Twisting the knife

For all the trophies Sir Alex Ferguson has won at Manchester United, it’s probably fair to say that few will have given him as much pleasure as the sight of countless Liverpool managers coming and going and in the case of Kenny Dalglish, coming and going and coming back again, before going.

“Knocking them (Liverpool) off their perch”, he once admitted was the achievement he was most proud of, and he certainly knows which buttons to press when it comes to antagonising the Anfield club and their supporters.

On the subject of Dalglish, who left Liverpool in May, Ferguson has suggested his departure was connected to the (mis)handling of Luis Suarez, who was found guilty of racially abusing United defender Patrice Evra.

“I wasn’t surprised at Kenny leaving,” said Ferguson.

“Their owner John Henry has obviously looked at that [incident] and felt it wasn’t handled in the right way.”

“It certainly wasn’t a nice thing to happen and it must have been part of it.”

The feud between the Scots dates back to the time when Ferguson was the coach of the Scotland national team and Dalglish pulled out of his 1986 World Cup squad – allegedly in protest at Ferguson’s decision to omit his then-Liverpool team mate, Alan Hansen, from the squad.

Sadly, for those of us who like a bit of character-based drama in our Premier League pantomime, it looks like there will be scant opportunity in the future for this most enduring of feuds to be renewed. The ugly sisters are no more.

There’s a time and a place

Of all the hotels in all the world, you had to walk into this one. Or so it seemed when Andre Villas-Boas wandered into the hotel housing Brazil’s Olympic squad as they prepare for the London 2012 football tournament.

Villas Boas was photographed chatting to Porto’s Hulk shortly after the squad arrived in England. The encounter – chance or otherwise – did not go down well in the Brazil camp.

Porto defender Danilo said on his Facebook page, quoted by Samba Foot, ”I did not like seeing Villas-Boas at the national team’s hotel.

“This isn’t a market. It’s a workplace.”

Between a rock and a hard place

The Spanish press are enjoying the Luka Modric saga, reporting that the unhappy midfielder is agitating for a move away from Tottenham to Real Madrid.

AS carry as their main headline today that Luka Modric refused to train with the rest of the Spurs team. They say he is angry with the club for not releasing him to join Real Madrid.

The newspaper claims they were told from sources close to the player that Modric said “I want to go to Madrid. There is no turning back. Now I’m not ready psychologically to train.”

A similar scenario occurred last summer when Chelsea tried to prise the Croat away from their London rivals. That time Spurs prevailed in the battle of wills. This time, who knows.

Meanwhile, just a day after Tottenham announced that Modric would not be leaving the club for less than £35 million, Real Madrid have retaliated by saying they are unwilling to pay more than £27.3 million for the 26-year old.

“Luka is an intelligent person and understands the club has to defend his value their values, rights and interests,” manager Andre Villlas-Boas said on Thursday. “But the offer [£35 million] has not been met to what the chairman wants. If that is met there won’t be any problems.

Real supremo Florentino Perez has declared that the Spanish outfit will not heed to the demands of Tottenham, and has announced the club’s final price for Modric.

Perez said: “The limit for the Modric deal is 35 million euros [£27.3 million]. We will not pay any more than that for him.”

It’s my club and you’ll stay if I want you to

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has warned Edinson Cavani that he will be left to “rot on the bench” if the forward makes exorbitant wage demands to stay at the club.

The Uruguay international has attracted a number of interested admirers after a couple of prolific seasons at San Paolo. He is reported to be seeking a pay rise to stay at Napoli, but De Laurentiis insisted that he has no intention of being held to ransom.

“I will let him rot on the bench if he asks for €7-8 million in wages,” the Partenopei supremo told TuttoNapoli.net.

De Laurentiis also insisted that Marek Hamsik is going nowhere, and hit out at the attacker’s agent, Mino Raiola, for allegedly trying to unsettle his client.

“For years, he has been trying to take Hamsik away, but the Slovak is like iron and will not move from here,” De Laurentiis said.

He’s got a good line in banter has De Laurentiis. Earlier this year, when told about English clubs wanting to buy Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi, he warned the players about what awaits them if they wrong.

“If they want to go to England then in the end they’re going to go,” he said, “but they need to understand this: the English live badly, eat badly and their women do not wash their genitalia. To them, a bidet is a mystery.”

Quote of the day

“If I had money, lots of money, I would not have taken the ‘pony tail’. I would have taken Cristiano Ronaldo or someone like that. I don’t know whether he will struggle in Ligue 1. He won’t have any problems if he is the great player that everybody says he is. He has never really impressed me, though. Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi, yes, but I’m not too sure about Ibrahimovic.”

Louis Nicollin, president of French champions, is not a big fan of Paris Saint-Germain’s new signing, Zlatan ‘the pony tail’ Ibrahimovic.

Real deal?

Sometimes you come across a story and have to double check the date to ensure that it’s not an April Fool. Today was one such occasion, as Real Madrid are reported to be considering changing the name of their Santiago Bernabeu as part of a sponsorship agreement with Emirates.

According to ABC, Madrid will not contemplate the idea of removing the name of their former club president from the stadium. However, they are not against it being preceded by a corporate sponsor.

 I suppose we should be thankful for small mercies.

Consequently, Emirates, which recently agreed a five-year shirt sponsorship deal with Madrid, is now offering an additional €53 million per season to change the name to ‘Fly-Emirates-Bernabeu’.

 Actually, on reading that abomination, there’s really not much to be thankful for at all.

Clearing his name

Mohamed Bin Hammam insists he has no interest in launching another challenge for the FIFA presidency and that he will quit football after he has cleared his name. He could be in for a long wait.

World football was thrown into disarray yesterday after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned his lifetime ban. The Qatari was not exactly exonerated but the court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support the lifetime ban.

He told BBC World Service: “I promise you I will not quit until I clear my name.

“I have one aim, one mission, one target and that is to clear my name and then I say goodbye.”

“The truth has been established after this long procedure and my conscience is clear,” he told AFP. “It’s not revenge for me (against FIFA), it’s about showing equanimity from my point of view (towards FIFA).”

Bin Hammam was found guilt last year of paying bribes to Caribbean Football Union officials at a meeting in Trinidad last year while campaigning against Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency.

“I always said that I was innocent during the process,” added Bin Hammam.

“I was sure that when the affair went before an independent body, the truth would come out, and that’s what’s happened.

“I’m very happy because I’ve been able to prove that all the allegations against me were false and were intended to tarnish my reputation.

“I’m even more happy because my colleagues from CONCACAF (the confederation that includes the CFU), who were at my side, see their honour restored after their names were dragged through the mud due to these unfounded accusations,” Bin Hammam said.

“They have also been victims of a great injustice but the CAS decision has cleaned their honour.

Well, hang on a second. No one has denied that the money was brought to the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) meeting in Trinidad and Tobago in May 2011. The source of the money is disputed and the CAS panel concluded it was “more likely than not that Mr Bin Hammam was the source of the monies that were brought into Trinidad and Tobago”.

Hardly a resounding vote of confidence in either bin Hammam or the CONCACAF federation.

Three bids in for RVP

Arsenal have received bids for captain Robin van Persie from Manchester City, Manchester United and Juventus.

The 28-year-old striker was omitted from the Gunners squad that travels to Asia on Saturday for a three-match pre-season tour as he contemplates his next move.

It is understood City, United and Juve have tabled offers in the region of £15m, but Arsenal are keen to hold out for a fee of £25-30m. Undoubtedly a compromise will be reached and Van Persie will be on his way.

There’s still the possibility that Arsenal will refuse to sell the striker. It’s a calculated, high risk strategy, based on the club reasoning that the striker will have less chance of being awarded a lucrative, four-year contract next year, because of his age – he turns 30 in 13 months – and history of long term injuries.

Unhappy to leave

Thiago Silva has expressed his sadness at leaving Milan for PSG, claiming he never wanted to leave the Serie A club.

The sales of the Brazilian and Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will have brought Milan a windfall estimated to be £51 million, but for Thiago Silva, who had only just signed a new deal with the Italian outfit, it brought mixed emotions.

“I was happy with the transfer and sad about my exit from Milan because I experienced some strong emotions there,” he said.

“This is football: one day you are here, the next day you are somewhere else. I had signed a new deal with them a week before.?

“People call me a mercenary, which leaves me upset. I am not making more money at PSG. This is not my fault, I would like to apologise to the fans.

“This was a difficult situation for me: I did not want to leave Milan, and neither did my family. But it was a positive thing because [PSG sporting director] Leonardo and [manager] Carlo Ancelotti called me.?

“When I joined Milan, it had also been Leonardo to call me. I really like him. PSG are a dream club, like Ibrahimovic said.”

Still, at least he will feel at home in his new surroundings. Paris Saint-Germain’s primary language in the dressing room is Italian, midfielder Thiago Motta has revealed.

“There are many Brazilians, but there is a curious thing about the club and players”, Motta told Globoesporte.

“Indeed, the most used language is Italian”, he added.

“Many players have played in Serie A and the coach is Italian; the language is Italian, it is not French.”

Kewell running out of time

Harry Kewell has sent out what the British tabloids like to call a ‘come and get me’ plea to clubs in Britain after quitting Melbourne Victory in Australia to return to England.

After a less-than spectacular season back in Australia, the former Leeds United and Liverpool winger, 33, returned to the UK because the mother of his wife Sheree is ill.

But he has yet to find a club despite being linked with many.

“I’ve got some positive feedback but, the way it stands, I’ve got to be patient,” Kewell said.

“At the moment we are talking and we just have to sort out a few things but I’m open to a lot of suggestions at the moment. Everyone is in pre-season now and you do want to be part of that.”

The deafening silence of English clubs speaks volumes. If Kewell is issuing a ‘come and get me’ plea, then the clubs are issuing a ‘we don’t want you’ response.

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