Paying your dues

Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton must serve the remainder of his 12-game ban during his season-long loan at Marseille.

Barton has served three games of his ban, and FIFA’s rules state that sanctions imposed on a player prior to transfer “must be enforced or applied by the new association at which the player is registered”.

That’s bad news for the French club but probably a relief to French football, which will be spared the sight of the overcooked Rosbif until November. Mercifully, given the volatile nature of Marseille’s rivalry with Paris Saint-German, Barton will miss the first of their meetins this season.

A statement from the French League, the LFP, said: “Upon the transfer of Joey Barton from Queens Park Rangers to Olympique Marseille, the English Football Association transmitted to the French Football Federation the disciplinary sanction he was subject to in the English league.

Goal of the day

Stunning long range effort from Ronaldo (no, no that one) for Palmeiras against Sport Recife.

Quote of the day

“When I speak, I’m realistic and honest. At the moment we’re not one of the favourites to win the World Cup but that doesn’t mean you stop believing, working hard to improve and try to learn from mistakes you have made in previous tournaments. We have to have that faith and keep believing. You never stop believing in football. Miracles do happen.”

Steven Gerrard admits that it will take a miracle of biblical proportions for England to win the 2014 World Cup. Even with divine intervention you wouldn’t fancy their chances in a penalty shootout.

Stepping up to the plate

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has come up with a novel solution to the club’s shortage of players this season – play throughthe pain barrier!

“We are going to be stretched to the limit between now and January,” he said. “I’ve spoken to the players and told them if you get little niggles or little injuries you’ve got to man up.*”

Those Liverpool fans envisaging players on crutches hobbling around the pitch need not worry. If Rodgers was looking for that level of immobility he would have simply re-signed Robbie Keane and asked him to recreate his Anfield form. No, this is a more subtle approach, in which less-than-fit players summon up the mental strength to overcome their physical ailments. Can’t see how that can possibly go wrong.

Rodgers says he intends to to put his faith in young players before he has the option to make signings again in the January transfer window. It’s not as if he has much choice, mind.

Discussing his faith in youth, Roders added: “I have an inherent belief in young players. They have to have the talent and the personality. A young player will run through a barbed wire fence for you. An older player will look for a hole in the fence.”

A neat line of business-speak he’s clearly lifted from one of the multitiude of self help manuals that litter the bookshelves of his Melwood office.

There’s good money to be made by the first person to produce the book devoted to such Rodgerisms.

*Taken from Page 174 of the dossier: Chapter Injuries – motivational speeches thereof.

Regrets, he’s had a few

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has been speaking about the biggest regret of his career.

Somewhat surprisingly, it didn’t involve grannies or prostitutes, but turns out to be a transfer request he submitted at Manchester United.

Rooney, presumably prompted by his avaricious agent, Paul Stretford, thought it would be a good idea to threaten to leave United unless he was offered a new, improved contract. It was an unseemly request, handled tactlessly, but one that worked for him, as United capitulated to make him the highest paid player on their books.

In his latest autobiography, which is being serialised by the Daily Mirror, Rooney recalls: “In September 2010 my ankle puts me on the sidelines. I get frustrated with myself, my game, my injury, and everything around me. I’m stuck in a cycle of bad form but I can’t get out of it. And that’s when I make the biggest mistake of my football career.”

“In October, I release a statement which publicly questions my happiness at Old Trafford. Am I better off elsewhere?”

“Everyone makes a fuss. There are discussions inside United to sort out the issue, people outside United chuck their opinions around, but the thing is, nobody really knows what’s going on in my life.

“None of them understand where I am in my career. They don’t know where my head’s at.

“Then the manager has his say. ‘Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you have in your own field. And it never really works that way’.”

“And with the talk of cows it began to make sense. The boss wants me to eat better quality beef and so I head out for a burger, but not to McDonalds this time. No, it’s Gourmet Burger King for me from now on.”

No, that last line is of course fabricated, but it’s probably not that far from the truth.

Winter World Cup

UEFA President Michel Platini has reiterated his call for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be played in winter to avoid the debilitating heat of the desert summer where temperatures can reach 50 degrees.

Platini remains hopeful that Qatar will accept calls to switch the World Cup from its traditional June-July slot.

“I hope it will take place in winter and I’m still pushing for that,” said Platini.

“It would be far better for the fans.

“It couldn’t be January because that would clash with the Winter Olympics so that means November-December.”

As FIFA corruption investigators look into how Qatar won the vote to host the 2022 finals, Platini says stripping them of the right to host the tournament would be unfair.

“I don’t think you can do that now and I don’t think it will happen,” he said.

Accused of being privately urged to vote for Qatar by the French government to help secure trade deals, Platini, whose son works for the Qatari owners of Paris Saint Germain, denied he had ever succumbed to outside pressure.

Now, how on earth did he get that job?

“It’s nonsense,” Platini insisted.

“I went to a dinner once with the heads of Government of both countries but I was never asked anything about this.

“Besides, anyone who knows me knows I’d vote for who I want.

“And if there was ever a revote, I’d vote for Qatar again.

“I think it is time the region had a chance to stage the World Cup – but my preference would be for the whole Gulf area to share it.”

Justice for the 96

The Sun journalist who wrote a story alleging drunk Liverpool fans abused victims and police during the Hillsborough disaster said he was “aghast” when he saw the headline.

On 15 April 1989, 95 Liverpool fans were crushed to death on perimeter fence of Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium, which was hosting the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. A 96th victim died several years later.

Official papers will be released on Wednesday, 23 years after the disaster.

In a programme called Hillsborough: Searching for the Truth, Harry Arnold said his story had been written in a “fair and balanced way” and the controversial claims had been “allegations”. It was the editor Kelvin MacKenzie who wrote the infamous, and as it turned out utterly misleading headline,”The Truth”.

This version of events won’t come as news to anyone who’s followed the Hillsborough case but it’s always worth re-stating.

You can read the full interview with Mr Arnold here.

Nobody’s perfect

Chelsea winger  Eden Hazard needs to work on the defensive side of his game, according to Belgian FA vice-president Philippe Collin.

Hazard, the two-time France Footballer of the Year, has made an immediate impact in England since his arrival in the summer. Nevertheless, and despite being just 21, there is room for improvement, claims Collin, clearly a harsh taskmaster.

“He has technique, explosiveness and positioning. At some point he will have to work on defending, and he has no choice with that,” told Nieuwsblad. “But I have confidence that (Belgium coach) Marc Wilmots will occasionally give him a kick up his a**.

“The learning process is slow but good. If Messi should work for the team and defend, then I see no reason why Hazard should not do likewise.”

Hard times

You can always rely on Jose Mourinho to provide some decent copy on a quiet news day and today is no exception.

The Real Madrid coach has been discussing the influx of new money into football and in particular those clubs who have bought success in recent years. It’s almost as if he’s forgotten that he did exactly this with Roman Abramovich’s millions at Chelsea.

“Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich. These clubs are unique. The titles, European Cups, the history, the story, the fans … these things cannot be bought. The best players want to be with these teams,” the Portuguese told AS.

“These three I mentioned and a few others that have their cabinets full of almost hundreds of trophies. It still plays a role in players’ decisions.”

Mourinho is now hopeful that UEFA’s forthcoming Financial Fairplay (FFP) rules will level the playing field somewhat for plucky little Real, who lest we forget have topped the Deloitte league table of the world’s richest football clubs for the past 7 years.

“Platini says he will apply this (FFP) to the letter. They will impose restrictions and it will be difficult for clubs that are not well structured, even if they do have a stack of cash,” he said.

Let’s hope they don’t backdate it to examine how Real Madrid managed to clear their debts a few years ago. In 2001, by virtue of some creative accountancy and a huge helping hand from Madrid’s city council and the regional government, Madrid sold its training ground for €480m to wipe out a €290m debt. Which was nice.


Didier Drogba rejected a deadline day offer from Juventus worth more than £4million a year to stay in China, according to reports in Italy.

There has been speculation over Drogba’s future at Shanghai Shenhua since a dispute between the club’s owners became public last week. Juve thought they could tempt the striker with a cheeky bid, but he opted to remain in China.

Coincidentally, Juventus’  general director Giuseppe Marotta has admitted that they would have liked to have signed Robin van Persie but they couldn’t afford him.

“I have some regrets about Van Persie, but it would have been a bad choice for the club if we had paid 30 million euros for a player with an expiring contract,” Marotta stated to Tuttosport.

News of the Italian champions interest in van Persie did not go down too well with Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, who accused Juve of double standards.

Wenger told Corriere dello Sport: “Juventus can’t think about selling their players for €70 million and then buying new ones for a tenth of that amount. That would be too easy – it’s not possible in today’s football.”