Sunday, December 31, 2006

John Terry stunned Chelsea by returning to training just 24 hours after back surgery.

The Blues skipper reported for duty on Friday and could play in the FA Cup tie with Macclesfield next week.

Goal #15,000

Sponsors Barclays are offering a £15,000 donation to charity for the player who scores the landmark 15,000 Premiership goal.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


The ratings for the World Cup final between Italy and France were far higher than for any other competition, and the average audiences for 32 of the 64 matches in Germany were better than the Super Bowl, the next most popular event.


Accrington Stanley is joining the battle to woo Far East fans with the launch of a new website,

Friday, December 29, 2006

World player of the year

Fifa has been forced to issue a statement denying that Zinedine Zidane was the real winner of the world player of the year award. Spanish newspaper Marca reported that following a vote recount, the prize would go to Zidane instead of Italy's World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro.

The report was published on Marca's website, prompting a Norwegian journalist as well as what Fifa described as "an assortment of international media" to call its press office.

However, it quickly emerged that the story was Spain's equivalent of an "April Fool". Spain and Latin America celebrate "Dia de los Santos Inocentes" on 28 December, a day on which people can traditionally carry out pranks without fear of reprisal.

Thursday, December 28, 2006



When star striker Hamdi Salihi of Albanian league leaders SK Tirana failed to score for a month, the club took drastic action.

Owner Refik Halili decided to enlist the help of 30 Muslim priests to pray all week for the goal drought to end - and it worked.

Salihi scored his side’s second goal in the 3-2 derby win over Partizani.Halili said: “Salihi is a born striker and the fact he had not scored for four weeks had blocked him mentally.

“I think I lived up to my duty. God helped him score and SK Tirana to win.”

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Liverpool, who are being bought by an investment company effectively owned by the Dubai government, could be sold again in seven years' time, according to a confidential document.

The document also reveals that Dubai International Capital are planning to borrow up to £300 million to finance their £450m purchase of the club.

DIC see their investment in Liverpool as purely a business deal built round the new stadium Liverpool are planning at Stanley Park. When they sell in seven years' time they are hoping to make a huge profit, providing a return of around 25 per cent on their investment for every year of ownership. There appear to be no plans to invest in new players.


Stephen Hunt ran a gauntlet of hate at Stamford Bridge yesterday even though he did not step one foot on the pitch.

The Reading midfielder was targeted by Chelsea fans still angry at his challenge in October which left Blues keeper Petr Cech with a cracked skull.

Thousands of home fans screamed and shouted at Hunt as he warmed up on the touchline in front of the East Stand during the 2-2 draw.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Saturday, December 23, 2006


Liverpool stars Luis Garcia and Xabi Alonso were left red-faced during a Christmas shopping trip earlier this week. The Reds duo popped into the city centre's Virgin Megastore for a few presents — only to find themselves surrounded by hundreds of Everton fans.

Garcia and Alonso cut their visit short after discovering that Toffees midfielder Tim Cahill was in the store to sign copies of the club's latest DVD.

To make matters worse the new release focuses on a day the Kop pair would rather forget — Liverpool's 3-0 defeat at Goodison Park.

And the supporters were happy to point out that Cahill scored the opening goal as the Toffees humiliated their Merseyside rivals back in September.

Garcia and Alonso took the banter in good spirits and signed autographs before paying for their goods and making a quick exit.

Friday, December 22, 2006


Jose Mourinho sparked a new row when he urged a ref to yellow card Nicky Butt. On the day he apologised to Andy Johnson for accusing him of diving, Chelsea boss Mourinho waved an imaginary card at official Chris Foy from the bench.

Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder then denied that he'd argued with Mourinho about the incident, saying only that "They were pleasantries."


Reading boss Steve Coppell has banned his players from Christmas shopping to save their energy for the festive fixture schedule.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Holding top spot on December 25 is more often a curse than a blessing. Only five times - Manchester United (1993-94 and 2000-01), Blackburn (1994-95) and Chelsea (2003-04 and 2004-05) - has a team gone on to win the title after being top at Christmas.

Batman and Robin

Manchester United players dubbed Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney Batman and Robin because of a series of tricks the two pranksters have played on fellow team-mates. Midfielder Michael Carrick said: "Wayne can't shut up his big gob and Rio comes a close second."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Former Watford striker Luther Blissett is to come out of retirement to play for non-League Chesham United - at the age of 48.


Thierry Henry still tortures himself over his first missed chance in the Champions League final. The injured Arsenal star, 29, is haunted by not slotting the ball past Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes when Arsenal were 1-0 up. They eventually lost 2-1 in Paris.

Henry, who hopes to return to face Liverpool in the FA Cup on January 6, also suffered heartbreak against Italy in the World Cup final.

He said: “I still feel that I let my team down against Barcelona.“Neither in the World Cup final with France nor in the Champions League final for Arsenal did I make a difference for my team — I’m the first to admit that.

“But in that Champions League final I had two really big chances to win it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Vatican Utd

A senior Roman Catholic cardinal says he hopes the Vatican may one day field a football team good enough to compete with Italy's top sides.

Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone envisaged a team that might challenge famous Serie A clubs like Roma, Inter Milan and Sampdoria. He said the Church's seminaries and Catholic youth clubs around Italy were full of talented footballers.


David Beckham has taken out the biggest personal insurance policy in sporting history. The mind-blowing new £100 million deal effectively doubles the value of his previous liability and is understood to be rivalled only by a handful of leading figures from the American entertainment industry.

Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez, the singer-actresses, are said to have insured their bodies for $1 billion each in recent years, although the actual sums are thought to be much closer to the cost of Beckham’s cover.

Beckham’s insurance policy — unprecedented in Britain — is so large that the costs have been spread over several companies, although one main insurer is understood to have borne the brunt. The cost of the total premium is a closely guarded secret, but even Beckham’s extra payments just to increase his cover are believed to run into many hundreds of thousands.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Glenn Roeder got a lift yesterday as Newcastle landed the perfect Christmas gift — a first trophy in 37 years. The Toon, who take on Watford at St James’ Park today, have won the 2006 Intertoto Cup.

Of all the clubs who entered the competition back in July, only Newcastle made the draw for the last 32 of the UEFA Cup.

Christmas nookie

Pre-match rules for top referees will be relaxed over the Christmas period, meaning officials' wives can stay with them at their hotels on the night before big games.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Joey Barton has launched a scathing attack on some of the England team's senior players, describing their decisions to write autobiographies after the failure of the World Cup as "bullshit".

In a wide-ranging assault on the England players and their performance at the World Cup, Barton's criticisms included Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole - all of whom have published books since the summer.

"I can't get my head round that," the 24-year-old said. "England did nothing in that World Cup, so why were they bringing books out? 'We got beat in the quarter-finals. I played like shit. Here's my book.' Who wants to read that?"


It was revealed last night that Wembley's retractable roof will take 40 minutes longer to close than originally planned, despite initial plans stating that the roof for the new stadium would take just 15 minutes to close. The engineering magazine New Civil Engineer has discovered the process will now take 56 minutes and 30 seconds - and recommends that the roof is shut only when the stadium is empty.


One of Steven Gerrard's privileges after being given the Freedom of the borough of Knowsley is that he is allowed to drive his sheep down the main street of his home town.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Party !!

Crouch and Gerrard on their way to the Liverpool Christmas party

Breath tests

Coventry boss Micky Adams says breath tests will be given to any players the club suspects may have been going out over the festive season and the team will also be weighed daily to ensure they are eating properly and are having the correct fluid intake.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


The Brazilian Football Confederation will officially launch a bid to host the 2014 World Cup on Wednesday when it informs Fifa in Tokyo.

A statement on the CBF's website said: "CBF president Ricardo Teixeira will make official Brazil's candidacy to be World Cup hosts again after 64 years."


Everton provoked a hostile reaction from their supporters last night after confirming that they are to explore building a new ground outside Liverpool.

The Merseyside club have spent the past 114 years at Goodison Park, but they have agreed a three-way partnership with Tesco, the supermarket giant, and Knowsley Council to investigate relocating to a site in Kirkby.
Yet at the club’s 127th annual meeting, shareholders gave the plans to move four miles out of the city to a location close to the M57 a negative response.


Sports Minister Richard Caborn has claimed growing commercialisation is threatening football's future. In the State of the Game 2006 Report, Caborn says football faces increasing instability unless action is taken. He also said that football's governance arrangements needed to be looked at to ensure they were "fit for purpose".

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Bobby Charlton, breaking almost half-a-century of silence about the 1958 Munich air crash, says the disaster still haunts him every day of his life.

Charlton, now 69, was 20 at the time of the disaster on Feb. 6 1958 that cost the lives of 23 people including eight of his Manchester United team mates.

'You know, you feel a bit guilty. I do feel guilty even now. I think about it every day of my life,' said the attack-minded midfielder, who played 106 times for England and is still the country's all-time record international scorer with 49 goals.


Aston Villa's winger Gabriel Agbonlahor says he relaxes by playing as himself on Pro Evolution Soccer on his computer.


Graham Kavanagh says Sunderland's poor start to life in the Championship may have been down to their Abba soundtrack in the dressing-room.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Newcastle are weighing up a sensational transfer-window bid for Liverpool's Peter Crouch.

The Geordies are desperate to strengthen their firepower — and they see the England striker as the perfect man to lead the Toon attack.

Crouch, 25, joined Liverpool from Southampton in a £7million deal in July 2005 and he has scored nine goals for the Reds this season.

But boss Rafa Benitez wants to keep his strike-force intact to maintain their challenge in the Champions League this season — though there might be room for manoeuvre during the summer.


Football's 'bungbuster' Lord Stevens has been obstructed in his investigations into alleged corruption in transfer deals by a hardcore of 'rogue' agents who refuse to let him see their bank account details.

Those agents will be named in a report to the Premier League this week. Chairman Dave Richards and chief executive Richard Scudamore will then call on the Football Association to use their power to suspend or ban unco-operative agents. The FA are expected to agree.


Veteran Gary Speed, who is set to play his 500th Premiership game, said his longevity in the game is down to Gordon Strachan - and his fondness for bananas and seaweed cakes.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Jens Lehmann has backed the Arsenal supporters who intend to barrack Ashley Cole during Sunday's game at Stamford Bridge. The goalkeeper emphasised his respect for Cole as a player and person but understands why the Chelsea full-back will receive abuse when he faces his former club for the first time.

"Of course. He should get it," Lehmann said. "That's football and it makes it exciting. If not, it would have meant he wasn't an important player for them. But he was, he was a vital member of our squad and we had big success with him so of course he has to expect some negative emotions towards him."

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Steve Claridge is set to play his 1,000th club game on Saturday after signing a one-month contract with the League One strugglers Bournemouth.

Since his 999th game - he scored for Walsall in a 1-0 win at Gillingham in April - he has maintained a three-sessions-a-day training programme alongside media work which includes the Guardian's scouting report.

"I made my debut here 22 years ago and it's great to be back," the 40-year-old said. "It's not a gimmick. I want to play well and stay here as long as I can. You only give up football if you're injured or fed up, and I love the game."


A senior Fifa official who re-sold World Cup match tickets at up to three times their face value has escaped with only a warning from the organisation's executive committee.

Jack Warner, a Fifa vice-president from Trinidad and Tobago, was identified after the tournament in a report by auditors Ernst and Young, and, aided by his son Daryan, used a ticket agency called Kick Sports to re-sell 180 tickets for €400 each - in total €54,000 (£37,000) above face value.


Arsenal fans will shower Ashley Cole with fake £20 notes on Sunday at Stamford Bridge. Passed around by email, fans are urged to cut them out and told "wave them in the direction of greedy little Cashley Hole". Chelsea's Chief Executive Peter Kenyon's signature appears above the title Chief Cashier and the notes are marked Bank of Russia.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


The Wigan manager, Paul Jewell, believes encouraging players to dive would actually help to eradicate the problem from the game.

Although most managers would say they do not encourage their players to go down when challenged, Jewell said they should be given the freedom to do so if they wish. "I might be the only fellow in the world that thinks 'Why don't we just allow it?'," said Jewell

Jewell argued that the super-competitive environment of the Premier League means that teams are looking for anything to get a slight advantage. And he claimed that managers, players and supporters were happy when decisions went for them and only complained when opponents were successful.


The impending takeover of Liverpool by one of the richest men in the world will add weight to calls for Europe-wide restrictions on spending on transfers and wages by clubs.

Many in European football fear such takeovers will widen the gulf between the super-rich and the rest, and Uefa and the European Commission are considering new rules that would tie spending to a proportion of a club's revenue.


Jose Mourinho, who suffers from migraines, was rushed to hospital with acute head pains on Sunday but returned to training on Monday.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Alan Shearer, Phd

Football legend Alan Shearer has been awarded an honorary degree by Northumbria University. The former Newcastle United and England star received the Doctorate of Civil Law at a ceremony at Newcastle's City Hall on Monday.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Australian Damian Mori has just been signed by the Queensland Roar from the Central Coast Mariners, meaning he will now travel approx 2,045km from his Adelaide home ... 4½ hours' flight, 67 hours by car or 80 hours by rail


Eggert Magnusson will stamp his mark on West Ham by personally negotiating all future transfers.
The new Upton Park owner plans a hands-on approach and has insisted on being involved in every deal.

That means there is no room for managing director Paul Aldridge, who has been axed in the Icelandic biscuit baron’s first shake-up of staff.
Aldridge was handed a £500,000 pay-off after backing businessman Kia Joorabchian’s failed takeover attempt.

When Joorabchian failed to come up with former chairman Terry Brown’s £75million asking-price, Aldridge persuaded the board to give him more time.
But that led to Joorabchian trying a cut-price bid when West Ham admitted they still owed money for Dean Ashton’s £7.5m transfer from Norwich.

Now Magnusson will work from a list of targets given him by manager Alan Pardew.


Newcastle are considering an audacious bid to land Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko on a five-month loan deal.

Toon boss Glenn Roeder is monitoring the striker's situation after it was revealed the Blues would be willing to let him leave on a temporary basis in January.

Sheva's former club AC Milan are favourites to sign the Ukrainian, 30.
But a Geordies source said: "Newcastle are thinking of making a move for Shevchenko if Chelsea are serious about letting him go on loan.
"It's a deal which would benefit both clubs."

Nice work if you can get it

Manchester United new signing Henrik Larsson will bank £1m for just 10 weeks' work if he is a success at Old Trafford.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


David Beckham will not be buying American football club LA Galaxy but is expected to consider offers from Major League Soccer sides in the New Year.

Beckham’s advisors have denied there is any chance of the player buying shares in the US team, even though he has a soccer academy in Los Angeles and the team’s billionaire owner, Phillip Anschutz, owns the Millennium Dome, home of Beckham’s London academy.

But Beckham is expected to talk to MLS teams and Premiership sides in January, with his Real contract running out next summer.


The delay-plagued new Wembley has already hosted its first game with a match between owners Wembley National Stadium Ltd and Australian building firm Multiplex.


Liverpool are close to agreeing a £400million takeover deal with the former owner of the Harlem Globetrotters.

I can reveal that American billionaire George Gillett is set to pip Sheik Mohammed's Dubai International Capital in the chase to own the Kop.

Gillett will become the sixth foreign investor to buy into the Premiership, following Eggert Magnusson at West Ham, Randy Lerner at Aston Villa and Malcolm Glazer at Manchester United.

A top City source confirmed: "It looks like a deal for Liverpool will be done soon and Gillett is now the hot favourite."

Liverpool chairman David Moores and chief executive Rick Parry met Gillett recently in Montreal to thrash out terms.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Extra time

When Brentford played away at Bristol City in 2000-01, there were about 23 minutes of stoppage time in the first-half alone after a broken leg, a dislocated shoulder (Bees striker Lloyd Owusu passed out from the pain and an ambulance had to be driven up to the pitch), and serious concussion caused the delay.

In fact, two goals were scored in that first-half injury-time, with the second being clocked in the 67th minute. The fourth official had originally held up 13 minutes' stoppage time, but one of the injuries occurred in that period to bump it up to 23.


Carlos Tevez was upset when his team-mates decided he should wear a Brazil top in training as a punishment for storming out of Upton Park. West Ham’s Argentinian star was in the dog-house for last weekend’s strop after he was subbed during the victory over Sheffield United.

And, having apologised to Hammers’ manager Alan Pardew, Tevez invited the other players to decide his fate.Yet when the verdict came, he wasn’t having any of it.

The Argie would rather part with his life-savings than wear the colours of Brazil.

Tevez laughed:

“I just couldn’t train in a Brazil shirt, I wouldn’t do it. It was like asking an Englishman to wear a German kit — he’d never do that.

“I’m happy to be making a big donation to charity but it’s just too much to wear the strip of my country’s biggest rivals.

“I played in Brazil for Corinthians and enjoyed my time there. But I couldn’t be seen wearing their national shirt.”


Ronnie Wallwork, the West Bromwich Albion midfield player, is recovering in hospital today after being stabbed several times in what police believe was a planned attack.

The former Manchester United player was assaulted at the Sugar Lounge nightclub in Manchester. The 29-year-old, who is currently on loan at Barnsley, was taken to hospital with stab wounds to his hand, stomach and back.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Thierry Henry taunted Teddy Sheringham over his age after Arsenal’s stormy defeat at West Ham. The Gunners skipper constantly questioned the Premiership’s oldest-ever outfield player as the two teams clashed in the tunnel after the final whistle.

Sheringham eventually snapped as Henry continued to ask why he was getting into a ruck at his age.

The revelation comes from Hammers’ back-up keeper Jimmy Walker, who confirms for the first time there was a bust-up following Arsenal’s controversial 1-0 defeat at Upton Park.

Walker said: “One thing that did amuse me down the tunnel when all the handbags started with a few players was when Henry piped up at Teddy and kept saying ‘Why are you getting involved, you’re 40?’.

“He kept repeating that same bit over and over. ‘You’re 40, you’re 40’. Eventually Teddy just had to turn round and say ‘Are you trying to wind me up? Do you think I need reminding that I’m 40?’.

“That did make me laugh because I have to say, yes, sometimes Teddy does need reminding that he’s 40.

“Have you seen how hard he trains and some of the runs he makes? He can show up players that are only half his age.

“He could also do with reminding how old he is on the odd night out . . . but we won’t go into that!”

I should be so Luque

Newcastle forward Albert Luque escaped injury yesterday when a lorry, sporting a Liverpool flag in its window, accidentally ploughed into his £60,000 Porsche. Luckily the Spaniard was outside his car checking for a puncture at the time.


Barrow defender James Cotterill has pleaded guilty to breaking an opponent's jaw during an FA Cup game after the attack was seen by millions on television.

Cotterill admitted punching Bristol Rovers striker Sean Rigg, causing him grievous bodily harm, during a match on November 11.

Barrow magistrates' court heard that Mr Rigg had to drink through a straw and eat with a teaspoon after the blow fractured his jaw in two places. His jaw must be held together with metal plates for the rest of his life.

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