All in the Game: Paul McGrath is a God in Ghana

Bruno nearly out-Zlatans Zlatan; Joe Cole has mixed emotions on Thomas Tuchel

Paul McGrath in action for Aston Villa in 1994. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty

Paul McGrath in action for Aston Villa in 1994. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty

 

Paul McGrath is a God in Ghana

The best Ghana-related story about a former Irish international to appear last week: We’ll go with the Daily Mail’s one about the small Ghanaian town of Juaben where over a thousand of the residents are diehard Aston Villa fans.

This seemed inexplicable, really. Judging by the photo of a selection of these fans, they were born at least 20 years after Villa won the European Cup and last won the league, so if they’ve heard of them at all, the likes of Peter Withe, Gary Shaw, Tony Morley and Des Bremner would be just dim-and-distant historical figures. Unless they think former future Irish legend Jack Grealish is the new Messiah. Or Ollie Watkins.

The Mail, though, solved the mystery by talking to Owusu Amando Boakye, founder of the Villa-worshipping ‘Ghana Lions’, whose dream, he said, is to visit Villa Park and sleep in the Holte End. Which he would have done, soundly, had he been there for Saturday’s 0-0 against Wolves.

So, where has this rather peculiar devotion to Villa come from?

“My grandfather used to talk about lots of players, but there was a certain player he used to talk about most,” said Owusu. “He always talked about ‘God, God, God’. So one day I asked him, ‘Grandpa, who is this God you always talk about?’ He said ‘there is only one God, but there is also a God in football - and his name is’” ....... drum roll ....... ‘Paul McGrath’.”

As good a reason as any for the village to be Villa devotees. Oooh ah, Owusu’s Grandpa.

Quote of the week

“Your wife leaves you and you meet her new man six months later, you don’t want to like him ..... but he turns out to be really nice.” Joe Cole on feeling a bit unfaithful towards his old pal Frank Lampard because he quite likes Thomas Tuchel.

Number of the week

31 - That’s how many goals Robert Lewandowski has scored in just 23 Bundesliga games this season after Saturday’s hat-trick. The next highest total in Europe’s top five leagues is 20 (Cristiano Ronaldo). Useful lad.

Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick during Bayern Munich’s win over Borussia Dortmund. Photograph: Sebastian Widmann/EPA
Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick during Bayern Munich’s win over Borussia Dortmund. Photograph: Sebastian Widmann/EPA

Word of mouth

“I just wonder whether he is thinking, ‘Hang on a minute, I’m going to score, because if I don’t stand on my feet Mo Salah is going to get another penalty’.” Michael Owen’s rather quirky theory that Sadio Mane didn’t go down for a penalty against Chelsea last week because Salah would have taken it and Mane wants to banjax his hunt for the Golden Boot. Convincing. In no sense at all.

“Changing a light bulb in our house is impossible, we have such high ceilings. If you were Cristiano Ronaldo, would you change a light bulb nearly 20 foot above the ground?” Ronaldo’s partner Georgina Rodriguez. Presumably, when he’s worth £500m, they employ a full-time bulb-changer?

More word of mouth

“I am Zlatan even without winning every game. I am Zlatan when I win and when I lose. I scored many goals, but I also missed a few. Very few. If Zlatan can make a mistake, so can you, the important thing is to make a difference every day.” We were going to say that Zlatan remains the undisputed king of speaking in the third person, but hold your horses.......

“Everyone is thinking that Bruno has to score in every game, Bruno has to assist in every game. I see people talking about Bruno not doing so well against the ‘big six’ ... Bruno gives the ball away too many times. They don’t care about the performance of Bruno..... I can create 10 chances but if I don’t score, people will say Bruno didn’t play very well.” ...... Bruno Fernandes is coming for Zlatan’s crown.

Liverpool can blame a colour clash

Why have Liverpool been struggling so badly at Anfield this season? That mega long injury list? Tiredness? Sadio Mane and Mo Salah liking each other as much as the Daily Mail likes Meghan Markle? No, thanks to Liverpool fan Frankie, a caller to talkSPORT, we now know the reason: it’s the colour of the coverings on those empty seats.

“We have red backdrops and we play in red kits. I believe it is the colour clash when clubs are passing the ball, it takes them longer to visualise their players,” he said. “I can guarantee if Liverpool changed their backdrop to their away kit, they would perform a lot better. Even if it only made a 10 per cent difference, in the scheme of things 10 per cent is a lot.”

Anyone accepting this theory who chuckled at the issue with grey shirts several years ago, send your apology to: A Ferguson, Manchester, England.

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