Mary Hannigan’s All in the Game: reports back from the world of soccer

Juve's logo love and hate . . . history bites back . . . Palermo’s revolving door . . . East Timor Samba no more . . quotes of the week

 

One whole year for Juve to see double

How well received was the new club crest unveiled by Juventus last week?

Not tremendously. And when club president Andrea Agnelli declared that it had been a whole year in the making, the gist of the global response was: Are you having a laugh? Largely because it’s really just two Js under the word Juventus.

“This new logo is a symbol of the Juventus way of living,” explained Agnelli. “We spent a year trying to find out what the new markets want, but also to show a sense of belonging and looking to the future.”

O . . . kay. And Juventus legend Pavel Nedved, now a Juventus director, was no less enthusiastic when he spoke to, well, official Juventus TV.

“I am in love with it . . . I think it is innovative, it gives freshness, and shows a lot of desire to move forward in the digital and social world.”

Less chuffed, it has to be said, was a Juve fan tracked down by Goal.com. Why? Because Kevin Prota was unaware the crest was changing and had the old one tattooed on his shoulder the day before. “What’s done is done,” he said. “Also, my right shoulder is still free.”

Finest digging through the archives award 

Recently The Observer’s David Hills unearthed an awkward 1997 quote from Slaven Bilic explaining his abandonment of West Ham for Everton for loot reasons, despite having signed a new contract, after he lambasted Dimitri Payet for wanting to do much the same.

Last week, Football365.com’s people had a read of Chris Waddle’s rather grumpy column in the The Sun about foreigners in English football.

“Foreign players come to England only for the money. I don’t believe they even like English football,” he said, somewhat sweepingly. “Be they from France, Spain, Italy or Brazil, they have no loyalty to England. They’re only here for their bank balance.”

Rewind to 1989 when Waddle left Spurs for Marseille in a deal that made him the third most expensive player of all time:

“I just had to accept it. Because of what it offered financially to my family for the future.”

In other words, he did it for his bank balance? Zut alors.

Palermo owner pining for some past or other

For all of you worried about the security of Eugenio Corini’s position as Palermo manager, the news is mixed. Last week club owner Maurizio Zamparini looked like he might be on the verge of making his ninth managerial change in 12 months when he said he was considering rehiring Roberto De Zerbi, the man Corini replaced in November. “Here it is always Hiroshima,” said Corini on hearing the news.

Zamparini, though, now seems to have let the De Zerbi rehiring idea go, which is good news for Corini. But Zamparini is now pining for another former gaffer, announcing that he should never have fired Stefano Pioli, currently the Inter Milan manager, admitting that he might have been a bit hasty in dispensing with his services in the summer of 2011 after he’d only been in charge for two competitive games (both in the Europa League).

“I was wrong to sack him,” he said. “I received bad advice from my director of sport. I was eating my second testicle due to the stress. I’d already eaten the first.”

East Timor nobbled

Sympathy really should go to East Timor after they were fined and banned from the 2023 Asian Cup for a few administrative errors that frankly anyone could have made.

From the BBC: “Birth and baptism certificates were doctored by football chiefs in the tiny southeast Asian country to allow a dozen Brazilians to play for them . . . the Asian Football Confederation and Fifa found the documents were doctored to falsely show the players had East Timorese heritage, with one or both of their parents being born in the country.”

See? Which one of us hasn’t made that mistake? The Brazilians helped East Timor to five wins in 14 years, but now all those triumphs will be forfeited.

Also forfeited, sadly, is the nickname the national team had acquired: “The Little Samba Nation.”

By the numbers

4

Number of few players who made their first appearances in the 1990s who are still going in the Premier League – Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick, John Terry and . . . John O’Shea. Our very own Duracell Bunny.

Quote of the week

If they gave me the money Diego Costa was offered, I’d walk there now. Robbie Keane issuing a come-and-sign-me plea to China.

Word of mouth

“I want United to become great again” Paul Pogba, going all Trump-ish on us, on his bigly ambition.

“This is the worst crap I have read in a long time . . . it’s immeasurable bullshit. We would return to the time of village versus village, and at the time it ended with players being killed.” – Rennes manager Christian Gourcuff stopping just short of supporting Fifa’s technical director Marco van Basten’s suggestion that offside be abolished.

“If Jeffrey would have stayed on, I don’t think Simon Coleman would have been in that position.” – Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce on the marking that led to Everton’s late winner. If they’d looked for Séamus rather than the non-existent Simon it might never have happened.

“I’ve always said that to compare Messi with the rest is like comparing a great policeman to Batman.” – Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli with the mother of all tributes to Lionel.

“I don’t know if I can say this, but, oh well. If I’ve gone to get a takeaway and I get chips, I like to match up them in length. I pick them out in twos. If they’re not the same length, well I go hunting for the same length in chips.” Ashley Young seriously needs a transfer window move from Manchester United, the lad’s got way too much time on his hands.

Luis Enrique has helped me enormously. He gave me confidence straight away . . . if I had to throw myself off a bridge for him, I would do it without hesitation.” – Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, prepared to give literally everything for coach Luis Enrique.

“Limited with a capital L.” David Moyes on his transfer budget.

“The latest excuse was that his gates had stuck but he couldn’t jump over a fence that was four feet, six inches high.” Steve Bruce on Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack failing to turn up for training because his electric gates jammed. How did Brucie know they were four feet, six inches high? He drove to the house to photograph them. Legend.

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