Friday, February 23, 2007

Roberto Gotta in Italy

Many Italians don't know their geography, so it was perhaps no surprise to discover on Tuesday that Milan's Alberto Gilardino was tricked into thinking Glasgow was really Edinburgh and that Champions League's last 16 1st leg was the title of a pantomime you would, or on second thought wouldn't, see at the Fringe Festival.

UEFA Cup Wrap

Ajax Amsterdam and Parma joined CSKA as former winners to bow out, their European campaigns ended by Werder Bremen and Braga respectively. There were no problems for holders Sevilla, cruising through 3-0 on aggregate against Steaua Bucharest to lead a quartet of Spanish sides through to the last 16. Primera Liga rivals Celta Vigo, Osasuna and Espanyol also won through.

Mourinho predicts classic Carling Cup Final

Chelsea vs. Arsenal on Sunday -- 10 AM EST on Setanta

Convey's Season Ended By Injury

La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, and EPL Previews

La Liga:
Madrid derby holds key to future for both clubs.

Serie A:
Ronaldo again takes centre stage for AC Milan.

Stuttgart chase double dream against Hertha.

English Premier League (+ Carling Cup Final):
Charlton and Pardew welcome West Ham to The Valley.

Richard Williams on Ronaldinho's Soft Belly

Ronaldinho is playing soft and looking flabby, and his manager, Frank Rijkaard, should do something about it.

Trouble in Lens evokes memories of darkest days

It is now nearly 18 years since the Hillsborough disaster which cost the lives of 96 Liverpool fans but for some considerable time on Tuesday it seemed as though football had learnt nothing since 1989. Or perhaps French football.

Wenger will not cast vote in favour of Mourinho’s brash talk

While Arsène Wenger’s love of The X Factor came as something of a shock, it will surprise no one that his row with José Mourinho is in danger of becoming X-rated. The facile feuding between two such accomplished managers plumbed new depths yesterday as Wenger hit back at his rival, saying that Mourinho’s achievement in winning the Champions League with FC Porto does not guarantee he will be remembered as a great of the game. This weekend’s scrap over a somewhat lesser trophy, the Carling Cup, could be a feisty affair.

Tony Cascarino Column

Uefa should pardon Puel: let United kick him out instead.

Friday's Rumours

Adriano for Messi? Yeah, right...-Sanford,,2019869,00.html

Lawro's Premiership Previews

The Kevin Nolan Column

"There has been no karaoke on our mid-season break in Tenerife"

Lawro's Carling Cup Preview

I am going to the Carling Cup final, but I honestly cannot get a cigarette paper in between these two teams.

Howard Can Star For USA - Moyes

Everton manager David Moyes believes Tim Howard can go on to cement his place as the USA's top goalkeeper. Howard's season-long loan move from Manchester United will become permanent in the summer, with a five-year deal already agreed.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Benitez’s men learn to sing from same hymn sheet

Simon Barnes on why refusing a bit of karaoke isn't such a bad thing.

Injured Terry ruled out of Carling Cup final

The England skipper will undergo scans on the right ankle he damaged last night later today but while the injury will rule him out of Sunday's final against Arsenal at Cardiff's Millennium stadium, it is not expected to be a long-term problem.

Wednesday's Champions League Reports

Barcelona 1 - 2 Liverpool:
Oh, the irony! Liverpool's goalscorers? Yup, you guessed it. John Arne Riise and Craig Bellamy. And Bellamy celebrated his goal with a golf swing. Pure class...-Sanford,,2018485,00.html

Porto 1 - 1 Chelsea
Terry injury takes shine off the night of Shevchenko's most important goal.,,2018486,00.html

Internazionale Milan 2 - 2 Valencia
David Silva cracked home a late equaliser to deny Internazionale and hand Valencia a draw from their trip to the San Siro.

Roma 0 - 0 Lyon
Both teams struggled to find their rhythm in a tense affair which was interrupted by a series of free-kicks and 11 yellow cards from English referee Mike Riley.

Henry plays through the pain barrier for Arsenal cause

If he's not 100% he should not be playing. End of story. Arsenal have proved that they don't need him on the pitch to be successful and he's been poor of late. I understand that he wants to be playing but he needs to suck it up and wear the uniform he's wearing in this picture until he's healthy. The fact that he is captain only makes things worse. -Sanford

Everton 1 - 2 Tottenham

Jermaine Jenas provided further evidence of a potential Spurs revival by securing Martin Jol's newly renascent side a rare away win courtesy of an eye catching 89th minute winner curled in from outside the box last night.,,2018488,00.html

Richard Williams Column

There is reverse psychology, and then there is the eternal mystery of the mind of Rafael Benítez. Last night, less than a week after Craig Bellamy allegedly threatened John Arne Riise with a golf club at the end of a squad training week in Portugal, the Liverpool manager rewarded the Welshman not with the threat of a transfer at the end of the season but with a place in his starting line-up for a match that could define the club's season. Ninety minutes later both men were celebrating their unlikely reward.

Adriano's Party Mood Lands Him On The Bench

Last weekend Adriano had some wild celebrations for his 25th birthday, even though Inter’s chairman and coach had told him to behave differently.

Villa's Berger pondering MLS move in the summer

This article says he's 24. That ain't right. I'm not the strongest when it comes to math (I don't do math) but even I know that someone born in 1973 is not 24. -Sanford

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lille vs. Manchester United: Highlights of the Controversy

French police 'hit fans escaping crush'

'I think people were worried it might be like Hillsborough',,2018011,00.html

Ferguson accuses Lille of being a "disgrace"

'I've never seen anything like that. It was totally wrong' - Ferguson,,2017849,00.html

Mourinho happy taking the flak and turns his guns on Wenger

Jose Mourinho last night goaded Arsène Wenger with a barb about their respective Champions League records.,,2017769,00.html

Tuesday's Champions League Reports

Lille 0 - 1 Manchester United:
Manchester United flew home with a priceless Champions League lead and left behind a storm of controversy over incidents that included furious Lille coaching staff attempting to haul their players off the pitch before the final whistle.,,2017782,00.html

PSV Eindhoven 1 - 0 Arsenal:
Mendez strike leaves Arsenal's European hopes hanging by a thread.,,2017787,00.html

Real Madrid 3 - 2 Bayern Munich:
Beckham shines to give Real a slight advantage.,,2017844,00.html

Celtic 0 - 0 AC Milan:
Honours even but real test of Celtic potential will come in San Siro.,,2017788,00.html

This year's footballing Oscar goes to ... Craig Bellamy

The Guardian citation says: "For managing to spit in the eye of fortune when given yet another chance, for betraying the trust of those who invested so heavily and believed so fervently, and for unrelenting stupidity and nastiness, Craig Bellamy is football's Top Tosspot of the Year."

Wednesday Champions League Preview

Barca and Inter face tests, Mourinho goes home.

Elsewhere, Bayern Munich have become the latest team to inexplicably show an interest in Juventus's Mauro Camoranesi - officially the most overrated thing since Lily Allen. And that's your lot.

Hey! Go easy on Lily! I'm a big fan! -Sanford

Sampdoria's Flachi Test Positive for Cocaine

David Villa Feature

David Villa was only 20 when he was faced with what may transpire to have been the defining moment of his career. The mental fortitude that he summoned, the confidence and bravado he displayed, perhaps explain why some of the biggest clubs in England will do battle this summer for the right to pay up to £50 million for the Spain striker’s services.

Gabriele Marcotti Column

Early test for Platini’s presidency after unruly scenes.

Premier League approves Mascherano's Liverpool move

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tuesday's Champions League Previews

Arsenal vs. PSV Eindhoven:,,2016906,00.html

Celtic vs. AC Milan:,,2016915,00.html

Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich:,,2016916,00.html

Lille vs. Manchester United:

Phil Ball in Spain

Funny thing football. Just when you think that you're ok, just when the edifice that you've built seems to be getting bigger and more beautiful, it suddenly all comes tumbling down - but for no reason particularly connected to football.

Ask Real Madrid and Chelsea recently. Ronaldo has gone - 'It was his decision' snapped Capello this weekend when a journalist pointed out that he'd scored twice in Siena, Beckham is back in the fold, but Cassano remains a problem. To forgive another player, or not to forgive, that is the question.

Larsson won't extend Man United stay

Henrik Larsson has ruled out staying at Manchester United beyond the current loan spell which ends next month.

It's a bit sad because he brings a load of class to the game in England. That said, we won't have to see images like this for much longer. -Sanford

Rovers and Villa ready to hand Bellamy lifeline

Richard Williams on Reading's Potential

The next Roman Abramovich or Malcolm Glazer could help Reading break into the Premiership's elite.

Tuesday's Rumours

In lesser news, Craig Bellamy - fresh from a whopping £80,000 fine for allegedly wafting a golf club at very bestest mate John Arne Riise - could soon be on his way to Aston Villa. Martin O'Neill has been looking for a replacement pantomime villain ever since offloading Lee Hendrie to Stoke on loan, and is willing to pay £8m for the privilege, though Blackburn are also lurking.,,565628,00.html

Liverpool face blanket fines for fracas from angry Benítez

Liverpool travel to Spain this morning for their Champions League tie at Barcelona with their manager Rafael Benítez considering fining the majority of his first-team squad for the part they played in the alcohol-fuelled scenes that marred the club's training break on the Algarve.,,2016890,00.html

USA Set To Challenge England’s World Cup Bid

Did we not just have one of these here? Let's let some other countries enjoy it for once...-Sanford

Fans launch petition against 'rip-off' ticket prices

Their plans include:

• A League-wide away fans' ticket price of no more than £15.
• A League-mandated freeze on all matchday and season ticket prices
• The use of television facilities fees for broadcast games to lower ticket prices to compensate for fixture moves and inconvenient kick-off times.

Sid Lowe in Spain

Despite public fall-outs, a host of injuries and a keeper with a thing for red towels and tantric sex, Valencia are still in with a real shot at the title.

James Richardson in Italy

Third-placed Palermo's season is starting to unravel in miserable circumstances, but Ronaldo is back in business.

Raphael Honigstein in Germany

Sweet dreams for Frontzeck as Aachen pile misery on Bayern...Whether it be because of fan harassment or a worrying slump in form, there are a host German managers having trouble sleeping.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Come on you Ru-mours!

Tottenham Hotspur have a long established tradition of being linked to deals that serve more in providing laughs than actually improving the team. A few from the past couple weeks:
  • Julio Baptista from Arsenal via Real Madrid
  • Robinho from Real Madrid
  • Harry Kewell from the end of Liverpool’s bench
  • Kim Kallstrom (a Swede) from Lyon
  • Nigel Mediocre (Reo-Coker) from The Hammers
  • Harry Redknapp as manager beginning this summer

The first two don't deserve comment, they're that silly. Kewell can go screw. Kallstrom would be interesting if they could pull it off. Nigel can go down with the sinking ship that is West Ham. And after this disappointing season Jol will be lucky to keep his job, so it's only natural that Harry's name comes up. He's first to be linked with every managerial opening.......

Check back for our fortnightly look at more Spurs laughers.

FA Cup Sixth Round Draw

FA Cup sixth round draw (ties played over weekend of March 10 and 11):

Middlesbrough or West Brom vs. Manchester United or Reading

Arsenal or Blackburn vs. Manchester City

Chelsea vs. Tottenham

Plymouth vs. Watford

Footballers behaving badly

The logic behind Liverpool's mid-season excursion to the Algarve may be as questionable as many of Rafael Benitez's signings, but the fact is the Spaniard was merely following in a long-established tradition by taking his players on a foreign break. In theory, a holiday in the sun tans tired limbs and improves team bonding; alas, the practice is frequently different, with piss-ups turning to punch-ups, bonding being an angry headlock and bodies returning not so much golden brown as black and blue. Below we recall five of English clubs' more troublesome trips abroad, in chronological disorder.,,2016565,00.html

Richard Jolly at Deepdale

Preston North End 1-3 Manchester City

On a weekend where draws provided something approximating to FA Cup shocks, Manchester City supplied a surprise of their own by beating lower-division opposition.

Bellamy faces uncertain future as Liverpool reel from golf club attack

Liverpool's preparations for Wednesday's Champions League game at Barcelona have been overshadowed by drunken misbehaviour on the Algarve. Craig Bellamy is facing a heavy fine and an uncertain future after a night out allegedly concluded with the forward using a golf club to attack his team-mate John Arne Riise.

A history of trouble:

February 2002 Receives a caution for hitting a woman in a nightclub

March 2003 Charged with racially aggravated harassment outside a nightclub but later acquitted

March 2004 Throws a chair at John Carver, Newcastle's assistant manager

January 2005 Fined £80,000 by Graeme Souness for calling him a liar

April 2005 Abuses former Newcastle team-mate, Alan Shearer, by text

September 2006 Rows in tunnel with Newcastle coach Terry McDermott

November 2006 Bellamy cleared of assaulting teenage girl in a nightclub,,2016248,00.html

Valencia 2 - 1 Barcelona

Valencia show Benítez how to dismantle Barcelona:,,2016331,00.html

Sarachan Blasts Zidane-Fire Link

Chicago Fire manager Dave Sarachan rubbished rumors that the Windy City club was in talks with retired French superstar Zinedine Zidane.

FA Cup, Serie A, La Liga, and Bundesliga Reports

Reading hold ManU, Blackburn hold Arsenal, Chelsea cruise, Inter win 16th straight, Milan edge Siena, Sevilla catch Barcelona, Aachen top Bayern, Hamburg beat Bremen...

England: FA Cup Reports

Italy: Serie A Reports

Spain: La Liga Reports

Germany: Bundesliga Reports

Keane grateful for Fulham generosity

Fulham 0 Tottenham Hotspur 4: Knight clashes with fans after wayward defending...

Tim Vickery in South America

Just one week into the Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League, the competition has already run into a problem as big as a mountain.

"Beckham Rule" seems to apply only to Beckham

Major League Soccer's designated player rule is in the early stages of a two-year trial. But it is becoming apparent that the so-called Beckham Rule is going to be just that, a way for the league to contract David Beckham, and no others need apply.