All in the game


Word of mouth . . .

“They had Ginola and Anderton before. They always had great players.”

– Arsene Wenger downplaying Gareth Bale’s Spurs’ superstardom. Eh? Anderton?

“I will leave at the end of the season. They don’t need to worry about me.”

– Rafa Benitez, nicely settled at Chelsea.

“We’re dead lucky. We have only been doing it for 25 years.”

– Alex Ferguson’s response to Roberto Mancini, who had suggested it was only good fortune that had United top of the table by so many points. Saucer of cream please, waiter.

“Dear friends, I was booked for a mild case of drink driving last night. It was a quiet night but I am very very sorry to all my friends and fans.”

– Nicklas Bendtner apologises on Twitter after – very allegedly – driving in to oncoming traffic in Copenhagen in the early hours of Sunday morning.

You’d hate to see the lad have a rowdy night.

Robbie finally a star with the Galaxy

In the absence of Landon Donovan, who’s taking a break from football to find himself (last spotted trekking in Cambodia), Robbie Keane was named LA Galaxy captain last week by coach Bruce Arena.

“He’s a fabulous choice,” said Arena of his choice, Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant echoing that view, although he conceded there were, at times, communication difficulties: “Usually when he gets overly fired up, you tend to not understand a word he says, so you can kind of just nod.”

As Yahoo’s Brooks Peck reminded everyone last week, Keane’s star has risen notably since his arrival in Los Angeles, not least since the time Reuters’ caption on a photo of Robbie, David Beckham and Russell Brand at a basketball match labelled the Irish captain “an unidentified fan”. The neck of them. Mind you, our Robbie still has to make his mark in the Galaxy online store – which is still largely devoted to a former player of theirs. You know, yer man. They’re in serious need of moving on, them people.

JET yet to fly up in McCarthy’s estimation

Since his appointment as Ipswich manager in November, Mick McCarthy (right)has remained somewhat unconvinced by the form of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, the former England youth international the club bought from Arsenal in 2011.

Naturally enough, the player is nicknamed JET, although it’s not how McCarthy refers to him. “He’s Jay Emmanuel-Thomas to me,” he said a month in to his reign. “I’ve told him I’ll call him JET when it looks like he has got a rocket up his backside.” Until then, it will be Jay to McCarthy’s predecessor in the Ipswich job, Paul Jewell, was no less frustrated by the player, saying of him that he could go from being “a world beater to panel beater” in a flash.

Well, JET finally made his first league appearance of 2013 when he came on as an 80th minute sub in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Leicester, so it could be that McCarthy reckons he, at last, is turbocharged.

Or maybe not. According to Ipswich Evening Star reporter Stuart Watson this was an exchange from McCarthy’s press conference last week. Responding to another reporter who said that JET excited him, the gaffer replied: “Halle Berry excites me, but I wouldn’t play her.”

Givet glad he’s not alone in Blackburn

It was only recently that Austrian Paul Scharner, back at Wigan on loan from Hamburg, waxed lyrical about the town, describing it as “the greatest place in England – I only see beauty here”, leading some deeply unkind folk to question what kind of joint his home town of Scheibbs must be like.

Alas, it’s safe to say, Blackburn Rovers’ Frenchman Gael Givet (right) is less content in the northwest of England, his mood not helped by the fact that: “I’ve only played one match plus nine minutes in four months!”

So, what had he to say about the situation? “Luckily, I have my wife and two kids. If left alone in Blackburn I’d have already hanged myself.”

You sense an apology in the offing.

Looks like Balotelli is not so statuesque this time

It appeared to be yet another highly wonderful Mario Balotelli tale, sculptor Livio Scarpella revealing to the Il Giornale di Brescia newspaper that the player had “commissioned a life-size statue of himself to stand in his Brescia home”, according to Football Italia.

Not only that, claimed Scarpella, Balotelli rejected his ideas for poses for the statue, as presented in sketches, insisting he wanted to be “immortalised in the pose after a goal: muscles in evidence and an expression to challenge the opponents.” Like that splendid one after his second goal against Germany at Euro 2012.

“I imagined him as an athlete from ancient times,” said Scarpella. “The statue will be between the classic and pop style, in platinum and coloured bronze with the eyes made of precious stones.” Magnificent.

Except? Another Italian paper, Corriere della Sera, claimed that they received an email from Balotelli insisting the story was untrue, he’d never spoken to Scarpella and had never commissioned a statue.

The most disappointing denial of the week, then.

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