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 donÃ¢ÂÂt 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 Ã¢ÂÂwarm-upsÃ¢ÂÂ which have now become pointless warm-downs, Norn Iron simply arenÃ¢ÂÂt bothering this week. Meanwhile CapelloÃ¢ÂÂs millionaires, rather than looking Alpwards, have got to go to the Caribbean Ã¢ÂÂ 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 footballÃ¢ÂÂs banquet. Intended as an enticing hors dÃ¢ÂÂoeuvres 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.IÃ¢ÂÂll watch it, of course. Millions will. But weÃ¢ÂÂll 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.
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!'
Well that didnÃ¢ÂÂt take long. In fact, all of 25 minutes for Roberto Mancini to be given the boot.Exit the Moody One and enter the Special One who apparently has a good five months of Italian lessons under his belt.Mancio was summoned to president Massimo MorattiÃ¢ÂÂs elegant city centre residence late on Tuesday afternoon to be informed that his four-year reign was up and the good times were over.The press were there in numbers anyway as Diego Maradona had popped in for afternoon tea but no doubt that had been a more pleasant experience for one and all.Diego had long gone when Mancini swaggered in all dapper and pretty relaxed, only to catch everyone on the hop soon after as he left looking like the proverbial condemned man.Ouch, that short, sharp word in the ear must have cut him to the core.
So the curtain has come down on another fun-filled Italian football season.AS Roma exacted some revenge over Inter in the Italian Cup final where once again Roberto Mancini got his tactics all in a tangle.But enough of the Mancio-baiting for a moment. What about some awards from the 2007/08 campaign?Let us begin with:Goal of the seasonNot easy at all. Trawling back through the season there were enough stunners to fill a Milanese bar during fashion week. Udinese star man Antonio Di NataleÃ¢ÂÂs wonderful flick on the heel and angled drive against Reggina springs to mind. Then thereÃ¢ÂÂs Marco BorrielloÃ¢ÂÂs flying volley for Genoa against Inter and Pablo Daniele OsvaldoÃ¢ÂÂs equally impressive bicycle-kick to secure Fiorentina fourth spot on the last day of the season at Torino. Francesco TottiÃ¢ÂÂs blast against Parma, Alessandro Del Piero doing the same to Roma and Zlatan Ibrahimovic nearly bursting the net against Sampdoria and then repeating the feat from distance at Siena. However, stand up Palermo and soon-to-be Juventus striker Amauri who certainly impressed his would-be employers with a magnificent curling effort from the edge of the area which left even Gianluigi Buffon shaking his head in disbelief.
Last Thursday, Real Madrid's Sporting Director, Pedja Mijatovic was settling into seat 1D of his Iberia flight from Moscow to Madrid.As the Prince of Darkness reapplied his hair gel and nibbled on a spider he had found scuttling across the floor of the executive lounge, Pedja was looking forward to a quiet flight home, plotting how he could make Sir Alex Ferguson's face even redder with more Ronaldo related naughtiness.That was until Marca's Roberto Gomez collapsed into seat 1C, next to him, and proceeded to spend the seven or so hours of the flight kissing his Montenegrin behind."It was a pleasure to reacquaint myself with someone that I admired as a player and respect as a sporting director," gushed Gomez like a giggling schoolgirl in his column on Friday.Good for him thought La Liga Loca until it remembered the ramblings of Roberto from May 17 when he whined about the job being done at the Bernabeu by the technical team, complaining that there were "too many foreigners at Real Madrid."
Roberto Mancini popped into Massimo MorattiÃ¢ÂÂs office for a little celebration drink on Thursday or what was more likely a little farewell tipple.The final act of the Inter drama is upon us and although they may well bring the curtain down by adding the Italian Cup to their league title, the season hasnÃ¢ÂÂt exactly garlanded any five-star reviews.Time then for a new leading man to take centre stage so SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs Cup final against those perennial supporting actors AS Roma - who Inter have met in the final for the last three seasons - will be the last bow for MancioÃ¢ÂÂs one-man show.