Celebrating here in Leeds.
How about a parade float full of bottles of Green Spot? Photograph: John Baron/guardian.co.uk I’ve just been doing the Guardian ‘s early weather story, a process a bit like quilting where you sew together bits and bobs from the avalanche of news pouring in.
One titbit was about the Cheltenham Gold Cup meeting which looks like going ahead all week in spite of the ice and snow, with inter alia an estimated 220,000 pints of Guiness expected to be downed.
Hey Presto! In comes info a few minutes later from Northumbria University about an academic study of shopping habits which includes the forecast that 13 million pints of the black stuff will be drained worldwide to mark St Patrick’s Day, this coming Sunday.
It posits the idea that: Irish people will feel compelled to drink alcohol to celebrate St Patrick’s Day this Sunday whether they want to or not; even those who declare themselves as teetotal for the rest of the year.
The author of the study Matthew Kearney, a marketing lecturer at Northumbria who is himself from Coleraine, says: Alcohol consumption, when placed in the context of Ireland becomes instantly romanticised, attributed to one’s underlying Celtic soul.
Ireland is synonymous with alcohol; although Ireland boasts world heritage sites, titanic museums and the birth and death sites of numerous authors and poets, its most popular tourist attraction is the Guinness Storehouse.
When Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip make a point of publicly enjoying a Guinness experience while visiting Ireland, it starts to become even more apparent that alcohol consumption is so completely intertwined with ‘Irishness.’ His evidence, over and above a lifelong experience of the phenomenon, is a collection of shopping diaries kept by 70 Irish men and women in their twenties and thirties, which record both purchases and the group’s feelings and analysis of the things that they buy.
In-depth interviews followed with a third of the example and all manner of interesting findings emerged.
If you can’t beat them…
Matthew Kearney prepares to make it 13,000,001 Photograph courtesy Northumbria University The St Patrick’s Day one is timely, obviously, but the correlation of alcohol and especially Guinness with Irishness has counterparts in, for example, Northumbria’s neighbour Newcastle Brown, an Englishman’s pint of bitter or the Scottish obsession with whisky.
Should Alex Salmond win the day in 2014, he will surely be toasted by many who screw up their faces in disgust as they knock back the mixture of fire and medicine.
Kearney’s work for his doctorate found that every one of the 70 participants spent heavily on drink on St Patrick’s Day which all of them celebrated as opposed to St Valentine’s which some did not bother about.
The idea of ‘lad’s culture’ was dispelled by the fact that the sample was half men, half women and the latter included someone who spent 350 on largely alcoholic celebrations last year.
Kearney says: Many of the people who took part in the research seemed to feel an inescapable pressure to drink as though it is part of Irish consumers’ culture and heritage.
When this is combined with the expectations of others, created by the concerted efforts of marketers, the result appears to be inevitable.
However, many of those I interviewed expressed extreme regret in the aftermath of the day while others demonstrated a learned helplessness towards stopping drinking on the day.
There seems to be a perception that it’s their duty.
I had a cousin, now departed, who made a non-alcoholic wine on Guernsey called Green Spot.
Maybe we could revive it as a wholesome alternative way of celebrating the great saint, with Matthew Kearney in charge of the marketing.
The news of Ryan Giggs’s contract extension comes ahead of his 1,000th competitive appearance, which could be this weekend if he plays for Manchester United against Norwich.
Photograph: Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty Images Ryan Giggs has signed a one-year contract extension with Manchester United.
The deal, which runs until June 2014 and will take Giggs beyond his 40th birthday, has been agreed after a series of influential performances from the Welshman and ends speculation of him retiring at the end of the season.
The midfielder is already the most decorated player in British football history and will win his 13th league championship should United press home their 12-point advantage over Manchester City in the Premier League.
He has also won two European Cups, four FA Cups and four League Cups during his 22 years at Old Trafford.
The news of Giggs’s contract extension comes ahead of his 1,000th senior appearance, which includes games for Wales and Team GB at the London Olympics.
He will reach the milestone on Saturday if he features in United’s home game against Norwich City.
“What can I say about Ryan that hasn’t already been said? He is a marvellous player and an exceptional human being,” said the United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Ryan is an example to us all, the way in which he has, and continues to, look after himself.
He has fantastic energy for the game and it is wonderful to see.
“Ryan seems to reach a new milestone every week and to think that he now has 23 unbroken years of league goals behind him is truly amazing in the modern-day game.
His form this year shows his ability and his enjoyment of the game are as strong as ever and I am absolutely delighted that he has signed a new contract.” Giggs made his United debut on 2 March 1991 and has scored 168 times in 931 appearances.
His goal in United’s 2-0 win over Everton last month meant he had scored in each of the 21 Premier League seasons.
“I am feeling good, enjoying my football more than ever and, most importantly, I feel I am making a contribution to the team,” Giggs said.
“This is an exciting team to be part of, with great team spirit, and we are again pushing for trophies as we head towards the business end of the season.”
Kevin MacDonald is the new manager of the League One side Swindon following the departure of Paolo Di Canio.
Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Swindon have appointed the former Republic of Ireland assistant Kevin MacDonald as their new manager.
The 52-year-old, who was caretaker manager at Aston Villa in 2010, has been handed the reins at the County Ground after Paolo Di Canio resigned last week.
MacDonald inherits a Swindon side who are fourth in League One and three points behind the leaders, Doncaster, and will be in charge of Saturday’s trip to Coventry.
“This is a hugely important appointment at a significant moment in Swindon’s recent history and we are delighted to appoint a football man of Kevin’s calibre as our new manager,” said the chairman, Jed McCrory, who took over the Wiltshire club this week.
“This is a clear message that the new board is determined to drive on for promotion this season and continue to try and bring success to Swindon.” “Kevin has fantastic football credentials as a double-winner with Liverpool during his playing days and he is an excellent coach.
“He has great connections with top players and he is a proper football man.
We have every faith for Kevin now to lead Swindon from the front at a pivotal moment in the campaign.
“It is a new start for Kevin and for our new board of directors and we move forward together with every confidence.” MacDonald, a midfielder in his playing days, was a member of the 1986 double-winning side at Liverpool, while he was involved with the Ireland set-up during Steve Staunton’s reign.
Chelsea fans may forgive Roman Abramovich anything for as long as the Champions League trophy resides at Stamford Bridge.
Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA The official line from Stamford Bridge was that it was “business as usual” and presumably they did not appreciate the rich irony of that statement when television crews were lined up on the pavements and the questions, once again, were about a form of chaos and familiar sense of astonishment about the speed at which a club of Chelsea’s ambitions manage to locate crisis.
For Chelsea, business as usual means a disenchanted fan-base torn between their appreciation for the glories of the Roman Abramovich era and the diminishing hope that he might refrain from simultaneously involving the club in so much that feels cheap and unpleasant.
It means another manager living in permanent insecurity, the rest of English football rubbernecking in their direction and another batch of hostile headlines as we wait for the official announcement, knowing that it may not be far away.
The statement, when it comes, will be short and to the point.
A couple of bland lines from one of the directors, maybe.
Nothing too grand.
Then back to the business of recruiting a 10th manager in nine years and buying the silence of the chap who has just left.
This is what a cherished old club has come to, operating from a ground that has witnessed so many exhilarating moments in recent years but also so many public relations disasters and where, just across the road, you will now find their 50m striker, Fernando Torres, pointed towards a job cooking burgers in the billboard one bookmaker has erected.
Brutal, you might think, but so is the fact that just inside Stamford Bridge’s boundaries the huge picture that used to adorn the wall behind the West Stand, where supporters could have photographs taken beside the image of Roberto Di Matteo and his players and assorted trophies, has been replaced with another picture of the Champions League celebrations excluding, with some precision, the manager of the time.
A small ignominy, perhaps, compared with the other indignities heaped on Di Matteo.
In another sense it feels like a pretty accurate snapshot of the way the modern-day Chelsea go about their business.
Everyone knows the routine by now: appoint, marginalise, isolate and sack.
Then comes the pay-off in total, 86m so far since 2004 and then the moments when they give the impression they would happily airbrush the last manager out of the club’s history.
Rafael Ben tez, as a politician, might not be as clever as he would like to believe but he was smart in one respect: at least Chelsea’s interim manager got his retaliation in first before the lawyers became involved.
That word again: “interim”.
Until a few years ago people in this position always tended to be known as the “caretaker” manager.
Before it became the word of choice at Stamford Bridge, “interim” felt more like office jargon.
It was the name of an album by The Fall.
One thing it was not was a football term.
Now it is the one word by which Ben tez’s short, joyless reign will be associated.
“A temporary or provisional arrangement; stopgap; makeshift,” is the dictionary definition.
It will be there on Saturday in the match-day programme against West Bromwich Albion, just as it is for every home match.
It will be on the team-sheets.
It is on the letterheads of official Chelsea paper.
The club could hardly have done more to promote the idea Ben tez was merely passing through and it is almost bizarre that Abramovich and his nomenklatura expected the team to thrive from such a position.
Sir Alex Ferguson always said the first reason Manchester United finished third in the 2001-02 season was because the players thought he was retiring in the summer and started to think beyond him.
A manager counting down the months is inevitably going to struggle to exert full authority and, when the dressing room is as hard-faced and unflinching as Chelsea’s, the players were always going to look at Ben tez as just a short-term measure, not even good enough to get a proper title.
These are basic facts of football life.
They really should not need to be explained to a club of serious ambition.
A poll on the Guardian’s website has 63% of people blaming the club’s hierarchy.
Yet there are solid reasons, whether we like them or not, why Abramovich can make one unpopular decision after another and still be spared the crowd’s hostility.
Many Chelsea supporters will be dismayed by a lot of what Abramovich does.
Just do not expect them to turn on the owner when there is a magnificent hulk of silverware, bearing the Uefa stamp and decorated in blue and white ribbons, residing at Stamford Bridge.
At the same time there is also gathering evidence that Chelsea is becoming the place to demonstrate how a culture of short-termism can eventually destabilise a football club.
At the end of this season it will be one title in seven years.
For the last two seasons they have not even challenged.
The interims/managers are sent to the guillotine with such frequency that anyone worth his salt must have to think long and hard about whether he wants to work in this environment.
Pep Guardiola smiled politely and decided he did not want to spend every day watching his back.
Ben tez, out of work and so far removed he had taken to writing an internet blog, could hardly be so fussy when, perhaps most shockingly of all, the truth is that any well-adjusted football person could have told Abramovich appointing the former Liverpool manager was the equivalent of unloading diesel into a petrol engine.
This, maybe, is what happens when a billionaire appoints men such as Bruce Buck and Ron Gourlay who tick off every demand like zombies.
The regime at Stamford Bridge does not seem to realise what can happen when there is never stability or clarity, just the sense that they are stumbling along.
It breeds malcontents, insecurity, selfishness, people looking after their own interests rather than the team’s.
It is not an exact science but a “good dressing room” can generally be gauged by how watertight it is against the outside world.
Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool all understand that and Manchester City are slowly getting there.
Chelsea operate in a different way.
It is a culture of leaks, strategic positioning, undermining others.
Not everyone but a concerted number, nonetheless.
One of the players his identity would be a grave disappointment to Chelsea’s supporters has been behind a lot of it.
Agents, staff and all manner of other people are involved.
They are clever, too, eluding all sorts of investigations, and the longer that culture goes on, the more embedded it becomes.
It is the English equivalent of Real Madrid, just not in a good way.
The next manager Avram Grant, Jos Mourinho or whoever has it all to sort out and, when one thinks back to that epic, wonderful night in Munich last May, it is difficult to imagine another Champions League winner has ever lurched around so miserably the following season.
Chelsea have become the object lesson in how not to defend the most cherished title of them all.
One interim is gone, another is on his way and the atmosphere at every match is just toxic.
It is a mess and it might get worse before it can get better.
Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o's internet hoax drama has lead to teams asking inappropriate questions during the NFL Combine.
Photograph: Michael Conroy/AP When it comes to the acceptance of LGBT individuals, the world of professional sports might very well be the last frontier.
Despite growing public acceptance, there has yet to be an active openly gay player in any of the major US professional sports leagues.
Reports surfacing from the NFL Scouting Combine suggest this is not at all surprising.
The NFL Combine is a yearly event where NFL teams evaluate eligible college football players that might be available in the upcoming NFL draft.
Although most of the focus is on what players do on the field in various drills, teams also interview potential draft picks.
This week, reports surfaced that claimed some NFL teams were asking, directly or indirectly, questions pertaining to athletes’ sexual orientation.
Tight end Nick Kasa of the University of Colorado seemed to confirm these reports when he told ESPN Radio that teams have asked him questions such as “Do you have a girlfriend?” and “do you like girls?”.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, while saying that he hasn’t heard of a team flat-out asking a player if they were gay, claims that sexual orientation is, in fact, an issue in this year’s combine: It’s been described to me as the proverbial elephant in the room and I don’t think anyone knows how to solve this dilemma yet.
It’s just that they want to know what they’re getting.
They want to know what issues they may be dealing with down the road.
We just assumed that at some point there would be an openly gay player in an NFL locker room and the team would have to work with the realities and make sure that everything’s fine.
Floria says that teams are thinking about this possibility because of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.
Te’o, a projected first round pick in the Draft and the number one attraction at this year’s combine, is still facing questions about the strange Lennay Kekua affair (or non-affair).
During his last year at Notre Dame, Te’o claimed to be motivated by the death of his girlfriend Lennay Kekua, who was later revealed to be an entirely fictional on-line construct.
When the story was revealed as a hoax, many speculated that the highly religious Te’o was attempting to cover up a same-sex affair, a theory seemingly bolstered when the perpetrator of the hoax, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, admitted that he was “in love” with Te’o.
This incident, and particularly the subsequent media firestorm, has apparently led to teams thinking about the ramifications, good or bad, that having an openly gay player on the roster would cause.
Now, keep in mind that the teams could be asking Kasa, and presumably other players, these questions with the deliberate goal of testing a young athlete’s maturity level when put in uncomfortable situations.
It’s not an uncommon practice: several combines ago, Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland asked wide receiver Dez Bryant if his mother ever worked as a prostitute.
In this particular case, the media backlash was swift and Ireland later rightfully apologized, but that doesn’t mean that teams aren’t still asking questions with the same purpose.
In the football world, an environment where straightness is often conflated with manliness, asking “do you like girls?” could be considered nearly as a provocative move as suggesting that a player’s mom used to be a hooker.
This is something of a depressing thought.
If this was the reasoning behind teams asking about the sexual orientation of their potential draft picks, they should have picked a different subject.
Opening up this line of questioning, for whatever reason, not only contributes to an environment hostile to gay individuals, it also opens them up to potential legal troubles.
Openly questioning potential employees about their sexuality falls into the category of discrimination in many states.
The NFL itself is very aware of potential ramifications, following Kasa’s comments, NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello responded : “We will look into the report on the questioning of Nick Kasa at the Scouting Combine.
It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process”.
Teams may not have the right, either ethically or legally, to ask potential players about their sexuality, but that doesn’t mean that the “elephant in the room”, as Florio puts it, isn’t still standing there.
NFL teams could actually be right to worry about acquiring the first openly gay player.
For example, the media attention would probably be an unwanted distraction, it would be one of the biggest sports story of the year.
Then there’s a question about whether an openly gay player could be a problem in the locker room.
Former NFL quarterback and current CSN Chicago analyst Jim Miller certainly seems to think so: Last time I checked, whether it’s Christianity or Muslims or other religions that are out there, they’re just not going to accept it.
They’re just not.
It’s just not realistic for Mike Florio or any progressive or liberal to think that everything is going to be OK in the locker room and we should all just wise up and accept it.
It’s easy to just mock Miller, as Deadspin points out he’s a journeyman ex-jock turned undistinguished football analyst who acts as if the NFL locker room is the only workplace that employs religious people, but his comments echo those of Chris Culliver of the San Francisco 49ers earlier this year.
In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, Culliver balked at the idea of having a gay teammate: “I don’t do that.
No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do”.
Comments like these don’t just reflect a strand of homophobia within the NFL community, they also act to reinforce it by treating it as the natural state of the clubhouse.
The more insiders repeat the league is not ready for openly gay players, the longer it will be accepted as true.
This is why things like Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s very public activism in support of gay marriage, or the popular “You Can Play” campaign are vitally important.
The more pro-gay and anti-bigotry voices there are within the NFL community, the easier it will get for openly gay athletes not just in the NFL but in all levels of the sport.
The key term here is “openly gay” because, just by going with basic percentages, it’s extremely unlikely that Culliver has not already had a gay teammate.
Right now, however, gay NFL players remain at least publicly unwilling to be open about their sexuality (although presumably there are already some gay athletes who are out to their teammates and coaches but not to the general public).
If these reports from the NFL Scouting Combine are accurate, it’s easy to see why this is.
In asking players, directly or indirectly, about their sexual orientation, with the implicit suggestion that being gay could negatively affect their value on draft day, NFL teams are effectively treating gay players the same way they would treat players with “character defects”.
This is simply not acceptable.
Juan Mart n del Potro returns the ball to Germany’s Daniel Brands in their quarter-final at the Dubai Championships.
Photograph: Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images Thunderous serving from the former US Open champion Juan Mart n del Potro helped the Argentinian overwhelm the German qualifier Daniel Brands 6-4, 6-2 in a sweat-soaked quarter-final at the Dubai Championships on Thursday.
Del Potro faces a likely semi-final duel with Novak Djokovic, although the Serb must first get past Italy’s Andreas Seppi, against whom the world No1 has a 9-0 winning record.
“If I am ready and I’m very solid with my forehands and serve it’s going to be a very big chance for me,” Del Potro said when asked about the prospect of a 10th meeting with Djokovic.
That confidence is a reflection of the Argentinian’s improving form in Dubai following a scare in the first round in which he saved three match points before beating Marcos Baghdatis.
He has eased through the next two rounds without losing serve.
Del Potro won the US Open in 2009 but has not gone beyond the quarter-finals of a grand slam tournament since.
The third seed Tomas Berdych continued his imperious form, swatting aside the wildcard Dmitry Tursunov 6-3, 6-2.
It is Berdych’s second trouncing of the Russian in the past week following a similarly one-sided match in Marseille.
The Czech, ranked sixth in the world, has yet to drop a set in Dubai and will play Roger Federer or Nikolay Davydenko in Friday’s semi-final.
Philadelphia Flyers’ Simon Gagne celebrates his goal against the Washington Capitals.
Photograph: Chris Szagola/ZUMA Press/Corbis Claude Giroux scored after just 23 seconds as the Philadelphia Flyers rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.
Wayne Simmonds gave Philadelphia a 2-0 lead less than four minutes later, and Simon Gagne scored his first goal of the season in the second period, one day after being reacquired by the Flyers from the Los Angeles Kings.
Max Talbot stretched the advantage to 4-0 in the second and Ilya Bryzgalov made 23 saves.
Bryzgalov was in line for a shutout until Joel Ward tipped in his own deflection with 2:09 left to cut the Capitals’ deficit to 4-1.
Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty and Brian Gionta scored third-period goals in the Canadiens ‘ 5-2 win at the Toronto Maple Leafs .
Gallagher scored his sixth goal of the season 9:08 into the third to break a 2-2 deadlock.
Pacioretty cemented the win with his sixth goal and second of the game at 14:26.
Gionta added an empty-net tally with 2:26 left.
Pacioretty also scored in the second period, and defenseman Alexei Emelin got Montreal on the board in the first period.
Carey Price made 21 saves for his 11th win.
Frazer McLaren and Clarke MacArthur scored for Toronto, which had won three straight at home.
At Los Angeles, Anze Kopitar scored the tiebreaking goal off a slick pass from Dwight King with 4:48 to play as the Kings rallied from a third-period deficit to down the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 for their fifth straight victory.
Jonathan Bernier made 32 saves for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who leveled it with 9:34 left on Jeff Carter’s goal during a two-man advantage.
King then made a spinning pass from the boards in front to Kopitar, who beat Jimmy Howard for his sixth goal of the season.
Howard stopped 27 shots for the Red Wings, who had won two straight.
Los Angeles is on its longest winning streak of the season, winning seven of eight overall.
Kyle Palmieri ended a 10-game goal drought with his first NHL hat trick and Viktor Fasth made 20 saves as the Anaheim Ducks beat the Nashville Predators 5-1 for their seventh straight home victory.
Nick Bonino and Saku Koivu also scored for Anaheim.
Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf assisted on all three goals by Palmieri, who hadn’t scored since netting back-to-back game-winners on Feb.
1-2 against Minnesota and Los Angeles.
Palmieri completed his outburst against Pekka Rinne 1:07 into the second period, during a power play after Nashville had too many men on the ice.Craig Smith scored Nashville’s goal.
Rinne gave up five goals on 21 shots before he was replaced at the start of the third period.
He has allowed at least four goals in third consecutive games.
Man takes job with specific terms.
Then dispassionately unburdens himself about said specific terms.
Yep? Photograph: Lee Smith/Action Images SERENITY NOW, P45 LATER Given the monotonously predictable over-the-top spin with which Rafa Ben tez’s latest post-match remarks have been reported, the Fiver can’t help wondering what kind of serene and tranquil lifestyles certain hacks enjoy if the sight of a middle-aged football manager calmly answering questions from behind a table at a press conference constitutes “a sensational rant”.
Frank Costanza’s rants on Seinfeld were sensational.
BBC reporter John Sweeney’s rant on that Panorama investigation into Scientology was sensational.
Adolf H1tler’s rant about Adolf H1tler parody rants was sensational.
By comparison, the sight of an unruffled, even-tempered Ben tez dispassionately unburdening himself was positively yogic, particularly for a man who hails from a country boasting natives so prone to loud and excitable jabbering that even the Spanish audio version of The Little Book of Calm sounds like a pneumatic drill in a bar-room brawl with a Keith Moon drum solo who’d just caught it eyeing up its bird.
Pointing out that a minority of Chelsea fans who don’t like him because of some very mildly disparaging and mildly amusing remarks he made about them several years ago are “damaging the image of the club”, Ben tez mentioned that he was doing his best for Chelsea and that the supporters in question “don’t need to be worrying about me” because he would be leaving at the end of the season.
Ben tez also expressed his dissatisfaction with the manner in which his current employers describe him as their “interim manager”, on the fairly sensible grounds “everybody is interim because after you, there is another one, but in this case they didn’t have anyone so why put ‘interim’.” While Rafa’s comments may seem fairly banal and obvious and were made without him raising his voice, banging his fist or turning “chive bloom” purple on the Dulux colour wall, it seems strange that so many media outlets should feel compelled to report them as some sort of shouty and hysterical outburst that’s likely to result in his immediate dismissal.
But seeing as Calm Man May Lose Job For Pointing Out Obvious* is unlikely to sell too many of the papers for whom shouty and hysterical seems to be the default setting, it’s probably not that strange a state of affairs at all.
* Due to the unpredictability of certain Premier League club owners, by the time you read this there’s every chance a calm man may have lost his job for pointing out the obvious.
QUOTE OF THE DAY “Gary Neville was a bit nervous so stayed out in the corridor” Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones recalls the time Sky’s star-struck pundit extraordinaire came to see the band with David Beckham after a gig.
FIVER LETTERS “Come the end of the season, perhaps this is something the Fiver could consider to boost its image overseas, and at home too I suppose.
I don’t think Fiver Dragons quite works though as there doesn’t seem to be much fire in its belly, what with its penchant for Tin” Mark Judd STOP FOOTBALL! Fiver Ed.
“Keith Brown (Monday’s Fiver letters) may have only been trying to think of players that have appeared on our flat-screen TVs since Sky invented football back in 1992, but back in the days when I had to press the buttons on my Duncan Ferguson low-definition TV, I remember watching the likes of Graeme Sharp and Don Goodman(s) grace my 27-inch colour tellybox.
Ah, the good old days” Derek Russell.
“We have a large, old-style TV in the garage.
It’s a big lump of a thing, it cost an awful lot of money but is now largely worthless and I’ve been trying to give it away to anyone who will pick it up.
I call it Andy Carroll” Stephen Yoxall.
“Mario Balotelli has ordered a life-sized statue of himself for his house (yesterday’s Quote of the Day).
Possibly the one that played for Manchester City earlier this season” Alan Gernon.
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BITS AND BOBS Manchester City youth player Courtney Meppen-Walter has been jailed for 16 months for killing brother and sister Kulwant Singh and Ravel Kaur, while speeding in his Mercedes.
“The probation report says he’s a young man who wished he could have those 10 seconds back, but of course he can’t,” said Gwyn Lewis, defending.
Now that Joe Hart has started dropping the ball and getting distracted by shampoo adverts, Ben Foster has decided he may want to play for England again.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers reckons Luis Su rez should be a shoo-in for the PFA Player of the Year award.
I couldn’t look any further, to be honest.” The Pope’s Oldc O’Rangers have been fined 250,000 after an investigation into undisclosed payments to players but the club will not be stripped of any titles.
A independent commission set up the by the SPL stated: “The Pope’s Oldc O’Rangers did not gain any unfair competitive advantage from the contraventions of the SPL rules in failing to make proper disclosure of the side-le ” Look, it goes on like that for a while.
Newcastle keeper Tim Krul is out for five weeks with ankle-knack.
Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen “Klipp” Klopp is a wee bit miffed at talk linking Robert Lewandowski with a move to Bayern Munich.
“Why don’t you ask me about Bayern strikers Mario G mez and Arjen Robben and where they will be playing next season,” he fumed, presumably at some reporters rather than some random dude on the street.
“We could be talking about other things as well.” And Blackeye Rovers defender Ga l Givet is ready to do one from the fringes of the first team and life in Lancashire.
“Luckily, I have my wife and two kids.
If left alone in Blackburn, I’d have already hanged myself,” he parped.
“In any event, I’m done for here.” RECOMMENDED VIEWING Miss of the week.
STILL WANT MORE? Barry Glendenning spent a day training with Britain’s top match officials, thus literally becoming a ref who needs glasses.
Ryan Giggs at his terrifying best and a Kanu cracker feature in this week’s Classic YouTube.
Ilhan Mansiz: remember him? No? He scored for Turkey in the 2002 World Cup? Gah! Anyway, he’s on course to skate at the Winter Olympics.
James Riach tells the story.
And the pod discuss the north London derby, Rafael Ben tez and some very spicy fan fiction in this week’s Fitba Weekly (Extra).
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