguel Angel Ruiz, also on the brink of being moved out of Mestalla. For those struggling to keep up, Ruiz was brought in last summer to replace Amedeo Carboni and work alongside Quique Sánchez Flores. But Soler then replaced Quique with Koeman. And then sacked himself, to be replaced with Agustin Morera. Unsurprisingly, AS are reporting that Valencia no longer have the money to fire Ronald Koeman, something they have on Friday's 'to-do' list. David Villa for one couldn't give two hoots for any of this managerial malarkey. "It's not my problem. I'm not worried", sniffed the striker when questioned on his boss' precarious position. Sevilla president, José Marie Del Nido, travelled to Manchester on Monday - coincidentally, the city where most of his players will end up, next season. Del Nido was there to hand over the UEFA cup to Michel Platini. "Only those who have won things have to give them back," assured the Frenchman as he wrestled the trophy out of the clutches of the weeping Sevilla bigwig. Fans of Hércules of the Galician third division are no longer taunting all and sundry after January's 3-0 thrashing of local rivals, Cecebre. And that's because the game never took place.
SHARES
18 March 2008
If the Argentine fabulist Jorge Luis Borges had ever dropped into the pub next to Nuneaton Borough’s old Manor Park ground on matchday and I had attempted to regale him over a pint of Pedigree with a potted history of our rivalry with Bedworth United, he would probably have likened this longstanding derby in an obscure, moist part of the West Midlands to “two bald men fighting over a comb”.
SHARES
17 March 2008
Manchester La Fianna equalised ten minutes into the second half on Saturday. It hadn’t gone well before then.
SHARES
17 March 2008
Good Day Villarreal Another cracking finish from Nihat, his first league strike since 19th January, means that the smart money is on the Yellow Submarine to overhaul Barcelona and grab second spot. The really smart money may be on Villarreal winning the title, such is the ineptitude of the two terrible teams above them.  Deportivo It has been a while since La Liga Loca has cast a beady blogging eye over Deportivo but it was vaguely impressed by what it saw. Felipe on the left was the best of the bunch, but Lafita and Wilhelmsson were a constant threat to poor old Miguel Torres - a player having to look after the right flank on his own. La Liga Loca suspects that all will be ok in La Coruña. Even with the hapless Xisco in the side. Luis Fabiano A copy and paste effort from last week and the week before that and the week before that. 22 league goals, 1 in the cup and 5 in the Champions League means that if Luis Fabiano is still at Sevilla next season - and that is where he should stay - then Fernando Alonso will stop whining for five minutes. Espanyol Controversy in Montjuic! A clear foul on Arango by Torrejón went unpunished...and lead to Espanyol's late winner. And rumble-stopping Paul from Barcelona was there to see it all... "I arrived 5 minutes in to find Espanyol looking like they meant business. Going close twice early on. Then a long ball was nodded on to Guiza who tucked it away 0-1. Mallorca then dominated for the next 30 mins. Man of the match Zabaleta should have got a yellow for a horror tackle but it's Spain, so the ref was useless, he got away with it. Espanyol piled forward and should have had two penalties until Luis Garcia was hacked down and he thought 'hey third time lucky'. Luis Buried it 1-1. To be fair either team could have won it. They both went for the win. Mallorca missed, Stand-in keeper Lafuente stopped two efforts that should have been goals. The first was save of the season, a header tipped acrobatically over and the second a brave dive at the feet of some bloke who really should have scored. Zabaleta led the charge, a great cross from Angel (insert your own religious joke) and Luis Garcia headed in at the far post 89 mins 2-1. Still there was time to nearly gift Mallorca an equaliser. But luck prevailed and 3 hard won points were in the bag. 1) A draw would have been fairer but hey, Peter Stringfellow likes Mallorca so no sympathy at all.

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