Manchester City fans fretting over the possible departure of Carlos Tevez, will sleep easier now that a suitable replacement appears to have been found. Fellow Argentinian, Sergio Aguero, marked his debut City with two goals in his new club’s impressive 4-0 thrashing of Swansea on Monday night.
It was a dream start for Aguero, who showed no signs of first night nerves, nor any indication that he will be burdened by the £38 million City paid for him last month. And to think, they could have got Andy Carroll for that amount…
Aguero’s performance drew rave notices and his manager, Roberto Mancini, compared him to Brazilian legend Romario.
“Sergio is a photocopy of Romario, they are the same player,” said Mancini. “He is not 100% yet but he is going to be fantastic for us.”
For those of you too young to remember Romario, he was a wonderfully intuitive striker who claimed to have scored more than a 1000 goals over the course of a long and illustrious career – although some of those included goals scored in friendlies, exhibtion matches and a few on Copacabana beach.
Here are ten of his finer goals, as selected by the player himself. Rarely has a toe poke been so elegantly and effectively utilised.
One the move
As one striker arrives in England, another bids farewell. Robbie Keane has completed his move to LA Galaxy and in so doing, fulfilled a lifelong ambition. No, honestly, he has. You don’t think he’d make that up do you? If you need further proof of his insincerity, just you watch him kissing his shirt when he scores for his new club.
“I am delighted, honoured and very excited to be joining the LA Galaxy,” said the Irish international I have always wanted to come and play in MLS so it’s the perfect combination for me and a dream come true.”
At LA, Keane will team up with David Beckham and Landon Donovan, in a Tinseltown remake of the Three AmEgos.
You may wish to sit down before reading this next sentence: FIFA have been told by a global anti-corruption group that they are not doing enough to clean up the game.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter asked Transparency International for advice after allegations of election bribery, World Cup vote-rigging and officials unethically seeking favours tarnished the organization’s reputation.
TI said that, despite recent measures to deal with corruption, world soccer’s governing body still gave the impression of being an unaccountable organisation run “like an old boys’ network”. Wo’d have thought.
“FIFA says it wants to reform, but successive bribery scandals have left public trust in it at an all time low,” said Sylvia Schenk, TI’s senior advisor on sport.
The report recommends that FIFA publish detailed financial reports, including executive bonuses and staff salaries. It also suggests FIFA protect whistleblowers, limit elected officials’ terms and insist that countries comply with reforms before being allowed to enter the World Cup.
It added that a new group should be created to monitor FIFA, composed of elder statesmen, sponsors, media and civil society, and inside football, such as players, referees and supporters.
Blatter has already taken some steps in this direction and promised to create a new committee to act as a watchdog, mentioning former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as a potential member. Tom Lehrer would have a field day with that one.
Boca Juniors fans has good reason to enjoy their side’s 4-0 demolition of newly-promoted Union last night. Not only did the result take the Buenos Aires club to the top of the Apertura standings, but it also offered their supporters the first chance on home soil to have a laugh at their arch-rivals River Plate.
Boca fans lit candles wrapped in the badge of River Plate, who suffered the ignominy of relegation last season, and chanted “we won’t be playing with the chickens ever again”. They call their rivals Las Gallinas (chickens) for their failure to win crucial games in the past.
Here’s a bird’s eye view of the fans at last night’s game:
Money, money, money
Cameroon captain Samuel Eto’o will complete a big-money move to Anzhi Makhachkala this week, according to the Italian press.
The protracted transfer saga between Inter and the big-spending Russian outfit is due to be concluded with a fee of around €20-30 million being agreed and Eto’o signing a deal worth €15-20 million a season. Yes, that’s right, a season!
I wonder if Eto’o will have the chutzpah of Robbie Keane and declare that it has always been his dream to live in the North Caucucus.
Another player set to fulfil a lifelong dream of playing in Dagestan is Ukrainian international Anatoliy Timoshchuk, who is set to join Anzi after finding out he was surplus to requirements at Bayern Munich.
Dream come true
Inter’s replacement for Samuel Eto’o looks like being Diego Forlan who is the latest player to be deserting the sinking ship that is Atletico Madrid.
“Yes, it’s true,” confirmed the Uruguay striker when asked about a move to Inter. “I’ve received an offer from Inter and to play in Milan would be my dream.”
Another dreamer. Who would have thought that professional footballers were so romantic?
Sighs of relief at Fenerbahce as the club have avoided relegation for their reported part in Turkey’s match-fixing scandal.
The Turkish Football Federation have announced that no clubs from the Turkish Super Lig implicated in the scandal will be relegated, though a final decision will arrive following a decision from the courts.
But TFF president Mehmet Ali Aydinlar announced that a definitive verdict was unable to be reached due to a lack of evidence.
“Disciplinary proceedings are missing some of the evidence required to be fair. This is why we can’t punish anyone. For this, a final decision will be expected another time,” he said.
Silence of the fans
German club Hoffenheim have apologised after an employee used a high-frequency sound system to drown out visiting fans’ during their 1-0 win over champions Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.
“An employee came forward and admitted that he had put in the equipment,” the Bundesliga side said in a statement on Tuesday.
The club said the employee had wanted to create an “antidote” to what he thought were unbearable insults against Hoffenheim’s major investor, billionaire Dietmar Hopp. He certainly managed that.
This clip shows footage of the visiting fans competing against the Hoffenheim sound system.
With the start of the Serie A season already in jeopardy because of a contract dispute, the last thing Italian football needs is a fresh dispute. So, one can imagine the looks of consternation across the country’s boardrooms when news of the new ‘solidarity tax’ emerged.
The tax is being imposed by the Italian government on high earners as part of its austerity package. The usually-reliable Gazzetta dello Sport estimated the tax would cost Serie A teams about €50 million.
Milan vice president Adriano Galliani insists the players, not the clubs, should pay.
”Those making €90,000 will have to pay it, I don’t see why those who make millions shouldn’t do it,” Galliani was quoted as saying in Corriere della Sera. ”Otherwise, as far as I’m concerned the players can go on strike for the rest of their lives.”
Whether remarks like these will form the basis for meaningful negotiations with the players, remains to be seen. However, if I was a betting man, I’d wager not.
Manchester City’s sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways is to be analysed by UEFA’s financial fair play (FFP) boss.
“I have some questions, yes,” said Jean-Luc Dehaene, the chairman of UEFA’s Club Financial Control Panel. “But it would be dangerous for our authority if we take judgements without facts.”
The 71-year-old confirmed his panel would “benchmark” all deals to make sure they were “fair value”.
The 10-year Etihad deal, reportedly worth £400m, makes City the most valuable sporting brand in the world bar none; you can make your own mind up whether that figure represents “fair value”
A word of warning to any Joey Barton wannabes out there: even if the match officials miss an offence it’s unlikely that the TV cameras won’t pick up on it.
Elfsborg’s Andreas Augustsson probably thought he’d got away without punishment after elbowing IFK Gothenburg’s Elmar Bjarnason in the face. If it wasn’t for those meddling cameras, he probably would have done.