Back from the dead

All hail the Tottenham medical staff who have worked wonders on Gareth Bale. The Welsh winger was forced to withdraw from the Great Britain Olympic squad though injury, but after what can only be described as a recovery Lazarus would have been proud of, he was able to take part in the opening game of Spurs’ pre-season tour of the United States. Just to rub salt into Stuart Pearce’s wounds, he even popped up to score the opening goal in the 1-1 draw against LA Galaxy.

Manager André Villas-Boas defended the decision of Bale to withdraw from the Great Britain squad, claiming he had made unexpectedly swift progress in recent days.

“He came back to us during this week, so [we had to] control the amount of effort he could put in,” Villas-Boas said. “Gareth is extremely young [23] and physically a beast, so he was able to put on the effort, and we extended [his time] because we want him to complete a certain amount of minutes before we start the season.”

This may not be the last we hear of the Bale situation, with FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, warning that he could be banned for the duration of the Olympics.

Asked about Bale, Blatter told the Press Association: “The principle is that if a club does not release a player then this association can come to FIFA and we will then ban this player during the duration of the Olympics.”

As threats go that one is particularly hollow: Tottenham have no competitive matches for the duration of the Olympics.

Anyway, here’s a sprightly-looking Bale leaping to head home the opening goal.

Missing in action

Sticking with the Olympic theme and the news that three clubs, two French and one Gabonese, have refused to release players to compete for Gabon at London 2012.

The players in question are goalkeeper Didier Ovono from Le Mans and defenders Bruno Ecuele from Lorient and Remy Ebanega from Gabon club US Bitam.

In 2008 the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that clubs were not obliged to release players, though earlier this year a FIFA mandate said it was compulsory for under-23 players to be made available for the Olympics which.

The ruling stunned many clubs who argued that the Olympics had never been part of the international calendar. Some have decided not to play ball, which is unfortunate for Gabon, who are competing at their first ever Olympic tournament.

A FIFA spokesman said: “The national federation [of Gabon] are trying to come to an agreement with the clubs.

“We are aware of the situation and are maintaining a watching brief.”

Gabon play their opening match against Switzerland at St James’ Park, Newcastle, on Thursday, with further fixtures against Mexico and South Korea to follow.

A friend in need…

Harry Redknapp has revealed that he will attempt to help save his former club Portsmouth from being shut down.

Good old Harry! Cometh the hour cometh the man and all that. Say what you like about him, but at least he’s prepared to put his money where his mouth is – especially if his mouth happens to be inside a Monaco bank account named after his dog.

How much is he giving the impoverished club? What? Nothing at all. He’s merely prepared to phone up one of the Portsmouth players and ask him to drop his claim for unpaid money. Oh well, I’m sure for that, the grateful Pompey fans will forgive him the years of overspending that kickstarted the club’s descent into penury.

The former Spurs boss, who spent 5 years at Fratton Park and whose heavy spending is believed by many Pompey fans to be at the root of the club’s present predicament, has offered to step in and mediate between the administrator and players.

Several players, including Redknapp signing Kanu, have lodged claims for unpaid wages which according to the administrator, Trevor Birch, would mark the end of the club. In Kanu’s case, the amount owed is £3million.

Redknapp told ESPN: “I will be ringing Kanu today to see if there is anything I can do. I signed him for Portsmouth on a one-year contract and Tony Adams told me: ‘You must be mad, he is finished’. Six years later, he is still there.”

Goal of the day

Arsenal were stunned into action by this venomous long-range strike by Malaysia’s Mohamad Azmi Muslim.

The king is dead, long live the king

To complete a trio of goals, here’s Barcelona’s first goal under new coach Tito Vilanova. Fittingly, the first goal of the post-Guardiola era was scored by Dani Alves, the man who only yesterday, had to be reassured by the new incumbent that he was still wanted by Barcelona.

Messi business

That match incidentally is the source of some controversy. Hamburg had been assured that Lionel Messi would appear in what was essentially a second string Barca selection.

With the club’s contingent of Spain players allowed an extended break after their Euro 2012 exertions, Messi’s was the headline name used to sell the tickets to an eager Hamburg public. Unfortunately, the Argentinian picked up a calf injury on the eve of the match and much to the consternation of Hamburg, was forced to sit out the game.

As the match was already a 57,000 sell out, the absence of Messi turned out to be something of a blessing for Hamburg. There was a clause in the contract which meant the German club would pay Barca €800,000 for their appearance if Messi didn’t play, but €1.2m if he did. Despite this little windfall, there’s still talk of legal action being taken.

Meanwhile, the source of Messi’s injury has already prompted a fair amount of speculation in Spain.

El Confidencial suggests that Messi was the victim of a tackle from Barcelona B player Marc Barta. It’s claimed that Messi reacted furiously to the situation and shouted at the young player.

Moments later in a bid to exact revenge, he made a rash tackle on Barta. A challenge, according to El Confidencial, which caused his injury, and ultimately cost Barcelona €400,000.

Legal action

The whole point of embarking upon long distance overseas pre-season tours is to increase the profile of the visiting club in the faraway land and to bring in some revenue courtesy of the appearance fees clubs receive as compensation for flying halfway across the world.

For two European clubs though, Engand’s Everton and Turkey’s Galatasaray, it appears that they will be the ones footing the bill after both withdrew from an overseas tournament.

The organisers behind Indonesia’s Java Cup said they will sue after the pair opted not to fulfil their fixtures.

Everton said on Tuesday they were forced to abandon plans to play the pre-season tournament, stating “unresolved issues mean that the risk of travelling was too great.”

Their withdrawal came a day after Galatasary’s, forcing the inaugural Java Cup, which was scheduled for July 26-29, to be postponed indefinitely.

“(The) consequences of the cancellation for Everton is {they) pay back all the damages,” Patrick Mbyaya, a lawyer representing the tournament, said.

“We will also contact the England Football Association to give disciplinary (sanctions) to Everton. If they refuse to pay back, we’ll take this to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (in Switzerland),” he said.

The lawyer said the same applied to Galatasaray.

Widjajanto, chief executive of The Liga Prima Indonesia Sportindo (LPIS) which organised the event, said: “This withdrawals are very odd and we really regreted their decision…the investors clearly suffered a big loss of money.”

The organiser showed reporters a letter dated July 25 from the English Premier League’s chairman David Richards notifying the hosts that Everton would not attend the event.

The letter said: “Both Everton and the Barclays Premier League deeply regret that their involvement in the competition in Jakarta will not be possible.

“The club’s decision to stay here in the UK was not meant to show any disrespect to neither your country, the Indonesian Football Association nor any of the other stakeholders involved in the competition,” Richards said.

Quote of the day

“Which club would not want a player like him? He is an outstanding footballer and had a great tournament (Euro 2012). It is clear that he would fit in Madrid.”

Amid reports that Paris Saint-Germain are interested in signing Luka Modric, Real Madrid assistant coach, Aitor Karanka, reminds the Croatian midfielder that he remains in their thoughts.

Hanging up his boots

Italy striker Filippo Inzaghi has announced his retirement, but confirmed that he will stay on at Milan as a member of their coaching staff.

Inzaghi, 38, retires as Milan’s greatest-ever goalscorer in European competition, with 43 goals, and holds the record for the most hat-tricks in Serie A, with ten.

Once dimissed by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson as being “born offside”, Inzaghi’s record shows, that like many great but underrated goalscorers, he had the uncanny habit of being in the right place at the right time.

He ends his career second on the all-time goalscoring charts in European competition with 70, bettered only by Raul’s 77, and in all he scored 126 times in 300 appearances for Milan.

He added 25 in 57 caps for Italy, who never lost a match in which Inzaghi scored.

“My time with Milan finished in the best possible way, with a goal in the final game, so it was all perfect,” Inzaghi told reporters.

“Now I begin another dream, which is to be a coach and hopefully win the Champions League.”

In the meantime, Inzaghi will work with young players, allowing them to tap into his vast reservoir of football knowledge. No official position has been mentioned, although Offside Coach would obviously be a suitable job title, as would Goalhanging Coach.

Tactical sophistication

St Johnstone’s veteran defender Callum Davidson has outlined the tactical masterplan that he believes can help the Saints to overcome Turkish outfit, Eskisehirspor, in the second leg of their Europa League qualifier.

Trailing 2-0 from the first leg and by all accounts lucky to get nil, the Scottish side will need to improve and Davidson believes he has stumbled upon a formula that could unsettle the visitors

”They played their own style and they were very patient,” he stated. ”They kept moving it and like Spain in the Euros if it meant looking back to square one to build again they were happy to do that.

”Their fans are accustomed to it, accept what they are trying to do and the climate probably dictates their style. But they can’t play the way we do in Scotland – going hell for leather for 90 minutes.”

That would be the ‘hell for leather’ style that has served Scottish football so well in recent years. Could this be the new innovation to sweep world football? We’ve thrilled to Total Football, gorged on tiki-taka, are we be poised to enter the age of ‘hell for leather’? After paying our respects to Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola, do we now worship at the altar of Tony Pulis?

Davidson believes we might be. He added: ”We have to go out and play our game this week, and see if they can handle it.”

Somehow, I suspect they can.

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