On Thursday, a smugger looking version of SeinfeldÃ¢ÂÂs George Costanza banged on the drawbridge doors of the Kingdom of Catalunya carrying a very large box indeed. It wasnÃ¢ÂÂt elevenses being delivered to the BarÃÂ§a board, but 9,473 signatures which will trigger a supporterÃ¢ÂÂs referendum on the future of Lord LaportaÃ¢ÂÂs reign.
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.
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.