Tuesday, November 19, 2013

LeBron James in talks on David Beckham Miami MLS team

Basketball superstar LeBron James says he is in talks with David Beckham about investing in the former England captain's planned Miami MLS franchise.

James, 28, won back-to-back NBA titles with Miami Heat and believes a football team would be popular in the city.

"David has become a good friend of mine. There's interest on both sides" he told South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The chance to become a team owner at a discounted price was part of Beckham's contract at LA Galaxy.

The 38-year-old took up the option after ending his playing career at French side Paris St-Germain last season.

James already has a minority stake in Premier League Liverpool as part of a partnership with the club's owners Fenway Sports Group.

"I think this is a great town for soccer," James said of Beckham's preferred base for his team.

"There's a lot of soccer players, there's great youth soccer players here and people love the city as well. That definitely would help."

James added that he had learned more about football since becoming associated with Liverpool.

"I've grown to the point where I know exactly what's going on when I'm watching the game," he said.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Portuguese newspaper 'Ronaldo vs Zlatan lightsaber duel' cover

Spurs set to demand almost £1m in compensation for Christian Eriksen injury

Tottenham will pursue FIFA for just shy of £1m in compensation after Christian Eriksen picked up an ankle ligament injury while playing for Denmark.

Reports in the Danish media suggest that Spurs will lodge the demand if, as expected, Eriksen is ruled out for the next six weeks.

Barnet have 92nd-minute winning goal disallowed after smoke bomb obscures linesman’s view

Yeovil launch their own girl band

Currently wallowing at the bottom of the Championship, Yeovil Town have been putting their heads together over the past few weeks in an attempt to conjure up ways to gee-up the crowd at their Huish Park ground as the club fight tooth-and-nail to stay in the Championship.

They’re going to launch their own girl band which is to be "based on the Pussycat Dolls", who will perform at home matches for the rest of the 2013/14 season.

The club are now in the process of holding auditions for members, with females aged 18 and over being invited to Huish Park on 4th December to have a shot at making the final cut.

The final group will consist of a lead singer and "a group of south west-based dancers" who will then work with a record label to record and release a single on iTunes, with a swatch of the proceeds then going to Prostate Cancer UK (the Football League’s official charity of choice).

Ravel Morrison scores ‘lollipop back-heel volley’ during England U21 training

Altrincham forced to replay cup tie after rivals refused replacement ref

Altrincham will have to replay their FA Trophy tie with Colwyn Bay which ended in controversy on Saturday, the FA have ruled.

When referee Mark Ackerman pulled up with a calf injury in the 81st minute, Colwyn Bay manager Frank Sinclair blocked all attempts to install a replacement official.

Altrincham were leading their Skrill Conference North rivals 2-0 at the time, but with no fourth official on duty and former Chelsea defender Sinclair refusing to budge, the game was abandoned.

An Altrincham supporter who was qualified to step in as assistant was turned away on the grounds that he’d had a drink in the clubhouse at half-time, while Sinclair not only rejected an offer from visiting assistant-manager and former Premier League striker Neil Tolson to volunteer his services but declined an invitation to run the line.

With Ackerman telling Altrincham officials that his match report would contain a reference to Sinclair’s stance and the abandonment being ‘caused by Colwyn Bay’, one of non-League football’s most famous names felt the tie should be awarded to them.

However, the FA ruled that, as agreement could not be reached between the sides at the times, it should be replayed at Colwyn Bay on Tuesday night.

Referee takes 6 minutes to award goal

Giggs and Neville reveal 'Fans Favourites' Cafe Football menu

Fergie autobiography contains at least 45 mistakes

The publishers of Sir Alex Ferguson's best-selling autobiography have been left red-faced after eagle-eyed readers pointed out 45 factual errors.

Fergie's second account of his life, entitled My Autobiography, became the UK's fastest-selling non-fiction book, shifting 115,547 copies in its first week on sale.

But readers have spotted as many as 45 factual errors in the 402-page hardback, which has prompted publishers Hodder and Stoughton to offer to reimburse one disgruntled reader.

 Hodder and Stoughton CEO Jamie Hodder-Williams is said to have replied by email to the customer in question, offering a full refund in exchange for the return of the book.

Mr Hodder-Williams wrote: 'We did in fact go through several stages of fact-checking with this book, with a reading from within Manchester United as well as from a specialist football fact-checker.

'Although a very large number of corrections were made we plainly did not pick up everything.

'Possible corrections that have so far been helpfully pointed out are being checked and will be included in future reprints.

'I am sorry that you feel that your expenditure on the book was not worthwhile. If you would like to send the book to me at our head office address, stating where you bought the book and at what price, we will refund your expenditure and postage.'

Among the inaccuracies in Ferguson's account of the latter half of his 26-year Old Trafford reign are his claim United had 11 years out of former captain Roy Keane, when it was actually 12.

Ferguson also claims 'Rio Ferdinand excelled against Manchester City in the semi-final second leg [of the Carling Cup] in 2009 at Old Trafford' when the year in question was 2010.

The former United boss even managed to get wrong the date he had a pacemaker fitted, stating the procedure was done in April 2002, when it was actually carried out in March 2004.

The book also states United legend Ryan Giggs made his debut for the club aged 16, when the midfielder was actually 17 when he first appeared for them.

A spokeswoman for Hodder and Stoughton said: 'A member of the public did write in saying that he had found errors in the book and was not happy. He didn't say what the errors were.

'We have written to him and said that if he is not happy with his purchase he should send in the book and we will refund the purchase price.'

Three ‘highly questionable’ penalties in space of 3 minutes

Saturday, November 16, 2013

USWNT Training- Sexy and I Know it

Ozil sends World Cup qualification wishes to Arsenal team-mates

Terry Butcher pretty excited to be new Hibernian manager…

Wimbledon boss drenched while giving TV interview

Journey times and costs to Premier League away games from 25th November to 25th December 2013

Lampard presented with Golden Cap by his dad to commemorate England century

Alex Morgan trick during warm-up

7 year old girl keep ups

Friday, November 15, 2013

Iceland could become the smallest nation to qualify for the World Cup

Iceland, which has a population of just over 300,000 - similar to that of Reading - are two steps away from becoming the smallest nation to qualify for the World Cup. Coach Lars Lagerback, who helped the national side finish runners-up in Group E, previously steered Sweden to five successive major tournaments between 2000 and 2009.

However, he believes a play-off victory for Iceland over Croatia would be a greater achievement.

"If we succeed now, when nobody has given us a chance - you heard the play-off draw, everyone wanted us - if we do it, it would mean a little more than qualifying with Sweden," he said.

Ronaldo v Ibrahimovic

Palace fan lists vacant manager job in local newspaper

Robert Plant wins chance to star in Craddock's testimonial

Rock star and lifelong Wolves fan Robert Plant has paid £900 to play in Jody Craddock's testimonial match next year.

Craddock, who called time on his playing career in the summer, saw his time with the club honoured with a fundraising dinner at Molineux on Thursday night.

Plant, 65, best known as being the lead vocalist for Led Zeppelin, bid for the chance to turn out for his beloved team - his donation contributing towards a total figure in excess of £8,000 for Birmingham Children's Hospital, where Craddock's son Toby has been treated for leukaemia.

Brazilian players refuse to play

Players in Brazilian domestic leagues have banded together to protest at the length of their football season and punishing fixture congestion.

Players in all seven games on Wednesday night crossed their arms at the start of the game and refused to play for several moments while others, who had been threatened with a booking, just passed the ball back and forth between one another.

Corinthians defender Paulo Andre, one of the leaders of the protest, said the players won’t stop until the Brazilian Football Federation took their demands seriously.

‘We will escalate the protests if the federation doesn’t respond,’ said Andre.

The players are demanding longer breaks and longer preseason with more input to major decisions.

The Brazilian federation, known as the CBF, have said they will take the players demands into consideration when preparing the calendars for next season.

Weapons haul of gang who targeted Balotelli seized in police raid

Police have seized a weapons arsenal from Italian neo-Nazis who targeted footballer Mario Balotelli.

Items recovered include grenades, bayonets, guns and ammunition.

They also found as well as Nazi T-shirts and flags with swastikas.

Properties were searched across the country in an operation targeting the group Stormfront, which has taunted the former Man­chester City player at several Italy internationals.

During last year’s European Championships in Spain the thugs posted on Twitter and their website that Balotelli, who now plays for AC Milan, should "play for Israel and not Italy."

Furious Balotelli lashed out at the racists saying he would "kill them" and has demanded that football chiefs take a strong line on racism and he has warned he will walk off the pitch if he he is deliberately targeted

A spokesman said that the arrested man was a 51-year-old and he was held at Mantova near Milan where the weapons were found.

Tottenham order non-league club to change their badge

Fleet Spurs currently play in the Wessex League Division One in Hampshire and were originally set up in 1948 by soldiers who had returned from World War II - though there are no official links between them and the Premier League club, who have now legally requested that they drop their cockerel crest.

Bryan Sheppard, Fleet Spurs chairman, said:

"We haven’t got a penny to our name, we couldn’t afford to fight it. It’s been quite stressful, we just felt really intimidated by the heavy-handed approach, but I can see where they are coming from."

A spokesman for Tottenham made the club’s case too:

"If we do not take action to stop Fleet Spurs using our cockerel logo, it can undermine our ability to stop other unauthorised people who use our logo for commercial purposes, such as counterfeiters.

"We are very conscious that Fleet Spurs is a grass-roots club. For this reason we have been very careful not to ask them to do anything that might incur costs."

Apparently, Fleet Spurs have always featured the cockerel on their badge in homage to Tottenham, with the current design coming about as the result of a fan competition.

Chairman Sheppard has also insisted that the new design will also be drafted up by a supporter - although he admitted he would scrutinise the winning entry more carefully this time to avoid incurring the wrath of Tottenham again.

Messi poses with his trophies

Ronaldo has £7.5m contract riding on Portugal's place in World Cup

Cristiano Ronaldo has a small fortune riding on Portugal safely making it to the World Cup finals.

As well as the massive pull of national pride the Real Madrid forward’s commercial pulling power is riding on getting past Sweden.

Ronaldo is in negotiations with Nike - who also sponsor Zlatan Ibrahimovic, to renew his current £5m a year sponsorship deal signed in 2010.

Nike are proposing an increase of around £2.5m from £5m to £7.5m a year taking him up 2018 but the raise is, in part, based on the Portuguese international being the face of the 2014 World Cup for Nike in Brazil.

Preliminary talks began after Ronaldo put pen to paper on a new five-year contract at Real Madrid worth an estimated 17m euros a year after tax.

Failure to get past Sweden will influence the negotiating power of the Ballon d’Or candidate and Golden Boot favourite as he sits down with Nike to sign the extenstion before the end of the year.

He will remain their number one but Barcelona star Neymar will temporarily take his crown in Brazil, and that will be reflected in Ronaldo’s new deal.

Taylor ‘learning French’

Thursday, November 14, 2013

GIF : Bicycle kick own-goal

Liverpool stars in egg and spoon race

Liverpool stars Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Lucas Leiva have taken part in a filming session for Children in Need and it looks like they had a lot of fun.

The Liverpool trio visited Anfield Juniors as part of Children In Need's initiative to thank school children up and down the country for fundraising and took part in a variety of activities including egg-and-spoon races.

The 20 lucky pupils were split into different teams with their very own Liverpool star as a team captain as the trio went head-to-head for the afternoon.

United revenue rises

The Premier League champions announced record first quarter revenue of 98.5 million pounds, a 39.3 percent increase in commercial revenue thanks to 12 new sponsorship deals which have been signed since September.

The effect of the new TV Premier League deal has begun to benefit the club as well, with a 40.9 percent increase in broadcasting money from the same time last year, and with a new contract with BT for the Champions League just signed, that figure will continue to be healthy.

Messi's camp deny Barca fallout

Lionel Messi’s camp has felt the need to release a long statement to clear up speculation about his current thigh injury and a reported broken relationship with key Barcelona medical staff.

Since it was confirmed on Monday that Messi would miss the rest of 2013 to allow persistent muscle issues in both his thighs to recover properly, the Spanish and Catalan media have been full of stories analysing the situation, the reasons for his recent string of similar injuries, and the potential fall-out for all involved.

Much of this coverage has focused on an alleged break in the previous close relationship between Messi and Barca physio Juanjo Brau, with the decision to bring over Argentine specialist Luis Garcia to oversee the recovery process seen as highly significant.

This had led senior Barca figures including sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta to deny any issues between the player, his family, and the club.

Arsenal fan left homeless after betting his house on Gunners

An Arsenal fan in Uganda now has two reasons to despise Robin van Persie after the ex-Gunner’s goal saw Manchester United pip his former team at Old Trafford last weekend and thus rendered the poor fan homeless due to a stupidly huge pre-game wager with his United-supporting friend.

Henry Dhabasani staked his two-roomed house on Arsenal beating United in the bet with his friend Rashid Yiga, who, in turn, staked his Toyota and his wife on United rolling Arsenal over.

The pair then put their wager in writing while local leaders and fans witnessed the deal being agreed.

According to the Ugandan Observer, Dhabasani, who has five children and is married to three wives, fainted at the end of the game after Arsenal lost 1-0 and the next day several United fans who had witnessed the bet turned up at his house and threw him and his family out on the street.

GIF : Cavani free-kick vs Jordan

Beckham's $25m deal for new MLS team

David Beckham has arrived in Miami to finalise a deal to launch a Major League Soccer franchise in the Sunshine State.

After flying in from London yesterday, the former England football captain, 38, was seen relaxing by the pool of an exclusive hotel in South Beach.

And today, a source close to the star admitted he was going to spend the next few days meeting potential investors and trying to identify a site for a purpose-built football stadium, adding: 'We’re still in the process of analysing the deal and looking at sites and finalising investor groups.

'We're still in the planning stage, but there is a lot of excitement here.'

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A miss of epic proportions

Worst dive ever

Hodgson was paid in opera tickets at Inter

Roy Hodgson served as manager of Inter Milan between 1995 and 1997 and is fondly remembered at the Italian club for arresting the Nerazzurri’s dreadful, bottom-of-the-table start to the 1995/96 season and subsequently rejuvenating them to a third place finish the season after that.

Hodgson also returned for a brief second stint in charge of Inter as caretaker coach for just six games in 1999 as a favour for his old chum Massimo Moratti, the Italian club’s now-former owner and president (he recently flogged 70% of his stake to Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir) that ended in Hodgson, being the gentleman he is, refusing to accept a single penny of his friend’s money for doing so.

Moratti, being the multi-millionaire he is, repeatedly insisted on paying Hodgson for his services, though the man who would later become the England manager remained resolute in his no-cash stance.

However, after insistent badgering from Moratti, Hodgson buckled and offered a fairly unusual compromise: in lieu of money changing hands, he decided that he would like to be paid in tickets to a famous Milan opera house to see Luciano Pavarotti in concert.

FC Koln’s Under-9 player scores double pirouette goal

Mertesacker has t-shirt designed in tribute to fans' chant

Spain break with 90-year tradition

Spain have revealed an all-red kit for next summer’s assault on an unprecedented fourth straight international title. ‘La Roja or Ninguna’ read the banner above the team as it modelled the new strip - ‘The reds or no-one’.

Spain have worn blue shorts with the famous red shirts since the 1920s and some supporters gave the all-red kit the thumbs down after it was unveiled in Madrid on Wednesday, saying it looked more like Turkey than Spain.

Messi basketball skills

Jones sports nasty cut in England training

Phil Jones turned up for England training sporting a nasty cut on his forehand following a clash with Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny on Sunday.

Both Jones and Szczesny played on after receiving lengthy treatment following the incident.

Germany launches World Cup strip

Messi's travelled 120,000km in 64 days

Calculating the football matches and commercial commitments of the four times Ballon d’Or winner Madrid-based Diario AS has come up with the staggering figure of 122,333 km - that’s three times around the equator.

It goes some way to explaining why Messi has now been given two months to get back to his best.

The Barcelona No 10 went to 14 different countries on four continents in the summer, with charity commitments, benefit games and sponsorship appearances taking up almost as much time as playing for club and country.

He had already visited Africa, the US and Italy before reporting back for pre-season training and then went on Barça’s tour of the States and South-East Asia.

Before the season got going he also pulled on the famous number 10 shirt in Munich, Norway, Poland, Thailand and Malaysia and scoring five goals in five pre-season matches looked to have overcome injury problems that bothered him towards the end of last season.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

US women’s football team rescued by fans

The United States women’s football team found themselves without a ride after their bus broke down on their way back to their hotel on Saturday.

The squad had been practicing at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida ahead of their clash with Brazil when their coach conked out leaving them stranded at the side of the road.

However, as the team, who lifted gold at last year’s Olympic Games in London, settled down to await a tow truck a group of their fans came to their rescue.

Seeing their heroes stranded at the side of the road the fans pulled up and offered them a ride back to their hotel.

US goalkeeper Hope Solo and striker Sydney Leroux, who have almost 200 international caps between them, both took to Twitter to thank their supporters.

Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer receives death threats

With the Red Hot Chili Peppers in town for a concert, drummer Chad Smith made a heinous tactical error during a pre-gig drum clinic at the Hard Rock Cafe in Belo Horizonte that resulted in receiving scores of death threats from jilted Flamengo fans.

Smith was gifted a Flamengo shirt from a fan in the crowd - after the shirt was held aloft to a mixed reaction from the baying audience, Smith then stuffed the jersey down the back of his jeans before removing it and casually discarding it.

Sat-Nav error forces Wisdom to abandon Porsche

Wisdom had left his hotel on the morning of Derby’s game against Sheffield Wednesday and veered off course on his way to Pride Park to stop at a shop to buy a drink.

Being unfamiliar with the area, the man on loan from Liverpool then entered the stadium’s post code into his sat-nav and set off.

Wisdom’s sat-nav instructed him to take a shortcut down a boggy woodland track over three miles from the nearest tarmacked road and the rest, as they say, is faintly ridiculous history.

Derby match abandoned after 21 minutes after away team reduced to six men

In what is already being labelled the "Derby della Vergogna" (the Derby of Shame), Sunday’s Lega Pro Prima Divisione (Italian third tier, the old ‘Serie C1?) game between Salernitana and Nocerina had to be abandoned with just 21 minutes on the clock after the away side were reduced to six men, which you probably don’t need us to tell you is one less than the minimum amount needed for the game to continue.

It has since been alleged that the Nocerina players had received numerous death threats from their own fans before the game, which itself began 40 minutes later as the Nocerina squad refused to get off their bus due to disturbances outside the ground (Nocerina’s fans were supposedly banned from attending the game, though it appears a few of them made the trip anyway).

Nocerina then used their three permitted substitutes in the first two minutes before five further players came off due to "injury" over the course of the next 20 or so minutes.

This, of course, left the team with six players on the field and no subs to bring on in order to replace their injured men, leaving the referee with no choice but to abandon the game in the 22nd minute.

According to Football Italia, reports in the Italian media are claiming that the Nocerina players did not want to play the game at all having had their lives threatened but were coerced into playing by Lega Pro representatives and the on-duty security staff at Salernitana’s ground - though it was at that point that Nocerina concocted their plan to get the hell of out Dodge as soon as possible.

The entire Nocerina board of directors have now resigned while the players have been ordered not to speak to the media, though the club’s director of sport has claimed that the early substitutions were completely kosher as the players all pulled muscles "because they went out there without warming up."

Ibrahimovic’s to feature on Swedish postage stamp

Zlatan was apparently involved in the design stage of the project and told his personal ‘Zlatan Unplugged’ app:

"It’s a great honour to be on a postage stamp and I’m very happy and proud to have been chosen. I get a lot of bills and there are rarely great stamps. Maybe that will change now!"

Man Utd fan edits Ozil’s ‘Current Location’ on Twitter profile

What Mourinho told West Brom defender in furious tunnel row

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and West Bromwich defender Jonas Olsson were at the centre of a furious tunnel row in the aftermath of Saturday's fiery draw.

The pair were involved in an angry bust-up as they left the Stamford Bridge pitch just moments after referee Andre Marriner awarded Chelsea a controversial injury time penalty that Eden Hazard converted to secure a 2-2 draw.

Initially, the duo were embroiled in a foul-mouthed slanging match, with Mourinho calling Olsson a 'Mickey Mouse player' while the Swede told the Blues manager to 'f*** off'.

Name takes up two lines on Port Vale shirt

Jennison Myrie-Williams' surname is so long it is written in two tiers on the back of his shirt - in what is believed to be the only such case in English football.

It is a name that has not sold too many replicas in the club shop, owing to the £1-a-letter pricing that means fans must stump up £13 - on top of the £39.99 cost of the shirt.

Messi out until 2014

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is set to be sidelined for up to two months with a hamstring injury he sustained during Sunday's match with Real Betis.

Messi limped off after 21 minutes of the 4-1 win after injuring his left hamstring and he underwent further tests on Monday to determine the extent of the problem.

After receiving the results of those tests, Barcelona said the Argentinian is likely to be absent for between 'six and eight weeks'.

England forced to train away from St George's Park

England's preparations at the start of international week have been plunged into disarray after the outbreak of a stomach virus at St George’s Park.

As a precautionary measure, the Under 21 squad  left the Hilton Hotel which they usually stay at St George’s Park to find alternative accommodation after a small number of visitors were affected over the weekend.

England’s senior team were set to meet at St George’s Park Tuesday ahead of the friendlies against Chile and Germany but that plan has now been abandoned.

They will now head to The Grove in Watford and will use Arsenal’s London Colney headquarters as their training base.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Microsoft in talks to name Bernabeu

Microsoft has confirmed it is in talks with the Spanish football club Real Madrid to acquire naming rights to its Bernabeu Stadium.

The 85,454-seat venue is currently named after its former president Santiago Bernabeu.

Speaking on Spanish television, the president of Microsoft in Spain said discussions were at an early stage.

"They've raised... renaming the stadium and we're only talking about this possibility," said Maria Garana.

GIF : Zidane nutmegged

Ibrahimovic in trouble after criticising player’s moustache

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has angered the Anderlecht team this week - after criticising the ‘terrible moustache’ of one of their key players.

The angry dispute kicked off during Anderlecht’s 1-1 draw with PSG, in which Ibrahimovic bagged the PSG goal.

But the Belgian club aren’t fuming with Zlatan for his goal, far from it.

They are instead angry with the Swede for picking on midfielder Sacha Kljestan and his facial hair.

Ibrahimovic allegedly called it ‘terrible’ in a row between the two school children professional footballers on the pitch.

Kljestan explained the incident in the Belgian media this week.

‘After a perfectly normal challenge, Ibra turned to me and provoked me, making a joke about my moustache,’ he said.

‘He said it is really terrible.’

Kljestan is far from blameless in the incident though, as he hit back with a stinging jibe of his own.

‘I responded by saying that he should think about his nose,’ he continued.

Dortmund forced to install ‘pigeon dropping defence system’

The home of Borussia Dortmund is far from perfect, with the ground struggling with a pigeon problem in recent months.

The feathery creatures love nothing more than hanging around on top of the stadium, and firing their dropping on fans and the coaching staff below.

The problem has become so bad that Dortmund are now ready to spend big on a new ‘pigeon defence system’.

According to the local media, the club will be spending thousands of pounds on 20 pyramid shaped mirrors that will reflect light.

They will be placed all over the ground in the hope that pigeons get confused and flock away.

The plan has been drawn up by experts, and construction work is set to begin in the coming days to get the mirrors all setup.

Lofthouse's collection fetches over £100,000 at auction

A treasured collection of Nat Lofthouse's memorabilia - including his 1958 FA Cup winner's medal - was sold at auction for more than £100,000.

The former Bolton centre forward - who played for the club throughout his 14-year career - died two years ago.

And his FA Cup medal was expected to fetch in the region of £12,000 when the bidding started in Cheshire, but ended up going for £16,500.

Lofthouse's children had put 69 lots, with a combined estimated price of £80,000, up to sell on Wednesday.

Adidas denies plot to move Lionel Messi

Adidas has denied a report that it offered to put up 125 million euros in the summer so that Lionel Messi could join one of the clubs it sponsors -- either Real Madrid, Chelsea or Bayern Munich.

Mundo Deportivo had claimed that the German sportswear giant, which provides Messi with boots, was keen for him to play for a team for which it acts as kit supplier.

The story said the company would pay half of Messi’s 250 million euro release clause and also raise by 40 percent its own commercial contract with a club that could sell replica jerseys with the four-time Ballon d’Or winner’s name on the back.

Adidas moved quickly to quell this speculation, issuing a statement to L'Equipe to clarify the situation.

It read: "The relationship of Adidas with one of its players is purely commercial. Any sporting decision is between the player and his representatives."

Official Liverpool FC ‘Rudolph’ woolly Christmas jumper

Brazilian club make fortune by putting Che Guevara’s face on new kit

Brazilian third division side Madureira have enjoyed record shirt sales by simply slapping Che Guevara’s face on the front of their new kit.

The original plan was for Madureira’s seven-a-side team to wear the new ‘Che’ novelty strip (the ‘keeper kit also features a design based on the Cuban flag) for the 50th anniversary of the club’s historic tour of Cuba in 1963.

Apparently Che met the players at their Havana hotel and even attended the last match of the five-game jaunt.

However, demand for the strip was so fervent that the club have now chosen to let their full side wear it too after sales rocketed from the usual rate of 10 shirts sold per month to more than 3,000 units being flogged since the ‘Che’ kit was launched.

Madureira’s president Elias Duba told Reuters: "The factory can’t keep up with demand. It’s taken on a whole life of its own. I wasn’t going to have the big team use them, but all the attention has convinced me otherwise."

Hazard axed for missing Eurostar train

Jose Mourinho dropped Eden Hazard for Wednesday's Champions League win over Schalke as a punishment for missing training on Monday.

The Belgium forward was a surprise omission from the squad - and Mourinho confirmed his decision was prompted by the forward failing to make Monday's session.

It is understood Hazard, who played in the 2-0 defeat by Newcastle on Saturday, travelled to Lille on Sunday morning for a reunion with his former team-mates and to watch his ex-club take on Monaco later that evening.

Hazard was due to board an early Eurostar train back to London on Monday morning in time to report for training at Chelsea's Cobham HQ, but did not make it.

And Mourinho confirmed: 'He missed training on Monday. He forgot the time? That's the end of story. He's a kid.

'Kids make mistakes and fathers have to be clever in the way they educate their sons. He didn't play. He wanted to play.

'He was sad because he didn't play. We won without him. On Saturday, he is back. So, end of story.'

GIF : Eto’o capitalises on clanger

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Premier League Twitter table

Neymar pleads with fans to stop calling him

Neymarmania has reached such extremes that the Barcelona forward has had to make a plea to fans to stop calling in the early hours of the morning, forcing him to change his number every fortnight.

The Brazilian international used his Instagram profile on Tuesday to write an open letter to his supporters in which asked the ‘Neymarzetes’ - his most ardent followers - to refrain from their over-intrusive behaviour.

'I have a lot of affection for them and I don’t know if I would have got where I have today without them' he starts.

But he goes on to say: 'I am unable to keep the same number for more than two weeks because people who call themselves fans - Neymarzetes - call me in the early hours of the morning or send me messages.

'And worse they discover the numbers of my family, girlfriend and friends and they invent stories and tell lies so that in the end they also have to change their numbers.'

The 21-year-old from Sao Paolo has had no problems settling in to life in La Liga but off the pitch he says his sleep is being disturbed by supporters back home.

'I implore with all my heart that everyone who likes me and the Neymarzetes that have been with me from the start, that if they know of anyone who does not know where to draw the line, that they advise them, for the love of God, to change their behaviour. I don’t know what else to do.'

Blue is the colour for Messi

A new colourful brand of Sambas have been released to embrace Brazilian culture ahead of the World Cup.

Lionel Messi - who on Tuesday was reportedly linked with a move to Chelsea last summer - has his own advert where he looks in wonder at the flashy blue pair with bright orange laces.

Wilshere mocks Sky Sports News gaffe

Goalkeeper loses 4 fingers in wood-cutting accident

A Uruguayan goalkeeper has been forced to retire after losing four fingers in a horrific domestic accident.

Juan Obelar, a former player for Uruguayan giants Penarol, was left with only a thumb on his left hand after Monday's sickening events.

'I feel so awful, this is the most horrendous thing that has ever happened to me. It is a very painful moment,' he told local media.

'I was doing a few things for my house, putting wood through a plane and the next thing I know the machine ripped off four fingers.

'I was on my own, I didn’t have help from anyone and the only digit I had left was my thumb.'

Obelar will undergo surgery to reconstruct his hand, although there was no possibility of saving his fingers.

'They have already told me I am not going to recover a single finger, but they will try to rebuild me a bit,' he added.

'It’s painful, but God knows why these things happen.'

Obelar, who was without a club at the time of the accident, had been taking six months off from football before a planned return in January.

GIF : Young performs trademark ‘simulation’

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Goalkeepers who scored in the Premier League

Peter Schmeichel (October 2001)

Brad Friedel (February 2004)

Paul Robinson (March 2007)

Tim Howard (January 2012)

Asmir Begovic (November 2013)

Sligo Rover's name misspelled on cup final medals

Norwich spent £13.5m on three strikers managed 6 shots on target

Norwich broke the club piggybank to buy players who would help push on from an 11th-place finish last season, but the effect has been the opposite - a slide into the relegation zone that reached a nadir on Saturday with the 7-0 defeat by Manchester City.

A new strike force was assembled with Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, Gary Hooper and Johan Elmander joining for £13.5m. But they have produced only one Premier League goal.

More worryingly, between them the trio have managed just six shots on target in the campaign so far.

Russian spies planted in the Etihad

Russian translators will be deployed in the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night to crack down on any racist abuse from CSKA fans.

Monkey noises were aimed at Yaya Toure when Manchester City played in Moscow two weeks ago and the Russian club have since been charged by UEFA.

But the trouble has continued, with a flight of drunken away supporters being forced to make an unscheduled landing as well as an outbreak of racist slurs aimed at Toure on fan forums.

Interpreters will be monitoring the behaviour of the 800 Russian supporters that are expected at the Champions League tie.

Any abuse will be reported to the fourth official who, if warranted, could order for the teams to be removed from the field.

'We have translators who will liaise with police from Russia and visiting fans in the city before the game,' Chief Inspector Gareth Parkin, the match commander, told the Manchester Evening News.

'They will then come to the stadium and if they hear any racist abuse the match officials does not we can communicate a message via the fourth official.'

Booked before kick-off for bringing dog onto pitch

San Lorenzo captain Pablo Alvarado picked up what must surely be the earliest yellow card ever to be shown on Sunday afternoon when he was booked by the referee several minutes before kick-off against Boca Juniors for time-wasting.

Not just any old common-or-garden time-wasting though, oh no, but time-wasting as a result of choosing to walk his dog out onto the pitch just as the two teams were gearing up to get things under way.

Apparently, Alvarado felt that San Lorenzo needed a club mascot and that his dog was the perfect candidate.

The referee, however, disagreed and showed the 27-year-old skipper his first and thankfully only yellow card of the afternoon as San Lorenzo went on to win the game 1-0.

Londoner nets £100,000 in Coral's 'Football Jackpot' from just a £1 stake

A lucky punter is now £100,000 richer on Monday night after Aberdeen beat Partick Thistle 4-0 in the Scottish Premier League to seal his 'Football Jackpot' win.

The 27-year-old entered Coral's competition, where you pick the results of 15 matches to enter the draw to win the jackpot.

Only a £1 entry fee is required and the South East Londoner predicted all the other results correctly, including Arsenal to beat Liverpool as well as Everton and Tottenham to draw, so was just waiting for Aberdeen to win.

Messi almost joined Chelsea

Lionel Messi could have signed for Chelsea in the summer after adidas offered to pay half of his
£210million buy-out clause, according to Barcelona sports paper Mundo Deportivo.

Messi, who joined Barcelona as a 13-year-old after the club paid for expensive hormone therapy treatment without which he would never have made the grade as a professional, has always had a strong emotional bond with the club.

But according to Mundo Deportivo, adidas saw the opportunity to prise him away from Barca - and effectively from Nike who sponsor the Catalan giants - and move him to one of their three main European clubs: Chelsea, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid.

The pro-Barcelona daily says that Messi’s representatives were made aware of adidas’ proposal and that they then informed the club, who were also told Messi had no intention of leaving the club.

Even if adidas had stumped up the £105m, Chelsea would still have had to find the other £105m and manager Jose Mourinho would have had to convince a player with whom he has never had a very good relationship that the two could work together.

Fearn to make history

Amy Fearn will become the first woman to referee an FA Cup first-round match when she takes charge of Corby against Dover on Saturday.

The 35-year-old was also the first woman to referee in the Football League in 2010 when Tony Bates suffered a calf strain and Fearn, as senior assistant, took over for the final 20 minutes of Coventry's 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest.

She was the second woman to be an assistant referee at the highest level after Wendy Toms.

Chelsea defender Luiz faces the chop

Chelsea defender David Luiz will be the scapegoat for his side’s defeat to Newcastle.

The Brazilian is set to be dropped from tomorrow’s Champions League clash with Schalke - reportedly after senior team-mates complained about his lax approach.

Luiz was criticised by TV pundits for pulling out of an important challenge during the St James’ Park loss.

And the reports claim that his laidback attitude in general was not appreciated by his team-mates.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Ozil tweets Arsenal's ode to The Expendables

Liverpool fan refuses to watch game

One Liverpool supporter decided he would boycott his club's Premier League clash with Arsenal - because 20-year-old full-back Jon Flanagan had been named in Brendan Rodgers' starting line-up.

The 71-year-old, named Michael, then proceeded to call up BBC radio's 606 show after Rodgers' side lost 2-0 to the Premier League leaders to complain about Flanagan's inclusion - declaring that Arsenal's £42 million playmaker Mesut Ozil "must have been laughing his socks off."

When the BBC’s Darren Fletcher took Michael to task over his opinions, he said that he wanted to speak to Robbie Savage because "he knows about football."

Savage, being Savage, agreed with Michael and questioned why Kolo Toure hadn't been used as a wing-back instead with his reasoning: "Why not? He's got pace."

Michael himself would have been happy with "anybody" but then declared that Liverpool "haven't got anybody" - which kind of explains why Flanagan was called up, no?

Worst corner ever

GIF : Begovic goal

Kinnear tried to sign a player already with Newcastle

Kinnear was tasked with travelling to watch Birmingham play Swansea in the third round of the League Cup at the end of September and cast his eye over any potential transfer targets, with Big Joe duly identifying a real potential coup in the shape of Brum midfielder Shane Ferguson.

Sensing he’d uncovered a diamond in the rough, Kinnear even went as far as asking one of his Birmingham counterparts if the club would be willing to listen to offers for Ferguson and at what price they’d be willing to negotiate.

It was at this point that the Birmingham officials pointed out to Joe that Ferguson was merely on a season-long loan at St Andrew’s and that Kinnear would have to negotiate with the Irishman’s parent club if he wanted to strike a deal - that parent club, of course, being none other than Newcastle United

Shelvey incites Cardiff fans with 'swim away' gesture

Swansea midfielder Jonjo Shelvey could face action from the football authorities after television footage emerged apparently showing him attempting to incite Cardiff fans following Sunday's South Wales derby.

Swansea lost 1-0 at Cardiff City Stadium as Steven Caulker headed home the only goal against his former club.

At the full-time whistle the Swansea players went to go and applaud the travelling support, but, on his way to that end of the ground, Shelvey appears to make a gesture known as 'swim away' towards the Cardiff fans.

It refers to an incident which took place in 1988 where Cardiff fans allegedly retreated into the sea after the two sets of supporters clashed.

City are using CBeebies to teach new foreign stars English

Forget audiobooks, translators and evening classes, Manchester City reckon that teaching their foreign stars English will be child's play.

All Manuel Pellegrini's imports this season, including Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo, Fernandinho and Stevan Jovetic, have been told to learn the language from watching children's channel CBeebies.

Even Sergio Aguero, who is now in his third season at the club, has started to surprise fans by uttering a couple of words of English and says he is 'getting better every day'.

The club provides language packs when players arrive, which suggest they watch CBeebies and shows such as In The Night Garden.

The only Everton fan who remembered his sunglasses

Friday, November 01, 2013

Steve Bruce: ‘Taking the Sunderland job was a mistake’

Hull manager Steve Bruce says he made a mistake when he took charge of Sunderland.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s meeting between the two sides, Bruce admitted he would probably pass on the opportunity to manage the Black Cats given the chance to make his decision again.

The former Manchester United defender believes his Newcastle roots put him at an immediate disadvantage at the Stadium of Light.

He said: "Maybe looking back on it in hindsight going there was arguably a mistake, being where I’m from, being a Newcastle fan as a boy. Some would never forgive that.

"Thankfully Hull gave me the opportunity to get back to work again and when you get sacked you want to come back out fighting and show people what you’re about."

Manchester United close in on deal to sign Beckham

Manchester United are on the cusp of having another Beckham in their ranks - with the club close to signing David’s son Brooklyn Beckham.

The 14-year-old, who has been training with Chelsea and QPR in recent weeks, is undergoing a trial with United ahead of signing a contract with them in the new year.

Brooklyn has made no secret of his interest in becoming a footballer, having previously played for the LA Galaxy academy whilst his father was a player there.

And it’s now thought the youngster will follow his dad in signing for United, with coaching staff believed to be impressed with what they’ve seen from him so far.

Kyle Walker Halloween prank

Robben penalty refusal

Arjen Robben's refused to take a penalty for Bayern Munich in defiance of coach Pep Guardiola's orders during their 5-0 Champion League win over Viktoria Plzen.

The winger refused to take the 25th-minute spot kick awarded for a foul on him despite Guardiola's shouts of "Arjen, Arjen" from the sidelines.

On Saturday, Robben had been angered after being told not to take a penalty in the 4-1 Bundesliga win over Mainz 05 with Guardiola instead choosing Thomas Mueller, who was on the bench at the time on Wednesday.

"I do not want to talk about it," a visibly irritated Robben told reporters when asked about the incident. "Let's not talk about it, let's drop it.

"We had a very good game and 5-0 is a great result but we could have done better if we really want to be very critical."

Guardiola confirmed Robben had been his choice for the spot kick but did not comment further.

"I did want Arjen to take the penalty," he said.

It was up to Franck Ribery, who scored from the spot, to smooth over the incident.

"Arjen was a bit irritated," said the Frenchman. "The coach said Arjen but Arjen did not want to shoot.

"That is football. it can happen it's natural" added Ribery.

Pirlo interviewed in Halloween mask

Roma break Serie A all-time record

Roma became the first team to win their opening 10 Serie A games of the season when they overcame bottom side Chievo 1-0 thanks to Marco Boriello’s late header.

The defiant visitors defended resolutely and physically for more than an hour and looked capable of denying Roma the record until striker Boriello broke the deadlock in the 67th minute.

Roma, under new coach Rudi Garcia who took over at the start of the season, are five points clear of Juventus and Napoli with more than a quarter of the campaign completed.

Ozil lookalike

Scholes helps out with coaching at boyhood club Oldham

Paul Scholes has not been short of coaching work recently and now the former Manchester United star has popped up at his boyhood club Oldham.

Scholes coaches United’s youth players at Carrington and also spent a week helping out at non-league Stalybridge Celtic last month after manager Jim Harvey left the club.

The 38-year-old took a training session with Oldham manager Lee Johnson on Thursday but chairman Simon Corney insists it was just as a favour.

‘It's straightforward,’ said Corney. ‘Paul is a friend of mine and a friend of the club. We regularly text and speak and he comes to lots of the games.

‘I asked him to meet Lee Johnson because I thought they would get along very well and to come to a training session. He's done that and I would imagine it would be a fantastic boost for the players to see him.’

Scholes, who was at Oldham’s game against Swindon Town last weekend, regularly had to field questions about whether he would manage the League One club before he retired as a player last summer.

He admitted last year: ‘It’s quite difficult to say. I don’t know what will happen when I stop playing and Oldham have a manager.

‘But I love Oldham and it’s the first result I look out for every week. I take my lad to watch them whenever I can.’

Polish football stadium becomes giant pumpkin for Halloween

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