THE WEEK THAT WAS

Days of departures and daylight Ribery

January 23, 2009
By Jon Carter
(Archive)

This was the week in which Ramon Calderon left Real Madrid, but his replacement did a good impression of him, Robinho left Man City without permission and Kaka did not leave AC Milan.

GettyImagesRamon Calderon: Taking credit for his part in the Ronaldo deal.

Friday, Jan 16 - Calderon steps down, Rafa refusal
The news brought a tear to the eye of every Manchester United fan in the world. Fergie-baiter and slicked back Real Madrid supremo Ramon Calderon was finally forced to resign after Marca newspaper published allegations of voting irregularities at the club's general assembly. While Calderon's departure doesn't mean the end of the Madrid PR machine's assault on most of the world's top stars, at least we won't have to watch his courting of Cristiano Ronaldo reach new levels this summer.

One could argue that Rafa Benitez could be next on the Madrid wishlist anyway, after he rejected a new contract at Liverpool. Reports suggest that Rafa is annoyed at the influence of chief executive Rick Parry and also at the stalling of Daniel Agger's new contract. Co-owner Tom Hicks has claimed that 'Raaaaahfa' will stick around for the next five years, but then he also thinks that ''there are no problems'' at a club who failed to score at home against Fulham or West Ham, and could only draw 0-0 with Stoke.

Saturday, Jan 17 - Milan fans protest over Kaka transfer
By the weekend, nobody knew what would happen with the Kaka megadeal, so the AC Milan fans took matters into their own hands for their side's game with Fiorentina. Organising a mass protest against the sale of their best player, 65,000 supporters made it clear that they would not be happy to see him leave. Emotional and quiet after the game, it looked like he may just move. Oh, and some bloke called Beckham (?) made his home debut as well. And was booked.

Sunday, Jan 18 - Messi not about money, Makelele's robbers are
Any Man City hopes of attracting Barcelona star Lionel Messi took a blow when the Argentine claimed he wanted to stay in Spain for the rest of his life. The 21-year-old has been in great form and has helped the Catalans net a record 50 points in La Liga at the halfway stage. It seems some things are just more important than cash.

Although tell that to a gang of thieves who nicked Claude Makelele's £400,000 supercar while he was playing for PSG in the evening. Not only did the gang make off with the 200mph Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, they also bagged a Porsche 911 and thousands of pounds worth of jewellery while Makelele's family were out. And we thought this kind of thing only ever happened to Liverpool players.

Monday, January 19 - Kaka move off, JJ's fantasy Inter talk
At 22.03 on Monday night, the news broke that every City fan did not want to hear. They signed Craig Bellamy. OK, fine, it was that Kaka, subject of an £108 million bid, was not coming to Eastlands. Commentators around the globe clenched their fists at not having to utter the words, ''And Darius Vassel passes to Kaka, who knocks it forward to Benjani'', but everyone else (Milan fans excluded) were a bit disappointed. At least we can all start speculating on the next big-money star to reject the Citizens' overtures.

In a slightly less high profile denial, Inter boss Jose Mourinho claimed that his interest in Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas had come from a fantasy game, not from an actual bid. "Last July the Daily Telegraph started their fantasy football league and paid me to take part," he said. "In my squad I put Jenas and others. Six months later the market re-opens and it comes out I like these players." Prepare for the likes of Alvaro Arbeloa, Denilson and Shaun Wright-Phillips to be linked with a move to the San Siro in the coming weeks, but only if Alan Hansen doesn't get there first.

Tuesday, January 20 - City woe, Messi thinking, daylight Ribery
A pretty bad few days for Man City overall. First a Brazilian superstar decides he doesn't want to come to Manchester, and then the one Brazilian superstar they already have (Jo and Elano really don't count) downed-tools and left City's sun-soaked training camp. The whole issue was played down, but at least it was overshadowed by some playground-style 'yeah, well, I didn't fancy her anyway' stuff from Garry Cook over the Kaka saga. Milan ''bottled it'' over the transfer apparently. Nothing to do with the player not wanting to join the club then.

GettyImagesRibery evidently finds the club's valuation of him as ridiculous as the rest of us.

We knew that City's transfer policy would eventually make an impact on other teams' dealings. So first up we have Bayern Munich, who have slapped a €150 million price tag on Franck Ribery. The French winger is good, but not that good, although Bayern see any bid lower than that as daylight Ribery [sorry].

Finally, on a busy day for the bizarre, Real Madrid's new President Vicente Boluda showed he can do a pretty good impression of Ramon Calderon, by claiming that Arjen Robben (yes, the injury prone, whinger we once saw at Chelsea) is better than Barcelona's Lionel Messi. The same Lionel Messi that came second in the World Player of the Year and has scored 12 goals in 16 games this season... Maybe he means a different Lionel Messi.

Wednesday, January 21 - Who wants a fight? Bye bye Thais
As if Newcastle didn't have enough problems with Joey Barton on their books. The fiery midfielder got into a ruck with Jose Enrique at the weekend over the third Blackburn goal, while Joe Kinnear continues to dominate headlines with his latest outbursts (give us a wave Phil Brown). Now there's been a training ground bust-up between Charles N'Zogbia and Andrew Carroll. The likely cause? Gateshead-born Carroll probably took exception to N'Zogbia's clear desire to quit the club - either that or the Frenchman made fun of Carroll's recent hairstyling attempts.

So much for a 'friendly match'. Thailand and Lebanon evidently do not know the meaning of the word after their match was marred by harsh tackles and mass brawls involving both players and staff. Lebanon even staged a mini walk-out and refused to attend the press conference after the game, having been kicked around for 90 minutes. Oh, and Thailand won 2-1, if anyone can tear themselves away from watching the ruckus.

Thursday, January 22 - 'Arry wants stronger and better, Denilson dreams
Some hilarious quotes from 'Arry Redknapp came after Spurs' near embarrassment at the hands of Burnley in the Carling Cup. The boss labelled his new club ''scary'' as they ''have been put together by I don't know who and I don't know how.'' While he claimed the club needed ''stronger'' players, both ''mentally and physically''. Fair enough he has a point, but it's hardly the way to endear yourself to a new chairman who was, of course, the man who helped cobble together the squad.

And finally, once the world's most expensive player, Denilson is now not even able to get a move to Bolton. The 31-year-old is hardly over the hill but now appears to be waiting for clubs from Italy to make their move. Word of advice Denny, if Bolton ain't interested then clubs in Serie A won't exactly be queuing up for you.