All in the game



More than words for Messi

It’s probably not really wise for a columnist to declare “there are no words”, words being what tend to pay their bills, even if it’s quite often true when Lionel Messi is the subject.

But, that’s what Santi Nolla concluded after watching the little fella do his thing – once again – for Barcelona against Zaragoza (two goals, one assist) last week.

Yes, the Mundo Deportivo writer simply typed “Sobran las palabras” (literally: “words fail”) and left the rest of the column entirely empty.

Said it all, really.

Williams brought to book over Suarez

Aggro of the Week: Swansea City defender Ashley Williams’s comments about Liverpool’s Luis Suarez: “His manner and behaviour made me want to knock him out . . . utter contempt for us all . . . he’s streets ahead of any player I’ve truly disliked . . . He dived more than any other player I’ve played against — it was so bad I was genuinely shocked. Throughout the game, he just dived down and screamed at any given moment. A couple of times I’d hear the scream, see him writhing on the floor and for the life of me couldn’t see where the contact could have been.”

Naturally, ahead of yesterday’s meeting between the clubs, Brendan Rodgers was keen to smooth things over.

“I have spoken to Ash, and Ash has spoken with Luis, so there is no issue there,” he said. “When I saw it, I was surprised because Ash is a real good man with good intelligence and maturity . . . I spoke to him and got the full explanation of how it seemingly got out there. He was very quick to want to apologise for that.” How did the comments get out there? No mystery: they appear in Williams’ brand new book: My Premier League Diary.

Rafa's slim chance

Rafa Benitez, as you know, didn’t receive the warmest of welcomes at Stamford Bridge yesterday, but before that he wasn’t exactly showered with good luck messages from the wider world of football.

Doing the rounds on the internet, a video of Jose Mourinho (right) bumping in to his former Inter Milan player Maicon at Manchester City last week.

Maicon: “Your friend Benitez is going to Chelsea!”

Mourinho: “The fat one?”

You know, you’d almost feel sorry for the Benitez fella and wish him trophy-winning success this season. Okay, maybe not.

Support for Hughes

November 4th: “I have complete faith in Mark Hughes . . . we just need to hold out for that stability, I’m sure things are going to go right . . . I’m not sure what language I have to say it in . . . but I am 100 per cent committed. [Mark] needs a bit of luck but cream always rises to the top. He has our backing.” QPR owner Tony Fernandes.

November 16th: “Won’t be happening. For the one-millionth time. Hahaha. Stability.” Fernandes again, this time tweeting his vote of confidence in Hughes, telling supporters – for the one-millionth time – he would not be sacked.

November 23rd: Hughes?

You know yourself.

Quote of the week

The majority of the players he brought in were crap.” – QPR old-boy Rodney Marsh tries to put his finger on where it all went wrong for Mark Hughes.

Number of the week: 46

That’s how many million euro Roman Abramovich has paid out in compensation to seven sacked Chelsea managers – so, the figure doesn’t even include Roberto Di Matteo. Or Rafa Benitez, yet

Ooh la la, c'est Domenech et Ribery

Book Extract of the Week: There was always a reasonably decent chance that Raymond Domenech’s tome on his time in charge of the French team would be a lively read – and so it has proved, if the extracts are anything to go by.

Domenech had a less than loving relationship with several of his players, but himself and Franck Ribery had especially, well, big issues: “He continued to poison the group by his attitude as a susceptible diva . . .

“For everything Ribery stood for I would have gladly strung him up . . . He’s the same as Anelka and Henry, everything revolves around their belly buttons. When things go wrong, they’re the first to jump ship.

“A senior player warned me about [Ribery] in 2008. And me, I gave him the keys to the team.

“What a moron I am.”


Dogged Bayern fans

Merchandise of the Week: The Bayern Munich dog jersey. They're not the only club to take in to account canine supporters when producing merchandise, but this one is particularly attractive, sitting very snugly on the model's hind legs. It's a snip too at €19.95, so if your dog is a Bayern fan, get shopping.

Tats all for Valdes

Barcelona netminder Victor Valdes looked chuffed when he bumped in to this admirer in Moscow last week, complete with her very large Victor Valdes tattoo. (Although it looks a little more like one of the tall fellas in Take That who rarely sang).

He should probably, to be honest, be a bit nervous about it.

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