The New Perico Prince and Murky Málaga

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In general, La Liga Loca is very, very easily pleased. As with Guti, a particularly colourful plastic bag is enough to grab its attention for hours on end.

Just the other day, it had to put something down it was reading (well, colouring in) after an advert popped up on TV selling a washing-up liquid that made Tupperware products squeaky-clean – a long-awaited improvement to La Liga Loca’s previously greasy food-preserving world.

On Wednesday, La Liga Loca’s childish, sniggering heart skipped yet another beat with the headline in one Madrid sports daily detailing a number of “Ases against malaria”. (As it turned out, it was a story concerning the praiseworthy efforts of Iker Casillas and Rafa Nadal, who are organising a gala evening of sport to raise money for groups fighting a terrible disease.)

So you can imagine the blog’s delight when it heard the news that the legendary Mané would be returning to the Primera spotlight to take over at Espanyol.

Johan Cruyff – having been gently reminded that there are, in fact, two teams in the city of Barcelona – feels that the man who guided Alaves to the UEFA Cup final in 2001 is sure to soothe the panicking Pericos. After all, it’s a mission that Mané completed with Athletic Bilbao in 2007, during their now annual battle against relegation.

But, to be frank, the blog couldn’t give a turnip’s turtleneck about any of this, because it is cheerfully cherishing the return of Mané’s magnificent moustache.

That, friends, is a moustache 

Despite renewed competition from the likes of Manolo Preciado at Sporting, Bernd Schuster and Vicente del Bosque, Mané’s terrifically tickly 'tash remains without peer in the Primera.

Mané’s lip-warmer is so bristly, it could be peeled off, jammed on to the end of a stick and used to sweep up the floor of the stinkiest of tapas bars. It’s so bushy it hid Albert Luque for two years. It even requires its own social security number.

But Mané and his moustache have quite a challenge on their hands (and hairs) as they are facing the next month without the penalty-missing services of Raúl Tamudo and are to set to be without the suspended Luis García for one match.

And, as one blog regular has noted, that means “two months of Jonathan ‘bless him he tries’ Soriano (two goals in 45 league matches) to keep us afloat”.

Malcontent in Málaga 

Now, La Liga Loca is going to have to warn those regular followers of the Spanish game to take a deep breath before reading the next shocking section.

That’s because this week has produced sorry stories of skulduggery from the normally-scandal free city of Málaga and the owner of its football club, Lorenzo Sanz.

This terrible tale began when Real Sociedad president Iñaki Badiola released a tape which he claims was a phone call between himself and former Tenerife player Jesuli. 

The controversial clip of the conversation covers an apparent discussion on how much money Jesuli (and his team-mates) were paid to lose the final Segunda A match of last season between Tenerife and Málaga.

It was a game that Málaga won 2-1 to seal promotion from la Segunda, four points ahead of Real Sociedad, who could only draw their final encounter.

Jesuli: implicated in alleged phone-call business 

The incriminating section of the transcript, first published in El Mundo, reads as follows.

Jesuli: "I tell you, honestly [...] that I don't remember. But [...] it really annoyed me to take that money."
Badiola: "€5,000, €7,000?"
Jesuli: "Yes, around that. If it wasn't €7,000 it was €6,000."

Once the tape had been released to the online world, Badiola went on to describe Sanz (and his son, Málaga president Fernando) as “habitual criminals and cheats”.

Jesuli immediately issued a statement announcing that neither he nor his team-mates took a bribe, noting that he didn’t even take part in the game. He didn't deny that the phone call took place, but complained that Badiola did not have permission to record it.

Tenerife have also issued a complete denial that any such ‘bonuses’ were paid to their players.

Lorenzo Sanz, as expected, has come on the offensive and branded Badiola as “the cancer of football”.

“This is absolute nonsense. Every day, I am becoming more disillusioned with the world of football,” sighed the Málaga man.

The Spanish FA, lacking the organisational skills to arrange a game of hide-and-seek, have decided to pass the whole affair onto Spain's legal authorities sensing the possibility that an actual crime may have been committed, somewhere down the line.

La Liga Loca recommends everyone plumps up their pillows for this story. The fun has only just begun.

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