Awards shock

Barcelona’s Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta received the UEFA Best Player in Europe award after pipping Cristiano Ronaldo and club-mate Lionel Messi in a journalists’ poll.

A total of 53 journalists including World Soccer editor Gavin Hamilton voted on a long list of players earlier this month and the selection was whittled down to three: Iniesta, Messi and Ronaldo.

The final vote was a close call as Iniesta came out on top with 19 votes, just two more than the Argentine and the Portuguese.

Although less heralded than his team-mate Messi, and Madrid’s Ronaldo, Iniesta has enjoyed a stellar 12 months domestically and internationally, culminating in him being named Player of the Tournament at Euro 2012.

As one of his supporters, La Gazzetta dello Sport‘s Alberto Cerruti, told UEFA: “Iniesta is a symbol of the Barcelona side, even if he gets overshadowed, through no fault of his own, by Messi.”

You can read an interview with Iniesta here.

Car boot sale

It appears to have belatedly dawned on Liverpool that unless they offload some dead wood today, they’re stuck with them for the foreseeable future.

As a result, manager Brendan Rodgers has pitched up his hatchback in the Anfield car park, opened the boot, and invited offers for many of the Moneyball purchases carried out by the previous regime.

Andy Carroll’s departure to West Ham came as no surprise, nor that of Jay Spearing, while Charlie Adams has had that ‘just passing through’ look from the moment he made the short journey from Blackpool. That Jordan Henderson was offered in part exchange for Clint Dempsey, was something of a shock though. That he turned down the chance of reviving his career under a progressive coach like Martin Jol, equally unexpected.

The frenzy of last minute activity at Anfield does raise doubts about the existence of a long term strategy at the club, although it should be stressed they are not alone in this, with last minute deals being sought at Manchester City, Tottenham and elsewhere. Nevertheless, it seems strange that Rodgers is spending deadline day metaphorically reaching behind the sofa in the hope of finding enough spare change to pay the milkman. I’m sure that wasn’t included in the 180 page dossier he used to wow the Liverpool owners prior to his appointment.

Gary Neville, the former Manchester United defender, and now a well respected TV pundit, must have summed up the thoughts of many, when he tweeted: “What the transfer deadline gives you is a clear indication of which are the badly run football clubs!”

Wait for the managers involved to claim of their new signing, ‘he was the one I always wanted’… and wonder, were that were true, then why they did they wait until August 31 to sign him.

Vote of confidence

Nicklas Bendtner has agreed to join Juventus on a season-long loan. Although when he hears the thoughts of Juventus chief executive,  Giuseppe Marotta, he may wonder whether he has made the right choice.

The Serie A champions had initially set their sights on Napoli’s Edinson Cavani, before turning its attention to Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic and then Atheltic Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente. Obviously, in that context, signing the Dane is a akin to buying your birthday presents from Poundstretcher.

“Bendtner is not the high-profile striker we were hoping to sign, but it’s a chance we had to take in a difficult market like this,” Marotta stated to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

That hardly smacks of a great enthusiasm for Bendtner. At least at Arsenal he knew where he stood – usually by the touchline waiting to come on as fourth official held up the injury time board.

The Dane is currently undergoing a medical and barring any unforeseen hitches – ovesized ego, garagantuan head, that kind of thing – he will sign a one-year loan deal with the Italian champions.

You don’t have to be mad to work here…

“To even consider wanting to take him on loan is a liberty really. I would need to be a nutcase even to consider at this moment to let Carroll go out, unless there are other solutions for that.”

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on August 23, discussing the possibility of loaning out Andy Carroll for the season.

Blunder of the day

Fortunately for Liverpool keeper, Pepe Reina, his goal line blunder against Hearts did not prove costly, although it will not have gone unnoticed that the Spanish keeper is becoming increasingly gaffe-prone.

Naming rights

Sheffield United are to rename one of their stands in honour of the city’s Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Jessica Ennis.

The League One club said the Bramall Lane stand would be renamed The Jessica Ennis Stand.

Club owner Kevin McCabe said it was a fitting tribute to honour Ennis’ achievements during the Olympics.

“She is probably Sheffield’s biggest ever star,” he said. Although I’m sure the likes of Gordon Banks, Sebastian Coe, Jarvis Cocker, Sean Bean and many others, would have something to say about that.

“She’s uplifted everyone and brought pride to the city,” he continued.

“Jessica and her family are Unitedites and after discussions with them we all agreed that renaming the Bramall Lane stand after her would provide an additional sporting legacy from the London Games.”

He added it would be “a permanent reminder that will hopefully act as an inspiration to other youngsters to come forward and achieve their dreams through sport”.

It might do that. It will certainly be a permanent reminder of the short term thinking prevalent among those running football clubs.

Lack of respect

Andre Villas-Boas has accused Hamburg of disrespecting Tottenham in their bid to sign Rafael van der Vaart.

Villas-Boas was speaking after the Bundesliga side announced the signing of the Dutch playmaker. Unfortunately, there was a small fly in the ointment: although they had agreed terms with van der Vaart, they had not agreed terms with Tottenham, and even in the wild west world of transfer deadline day when almost anything goes, this kind of behaviour is still frowned upon.

”We have had interest from Hamburg, but an offer of that dimension is not something the player deserves,” said Villas-Boas. ”Tottenham should be respected as a club. (The transfer) doesn’t seem to be happening.”

Word of warning

While clubs across the continent continue to hawk their wares, a reminder from UEFA that they should not get too carried away shopping at European football annual bazaar.

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino has told European clubs that they must comply with strict new rules on overspending.

Infantino made it clear that UEFA will not tolerate clubs ignoring strict financial fair play rules.

“Let me remind clubs to adopt a prudent financial approach in their daily business, so as to be able to meet the requirements of the financial fair play rules that are being implemented for the future well-being of club football in Europe,” Infantino told the audience at the Champions League group stage draw ceremony in Monaco.

“UEFA and its Club Financial Control Body will not hesitate to take action should clubs not meet such requirements.”

It seems apt that Infantino issued such a warning at the launch of the Champions League – a competition won last season by Chelsea after an unprecedented decade of spending and, judging by this summer’s huge outlay, one that shows no signs of abating.

Transfer farce

Final words on the deadline day drama goes to a man who is at the centre of much of today’s activity.

Villas-Boas, like fellow Premier League managers Martin Jol and Martin O’Neill, believes the transfer window should shut before the start of the season to allow everyone to have a settled squad by the time the campaign begins.

“The window should finish at the beginning of the season,” Villas-Boas said.

Although if it did, Tottenham would be looking forward to the season with a squad of about seven senior players.

“It’s extremely unfair for players, clubs and managers as they prepare for the beginning of the league,” he continued.

“There has been a conversation about this between the managers in England but abroad, in UEFA Meetings (we have to) propose a closure before the league starts.

“I think it is something that makes sense and let’s everyone focus on one direction. It’s the same for everyone at the moment but it doesn’t mean it’s right.”

To put those words into context, Villas-Boas is hoping in the next few hours to sign Lyon keeper Hugo Lloris and Porto midfielder Joao Moutino, while offloading the aforementioned Rafael van der Vaart. Not exactly practising what he preaches, is he.


Sao Paulo striker Luis Fabiano has admitted deliberately getting himself booked in the second half of Thursday night’s game, and earning an automatic suspension for a third yellow card, in order to avoid the trip to Salvador for a match against Bahia.

“When I want to receive a yellow card, nobody gives me one, and when I don’t want one, they rain down on me,” the former Sevilla striker told reporters.

“I wanted to sit out the Bahia game. It’s a long journey and I’ve just come back from injury, I wanted to prepare myself for the sequence of games we have coming up.”

I suppose we should commend his honesty, although in Europe, similar cases have resulted in an extended suspension. Such a fate seems unlikely to befall Fabiano, not least because it came with the approval of his coach, Ney Franco.

“I asked him to force the yellow card. He took a long time to take a throw-in and the rule is clear, he has to be booked,” said the coach.