Mission Impossible

It’s taken him  a while, but Fabio Capello has finally cottoned on to what most people already knew, namely, that managing England is a largely thankless task.

In the wake of the lacklustre performance against Wales on Wednesday, the England coach was asked why he had failed to improve the players’ confidence.

Sounding like a defeated man, Capello replied: “I tried to do, I spoke with the players but it is impossible the team that I saw to change. It is impossible.”

Now you know how Graham Taylor felt.

Spanish revolution

Moves are afoot in Spain to do something about the startling discrepancy in TV revenue earned by the big two and the rest of Spanish football.

A dozen Spanish clubs are gathering today to discuss a solution to the domestic league’s revenue sharing system, which heavily favours Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Sevilla said on its website that the presidents of 11 other teams have joined them at their Sanchez Pizjuan stadium for the debate, and among those attending are the chiefs of Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Villarreal.

Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido has compared the “grassroots” movement to the French Revolution. A little hyperbolic perhaps, but there is clearly a mood for change in Spain.

Sack race

Austria coach Didi Constantini has been fired. His dismissal comes in the wake of the 6-2 hammering neighbours Germany on Friday, as well as the failure to reach the Euro 2012 finals.

“The contract which expires on December 31 this year will not be renewed,” said the OEFB in a statement on its website.

“According to the timetable, the new coach should be established by the start of November with his debut in a friendly on November 15.”

Constantini will remain in charge for the two remaining Euro 2012 qualifiers, although with the finals out of reach, and with a lame duck coach in charge, one could almost forgive the players if they struggled to be ‘up’ for those games.

Goal of the day

Sao Paolo went top of the Campeonato Brasileiro, courtesy of this long range effort from Dagoberto.

New stadium

A momentous day for Juventus today as they open their new stadium with a friendly match against  Notts County. The lower league English club were invited to play the inaugural fixture at the Juventus Arena as it was their kit that was the inspiration behind Juve’s black and white stripe shirt.

Juventus will become the only Serie A club to own their own stadium and have also broken the mould with a capacity of only 41,000, which is a significant reduction on the universally loathed Stadio Delle Alpi (capacity 67,000).

As is customary these days, Juventus have sold the naming rights to the new stadium, with Sportfive Italia given “exclusive naming and partial promotional and sponsorship rights for the new stadium.”

So, one day soon, the Juventus Arena may become the Sportfive Arena. Doesn’t really have the same ring to it, does it.

If stadium porn is your thing, feast your eyes on the new ground.

Share and share alike

Manchester United fans are in uproar on discovering that the club’s forthcoming flotation on the Singapore stock market will not dilute the influence the Glazer family has on the club.

Sources have told Reuters the club plans to use a two-tier system of shares in Singapore, meaning that although new shareholders would own a financial stake in the club, but would have no influence in how it is run. A bit like football supporters in general then.

The plans have not gone down well in Singapore, with financial experts warning that the flotation undermines the credibility of the Singapore stock exchange and naturally, it’s gone down like a lead balloon in Manchester.

“It is certainly disappointing,” Duncan Drasdo, chief executive of Manchester United Supporters Trust, told Reuters.

“Clearly the degree of control by one majority shareholder has to be a major concern for any conventional investor thinking of purchasing shares primarily seeking a return on investment.

“In fact perhaps they should seek medical advice before they seek financial advice given the reaction we’ve seen from the financial press so far.”

“There are so many better uses for Manchester United’s profits than sending the money to Florida or into interest or debt payments on the Glazer’s debts which they transferred onto our club or indeed into excessive dividend payments resulting from an excessive valuation at IPO.”

Expect a rush on those green and yellow scarves in the next few weeks. That should have the Glazers quaking.

Football revolutionary

Barcelona midfielder Xavi, a man who requires no second invitation to tell the world about the wonders of life at Camp Nou, thinks his coach, Pep Guardiola, has revolutionised football.

“In my opinion he’s the best coach in the world,” Xavi told Sport. “There is little doubt about that for me. He has revolutionised football and has added everything to this club that we needed.”

Fine coach though he is, even Guardiola would concede that inheriting a wonderful homegrown squad and supplementing it with the likes of David Villa, Dani Alves, Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas, does not a football revolutionary make.

Leaving Liverpool

Alberto Aquilani has thanked Juventus for taking him on loan this season. After spending a season on loan with Fiorentina last year, the Italian midfielder faced the prospect of returning to Liverpool.

“They (Juventus) brought me back to Italy, they gave me the possibility to find continuity and to get back in the national team. I like the football way of life of the English, but, honestly, coming from Roma, Liverpool as a city wasn’t the greatest.”

Honestly, you don’t have to come from Rome to think that.

Like father like son

Never underestimate the power of nepotism. If your father’s Zinedine Zidane then doors at football clubs will be opened. And if the club is Real Madrid, where your dad is employed as Director of Sport, they’ll be flung wide open, the red carpet will be rolled out and before you know it you’ll be rubbing shoulders with some of the word’s best players.

Enzo Zidane, named after his father’s hero, Uruguayan striker Enzo Francescoli, got his first taste of training alongside Real Madrid’s senior players after being allowed to participate by coach Jose Mourinho.

Personally, I think Zidane snr has missed a trick here. All the money in football is with the agents these days; just ask Sir Alex Ferguson and his son Jason. Zinedine and Enzo could have made a fortune if they’d worked together.

Anyway, here’s young Enzo, looking like a young boy lost, at his first training session with the senior team.


Mario Balotelli is rarely far from the headlines. After yesterday’s visit to a Florentine prison the Manchester City striker now finds himself being quizzed by Italian police over his contact with the mafia gangs of Naples as part of an investigation into money-laundering.

Earlier this year Balotelli had been given a tour of Naples by members of organised crime groups. He said at the time that he was unaware who they were, and given his hapless nature, you can easily believe him.