No chance

Gary Neville has claimed England would not have won the 2010 World Cup even if his former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson had been in charge. To be fair to Ferguson, successful manager though he is, he’s never claimed to be a miracle worker.

“Ferguson may have got more out of the squad,” Neville told BBC Radio 5 live. “But the reality is would we have beaten Spain in the last World Cup? No, because they were better than England.”

Thanks for the searing insight Gary.

“I loved playing for England but we’ve fallen short and I’ve contributed to that over the last 10 years as much as anyone,” he added

“The analogy I use is if a man takes a woman out 85 times and then she’s not your girlfriend at the end of it, you’ve wasted a lot of time.

Neville represented his country on 85 occasions, and never came close to scoring. Or at least that’s what I think that analogy is supposed to mean.

The next generation

England’s next generation of over-rated, over-paid and over-indulged players began their European Under-21 campaign in impressive style with a 6-0 win over Azerbaijan.

The pick of the goals was this one from Jordan Henderson.

Goals of the day

If you think that was impressive, take a look at some of the goals scored by Spain’s Under-21 side in their 7-2 hammering of Georgia.

Even the own goal they conceded was executed with a certain panache. David De Gea, who makes an ill-judged dash from his goal for the og, has clearly transferred his club form to the international stage.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Talks aimed at ending the players strike in Italy appear to have made some progress with both sides suggesting a compromise could soon be reached.

The Italian league’s scheduled start last Saturday was delayed after the Players’ Union opted to strike over the failure to agree on a collective contract.

Having failed to reach a lasting agreement, Serie A president Maurizio Beretta said that a one-year deal would be acceptable to both parties.

Players representative DamianoTommasi had earlier stated: “Our optimism remains, as it did in previous days. The key thing will be the league’s assembly. There is time to sign an agreement and our aim is to go out on the pitch for the second round of games.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has blasted Italian football over the strike.

“It was wrong, professional football needs respect,” he said. “Whoever is responsible for this situation, it is like going to La Scala in Milan and waiting for the start of a grand opera which never begins.Football is also a social and cultural matter.

“Italy is the country of football, here football is more than a game, it’s a religion.”

But like organised religion in the country, it has seen better days.

Beach Soccer

Blatter was in Italy to mark the start of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup being held in Ravenna. He believes the game has the potential to become an Olympic sport.

“It would be a great thing for the Olympics to include Beach Soccer, especially at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro,” he said. “There’s a long way to go, however. First it requires the initiative of the organisers of the Olympic Games. We’d have to see what is possible and what isn’t. If Beach Soccer does become an Olympic sport, it should be for both men and women.”

Looking at the opening day results, it’s clear that this version of the game is a high scoring format. For instance, Switzerland and Senegal shared the spoils in a 16 (yes 16!) goal thriller, while El Salvador, who lost a 1982 World Cup finals match to Hungary match 11-1, suffered a case of deja vu, going down 11-2 to world ranked number two side, Portugal.

Highlights of that game can be seen here. They’re worth watching just to see the flick assist for Portugal’s fourth goal.


Fans of Manchester United have demanded that the club use the proceeds from the forthcoming stock flotation to be used to reduce the club’s debt rather than line the’ pockets of the Glazer family.

Speaking in the wake of the club announcing record profits, the Manchester United Supporters Trust, praised the commercial acumen of the club’s owners, while calling for them to use the revenue to alleviate the overall debt.

“So while the financial results are strong, they also show that the Glazers have taken another £51m out of the club in the last 12 months as well as using an even bigger chunk (£64m) of the club’s money to pay down part of their bond debt,” they said.

“This is money that the club has generated and money that should stay in the club rather than go to Florida or to pay down the Glazers’ debt and interest.

“That’s why we’re calling on the Glazers to use any share sale in Singapore to clear all of the club’s debt – debt that they put on the club and they must take responsibility for.”

Net debt has been reduced to an all-time low figure under the Glazers, but still stands at an eye-popping £308.3million. United, it’s worth remembering, used to be one of the few clubs in world football able to operate both successfully on the pitch and profitably off it.

Song for the day

A brief musical interlude comes courtesy of the Thai Tims, whose tribute to Celtic’s Joe Ledley is a surprisingly catch number. Utterly surreal too.

European Super League

The dominance of Barcelona and Real Madrid in their domestic league will lead them to abandon Spain for European competition, suggests former Real director general Jorge Valdano.

“In the future Madrid and Barcelona will have to look to teams that are going at the same speed, and that will lead to a European league,” he told Cadena Ser radio. “The gap between the big two and the rest is getting ever larger. If you look to the future you have the feeling that it will only get worse.”

There is a simpler alternative: reduce the gap between the big two and the rest.

However, Valdano said it was unlikely Barca or Real would ever garner much support for a breakaway.

“We are going through a period of transition, it depends what happens in Spain and other leagues.The problem is that the Premier League works, Germany works. There is a lot of passion for football. I don’t see them being very enthusiastic about leaving their national leagues.”

Not amongst supporters perhaps, but just wait til the likes of David Gill, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Garry Cook see the profit forecasts for such a venture.

Sour grapes

Portugal boss Paulo Bento has claimed that Ricardo Carvalho walked out of the national team because he had been dropped from the starting line-up.

Carvalho, 33, left the training camp on the eve a crucial Euro 2012 qualifier against Cyprus, and announced he was quitting international football.

“We count on the players who want to help Portugal in the best possible way, regardless of whether they will get to play or not,” Bento told reporters.

“He realised, from what he saw in training, he would not be a starter and made an escape plan. I believe he would not have abandoned the camp if he thought he would start.

“As long as I am in charge, Ricardo Carvalho will never play again, it does not make any sense. The door is closed for him.”

Back of the net

They may not have won a major trophy for six years and they are struggling to remain competitive in the Premier League, but Arsenal want to be at the forefront of a technological revolution.

The club is planning apps for iPad, android tablets and smart phones to go along with its current iPhone app, which has 95,000 users all paying £2.99 per download.

The focus of this online drive is Asia (where else) where Arsenal enjoy a huge following. Indonesia has the largest percentage of Arsenal’s 7.5 million Facebook friends, and Malaysia’s 400,000 friends account for 1.5 percent of the country’s 27 million population, Rupert Daniels, Arsenal’s head of global partnerships said.

Now, the next logical step is how can the club make money out of their distant support.

“The big challenge for us is how do we monetize, how do we give fans something that they think is good value for money so they won’t think they’re being ripped off by Arsenal,” Daniels said.

Considering that most of the people who renewed season tickets for the Emirates this year feel that they’re being ripped off, that’s currently a tough sell.

“It’s very important to us because we have to keep generating revenue so that we can continue to compete at the highest level,” he added.

Those three Emirate Cup successes don’t come cheap.


Filippo Inzaghi may not have the opportunity to become Europe’s all-time leading goalscorer, after he was left out of the Milan’s 25-man Champions League squad.

With 70 goals in 115 games, Inzaghi has proved that a lifetime of goal hanging can be a rewarding existence. He now lies just two goals behind Raul’s record haul of 72 but will not be able to overtake the Spaniard this year.

Injuries have taken their toll on the 38-year-old and Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri is not fully convinced about his fitness

“I hope that Filippo will in good condition in January to be included in the list then,” Allegri said. “I spoke to him and he was disappointed but it’s understandable.”