Ronaldo unhappy?

Cristiano Ronaldo’s admission that he is unhappy with life at Real Madrid, has prompted a flurry of speculative headlines about the forward’s state of mind..

The fabulously wealthy and hugely successful Portugal forward refused to elaborate after Sunday’s La Liga win over Granada, but added that his current sadness stems from professional not personal reasons.

“The people who work here know why,” he said .

“Enough is enough” ran the front page of Marca over a photo of a serious looking Ronaldo.

“CR7 unsettles Madrid and activates the alarm bells after failing to celebrate his goals against Granada.”

An El Mundo comment piece was headlined “Rich, good-looking and sad.”

Radio station Cadena Ser and other media reported that Ronaldo had held a meeting with Real president Florentino Perez on Saturday where he said he did not feel he had the support of the dressing room, he was unhappy and wanted to leave.

There has also been speculation that Ronaldo is upset because he has not yet been offered an improved contract with Madrid, despite his monumental contribution on the pitch since he arrived at the Bernabeu three years ago. If that is the case, argues a columnist in AS, then the least he can do is to come out and say it.

“Cristiano has the right to be annoyed about whatever he seems fit,” he wrote.

“But it shows a lack of respect to his colleagues and the fans to be angry for reasons that one is not brave enough to make clear. If he wants more money, come out and say so.”

Ronaldo himself dismissed the idea that his feelings had anything to do with losing out to Andres Iniesta for the Best Player in Europe award on Thursday. The Portuguese, who was hotly tipped to win the award and who travelled to the ceremony with a huge entourage, was photographed looking downcast as Iniesta went up to collect the trophy.

Soap opera takes fresh twist

Liverpool owner John W. Henry has been forced to issue a statement clarifying the club’s transfer policy, amid growing criticism at the Reds failure to strengthen their forward line during the transfer window.

Henry was speaking after manager Brendan Rodgers admitted that he would not have loaned out striker Andy Carroll, had he known he would be unable to sign a replacement. Carroll made an immediate impact at his new club West Ham on Saturday, while 24 hours later, an impotent Liverpool slumped to a 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal.

With the natives of Liverpool growing restless and many parts of Scandinavia unhappy too, Henry’s statement was a carefully worded riposte to those who have question his running of the club.

The blame for the current predicament, he claimed, lay with the previous regime, but there was also a refreshing acknowledgement that the new owners had also made a number of mistakes.

“We are still in the process of reversing the errors of previous regimes,” he said. “It will not happen overnight.

“It has been compounded by our own mistakes in a difficult first two years of ownership. It has been a harsh education, but make no mistake, the club is healthier today than when we took over.”

As for the long term, the ambition remains the same.

Henry added: “Our ambitions do not lie in cementing a mid-table place with expensive, short-term quick fixes that will only contribute for a couple of years.” Thus ending the hope of Michael Owen returning to his former club.

Meanwhile, the search for new players continues.

Although the window has now closed, several out-of-contract players have been linked with moves to Liverpool. Owen remains available, while his former England team-mate, Emil Heskey, is also also on the look out for a new club. One respected columnist in the Times even suggested that 37-year-old former Anfield legend Robbie Fowler could still do a job – though in what capacity remains unclear. If the situation continues to unravel for Rodgers, it can only be a matter of time before the call goes out for the return of Kenny Dalglish – not as a manager, though, but as a player.

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

Paolo di Canio has cemented his reputation as one of football’s more off-the-wall managers by hauling off his goalkeeper after just 21 minutes and then publicly berating the hapless player for his attitude.

Wes Foderingham was substituted midway through the first half of Swindon’s 4-1 defeat to Preston at the weekend and reacted to the decision by shouting at his manager and booting a water bottle on the touchline before going to sit in the stands. In the circumstances he was the model of restraint: many in his position would have shouted at the water bottle and booted di Canio on the touchline.

“[Wes Foderingham] is one of the worst players I have ever seen,” said the Italian. “There was no reason why I could not change him for a substitute. He was the worst player against Stoke in midweek but we won that game 4-3. Any player can make a mistake but it was his arrogance and ignorance that was the worst I have seen from a professional. Not as a person but as an athlete.

“If he does not say sorry to the fans, he will be out of my team. I don’t mind, these are my rules. Maybe he behaved like this because the window has closed. But an emergency loan is possible and I’m ready to bring in a goalkeeper.”

The manager demanded an apology of the player who, perhaps fearful of getting on the wrong side of someone as unhinged as di Canio, has complied.

“Wes has apologised,” di Canio told the club’s official website. “The situation is now clear and we will move on and work together. He is a genuine guy and a strong character.

“The rules are there and he will pay his price for his actions. He has been fantastic for us last and this season, but he didn’t behave well on Sunday.

“He will have his chance to be a part of the team and be available for selection against Oxford on Wednesday night.”

Here’s Foderingham reaction to being substituted on Saturday.

Goal of the day

Rolling back the years, Francesco Totti produced a wonderful assist for Pablo Osvaldo to score in Roma’s 3-1 away win at Inter. The finish wasn’t bad either.

Feeling unwell

It was a dismal reunion for Dinamo Moscow coach, Dan Petrescu, when he came face to face with his former club  FC Kuban on Sunday. Languishing at the foot of the Russian Premier League, it was Dynamo’s sixth defeat in seven league games this season.

Petrescu was watching the match from the dugout for the first time after serving out a six-match touchline ban. It was an emotional afternoon for the Romanian and he stormed off after his side conceded a late goal and refused to attend the post-match press conference.

“Petrescu doesn’t feel well,” Dynamo spokesman Konstantin Alexeev said after the match.

You can see Petrescu making a hasty exit immediately after Aras Ozbiliz stunning last minute winner.

Fan power

Johan Neeskens needed a police escort to protect him from angry supporters after his Mamelodi Sundowns side lost a league match on Sunday.

Police were called in to restrain a crowd of angry fans, chanting for Neeskens to be sacked and threatening to attack him after the 2-1 defeat at home to Maritzburg United in a premier league match.

Two previous Sundowns coaches – Frenchman Henri Michel and Spaniard Antonio Lopez – both departed after comparable threats of fan violence following a sequence of poor results.

Neeskens, though, is made of strener stuff, and he cut a defiant figure when quizzed about the scenes afterwards.

“I’m also frustrated, the same as the fans; people from the club and the players, we all need to get over this. We have to take responsibility and try to regroup,” Neeskens said.

“It’s okay if another coach is coming, it’s okay, but that is up to the club board to decide. I want to continue because I want to fight. I want to come out of this and also with the players that are available, only by fighting hard can we come out of this as a team.

“I cannot do it alone; you need all the support, but that needs to start from the players. They have to take responsibility on the field.”

Banner of the day

Marseille fans appear to have warmed to new signing Joey Barton already, displaying a banner in his honour at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday before their 3-1 win over Rennes in Ligue 1.

The banner said ‘Welcome Sweet And Tender Hooligan‘ which is a reference to a song from Barton’s favourite band The Smiths.

“I already love the fans of L’OM. The Smiths banner is impressive? Non?” wrote Barton on Twitter after posting the picture.

The QPR midfielder joined Marseille on loan for the season and he his arrival has caused quite a stir in France.

”Barton is more than a bad boy – above all that, he is a good player,” sporting director Jose Anigo said.

New team mate Andre Ayew told the club’s official website: “He has a lot of experience that we can learn from him. I’ve already talked to him and he is very interesting.”

Not everyone in France was quite so welcoming though. His former team-mate at Manchester City, Ousmane Dabo, called Barton ‘a nasty traitor.’

Barton was handed a four-month suspended jail sentence in 2007 after assaulting Dabo during training.

“He is nasty, a traitor. Sometimes I get the impression we have rolled out the red carpet for him. I speak to remind people that Barton is a very violent player, far from the image he tries to portray since arriving at Marseille,” Dabo told L’Equipe.

“We condemned Jeremy Menez, Samir Nasri and Yann M’Vila for little things and then the French media is very forgiving with someone who has committed horrible things, as recently as May. No one wanted him in England . . . that means there is probably a reason.

“(With our history) There was a trial, he pleaded guilty and accepted a four-month suspended sentence. When he speaks, he denies it, he said I initiated it. All the team members present during the assault testified in my favour.

“He says he is a man, a bad boy, but he is just a coward.”

Can’t say fairer than that.

How the mighty have fallen

It doesn’t seem too long ago that whenever a high profile coaching position arose, Sven Goran Eriksson’s name would at or near the very top of the list of candidates linked with the vacancy. Not any more though. In a sign that you’re only as good as your last job, the Swede has been appointed the new technical director of Thai club BEC Tero Sasana.

It’s been a steep and quite spectacular decline in fortune for the man who only two years ago was managing the Ivory Coast at the World Cup. Now, after an underwhelming spell in charge of Championship side, Leicester City, Eriksson has pitched up in Thailand.

“I look forward to this job. I’m happy, otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” Eriksson told a packed news conference through gritted teeth in Bangkok.

“What other people think is not that important for me anymore.”

“The standard (of Thai soccer) today is much better. There are many good things. Of course, it will be a nice experience for me. And looking forward to it.”

Quote of the day

“I have to apologise to all of the fans and spectators. We were inferior right from the start and the goals were inevitable.”

A rare moment of candour from a football manager. Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath delivers an apology to fans following the Wolves’ 4-0 defeat at home to Hannover.

Back in favour

Nothing succeeds like failure, it seems. Diego Maradona, sacked in July as coach of Dubai’s Al Wasl, has been appointed as Honorary Ambassador of Sports in Dubai.

It’s a shrewd appointment. The Argentine is clearly not equipped – emotionally, at least – to manage a football club, but his mere presence immediately raises the country’s profile. He will be responsible for developing the game  in Dubai – a suitably vague role for a person with no discernible managerial skills. Moreover, he has been offered just a 12 month contract, which will spare Dubai too much embarrassment – not to mention cash – if and when the inevitable bust up occurs.

“The Dubai Sports Council and I have discussed a few ideas regarding what should be done in the coming period in the field of sports to discover new talent in the coming generation of local athletes. This was the greatest incentive for me to accept this mission,” Maradona said.

“Hosting successful global sporting events has put Dubai on the global sports map, and I trust that this will help to encourage more home-grown stars to come out to challenge the rest of the world.”