Borges, Borring and Billy the Fish
European football in 12 paragraphs...
Ironic slogan of the week
Newcastle UnitedÃ¢ÂÂs invitation on its homepage: Ã¢ÂÂYOU could be NewcastleÃ¢ÂÂs best signing of the season.Ã¢ÂÂ Although, wait zenaba minute, thatÃ¢ÂÂs not ironic, itÃ¢ÂÂs true. Anyone of us could beÃ¢ÂÂ¦ even Fulchester UnitedÃ¢ÂÂs keeper Billy The Fish.
World Cup shock of the week
Romania 0-3 Lithuania in Bucharest. AustriaÃ¢ÂÂs 3-1 triumph over a discontented, disorganised France, courtesy of a couple of Philippe Mexes errors, isnÃ¢ÂÂt on the same Richter scale as LithuaniaÃ¢ÂÂs triumph.
Lithuania upset the odds in Romania
Jorge Luis Borges inspired headline of the week
Ã¢ÂÂToon battle with Spurs over PoyetÃ¢ÂÂ. This is the football equivalent of the Argentine fabulistÃ¢ÂÂs famous characterisation of the Falklands War: Ã¢ÂÂTwo bald men fighting over a comb.Ã¢ÂÂ And, like so many of these headlines, it has since been denied by the interested.
Most predictable headline
Kaka: Ã¢ÂÂI never want to leave Milan.Ã¢ÂÂ CanÃ¢ÂÂt Manchester City, Chelsea, Doncaster Rovers et al just leave him alone? The poor lad has said this every day Ã¢ÂÂ or something similar Ã¢ÂÂ for the last year. Think of the wasted carbon footprint involved in just running a story in which the only significant change is the name of the spurned club.
Maxim of the week
Ã¢ÂÂUnder normal circumstances, anyone buying a football club will end up looking an idiot within a year.Ã¢ÂÂ Hats off to The Times' Simon Barnes for this one. You can read his deliciously entertaining rant here.
Green shoot of recovery
For the first time in 10 years Belgium have opened their qualifying campaign for a major tournament with a win. Okay, the Red Devils did only beat Estonia (ranked 121st by FIFA) 2-1 but it was enough to have coach Rene Vandereycken crowing: Ã¢ÂÂThis is the best squad I have worked with so far.Ã¢ÂÂ Damned with faint praise? Perhaps. But Belgium do, as uefa.com point out here have some decent young players emerging. So promising are these youngsters that a bunch of legends like Paul Van Himst and co have rallied behind them with a Ã¢ÂÂWe believeÃ¢ÂÂ campaign. Maybe Banks, Hurst and Charlton (Jack or Bobby) could do something similar for the Young Lions of 2008?
Borring but important
The thumb-sucking oneÃ¢ÂÂs arrival at Manchester City dominated BritainÃ¢ÂÂs back pages but in Denmark a 23-year-old midfielder called Jonas Borring has just left OB to join Midtylland for what is said to be the largest ever fee paid by one Superliga club to another. It has been one hell of a summer for Borring who starred as his new club gave Manchester City a scare in the UEFA Cup and was called up to the Danish national team for the first time. Definitely one to watch.
Jonas Borring? Not in the slightest
Football legend in need of a new business card
Dennis Wise. Needs to hand in cards that read Ã¢ÂÂdirector (football) Newcastle UnitedÃ¢ÂÂ and order new ones that read: Ã¢ÂÂdirector (shambles) Newcastle UnitedÃ¢ÂÂ.
The sack race
So far, Stefano Colantuono (Palermo), Kevin Keegan (Newcastle), Alan Curbishley (West Ham United), Oleh Protsavov (Dnipro Dnipropetrosvk), Zdenek Zeman (Red Star Belgrade), Itzak Shum (Beitar Jerusalem), Michael Der Zakarian (Nantes) and Ioan Andone (the coach who led Cluj to their first ever UEFA Champions League campaign) have all lost their jobs, either being fired, replaced or leaving on principle.
From Albania, where after 45 minutes on the opening day of the season, the score in all six matches was 0-0. Luckily Shkumbini Peqin ran amok in the second half of their game and beat minnows Bylis Ballshi 4-1.
Manchester United crisis!
But only, alas, in Gibraltar where the Red DevilsÃ¢ÂÂ less illustrious namesakes finished fifth Ã¢ÂÂ and bottom Ã¢ÂÂ in the First Division.
Prophetic book title
Kevin Keegan Against The World, co-written by Mike Langley (published in 1979).