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Is Abraham good enough for Chelsea?


America eye playoffs in Clasico Nacional

Five Aside

Magpies swoop for Sol, Bavarian beerfest

This was the week in which 'Naff Raff' blamed his star players for defeat against Aston Villa, Bayern Munich gave their fans free beer to drown their sorrows, Notts County signed Sol Campbell and forgotten 'fox in the box' Francis Jeffers blinked onto football's radar.

Hughes unrepentant - Friday, August 21

Big-spending Manchester City boss Mark Hughes dismissed riling his rival managers, and particularly Everton coach David Moyes, as simply "what happens when you want to get better".

Hughes' pursuit of Toffees defender Joleon Lescott prompted Moyes to blast City for unsettling his club in a public attack. Moyes said: "The way it has been handled is disgusting and all it has done is disrupt our club and made it very difficult for us. Maybe that's what the overall plan was."

But Hughes has refused to be drawn into war words, coolly replied that there was nothing personal in the way he targets players.

"It is just a consequence of the quality of the players we needed," he said. "That quality plays at a certain level, in and around where we want to be."

It's not grim up north - Saturday, August 22

The quirky, and often spiky, comments of former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan may not be part of the Scottish football scene anymore, but Aberdeen manager Mark McGhee is doing his best to prevent our brains rotting from the banality of the post match interview.

Asked about the impressive performance of 16-year-old Fraser Fyvie, who became the youngest-ever Prittodrie player to appear in a competitive match, in Aberdeen's 3-0 trouncing of Hamilton McGhee conjured a corker.

"Fraser was industrious and busy. He is a red head, but I don't want to say he's like Paul Scholes. He's more like Ron Weasley - a wee bit of magic!"

He is not quite ready to wrestle the crown of post match king from Blackpool manager Ian Holloway (Who can forget the following analogy: "To put it in gentleman's terms if you've been out for a night and you're looking for a young lady and you pull one, some weeks they're good looking and some weeks they're not the best. Our performance today would have been not the best looking bird but at least we got her in the taxi. She weren't the best looking lady we ended up taking home but she was very pleasant and very nice, so thanks very much, let's have a coffee") but the battle for supremacy should prove interesting.

Wenger ignores own advice - Sunday, August 23

In the wake of Arsenal's 4-1 win over Portsmouth, and a 6-1 defeat of Everton on the opening day of the season, many a pundit tipped the Gunners to win the title. However, Arsene Wenger refused to be drawn on the subject insisting that in football you should "shut up, win your games and let everyone else talk".

A shame then that he did not head is own advice just three days later when a storm erupted over Eduardo's blatant dive as Arsenal beat Celtic 3-1 in their Champions League play-off to advance to the group stage.

UEFA's decision to charge the Croatian striker with "deceiving the referee" was met with derision by Wenger who claimed it was a "complete disgrace" and a "witch-hunt" against the striker.

The Arsenal boss added: "This charge implies there was intent and a desire to cheat the referee. Having watched the pictures again there was nothing conclusive. It singles out a player in Europe to be a cheat and that is not acceptable. UEFA has taken action that is not defendable."

So much for keeping his mouth shut.

'Naff Raff' blames players for defeat - Monday, August 24

Just as the Australian selectors were quick to shift the blame of the Ashes defeat onto the players, so Rafa Benitez, or "Naff Raff" as The Sun dubbed him, eagerly shifted the blame for Monday night's 3-1 defeat against Aston Villa onto his playing staff.

"Lucas scored an own goal but Gerrard gave away a penalty - and each player will have to analyse a lot of things," Rafa said as he neatly side-stepped the 'win as a team, lose as a team' approach.

Although the Spaniard can't have foreseen that his players would hand Villa a healthy advantage as Liverpool lost two out of their first three games of the season, he was certainly quick to backtrack on his fierce defence of the much maligned Lucas just days earlier.

"I have been really surprised at the amount of criticism he has had to cope with from the pundits, the so-called experts," Rafa said last week. "Hopefully they will now stop using him as a target."

Magpies swoop for shiny Sol - Tuesday, August 25

In one of the most gobsmackingly unexpected moves of the transfer window England international Sol Campbell ditched Premier League football to join League Two side Notts County and left a number of the game's top managers open mouthed with shock.

Sol's former manager at Portsmouth, the club he quit to drop down the league, Harry Redknapp said he still rated the 35-year-old as one of the top six central defenders in the Premier League and would have signed him if he was not in charge at Tottenham - a club where Campbell is a hate figure.

Not since an Italian team called Juventus donned a set of the Magpies' hand-me-down black and white strips and made them world famous have County pulled of such a coup.

Campbell joins former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson and Schmeichel - Kasper, not Peter - at Meadow Lane. Pavel Nedved was another ambitious target.

Remember Francis Jeffers? - Wednesday, August 25

Remember Francis Jeffers? The £8m Arsenal 'fox in the box' that once played for England?

Well the fallen former Everton ...ahem... star has been underwhelming the fans of Sheffield Wednesday for the past few seasons (with a massive five goals in 44 games) but he was back in the headlines following The Owls' Carling Cup clash with Port Vale.

The 28-year-old striker got himself sent-off for what appeared to be a rabbit-punch head butt combo in the 2-0 defeat and despite phoning Sky Sports News to make a public apology he was promptly sacked by his club.

Manager Brian Laws said: "His conduct was totally unacceptable and something this football club will not tolerate from any player. We have therefore enforced the heaviest punishment available to the club with immediate effect and transfer-listed the player".

There were no takers at the time of writing.

Bavarian beerfest - Thursday, August 27

Despite Bayern Munich making their worst start to the Bundesliga for 43 seasons they not only redeemed themselves on Thursday but instantly became the best team in the world.

The Bavarian club announced plans to give away more than 7,000 litres of beer before Saturday's home match with German champions VfL Wolfsburg so the fans can drown their sorrows.

The give-away is part of a sponsorship deal with a Munich-based brewery and the same accord saw the players and coach Louis van Gaal dress up in traditional Bavarian costume, including lederhosen, for a photo shoot this week. The brewery's promotion produced some brilliant photos, as the one above of a particularly unhappy Franck Ribery illustrates.


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