Just when you thought you could get through January without hearing about finances, out comes FourFourTwoÃ¢ÂÂs Football Rich List.The vagaries of economics have become a necessarily popular conversational subject, but the list has become an annual talking point since its debut in December 2003. It all seems so long ago.In some ways, things havenÃ¢ÂÂt changed much: David Beckham was the richest player, the economy was attempting to recover from a burst bubble and a strange foreigner was underwriting a famous but underachieving club.
There is something worth pointing out with the credit crunch kicking in as the January sales get into full swing.With the euro now almost on parity with the pound, Italians have been flooding the streets of London in search of a bargain. This time last year they could hardly afford the flight over.Maybe now the same wonÃ¢ÂÂt be said of young Italian footballing talent as the lure of the pound sign diminishes, and - just as importantly - Serie A will become the must play-in destination for the wandering modern-day footballer.Well, we can all dream I suppose.
If the clowns running the show at Real Madrid were going to make a complete and utter balls-up described by a finger-wagging AS as Ã¢ÂÂunforgivableÃ¢ÂÂ and Johan Cruyff as Ã¢ÂÂan enormous mistakeÃ¢ÂÂ then their timing could not have been any better. Although the anger and ire from furious fans is still bubbling away over the clubÃ¢ÂÂs apparent ignorance over the UEFA ruling that only one of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Lassana Diarra can play in the Champions League, it could have been a ton of pancakes worse had the scandal broken before the countryÃ¢ÂÂs fortnight of fiestas. In fact, the festivities are still continuing with Tuesday being a public holiday in Spain - a chance for Pedja Mijatovic to look for those two-for-one hair gel offers and Sergio Ramos to scrape the make-up off his face. The Madrid full-back attended a Three Kings festival on Monday dressed as Baltasar but instead resembled a drag artist that had been dumped in an oil slick.
GOOD DAYDeportivoItÃ¢ÂÂs been a troubling start to 2009 for La Liga Loca. The blog returned from foreign parts to find an odd smell of an unknown source in the kitchen and the deeply troubling concept that it might have to take Deportivo seriously now. Heck, it may even have to watch one of their games. An away win against Getafe on Sunday night sees LotinaÃ¢ÂÂs lot move away from their seventh place comfort zone and into the badlands of the UEFA Cup places. And thatÃ¢ÂÂs a fairly remarkable performance for a club that boasts Riki and Bodipo as strikers. With 30 points on the board and Ã¢ÂÂthe return of SuperDeporÃ¢ÂÂ according to Marca, the blog has its fingers crossed for three more victories and then a slow and steady decline as the players focus on the more important task of buying sports cars. Thierry HenryFrom being a player that the Catalan press were prone to cocking the biggest of snooks at, the sulky striker is now back in the Barcelona good books with his ninth league goal of the season against Mallorca. Ã¢ÂÂYou donÃ¢ÂÂt win the league against Villarreal, Sevilla, Valencia or Madrid, but also against Getafe, Racing, Numancia and Mallorca,Ã¢ÂÂ confirmed Henry, forgetting that Barcelona lost against Numancia and drew against Getafe and Racing. TitiÃ¢ÂÂs tally is now just three behind last yearÃ¢ÂÂs La Liga total and that stat has got the likes of Sport very sweaty indeed. But not as gurgly and gushing as their report over MaradonaÃ¢ÂÂs visit to SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs game and the training centre.
Ã¢ÂÂJeff Stelling will be going mad,Ã¢ÂÂ my father-in-law Den said, after Michael Nelson majestically headed Hartlepool United into a 1-0 lead in the FA Cup Third Round against Stoke City.StellingÃ¢ÂÂs response was uppermost in the minds of jubilant Pools fans as they streamed out of the Victoria Ground on a bitter, bright January afternoon. Ã¢ÂÂHeÃ¢ÂÂll be doing his nut,Ã¢ÂÂ said one, while another rang his missus: Ã¢ÂÂWe won 2-0. Put the telly on and see what Jeff StellingÃ¢ÂÂs doing.Ã¢ÂÂStelling was, indeed, doing his nut in the studio, insisting PoolsÃ¢ÂÂ 2-0 dismissal of Stoke was the Ã¢ÂÂshock of the day.Ã¢ÂÂ