Cole in trouble

To no one’s great surprise, Ashley Cole has been charged by the Football Association (FA) over his abusive Twitter rant against the governing body.

The England international called the FA a “bunch of twats” on Friday after the FA questioned the evidence he gave in defending teammate, John Terry, against a racism charge.

The charge by his country comes two days after confirmation by the Chelsea manager, Roberto Di Matteo, that Cole would be punished by his club.

“We’ve got a social media policy at the club and there’s going to be a disciplinary process – action – against the tweet and that’s how I’ll leave it,” the Italian said.

“The image of the club is very important to us of course. We have rules, and anybody who breaks the rules faces disciplinary action against them. We strive to have high standards and hopefully, going forward, we can be better at showing those.”

Freedom of expression or storm in a tea cup? I’m inclined to side with journalist Daniel Harris, who joked on Twitter last week: “This fuss over Ashley Cole is a bit much, it’s not as though he shot anyone.”

Swede is a vegetable

A broadcaster in Sweden has been banned from the press box at AIK Stockholm after he was heard referring to black players as “darkies” in a radio commentary booth.

Bo Hansson, unaware he was being broadcast, was watching AIK’s match against Gefle from the Sveriges Radio commentary position. During the commentary on the game, listeners heard a voice – later identified as Hansson’s – make several references to “darkies”.

“Bo Hansson is no longer allowed into the press box this season, what he has done is contrary to our values – we have zero tolerance for racism,” AIK managing director Thomas Edselius told newspaper Sportbladet.

Jacob Sillen, head of sport at Sveriges Radio, said in a statement: “Such comments can and should never be allowed in our broadcasts. It is deeply regrettable.”

Hansson told Sportbladet: “I was talking to myself in my corner. It was never intended to be broadcast. I had no idea.”

Oh well, that’s alright then. Doubtless there’s a job waiting for him at Chelsea TV.

Goals of the day

Nigh on impossible to separate two backheeled goals from the weekend. Both were brilliant pieces of improvisation.

Firstly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s first in PSG’s 2-2 draw with Marseille.

Then there was an audacious effort from Junior Martinez in Porto’s 2-0 win over Sporting.

Quote of the day

“Madrid is a gentlemanly club and penalties not signalled cannot be talked about. This is the philosophy of the club and I must adapt to it, although I like the truth. Delgado is a good referee, but at a deciding moment of the game he made a big mistake. That can happen to anyone.”

Joe Mourinho reminds assembled journalists that Real Madrid managers don’t criticise referees, before going on to criticise the referee.

One foot in the grave

Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson has lambasted Brendan Rodgers’ involvement in Being: Liverpool, the television documentary currently being aired across the United Kingdom and the United States, insisting that legendary Reds manager Bill Shankly “would be turning in his grave”.

Being: Liverpool follows the club on their preseason tour of North America in the build-up to the 2012-13 Premier League season.

 Although intended to portray the club in a positive light, the finished product does Liverpool few favours and ultimately resembles a Spinal Tap-style spoofIndeed, if Spinal Tap could be described as a rocumentary, then Being Liverpool should be regarded as a socumentary.

Lawrenson, who now earns a living looking bored and uninterested on the Match of the Day sofa while regaling viewers with a seemingly endless supply of tired gags, believes the documentary is making Rodgers look a fool and the club a laughing stock.

“What on earth is Brendan Rodgers doing in this program Being: Liverpool? I’m sorry, I just think this show comes across as American schmalz,” Lawrenson writes in his column for the Daily Mirror.

“It’s totally ill-advised and some of the stuff that I have seen so far in the first three episodes is cringe worthy.

“I think everybody shares that point of view. The problem is, once you get American owners intent on doing it and intent on getting everyone involved it’s extremely difficult.

“Well, at the moment the club isn’t doing particularly well. The soundbites are great but it’s plain for everyone to see that there is a lot wrong.”

Lawrenson suggested that a venerated trio of former managers would be turning in their graves if shown the footage.

“One other thing. The show I saw on Saturday ended up with Ian Ayre, the chief executive, jumping on his Harley Davison and riding through the city,” Lawrenson wrote.

“Come on!! Shankly would be turning in his grave. So would Paisley and Fagan and all of those Liverpool legends.”

Sadly, for the Liverpool owners, the programme is competing for attention with a runaway internet sensation that portrays the club in a less-than-flattering light.

It truly is the gif that keeps on giving.

In demand

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo remains “calm” about the future of in-form striker Radamel Falcao despite Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini’s attendance at the Vicente Calderon on Sunday.

Atletico’s chief was aware of Mancini’s visit, but is confident Atletico can persuade the Colombian to shun the attention of City.

“We know that Mancini has come to watch the game but we are calm with the topic of Falcao,” Cerezo told Cadena Ser before later joking to Canal +: ”I guess Mancini came here to search for a home in Malaga.”

He’d certainly have plenty of empty properties to choose from.

Chelsea are also said to be keen on the striker after his starring role in this season’s European Super Cup, with the player’s own father talking up a possible move to Stamford Bridge recently.

“Falcao has always wanted to play in the Premier League. “Ever since he was a boy he has loved Chelsea and has always thought it would be an honour to play for a big Premier League team.”

Yes, it transpires that Falcao grew up with posters of Kerry Dixon and Dennis Wise adorning his bedroom walls.

Happy families again

Zenit St Petersburg manager Luciano Spalletti believes that members of the warring clans that comprise the Russian champions have patched up their differences.

Zenit have been riven by internal feuds over the salaries paid to big-money signings Hulk and Axel Witsel that led to Russian national captain Igor Denisov being dropped.

But on Sunday, they ended a six-match run without a win by beating FC Krasnodar 2-0 at home.

“Both the result and our team’s performance showed me that we’re moving in the right direction,” said Spalletti afterwards.

The Italian coach defended the arrival of new players, saying they were signed to help further the club’s domestic and European ambitions.

“Zenit is a club that wants to grow up day by day. And the club owners have the right to choose the players and coaches who can help the club to grow,” he added.

”We (Zenit) purchased two skilled players who can seriously boost our performance. And anyone who thinks that their arrival has spoiled the chemistry in our dressing room is just putting the brakes on the club’s yearning for further development.”

Spalletti said that he was hoping that Denisov’s rebellion over the high salaries being earned by Hulk and Witsel would soon be settled and the demoted midfielder would return to the team’s first line-up.

“We’ve always seriously counted on Denisov and have never put the importance of his role in the team in doubt,” Spalletti said.

“Denisov has played in almost every Zenit match before he initiated that conflict with the club. He has started this case and, I believe, he is the person who should settle it. Everything depends on him only.”

Difficult to please

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, scorer of both goals in Paris-Saint Germain’s 2-2 draw with Marseille on Sunday, still has work to do if he is to impress coach Carlo Ancelotti.

“I was not impressed by his performance, because I know Zlatan very well. He’s a great goalscorer and a very complete player,” Ancelotti was quoted as saying by RMC.

“Zlatan was excellent from set-pieces but there were also chances for [Javier] Pastore and [Kevin] Gameiro.

“Ibra is used well in our side. He’s scoring and that’s good for us. People say he’s tired? Maybe. I think that at even 80 per cent he is good enough to play.

“He has a lot of qualities and has a nice character as well. He’s very useful for the team.”

That’s 9 goals in 7 league appearances for Ibrahimovic since he moved to Paris in the summer.

Keeping his options open

Ibrahimovic might not have endeared himself to Ancelotti but he remains a big draw for his fellow professionals, with Brazilian wonderkid Neymar admitting he would love to play alongside the Swede.

Barcelona remain favourites for the 20-year-old’s signature, and there have been rumours that there is already an agreement in place for a move to the Camp Nou.

However, the Santos forward was recently quoted as saying that there are “maybe five clubs” in the world that he would consider joining and it appears PSG may be among that list.

“Paris is a beautiful city,” he told Telefoot. Asked whether he could one day join PSG, he said: “Maybe. It would be a great honour, but I am very happy at Santos.

“Ibrahimovic is one of the best players in the world today and I dream to play with major players.”

Santos president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro recently said that there is no agreement with Barca and he has admitted he would encourage the player to move to the Ligue 1 side.

“If Neymar comes to me and asks for advice on PSG, I would definitely recommend going there,” he said.

Value for money

On Friday we brought you details of the the highest paid players in MLS, and conspicuous by his absence was San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski.

On Saturday, Wondolowski hit his second hat trick of the season to give him 25 goals for the campaign – just two fewer than the regular-season record set by Roy Lassiter in MLS’s inaugural 1996 MLS season.

For his efforts, Wondolowski will earn in the region of $300,000 this season, some $5 million or so less than the league’s best paid player, Thierry Henry.

Wondolowski is obviously paying the price for still being in the prime of his career.

2012 MLS Leading Scorers
Player Team (country) Goals Assists
Chris Wondolowski San Jose (USA) 25 8
Alvaro Saborio Real Salt Lake (Costa Rica) 17 3
Kenny Cooper New York (USA) 16 3
Robbie Keane Los Angeles (Ireland) 15 8
Thierry Henry New York (France) 14 12
Eddie Johnson Seattle (USA) 14 2
Alan Gordon San Jose (USA) 13 8
Freddy Montero Seattle (Colombia) 13 6
Will Bruin Houston (USA) 12 4
Chris Pontius D.C. United (USA) 12 4
Kei Kamara Kansas City (Sierra Leone) 11 6
Saer Sene New England (France) 11 3

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