Not wasting time

Manchester United have wasted no time in securing a replacement for Sir Alex Ferguson. The Premier League champions have appointed David Moyes as their new manager on a Pardewesque 6-year-deal.

The deal became a formality when Moyes club, Everton, confIrmed that he would be leaving at the end of the year. His former club thanked him for services rendered and wished him well, in what will be a more challenging environment that the one he has inhabited for the past 11 years.

Ferguson, who is stepping down after 26 years in charge, said: “When we discussed the candidates that we felt had the right attributes we unanimously agreed on David Moyes.

“David is a man of great integrity with a strong work ethic. I’ve admired his work for a long time and approached him as far back as 1998 to discuss the position of assistant manager here.

“He was a young man then at the start of his career and has since gone on to do a magnificent job at Everton. There is no question he has all the qualities we expect of a manager at this Club.”

It’s interesting that Ferguson, though no longer the manager of United, issued the statement that confirmed his successor.

It does revive memories of the problems endured following the departure of United’s other knighted manager, Sir Matt Busby, whose refusal to walk away completely from United, was seem as one of the key destabilisers in the short-lived, ill-fated reigns of his successors Wilf McGuinness and Frank O’Farrell. Indeed, Busby briefly returned to his managerial duties after McGuinness had been sacked and even though he stepped down again shortly afterwards, his shadow loomed large over the hapless O’Farrell.

Will history repeat itself? With Ferguson, one wouldn’t bet against it.

Burning his bridges

To submit one transfer request is forgivable, but twice and you’re either really greedy or desperate to leave. In the case of Wayne Rooney, who has asked to leave Manchester United, probably both.

It was in October 2010 that Rooney first asked to leave United, but an assurance from Sir Alex Ferguson that the club was still competitive combined with the small matter of a £250,000 a week pay packet, persuaded the striker to stay.

Now, on the back of an erratic season punctuated by some fitful performances and some questions over his fitness levels, United are unlikely to blink first in any game of poker. If Rooney wants out, United may well see the chance to cash in on a declining asset too hard to resist.

The announcement that Rooney wants out coincides with the expected arrival at Old Trafford of David Moyes, although given the striker submitted his transfer request two weeks ago, we can be fairly confident that it was not the prospect of a reunion with his former Everton boss that prompted a desire to leave.

Several of Europe’s big hitters have been linked with Rooney, although significantly, none thus far, have declared an interest in signing a player who can no longer command a starting place in United’s starting XI. The astronomical wages, the concerns over fitness and temperament, all combine to make him a hard sell.

Nonetheless, and despite United issuing a statement insisting he is not for sale, Rooney  has now removed the term “Manchester United player” from his Twitter page and replaced it with “NikeUK athlete”. Perhaps that’s where he will end up: a roving ambassador for a brand flogging overpriced sports gear made by underpaid workers in rundown sweatshops. How apt.

Match fixing rife

The president of Deportivo La Coruna, Augusto Cesar Lendoiro, has suggested match-fixing is widespread in La Liga while denying his own club is involved.

Lendoiro told reporters that a host of games towards the end of the season had been thrown as a matter of course.

“Almost all the final matches of the season have been fixed in one way or another,” Lendoiro said.

He blamed Depor’s relegation in 2010-11 on match-fixing and said it was widely known that clubs were being paid to throw games to help others avoid the drop to the second division.

“Let all soccer fans be absolutely clear, Deportivo has never taken part – I will put my neck on the line for the players and the board of directors – in this kind of match-fixing,” Lendoiro added.

Javier Tebas, the new president of the professional league (LFP), who has vowed to stamp out match fixing, claimed it was a problem that only involved “a minority” of one percent of clubs.

“It is a cancer that must be eradicated and it has the same effect,” Tebas said.

“If you don’t take immediate action it will spread and turn into metastasis and will destroy our sport.”

Name change?

The Joao Havelange Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro had a nice ring to it if you were the kind of person who would name a stadium after a corrupt sports administrator.

Havelange quit as FIFA’s honorary president last month, shortly before the publication of a report by the federation’s ethics committee into allegations he took bribes from the ISL sports marketing company while president of football’s governing body.

In the wake of the revelations, Rio politicians presented a bill on Wednesday requesting a name change.

IOC vice president Thomas Bach said any stadium name needed to be in line with the IOC’s ethics policy.

“The IOC is in the good position to be able to build on6 the zero tolerance policy against doping, corruption and any kind of manipulation,” Bach said.

“I would be very happy to continue with this zero tolerance policy for the sake of the credibility of the Olympic Games, the IOC and sports in general.”

While his comments did not specifically mention Havelange, an IOC member from 1963 until a surprise resignation in 2011, Bach’s comments are in stark contrast with those of Rio Games organisers.

Games chief operating officer Leonardo Gryner had called Havelange “a historical icon in Brazilian sport,” as recently as the London 2012 Olympics and said the name would stay. “We in Rio 2016, I, have a lot of pride to be associated with Joao Havelange.”

Asked to say whether his position meant a name change for the stadium, Bach said: “I told you very clearly that it would be following the zero tolerance policy on ethics and I think from this you can draw your conclusions.”

A Swiss prosecutor said in a legal document last July that Havelange and former FIFA executive committee member Ricardo Teixeira took multi-million bribes from ISL on World Cup deals in the 1990s.

The FIFA ethics committee report also said that “not inconsiderable amounts” were funnelled to Havelange and Teixeira from ISL.

Teixeira, formerly Havelange’s son-in-law, was president of the Brazilian Football Confederation from 1989 until last year.

The Joao Havelange stadium is due to be used for the athletics events when Rio hosts the 2016 Olympics, although the opening and closing ceremonies will be at the Maracana.

Too good to be true

The unprecedented demand for tickets for the all-German final of the Champions League between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will ensure that many will end up disappointed – some, it transpires, more than others.

Up to a million people are reported to have applied for tickets for the final, but with Wembley having a capacity of 86,000, most will miss out. Nevertheless, some fans have been snapping up tickets on the internet at surprisingly low prices.

Two days before the men’s final, Wolfsburg take on Lyon, also in London (at Stamford Bridge), in the Champions League Final for women, with tickets at just £10 and £5.

In their haste to get a ticket for the game of their dreams at a cut price, fans have failed to read the small print.

The competing finalists will receive 25,000 tickets each, with a whopping 27,000 tickets going to the sponsors and partners of UEFA and 9,000 tickets were raffled off by UEFA up until mid-March.

Goal of the day

Emmanuel Adebayor has not enjoyed the best of seasons with Tottenham, but he conjured up a wonderful solo effort in the 2-2 draw with Chelsea.

Quote of the day

“But do you really think we played badly in the Europa League? I think the sceptics have lost sight of reality. Anzhi have survived the group stage then saw off a tough team in Hannover 96. I’m also proud of the way we played against Newcastle and I don’t think we have failed.”

After reaching the Russian Cup final, Anzhi Makhachkala Guus Hiddink bristles when asked why his players couldn’t reproduce their domestic cup form in this season’s Europa League.

Keeping it in the family

The children of Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano are asking a court to rule him mentally incapable after his announcement that he plans to marry a woman 50 years his junior.

Surely, the fact that he is preparing to marry a woman 50 years his junior confirms he is more than capable. Perhaps the family should test the mental acuity of his bride-to-be.

The 86-year-old Argentine has said he will marry Gina Gonzalez, a 36-year-old Costa Rican, sometime in the next month.

Di Stefano was voted European player of the year in 1957 and 1959 and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.

Peace keeper

Juventus coach Antonio Conte turned peace keeper during his side’s 1-0 win at Atalanta.

After supporters in the stands began throwing fireworks and smoke bombs at each other, the referee was forced to stop the game.

The trouble prompted Conte and Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini to make frantic appeals to their own supporters to calm down and restore order in the stands. Eventually, the fans took heed and play resumed.


Spare a thought for Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov who has retired from football as he continues his fight against acute leukaemia.

The Bulgarian midfielder, 33, was diagnosed with the condition in March 2012 but is now in remission.

“It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement,” he said.

“The emotions are overwhelming, but the continued support of family, friends and the great people I have come to know will make it easier for me to move on from the only life I’ve ever known.”

Petrov, who also played for CSKA Sofia, joined Villa in 2006 from  Celtic for £6.5m having spent seven seasons in Scotland.

He made 218 appearances for Villa in all competitions and earned 92 caps for Bulgaria, but will now devote his energies to setting up a foundation to help leukaemia sufferers.

He said in a statement  on Aston Villa’s official website: “That I am ready to embrace new challenges will make this process much easier.

“I remember when I was a young player at CSKA Sofia and the good life was all I was interested in. Celtic came in for me and I moved to Glasgow, to another country, to a new world. I didn’t speak the language and I thought it would never happen for me. I knew nobody.

“Fortunately, I met people who helped me to turn my life around. I came to know great team-mates who showed me the proper way, the way I had to be if I was going to be a serious professional and compete at a high level.

“I came to appreciate so much the opportunity to work with that level of professional people because it made me something like them. At Celtic Football Club and at Aston Villa Football Club I was privileged to live a life competing at a high level and playing the game I love, supported by the most passionate fans.”