Brian GlanvilleArsene Wenger, and now Liverpool, surely had every right to object to the sleight of hand whereby Manchester City have colossally and legally got round the incipient, Platinum imposed limits on spending.

£400 million for re-naming the Eastlands stadium after the Abu Dhabi airline. Mere coincidence, of course, that the airline is owned by the Abu Dhabi royal family, of which the Croesus of City, Sheikh Mansour, just happens to be a member.

For me, City and Chelsea, with their available billions, have poisoned the well of senior English football. At Chelsea, Roman Abramovich calmly took over a £176 million debit, and even though he isn’t within the category of Mansour’s resources, Chelsea are far, far ahead of the rest of the Greed Is Good League pack.

I wonder, though, just how well they are going to do this season under the aegis of the precocious young 33-year-old Portuguese manager, Andre Villas-Boas.

He is now being somewhat spitefully criticised by the President of the club he inspired but has now left, Porto, for taking off; allegedly because he feared failure in the ensuing European Cup. That sounded like sour grapes to me, but the torrent of eulogy for Villas-Boas since he arrived at Stamford Bridge does appear to court anti-climax and some disappointment.

Yes, he is supremely thorough, carefully plotting his tactics on the basis of exhaustive reports on every opponent. Yes, in his in fluent English, he talks a wonderfully good game. And yet I do not envy him.

Can he do what poor Carlos Ancelotti so significantly failed to do, which is energise Fernando Torres, who looked a limp fish out of water again, even in the recent friendly at modest Portsmouth, won only thanks to a daft own goal.

Where were the irresistible tactical schemes at Fratton Park? Can Villas-Boas reignite as he promises the Spaniard who blighted Ancelotti’s life? Something he thinks will be brought about by team support. If Villas-Boas fails in this, and it would hardly be his fault, would Abramovich’s limited patience again be exhausted?


The FIFA fiasco continues with the hapless Qatar woman who, as an ex official of their football authority, blew the whistle on the corruption of FIFA World Cup voters, went back on her words. This, with a senior Qatari official breathing down her neck.

One is tempted to echo the old Duke of Wellington when, accosted in the street by a man who greeted him, “Mr Smith I believe?” replied, “Sir, if you believe that, you will believe anything!” And so with the ineffable Blatter chummily visiting the evil Mugabe in Zimbabwe, it hideously goes on.