All in the game



All in the game for LetchkovWhatever happened to: Yordan Letchkov? Remember, the baldy Bulgarian who scored the winner against Germany in the 1994 World Cup quarter-finals?

A rather splendid header it was too.

Now 45, Letchkov retired from football in 2004, after a spell as player-manager with his hometown club OFC Sliven, and turned his hand to business and politics, owning a hotel and being elected mayor of Sliven.

A happy and successful tale, then. Until, that is, he was given a three-year suspended jail sentence in 2011 for abuse of power as mayor. He got over that bump, though, restored to his position soon after a successful appeal, so all ended well.

Until his latest brush with the law, that is.

Letchkov is now appealing a two-year sentence, handed down after he was found guilty – again – of “mismanagement and abuse of power” as mayor. Tax “issues” related to a shady water and sewerage deal led to his downfall this time around.

And there’s more in the pipeline, so to speak, with another batch of fraud, corruption and mismanagement charges lined up.

He insists that his political foes are behind his woes, but whatever happens, he’ll need a good engine to get through it all. He certainly had one as a player, but this, alas, is a whole new ball game.

Old Saints peeved by Adkins' sacking

They were a bit stunned in Southampton way when the club sacked manager Nigel Adkins last week, largely because, after a shaky start to the season, he’d led them out of the bottom three with just two defeats in their last 12 games.

Old-boy Matt Le Tissier was unimpressed, to say the least, accusing chairman Nicola Cortese of turning the club in to “a laughing stock” – a view echoed by former manager Lawrie McMenemy, who was equally peeved about the appointment of Argentine Mauricio Pochettino as Adkins’ successor.

“Does he even speak English,” he asked.

Not a lot, as it proved, Pochettino speaking through an interpreter at his unveiling. McMenemy also smelled a rat.

“The bookmakers as ever were ahead of the game and realised something was off when, according to one I saw on TV, bets for as much as £500 were being laid at odds of 25- 1, not only for Nigel losing his job but giving the name of the person to take over,” he wrote. Someone made a tidy sum, then. Sympathy for Adkins might not have been entirely universal, depending on how you interpret this tweet from Luke Shaw (Football 365)

“Very confused lol”. Adkins isn’t LOLing, you would have to imagine.

Understatement of the week?

“He is a footballer and in that regard he is relatively well paid.”

So said Carlos Tevez’s solicitor in court when the player was banned from driving for six months. The Manchester City player He was ordered to pay £1,540 in fines and costs – but earning, as he allegedly does, in or around £150,000 a week, he should be relatively okay.

The Manchester Evening News said Tevez’s Hummer was caught on camera exceeding the speed limit in March and May last year.

He denied being at the wheel on those occasions but was stopped by police while driving his Porsche Panamera last November without a valid licence.

Quotes of the Week“We don’t have any problems, apart from the problems we have.” – Rafa Benitez, as quite marvellously quoted by the Daily Mirror.

“Mortified. Just at the team hotel walking to reception when a bird shat on my head.” – Michael Owen, all a-Twitter.

“When I first came here, everyone that spoke English sounded the same. But now I know the accents. Mind you, it’s still difficult to understand Wazza sometimes.” – Javier Hernandez on his chats with Wayne Rooney.

“The name of Suarez sells papers.” – Luis Suarez is right . . . that’s why we’re mentioning him.

Pieters comeback one to forget

So, how was your week? Not great?

Well, it was better than the one Erik Pieters had, you can be sure of that.

The Dutch defender finally returned to action for PSV Eindhoven after being out for eight months with a foot injury, but his comeback didn’t go entirely smoothly.

In their first game since the end of the winter break, PSV lost 3-1 at home to strugglers PEC Zwolle, Pieters and his defensive buddies having what one might term a real nightmare.

And, just to cap it all, Pieters got himself sent off soon after Zwolle went 3-1 up thanks to not the smartest of tackles from behind on Fred Benson.

A bad day, then. But it actually got worse.

So irritated was Pieters by events, he kicked the side of the tunnel as he headed for the dressingroom, and then punched, like you do, a window, smashing it, naturally, in the process.

And with that he had to be taken to hospital, PSV announcing later that he had required surgery after “damage in multiple structures in his forearm was revealed”.

They don’t know yet how long he’ll be out, but they’re probably past caring at this stage.

Number of the week


Amount of euros Ajax were fined by Uefa after their supporters displayed a banner that read “Against modern football” back in October, a protest against the game going money-mad. “Provocative and inappropriate,” said Uefa.

Quote of the week

‘Sandro’s holding his face. You can tell from that it’s a knee injury.' – You knew what Dion Dublin meant, but still.

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