All in the Game: if a Nigerian ever calls you a ‘Dundee United’ . . .

And why does Joe Hart need a social media team to type two word messages?

The Pope’s wish

Pope Francis has been busy of late meeting folk from the world of Italian football, both Lazio striker Ciro Immobile and Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic speaking last week about private audiences they'd had with him.

“It was an unforgettable experience,” said Mihajlovic. “Pope Francis is a wise, witty man who always has a joke at the ready. I went with my wife and my mother-in-law, so when I presented them, he said: ‘You should be made a saint for bringing your mother-in-law.’”

Immobile was no less moved. “It was a very emotional day for me. He liked the fact that I had three children. He likes large families and encouraged me to have more. He told me that I had plenty of time for that right now, and yes, you can’t deny the Pope a wish.”

We've a feeling Mrs Immobile and Mihajlovic's mother-in-law will be demanding a private audience with Francis themselves, just so they can have a word.


World headline of the year

The best headline on any football piece in the whole of 2021 so far: ‘The unlikely story of how ‘Dundee United’ became an insult in Nigeria.’

If you haven’t read Liam Kirkaldy’s epic Guardian investigation in to this most peculiar matter, go to your Google this minute. But the gist is that if a Nigerian ever calls you a ‘Dundee United’, you should be deeply offended - because they’ve just called you an idiot.

Kirkaldy looked in to a number of theories to explain the origins of the insult, but let's just say, a 1972 pre-season trip to west Africa by Dundee United might have had something to do with it.

How poorly did they play in their games? Well, come the end of the trip, the headline in the Nigerian Daily Express was: “Don’t Come Back”. Nuff said.

Word of mouth

"Friends text me: 'Are you okay? You look bad!' I've just gotten older and haven't seen the sun for a year, and I don't sleep much. That's why I look bad. And not because we have six home defeats in a row." Jurgen Klopp, in need of some sunshine and a good night's sleep.

"I have to say a special thank you to Drago - for the pass and because he's in my fantasy football team! I'm in my own team too, so I must have got a lot of points this week." Dusan Vlahovic saluting his Fiorentina and Fantasy Football team-mate Bartlomiej Dragowski for setting up the goal that gave him a hat-trick against Benevento. All you can hope is that Vlahovic had triple-captained himself.

"If you play with him, you play with half a man more because he gives intensity and volume that is outstanding and is unique. He is a big gift for me." Thomas Tuchel doffs his cap to the man and a half that is N'Golo Kante.

"If you can just make heavy eye contact with Beckham for about 20 seconds, your football knowledge grows exponentially. Sometimes I just FaceTime him and I'm just like, 'Don't speak. Just stare at me.'" Actor Ryan Reynolds, who has somehow ended up owning Wrexham FC, on his slightly weird FaceTime calls with David.

"Good team my arse, asshole! You are nothing else, asshole!" AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli, feeling a bit patronised, responding to Manchester United assistant coach Kieran McKenna telling him his team were good at full-time in that Europa League game. He took it well, then.

Job done

The one offered by Spurs' second choice goalie Joe Hart who experienced the mother of all social media fails last Thursday. What was posted on his Instagram account after Spurs' cataclysmic Europa League exit following that 3-0 defeat by Dinamo Zagreb? "Job done."

Next morning. “I feel like I need to make an apology on behalf of of my social media team. Someone thought that we’d won 3-0 last night and posted “job done”. As sloppy as it sounds, it’s the truth.”

The most startling thing in this tale, to be honest, is that a second choice goalie has a social media team who he employs to type two word messages. Maybe if he paid them a little more they might actually watch his team’s games.

Quote of the week

"We (Newcastle) were doing very, very nicely until Covid."

Weren’t we all, Steve Bruce?

Number of the week

43,200,000: That's how many euros Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone earns a year, making him the highest paid manager in the world, according to L'Equipe - almost double the fella in second, Pep Guardiola.