Friday, February 18, 2011
Owen's new horse, Ron run out of town
Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.
This week, Domenech calls his France team a bunch of "spoilt brats", Newcastle Jets offer Michael Owen a cash-plus-horse deal, a posse of Corinthians fans force Ronaldo to retire and Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott loses more than just the derby to Wayne Rooney.
Corinthians posse chase out Brazil legends
Well it seems the Corinthians fans that blamed Brazil veterans Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo for the club's Copa Libertadores disaster a fortnight ago were sadly right.
Following a hate campaign in which supporters smashed up cars and painted slogans at the training ground that included "Ronaldo is a shameless fatty" and "media tart - you disappoint us again" the duo left the club and Corinthians have won their last two matches.
But it was an incredibly sad way for three-time FIFA World Player of the Year, 1994 and 2002 World Cup winner and all-time leading World Cup scorer Ronaldo to hang up his varicose vein-combating socks. A tearful end to a prolific career which was excellently summed up by our very own Sam Kelly.
Meanwhile, Roberto Carlos jumped ship and joined struggling Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala on a free transfer. The move into the obscure isn't about the money and a reported €10 million deal of course, it's about the "intrigue".
Jets to offer Owen cash-plus-horse deal
A-League side Newcastle Jets are hoping to gain a head start on their rivals and lure Manchester United striker Michael Owen Down Under with a cash-plus-racehorse deal in the summer.
Australian newspaper the Newcastle Herald claims that Jets owner Nathan Tinkler will offer the former England international a top quality thoroughbred from his award winning Patinack Farm, as well as a bumper pay deal, in a bid to appeal to his love of racing.
The 31-year-old striker has has spent more time developing his beloved racehorses at his very own Manor House Stables than playing first-team football recently and may be tempted to swap Manchester for warmer climes and a sympathetic owner.
Owen's former Liverpool team-mate Robbie Fowler is in his second season in the A-League, now playing for Perth Glory, and Brazilian superstar Romario had a short stint with Adelaide United in 2006.
Lescott: I even lost to Rooney on Xbox
After being sunk by Wayne Rooney's wonder goal in the Manchester derby, City defender Joleon Lescott attempted to gain immediate revenge only to be vanquished for the second time that day by United's match-winner.
"I played FIFA with Wayne on the Xbox that night," explained Lescott. "I'm all right, but Wayne beat me. He's better at it because he gets the new releases a few weeks ahead of everyone else because of his sponsorship deal and can practice.
"I just smiled at Wayne after the game but spoke to him later that evening through the Xbox. I just said 'That was a great goal' ... We've got lives away from football," the former Everton defender added without a trace of irony.
Lescott can at least blame his Xbox defeat on manager Roberto Mancini's post-derby instructions to drown their sorrows, because as we all know, you're only "in the zone" between pints two and four. As for Rooney, he could do with some of his fantasy-land prowess in the real world, overhead kicks aside.
Sparta Prague's sick joke
It's not unusual for clubs to withdraw their players from international duty, citing a timely injury that will be miraculously healed just in time for their next fixture, but Sparta Prague have taken hoodwinking to a whole new level.
Sneaky Sparta officials withdrew three players from the Czech Republic Under-21 and senior Croatian squads due to "fitness reasons", only to play the supposedly crocked trio in a friendly against Zenit St Petersburg in Spain during a warm-up for Sparta's Europa League game against Liverpool on Thursday.
The canny club even gave Czech strikers Vaclav Kadlec and Tomas Pekhart, as well as Croatia defender Manuel Pamic, shirts with alternative names on the back, changed the team sheets and credited Kadlec's two goals in the 2-1 win to relatively unknown forward Pavel Kaderabek.
However, when Zenit posted pictures of the friendly on their website an eagle-eyed journalist spotted that the white 6ft 4in striker wearing the shirt of black Cameroonian Martin Abena, was in fact Czech Republic international Pekhart and the ruse was rumbled. The club now face disciplinary action by the Czech FA.
Domenech: France stars 'spoilt brats'
Raymond Domenech stuck a big dirty finger in the old wound that is France's World Cup 2010 rebellion this week and ripped it right open when he branded his useless players "spoilt, thoughtless brats".
The axed les Bleus boss spoke about the humilitaing day when his players boycotted training in South Africa in an interview with L'Express and revealed he had finally realised what the rest of the world already knew.
"At that time I thought they had gone mad, that they had no idea what they were doing. With hindsight, I see them all as a group of spoilt, thoughtless brats," he said.
Domenech also explained how none of the players had the balls to read the statement they had prepared and in the end he had to do it, effectively putting a gun to his own head. "I want to restore the truth," he said. "I'm not the moron that people are describing me as."
Well a 50% realisation isn't bad.
Video of the week
Was this the moment that Barcelona decided to sign Dutch midfielder Ibrahim Afellay? In this clip, the former PSV defender bears down on goal and then back-heels the ball with his right foot onto his left foot and over the 'keeper. To see Ibrahim Afellay's brilliant training ground goal click here .
More than words...