Battle of the egos

El Hadji Diouf has slammed former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard, accusing him of being ‘selfish’ and ‘unloved’ by his team-mates.

The pair have conducted an entertaining, albeit infantile and puerile feud with the Reds skipper hitting out at Diouf in his 2007 autobiography for failing to give his all during his time at the club.

“I wasn’t Diouf’s number one fan,” wrote the Liverpool captain in his autobiography.

“Being around Melwood and Anfield I knew which players were hungry, which players had Liverpool at heart. Diouf was just interested in himself.

“His attitude was all wrong. I felt he wasn’t really a***d about putting his body on the line to get Liverpool back at the top.”

Looking at the evidence of the past few years, it would appear that if nothing else, Diouf could spot a lost cause from a long way off.

Offered the chance to respond to Gerrard’s remarks, the Leeds striker spoke with the conviction of a man who has spent the last five years yearning for someone to ask him that very question.

“What he said in his autobiography was nonsense,” Diouf told L’Equipe. “It’s him who is self-obsessed. I carried Senegal to the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals, on my own.

“I was listed in the top 100 players in the world by Pele after that World Cup. He wasn’t. He was jealous of me back then because I had the world at my feet.

“I respect (Gerrard) as a footballer, but there is no greater egomaniac than him. He doesn’t give a damn about anyone else. He would rather Liverpool lost and he scored.

“I have spoken with the old guys at Liverpool and nobody can stand him! And don’t get me started on Jamie Carragher…”

Despite labelling Gerrard an ‘egomaniac’ Diouf proceeded, without a trace of irony or self-awareness, to explain why he is revered as a god-like figure in his native Senegal.

“Back in Senegal, I am a demi-god,” he said. “People burned tyres simply because I wasn’t picked for a play-off match against Ivory Coast.

“If El-Hadji Diouf takes Leeds up to the Premier League, he will become unforgettable in England.”

Men behaving badly

Senior French internationals have hardly endeared themselves to the French Football Federation (FFF) in recent years and it looks like the next generation of players are following in the footsteps of their illustrious predecessors.

The FFF is investigating “a serious matter” after five players left the Under-21 camp in Le Havre on Saturday following a 1-0 play-off first-leg defeat to Norway the previous night.

Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila and defender Chris Mavinga, Real Sociedad striker Antoine Griezmann, Milan midfielder Mbaye Niang and Toulouse midfielder Wissam Ben Yedder – are reported to have taken a taxi to attend a nightclub on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, returning at dawn.

As a result of the FFF probe the Rennes duo have been suspended by their club.

A statement on Rennes’ official website today said: “Despite a small staff due to players being injured or suspended, the decision that has been taken to leave Chris Mavinga and Yann M’Vila out of the squad, while difficult, is essential.

“Stade Rennais can no longer tolerate irresponsible behaviour of some players. It is a strong decision, shared by all club officers beyond the sporting consequences. It is a moral issue.

“Starting today, the two players concerned will train with the second team and Laurent Huard.”

A statement on the French federation’s website read: “Given the seriousness of the violation and image of the FFF and football, this behaviour will be subject to the scrutiny of the Federal Commission for discipline.

“The players involved will be called in as soon as possible and will answer for their actions.”

Who was it that said that English players no longer had “love for the national team?” Oh, that’s right, it was Frenchman Patrick Vieira.

Video evidence

The Serbian Football Association has published a video aimed at discrediting Danny Rose’s claim that he was the victim of racist abuse from home supporters “every time” he touched the ball during England Under-21s’ 1-0 victory over Serbia in Krusevac on Tuesday.

A six-minute clip has appeared on YouTube entitled “Danny Rose is lying to whom?”. It has been posted by “Fudbalski savez Srbije”, which is the domestic name of the Serbian FA, and a link to the video appears on the governing body’s official website.

The video contains a compilation of clips showing Rose in action against Serbia Under-21s in which it is hard to detect any monkey chants.

“As you can see in this video, during the UEFA Under-21 play-off game, there was no unsportsmanlike cheering and insulting opposing players on racial grounds,” reads a caption alongside the video.

However, there is audible whistling on the majority of occasions Rose touches the ball and, at one stage, the 22-year-old is seen mimicking a mouth gesture towards the crowd, implying he is the victim of abuse.

The video ends with about 14 minutes of the match remaining and ignores the scenes at the end of the contest, when monkey noises were clearly audible and members of the Serbia side and their coaching team brawled with their England counterparts.

Fight goes on

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has cut to the chase over the issue of racism, arguing that the fight to combat the problem must continue.

England’s U21 victory in Serbia on Tuesday was overshadowed by allegations of racism and Chelsea captain John Terry is about to serve a suspension after he accepted a four-match ban for racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand, while Wenger himself has been the victim of abuse by fans.

“Against stupidity, the best way is information, knowledge of things and examples of behaviour, of attitudes,” said Wenger.

“That is much more efficient than punishment, but you have to do both because some behaviours cannot be tolerated.

“It is not only racism, black and white, it is against all kinds of insults we still have in the stadiums. We must fight more against it.

“You are insulted because you are not in their clan. That is a kind of discrimination. There is still a lot to do, but I think it’s good society fights against it. It is getting better, but it is never won.”

Wenger spoke after Reading striker Jason Roberts revealed he will refuse to wear a Kick It Out shirt at Liverpool on Saturday in protest at a perceived lack of action by the authorities against racism but Wenger fears that may prove to be counter-productive.

“I feel that (black players) are the main targets and if they do not join in it makes the whole thing not efficient and not credible. We need all to fight together against that,” he added.

“They have faced the most abuse, so I think it is important they are on board. If they feel the punishments are not hard enough they have to express that in a different way, but I think that it would be sad if they do not join in.”

Wenger’s words were echoed by Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who said: “I think everyone should be united. I don’t know what point he’s trying to make.”

“He really should be supporting all the other players who are doing it.”

Terry hurt England reputation

It’s difficult to escape the issue of racism at the moment, with Football Association chairman David Bernstein admitting the John Terry affair has tarnished the reputation of English football.

Bernstein said having football dragged through the courts represented a difficult period for the English game which has made huge efforts to eradicate racism from stadiums.

“The decision by John Terry not to appeal his FA charge hopefully brings to a close a difficult period for the domestic game in England in which, unfortunately, the reputation of English football has been damaged,” Bernstein said in a statement.

“It is a shame that one high-profile incident has had such a major impact.

“But this single event should not be allowed to overshadow the massive strides taken by players, managers, clubs, leagues and so many across the national game in terms of equality and inclusion.

“The damage of this affair is not irreparable, but as events this week have shown there are still many lessons to be learnt in the wider fight against racial abuse and discrimination of all types.”

It could be argued that continually selecting Terry for the England squad after he’d been accused of racially abusing a fellow professional, was damaging to the reputation of English football. Chelsea, who have confirmed that they have no intention of stripping Terry of the club captaincy, take note.

Looking for work

Gerard Houllier, who oversaw French success at Clairefontaine, has identified a critical omission in England’s recently-opened centre for excellence at St George’s Park.

“St George’s Park is a fantastic tool,” said Houllier. “It is a unity of place but also a unity of football life. And a unity of philosophy.

“But, of course, you need somebody who can formulate that philosophy. The technical director is the main person.

“He has to be English – somebody who is aware of the culture of the game in the country. He also has to have enough influence to gather the coaches. You need credibility for that. And somebody who can instil his message.

“He has got to have experienced the game at the top level – the Premier League as a minimum, probably the European Cup as well.

“If you want to coach the best coaches of the future you need to have some of that experience yourself.

“The truth is I have no idea who the FA can turn to. Arsene Wenger would have all the credentials – but he is not English. I’d say they have six months to appoint somebody”.

Although it sounds like a pitch for the job, Houllier does have a point here. The FA’s Director Of Football Development is Sir Trevor Brooking – whose managerial experience amounts to just three Premier League games.

Fans paint the players red

Dynamo Moscow players were attacked with paintball guns by a group of angry supporters as the team trained in Novogorsk on Friday, according to R-Sport.

The 11-time Russian champions are experiencing their worst ever start to a season, lying in the relegation play-off zone in 13th place, having suffered eight defeats in their opening 11 matches.

Following the attack, Dynamo midfielder Alan Gatagov said he was considering legal action after being hit by one of the shots fired at the squad. An admission that should result in him becoming acquainted with the expression ‘laughed out of court’.

“Words fail me,” he told R-Sport. “What should we do? Should each of us hire a personal bodyguard? I was hit in the back of the head when they shot at us, lots of players were hit.

“I didn’t even realise what they were shooting with, perhaps paintballs, they were in camouflage and fled pretty quickly. It was vile. Fans should support us, not do this type of thing.

“I’m still in shock. I have a small child at home, we’ve all got families. What if someone got seriously hurt? What would happen then? I will take advice from some people and decide whether to seek prosecution, because this was an attack.”

The players received a threat last month, with flares being let off outside the training facility and fans leaving a sinister message saying: “If the club and the coaches can’t motivate you, then believe us, we will do it. We are the supporters and the fans. And our methods will be a little more serious.”

Quote of the day

“Winning any league is extremely difficult but going through it unbeaten is also extremely difficult. The achievement that Arsenal did was remarkable and outstanding and probably won’t be repeated in the modern game as it happened in Porto with me. Which is more difficult? Remaining unbeaten in the league.”

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas believes his feat of going through a league campaign unbeaten while coach of Porto, eclipses Chelsea’s achievement of winning last season’s Champions League.

Petit aims big

Former France international Emmanuel Petit has stated his ambition to run for the French Football Federation (FFF) presidency in 2016.

A vote will take place at the end of 2012 to name the president for the next four years, with the current occupant of the role, Noel Le Graet, expected to be kept in the position despite competition from Christophe Bouchet.

In four years’ time, however, former Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder Petit, who currently works as a television pundit in France, has set his sights on standing for the position.

He told L’Equipe: “My relatives and friends say I have the abilities to hold this position.”

Just so long as you don’t surround yourself with yes men.

“I’m interested about all the angles of football and I have come to a simple conclusion: there are more and more troubles in the business of football,” he concluded.


Another sad footballing death on the road in Africa, with the news that the assistant coach of South Africa’s national team has been killed in a car crash

Thomas Madigage was killed on Thursday night when his car crashed into a donkey on a highway, the South African Press Association reported.

“We are shocked and at a loss for words and as we speak … We would like to pass our sincere condolences to the family, friends and the entire nation on this shocking development,” said Kirsten Nematandani, president of the South African Football Association.

Madigage, a long-serving assistant coach at Premiership club SuperSport United, was appointed assistant to Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund in July.