When you walk through a storm, it never rains but it pours
Liverpool have apologised to Oldham’s Tom Adeyemi after he was racially abused by fans during Friday’s FA Cup third-round game.
A 20-year-old from Liverpool has been arrested in connection with the incident.
“Whatever the outcome of what is now a police investigation, all of us are deeply sorry for what happened and our players and our club pass on our sincere regrets to Tom Adeyemi for the upset and distress he suffered as a result of the matter at hand,” said a Liverpool statement.
“Our supporters are renowned throughout the world for their outstanding commitment, passion and fairness. They are drawn from nationalities across the globe with widely diverse backgrounds and heritages.
“The actions of any one individual do not represent our fans. Their stance on these issues is just as resolute as the club’s.”
The incident was followed by a rousing rendition of a pro-Luis Suarez song by the resolutely anti-racist Liverpool fans.
It’s not just in England that the issue of racism has reared its ugly head; the Catalan derby between Espanyol and Barcelona was tainted by monkey shouts directed at Barca’s Dani Alves.
Barcelona spokesman Toni Freixa was infuriated by the abuse as he wrote on Twitter: “The racist chants against Alves are shameful.”
Espanyol coach Mauricio Pochettino was equally forthright in his condemnation.
“We condemn it, we want to get away from these situations,” he told reporters in his post-match press conference. “We want to eradicate these things and I’m right behind that.”
The match itself ended in a 1-1 draw, a result which leaves the reining champions five points adrift of leaders Real Madrid.
Despite the deficit Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola remains confident that his side is still in the title race
“La Liga is not over yet, I do not think a significant part of the league has slipped away from us,” he said after the match.
“There are many matches left. We have a very good team above us, but they have very difficult away matches ahead.”
Only a fool would write off Barcelona’s chances, but Madrid’s record against the rest of the league does make it difficult to envisage them dropping too many points during the rest of the campaign.
One possible fly in Real’s ointment could be the reported disenchantment of the club’s leading scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese forward scored his customary goal in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Granada, but his refusal to celebrate has attracted comment from the Spanish press.
Sensitive chap that he is, the Portuguese has been upset by the criticism he has received from a minority of Madrid fans following his less-than-stellar performance in last month’s Clasico defeat to Barca.
“Since the game against Barça, a significant section of the stadium has been complaining about Ronaldo’s performances and he doesn’t like it,” Marca wrote on Sunday. “But a goal is a collective achievement, the ultimate expression of a job well done by the team.
“If Cristiano doesn’t like the way the fans are expressing themselves, the worst thing he can do is show it in the celebration of a goal. Above and beyond the individual scorer, it’s a Real Madrid goal. By the whole team.”
Here’s Ronaldo’s goal and subsequent lack of celebration.
Ronaldo’s mood is unlikely to have been improved by a decision by the Spanish government to scrap a tax loophole, meaning all foreign footballers will now have to pay 54 per cent tax on their income. Previously, under the so-called Beckham Law they were taxed at just 24 per cent.
Wayne Rooney has denied Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini’s claim that he got Vincent Kompany sent-off in Manchester United’s 3-2 FA Cup derby win over the holders at the Etihad Stadium.
Mancini felt Rooney influenced referee Chris Foy into showing defender Kompany a red card for a two-footed challenge on Nani just 12 minutes into Sunday’s entertaining third round clash.
“It was not a red card,” Mancini said. “Rooney told him his decision.”
Rooney, who was compared by his manager Sir Alex Ferguson to Paul Gascoigne for his knack of being in the headlines, tweeted: “Funny how people think i got kompany sent off. Im not ref. i didn’t give red card. But it was a clear red card. 2 footed tackle.”
Well, it was a debatable decision, but regardless, Rooney certainly didn’t cover himself in glory with his reaction. He may not have, as Mancini implied, refereed the match, but he certainly staked a claim to be one of the referee’s assistants.
Brazil v Argentina rivalry
Leonardo has responded to Diego Maradona after the Argentinian questioned the Paris Saint-Germain sporting director’s role in football.
“I don’t understand Leonardo,” Maradona said during an interview with Canal Football Club. “I did not understand him when he moved to Inter Milan from AC Milan, and I understand even less what he’s doing today with PSG.
“I wonder if he is a player, a coach, an agent or an oil dealer. I do not understand. This is proof that in football today it pays off if you know how to lobby.”
The Brazilian, demonstrating the wit and intelligence that has served him well in his post-playing career, had no difficulty identifying the Argentinian’s Achilles heel.
“He’s right. Personally, I don’t understand … but I’m happy that the second or third best player of all time behind Pele and Messi is speaking about me and about PSG. It’s great,” Leonardo told L’Equipe.
Goal of the day
Displaying Lionel Messi-like dribbling skills, Hatem Ben Arfa scored a wonderful solo goal for Newcastle United against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Just 8 months after leading QPR into the Premier League, Neil Warnock has been sacked. Not the easiest man to warm to in a managerial career that has seen its fair share of ups and downs, Warnock, nevertheless, deserves a scintilla of sympathy for his dismissal.
The 63-year-old Warnock, who appears to have mellowed in recent years, spoke fondly of his time at Loftus Road.
“Obviously I’m very disappointed, but having achieved so much, I leave the club with a great sense of pride,” he said.
“The board at QPR are hugely ambitious and I wish them every success for the future.”
“I have enjoyed my time here more than anywhere else and the QPR fans have been brilliant with me – they deserve success.”
The much-travelled Warnock might still be in a job had he not overachieved last season but instead, he has fallen victim to one English football’s perennial curses: a new owner with unrealistic expectations.
Tony Fernandes, the Malaysian businessman who bought the club last August has reportedly set his sights on Mark Hughes; undoubtedly a higher profile manager than Warnock but not necessarily one with a better record in management.
Hughes, who faced accusation of disloyalty when he walked out on his his previous club Fulham, may find that he has met his match in Fernandes.
War of words
Midfielder Marco Reus says he chose to join Borussia Dortmund over Bayern Munich because he believes they are a better side than the Bavarians.
Reports from Munich said the Borussia Monchengladbach player turned down a move to the Allianz Arena out of fear he would not play regularly, but the Germany international has denied the claims.
He told PA Sport: “If they want to think that, then let them think it – it does not bother me. I decided this way because I feel there is more potential (in Dortmund) for playing in Europe and measuring myself against the best. In my eyes, Dortmund are the better club.”
Such words are unlikely to endear him to Bayern fans next season, nor will they help dampen the increasingly puerile spat that has flared up between the two clubs in the wake of the deal.
“Dortmund have been successful in keeping up with their own understated position,” Bayern sports director Christian Nerlinger told Bild newspaper. “This is now finished with this transfer. It is a whole new step.”
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said Bayern were not threatened by their rival’s foray into the transfer market.
“Let’s wait and see how long they can keep moving on this level,” Heynckes told reporters.
Dortmund, meanwhile, employed sarcasm in their response.
“Have no fear. When we decide to change our strategy we will make sure to let Mr Nerlinger know,” Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp told reporters.
On the subject of Bayern, the Bundesliga leaders have been cited by Dutch legend, Johan Cruyff, as a template for reigning Eredivisie champions Ajax to try and emulate.
Cruyff returned to Ajax as a member of the club’s supervisory board last year with the intention of helping the side regain their status as a member of Europe’s elite.
“In my opinion, Bayern Munich represent everything a club should be about. I’d like to see something similar at Ajax,” Cruyff wrote in De Telegraaf.
Including, no doubt, the firing of Louis Van Gaal, the former Bayern coach, and now Cruyff’s bete noir at the Amsterdam ArenA.
“What Bayern have with (Uli) Hoeness and (Karl-Heinz) Rummenigge, we want to reproduce with (Dennis) Bergkamp and (Wim) Jonk,” he said.
“These guys have all enjoyed plenty of success during their active careers and have done pretty well financially, too. They don’t have to work for Bayern or Ajax for the money, but do it because they love their club.”