Terry jumps before he’s pushed

Football Association general secretary Alex Horne has responded to John Terry’s decision to quit international football by denying the Chelsea captain’s claim his “position had been made untenable”.

The timing of Terry’s international retirement could not have been more telling, coming as it does on the eve of the FA’s disciplinary hearing on a racism charge.

Terry, who won 78 caps for England, but like the rest of the fabled Golden Generation, no silverware, says the decision to turn his back on his country had broken his heart.

“Representing and captaining my country is what I dreamed of as a boy and it has been a truly great honour,” he said. “I have always given my all and it breaks my heart to make this decision. I want to wish Roy [Hodgson] and the team every success for the future.

“I am making this statement today in advance of the hearing of the FA disciplinary charge because I feel the FA, in pursuing charges against me where I have already been cleared in a court of law, have made my position with the national team untenable.”

You’d have thought sleeping with his team-mate’s ex might have done that, but apparently not. No, it’s the temerity of the Football Association for investigating claims that he called an opponent a “fucking black cunt” that has made his position untenable.

Horne admitted that the matter should have been resolved by now, but denied that Terry’s position was untenable.

“It’s disappointing. I don’t see how we made his position untenable.

“It limits Roy Hodgson’s choices. He has been playing well and done well for England. It was his decision and we respect that.

“It’s something that happened in a match – it shouldn’t be taking a year to resolve but we feel we’re reaching a conclusion on that.”

There is some sympathy for a person who has already been cleared of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, not least from England manager Roy Hodgson.

“I’d like to thank John Terry for his commitment to the England team since I became manager. I am of course disappointed to lose a player of John’s international experience and exceptional ability,” he said.

Don’t worry Roy, if last season’s Champions League win for Chelsea is anything to go by, you can be sure that if England ever do look like winning anything, the Zelig-like Terry will appear on the podium fully kitted out, shamelessly soaking up the adulation.

From bad to worse

Another dismal weekend for Milan and further pressure heaped on their beleaguered coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Losing to Udinese was bad enough, but the news that he was involved in a bust-up with Filippo Inzaghi, the former Milan striker who now acts as the club’s academy team coach, will have done little to remove the uncertainty surrounding Allegri’s position.

The pair have never got on, with Inzaghi unhappy that he was shunted out of the picture during his final campaign with Milan last season. The striker has made no secret of his desire to one day coach Milan.

So, when the under-pressure Allegri turned up for his monthly visit to the academy last week he was told in advance that he would not be allowed to interrupt the youngsters training session. Unperturbed, the Milan coach strode across the training pitch, much to the annoyance of Inzaghi. A heated exchange ensued during which Inzaghi was accused of wanting Allegri’s job, to which the prolific striker is alleged to have replied: “Of course, and I could do a better job than you.”

While the feuding parties argued, the young players and their parents looked on aghast until academy director, Filippo Galli, stepped in to separate the pair.

Not the ideal preparation for Allegri as he tried to rouse his players for the trip to Udinese. A 2-1 defeat followed with Milan having two men sent off and the final indignity for the dead man walking was the travelling fans chanting the name of his nemesis, Inzaghi.

Smells like team spirit

Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder Igor Denisov has openly criticised the Russian champions for their big-money purchase of Brazilian striker Hulk.

“I would understand if we got [Lionel] Messi or [Andres] Iniesta – they probably deserve any price,” said Russia captain Denisov.

“Yes, we bought some nice players who will clearly help Zenit. But are they really so much better than the current team leaders that they deserve to get three times more? Zenit have assembled great players who have won at least as many titles as the new guys.”

Denisov and leading league scorer Alexander Kerzhakov were both dropped to the youth squad on Sunday after expressing their displeasure at the arrivals from the Portuguese league of Hulk and Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel.

The duo’s arrival has coincided with a downturn in form that has seen Zenit drop from first to fourth.

The club issued a statement calling Denisov’s behavior “unprofessional” and noting that he still had three more years left on a contract that made him one of the highest-paid players in Russia.

“He is discrediting himself as a player for club and country while doing serious damage to his own reputation,” Zenit said.

Lights go out

Real Madrid have reluctantly agreed to play their La Liga match at Rayo Vallecano at on Monday evening, a day after the game was abandoned because when vandals cut the cables on some of the lights at Rayo’s Estadio de Vallecas stadium.

Real initially said they did not want to risk another lighting failure and wanted to play the match on Monday at 1500, while Rayo insisted it should kick off at 1800 to allow more Rayo fans to attend.

“After the deplorable events that took place yesterday … Real Madrid C.F. asked the Professional Football League (LFP) to schedule the game today, Monday, during the day in order to avoid any potential problems that might again put it at risk,” Real said in a statement on their website (www.realmadrid.com).

“The president of the LFP has decided, however, that the match will be played at 19:45 and has accepted personal responsibility for it to take place without incident,” the statement added.

“Real Madrid C.F. bases their request on their concern for the lack of dates for the rescheduling of the match should it not be possible for the match to go ahead today.”

Goal of the day

Leandro Damião was pursued by Tottenham all summer but his club, Internacional, refused to do business. On the evidence of this long range volleyed effort against Bahia, you can see why they were so keen to hang on to him.

Miss of the day

Also from Brazil is the miss of the weekend, with Flamengo’s Wagner Love somehow failing to convert from a couple of yards out.

Stats of the day

In France, Marseille made it 6 wins out of 6 at the weekend to make their best-ever start to a Ligue 1 campaign. The 1-0 win over Evian saw them become the first team since Monaco in 1960-61 to win each of their their first six league matches.

In Germany, newly-promoted Eintracht Frankfurt recorded their fourth straight win to become the first-ever promoted team to win their first four games in a row.

In England, Liverpool have now recorded their worst start for 101 years.

Sporting chance

Ricardo Sá Pinto has spoken out against what he termed “disrespectful” treatment and “lies” published in the sports press at the weekend.

Responding to claims that Pinto was close to losing his job as head coach of Sporting, the former Portugal international hit back.

“Today I had the opportunity to read, among several articles, one that called me ‘an aberration of nature’,” complained Sá Pinto. “This is an attack on my dignity. It’s a tremendous lack of respect. It hurts, because my family also read it. When criticising my work, we are all speaking the same language, but this is not on. I can accept criticism for my options and my model of playing. Nobody knows everything at every moment.

“News was disclosed saying that conflicts had arisen among the players. It’s a lie, there are no conflicts. Among the players and the coach there has never been a problem. Among the coaching staff likewise. It’s false. The Sporting directors have not criticised our team model at any time.”

Sporting entertain Gil Vicente at tonight, having earned just two points and scored one goal in their opening three games in the Liga

On the move?

They may occupy one of the most iconic stadiums in the history of sport, but time stands still for no club and as part of their relentless drive for self-improvement Barcelona are contemplating moving to a new ground.

Almost three quarters of club members voted in favour of a referendum on the stadium issue, with the club’s vice-president, Javier Faus, saying they could either build a new stadium or renovate the Camp Nou.

Renovation of Camp Nou would cost €300 million, half as much as the construction of a new ground.

The club’s President Sandro Rosell said in June they had to put on hold plans to revamp the stadium to add 10,000 seats and VIP boxes. Financial concerns were cited as the reason, although Barcelona also want to construct a new basketball stadium putting additional pressure onto the organisation’s finances.

As Barça’s home since 1957, Camp Nou currently holds 99,000 spectators and is the largest football ground in Europe, hosting Champions League finals, matches at the 1982 World Cup and the final of the Olympic football tournament in 1992.

Quote of the day

“Who knows what these people endure to be here and support us in the stadium? If then 1,000 fans leave the stadium, I guess their concerns are quite big. We all have to be careful, that’s clear, not to make things worse, there have to be talks. Either they (the talks) were of no avail or have not taken place up to now. I can really understand the protest.”  

Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp expresses sympathy with the 1,000 travelling supporters who staged a mass walk out of the game against Hamburg in protest at ticket prices.