Bayern boo boys berated by Bert

Holland coach Bert van Marwijk has criticised the treatment in Germany of Arjen Robben, during the Oranje’s friendly match against his club Bayern Munich.

Robben, representing Holland on the night, was booed by the Bayern fans during the friendly international. Ironically, the game was set up as part of a compensation settlement after Robben was injured during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The timing of the match, coming just days after the winger missed a penalty in last Saturday’s Champions League final defeat to Chelsea, was hardly ideal though.

“It’s scandalous the way in which Arjen was treated on Tuesday in Munich. Arjen was really down about it but I hope that he will emerge stronger from the experience,” van Marwijk told the Dutch news agency ANP.  “The reaction of the fans annoyed me. I’m very disappointed, treating your own player like that. It’s a disgrace.”

Former Bayern midfielder, Mark van Bommel, commentating on the friendly for Dutch TV, was equally outraged by the booing.

“It’s a disgrace. When you look at what Robben has achieved in his career,” he said. “He led Bayern to the final at Madrid and is so important to the club. Bayern should be really happy to have a player like him. Arjen has signed a new three-year contract but if I was him I would think twice about my future.

“I don’t know what Arjen will do, but I would think about leaving the club if I was him. Nobody from the club supports him, I’m the only one that supports him in the press.”

Goal of the day

When the fans tired of booing Arjen Robben there was much to enjoy in Bayern’s 3-2 win over Holland, not least this long range strike by Toni Kroos.

Double Dutch

Continuing the Dutch theme, Louis van Gaal is the latest coach to be linked with Liverpool. In van Gaal’s case though, the job being offered in not that of manager, but Sporting Director, a position vacated by Damien Comolli in April.

The former Barcelona and Ajax boss was due to return to Amsterdam in a director’s capacity this year until a legal challenge from long-time adversary Johann Cruyff scuppered the move. Prior to that, his last managerial role was at Bayern, whom he led to the Bundesliga title and the Champions League final in 2010 before being sacked in April 2011.

Despite being sacked on a number of occasions, few managers in the modern game have a managerial pedigree to match that of Van Gaal. Multiple league titles in Holland, Spain and Germany, not to mention Champions League success with a largely homegrown Ajax side, provide ample testimony to his coaching ability.

The downside to appointing the 60-year-old is a personality which in turn can be abrasive, arrogant and a temper that veers from the volatile to the volcanic. Stories of how Van Gaal manages to impose his personality on teams are legion, including the time he dropped his pants right in front of his under-performing Bayern Munich players to leave them in no doubt that he had the balls to drop any one of them.

Van Gaal once asked a journalist, “Am I so smart, or are you so dumb?” and is clearly someone who does suffer fools gladly; what he will make of Steven Gerrard is anyone’s guess.

Spoilt for choice

Lille’s in-demand striker Eden Hazard has reached agreement with three English clubs, according to his agent.

Chelsea along with both Manchester clubs, have all been pursuing the Belgian forward, with the newly-crowned European champions reported to be in pole position as the Manchester clubs are apparently reluctant to meet his reported £200,000-per-week wage demands.

“We are no longer in the negotiations stage,” Hazard’s agent John Bico told The Telegraph. “We have reached agreement with all parties. There will be no higher bid.

“Eden has already said he wants it to be fixed before June 2. He will decide after the Red Devils’ [Belgium] games against Montenegro and England, then go on holiday with peace of mind.

“Eden is in the reflections stage and a decision will be taken quickly. Those who have come forward have a one-in-three chance [of signing him].”

Money can’t buy you everything

Proposals to knock down Paris Saint-Germain’s Parc des Princes ground and replace it with a new 60,000-seater stadium, have been strangled at birth.

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said that it was his “dream” to build a state-of-the-art stadium on the site.

“It’s easy to get 60,000 seats. You’ve got to knock down the stadium. To have 50,000, it’s just renovation. Paris is the capital. The city deserves a bigger stadium,” he said.

However, Jean Vuillermoz, who holds the sports portfolio for Paris under city mayor Bertrand Delanoe, has dismissed the plans outright.

“In our opinion, this proposal seems impossible,” he said.  “We’ve discussed it and the mayor said it would be impossible to destroy a monument which is part of Paris.”

Parc des Princes’ history as a sporting venue dates back to the late 1800s and previous stadia on the site included a velodrome that was the original finish of the Tour de France cycling race.

Having seen their audacious plans for the arena rejected the Qatari owners of PSG may look for somewhere with a less imposing legacy for their new ground. Let’s hope the Eiffel Tower is a listed building.

Sold down the river

Viewers in Scotland can look forward to a comprehensive dissection of the Rangers saga tonight, when a BBC documentary reveals what went on behind the scenes in the run up to Craig Whyte’s now infamous takeover.

Rangers – The Men Who Sold the Jerseys tells the story of the sale of Rangers to Whyte by Sir former owner, David Murray, a man who has always insisted that he acted in the best interests of the club. The evidence in tonight’s programme suggests otherwise and claims that far from being “duped” by Whyte – as he subsequently claimed – Murray was fully cognisant of Whyte’s shady business past, but chose to ignore it.

Tonight’s TV screening is only available to viewers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but much of the material covered in the programme has been reproduced in today’s Daily Record. Quoting extensively from former Ibrox chairman, Alastair Johnston, the piece unearths the devil behind the detail of a deal that brought Rangers to the brink of extinction.

Johnston claims the tycoon was warned extensively about the dangers of selling to Whyte. He says the former owner carried on with the deal because of “significant pressure” from the club’s bankers who coincidentally, were owed £700million by the rest of Murray’s empire.

Pain in Spain

There has been uproar in Spain over a call for this week’s King’s Cup final to be suspended and held behind closed doors in another stadium to prevent protests by Basque and Catalan separatists.

In a move of staggering pettiness, Madrid regional government president Esperanza Aguirre threatened to cancel the game in response to a threat by some fans to whistle during the national anthem before Friday’s match between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona.

“Insults to the flag or the anthem are a crime under the penal code,” Aguirre told Onda Cero radio on Tuesday. “It should not be allowed and as such, in my opinion, the game should be suspended and held behind closed doors somewhere else.”

Condemnation from all quarters was swift, with Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo bluntly stating: “Why Don’t You Shut Up?”

Santiago Espot, a Catalan promoter of the whistling protest, said Aguirre had “reawakened the ghost” of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, a Spanish dictator who ruled from 1923-30.

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell was quoted as saying: “I want all Barcelona fans to be able to express their feelings freely.”

But it was Barcelona defender, Gerard Pique, who spoke the most sense when he said: “There are much more important problems than this in the country to worry about.”

The monarch, King Juan Carlos will not attend the final of a trophy that bears his name. Instead, he will be represented by his son, Prince Felipe, while the king recovers from an injury sustained on an elephant hunt. Try telling the king that there are more important things for his country to worry about, when there are elephants to be hunted.

Opportunity knocks

One man’s misfortune is another man’s gain, goes the saying and for Fernando Torres, the news that David Villa will miss this summer’s Euro 2012 finals, may be just the boost he needs as he looks to relaunch his faltering career.

Villa has failed to recover from the broken tibia he suffered while in action for Barcelona at the World Club Challenge in Japan in December.

The absence of their all-time leading scorer, is a huge blow to defending champions, Spain, but in Torres they have, if not a ready-made replacement, then certainly a capable deputy.

One man convinced that Torres can regain the form that persuaded Chelsea to fork out £50million for him last year, is his former team-mate Didier Drogba. The striker’s decision to leave Stamford Bridge offers a huge opportunity for Torres and it is one Drogba is convinced he will grasp.

“It’s been difficult for (Torres), but he has showed he is the man,” Drogba said.

“Next season is going to be his season and I will try to speak to him. We have a good relationship.

“We don’t understand why we didn’t play together more, but that’s the past. Torres is the future.”

Ukraine update

Amid all the perennial concerns about security, hotel accommodation, racist attacks, comes a new worry for Ukraine as it prepares to co-host Euro 2012. The arrival of up to a million visiting fans is expected to lead to a surge in prostitution at the finals which the authorities admit they are unable to control.

“Tourists are coming with money, and girls from outside Kiev will try to be here. We are seeing a worsening of the criminal situation,” said Vasyl Poshtak, the head of department on combating human trafficking of Ukraine’s Interior Ministry.

“We have drawn up a plan to carry out checks at hotels, night clubs, massage parlours and streets where prostitutes work … we will follow the situation,” he said.

But, somewhat depressingly, he added: “We will do our best, but this is like tilting at windmills.”

Femen,  whose female activists have carried out topless protests against the tournament, in a bid to awaken concerns about the booming sex industry in Ukraine.

According to research, about 1.5 million Ukrainians are involved in the sex industry and 20 percent of them are under 18, the legal age for sexual contact in Ukraine.

In the eyes of many foreigners, Ukraine is a country of available and cheap woman and many people say indifference by police – and even collusion by them in prostitution rackets – is the main problem.


George Best, had he lived, would have been 66 today. The Mirror has produced a lovely compilation of images of Best through his relatively brief, but undeniably brilliant career.

One of the captions says it all: “May 1 1972: Best in Marbella, where he celebrated his 26th birthday by announcing his retirement from football”.

He returned, on a number of occasions, but by then, the magic that captivated a generation and led to him being labelled the ”Fifth Beatle’, had largely deserted him.

The Manchester United forward, although a legend in Britain, is less well known outside the UK, primarily because he never featured in the World Cup finals. If you want to get an idea why so many people rate him the best British player of all time, here’s an introduction to his talents.