All in the game
“We have CVs coming in, it is not as bad a club as people make out.” – Shebby Singh, Blackburn’s “global advisor”, might just need to brush up on his selling techniques.
“Nani is not the type to dive. He has never been that type of player.” – Who said Alex Ferguson doesn’t have a sense of humour?
“Unless someone’s built him up into being Zinedine Zidane, I don’t know how he got that move. He’ll do well to play football and if he’s not playing, will Joey be happy? We’ll probably find out on Twitter.” – Chris Waddle wishing Barton bonne chance. He reckons he’ll need it.
Booked up: Mourinho sees the funny side of Inter days
Jose Mourinho reminiscing fondly about his time managing Mario Balotelli. “I could write a book of 200 pages of my two years at Inter with Mario, but the book would not be a drama – it would be a comedy.
“I remember one time when we went to play Kazan in the Champions League. In that match I had all my strikers injured . . . I was really in trouble and Mario was the only one. Mario got a yellow card in the 42nd minute, so when I got to the dressing room at half-time I spent about 14 minutes of the 15 available speaking only to Mario. I said to him: ‘Mario, I cannot change you, I have no strikers on the bench, so don’t touch anybody and play only with the ball. If we lose the ball, no reaction. If someone provokes you, no reaction. If the referee makes a mistake, no reaction.’ What happened next? The 46th minute – red card.”
Gary's gaffe: Lineker apology
It wasn’t the silkiest of moments for Gary Lineker on television last week when he was doing a round-up of Wednesday’s Champions League action. After Karim Ait-Fana had scored the opening goal for Montpellier against Schalke he and team-mate Younes Belhanda celebrated by kneeling down in prayer, Lineker saying: “A terrific effort from Karim Ait-Fana who scored from just outside the area – and then ate grass . . . as you do.”
At that point, it seems, the switchboard became a touch jammed, viewers complaining that Lineker had displayed a certain degree of ignorance about the fact that the two men concerned are Muslim and that the celebration is common among players of their faith.
He apologised – well, kind of – on Twitter (“I’m sorry but I’m not aware of every player’s religion”), but the BBC insisted the matter had nothing to do with them. Lineker wasn’t working for the BBC on the night, he was fronting Al Jazeera’s Champions League coverage, his contract with the BBC allowing him to do a little moonlighting.