The haves and the have-mores

The Champions League returns tonight with the game of the night taking place in Munich where Bayern entertain Manchester City.

The match features a fascinating contrast in cultures. Bayern representing the Germanic model of financial self-restraint and good housekeeping, while City embody the unsustainable Greek-style economic basket case requiring huge handouts to stay afloat.

In Germany no club is allowed to spend beyond its means, whereas in England it’s almost compulsory, and at City it’s virtually the club’s new motto: Eu ultra modum for those of you too lazy to google.

While recent spending suggests this might be something of a mismatch, current form indicates Bayern are probably favourites for tonight’s game. A fact tacitly acknowledged by City boss Roberto Mancini, who in four seasons in charge at Inter, learned the painful way about the harsh realities of Champions League football.

“It is fantastic to play against a club like Bayern,” he said. “We do not want to lose the game, that is for sure. We want to win it – as we always want to win. But we have to improve a lot. We are a good team already, but if we want to become a team like Bayern, to become part of the history of football, we have to learn a lot; we have just played one game in the Champions League.”

TV killed the football star

Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken out against the pernicious influence television companies have upon the way that football is run.

Under the existing Premier League TV deal, United earned more than £60m last season. So, if one can ignore for a moment the inherent absurdity of the manager of the richest club in world football lamenting the influence of television, Ferguson does make some valid points.

“When you shake hands with the devil you have to pay the price,” he said. “Television is God at the moment. It is king.

“When you see the fixture lists come out now, they [the television companies] can pick and choose whenever they want the top teams on television.

“You get some ridiculous situations when you’re playing on Wednesday night in Europe and then at lunchtime the following Saturday. You ask any manager if they would pick that themselves… there’d be no chance.”

The devil sure does drive a hard bargain.

Goal of the day

Samuel Eto’o was again on target for Anzhi Makhachkala in their 2-2 draw with Terek Grozny, but the goal of the game was this fine sole effort from Oleg Vlasov.

New man in charge

Terek Grozny’s point at Anzhi coincided with the appointment of former Spartak Moscow coach Stanislav Cherchesov as their new manager.

Cherchesov signed a two-year contract on Tuesday after holding talks with the president of the club and the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, a spokesman told RIA Novosti.

The 48-year-old takes over the permanent post from Ruud Gullit, who left in June barely six months into his contract. The Dutchman departed after a string of poor results and a leading lively social life that angered club officials.

Gullit’s departure was marked by one of the more bizarre send-off statements you’re likely to read.

“President Ramzan Kadyrov is extremely dissatisfied with the approach of Ruud Gullit to his duties, which, instead of rolling up our sleeves to work, given the standings, thinking about bars and discos,” the statement said.

“Gullit must know that he was invited not to nightclubs and discos to disappear, but to work in a football club, in this case to achieve the result. Yes, we have no drugs, no indecent nightlife, which in the Netherlands and in Europe there is lots.

“Grozny has all the conditions for people leading a healthy lifestyle. There are modern cinema, ice palaces and parks.”

Safe pair of hands

Schalke 04 have appointed Huub Stevens as the replacement coach for Ralf Rangnick, who resigned last week after complaining of fatigue.

Stevens coached Schalke in 1996-2002, steering the club to arguably their greatest moment when they won the UEFA Cup, now the Europa League, in 1997.

The 57-year-old will take over the Bundesliga club immediately after signing a contract that expires in June 2013.

Libya to lose 2013 ANC

Libya are likely to be replaced as 2013 Africa Cup of Nations hosts this week with fighting still raging between pro and anti-Gaddafi forces around several cities.

There are a number of countries willing to step in at short notice and host the finals with Algeria, Nigeria and South Africa all tipped to offer their services. South Africa, just over a year on from hosting the World Cup finals would be an obvious candidate although their decision last month to publicly announce they had struck a deal with Libyan officials will not count in their favour.

“We are disappointed that the South African Football Association (SAFA) has chosen to make public these discussions and plans before the matter is discussed by the CAF executive committee,” said general-secretary Hicham el-Amrani.

“It would have been correct to have waited until it is discussed and ratified. It is premature to make such an announcement and it has upset us that there has been this breach of protocol.

“Hosting rights to all CAF tournaments are duly awarded by the executive committee at sessions designated for such and not subject to barter by nations,” he stressed.

Stepping down

Michael Laudrup has parted company with Real Mallorca.

The club announced on Monday that they had sacked Laudrup’s number two Erik Larsen for criticising the board’s policies in the Danish media. Twenty four hours later, Laudrup was on his way.

“One of the important things in football is the climate in which you work,” the 47-year-old Laudrup said. “You can lose or win but you have to enjoy yourself.”

Younger readers may not be familiar with Laudrup’s illustrious playing career. Here’s some footage of a player described by the likes of Raul and Romario as the best they had ever played with. The ever-modest Romario stated that Laudrup was the 5th best player in history after Pele, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane and … himself.

Under scrutiny

A prosecutor will order Brazilian police to investigate football federation president Ricardo Teixeira over a money transfer allegedly stemming from illegal payments.

Prosecutor Marcelo Freire has confirmed he will ask federal police to look into whether Teixeira illegally transferred money into Brazil, as alleged by investigative journalist Andrew Jennings.

Teixeira has been repeatedly attacked by domestic media over alleged irregularities during his reign since taking over the federation in 1989. The Brazilian Congress has twice investigated Teixeira for alleged wrongdoings but, as if often the case for men who have friends in high places, the inquiries were never completed.

Bribery scandal

It’s been a while, days possibly, since we last brought you news of a football bribery scandal, but rest assured, allegations of impropriety are never far away. The head of the Romanian Referees Commission (CCA) has been arrested on suspicion of taking bribes from a businessman close to a first division football club.

In a case that echoes Italy’s Calciopoli scandal,  Vasile Avram is accused of receiving €19,000 from businessman Sorin-Ioan Terbea in exchange for appointing referees favourable to soccer team FCM Targu Mures.

“Today, a Bucharest court decided to arrest Vasile Avram for bribe-taking and Sorin-Ioan Terbea for giving bribes for 29 days,” Livia Saplacan, spokeswoman for the national anti-corruption prosecuting office (DNA) told Reuters.


A rare outbreak of humility from a professional footballer. Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who was at fault for one of Ray Vallecano’s goals in Real Madrid’s 6-2 victory on Sunday, has posted some videos of his other mistakes on his Facebook page.

“Hello friends,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “I pretty much abandoned you, sorry! I’ve posted some videos that I looked for myself

“I’m only human, everyone makes mistakes, nobody’s perfect.

“With this I would like to say that the best thing you can do when you make a mistake is to take it with humour. I’m human. Cheers guys.”

Here are the blunders he highlights.