Mancunian candidate

Owen Hargreaves has claimed that Manchester United put his career in jeopardy by giving him the wrong treatment for his chronic injury problems.

The midfielder, now with Manchester City, started his first game in a year on Wednesday, and defied conventional medical wisdom by emerging unscathed.

Hargreaves claims various specialists have told him that United had prescribed the wrong treatment, adding that his injury “got significantly worse through the injections”.

“I’ve had to be a guinea pig for a lot of these treatments,” said Hargreaves. “But when you’re left to try to make something of a difficult situation, it’s not really an option to say: ‘Let’s sit it out and rest for six months.'”

Moreover, Hargreaves claims that he was carrying an injury into his only start for United in the 2010-11 season. Unsurprisingly, he lasted just five minutes before limping off with a hamstring injury.

Faster than a neutrino speeding under the Italian Alps, United boss,  Sir Alex Ferguson, was quick to refute the claims.

“We’re trying to analyse all the stuff he has said and there will be a statement later to address that,” Ferguson said. “As far as I am concerned my medical staff is one of the main reasons why we have been so successful over the last few years.

“Do you think we would be successful if they were not 100% brilliant? Our doctor and his five physios are fantastic – that is my opinion and that is more important than what anyone else has to say about it.”

Real thing

There’s a refreshing look to the the top of Spain’s La Liga today with newly-promoted Real Betis lying first and looking down on their supposed betters. Their 4-3 win over Real Zaragoza created a little bit of club history as it was the first time that they had won the opening four matches of a season.

Seville-based Betis, who won the Spanish title in 1934-35, are also the only club in the 20-team top division with a perfect record 100 per cent record.

Here’s all the action from the 7-goal thriller.

Vote of sympathy

German football officials and coaches have rallied behind Ralf Rangnick a day after he surprisingly resigned as head coach of Schalke 04 due to exhaustion.

The suicide of former Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke heightened public sensitivity to the mental and physical health issues affecting players and coaches.

“His energy levels are finished,” Thorsten Rarreck, Schalke team doctor, told reporters. “A Bayern Munich coach once said: ‘Empty bottle, and that is what it is.’

“When he took over here after his Hoffenheim period there was no recovery time for him. He has reached his physical limits but it is a reversible situation. This is a preventive measure.”

Rangnick said he needed a break after a six-month spell in which he led the club to the Champions League semi-finals and German Cup victory.

“I have great respect for his decision and the fact that he openly deals with his condition,” said German football association (DFB) boss Theo Zwanziger.

“Maybe the situation in this tough business called professional football has changed following the tragic death of Robert Enke.

“Maybe weaknesses and illnesses are tolerated and respected more than they were two years ago. At least that is what I hope.”

Bayer Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt added: “We all think that football is the most important thing in the world and now we realise that it is not the most important thing.

“We all need to have more respect for each other because in this system everyone puts pressure on everyone. Players on coaches, coaches on players, media on players and coaches and fans on players and coaches.”

Language barrier

Stress levels for everyone in Germany fell sharply on Thursday after Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho revealed he would not coach a club in the country. The Portuguese explained that his inability to speak German would pose a problem. His inability to speak well of anyone, would pose another.

“I’m not the kind of coach who stays at the same club in the same country for life,” he said in an interview with Sport Bild.

“It’s something that makes me better, the fact that I’m in my fourth different country. And working in countries like Italy, Spain and England makes you better and better.”

“I’d love it [to work in Germany] but to be fair, it’s very important in my skills as a coach to know the language,” he continued.

“To communicate with the players, to be with the press in a very comfortable way because the media are a very important part of our job and I’d think I wouldn’t be at the top of my potential working in Germany, so it’s out of my mind.”

“But because of the quality of the game and of many things I understand in German football, yes I would like it.

Real mess

Meanwhile, back on home territory, the cracks are starting to show at Madrid with Mourinho coming under fire from former employees of the club.

Former Real Madrid boss and general manager, Jorge Valdano, who, it should be noted has an axe to grind after losing his power battle with Mourinho, has said the club must “concentrate on football and leave to one side their complaints about referees.”

Speaking on Cadena Ser’s El Larguero radio programme, after Wednesday’s goalless draw with Racing Santander, Valdano said: “All the Madrid players wanted to prove was that they could run and fight, and they forgot about playing football.”

Real Madrid legend Michel, who played for the club between 1982 and 1996, was equally scathing.

“I can’t remember a Real Madrid game where they never had a shot on goal,” he said. “The team did not, and wasn’t able to, pick up the pace of the game, and that showed a lack of preparation. There wasn’t a piece of play where Madrid put together seven or eight passes.”

If Mourinho does falter this season, there will be no shortage of former friends and colleagues queueing up the stick the knife in. It could well be like a footballing version of Murder on the orient Express.

Power, corruption and lies

A former English agent-cum-whistleblower, is promising to name two Premier League managers who have taken bungs in a forthcoming television exposé.

Peter Harrison, who until recently represented Liverpool striker Andy Carroll – and his failure to get a cut from that £35million deal may go some way to explaining his rancour towards the sport – has spoken to the Daily Mail about the illegal payments that oil the wheels of many transfer deals.

Harrison has become persona non grata within footballing circles following his involvement five years ago in a Panorama documentary which attempted to expose wrongdoing within the game.

Understandably, work within football dried up after that was broadcast.

He said: ‘When Panorama happened it soured my relationship with a couple of people. I made a lot of money – millions – and lost a lot because of bad business  decisions, but the last two years have been horrendous.

“I’m sorry it’s come to this but I’m going to bring down two big-name managers and they know who they are. I’m doing a TV documentary and I’m exposing everything that went on.”

Harrison also lifts the lid on some deals he profited from; for instance Lucas Neill’s move from Blackburn to West Ham.

“The commission with the club is whatever you can negotiate,” he claimed.”When I took Lucas Neill to West Ham instead of Liverpool I earned £900,000 and they put the player on £72,000 a week.

“He was going to Liverpool but West Ham wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was incredible. At the time I thought it was just business – I had bills to pay, office, telephone, travel – but when I look back on it now I’m embarrassed.”

And there we were thinking that he went to West Ham for purely footballing reasons.

Peace breaks out

Financially-troubled Spanish clubs will no longer be able to escape relegation by going into administration after the government agreed a change in the law.

The news has been welcomed by representatives of the players who had listed the practice as one of their chief grievances when they called a strike that delayed the start of this season’s league competition.

Clubs in Spain faced relegation if they did not pay their players, but the Catch 22-like loophole in the law meant that they could go into administration to avoid relegation and still not have to pay the players.

“This change has been one of the main demands of the AFE for the past 18 months, achieved by the efforts of all the players,” the players’ union said in a statement.

Back in the saddle

Nothing in football succeeds like failure, so it will come as no surprise to hear that just months after being sacked by the United States, Bob Bradley has been appointed coach of Egypt.

Bradley’s last game in charge of the USA was a 4-2 defeat to Mexico, although to be fair, his overall record in charge was certainly respectable. In three years in charge Bradley took the U.S. to the final of the Confederations Cup, the last 16 of the World Cup and the final of the Gold Cup.

He becomes the first American to manage an African side and will be charged with ending Egypt’s 20+-year absence from the World Cup. His predecessor, Hassan Shehata, enjoyed considerable success at the continental level, winning three consecutive Nations Cup trophies, but the country has not appeared on the world stage since 1990.

One for the cameras

During his side’s 2-1 win over Besiktas’Portuguese winger, Ricardo Quaresma, tried an ambitious trick, fell over, lashed out and was shown his second yellow card of the match. He won’t be trying that again anytime soon.


In the latest in our occasional series More Money than Sense, Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng has splashed out €15000 on a pair of training shoes. That’s not €15,000 on shoes plural, but €15,000 on a single pair.

The Ghanaian international outbid other ‘celebrities’ at a ceremony in his hometown of Berlin last Saturday to win the exclusive shoes.

Two years ago, while he was at Portsmouth, Boateng revealed he had suffered from a shopping addiction.

“The best clobber was important to me – and that I was known in nightclubs. It got completely out of hand,” he said at the time.

“I bought three cars in one day. For a high six-figure sum I got a Lamborghini, a Hummer and a Cadillac Oldtimer.

“In addition, from that time I still today have around 200 caps, around 20 leather jackets and 160 pairs of shoes.

He claims his big-spending days are behind him, but €15,000 on a pair of shoes would suggest otherwise.