Friday, November 21, 2008
Bust-ups galore in world football
This was the week in which a referee saw players for what they really are, Uruguay and China got physical and the AC Milan president showed he only had eyes for one man.
Friday 14 November: The ''ravenous animals'' of football
You don't often hear from the men in black, but when you do it makes for interesting reading. Ahead of his trip to the Hawthorns at the weekend, Kent official Steve Bennett spoke out against the players and managers he comes up against every week, accusing them of behaving like ''ravenous animals''. Yet with Joe Kinnear's "Mickey Mouse" jibe still ringing laughably in our ears, you do wonder if he's gone a little over the top.
However, some real animals were on show the same day as supporters of an Argentine lower league side hijacked local buses to get them to the game on time. Football is almost a religion in South America, but nothing can excuse the behaviour these so-called 'fans' and, thankfully, they didn't make it very far before they were arrested. One can only assume that Chacarita Juniors' style of football is worth going to prison for.
Saturday 15 November: Michael Who? called up for England
You could be forgiven if you didn't realise that the latest youngster to get an England call-up from Fabio Capello, a 20-year-old defender by the name of Michael Mancienne, actually played for Chelsea. It's because, well, he hasn't yet.
Loans spells at QPR and Wolves, as well as impressing with the England U-21 squad, have caught Capello's eye, but it can't hide the fact that he's not exactly a household name. It was a similar rise for Theo Walcott but, by contrast, John Terry was already a fully fledged member of the Chelsea side at the same age.
Sunday 16 November: Sweet dreams for Galliani, no shorts for Catania
What do you dream about when you're in charge of a multi-million pound football club? Training facilities? Breaking even? Maybe a new stadium? Well not if you're Adriano Galliani, the managing director of AC Milan. It would appear that Galliani was so keen to distance his club from reports linking them with Karim Benzema, that he ended up revealing a little too much about his ''love'' for Samuel Eto'o. Cue film-style dream sequence complete with a field of daisies.
Elsewhere Catania players are giving Italian women something to cheer about with their new free-kick routine. Against Torino, three players behind the wall dropped their shorts practically to their knees so goalkeeper Matteo Sereni couldn't see the shot from Giuseppe Mascara sail into the net in their 3-2 win. A legitimate trick? Unsportsmanlike? You be the judge, but it doesn't look like it'll catch on in Russia.
Monday 17 November: Real refuse to shift Schu, Apertura off
Predrag Mijatovic apparently cancelled Bernt Schuster's plans to give his faltering Real Madrid side a few days off after their defeat against Real Valladolid at the weekend. Instead the sporting director ordered a meeting and then gave the boss the dreaded 'vote of confidence'. Schuster may remain in his job for now, but one suspects that he won't make it to the first 'El Clasico' of the season against in-form Barcelona before Christmas.
Still, it could be worse. He could be a coach in Uruguay. Their Apertura season was indefinitely suspended after rioting fans invaded the pitch in a game between Danubio and Nacional. Reportedly hitting each other with iron rods and even using the corner flags as weapons, it took over 100 police to quell the violence and now no-one is quite sure when everything can get started again.
Tuesday 18 November: Shearer ready, no TV in China
Attempt #322 of the past few months to get Tyneside legend Alan Shearer into the management position in Newcastle. Not content with wearing unconventional shirts and generally having a bit of a laugh as a TV pundit, the former striker is almost ready to take over according to one of his mates. The one problem? ''Greedy'' Mike Ashley still hasn't managed to offload the club yet.
Maybe the Toon owner is considering one of the many unemployed Chinese football pundits to take the reins instead, after news that China will no longer show domestic games on TV following a recent scrap between players from Beijing and Tianjin. Jiang Heping, head of sports for CCTV - China's government-run broadcaster - said he'd prefer to show foreign games, while The China News Agency likened Super League games to "a Kungfu movie" and some players to "martial arts heroes." And we thought Newcastle's situation was a farce.
Wednesday 19 November: Maradona-mania in Glasgow
He's not Scottish, but Diego Maradona's role in knocking England out of the World Cup 22 years ago explains the affection for the Argentine legend north of the border. Now in charge of the national side, Argentina beat Scotland 1-0 in a friendly at Hampden Park, but not before the controversial midfielder had spoken his mind about a few things.
Claiming that he shouldn't be judged for his 'Hand of God' goal in Mexico '86 because ''England won the World Cup with a goal that didn't cross the line'', the diminutive Argentine also clashed with Scotland assistant Terry Butcher saying he ''wouldn't lose any sleep'' over Butcher's refusal of a handshake before the game. To be fair, Butcher's defensive partner in '86, Terry Fenwick, was the last Englishman to offer his arm to Maradona and he brushed that aside too.
Thursday 20 November: JT holds his hands up, Gunners' bust-up
Credit must go to England captain John Terry who made it clear that it was his fault, and his fault alone, for the mix-up that nearly cost England the game against Germany. But really, what else was he meant to say? Put all the blame on the fragile shoulders of West Brom keeper Scott Carson who is still shaking from his last international appearance against Croatia? Maybe blame a stray divot that distracted him while he was trying to hold off German striker Patrick Helmes? At least he was able to save the day with a late header, meaning everyone (bar Carson himself) can forget about the whole thing.
Are you 25-years-old? An Arsenal first-team member? Have a propensity to tick off most of your team-mates by insulting them every time they talk to you on the pitch? Well, enough is enough as captain William Gallas laid down the law, saying he would no longer tolerate the player's behaviour. Current 25-year-olds in the squad: Robin Van Persie, Emmanuel Eboue, Eduardo and Bacary Sagna. I know where my money is going.