Pressure grows

The pressure continues to grow on Andre Villas-Boas. Tuesday’s 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool in the Carling Cup may not have been Chelsea’s most significant defeat of the season, but it maintained a losing run that is in danger of becoming habitual.

After going through an entire league season in Portugal unbeaten as coach of Porto, Villas-Boas has lost six in three months at Chelsea and seen his stock plummet quicker than those of Thomas Cook.

This novel experience has elicited from the Portuguese a novel excuse: he thinks the fans aren’t doing enough to help the players.

“We need to get our fans behind us,” the Portuguese said in his post-match press conference.

“You can feel Stamford Bridge has become anxious about Chelsea playing at home. We need their full support and the only way to get that is by the fans getting behind us.”

You can’t blame the fans for their anxiety. Twelve months watching Fernando Torres fluff his lines, would unsettle the most stoic of supporters.

On his way

Primera Division side Racing Santander have terminated the contract of coach Hector Cuper. The Argentinian, much travelled, or frequently sacked, depending upon how charitable one was feeling, leaves after recording just one win in his opening 13 games in charge.

“Real Racing Club and coach Hector Cuper have agreed to end their working relationship,” a statement on the club’s official website read. “This mutual decision was taken during a meeting, in which the coach and the board discussed the team’s current problems and agreed that the best solution would be for both parties to separate.”

Goal of the day

Barcelona bounced back from their first defeat of the season at the weekend to record an emphatic 4-0 win over Rayo Vallecano. The pick of the goals was this curler from Alexis Sanchez.

The game also featured this delightful piece of skill by Lionel Messi.

Keep your enemies close

Barcelona’s win meant that Real Madrid’s lead at the top of the table was halved to three points. As Barcelona were strutting their stuff on the pitch, the Real players were enjoying a well-earned night out at the annual AS awards evening.

Someone on the organising committee of the lavish bash obviously had a sense of humour and thought it would be fun to seat Cristiano Ronaldo at the same table as Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo. If the person responsible for the seating plan ever fancies a career change, may I advise he or she steers well clear of the wedding planner business.

The meeting came days after a feisty Madrid derby, during which two Atletico players were sent off and Cristiano Ronaldo was the recipient of some robust challenges.

Ronaldo asked about the tackle that caused him an injury, to which Cerezo responded by listing the dirty players in the Real Madrid side.

It’s quite a memorable encounter, if only to see the look of indignation on the face of the world’s second best player.

Neymar pays the price

Neymar has been ordered to pay 6,000 euros in compensation to referee Sandro Meira Ricci after insulting the 37-year-old on Twitter.

The 19-year-old Santos forward was unhappy with the match official’s work after his side’s league defeat to Vitoria in 2010 and vented his frustration on the microblogging website.

Neymar tweeted that Santos “are always harmed by referees” and went as far as to call Ricci, who awarded a penalty against the Copa Libertadores winners during that match, a “thief”.

The Brazil international’s attorneys had claimed that it was a friend of the player who had made the tweets, but that plea fell on deaf ears.

“The responsibility is not on who tweeted that message,” Ricci’s attorney, Giuliano Bozzano, said. “It is Neymar’s account and his password, so the player must be held accountable.”

Player attacked

Football’s World Players’ Union (FIFPro) are to show FIFA and UEFA footage of an attack on FC Krasnodar footballer Spartak Gogniev, which occurred during a match in Chechnya.

The incident took place during the match between the reserve squads of Russian Premier League sides Terek Grozny and FC Krasnodar, which took place in the Chechen capital earlier this month.

After being shown a second yellow card, Gogniev pushed the referee as he was ushered from the field. He was then attacked by a group of people, including Terek staff, the local fans and the stadium security as well.

After escaping into the players’ tunnel, he was attacked by a group of men dressed in police uniforms, who proceeded to beat him with batons, resulting in him suffered concussion, a broken nose and several broken ribs.

Gogniev was banned for six matches for his (passive) role in the events, while one of the coaches and the administrator of Terek’s reserve were banned from football for a year, with the team ordered to play two of their forthcoming home games at a neutral venue.

Dejan Stefanovic, spokesman of FIFPro’s Task Force Eastern Europe, told the Union’s official website. “We will show FIFA’s and UEFA’s secretary generals and the members of both Executive Committees a video of the incident, because this incident and the way the Russian Federation has handled Gogniev’s case need to be discussed by the Executive Committees of both FIFA and UEFA. These Executive Committees must also force their bodies to come into action.”

Here’s the attack and the moments leading up to it.

Cries for help

The chief executive of the Sporting Chance clinic says he has been contacted by 10 professional footballers since Gary Speed’s death.

Peter Kay claims that the players that have contacted his clinic – which was set up in 2000 to provide support and treatment to sportsmen and women who are suffering from addictive illnesses – are from the Premier League and the lower divisions.

“Ten players have contacted me to seek help since the news broke,” said Kay. “That is an unusual amount.

“But I’m loath to suggest Gary Speed’s tragic death can be linked to anything positive,” he added.

“We’re talking about players across all the leagues,” he told BBC Radio 5 live. “Mental illness does not preclude anyone. Regardless of profession, wealth or status.

“I can’t imagine the desperation someone feels when they get to [the stage of suicide].

“But through my own personal experiences and my staff’s personal experiences, we can help sporting professionals feel less lonely.”

Ronaldo given World Cup role

Venues in Brazil may not be finished in time for the 2014 World Cup, and the internal infrastructure of the country shows no sign of being ready to cope with the millions of expected visitors, but one thing’s for sure, the buffets will be top of the range, all-you -can-eat treats. Brazilian footballing legend and eating machine extraordinaire, Ronaldo, will make sure of that.

The World Cup’s all-time leading scorer has been drafted in to head the country’s organisation of the 2014 finals, and what he doesn’t know about buffets could be written down on the back of a wafer thin mint. Unfortunately, his knowledge of organising the world’s biggest sporting event is a little more sketchy.

Only 24 hours after he claimed he knew nothing about a possible role, Ronaldo has been drafted in to help plan the 2014 finals.

According to reports in Brazil, he has accepted an invitation by Brazil Football Confederation (CBF) president Ricardo Teixeira and will be officially unveiled on Thursday.

“Ronaldo will be the organisation’s strongman, the voice and image of the 2014 Cup along with the city venues, (federal, state and city) governments and FIFA,” O Estado de Sao Paulo reported on its website.

Old friends

Samir Nasri enjoyed a hostile reception on his return to the Emirates for the first time since his move to Manchester City in the summer.

A the time of his move to City, young Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong made clear his feelings about Nasri’s motives for leaving by tweeting that money was the root of all evil.

An Arsenal spokesperson confirmed the bust-up and said: “Words were exchanged – that was that, there were no punches thrown but there was a lot of noise. Sami was speaking in French and Mani wasn’t. It was handbags but they didn’t even touch.”

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, displaying an endearing lack of bitterness against his former player, suggested that the spectators, who had booed Nasri’s every touch, were just demonstrating their love for the Frenchman.

“You want players who have played for us respected,” Wenger said. “It is his first time back, I think it was more ‘disappointed love’ than anger. I am sure they love him but because they love him, they responded like that – they wanted him here.”


Nigeria Premier League club Bayelsa United have been rocked by the sudden death of Aruwa Ameh.

The 20-year-old striker, who was top scorer in the league in the 2007 season with Kaduna United, moved to Bayela United where he won the league title in 2008.

He was admitted to hospital after complaining of pain in his arm after a training session last week but died in hospital after suffering from paralysis.

“We are shocked,” club chairman Victor Baribote told

“I have asked the family to keep us informed about the plans they are making, and we will try to be involved as much as possible.”

“I spoke to him just last week when I was trying to explain to him how we were working hard to make sure their money is released so we can pay them what they are owed. This is shocking.”