On the move?

Cristiano Ronaldo has come close to disclosing football’s worst kept secret, by intimating that Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho might not be at the club next season.

Ronaldo told AS: “I don’t know. I think he will continue until the end of the season at least, because he’s a coach who always wants to win and we have several challenges ahead which we can achieve.

“After that he will decide what’s best for him, for his professional group and for the club. But I don’t know what either he or the club thinks and therefore I prefer not to talk about this subject.”

Ronaldo was also keen to move on following reports of a row between him and Mourinho last month, adding: “It’s a very personal issue, it’s sorted and everything’s fine. Things that happen in the dressing room stay in the dressing room.”

Open to interpretation

Mexico captain Francisco ‘Maza’ Rodriguez has tried to explain to a sceptical media how it was that he appeared to raise his middle finger to the press.

Mexico were booed off the Azteca pitch by their own fans following the dismal 0-0 draw against Jamaica. It was the first time Jamaica has secured a point on Mexican soil and the first time El Tri had not won at home in 15 matches.

The reaction from the assembled press corps was predictably savage, but Rodriguez claims this had nothing to do with his gesture.

“I have an injured finger,” Rodriguez told Televisa Deportes. “It was not intentional. We have a yellow press in Mexico, and they’ll do whatever they can to sell newspapers.”

The Club America defender was clearly in a lot of pain as he refused to speak to the press in the mixed zone after the match.

Odds on

There were mixed emotions for Burkina Faso coach Paul Put after his team advanced to the Africa Cup of Nations final.

The Stallions emerged victorious on a dramatic night in the Mbombela Stadium on Wednesday night, winning the penalty shoot-out 3-2, after the match had ended 1-1 after 120 minutes.

On the one hand, Put has guided west African nation to their first ever final; on the other, he had a large wager on Ghana to win the shootout. No, of course he didn’t. The Belgian, who was quizzed on the eve of the match about his three-year ban for match fixing, was left disgusted by the referee’s performance and in particular, the decision to dismiss Jonathan Pitroipa for diving.

“In the beginning we should not have qualified, but now we are in the final. I’m very happy with this victory and very happy that we made it to the final,” Put said.

Tunisian referee Slim Jedidi had made several controversial decisions, with most of them appearing to go against Burkina Faso.

These included a very soft penalty for Ghana, the dismissal of a penalty claim by Burkina Faso, a disallowed goal, and Pitroipa’s dismissal.

“I think the best player of the day was the referee,” said Put.

“He was at a very great level. I was feeling ashamed; it was very clear that Burkina Faso would not be allowed to reach the final. The second yellow card of Pitroipa was ridiculous. It was a scandalous decision. The performance of the referee was nowhere near the level of the game.”

“I told the players at halftime that we didn’t need the referee to win and pass to the final.”

Indeed, the Tunisian referee, Slim Jdidi, has been banned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after his erratic performance.

“CAF was not happy with the standard of refereeing in the match,” general secretary Hicham El Amrani told a media briefing on Thursday.

“We know they can make mistakes but we expected a better level of refereeing. They are graded on each performance and based on his marks the referee from Tunisia is now suspended for a period of time still to be determined.”

Here’s the red card decision, and it really does look like the defender got nothing of the ball and an awful lot of Pitroipa.

Goal of the day

The goal of the day from arguably the result of the day, was Honduras’ Juan Carlos Garcia in the  2-1 victory over the United States.

Save of the day

This is one way of stopping Lionel Messi. Sweden’s Andreas Isaksson achieves the improbable.

Quote of the day

“I wouldn’t pay the £40-50 million there [sic] asking for Neymar. Not a chance. This Neymar fella is massively overrated. Not in the same street as Messi or Ronaldo.”

Joey Barton writes off Neymar on the back of his underwhelming performance against England. Joey Who? is reported to have been Neymar’s response.

Doing his bit

Footballers receive a lot of stick when they misbehave, so it’s nice to give credit to one who portrays his profession in a positive light.

Step forward Liverpool centre-back Daniel Agger, who has refused a payment due to him out of respect for his former club Brondby.

The 28-year-old Denmark captain is one of many current and former players and staff of the Danish Superliga club owed a nominal fee after the club were unable to pay bonuses and pensions since 2004.

Agger told Liverpool’s official website: “I am not going to claim any money from the club.

“The club is in trouble and needs help. And I want to help. I hope a lot of other people are interested in helping too.”

Brondby were formed in 1964 and are the second-most successful club in Denmark with 10 league titles and nine Danish Cups to their name, those triumphs seem a long way off now as the club battles for its survival.

Agger believes they still hold an important place in Danish football though, adding: “Brondby are an important club, not just in football, but also for a lot of people in the local community.

“It is a huge organisation with a huge network. You can tell by the amount of people showing up to the games.

“I hope a lot of players will review their decision to claim the money. It won’t be good for anyone if Brondby are not to be found in the top Danish division.”

Too little too late

Didier Drogba has dismissed claims made by his former club, Shanghai Shenhua, that he is still under contract to them.

“There is no issue,” said Drogba in an interview with Turkish newspaper, Milliyet.

“I signed for Galatasaray and will play for my new club.

“My former club deposited $33,000 into my bank account after I had terminated my contract but by that time it was too late.”

It’s unclear whether this was all the money owed to Drogba or just a token payment designed to placate the Ivorian. Either way, he has now set his sights on emulating last season’s Champions League success with his new club. To be honest, if Galatasaray enjoy as much luck in this season’s competition as Chelsea did last year, then it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion.

“I’m coming to Galatasaray to win the Champions League. Galatasaray are a great club. Not only in Turkey, but in Europe too,” he said.

“I’ve missed playing football, I’m not coming to Istanbul for a holiday, I’m joining a club with big ambitions and that excites me.”

Drogba has been registered as a member of the Galatasaray squad on the official UEFA website.

Dope denial

Milan have strongly denied having contact with disgraced Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, who has admitted his client list of drug taking athletes at his Madrid clinic included footballers.

Spanish newspaper El Pais claimed that the word “Milan” found on one of Fuentes’s contaminated blood bags, could have been a codename he used, but the club have rubbished such a statement.

The club said: “AC Milan have never had any direct or indirect contact of any nature with Dr Eufemiano Fuentes. Any references to the activities of Dr Fuentes in relation to Milan are therefore the result of false interpretations or a mistake.

“Milan reserve the right to take legal action against anyone who claims anything to the contrary.”

Fuentes was giving evidence in the Operation Puerto trial taking place in Madrid but has not yet revealed what the codenames found on his 200 blood bags stand for.

So far, only cyclists have been named but El Pais went on to claim that three customers featured under the names “RSOC”, “Alfredo” and “Milan.”

It has been suggested that RSOC stands for Spanish side Real Sociedad and former club president, Inaki Badiola, admitted on Monday to sacking two doctors when an investigation discovered players at the club had been involved in doping for six years.

Beck to the future

At least two people are convinced that David Beckham can do a job for Paris Saint-Germain. One of those is PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti, and the other is of course Beckham himself.

“It’s true that he’s 37 but he’s still a player,” said the Italian.

“I remember a certain player who won the Champions League at 39 and his name is Paolo Maldini.

“Becks is 37 but still has the motivation and the physical condition. Beckham’s not had many injuries in his career and he’s one of the most professional players that I’ve ever known.”

To be fair to Ancelotti what else can he say about a signing foisted on him from above?

Beckham said he is now determined to prove he can still contribute on the pitch.

“I might be able to create good things that happen off the field but on the field is where I want to be successful. I want to be a champion and I want to win trophies,” he told TalkSport.

“That’s been my mentality all the way through my career. Your motivation never changes, once you have that motivation in you it continues throughout your whole life.

“Players like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes at Manchester United, they don’t play every game but when they do play they are big influences in the game. So I am looking to do that to continue to be successful.”

He certainly talks a good game does Beckham, but are we to believe that a man who, six years ago, abandoned top flight European football for the ‘challenge’ of MLS, really shares the same motivations as the likes of Giggs and Scholes?

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