Euro 2012 confusion

England’s caretaker coach Stuart Pearce says he will name his 23-man Euro 2012 squad on May 10, which is odd because the Premier League season doesn’t finish until 3 days later and the official squad lists do not need to be submitted to UEFA until May 31. Moreover, Pearce may not actually be managing the England side in Poland and Ukraine, which raises the possibility of a new coach inheriting a squad he did not select.

Confused? Aren’t we all. So too, I suspect is Pearce, who is currently combining his England role with that of coaching the Great Britain Olympic team at this summer’s London games. One wonders whether he has just confused the dates for the two tournaments.

Apparently not, as Pearce says that his deadlines have been agreed as part of  a timetable designed to give certainty to the players

“I’ve no idea whether I’ll be selecting it but whether it is me or the next man it will be around that sort of time because the season ends on the 13th and the players need to know,” he said. “That date has to be before the end of the Premier League season for all concerned.”

Surely it would be possible to select say a 30-man provisional squad, which could then be culled when the season has finished.

Birthday boy

Johan Cruyyf, regarded by many as the best footballer Europe has ever produced, celebrates his 65th birthday today.

Of all the birthday messages he will receive today, none will be quite so unexpected, nor as warmly received, as the the one that’s come from his old rival Louis van Gaal. The former Ajax and Barcelona coach has attempted to defuse the tension that has simmered between the duo since Cruyff had the temerity to criticise Van Gaal’s coaching philosophy.

“That I’m the one who may congratulate Johan Cruyff with his 65th birthday is not so obvious. I’ll tell you why I am the right person.

We had and have our disagreements, but we also have much in common: the love for Ajax, Barcelona and attacking football.

Johan put Dutch football on the map and also socially he has shown himself on several fronts.

In top football it might be rough on the pitch, but outside the lines, hands are shaken.

On behalf of all Dutch football fans I therefore wish Johan a wonderful birthday!

Louis van Gaal.”

To mark his 65 largely memorable years on the planet, here’s a brief highlights clip of Cruyff’s playing career.

Club on death row?

Rangers manager Ally McCoist has warned that a year-long ban on signing players imposed by the Scottish Football Association could “kill” the club.

The SFA hit Rangers with a £160,000 fine and imposed a 12-month transfer embargo after finding the club guilty of five charges in relation to their finances and the appointment of Craig Whyte as chairman. For a club already massively indebted and in the absence of a hitherto incognito sugar daddy emerging from the shadows, the fine effectively means further player sales.

“Like everyone else involved — our team, our supporters, our staff and a lot of neutrals – I am staggered at the severity of the punishment,” McCoist told

“This decision could kill our football club, simple as that. Make no mistake about it.”


It could mean a difficult 12 months for Rangers, it could even mean that the club gets relegated next season, but death? Unlikely.

For McCoist though, the end is undoubtedly nigh.

“We can’t cope with it. We have lost players already this season,” he continued.

“Individual players have clauses in their contracts which indicate they may leave for more suitable terms for themselves.

“There are already managers sniffing about our players – I know of that. They are like vultures around our squad at the moment which angers and disappoints me.”

Considering the alacrity with which Rangers have, over the years, picked off the best talents from rival Scottish clubs, one imagines that the well of sympathy for them among their rivals has run dry.

Quote of the day

“I’m not that type of player to intentionally hurt anyone. I’ve raised my knee, which I maybe shouldn’t have done in hindsight. But hopefully people who know me as a person, as a player… I’m not that type of player.”

Chelsea skipper John Terry, who was sent off for needlessly kneeing Alexis Sanchez in the back during Tuesday’s epic Champions League tie against Barcelona, explains that he is not that ‘type of player’. Presumably, he is also not the type of player who would sleep with his team mate’s ex, nor the type of player who would racially abuse an opponent. If Terry’s was planning to base his legal defence in the forthcoming court case upon him not being that type of player, he may wish to think again.

Goal of the day

It may have lacked the finesse of Chelsea’s first goal by Ramires, but there was something hugely significant and unforgettable about Fernando Torres late strike against Barcelona.

Here it is, accompanied by the already infamous Gary Neville ‘orgasm’ commentary. Was I the only person who expected him to miss, even after he’d rounded the keeper Valdes and was faced with an empty net? In fact, especially, when he was faced with the empty net.

Compassion deficit

TV reporter to Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic : “Branko, we have some good news for you and we some bad news. First the good news: you performed heroically in keeping the Barcelona attack at bay. It was a really disciplined performance.”

Ivanovic: “Thank you, thank you. And the bad news?”

This moment of chronic insensitivity by Sky’s Geoff Shreeves has already developed into an internet meme, with world Number 2 golfer, Lee Westwood, tweeting: “Geoff Shreeves has just been on the phone telling me I’ve never won a major!”

Other Twitter users joked: “Geoff Shreeves is in the Barcelona dressing room informing each player individually that they won’t be playing in the final.”

The Chinese way

Chinese Football Association (CFA) chief Wei Di on Wednesday warned against a “rebound in corruption” in the sport in the future as a crackdown on corruption in Chinese football draws to a conclusion.

Wei, who took charge of the CFA in 2010 after most of his former colleagues were arrested on charges of match-fixing, gambling and bribe-taking, said that corruption may still exist despite the efforts to root out the “cancer”.

“Lessons have been learned from the scandals, but similar cases might happen again in the future. So we must stay vigilant all along,” Wei told reporters in Beijing.

According to Wei, the CFA and police have established a joint anti-corruption mechanism which allows both to share information.

“We are also considering joining hands with the FIFA and Interpol in the fight against corruption to ensure a clean environment for the game,” he said.

Meanwhile, as China tries to clean up its act, the trial of one of Wei’s predecessors, Xie Yalong , continues in the northern city of Dandong.

According to documents, a Nike marketing official paid a bribe of nearly $30,000 to Xie.

The alleged bribe by Li Tong, marketing director for Nike China, was in return for Xie helping Nike win a sponsorship deal with the Chinese Super League, Xinhua said.

“Nike has not been contacted by the authorities in China in relation to the Chinese Super League,” Nike said in a statement. “We take the allegations reported in the media very seriously. Nike believes in ethical and fair play in both business and sport, and strongly opposes any form of manipulation or bribery.”

Chances slim

Diego Maradona, the most famous footballing figure working in the United Arab Emirates, has dampened the mood in the country by writing off the country’s hopes of progression from their Olympic football qualifying group this summer.

UAE have been drawn to face hosts Great Britain, Senegal and Uruguay, and the Al Wasl coach said: “They’ve been assigned a very difficult group and I think they will have a very tough time. It was difficult to qualify in the first place and basically this is an unlucky grouping for them. It will be very difficult for them to qualify from this.

“I’m happy for them that they’ve been faced with such a group in Great Britain, Senegal and Uruguay but they won’t even be given the chance to enjoy it.”

Maradona joked: “When they picked the balls out of the bowl they must have gone for two hot ones and two cold ones, Senegal and UAE are hot while Great Britain and Uruguay are cold.”

It’s unclear whether Maradona is referring to the temperatures in the respective countries or the possibility that the draw was fixed. Either way, it may have been better if he’d kept that particular joke to himself.

Silence is golden

Roma coach Luis Enrique enjoyed his own personal tumbleweed moment when he was asked about his side’s 4-0 capitulation to Juventus at the weekend. You can put the kettle on while you wait for him to speak.


Fabrice Muamba’s recovery from a cardiac arrest and the resuscitation work carried out in the immediate aftermath of his collapse, have highlighted the critical importance of expert, on-site medical staff. Sadly, not all players are quite so fortunate as Muamba. A top flight match in Uganda between Express and Water was held up when one of the Water players, Baker Wandira, collapsed on the pitch after he collided with Express’ Godfrey Kavulu.

Medical attention was required both on the pitch and continued on the stretcher just near the dressing room as Wandira struggled to breathe, a resuscitation tube fixed in his mouth.

Unlike in England, there was no ambulance on hand to rush Wandira to a nearby hospital.

Eventually, after a lengthy delay, a private van was commandeered to take Wandira to unidentified clinic.

“I cannot give you any details now,” a Water medic said.