Walters not in fantasy land


ALL IN THE GAME:With five leagues goals from midfield so far this season, Jonathan Walters is a popular chap with Fantasy Football competitors, but that love diminished a touch on Saturday when he had the misfortune to score two own goals and miss a penalty against Chelsea – all of which proved rather costly for Stoke and, worse, his Fantasy managers.

He’s not, it should be said, having a good time of it himself in Stoke’s own Fantasy competition, something some of us can relate to, Walters currently lying third from bottom, out of 20 players – still, that’s one place ahead of his Irish colleague, Glenn Whelan.

Peter Crouch, not for the first time in his life, is head and shoulders above the rest, but worryingly for the club, real manager Tony Pulis is only in 11th – his cause hardly helped by selecting a defender, Carlos Cuellar, who’ll be out for weeks with a hamstring injury. Hey, who among us hasn’t done that? 

Owen goal as Michael does a Biden

Michael Owen was only five when 56 people lost their lives in an inferno at Bradford’s Valley Parade stadium, but still, he got a hard time on Twitter last week when, while watching the League Two club beat Aston Villa in their League Cup semi-final, he noted that: “Bradford are on fire!” “Been made aware that my earlier Bradford tweet was worded inappropriately. Obviously wasn’t meant like that. Sorry if it offended anyone,” he typed soon after.

There was a bit of the Joe Biden about it. Last week, commenting on his efforts to come up with gun law reform recommendations in the wake of the Newtown killings, the US vice-president said: “I’m shooting for Tuesday. I hope I get it done by then [but] we know that there is no silver bullet.” The Michael Owen of American politics?

Hungry wolves

Spare a thought for Wolves’ contingent of Irish internationals, Stephen Ward, Kevin Foley, Kevin Doyle and Stephen Hunt. Life under new manager Dean Saunders looks like it might be a little testing.

“Football is a watered down version of the army, discipline-wise,” he declared last week.

“Obviously we are not in the army but there’s got to be rules in place where players have to adhere to certain things. They include not being late for training, not leaving your training kit on the floor . . . living your life properly, not going away from here into McDonalds, eating like an athlete. I don’t think Jessica Ennis stops off at McDonalds on the way home, I don’t think so looking at her.”

Tough days ahead for our Irish lads, with divil a sign of a Big Mac or Happy Meal toy.

Exchange of the week

From the Daily Mirror’s interview with Michael Laudrup. The question is going like this: “You played with Pep Guardiola at Barcelona . . . ”. Michael Laudrup leans forward in his chair in the small manager’s office at the Liberty Stadium and interrupts.

“He would maybe say that he played with me,” says the Swansea boss. Back of the net.

Quotes of the week

“He’s the only man that understands ‘to dare is to do’ (Spurs’ slogan), because it’s grammatically incorrect you see. It doesn’t mean nothing.”

Noel Gallagher gives Andre Villas-Boas a lesson in English (thank you Brian).

“Balotelli is not a bad apple. He is a cherry.”

Mario’s super agent, Mino Raiola.

“In the Premier League, there is no bigger club than Liverpool.”

Daniel Sturridge, with a straight face.

“Before Christmas I went to Stonehenge for the winter solstice . . . I waited until 4am before going there to see the sunrise. It was raining and I didn’t see anything, so I left and went straight to training.”

Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio after an entirely wasted, sleepless night.

Putting the boot in

He’s probably worn out denying it, but it’s often claimed that Cristiano Ronaldo is more than a little peeved about being beaten to the Ballon d’Or by Lionel Messi for the last four years.

Messi, being the modest young fella that he is, has resisted ever boasting about it, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll see him waving four fingers in Cristiano’s direction any time soon.

Mind you, Adidas have decided to do some boasting for him, designing Messi a shiny new pair of boots. If he opts to wear them in the next encounter with Real Madrid, Cristiano should keep his gaze well and truly up: they feature four golden suns, each displaying the years Messi has won the Ballon d’Or.

After all is Said and Done

It was a proud week for the Observer’s David Hills, writer of the paper’s Said and Done column, having spent many a year chronicling the utterances of Gigi Becali, the Romanian politician who owns Steaua Bucharest and is not shy about offending folk.

Well, yesterday Hills awarded Becali the ‘endorsement of the week’ for his comments about the column, which he was asked about on Romanian television.

A warm tribute it was too: “God inspires me to say what I say, the British have no idea. It’s just some crazy Brits from the Guardian [who quote you] if you talk about sex, prostitutes . . . they’re a satanic newspaper. They ridicule all that’s pure and holy.”

Number of the week


As revealed last week, that’s how much (in euros) Chelsea spend on wages.

Every day, like.

Quote of the week

"Are you joking?"

Alex Ferguson on being asked if he’d any sympathy for Steven Gerrard not having a Premier League medal

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