All in the Game


A soccer miscellany compiled by MARY HANNIGAN

Messi business: Barcelona nonplussed by City's offer

Manchester City once accidentally bid for Lionel Messi, like you do, as claimed by the club’s former chief executive Garry Cook in a new book entitled The Manchester City Years.

According to the Daily Mirror, “a breakdown in communication between club officials on the day that Sheikh Mansour completed his £210 million takeover of the club in August 2009 was behind the sensational offer to Barcelona”.

Club officials, based in Manchester, London and Abu Dhabi, were discussing Sheikh Mansour’s plans by telephone when, according to Cook, one of them said “it’s all getting messy”.

And with that, “an offer was made for Lionel Messi of about £30 million”.

Barcelona, naturally enough, said “ah you’re grand, thanks”.

Just think, if the fella had said “Sheikh Mansour is getting keen”, Robbie might have been a City player the next day.

Poker face Arsene: Ferguson gets his boy but Wenger plays his cards cutely

“Arsene knew the boy wanted to leave. He knew he wanted to join us. That made it a bit easier, but not in terms of trying to reduce the fee. He could run a poker school in Govan.”

– Alex Ferguson on Arsene Wenger’s bargaining skills.

“When you have to make a hard decision in your life, I always listen to that little boy inside me. What does he want? That boy was screaming for Manchester United.”

– Robin van Persie further endearing himself to the Arsenal faithful.

“Like me or not, I am the only one who won the world’s three most important leagues. So, maybe instead of the ‘Special One’, people should start calling me the ‘Only One’.”

– Need it be said, the one and only Jose.

“When you see him play you’d think he was Spanish, a real European player. I would have paid many more millions for this kid.”

– Swansea must have been well chuffed with this revelation by their former boss Brendan Rodgers after he signed Joe Allen for Liverpool.

“The sight of an ageing lady chewing gum with bright red lippy on is not acceptable.”

– Tweetin’ Joey Barton, with far too much time on his hands these days.

“You can’t turn an ocean liner around like you can turn a speedboat.” – Liverpool owner John W Henry – and based on Saturday, the ocean liner’s turning will take a while yet.

“There’s about as much chance of re-signing DJ Campbell as there is of me wearing high heels and calling myself Sheila.”

– Blackpool manager Ian Holloway.

Saints alive: Money talks for Ramirez and Yakubu

Our much coveted ‘honestly speaking’ award goes to Uruguay international Gaston Ramirez who Southampton have been trying to purchase from Bologna.

The winger revealed himself to be ginormously enthusiastic about joining the Premier League club and was highly eager for the deal to be done.

And why is he so keen to join them?

Was Matt Le Tissier his boyhood idol?

Is ‘When the Saints go marching in’ his favourite tune?

Does he dream of living on the south coast of England?

Nope: “It is an offer that you cannot refuse. They will give me so much money.”

Fair play.

Meanwhile, Yakubu left Blackburn for Chinese club Guangzhou earlier in the summer.

“Money cannot buy you happiness,” he insisted, although you’d have to assume his contract – €6.2 million per season, over three years – put a smile on his face.

Spurs ready:  To grumble

He’s not long in the Spurs job and already a couple of Andre Villas-Boas’ players are grumbling on Twitter.

“Respect needs earning before being given #Fact,” tweeted a none-too-pleased Tom Huddlestone on Saturday after he was left out of the team for the game at Newcastle, sensibly enough deleting the message a bit later.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto, meanwhile, is peeved by the lack of new arrivals at the club. Having informed his followers that he would no longer nap in the afternoon after having “a strange dream”, the Cameroonian announced: “With a nap, the day is not enough long . . . I make a dream! As we sign a BIG STRIKER. Very good! Who score many goal!!! But it was. A dream LOL.’ LOL, indeed.

Lost in translation: Keane to talk about the Long way

“Ask him! Call him! The telephone! Also now immediately! Now if you want. I can’t run after children!”

– Giovanni Trapattoni on being asked why Shane Long told the media he was fit to play against Serbia.

“He said: ‘I have pain’. The doctor worried, they made a scan. And now he says he is fit, that is idiotic. Is idiot. No, is no baby.”

– Explaining – and the word is used loosely – why Long didn’t play.

“I sent him a SMS. Maybe he changed his number. I call also him. He don’t answer. Maybe it was the time difference. Nine hour, I know. I am clear with him, I am in touch.”

– On waiting – and waiting — to hear back from Robbie Keane.

Letting bygones be bygones: Warnock signs El-Hadji Diouf

Neil Warnock and El-Hadji Diouf have a bit of history, the pair not always seeing eye to eye and exchanging a strong word or two along the way.

Their most heated ding-dong came last year after an FA Cup match between QPR and Blackburn, Warnock, the then QPR manager, accused Blackburn’s Diouf of abusing QPR’s Jamie Mackie as he lay on the ground with a double leg fracture.

“For many years I have thought he was the gutter type – I was going to call him a sewer rat but that might be insulting to sewer rats. I think he is the lowest of the low,” said Warnock, now manager of Leeds. “I hope he goes abroad. I won’t miss watching him. Sign him? I wouldn’t want to talk to him.”

Over to you, El-Hadji: “This guy Warnock talks a lot of s**t and everyone knows he talks a lot of s**t. He wants to put himself on the front page of the paper all the time but no one is interested in him. Every time we see him on TV he talks s**t . . . What has he done in his life?

“One day I will catch up with him and we’re going to talk. If I see him face-to-face, he’s going to know what I think about him.”

Well, he finally had his chance just before the season kicked off . . . when Warnock signed him for Leeds. “He’s a likeable rogue,” said the manager.

Never say never. Or sewer rat.

Not too shy anymore: Beckham feeling statuesque

In an interview a few weeks back with Elle magazine, David Beckham was asked to sum himself up. “I don’t know, I prefer other people to do that,” he said. “Erm, a little bit shy.”

There was divil a sign of his shyness, though, when he promoted his new H&M underwear line in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco last week.

Granted, it was a 10 foot metallic version of himself, but still.


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