Planet Soccer


MARY HANNIGANrounds up the rest of the soccer news

Ferguson's strange bedtime reading

ALEX Ferguson, we learnt last week, is fond of collecting memorabilia but not, as you might suspect, of the footballing kind. His two most prized possessions – and we aren’t making this up – are a copy of John F Kennedy’s autopsy report and a copy of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1969 marriage certificate.

“It’s very interesting to read through the whole thing,” he said of the autopsy report, while his devotion to the Beatles explains his ownership of that marriage cert.

“I grew up in the Beatles era and there’s no doubt they made an impact on every young person during that period. Their music was unbelievable. Alongside Abba you’d have to put them down as the greatest groups of musicians ever,” he said, leaving us with an image of him rocking out to Dancing Queen or, with the quintuple still in sight, The Winner Takes It All .

Quotes of the week

“Even before the end of the first half I felt as if I had spat my lungs out. In the second half my legs simply refused to serve me.”

– Arsenal’s recent Russian import Andrey Arshavin, adjusting nicely to the pace of the English game.

“Before every big match I usually go to Burger King or McDonald’s . . . Burger King – very good for hamstring!”

– A magic sponge used to cure these problems, but Manchester United’s Patrice Evra has discovered a new alternative remedy.

“We now face three away games in seven days at Burnley, Swansea and Barnsley. If we win those games in the 1,200 miles we have to travel I’ll bare my bum on the town hall steps.”

– Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock. Burnley, Swansea and Barnsley? We’ll be rooting for ye.

More quotes of the week

“You have to ask yourself, is Robbie Keane the most complete footballer in the Premier League?”

– BBC commentator John Motson during Spurs’ game against Middlesbrough last week. No doubt, Robbie’s good, but . . . ?

“Some of Spurs’ best players were illegible for the Uefa Cup.”

– Gary Mabbutt, struggling to read Spurs’ European team selections.

“If my wife leaves me, now that’s a crisis. And if she takes the kids with her, that’s even worse.”

– Mick McCarthy putting Wolves’ dodgy recent run in to some perspective.

“It is not ideal. Let’s be frank, we asked to play on Saturday and we got an answer ‘yes, you can play on Sunday’.”

– Arsène Wenger, his thoughts on the Champions League game against Roma, on the cooperation Arsenal received regarding the scheduling of their FA Cup tie with Burnley.

“Stephen Ireland’s on his own. He’s looking for Kompany.”

– A Fox Sports commentator, as heard by a BBC Online contributor.

Monk's life too hard for erring saints

SOUTHAMPTON find themselves deep in relegation trouble in the Championship (they lost again on Saturday) so it’s hardly surprising that their Dutch manager, Mark Wotte, demanded last week that his players give their full attention to the cause, and not allow themselves to be distracted.

“They have to really live like monks – they have to sleep in the kitchen and drink only water and very good other liquids and have proper food,” he said. “I tell the players to send their wives to a resort and have a very good sleep. They must focus only on football.”

Fair enough, you have to say. Meanwhile, on Saturday, news broke that two footballers had been arrested after an alleged late-night assault on a fan when they had been out drinking.

“I can assure our fans that everyone at the club remains focused on the remainder of the season,” said Wotte in a statement.

Yes, they were two Southampton players. Evidently not living like monks.

Jose close to perfection

“I like to change. Sometimes I change my hairstyle. Once I cut it all off, now I’m letting it grow out. Once I turned up with a long beard. But right now I’m absolutely perfect.”

– Guess - Jose Mourinho or Joe Kinnear? Hint: it’s not Joe.

“If you want me to rule out ever being Manchester United manager I can’t. Special clubs need special managers, so in theory it could work.”

– Yep, as you suspected, the same answer as above.

Museum not responsible for Villa's slip-up

ASTON Villa looked a bit on the weary side in their 2-0 defeat away to Manchester City last week and it seemed like the Sun had a part explanation for the team’s fatigue. Keen to broaden his players’ minds Martin O’Neill, they said, took them on a trip to the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry on the day of the game.

“It was hilarious,” a ‘witness’ told the paper.

“O’Neill led from the front like a teacher on a school trip. He was in his element, sharing his wisdom.”

Unfortunately, so the story went, the players were bored out of their minds and asked if they could visit the Coronation Street Studios instead. O’Neill gave in, and the players were “much happier”.

But? Next day on the Aston Villa website: “Martin O’Neill has dismissed a national newspaper story implying his first team stars spent time before the clash with Manchester City sight-seeing. There is absolutely no grain of truth in this story. You have to worry about the eyesight of the witness.