There will be blood
Sir Alex Ferguson described Manchester United’s 6-1 thrashing by rivals City as his “worst ever day” at the club and promised: “There will be a response.”
Ferguson, who will soon celebrate 25 years in charge of United, won’t want to be reminded when he reaches that milestone that not only was this United’s heaviest defeat to their local rivals, it was also their biggest home defeat since 1930.
Ferguson said: “It’s the worst result in my history. The impact will come from the embarrassment of the defeat.”
The significance of the result in terms of the rest of the season is difficult to gauge. City boss Roberto Mancini was certainly not getting carried away by the scoreline, nor by the bookmakers who have now installed his side as favourites to win the Premier League.
Mancini said: “United are still one yard above us and we can only change this if we win the title. After that it might be different but until then United are better than us.”
Give his pre-match antics it was hardly surprising that the performance of Mario Balotelli was singled out for attention by Mancini.
The day before the game the striker escaped unhurt when a firework set fire to his house. Nothing too unusual about holding a fireworks party at this time of year, although the choice of venue, Balotelli’s bathroom, was somewhat unorthodox.
Far from being affected by the incident Balotelli scored the opening two goals on Sunday, prompting the City boss to eulogise about his potential.
He said: “I hope for him, and for football in general, that the day will arrive when Mario changes his mind completely because after this he will become one of the best three players in the world like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
“The supporters like Mario because he is crazy. I love him as a guy. I don’t know what has happened [over the fireworks]. The only important thing is that Mario and his friend were OK.”
When he arrived in England Balotelli enjoyed a reputation as Italian football’s enfant terrible, but the longer he stays the more he resembles Private Pike’s character in Dads Army. Not so much a bad boy, as a stupid boy!
Goal of the day
Adam Moffat scored from 38 yards top help the Houston Dynamo beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-1 Sunday to secure a spot in the MLS Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Freak goal of the day
Scottish Junior side Auchinleck Talbot, who play in the SJFA West Super League Premier Division, scored scored a ridiculous long range effort courtesy of goalkeeper Andy Leishman.
Harry Kewell may not be setting the Hyundai A-League alight with his form on the pitch, but his return to Australia appears to have galvanised the sport in his homeland.
The Week 3 total attendance of 87,508 is the highest single round in A-League history. Kewell’s club, Melbourne Victory, were largely responsible for that figure, bringing in more than 40,000 for the encounter with Melbourne Heart. In fact, Victory average 40,130 this season, a huge increase on the 15,234 who came through the turnstiles a year ago.
“The great numbers reflect the huge interest in the new Hyundai A-League season and I congratulate everyone involved in the competition, especially the fans who create such a wonderful atmosphere and make the game what it is,” said Head of Hyundai A-League Lyall Gorman.
Keeping it in the family
A day of mixed emotions for the Boateng family on Sunday. While Kevin ‘Prince’ was scoring a superb 15-minute hat-trick in Milan’s 4-3 win at Lecce, half-brother Jerome was being shown the red card during Bayern munich’s 2-1 defeat to Hannover.
Somewhat improbably Milan came back from a 3-0 half-time deficit in a game that Boateng had begun on the bench. Allegedly, he was not fully fit, although Gazzetta dello Sport claim: “Milan’s ‘Boa’ has been allowing himself a few good nights in the city.”
Meanwhile, Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes claimed Jerome’s dismissal was unwarranted. He told Sky television: ”It (the red card) was unfair. Both of them should have been given yellow and not one red and one yellow.
”Two different degrees of punishment were used. The referee, since he could not see it himself, allowed the fourth official, with whom we had already been arguing, to convince him. It was a revenge action. He was the protagonist today.”
In England, Chelsea’s Andre Villas-Boas was also eager to blame the match officials for his team’s 1-0 defeat at Queens Park Rangers. The Portuguese saw his side reduced to nine men, concede a penalty and then witness several appeals for a Chelsea spot-kick turned down. It was all too much for him.
The apple doesn’t drop too far from the tree and having learned his trade under Jose Mourinho it will come as no surprise to hear Villas-Boas bleating about the incompetence of officials and complaining about a conspiracy against his side.
“I’m not happy with the difference of treatment – I don’t think the same treatment was applied,” he said.
“Three of the games played by Chelsea were influenced by the referee, and this is not Premier League level.
“You have to trust human error, but it’s a big pattern for us. Things are not going our way.
“Conspiracy theories can lead to bans and lead to you calling us cry babies, and we’re not. But it keeps happening.”
Boys from Brazil
Brazil’s Under-20 side were knocked out of the Pan-American games last night with a 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica in Guadalajara. Ney Franco’s side return home without winning a match, despite fielding five players that won the Under 20 World Cup.
Brazil’s elimination was described as embarrassing, shameful and humiliating by the Brazilian press, and there have been calls for the manager to be sacked.
Brazil legend, Romário, who was in Mexico to commentate for a Brazilian TV Network, was particularly critical of the side’s efforts.
“This is a great shame,” said the 1994 World Cup winner. “This is a stain on the shirt of the Seleção.”
Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas has denied that he racially abused Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute in Saturday’s 0-0 La Liga draw at the Nou Camp and confirmed that the pair later settled their differences by telephone.
“I want to categorically deny that I made any kind of racist insult towards any Sevilla player,” the Spanish international wrote on his Twitter account.
Kanoute said he had been “provoked and insulted” during a row which erupted after Barca were awarded a penalty in second-half stoppage time.
Elsewhere, and not for the first time, John Terry has been forced to deny allegations that he made a racist remark against an opponent.
Footage was posted on the internet of an argument involving Terry and Anton Ferdinand, in which it is alleged that the England skipper racially abuses the QPR defender.
The evidence, it has to be said, is inconclusive, and Terry has been quick to defend himself.
“I’ve seen that there’s a lot of comments on the internet with regards to some video footage of me in today’s game,” he said.
“I’m disappointed that people have leapt to the wrong conclusions about the context of what I was seen to be saying to Anton Ferdinand. I thought Anton was accusing me of using a racist slur against him. I responded aggressively, saying that I never used that term.”
The decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar has been called into question by new FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger, with the German claiming some of his fellow members had been pressurised by their governments to vote for the bid.
”In my opinion the vote for Qatar was decided by some members of the executive committee who are in a very close relationship with their governments, who pushed the political case for Qatar,” he said.
”I think the choice of Qatar from a sporting perspective is still questionable because, due to the summer climate and the size of the country, a World Cup should not be held there.”