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Four-goal Faris dreams of AFC Cup final


Mertesacker: I've never played in back 3


Deadline day, Chelsea transfer ban

This was the week in which the transer window closed with barely a sound, Bayern Munich gave away free beer to their fans, Eduardo got caught up in a 'dive storm' and FIFA banned Chelsea from signing any players until 2011.

Abramovich puts squeeze on Man City - Friday, August 28

Having spent £700m transforming Chelsea into one of football's big hitters over the last six years, Blues owner Roman Abramovich is now keen to make sure none of his rivals can follow the same path to instant success.

With big-spending Manchester City threatening to crack the established hierarchy the Russian is backing a UEFA proposal that would scupper the efforts of the Citizens' billionaire owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to buy his way to the top of English and European football.

UEFA president Michel Platini named Abramovich as one of the key agitators behind a plan that proposes clubs can only spend what they earn in football revenues and that any club which does not balance the books in the next three years could be kicked out of European competition.

The UEFA chief said: "It's mainly the owners that asked us to do something: Roman Abramovich, Silvio Berlusconi [Milan] , Massimo Moratti [Internazionale]. They do not want to fork out any more.

"Manchester City can spend £300m if they want to but if they are not breaking even in three years then they cannot play in European competition ... Roman Abramovich is a football person and passionate about the game ... He has come to me and said that we must do something about this."

Talk about pots and kettles.

Bavarian beerfest - Saturday, August 29

Bayern Munich are officially (at least in the Soccernet office) the best team in the world. Not because they ended their worst start to the Bundesliga for 43 seasons with a convincing 3-0 win against German champions VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday but because the Bavarian club gave away more than 7,000 litres of beer to their fans before the match.

The freebie was 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. The brewery's promotion produced some brilliant photos, as this one of a particularly unhappy Franck Ribery and Daniel van Buyten illustrates.

As for the match itself, new signing Arjen Robben marked his Bayern Munich debut with two goals. Is it £22m well spent?

Simulation begins at home - Sunday, August 30

Following Eduardo's dive to win a controversial penalty in Arsenal's 3-1 Champions League play-off victory over Celtic last week, indignant Scottish FA Chief Gordon Smith, along with a few Celtic players, called on UEFA to ban the Croatian striker, and ban him they did.

Smith pointed out that his very own SFA had used retrospective punishment to sanction Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty, who feigned being headbutted by Aberdeen defender Charlie Mulgrew during an SPL game in May, and that he was on a crusade to eradicate simulation.

"Everything that can be done to stamp it out must be done - starting right now," Smith raged.

Fast forward to Sunday, just four days after the Eduardo storm, and Celtic's Aiden McGeady provided the main talking point in his side's 1-0 win over Hibs when he was sent off for diving.

"'Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone," a wiser man than I once said.

Macedonia: Scotland are rubbish - Monday, August 31

With a week of predominantly mind-numbingly dull internationals ahead - when the minnows routinely get swallowed whole by the big fish - it is refreshing to hear a footballer say what he actually thinks rather than utter the regulation "there are no easy games at this level" mantra.

Ahead of Macedonia's World Cup qualifier with Scotland at Hampden Park on Saturday the Red Lions' goalkeeper Jane Nikolovski did just that and said what everyone else was thinking.

"We've been studying the latest game they played in Oslo [Norway 4-0 Scotland] and it's clear they have not improved. In fact, I think they're worse than when we won 1-0 in Skopje," Nikolovski said.

"Their general performance has gone down all over the pitch and I think they're looking like a very nervous team as they fear they can't now qualify for the play-offs."

Transfer deadline day - Tuesday, September 1

Let's face it, transfer deadline day was a damp squib. When Johnny Heitinga's £6.2m move from Atletico Madrid to Everton is the star of the show you have to feel a little disappointed. There were no scenes comparable to those of a clearly nervous Andrei Arshavin biting his nails in the London snow in February.

Last time Sky Sports' live coverage included particularly naff shots of Andy Burton's mobile phone ringing before the aforementioned correspondent outrageously claimed it was Kaka, or some such, on the end of the line calling to tell him he was moving to Manchester City... before staying at AC Milan.

This time around the satellite broadcaster had splashed out on some impressive on-screen graphics to illustrate the big money moves of some of football's big hitters. Unfortunately there wasn't any.

The best moment of the transfer window came at Portsmouth when Jamie O'Hara, on loan from Tottenham, shouted at Sky's roving reporter, Dharmesh Sheth, that Zinedine Zidane was coming to Fratton Park. "I can confirm that's not true," Sheth told us.

Footballer loses leg - Wednesday, September 2

FC Nordsjaelland's Jonathan Richter must be one of the most unlucky players in football. The Danish midfielder was struck by lightning back in July and has now been forced to have his leg amputated.

The 24-year-old was struck by lightning whilst playing at the Hvidovre Stadion, in Denmark's second tier, and was put into a medically induced coma after suffering a cardiac arrest. Such was the power of the bolt that up to six other footballers on the pitch were said to have been knocked over.

Richter's recovery progressed slower than was hoped and doctors pushed back bringing him out of the coma on two occasions. He eventually recovered on August 1 only to be told by medical advisors that removing his injured lower left leg would dramatically improve his general well-being.

Chelsea handed transfer ban - Thursday, September 3

The was genuine shock on Thursday when FIFA decided to ban Chelsea from making any transfers until 2011, after upholding a complaint of breach of contract from French club RC Lens over the controversial signing of Gael Kakuta, but a quick trawl through the archives revealed that it wasn't the first time the Blues' transfer dealings had been called into question.

Back in June 2005 Chelsea were found guilty of 'tapping-up' Arsenal defender Ashley Cole by the Premier League and fined £300,000. Cole himself was fined £100,000 and then manager Jose Mourinho was fined £200,000.

In August 2006, Leeds United accused Chelsea of breaking youth development rules by making approaches to three youth players - Daniel Rose, Tom Taiwo and Michael Woods. A joint Premier League and Football Association investigation into the affair ended when Leeds withdrew their allegations and accepted a settlement fee.

And last year saw Chelsea reach an agreement with Norwegian club Lyn Oslo and Manchester United in their dispute over the transfer of John Obi Mikel. The Nigerian joined the Blues in 2006 but had originally signed for Manchester United, who claimed to have reached an agreement to sign him the previous year.

Lyn's former chief executive Morgan Andersen was later convicted forging documents relating to the player and the Blues issued a High Court claim against Lyn and Andersen in October in an effort to recoup the £16m transfer fee they paid to United (£12m) and Lyn (£4m).

At least the club can draw on plenty of experience as they battle to overturn FIFA's ruling.


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