Rangers appeal to fans

Rangers manager Ally McCoist has appealed to the fans for support on a grim day for the Glasgow club as it entered administration.

With the Scottish Premier League’s 10-point penalty all but ending their title bid, McCoist called for support from what he believes is Rangers’ biggest asset. To be honest, looking at the state of the club, it’s just about their only asset these days.

“The most important people at this football club have always been the fans,” he said. “And that will always be the case.

“I have supported the club all my life and I know how they are feeling. The one thing that I have to ask them at this time is to be with the club and with the team.

“The team really need the support of the fans more than ever in this hour.

“I can still close my eyes and see our fans in that stadium down in Manchester (for the UEFA Cup final) and that will live with me until my dying day. It was incredible support for the team and we have had that over our 140 years,” he said.

“I’m biased but I make no apology for that, I believe we have the best fans in the world and I think that will show in the next few weeks.”

The citizens of Manchester who witnessed events outside the stadium and had to clear up the mess afterwards, might not agree.

However, regardless of the excesses of that particular night, Rangers present problems are also those of Scotland. Though one can understand the sense of schadenfreude currently permeating rival supporters, it is hard to imagine a vibrant future for Scottish football which does not include a relatively healthy Rangers.

Michel Platini makes an impression

Michel Platini, named after the former France captain and current UEFA president, has signed a three-year deal with Romanian league leaders Dinamo Bucharest.

Nothing remarkable in that, save for the fact that a week ago he was blamed for sparking a mass brawl against his new team-mates while playing for Bulgarian side, CSKA Sofia, in a friendly match played in Turkey.

Platini so impressed Dinamo that they signed him on the spot and he travelled back to Romania with his new team, albeit incognito. Officials from the Romanian club kept his presence a secret from the rest of the squad as a precautionary measure. Perhaps they stowed him away in the luggage rack.

“It’s normal for him to be apprehensive about travelling with the team – he was alone and there were 20 of us,” Dinamo striker Marius Niculae told local media.

“It’s something between us and we’ll settle this in the dressing room.”

Which doesn’t bode well for Platini, but as you can see from the footage of the brawl, he knows how to look after himself.

Argentina warned

FIFA have warned the Argentina Football Association the move to rename the league after the General Belgrano warship may be illegal.

Argentina Football Association (AFA) had proposed the name change in memory of the General Belgrano, a naval ship torpedoed by a British submarine in 1982 during the Falklands conflict.

“FIFA has requested the AFA to provide further information on this matter, and reminded the AFA of article three of the FIFA statutes which prohibits any kind of discrimination against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason,” said a statement.

“A potential change of name of the Liga de Primera Division would clearly infringe the above mentioned article and could be sanctioned in accordance with the Fifa statutes.’

The league season starts on Friday, with the 30th anniversary of the conflict being on 2 April.

This season’s Argentina Cup would also be known as the “Gaucho Rivero” Cup, to honour a resistant to the occupation of the Falklands by the United Kingdom in 1833.

Alternative names are being discussed by the AFA and among those are the ‘Hand of God League’, the ‘Rattin was Innocent League’ and the ‘Rooney is not fit to lace Messi’s boots League’.

Goal of the day

On the day that Lionel Messi became the leading scorer in the knockout stages of the Champions League, the spotlight fell upon his team-mate, Alexis Sanchez, who scored his first and second goals at this stage of the competition. His second, was an accomplished finish after a perfectly-weighted pass by Cesc Fabregas.

FIFA investigate missing money

FIFA has confirmed that it is waiting for an explanation over emergency aid for the Haiti earthquake disaster which failed to reach its destination after being sent to the Trinidad & Tobago (TTFF) football federation.

FIFA said in a statement sent to Reuters that $250 000 was wired to the TTFF but the Haiti federation said it had only received $60 000.

As reported on Monday by World Soccer’s Keir Radnedge, the money was wired immediately to the account of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation, as requested by Jack Warner.

Radnedge reported: ‘Every CFU and TTFF official asked about the whereabouts of cash and accounts insist that Warner is the only man with the combination to their locks.’

That FIFA is bothering to investigate the whereabouts of the missing money is all well and good, but surely they could save themselves a lot of trouble by simply contacting the organ grinder direct.

Save of the day

Roy Carroll made his debut appearance for Olympiakos against Rubin Kazan on Wednesday, coming on as a substitute after Balázs Megyeri conceded a penalty and was shown a red card. Carroll’s first act as an Olympiakos player was to face the resulting spot kick.

Brolin with the punches

The Guardian today carries a translation of a brilliant interview conducted with former Sweden forward, Tomas Brolin, by Swedish magazine Offside,

Widely derided in England as one of the worst signings ever, (in 2007 he was voted in at Number 2 in a Times poll of the “50 Worst footballers to have played in the Premier League) Brolin provides an illuminating and entertaining account of his time at Leeds United.

After scoring twice against West Ham in an unfavoured role on the right of midfield, Brolin was asked by manager Howard Wilkinson to play there again in Leeds’ next game against Liverpool.

“It may not sound that bad, to be a wide midfielder at Leeds, but the defensive responsibilities I had … it was not like when I had Roland Nilsson behind me in the Swedish national team,” he says. “At Leeds I was going to run up and down the right like an idiot. That wasn’t me. So I decided … I was going to be piss-poor against Liverpool.”

And so he was, as Leeds lost 5-0. That game effectively marked the end of his Leeds career and although he stayed for two more years he only started one more match.

George Graham took over from Wilkinson but he was “an even bigger idiot”, according to Brolin, who tested the patience of the new manager by returning late for training after a bird crashed into his care windscreen forcing him to miss his flight to England.

Graham responded by confiscating Brolin’s passport, but the enterprising Swede still managed to return to Sweden for a weekend. The consequence of that indiscretion was that he was not included in the team photo, did not get any training gear and was no longer allowed in for free at Elland Road to watch Leeds play – despite still being a Leeds player.

Quote of the day

“He needs time to mould his own team and he can’t do that as long as there are players, as I’ve heard, who exchange text messages with Mourinho. And [Roman] Abramovich knows this.”

President of Porto, Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa, told La Gazzetta dello Sport of difficulties encountered by Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea.

Shanghai Express

Shanghai Shenhua’s latest signing Nicolas Anelka says it was his interest in Asian culture that persuaded him to move to China. And there were you thinking it was all about the money.

However, unlike most footballers who trot out the obligatory, but insincere platitudes on arriving in a new country, Anelka sounds like he actually means it when he says it was his dream to play in the Far East.

“It is my first time to Shanghai but I know the city is named the ‘Oriental Paris’,” Anelka told Fifa.com.

“Friends who have been there told me it is a magnificent city and I am looking forward to seeing it.

“I’ve always had fond feelings about Asia.

“I have been obsessed with the local cultures during my previous trips to the likes of Korea Republic, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Chinese Hong Kong and Macau.

“So I jumped at the chance when Shanghai came to me with an offer.”


Former Republic of Ireland and Aston Villa player Eamon ‘Chick’ Deacy has passed away at the age of 53.

Deacy enjoyed a brief career in England’s top flight, but during that time he managed to collect a Championship winner’s medal and a European Cup winners medal. However, he chose to give it all up to return to Ireland to run a fruit and veg shop in Galway at the age of 26.

Ken McNaught played with Deacy at Villa and said it was a pleasure to be in the same team as the man who ‘brought a smile to everybody’s face’.

“He could not have been a nicer bloke and all the players from that team will say the same.

“He was a great character to have around the place and was so unpretentious.

“I remember when he refused to go up and collect his league winners medal because he felt he had not contributed enough.

“Ron Saunders made him accept it, though, in the end. He was just a great lad to be around.”

McNaught said Deacy refused a contract extension because he wanted to return home to enjoy his life.

“He said the craic was not there anymore and he wanted to go back home. He just walked away,’’ said McNaught.

“That was the type of character he was. He always had a smile on his face.”

Deacy’s laid-back attitude to the sport, anachronistic in his day, let alone in the context of the modern era, had much to commend it.

“There was a wholesomeness, an honesty and a naivety about Eamon which was very refreshing at the time and is now very rare in the modern game,” is the recollection of Eoin Hand, manager of Ireland for Deacy’s brief four-cap spell as an international in 1982.

“He played for me when we lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago in ’82. He was having a nightmare in the first half but so was everyone in the team. We’d had terrible travel problems and no sleep before the game. I still remember that Eamon had his shorts on back to front.

“When I told him at half time I was taking him off, he didn’t have a row with me. He just said, ‘Thanks Eoin’. He knew he was having a bad game but he didn’t sulk or moan when I took him off.”