30 September, 2008

Gameweek 6 – Back Once Again for the Renegade Master

Yo yo yo yo yo! Blap blap blap blap blap! Etc etc. After a very very well deserved two week holiday, STT is finally back on your interwebz to bring you everything you need to know about football, and also some stuff you probably don’t really care about. So what’s been going down since we were last with you? Well, to be honest I don’t really know because I wasn’t in the country or anywhere near a TV, but it appears that Chelsea are currently top of the pile, and Spurs are rock-bottom, still awaiting their first win in a opening six games of Derby-esque incompetence. Terry Venebles blames Dimitar Berbatov, but we point the finger elsewhere to the clever moneymen upstairs for selling all their strikers except Darren Bent and buying one who apparently can’t play alongside the ex-Charlton flop.


Starting at the top then, Chelsea are looking a bit tasty these days, and eased past Stoke City this past weekend with a slick performance in the face of a determined and awkward Potters side. Although newcomers Stoke currently sit in the relegation zone, one point and two stalwart performances from back-to-back fixtures away at Liverpool and then entertaining Chelsea, should prove encouraging enough for Tony Pulis’ men.


Anyway, the expressions on some of friends’ faces told me a catastrophe had occurred at the Emirates Stadium this past week, and as such it gives me great pleasure to confirm that newly-promoted Hull did indeed topple The Best Footballing Team in the World Ever.™ Don’t be under any illusions about the manner of the performance though, Hull really deserved the points, and with two losses already this season out of six, Arsene Wenger might be getting a little concerned that his youngsters’ egos are getting in the way of professionalism once again. Hull meanwhile are in dreamland after a fantastic start to the season, and they deserve all the plaudits they are currently receiving. It would make STT even happier however if office favourite dean Windass got a few more starts though!


In the Merseyside derby, Liverpool came out on top once again, thanks to two swift lethal finishes from that man Torres. Everton have had a couple of rough results of late, with a narrow win over Stoke a few weeks ago their last points, but you have to feel that the ship will be righted sooner rather than later by David Moyes, especially with Tim Cahill back to fitness.


Manchester United seem to be over their traditional slow start as fast as ever, revitalised by a certain leather-tanned Portuguese lothario who’s back on the field faster than expected after his summer ankle operation. He’s already got a couple of goals under his belt, and Rooney has finally netted this season, so expect their next few games to be a little experimental as Ferguson works out the logistics of fitting Rooney, Ronaldo, Tevez and Berbatov into the same team.


Currently sitting in Manchester United’s spot in the top-4 though are Aston Villa, who have three wins in a row and seem to have settled down back into the free-flowing attacking form that brought them so much success last season. STT predicted a top-4 finish this year, and the way things are going, we are hoping to engage smug mode around April.


The other contenders to break the top-4 dominance are the bottomless pockets of Manchester City, whose Brazilian flare is bringing great football, but unfortunately for them, not always the ideal results as yet. They lost to an excellent Wigan side this past weekend who will certainly surprise a few people this season if they don’t pay them enough respect. A solid, physical backbone is peppered with creative talent such as STT favourites Wilson Palacios and Antonio Valencia, while newcomer Amr Zaki upfront is already proving to be a revelation for Steve Bruce.


Despite off-pitch disasters, West Ham are doing surprisingly well on the field, with graft from the midfield water-carriers inspiring them to a UEFA cup qualifying spot at the moment. Payouts to Sheffield United and their players might well be forthcoming, but with STT hero Gianfranco Zola at the reigns alongside Chelsea legend Steve Clarke, here’s hoping the Hammers can keep it together this season and stay afloat.


The third newly-promoted outfit West Brom had suffered probably the worst start of the three, but are slowly gaining momentum, with an away win this weekend at Middlesbrough a fantastic performance from Tony Mowbrey’s men against his former employers. They’ve yet to reproduce the passing football that earned them a reputation in the Championship last year, but have plugged a few gaping holes at the back that cost them early on in the season.


We finish then with the two somewhat calamitous teams, Newcastle and Tottenham, who currently prop up the table. Newcastle lost yet again this past weekend at home to Blackburn, and with the bizarrely-chosen Joe Kinnear at the helm currently, who’s to say when morale will be resurrected. Well, obviously when Mike Ashley leaves, but it’s anyone’s guess as to when he’ll get the message and piss off.


Thing is though, at least there’s Spurs. Currently languishing on two points in the their worst start in 53 years, the North London side seem to be struggling in every department, despite a pretty decent team on paper that includes David Bentley and Roman Pavlyuchenko. As ever, the ex-Spurs man Jermain Defoe opened the scoring for Portsmouth this past Sunday, continuing his great start to the season, before giraffe impersonator Peter Crouch sealed the points with a close-range header.


Phew, that was exhausting. To be perfectly honest, most of this is based just on newspaper reports and conjecture, so the world famous STT Weekly Awards have had to take a backseat this week. Send us in your nominations for Goal of the Week and Player of the Week etc though to the usual place, and if we like what you have to say, they’ll go up on the site in the next couple of days. It’s good to be back but please could some of you start doing a bit more of the work for me? Thanks, that’d be great.

11 September, 2008

One Manny Army

Emmanual Adebayor is an idiot to say the least, no justification needed I don’t think. The latest in his expanding annual of brain-meltingly banal comments came yesterday when for some reason he got a ‘feeling’ his plane would crash, and subsequently refused to get on it with the rest of the Togo team bound for Zambia. This was after he had persuaded his team-mates not to fly a day earlier because there were rumours it would crash, not idea from who, but you know, ‘rumours’ are enough. Methinks that someone watched Final Destination by himself with the lights off the night before.


His one moronic condition for boarding? He would fly only if the president of the Togo Football Federation also got on. He dribbled: “My life is very dear to me and, if we have to go down, we'll all go down together with the president.” Great. Why did I waste my time typing that out? I apologise if you read it. As a reward, look at how hot this girl is.

10 September, 2008

Veritas

Sometimes we find unusual conduits for the truth. Buddhists for example have their core doctorines channelled through a disavowed prince who constantly tried starving himself to death. Hindus have an overweight man with four arms and an elephant’s head. Black people have Ice Cube. English football fans today found their font of all knowledge in ex-Blackburn Rovers captain Tim Sherwood, a man who you could have been excused for assuming was dead. With more than two international caps to his name, Sherwood certainly knows what he’s talking about, but cynicism aside, I think this probably as close to full disclosure as you will ever get from anyone inside the England camp:

“If Capello gets them in a room and says: ‘It will never come out from here and I will give you the perfect alibi - how many of you do not want to play for England anymore?’ 70 per cent of that squad would put their hands up. It is just so hard now to play. Not talking about the guys who have one, two, three or four caps - I am talking about the ones who have 36 or 40 caps. They would jack it in. Does Frank Lampard really want to be out there taking that sort of abuse? I don't think he does.”

Interesting stuff, now if only Capello would have the stones to do it and get rid of all the passengers that will be going through the motions tonight.

The Iron Curtain

Hands up if you rememeber Sergei Rebrov for any other reason than he was a complete failure. Right, thought so. Well now he’s decided to add racism to his already-burgeoning bucket of talents, which currently includes below average ability to walk and mediocre observational talent at pub Spot the Difference machines. The impotent Ukranian sent a very balanced and open-minded warning to new Spurs signing Roman Pavlyuchenko about the area of London he was going to moving into, definitely warming Anglo-Ukranian relations ahead of our forthcoming World Cup qualifier against them next year: “A lot of dark-skinned people live there,” Rebrov opened with somewhat misguidedly. “So naturally the crime rate is higher than anywhere else. It’s not nice to be a robbery victim. So I suggest that Roman doesn’t walk but drives around that area.” Mr Rebrov either doesn’t actually have his mouth connected to his brain or is just a Nazi.


Continuing this recurring theme, in the same article from which Rebrov was quoted, former Fulham midfielder Alexei Smertin had this similarly bleak view of London: “Of course there are districts where Roman shouldn’t go on his own. The first place that springs to mind is Croydon. It’s populated with predominantly low-income folks. But I can’t see why Roman should find himself there — it’s quite far from the Tottenham area.” It’s amazing that a Russian and an Ukranian can be so critical of our capital’s conditions, aren’t their countries basically just two big freezing abattoirs?


Anyway, to add further fuel to the fire, the journalist behind this insightful piece, Andrei Lyalin of Sovetski Sport newspaper, offered his own measured and definitely-asked-for opinions: “Seven Sisters tube station is just 10 minutes ride from the centre of London. I got out there and it occurred to me that the area looked as English as the Arsenal team. Broken windows of sooty brick houses, dirty shops selling cheap fruits and vegetables at every corner, immigrant teenage gangs on bikes.” Claiming he was glad it was still daylight, Lyalin added: “Otherwise I would lose in the district much more than the £60 a black market dealer charged me for a ticket behind one of the goals.”

Benchmark

Every so often a footballer comes along and changes the way we think about WAGs and callous promiscuity. Ashley Cole tried his hand using self-humiliation, and we ran with it for a bit. Jermain Defoe dedicated most of 2007 to the pursuit of blow-up chests and fire-damaged faces. Now though, an unlikely contender has stepped up and shown these amateurs how it’s done. You see, Aston Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor has netted an astonishing hat-trick / bagged a historic treble (delete cheap pun as appropriate) by having three braindead lovers on the go at the same time and heroically getting them all pregnant. I’m genuinely pretty impressed.

Ever the professional, Villa’s young swordsman convinced two of the girls to have abortions, but unfortunately for his bachelor lifestyle, the third followed through and spat out Gabriel Agbonlahor Junior several months ago in June. An unnamed homeboy of Agbonlahor glibly rapped: “Gabby’s so arrogant he thought by telling the girls a string of lies he could keep all his balls in the air at once, and nobody would find out the truth. But mother nature finally blew the whistle!”

The quagmire began with his teenage sweetheart Sophie Smith, who was at school with Agbonlahor and started dating him in 2003 when he was an unknown 17-year-old in Villa’s youth squad. She’s, er, not exactly a looker, but was apparently “head over heels in love,” according to a nameless gal pal, and subsequently moved in with Agbonlahor’s family in Sutton Coldfield.

She has standardly come out in the press and slagged off the man’s performance between the sheets: “he was pretty average in bed and very selfish as a lover, a real ‘wham bam, thank-you ma’am’ bloke who only knew one position and fell asleep immediately afterwards.” Christ, can someone get these girls a new copywriter, it’s getting pretty boring reading the same cliches. At least next time some tart does a kiss-and-tell can we get them to use the phrase ‘needle-dick?’

So, just a year after moving Sophie in, Agbonlahor met his second lady friend, a Miss Elizabeth Wheeler, on a 2006 lads’ holiday in Greece and obviously began throwing shots into her on the side. Not literally of course, if we are to believe Sophie’s harsh assessment of his sexual adventure. Just four months later then he also started dating his third lucky lady, Tia Hithersay, who is literally the perfect combination: an air stewardess and a glamour model.

The bubble only started to burst later in the year though, after Agbonlahor had successfully juggled all three for an impressive period of time; his ‘main squeeze’ Sophie found incriminating text messages on his phone from tarty third-choice Tia. His response? Demonstrating a level of expertise that betrays his young age, he told the distraught Sophie that Tia was just a ‘gold-digger.’ There’s a lesson here kids; if in doubt, just quote urban song titles until the bird in question shuts her mouth. The ever-trusting Sophie though was wise to his game, and subsequently rang Tia demanding to know why she was sending him text messages at all.

It was now Tia’s turn to get up in Agbonlahor’s grill about being cheated on, but again he played dumb and insisted that his live-in girlfriend Sophie was merely a ‘crazy bitch’ who couldn’t accept that their relationship had ended months earlier. A nameless (but presumably not chest-less since this is the News of the World after all) gal pal of Tia’s gave us the lowdown: “Gabby’s not that good-looking, but he’s a real charmer and has never had any trouble attracting women. So he knew he could sweet-talk both girls into believing his lies. He told Sophie his training schedule was so busy he didn’t have time to see anyone else, and as Tia was constantly traveling between her Derby home and London, she wasn’t around in Birmingham to see what he was really up to.”

All this time, neither of them knew he was also still seeing this Elizabeth character a couple of times a week, but his three-timing secret was eventually discovered in December that year when Sophie (once again) found text messages of an illicit nature. Here’s where Agbonlahor drops the ball though: he used the same excuse as before to Sophie, claiming this Elizabeth girl was just a football groupie, who was only interested in his cash.

The story then takes a dramatic leap forward five months to May 2007, when Tia discovered she was six weeks’ pregnant. She then reportedly got a phone call from Sophie, who not only told her the big news that she too was also pregnant, but also that they were both being taken for an additional ride as Agbonlahor was playing hide the salami with Elizabeth too. It’s like the plot to a terrible American soap, only set in Birmingham and Derby, and with four brutally ugly brain donors as the main protagonists.

According to busty Tia, Agbonlahor wasn’t too supportive when she told him she was pregnant, uttering the following understanding summary of the difficult position she found herself in: “Do what you like but you’ll be on your own and end up just another girl with a footballer’s baby.” Class Gabby, class. Generously though he did cough up £2000 for Tia’s private abortion, while sensitively making live-in girlfriend Sophie pay for her own at a Birmingham clinic.

While the other two were whinging, Agbonlahor did the sensible thing and just continued seeing Elizabeth, but amazingly two months later news broke that she too was up the duff. Hilariously he got the phone-call, not only with Sophie in the driveway to see if he’d changed his ways, but also with Tia actually still in his bed upstairs having just had a one-night stand! The man is basically James Bond.

Bizarrely this whole story ends with Sophie and Tia now being best pals, while Elizabeth and Gabby Jr are shacked up in a nice little two-up, two-down in sunny Sutton Coldfield. As for Agbonlahor? Well he’s back out there ladies, so grab him while you can because as far as I can see he’s got the full package. Here’s how his supposed best friend generously describes him: “Gabby’s not exactly got a reputation for being caring or romantic…but amazingly he still somehow manages to charm women into bed with his sense of humour.”
Gabriel Agbonlahor, we salute you.

09 September, 2008

Flip Back

People hurting themselves is always funny, but when serious injuries occur from show-boating, the old funny bone really gets massaged into climax. Add the astronomical ego of a footballer and public humiliation in front of 30,000 slack-jawed Americans into the mix and you really are looking a potential side-splitting action. Hats off to Fabian Espindola then, an Argentinian-born striker for huge MLS outfit Real Salt Lake, for celebrating a goal with a trademark back-flip and actually breaking his leg on landing. Things got worse for Espindola however when he hobbled back onto his feet to see the linesman’s flag up, disallowing the goal for offside! Oh dear.


“I'm embarrassed,” said an understating Espindola, who has reportedly celebrated goals with a flip since his days as a youth player back home. “I'm never going to do that again. I don't know what happened. I've done it a million times. If I would have known I never would have done it,” he uttered with such idiocy, as if to confirm that yes, he was in fact a footballer. To further brilliantly salt his wounds, opposition midfielder Bryan Jordan duly celebrated his equaliser in the dying minutes with a somersault of his own, flipping the bird to Espindola by successfully not breaking any part of his anatomy. Watch the highlights of the match here and see how Espindola's face go from joy, to disappointment, to calcium crunching pain.

An Oasis in the Shit


Noel Gallagher’s great for so many reasons, the latest of which is his enormously smug response to his beloved Manchester City being taken over by the stupidly rich Dubai consortium. The tables, is seems, have finally been turned on arch rivals Manchester United, with the future for once perhaps looking rosier for the blue half of the city. The £34.2 million transfer-day capture of Robinho from Real Madrid, plus a cheeky bid for Dimitar Berbatov which forced United to up their offer to Spurs, further signaled City's intent to overtake United as the biggest club in the world. You might remember a couple of stories we’ve posted over the last year or so about Gallagher goading various Manchester United players with offensive birthday messages on guitars he’s been asked to sign for them.


Anyway, Gallagher spoke to The Times this past weekend, and cheekily pointed out that every penny United fans spend on the road will boost City's coffers: “I always kind of knew that 40 years of loyalty would be re-paid somehow and I always knew that a day would come when we stagger everyone in football.” He topped it all off with a quite hilarious middle-finger to his best friends from across the other side of the city: “It'll be nice to know that every gallon of petrol a Manchester United fan buys is going into our transfer kitty!”


Talking about the series of events a week ago, he said: “We're on tour in Winnipeg and I woke up to find I had 19 text messages. Now that usually means I have either offended someone in an interview, or something bad has happened at home. But they were telling me to put on the news, because we've been bought by some Arab prince. I was laughing at first, and I still really can't believe it. Then to top it all off just before we went on stage I found out we've signed Robinho. I mean it's staggering, just unbelievable!” He continued to wax lyrical: “I can't see any downside to this to be honest. Going from a cult football club that black cab drivers in London all like and patronise you (about), to being the richest club in the world is just staggering.”

The Fall

Once of the most famous anecdotes in the Roman imperial annuals describes a certain Emperor Nero reciting poetry and strumming a harp on the roof of his palace, while all around him the city was burning to the ground. Now, I’m not suggesting that Newcastle owner Mike Ashley prefers the company of pre-pubescent boys, but this past weekend, as he partied absent-mindedly in New York while Kevin Keegan simultaneously quit as the Toon boss, the famous ancient story was certainly called to mind.


The billionaire Newcastle owner splashed out more £125,000 on a bar tab in trendy New York hotspot the Pink Elephant, spraying expensive bubbly in all directions during what the red tops have generously dubbed “an orgy of debauchery.” Now, I don’t know if any of them have ever been to an orgy, but trust me, a fat northern man is never welcome. Anyway, during this luxurious binge, he reportedly slurred to one reveler: “We’ve had a tiff with (Keegan) — but it will all be sorted out,” not knowing that across the pond Keegan had already quit in disgust at recent boardroom developments involving transfers.


Word on the street is that the party downed an incredible 175 bottles of Cristal Champagne, the club’s entire stock, as well as 16 bottles of Dom Perignon, 29 of PJ Fleur Rose, and three of Grey Goose Vodka. Eagle-eyed onlookers, who presumably didn’t actually talk to him, uniformly described Ashley as being “slaughtered,” and soaked from head-to-toe in champagne as he offered free drinks around to scantily-clad girls, even getting some to pour booze into his mouth. One of these mysterious tipsters continued: “(Ashley) left just after three, staggering out with his arms around two much younger, pretty girls.” Nothing to do with his bank balance then, the girls were with him just for his winning personality.


Meanwhile, a quick glance over at the Newcastle Rivals fan site tells me that things are not too settled under the surface over there. Craig Cowan, 28, from Blakelaw, said: “I’m gutted. Hopefully everyone will boycott the Hull game and get Ashley and Wise on their way.” And one chap, posting under the screen-name ‘jimbeam,’ concluded: “I’m ashamed to be a Newcastle fan, the club is a disgrace.” Got to admit, I do feel for them.

Tiny Timms

Ex-Manchester City trainee goalkeeper Ashley Timms found himself in an unnecessary world of hurt today as he was sentenced to 20 months in jail after attempted to blackmail an unnamed former colleague for £15,000 over a sex video. Timms, from Greater Manchester, made a series of threats to publish certain evocative images from the tape, involving the footballer and a woman engaged in sex at his home, if he was not paid the cash. Timms pleaded guilty to making a series of unwarranted demands with menaces last month, and was today officially jailed at Manchester Crown Court after admitting the crime.


Passing sentence, Judge Andrew Gilbart said: “Blackmail always calls for a custodial sentence. The abuse of your friendship for simple greed is an aggravating feature. This was a calculated attempt to extract money for your own benefit,” he concluded. “It is depressing that in a society where there is supposed to be more sexual freedom some popular newspapers and magazines continue to dress their interest in it as some form of moral indignation,” he continued to moralise, “when what they are actually doing is making money from their readers' interest in sex and salacious gossip.” Sorry, Mr/Lord/Whatever Gilbart, but where have you been for the last decade? Honestly what else do you expect from the media and the footballing crowd in this country??


According to a pal of Timms, he and the anonymous player in question had become friends over time, and were part of a ‘fantasy world’ of fast cars, money and girls. This faceless tipster continued: “(Timms) used to be really good friends with the player involved – they were like brothers.” The court also heard that part of this so-called ‘brotherhood’ these days is the videoing of footballers involved in sex with girls, described as “commonplace” by the not-at-all-jealous prosecuting barrister, David Friesner. He further described Timms using his mobile phone to video the international footballer having sex with a 19-year-old woman at the player’s home last September, but as they drifted apart due to Timms’ his poor attitude and subsequent sacking, he got greedy and cynically tried to milk the star for all he was worth.


So, bets on who this mysterious international footballing star is? Hmmm…tough one…definitely not the one young English player in the Manchester City set-up who already has a history of filming himself hanging out the back of cheap tarts…

Naughty South American of the Week Uno

Typical isn’t it. We give Salvador Cabanas a bit sunshine to promote his burgeoning football career and what does he do? Go out straight away and get snapped in several, er, uncompromising positions with a couple of Mexican, er, ladies of suspect reputation shall we say.

The smile says it all though, he’s having a great time! Me thinks he would fit in just fine alongside the whore-loving likes of Cristiano Ronaldo in the Premier League….

08 September, 2008

Genius

It’s not often that we just lift other people’s articles word for word, but sometimes a writer just hits the nail so accurately on the head that even my fantastically oversized ego will not allow me to have another crack at. So here then, presented unabridged for your collective enjoyment, is a few words of wisdom from The Times’ sports editor, directed at a certain Shaun Wright-Phillips from last week's newspaper:

“As anyone who has taken on the Herculean task of interviewing him would confirm, it is difficult to feel sorry for Shaun Wright-Phillips, a young man as uncooperative as he is inarticulate, but his plight over the last seven days is deserving of considerable sympathy.

After spending three years counting his money and first-team opportunities on the bench at Chelsea – the former with a children’s calculator and the latter with the fingers of his right-hand – the England midfield player plucked up the courage to return to Manchester City in search of regular football, only for his new club to promptly go out and sign Robinho, the player whose imminent arrival had finally persuaded him to leave Stamford Bridge.

It may take a while, but anyone with a spare couple of hours at Eastlands should sit down and explain to Wright-Phillips the meaning of the word irony.”

05 September, 2008

Head in the Clouds

You can always trust Robbie Savage to live in a fantasy world. You see, even with his side Derby languishing at the foot of the Championship, without a league win in about eight years, Savage continues to behave as if living the dream by splashing out on a brand new Lamborghini LP640, which retails for the modest sum of around £186,000. The funny thing is, Savage has actually been dropped by Paul Jewell, so his actions are even more antagonistic. A club source said: “It's a disgrace. A player who's not even in the team turns up for training in a car like that! No one cares any more. We're bottom of the Championship and can't buy a win.”

You might recall that upon arriving at Derby last season, Savage immediately alienated the rest of the by rolling up in a 6.3litre Mercedes CL AMG, worth around £160,000, to his first training session to celebrate his transfer from Blackburn. My head says he’s a complete cock, but my heart thinks he’s just a bit of a joker.

The Saga Continues

With each passing day, Gazza’s gradual slide into insanity becomes more and more depressing. I’m sure for many people reading this site, Gazza was one of the first players they remember really capturing the imagination as a kid, and to see him like this is tragic to say the least. Yesterday morning police were called to his Algarve hotel at 6:30 a.m. as tourists found him struggling to speak and unable to focus. Fears are now growing that he might be trying to drink himself to death, after he collapsed following a five-day bender with Coronation Street ‘star’ (and former Brentford player, in case you didn’t know) Bradley Walsh, and other pals including the infamous Jimmy ‘Five Bellies’ Gardner.

Witnesses said Gazza was on his mobile, strangely believing he was talking to former Downing Street aide Alastair Campbell. A hotel guest said: “He has ripped himself to shreds, psychologically. It was the most distressing thing I have ever seen. He was such a legend but then to find him babbling incoherently like this was awful.” Onlookers continued to describe how he downed 20 double whiskies in a day, fought with barmen over booze bills, and argued with Jimmy over a £20,000 debt.

Gazza, who went into rehab in May after a suicide bid, arrived at the Portuguese resort Vale do Lobo last week for holiday, and was seen in bars pretty much non-stop from Thursday until early yesterday. Depression is one thing, but these kind of delusions and hallucinations suggest something far more serious, such as acute liver intoxication or even schizophrenic agitation.

Please, for god’s sake, someone help the guy.

Shopping List

If press reports are to be believed, we could be on the brink of a new era in football spending that will make Abramovich’s Chelsea look positively frugal. I am of course referring to the takeover of Manchester City on Monday by an Arab consortium estimated to be worth around £650billion. Shortly after ushering Brazilian wonderkid Robinho to Eastlands, the leader of the consortium, Dr Al Fahim, revealed the group’s ultimate plans involve the creation of a Harlem Globetrotters-esque dream team. Dr Fahim told The Sun today: “We have big plans for this football club and we’ll be back to try to get him again next year,” vowing to bring more than 18 new players into the club in January, including, get this, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kaka, Dimitar Berbatov, Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas.Fahim continued: “If we can get the biggest players in the world, then we will get them. Ronaldo has said he wants to play for the biggest club in the world. So we will see in January if he is serious. Real Madrid were estimating his value at £90million. But for a player like that, to actually get him, will cost a lot more. I would think £134million. But why not? We are going to be the biggest club in the world, bigger than both Real Madrid and Manchester United.”

Fahim, sickening young at just 31-year-old, is not short of a bob, but the main cash comes from a chap called Sheikh Munsoor bin Zayed al Nahyan, who has a 90 per cent stake in the consortium. There are genuinely no official estimates of Sheikh Munsoor’s wealth, it is so vast, but in quantifiable terms, he and his five brothers control the Abu Dhabi Sovereign Wealth Fund, considered to be the biggest in the world and valued at £460billion. The man nicknamed ‘The Doc’ is the personality though, also being a reality TV star back home in their version of The Apprentice, and even having his own flippant catchphrase: “Impress me!”

Not wanting to cast a dark cloud over all this, but in my head this is one of the last nails in the coffin of the Premier League. With this kind of wealth backing them, Manchester City are in a position to do literally anything they want, because ultimately everyone has a price: “Oh, you guys don't want to sell Messi? Ok, well how about we give you £500million, can you turn that down? Thought not, see you later.”

03 September, 2008

Welcome to the Zuck

I think it’s pretty safe to say that to enjoy a long-term relationship with Joe Cole you basically just need to be lobotomised. He is… how do I put this… a medical cretin, but in fiancée Carly Zucker he seems to have truly found a soul mate. As you can see from the above picture, Ms Zucker is apparently also a moron, parading around an Elvis quiff and a facial expression of such concentration that I doubt she could chew gum and still walk in a straight line. The Sun opened up their world famous hilarity locker today, suggesting that she looks like Violet Beauregarde out of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Apparently everything purple just looks the same to them, the daft racists.

Anyway, the thing is, Zucker is actually very fit, and should no way be lumbered with someone as depressingly vacant as Joe Cole. A professional fitness instructor, she has basically a perfect body, and describes her intensely active life vividly enough to conjure up images of suppleness too blue for the workplace: “I normally aim to do four good fitness sessions a week and I keep them varied. So I run, do yoga, walk the dogs, I swim.” Even with the dodgy fashion-sense, I think I might love her.