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SHARES
2 June 2008
Today is Republic Day in Italy – a chance to commemorate the birth of a new nation and, more importantly, a Monday off for everyone.Everyone expect those Inter minions who have to organise the press conference to finally unveil Jose Mourinho.It’s the biggest draw not only in Milan but all over the country. Like Juventus, Inter have fans the length and breath of the peninsula and they can’t wait for the Special One to take over if a straw poll of those enjoying the bank holiday weekend in the sunshine on the island of Lipari is anything to go by.Situated off the northern coast of Sicily, Lipari is the largest of the Aeolian Islands - as far away from the hustle and pollution of Milan as you can get, but just as Nerazzurri mad.There are only about 9,000 inhabitants on this idyllic retreat but a large portion proclaim their love for the black and blues and are all for the changes afoot away up in the misty, damp north.In the bars around the pretty harbour of Marina Corta on Sunday morning the general consensus was that Roberto Mancini had been the favoured son who fell out with dad because he couldn’t grow up and dad had to find a man for a man’s job.All very macho and Sicilian but, lo and behold, didn’t Massimo Moratti come out with pretty much the same thing when he gave a quick sound bite to the press later that afternoon.“I like Mourinho because of his professionalism and his experience, and with him in charge there will be less suffering and success will be much easier,” were his exact words.However, the inference was that Mancini had not been professional: telling the world he was resigning; or experienced: all that in-fighting with the players.“Mourinho will whip them into shape,” seemed to be the party line from the die-hards. There was a time in Italy, not so long ago, when footballers were truly revered but that’s no more, especially for the old codgers who you feel wouldn’t be too dismayed if a certain Mr. Mussolini was still around.Maybe a change of demographic would yield some sympathy for Mancio and certainly for the young generation there were mixed feelings at his departure.“He’s won us the last two titles and he’s stuck it to Juventus,” was one comment on his lasting legacy. However, it was forwards and onwards and whether their new heroes would be Deco, Lampard and Eto’o.It took the female folk to get right to the heart of the matter as they gazed on those smouldering eyes and grey locks, in a Saturday edition of Gazzetta dello Sport, at the Portuguese chap on a photo op with Moratti in Paris.“He looks like someone who knows what he wants and knows how to get it,” was the gist of their longing.Maybe dear old Massimo had been thinking the very same thing.
SHARES
2 June 2008
If there are two men in Spain who definitely need to join Guti and Raul for a spot of R&R it's the Chuckle Brothers of La Liga, Ramón Calderón and Joan Laporta. Not that the comedy duo have worked particularly hard over the past nine months and deserve to be smeared in oil by busty beach babes. Instead, its because the paranoid presidential pair appear to be 'doing a Marcelino' and going a little bit doolally.Just a few weeks ago, the King of Catalunya was gibbering away in a TV interview about people "behind me" who were out to get him. But now it's Ramón Calderón's turn to come over all Mulder in an interview with Marca where he advised that the shadowy football figure of Florentino Pérez was the root cause of his recent institutional rumblings.
SHARES
30 May 2008
After weeks of placid quietude, Edmundo has had another outburst. After missing a crucial penalty kick in the Copa do Brasil semi-final, our very own Animal shaved his head and announced his retirement on Thursday. I don’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday. But I do remember Edmundo’s performance at penalty kicks. Below par, to say it with the due respect the former Brazilian international deserves.So I couldn’t believe it when I saw him walking up to the penalty spot once again – this time in the Vasco vs Sport shootout on Wednesday.He had just netted Vasco’s second goal - in the 91st minute - which tied the aggregate score and took the game to penalties. So, even if his team didn’t go through, the 37-year-old was going to be praised for getting them that far.But things seldom end well with Edmundo. As he strolled up to the spot you could see what the fans were thinking. “No, not him! Please no.” In other words: you could see the train wreck around the corner, but couldn’t warn the driver.The Animal then punted the ball on to the Copacabana and Sport got their ticket to face Corinthians in the final – more about this game next week – by winning the shootout 5-4. Oh, and last year Edmundo had also caused Palmeiras' elimination from the same Copa do Brasil by missing a penalty in the shootout against minnows Ipatinga.
SHARES
30 May 2008
On Thursday, a smugger looking version of Seinfeld’s George Costanza banged on the drawbridge doors of the Kingdom of Catalunya carrying a very large box indeed. It wasn’t elevenses being delivered to the Barça board, but 9,473 signatures which will trigger a supporter’s referendum on the future of Lord Laporta’s reign.
SHARES
30 May 2008
Every year, usually about this time, football goes barking mad.
SHARES
29 May 2008
With two games to go the domestic league is wide open, with six teams within six points of each other. But however important it is to Argentine football fans for their team to win the championship, each would gladly lose the title to their arch rivals on the last day of the season 20 times over in exchange for a Copa Libertadores in their dusty cabinets.
SHARES
28 May 2008
Emotionally drained. Physically battered. Frankly, finding it hard to care less after a tiring season giving everything for their clubs. And that's just the fans.The end of the domestic season has been marked with the usual commiserations, celebrations, wild fantasies for next season or mild disenchantment for this one. May, as ever, presents two marvellous opportunities for extended drinking in the form of two bank holiday weekends, one at the sharp end of the season for most, the other providing the endlessly watchable drama of the play-off finals.And then? And then we're asked to watch our home nations play again, valiantly pretending the Euros don’t exist. We're asked to care whether John Terry gets the armband, whether Burley can build on that opening draw with Croatia, whether the young Welsh call-ups can match Iceland (possible) or Holland (improbable).Northern Ireland have got it right. Unshackled by the hubristic booking of pre-Euro “warm-ups” which have now become pointless warm-downs, Norn Iron simply aren’t bothering this week. Meanwhile Capello’s millionaires, rather than looking Alpwards, have got to go to the Caribbean – not to lounge on beaches but to glad-hand Jack Warner so England might be guaranteed some involvement at WC2018, if only as hosts.The fixtures are an unwelcome extra course in football’s banquet. Intended as an enticing hors d’oeuvres to the continental buffet of Euro 2008, it has become a stale pastie, a cold haggis, a rank rarebit served seconds after the all-you-can-eat fast-food frenzy of our domestic game.I’ll watch it, of course. Millions will. But we’ll all pretty much have forgotten it by a week on Saturday, whether we turn our attention to the events in the Alps or forget about football altogether.
SHARES
28 May 2008
Now that the whole time-consuming football business is over with for a wee while, La Liga Loca has been able to dedicate itself to the far more important business of Spanish reality television. And the blog has had a bit of a shock.Just a few short years ago, the greeting between the average Juan and Juanita in the Spanish street was a brief air kiss or firm handshake. Or maybe an intensely annoying back slap. The socially repressed and often sunburnt La Liga Loca will never get used to that, no matter how many years it is exiled here.But not anymore. Like a barbeque up Mount Everest, the stakes have been raised. Judging by the TV shows trawled through over the past few days, it seems that repeated smacky, slurpy kisses are all the rage in Spain, along with disingenuous cries of 'guapa!' or 'gorgeous!'

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