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Oct 31, 2008

Maradona for Argentina, Freddie joins MLS

This was the week in which Diego Maradona was the shock choice to become the next Argentina coach, Harry Redknapp was the shock choice to become the new Tottenham coach and Freddie Ljungberg made the shock choice to resume his career by joining the Seattle Sounders.

Friday 24 October: Real pursuit of Ronaldo over ''forever''
Hold the back pages, the summer's biggest transfer story is forgotten ''forever''. Cristiano Ronaldo, will not (repeat NOT) be going to Real Madrid in January according to Real president Ramon Calderon who has no history whatsoever of saying one thing and then doing something else...

With Real having signed David Beckham, Robinho, the Brazilian Ronaldo and Ruud van Nistelrooy after such statements and with Calderon gaining election after promising to bring Kaka and Cesc Fabregas to the club, surely the top brass would never say anything to jeopardise the relationship between United and Real. Of course not. So remember that's ''forgotten'', ''over'' and finished ''forever'' - until the transfer window opens again that is.

Saturday 25 October: Ramos disappears as 'Arry steps in
'Magic Juande' did a disappearing act late on Saturday night, carrying the can for Spurs' poor start to the season. The Spaniard was replaced by Portsmouth's Harry Redknapp (who was only too pleased to tell anyone who would listen that he'd got himself a new job) and is now to be seen prowling around the grounds of former club Sevilla telling people he can win them the league this year. That is when he's not busy updating his personal website/blog/facebook page to make it clear that all the blame for everything should be laid squarely on the club's transfer policy.

Sunday 26 October: Blues finally get the blues at home
Last seen in these parts around four years (or 86 games) ago, a Chelsea home defeat is about as rare as a Fergie BBC interview. But despite being presided over by four different managers, Claudio Ranieiri, Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant and Phil Scolari, the Blues' run eventually came to an end against Liverpool thanks to a deflected Xabi Alonso strike. And wasn't Rafa Benitez happy about it, too. Cue talk of a title win, Champions League, FA Cup, Carling Cup wins and then world domination for Rafa's Reds.

Monday 27 October: It's FOOTball not ARMball
No-one ever told Alberto Gilardino that using your arm to score a goal isn't allowed. Lucky then, that the Italian league has someone to deal with this kind of thing, as the Fiorentina forward was banned for two games following his opener in the 3-1 win at Palermo. "Gilardino deserves a five-game ban. He even celebrated, incredible," the Sicilian side's president Maurizio Zamparini raged. Still, now they've got the big issues sorted maybe they can start work on racism, hooliganism, corruption and all the other problems in the Italian game.

Oh, and speaking of 'big issues'. Sir Alex Ferguson has finally had the balls to say what the rest of us have been thinking for years: that FIFA President Sepp Blatter is ''too old'' to be in such a position of power. Likening the situation to ''the despots in Africa'', maybe some hard home-truths will persuade Mr Blatter to accept some long-overdue retirement. Or maybe he'll stay until he's 104.

Tuesday 28 October: Freddie leaves for Seattle, EXCLUSIVE: Fat Ronaldo, fat
Whatever could persuade footballer Freddie Ljungberg to join David Beckham in the MLS? Far be it for me to suggest that it may be money, but $5 million worth of reasons seem to have turned his head as the former Arsenal and West Ham winger will play out his remaining days in the land of rain, Frasier and grunge. The 31-year-old, injury-prone, Sweden international has chosen to play with the likes of Kasey Keller and Sanna Nyassi (?) at Seattle Sounders in their first year in the league, despite the fact they only have three other players in the squad. Better hope they sign some more, Fred.

A player long-mooted for a run-out in MLS, the Brazilian Ronaldo, has admitted what everyone suspected all along: that he couldn't have got any fatter. The player affectionately known as 'Fat Ronaldo', to distinguish him from his trim Portuguese counterpart, said his clothes did not fit while he was injured because he loved food too much. Now having trained for months to be fit for a return to action with Brazilian club Flamengo, it seems like it would have been easier just to buy bigger clothes.

Wednesday 29 October: Maradona to be appointed as Argentina boss
They do love a good idol in South America and they don't come much bigger (no pun intended) than Diego Maradona. One of the world's best in his prime, Maradona is now ready to take over the mantle of Alfio Basile and take the Argentine national job. Having battled a weight problem that saw him balloon to nearly 300 pounds and survive two heart attacks, as well as addictions to alcohol and cocaine, you could be forgiven for wondering what he brings to the role.

'El pipe de oro' certainly doesn't have the experience to manage a national side. He doesn't appear to have calmness under pressure (especially when Boca Juniors are involved) and his well-documented off-field issues suggest he is not the greatest role model for the youth of Argentina. But in all this we have forgotten one thing: He is, and always will be, Diego Maradona. And that is all the Argentine fans care about.

Thursday 30 October: World's worst win, Simeone loses rag
East Timor may have got themselves a whole new legion of fans with their first ever point, after six fruitless years of playing international football. Cambodia were the unlucky ones to be held 2-2 against FIFA's lowest ranked side, who had never picked up so much as a draw before they came to town. "It was the first game we didn't lose - we're all very proud," said long-serving, long-suffering coach Pedro Almeida. Bless.

Finally, it pains us (or more specifically him) to bring news of Argentine hardman Diego Simeone losing his rag as his River Plate side fell to the bottom of the Apertura. The boss was seen to take a swing at the substitute's bench, injuring his hand and missing the post-match press conference as a result. The man who was responsible for the sending off of David Beckham at France '98 surely handled the subs bench with a lot more grace than most of his opponents during his playing days - although the bench has lodged an official complaint.

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