The Mancunian Candidates

We’ll never hear the end of this. The season may only be two matches old, the insufferable gloating can’t be that far off. The good folk of Manchester, never shy when it comes to extolling the virtues of their beloved city, will feel that their birthdays, christmases and the reopening of the Hacienda have all come at once, now that United and City sit astride the Premier League.

A youthful looking United side (average age 23) joined City at the top of the table when they comfortably disposed of Tottenham  at Old Trafford. The pick of the goals in the 3-0 win was Anderson’s, following a clever back heel from Danny Welbeck.

Staying put

One player missing from Tottenham’s line-up was midfielder Luka Modric. The Croat has been the subject of several bids from Chelsea this summer, but Spurs’ boss, Harry Redknapp, insists the player is staying at White Hart Lane. Whether he likes it or not.

“Let’s be truthful, he wanted to go,” conceded a refreshingly candid Redknapp. “He’s had an offer, someone has made him an offer and he knows what he could earn elsewhere and sees it as an opportunity to move.

“He’s not been in the right frame of mind but we can’t go on like that, we’ve got to get him playing.”

So, that would appear to be that.

Zico to Iraq

Brazil legend Zico has agreed terms with Iraq to become their coach for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

“Everything’s agreed, I and my lawyers have sent a draft contract there [to Iraq]. It’s all OK as far as I’m concerned, all that remains is to sign the contract,” Zico told Reuters.

The former Brazil midfielder will lead Iraq through the third round of the continent’s qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup finals. They are in Group A with Jordan, China and Singapore for the stage that starts next month.

Zico said he was looking forward to the opportunity and was not deterred by the prospect of the violence in Iraq.

“It’s the big challenge of my life. I want to overcome everything with a lot of work and motivation,” he said, adding he hoped to travel to Iraq on Thursday.

After the months of infighting he endured in his previous job as a director of Flamengo, a spell in Baghdad will seem like a holiday.

Stepping down

The Colombian Football Federation has finally confirmed that coach Hernan Dario Gomez has quit his post.

Gomez offered to resign on August 9 after he struck a woman in a Bogota bar, but he was asked to reconsider by several players. However, the Colombian federation, under pressure from womens groups in Colombia, has finally accepted his departure.

Gómez, who has the unfortunate nickname of El Bolillo (The Truncheon), has since issued an apology.

“I want to say publicly that I regret the incident and regret the way I lost control,” he said. “I have always admired and respected women. This act shames my mother, my wife and every single female in my family and my country.”

Goal of the day

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Molde stayed top of the table in Norway after defeating Lillestrom 1-0, courtesy of this wonderful goal from Magnus Eikrem.

The haves and the have-nots

Further proof of the growing disparity between Real Madrid, Barcelona and the rest of La Liga can be seen in the amounts companies are prepared to pay to sponsor their respective shirts.

Many clubs are without sponsorship altogether, although there have been some novel offers made by potential advertisers.

For instance, Atlético Madrid and Sevilla have received €2.5m offers from dating agency Ashley Madison. The proposals included an additional €50,000 if a player was caught being unfaithful and another €150,000 if he admitted it – unsurprisingly they were rejected. A similar proposal was offered to Chelsea, but was quickly retracted when it became clear that the number of players caught being unfaithful would have bankrupted the dating company.

The discrepancy between the haves and have-nots, can be seen here:

Clubs with shirt sponsorship deals:
Barcelona (Qatar Foundation): €30m
Real Madrid (bwin): €25m + €5m in add-ons
Athletic (Petronor): €2m
Sporting (Gijón/Asturias): €2m
Levante (Comunitat Valenciana): €1.5m
Real Sociedad (Guipuzkoa): €1.2m
Getafe (Burger King): €1m
Real Betis (CIRSA): €1m
Real Mallorca (Bet-at-home): €0.8m
Racing Santander (Chorizo Palacios): €0.4m
Granada (Caja Granada) not disclosed

Clubs without shirt sponsorship:
Atlético Madrid
Málaga (UNESCO for four years paid by the club)
Real Zaragoza
Rayo Vallecano

Dumb and dumber

Mikael Nilsson’s sending off for Brondby at AGF brought ridicule from the player’s coach, Henrik Jensen. The 33-year-old midfielder was dismissed for pushing referee Anders Hermansen, who incidentally, demonstrates that the Pierluigi Collina look is still big in refereering circles.

Jensen described it as “the dumbest thing I have ever seen on a football field.” A sentiment shared by Nilsson himself, who admitted “It is one of the dumbest things I’ve seen on a football field.”

Off the mark

Cesc Fabregas scored his first goal for Barcelona in Monday night’s Joan Gamper Trophy victory over Napoli. The pre-season trohpy is named in honour of Joan Gamper, a founding member, player, and later presdient of the club

Barcelona won 5-0 and it could have been more had they taken all their chances.

Here, they managed to hit woodwork three times within the space of a minute and still not score.

Arsenal deny report

Arsenal have taken the unusual step of denying the contents of an article published online by a supporter’s fan site.

According to the report, Arsene Wenger is at loggerheads with the Arsenal board over the club’s transfer policy. Undertstandably, he is looking to sign big-name players, while simultaneously offering huge pay rises to his established players. The club would prefer more modest targets, while offering moderate pay rises to the current staff.

The upshot of all this? Wenger has reportedly agreed to sign Gedion Zelalem, a 14-year-old Ethiopian-born player, who will pen a deal with the Gunners when he turns 16 in 2013. That should go down well with supporters.


A petition calling for Hillsborough disaster government papers to be released has reached 100,000 signatures – enough for a UK House of Commons debate to be considered.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died in the disaster at the FA cup semi-final tie against Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium on 15 April, 1989.

Families of the bereaved have been campaigning for over 20 years for the full release of documents pertaining to the tragedy.

The petition follows a ruling by Information Commissioner Christopher Graham that the papers should be published. The Cabinet Office has said it will appeal against the information commissioner’s publication decision – which followed a Freedom of Information request for the documents from the BBC.

One wonders what they have to hide.

If you wish to sign the petition, it can be found here.