All in the Game: the fans were demanding Zlatan, so I gave them Zlatan

Sunderland count cost of signing Darron Gibson, Mick McCarthy is lost for words

Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates a goal against LAFC on his LA Galaxy debut. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP

Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates a goal against LAFC on his LA Galaxy debut. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP

 

Jailhouse blues for Tevez

Carlos Tevez has described as “bulls**t” reports that his latest induced spell on the sidelines is the result of a foul committed on him while he was playing in a knockabout game inside a high- security prison where one of his close relatives is serving 16 years for armed robbery.

A number of Argentine media outlets reported that Tevez, who has scored three times in 11 games for Boca Juniors since returning home from China, had been kicked in the calf by an over exuberant opponent 20 minutes into a prison-yard game and may now miss his club’s next four matches.

“I don’t know why people don’t people believe me,” responded the clearly maligned 34 year-old who claims the injury had occurred while he had been working out in the gym. “If it had not happened there, why would I be so stupid as to say it had happened in the gym?”

Maybe because that’s a whole lot less stupid than it having happened in a high security prison-yard game? Nah, that’s just us being stupid.

Welcome to zLAtan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic generated a fair amount of mirth on social media recently when he claimed to have “conquered” England during his brief stay with Manchester United and the 36 year-old seemed to be setting himself up for a bit of a fall as he announced his arrival at LA Galaxy with all the sort of self-confidence that might have been expected of a slightly younger him.

Still, the 36 year-old delivered in some style in the first LA derby, coming on in the 71st minute and scoring twice to complete Galaxy’s comeback from 3-0 down to beat LAFC. His first goal, on 77 minutes was a spectacular strike from 35 yards or more out and he then grabbed the winner from close range in the first minute of time added on for stoppages.

“The fans were demanding Zlatan,” he observed coolly afterwards. “And so I gave them Zlatan.”

School for scandal

Current Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero says he plans to return home to boyhood club Independiente in 2020. The Buenos Aires outfit is embroiled in quite a scandal at the moment, however, with some of its youth players claiming that they were encouraged to prostitute themselves in return for boots, underwear or money towards trips home to see distant relataives.

Public prosecutor Maria Soledad Garibaldo has said she will now interview all 50 of the teenagers who live at the club’s training academy in the Avellaneda suburb of the city after the claims came to light when one of the seven young players said to be affected broke down while talking to a club psychologist.

An official who organised tournaments for the club’s youth sides, an agent, a local referee and his lawyer, who has been accused of trying to destroy a phone containing evidence, have apparently been arrested in connection with the allegations.

One of the club’s coaches is quoted in the local media as saying: “Unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise me,” which is not exactly what you want to hear in these circumstances.

PAOK’s president Ivan Savvidis. Photograph: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP
PAOK’s president Ivan Savvidis. Photograph: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP

Savvidis takes his medicine

“No one can impose greater punishments on me than I put on myself,” PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis is quoted as saying in the Greek media but the football authorities, to be fair, appear to have given it a bit of a go.

Savvidis, you might remember, strode onto the pitch with a holstered gun to confront the referee at the end of a recent league game against rivals AEK in which his side had had a late goal disallowed.

The local FA has now banned him for three years, fined him €100,000 and the club €63,000, docked them three points plus another two for next season and ordered that the club’s next three games be played behind closed doors.

Savvidis, a Russian industrialist and former politician, no doubt has something harsher in mind for himself as he has indicated his intention to appeal the sanctions.

Quote of the week

“I want to be as bothered as I always am. And I wanted to win that game. But there is something that has gone; certainly, for sure. I wish I could articulate it better, but I am a football player, coach, manager – not a poet,” Mick McCarthy on being in charge of Ipswich for the first time since it was announced he would be leaving in the summer. His side lost 1-0.

By the numbers -

2.4 - mount in millions of pounds that Darron Gibson is reckoned to have earned at Sunderland since signing in January of last season. He made 30 appearances.

It is small beer in terms of the increasingly dire finances, of course, at a club which a consortium headed up by Cork businessman William O’Brien is reported to be on the verge of buying. Last month, a local paper reported that Ellis Short wants to recoup €57 million of what he has spent and expects to the new owners to take on €75 million in bank debt.

Word of mouth

“I’m more mature, thanks to my children. I’m 27 years old. The time for girls is over.”Mario Balotelli on growing up at Nice.

“You learn that certain players can deal with the situation, others not.” - West Brom manager Alan Pardew after his side lost for the ninth straight time in the Premier League.

“It burns, I can’t stand here and smile or pretend I’m happy with just playing well. It burns me and it has to burn everyone, We have quality players, but in physical terms we cannot compete with Juventus. That is what made the difference today.” Gennaro Gattuso wishes he had a player, well, a player just like him, after Milan were beaten by the Seria A leaders.

“We need three Messis”Argentine newspaper Ole, after the national side was beaten 6-1 by Spain without the Barcelona star.

Mick McCarthy’s long tenure at Ipswich Town is drawing to a close. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA
Mick McCarthy’s long tenure at Ipswich Town is drawing to a close. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA

Uefa end Batshuayi investigation

On loan Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi reacted with a mix of resignation and dismay after Uefa announced it had decided to close its investigation into his allegation of racist abuse during the German club’s recent Europa League match against Italian side Atalanta.

Both clubs were fined for the use by their fans of fireworks inside the ground but the Belgian international’s claims that he had been subjected to racist taunts by the home supporters did not lead to any sanction. “LOL. Must have been my imagination. It’s just monkey noise, who cares?” he tweeted.

Atalanta’s president Antonio Percassi said after the game that he had not heard the chanting but that if it had happened he apologised to the player. The club was previously fined when its fans threw bananas at Milan players in May 2014.

Heyneckes holds on

Thomas Tuchel may have fuelled the speculation that he is on the way to Arsenal by telling Bayern Munich that he has already signed to another club but it appears that Jupp Heynckes, like Arsene Wenger, is not entirely resigned to leaving the German champions.

The club have said they will unveil a new (German-speaking) coach by the end of April with Jürgen Klopp amongst the many names mentioned, but it seems Heynckes may have to be nudged aside again, as he was to make way for Pep Guardiola in 2013 despite having had a spectacularly successful season.

With the club having almost wrapped up the Bundesliga title over the weekend and still in the Champions League, 72-year-old Heynckes might well feel he is in a position to make life awkward for his employers again.

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