Football is boring

Neymar has been criticised by his own boss after he was sent off for the fifth time in his career.

At the age of 21, that’s some going for a player tipped to be the next Messi/Robinho – take your pick.

The Santos forward can consider himself quite harshly treated after he was sent off for kicking out at Ponte Preta defender Arthur.

Neymar was then slapped to the ground as the row escalated just before half time during the 3-1 defeat.

After the match, the Brazilian striker pleaded his innocence, insisting: “I don’t know what happened.

“We were challenging for the ball, I got kicked and was sent off. Neither of us should have been sent off.

“Football is getting really boring, for the players, supporters and television viewers.”

Santos coach Muricy Ramalho said that the forward had to get used to being provoked.

“He needs to keep out of trouble,’ said Ramalho.”Without Neymar, we lose his speed, which is our main attacking weapon. We really suffer when he gets sent off.”

All sage advice, but looking at the footage of the incident, Neymar did little wrong.

Daylight robbery

Napoli midfielder Marek Hamsik has spoken of his distress after being robbed at gunpoint in the southern Italian city Sunday night.

The Slovakian was driving to the airport after the goalless Serie A draw with Sampdoria when two masked men blocked off his car with a scooter.

The robbers reportedly smashed his driver’s window and, armed with a pistol, 
ordered him to hand over his Rolex watch, worth an estimated £10,000.

This is the third such incident his family has been involved in since he joined Napoli in 2007. To paraphrase: to get robbed once is unfortunate; twice is careless; thrice well that would be outright foolish.

Hamsik told “I’m really unhappy about what happened after the match.
It’s the third time that it’s happened to me since I’ve been here.

“I’m really sorry that these kind of things happen but unfortunately it is one of the hardships of living in Napoli.”

Hamsik was the victim of a similar robbery in December 2008 when driving through the city centre and his wife Martina had her car stolen at gunpoint in 2011. The car was subsequently recovered.

Sadly, Hamsik appears to be right when he suggests that robbery is a price one has to pay for living in Naples.

The club’s Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani moved to a high-security gated community after having his home broken into and winger Valon Behrami was robbed of his Hublot watch during a shopping trip.

Yanina Screpante, the girlfriend of former Napoli forward Ezequiel Lavezzi, was mugged at gunpoint in 2011 before the Argentinian moved to Paris St Germain the following summer.

See Naples and get robbed.

Fans behaving badly

A teenage player underwent emergency eye surgery after the bus of Venezuelan first division team Estudiantes de Merida was attacked following an away match, the club said on Twitter.

Estudiantes said Jesus Quintero was injured by flying glass when stones were thrown at the bus by rival fans, breaking windows, following the match away to Llaneros de Guarane.

Photographs showed that the 18-year-old player, who had scored his first professional goal in his team’s previous match, suffered a cut around his eye as well as injuries to his lips and hands.

The club said the operation was a success and Quintero would not suffer long-term damage.

The Venezuelan Football Union (AUFP) described the incident in the town of Guarane as “deplorable”.

“We hope that the relevant authorities take action over these type of incidents which continue to stain our football,” said the association on Twitter.

New Messi(ah) or the God Delusion?

Hatem Ben Arfa has claimed he can be as good at Newcastle as Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

It’s good to see a player have faith in his own abilities and whatever else he might lack, Ben Arfa clearly is not short of confidence.

“I regret not maturing earlier because I think that today I would have evolved to a higher level,” he told Le10Sport. “Maybe I’d be like him (Messi) today but I still have time – I can catch up”.

As for the burgeoning maturity, we shall see. Ben Arfa has not played for the France team since he was involved in a blazing row with former national coach, Laurent Blanc, after the Euro 2012 defeat to Sweden. The cause of the argument? Ben Arfa using his mobile phone in the post match inquest.

Record breaker

A brief but eventful day at the office for Sergio Ramos, who scored in the 12th minute of Real Madrid’s 2-0 win against Rayo Vallecano, but then proceeded to get booked twice in under 60 seconds, with the game not yet 20 minutes old. That marked Ramos’ club-record 17th red card of his career, one shy of the Spanish league record.

Both yellow cards were harsh. The first was for a light shove to the chest of Rayo striker Leo; the second was for a handball.

“I am hurt by the situation,” the defender told AS. “It is not normal for me to be sent off within two minutes.”

Indeed, it usually takes him a little longer to attract the referee’s attention.

“I’m not one to come in with hard tackles or to do something evil. It’s easy to send off Sergio Ramos. It’s worrying.

“It hurts me to have left my team-mates disadvantaged and to have forced changes. Spanish football deserves the best referees because we have the biggest players.

“Referees are required to interpret situations. My first card was completely unfair. You cannot leave a team with 10 men for that.”

Goals of the day

Stevan Jovetic scored a couple of wonderful goals in Fiorentina’s 4-1 win over Inter. First, he collects the ball on the edge of the area and unleashes an unstoppable shot; the second was all about the impudent assist by Alberto Aquilano.

Quote of the day

“I mean, I’m open to the team, and no one is turned away. On Saturday night, I was not told by anyone about any problems. If you tell the coach that you are ready, then you have to prove it on the field, spitting blood, regardless of how good performance you put in.”

Following the 1-0 defeat to Roma, Juventus coach Antonio Conte says he expects more from his players.

French fancy

Jose Mourinho has added to uncertainty over his future at Real Madrid, by suggesting he would like to manage in France.

When asked whether he would be interested in managing in France, Mourinho told Canal+: “It’s a possibility but I do not know when. I can not say when. Why not!”

It’s always good to keep your options open and Mourinho, who has signalled he wants to return to England when he leaves Real Madrid, may be forced to widen his net if no Premier League club – or at least none of those he deems worthy of his attention – wishes to employ him.

Best of the rest

Mourinho would surely be tempted by the prospect of managing Manchester City, should the vacancy ever arise. The current incumbent at the Etihad, Roberto Mancini, has been defending his record at  the club and dismissing speculation about his future.

City have mounted a disappointing defence of their Premier League crown, and find themselves 12 points adrift of rivals Manchester United at the top of the table. Nonetheless, Mourinho remains bullish both about his record at City and his prospects of remaining in charge.

“In the last 15 months I am the best manager in England,” he told the BBC, somewhat immodestly.

“Someone says for six months that Manchester City would change manager, [Pep] Guardiola would come in, and after Guardiola went to Bayern Munich, now another manager.

“I won one Premier League, one FA Cup, one Charity Shield, there is not another manager that’s won like me in the last 15 months. I can do nothing but it is the reality.”

Pressure growing

Another manager under growing pressure is Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, who has lashed out at “wrong information” intended to “harm”, following reports the club had opened talks over a contract extension.

Talk about frightening the horses.

Reports this morning suggested that despite not winning a trophy for almost eight seasons, negotiations had already started with Wenger over a new deal, his current set to expire in the summer of 2014.

However, Wenger, 63, dismissed the claims, arguing they were malicious and unfounded.

“That is the wrong information and I work for 16 years in England and I think I deserve a bit more credit than wrong information that has only one intention: to harm,” he said.

“If it is good information which comes from nowhere it is all right, but this is wrong information that comes from nowhere and it is completely wrong.”

Wenger then became involved in a heated exchange with a journalist, adding: “I look at you not because you give information, I do not know if it is you, I do not know where the information comes from. Why do you look at me? I just thought you had given this information out.

“Here this is a pre-match conference for the Champions League, if you want to talk about Saturday, that press conference has been made after the game.

“Can we get some questions about tomorrow’s game, that would be very nice.”

Cue silence.