THE WEEK THAT WAS

U.S. impress, 'Toongerines' do not

June 26, 2009
By Jon Carter
(Archive)

This was the week in which the U.S. made their mark on the Confederations Cup, ESPN made their mark on the Premier League, Newcastle managed to make themselves look even more foolish and the Australian national side were labelled a bunch of ''pizza-eaters''.

GettyImagesIbrahimovic realised the only way to be better than Kaka was to take him out...

Friday 19: Ibra better than Kaka, no yolk for Kirk

Inter's delusions that they might be able to sell Zlatan Ibrahimovic for upwards of £50m reached new levels as club administrator Ernesto Paolillo claimed that the Swedish striker was ''superior to Kaka'', but thankfully stopped short of total humiliation by adding their player was ''slightly inferior to Cristiano Ronaldo.'' Despite the fact that Ibra has shown little desire to make an impact in big games since he landed in Italy, that still puts him at around £70m. The problem? Persuading anyone in their right mind to stump up the cash.

Kirk Broadfoot went down in history after managing to injure himself with a poached egg a few weeks ago, but he's now claimed that it was no laughing matter. ''The accident was no joke. I could have lost my eyesight,'' said the Rangers defender, presumably waiting for the egg-cellent puns on the training ground to die down.

Saturday 20: Tevez to leave United, pizza-eating Aussies

Carlito has finally got his way, as Mr Tevez said he would definitely be leaving Man Utd this summer. The Argentine forward has kept us all guessing over the past few months as to where his future lies, but now he's confirmed his departure, while also revealing he turned down a whopping contract in order to get more playing time. So it's not always about the money - although Carlos (with advisors in tow) will no doubt get himself a pretty decent deal at either Man City or Chelsea.

One of the funniest post-match comments in recent memory came from Japan captain Yuji Nakazawa, who claimed his side were beaten by a load of ''pizza eaters'' in a World Cup qualifer. Now, can you guess who he was referring to? Italy, perhaps? America, surely? No, it was Australia. If he was going to go for a national stereotype, perhaps Foster's, shrimps and barbeques would have been more apt.

Sunday 21: U.S. make their mark, ageing Italy

One of the most unlikely results in history came true on Sunday as the U.S. - who had not managed a single point in their Confederations Cup group before their final game - managed to qualify for the semi-finals. Bob Bradley's men needed a six-goal swing to occur and that's exactly what they got with a 3-0 win over Egypt, followed by Brazil's 3-0 win over Italy. The U.S. have done pretty well in recent years, finishing third in 1992 and 1999, but no-one expected this.

However, it was partly due to the lack of defending by most of Italy's ageing squad. Fabio Cannavaro may have equalled Paolo Maldini's all-time appearance record for Italy, with 126 caps, but was still off the pace when it came to stopping Brazil's samba boys. Coach Lippi's reaction was to ask: "What youngsters?" when told to give youth a chance. And he has a point.

Monday 22: Obama to light up World Cup, Santa signs up

One of the most important days in American history. No, not because ESPN bagged the rights to show Premier League games in the UK for the next four seasons (although that was a pretty good thing too), but rather that the President of the U.S.A, Barack Obama, will be attending the opening ceremony of the World Cup. The first World Cup to be staged on African soil will attract the world's attention next summer and Obama (whose late father was Kenyan) will be there along with the rest of us.

It was an important day for Manchester City and Roque Santa Cruz too, after the club's long pursuit of the Paraguayan finally ended. A fee of around £17m was finally enough to prise the striker away from Ewood Park and seal his move to Eastlands. It was a sign of the type of player that City are hoping to attract in the future and now only Benjani Mwaruwari and Darius Vassell stand in his way - which shouldn't be a problem.

Tuesday 23: Masch makes eyes, more Toon woe

What's one of the worst things to hear a player under contract say? ''I am very proud and thankful for the interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid'' has got to be up near the top of the list. Probably just below ''it's always been my dream to play for.. '' and ''my agent will be dealing with that..''. So Javier Mascherano has not covered himself in glory by failing to commit himself to Liverpool. The speculation hasn't bothered current Nou Camp star Yaya Toure though, as his agent said: "This is not a problem for Yaya Toure, but for the Argentinean because he could be on the bench for many minutes."

One person whose interest has been piqued by the infamous 32-page brochure on Michael Owen is Hull boss Phil Brown. Owen needs a club, Hull need goals, so it could be a match made in heaven if the Tigers can persuade the former England international that taking a 50% cut in his wages is a good thing if it means he doesn't have to shell out for more self-indulgent advertising.

Soccernet / ADIDASA final nickname for the kit has yet to be decided. But it's not nice.

Still, it could be worse - he could stay at Newcastle and be forced to parade around in the club's horrific new away kit next season. A ''deckchair'', ''bananas and ice cream'' and an ''all-day breakfast'' are just a few of the comments heard muttered disparagingly so far, but feel free to add your own at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday 24: Denilson packs his bags, Eto'o for England?

Admit it. Who thought that Denilson was not going to last more than five minutes in the Vietnamese League? Well, you were slightly wrong as he made it to 45 mins, but the Brazilian midfielder - formerly the most expensive player in the world - made a quick exit from Cement FC, citing injury problems as his main reason. Amazingly he scored in the match and was paid $12,000 for his participation and a $5,000 bonus for the goal - not bad for a day's work.

The most expensive Brazilian in England has also had his problems, but Robinho has now turned his attentions to improving the Man City side. With money no object, the winger reckons if Samuel Eto'o could come to Eastlands then Mark Hughes' men would be ''unbeatable'' - forgetting that City scored only eight more goals than they conceded last season and had a worse away record than Newcastle. They'll need more than Eto'o to deal with that.

Thursday 25: U.S. ''bandits'' impress; anybody for some Duck?

The U.S continued their incredible tournament in South Africa as they stopped Spain from breaking the world record for the longest unbeaten run in international games. A stunning 2-0 victory gave them a chance of lifting the trophy next week. "We tried everything to win'', claimed shocked Spain coach Vicente del Bosque; but was beaten on the quoting front by U.S. 'keeper Tim Howard who said his side ''defended like bandits.''

Finally, AC Milan rejected a ''monster'' bid for their 19-year-old striker Alex 'The Duck' Pato, but would only say that the offer came ''from England''. Now, who could be capable of making such a large bid? Who needs a striker and an injection of youth into their squad? And, who now has the former Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti as their main man? Too obvious? Well, it was probably Man Utd then.