Lunatics taking over the asylum?

According to reports, Liverpool have earmarked Johan Cruyff as a potential replacement for Damien Comolli, who on Wednesday was relieved of his duties as director of football.

Cruyff, fresh from creating havoc at Ajax, would not immediately appear to be the person best suited to sorting out the current shambles that is Liverpool football club, nor the person temperamentally suited to work in union with Kenny Dalglish, but one has to admire the willingness of the club’s hierarchy to embrace the potential madness of a Cruyff-Dalglish double act.

Cruyff, who before his time at Ajax is best remembered – as a manager, at least – for his creation of the Barcelona ‘Dream Team’ in the 1990s. His most recent appointment was with Mexican side Chivas, with whom he has taken on an advisory capacity. If he thought that post signalled the end of his career as a serious football force, a move to Liverpool would surely confirm it.

Hard times

In the wake of Michel Platini’s criticism of the pricing policy of some opportunistic hoteliers in Ukraine during this summer’s Euro 2012 finals, comes a claim that England fans will not be travelling in their usual big numbers for the tournament.

Kevin Miles, spokesman for Football Supporters Federation, believes that fans are being deterred from travelling, in part, because of the exorbitant cost of accommodation in the host countries.

England supporters have so far taken up around 3,000 tickets for each of their three group games in the Ukraine against France, Sweden and Ukraine, which is less than half their allocation.

“I’m pleased Platini’s highlighted this problem,” said Miles. “It’s been a big factor in why the number of travelling fans is so low.”

Presumably, an equally big factor is that many England fans, accustomed to travelling more in hope rather than expectation, believe the prospects for this tournament are hopeless.

Goal of the day

Villarreal earned a much needed win against Malaga to boost their survival prospects. The winner came in the 94th minute, when Hernan Perez lashed one in from the edge of the penalty area.

Vow of silence

Jose Mourinho is maintaining his vow of silence until the end of the season. The Real Madrid coach has not spoken to the media since his side’s controversial draw with Villarreal at El Madrigal on March 21.

Mourinho’s assistant, Aitor Karanka said the Portuguese will “speak when he has to speak. Some moments he comes out and others I come out, that’s his way of working, that’s the way it is.”

Meanwhile, Sporting boss Javier Clemente has taken a leaf out of Mourinho’s book by refusing to speak to the press ahead of this weekend’s clash with the league leaders.

Gijon announced on their official website that not only will the Liga side train behind closed doors on Friday, their coach has decided against giving any interviews before travelling to Madrid.

Clemente has been involved in a number of altercations with the press throughout his career and the 62-year-old shows no signs of slowing down as he approaches his pension. The former Spain coach clashed with a local journalist two weeks ago, calling him ‘shameless’ and suggesting that ‘when your son grows up you will have to explain to him that his father was a rogue’:

Charming.

Quote of the day

”Yes, it’s over. I’ve been sacked, but I can’t say anything more than that. I can’t say anything other than that I’ve been sacked and I’m furious.”

Stale Solbakken hits out at Cologne after the struggling Bundesliga club claimed he was taking leave.

Juventus fined for racist chants

Juventus, who were forced to play a game behind closed doors three years ago after then-Internazionale player Mario Balotelli was racially abused, have been fined €30,000 after their supporters racially abused Lazio’s Diakité.

A statement on the club’s website, explained that supporters and club officials did their utmost to stop the abuse and vowed to continue working to eradicate racism.

“Juventus are on the cutting edge to eradicate racism,” said managing director Giuseppe Marotta. “Along with UNESCO, we’re involved in the project ‘Un calcio al Razzismo’ and our Young Sector is a sort of multiethnic lab, consisting of players from all continents. We can discern the value and the technical qualities of all players, but not their skin colour. Therefore, we ask the media to help us in order to support our club in this fight, in addition to blame on these occurrences.”

On the move?

Portuguese sources are reporting that Manchesetr United and Benfica have agreed a deal that will see the Premier League side sign Argentine playmaker Nicolas Gaitan and will include two United players as part of the deal.

Details of the deal have not been revealed but it looks like it will be along the following lines: United will pay €25m for Gaitan, plus two players, provided one of the players included in the deal is not Bebe. In which case, the fee will rise to €30m.

Bee-have

Borussia Dortmund’s bumblebee mascot, Emma,  was pictured pretending to urinate on the Bayern Munich team bus following their 1-0 win over the Bavarian outfit on Wednesday evening.

When Bild asked Dortmund for a comment on the incident, the club replied: ”Nonsense. Emma is a seven years young smart bee that knows its clothing is unable to open in the front to allow it to do its little business. We admit that the attempt to help the Bayern team by checking the tire pressure on our guests’ wonderful team bus was a bit unsuccessful. Please check back later! Who can be angry … even young children?”

Emma has history when it comes to winding up rivals Bayern. Here she is visiting a Bayern team shop to drop off a couple of yellow blood bags marked “adrenaline.”

Pele v Maradona: the next generation

Diego Maradona has called Pele “stupid” for suggesting that Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is not as good as Santos youngster Neymar. He’s called him a lot worse in his time, so perhaps their frosty relationship is beginning to thaw.

Messi, 24, is the reigning holder of the FIFA Ballon d’Or, while Neymar, 20, landed FIFA’s Puskas Award for the best goal of 2011.

Despite Messi’s vast array of trophies and personal awards and milestones, Pele believes his compatriot Neymar, who has won the Brazilian league and Copa Libertadores with his old club Santos, is the better player.

“Now everyone is talking about Messi; he is a star. But [to be the best ever] he must first become better than Neymar,” Pele said. “At the moment Messi is just more experienced.”

However, Maradona, who until the emergence of Messi, was regarded as the only legitimate challenger to Pele when it came to discussing the best player in the game’s history,laughed off the claims. “My God, that is just stupid,” Maradona said as he backed fellow Argentinian Messi.

“Maybe Neymar is the best player in the world, but only if you say that Messi is from a different planet,” Maradona added.

Finally…

Speaking of Messi, footage has emerged of the player described as the Japanese Lionel Messi. Don’t get too excited: although he’s on Barcelona’s books and possesses a wonderfully gifted left foot, he is till only 11.

Here he is in action against Villarreal, scoring a decent goal and setting up another.

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