Reffing furious

Celtic boss Neil Lennon was an unhappy man when he spoke to the press after his side’s Champions League home defeat to Juventus.

Beaten 3-0 on the night to a canny and composed Italian side, Lennon was left to lament the performance of Spanish referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco, mainly for his refusal to award the home side a penalty.

The visiting defenders grappled with Celtic players at set-pieces, but despite booking one of the more obvious offenders, Stephan Lichtsteiner, midway through the first half, Undiano Mallenco ignored numerous calls for a penalty.

“They were being manhandled. They were being fouled. It’s not rugby we’re playing,” said Lennon.

“Are the rules different in Spain or in Italy? On that showing, they must be.”

“It looked like the Juventus players were fouling at every opportunity.

“The referee was warned by our players to keep an eye on it and he ignored our requests.

“Every time we went to lose a marker we were being hauled back and the referee was looking straight at it.”

And in remarks that are sure to land the Celtic boss in trouble with UEFA, Lennon added:  “I thought he was poor. I thought he was very pro-Juventus. I was disappointed with his performance to say the least.”

Implying incompetence never goes down well with the governing body, but to imply that the referee favoured one team over another, well that’s just asking for a disrepute charge.

In truth, the Scottish champions played very well on the night and even the most partisan Juventus fan would concede that their side was hugely flattered by the final scoreline. But to infer that, were it not for poor refereeing, Celtic would have won the game, would be an act of denial.

Smells nothing like team spirit

Kris Commons has blamed team-mate Efe Ambrose for Celtic’s 3-0 defeat to Juventus in the Champions League.

The Nigerian defender endured a miserable night, being complicit in two of Juve’s three goals and missing a glorious opportunity to score when Celtic trailed by just a solitary goal.

Ambrose  arrived back in Glasgow on the morning of the match after helping his country to African Nations Cup glory on Sunday night.

But Celtic manager Neil Lennon included him in the starting line-up, in a gamble that did not go exactly to plan.

“Look, the manager picked him,” Commons stated. “The manager pulled him to one side and asked him if he was feeling okay. He said he was feeling brilliant.

“If he wasn’t feeling okay then he should have said so. If he felt good then he should have put in a better performance.”

Talk about kicking a man when he is down.

“It was just very sloppy individual mistakes – something you’d probably get away with on a playground, not in the last 16 of the Champions League.

“There are certain individuals who let the team down.

“Hopefully this is just a one-off. The back four have made errors which have probably cost us the tie. But it’s partly down to them why we’re here in the first place.

“It’s just a bitter one to swallow.”

Words which are sure to endear Commons to his team-mates.

Man of hidden talents

Chelsea footballer Frank Lampard has signed a deal to write a series of children’s books, called Frankie’s Magic Football.

Publishers Little Brown said the books, aimed at children aged five and over, will follow the adventures of schoolboy Frankie and his football-loving friends, and pet dog Max.

Lampard, who has two young children, said: “Sport and reading are two essentials for us at home, so I decided to make up my own football stories and adventures.

“The characters are loosely based on friends and team-mates I’ve played with over the years.”

Though, presumably, the one about John Terry will be aimed strictly at the adult market.

Men behaving badly

Bundesliga strugglers Hoffenheim have fined two players after they were evicted from a carnival event for unruly behaviour, the club said in a statement.

Goalkeeper Tim Wiese, who was dropped from the squad for an unspecified spell in January due to poor form, and midfielder Tobias Weis were thrown out of the event by security men.

A police spokesman Harald Schumacher told Bild that Wiese, dressed as a prisoner, and Weis, wearing a caveman outfit, were “asked to leave the venue … Their behaviour was rude. Presumably consumption of alcohol was to blame. There will be no complaint.”

Weis, 27, said the incident was a misunderstanding.

“As the ladies’ toilets were packed, I took my girlfriend Derya to the gents,” he told Bild. “As a result security got involved. That’s when the trouble started.”

Wiese apologised and said the pair would accept the fine.

“Generally we understand that players are entitled to a private life and deserve a break from their professional duties,” said Hoffenheim general manager Andreas Mueller.

“However, Tobias Weis and Tim Wiese definitely went too far. They have neglected to act as role models and failed to leave a professional impression.”

Last week, Hoffenheim’s Peru international Luis Advincula sustained minor injuries in a car crash, putting him out of action for 10 days.

He was the second Hoffenheim player this season to be involved in a car crash after Boris Vukcevic was left in a coma for eight weeks following a severe crash in September.

If only the club had thought to make a television series about the season. Car crash TV in every sense.

Drastic measures

German second division club Dynamo Dresden have banned their own supporters from three away games after yet another outbreak of hooliganism, this time at Kaiserslautern.

Dynamo fans repeatedly let off fireworks during the 3-0 defeat on Friday and were involved in vandalism outside the ground.

“In Kaiserslautern, people were seen in the away fans section block that for years have had nothing to do with Dynamo or have ever been part of the club’s supporters,” said club president Andreas Ritter on Dynamo’s website.

“We need to protect our organisation against such criminals and therefore reluctantly refrain from taking our fans to away games.”

Dynamo were thrown out of next season’s German Cup after fans clashed with police and caused play to be delayed during a tie at Bundesliga side Hanover 96 in November.

The club said they would not take up their allocation of tickets for the away games against Aue, Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Brauschweig.

“We hope these measures will send out a signal that we are aware of the problem,” said general manager Christian Mueller

“We are very hopeful that we can keep a distance between ourselves and the people who repeatedly bring the club into disrepute.”

Dynamo played in the Bundesliga for the first four seasons after German reunification, but have since yo-yoed between the second and third divisions.

They are currently 17th in the 18-team second division.

Goal of the day

Ezequiel Lavezzi burst past one player before unleashing a powerful drive past the keeper to set PSG on their way to a 2-1 win over Valencia.

Quote of the day

“I will not lie, people know I’m a footballer and I had to seize the moment with Zenit’s financial offer. 

It will surprise no one to learn that Brazil forward Hulk moved to Zenit St Petersburg for the money.

Football against the enemy

Despite the country being in the midst of a two-year civil war, a new football season has kicked off in Syria.

Two thousand spectators, mostly people displaced by the conflict, turned up at a stadium in Damascus to watch A -Wathba from Homs play Al Jazeera of Al Hasakah.

The central Syrian city of Homs is known by the rebels as the ‘capital of the revolution’ while there is fighting going on in Al-Hasakah in the north-east of the country, largely populated by Kurds.

Al Wathba won the game 1-0.

Two other matches took place in Damascus which, will host the league championship because of the impact of the conflict on other parts of the country.

The 60 best footballers are playing outside the country and the Al-Foutoua team has withdrawn from the championship because of ‘the difficult conditions in the town of Deir ez-Zor’, a city in the east of Syria, and also due to the transfer of most of their players to other teams.

There are also doubts over whether two other teams, Al Ittihad and Hurriya, will compete as they are based in Aleppo, a city divided between rebels and troops loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.

Going to see a man about a dog

Bayern Munich forward Franck Ribery has been involved in a bizarre confrontation with a member of the public at the club’s training session.

The man in question approached the club’s training headquarters claiming to be a friend of the Frenchman before becoming embroiled in a heated argument with Ribery when asked why he was there.

Police have confirmed that they were called to an incident involving an intruder at the training base, but that the issue was resolved.

“We had to attend an incident at Sabener Strasser,” police spokeswoman Alexandra Schmeitz told TZ. “Because of a suspect who was located there. We went there and sorted everything out.”

Prior to the training session, Ribery had instructed security that his brother and cousin would be visiting him, which resulted in the fan being mistakenly allowed to enter after he claimed in French that he knew the 29-year-old.

It is believed that the man in question visited the training ground two weeks ago with a dog, claiming that he had come to give it to Ribery. The player himself denied any knowledge of the man’s claims, and the animal was taken to a shelter. 

Curiouser and curiouser.

Finally…

Jose Mourinho has confirmed that his next move after leaving Real Madrid will be to return to the Premier League.

Regarded for some months now as a dead man walking at the Bernabeu, Mourinho has been linked to United, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Asked when he expected to return to England, the former Chelsea boss said: “After Real. I love everything [about the Premier League].

“Normally it will be my next step.”

Mourinho has also been linked with Paris St-Germain – but made it clear he sees his immediate future back in England.

But asked if he would replace Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, Mourinho said: “I don’t believe so. I think we have to end our career at the same time. [Ferguson] at 90 and me at 70.”

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