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Marcotti: Platini's missed opportunity

FIFA 11 hours ago
Read
Oct 2, 2009

Voodoo priest casts spell on Ronaldo

This was the week in which Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said pub life provided him with the secret of success, Antonio Cassano said he would rather have played in Serie B than at Real Madrid, a voodoo priest cast a spell to injure Cristiano Ronaldo and Sir Alex Ferguson arranged a marriage for Manchester United defender Jonny Evans.

Wenger: Pub life the secret to my success - Friday, September 25

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may go by the monicker of "the professor" but the cerebral coach has revealed he learned the tricks of his trade in a pub.

The Frenchman's parents owned a bistro called La Croix d'Or in Duttlenheim where he would spend hours studying the behaviour of the football-loving customers, listening to their discussions and tactical analysis.

"There is no better psychological education than growing up in a pub," Wenger said. "From an early age you get a practical psychological education into the minds of people. I even learned about tactics and selection from the people talking about football in the pub... who plays on the left wing and who should be in the team."

Wenger was never much of a player, became a manager in his early 30s and has since won the Premier League on three occasions with Arsenal. So there is hope for us all.

Cassano: I'd have quit Madrid for Serie B - Saturday, September 26

It has been a while since Italian bad-boy Antonio Cassano did something crazy enough to earn a place in this column but his rehabilitation at Sampdoria is proving so successful that his subsequent candour in a recent interview shed a new light on his troubled past.

Ahead of the Blucerchiati's Serie A clash with Inter at the weekend the 27-year-old told La Gazzette dello Sport that during his ill-fated time with Real Madrid he and his cousin Franco used to board a private jet to Rome to party for three days after not being selected for the team and did "things that I have never told anyone, not even my mother".

The former Roma star also revealed he was so desperate to leave Madrid that he "would have played in Serie B" and that his only regret about joining Genoa-based club Sampdoria is that he did not do it sooner. "How far could I have gone if I had come straight from Rome to Genoa (missing out Madrid), considering everything Samp and the Blucerchiato family have done for me?" Cassano said.

Since hitting rock-bottom during one of his jaunts to Rome, when Franco told him "you are not going to end up well", Cassano has been getting his life back on track and winning rave reviews along the way. He helped his team to beat Inter 1-0 at the weekend to stay top of Serie A and could yet get a recall to the Italian national team for their crucial World Cup qualifier in Ireland.

It seems the prefix 'bad-boy' will have to be dropped.

Voodoo priest casts spell on Ronaldo - Sunday, September 27

If you thought that Cristiano Ronaldo's goal-a-game streak for Real Madrid came to an end against Tenerife because that's just the way things go in football you would be wrong. According to a report in Spanish newspaper El Mundo it's all down to an anonymous voodoo priest who has cast a spell on the Portuguese winger.

The wizard has actually been contracted to cast a spell that will inflict a serious injury on the £80 million forward and his blank against Los Blanquiazules is just a consequence of the first step in the casting the spell.

The voodoo priest said: "I am a professional and someone has paid very well for me using my powers. I have been hired to make Cristiano Ronaldo suffer a serious injury." The wizard added that he was unable to reveal the identity of his client "because I am a mixture of priest and doctor and I have to respect the confidentiality of my followers".

"It's a step-by-step process and depends on various factors so the result you are looking for is achieved sooner or later."

Real are not taking the threat seriously and have dismissed it as "the kind of craziness we deal with on a daily basis" but on Wednesday night, despite scoring twice against Marseille to make a mockery of the voodoo priest's claims of a goal-drought, Ronaldo eventually limped off the pitch and was pictured on the bench withy an ice-pack on his ankle. Cue the Twilight Zone music.

Contact lens blinds Watford skipper - Monday, September 28

Watford skipper Jay DeMerit faces the daunting prospect of eye surgery and a long spell on the sidelines after temporarily blinding himself with a contact lens.

In a strange-but-true style moment the USA international cut his eye as he removed the contact lens at the team hotel and the injury has become infected.

"It was a freak thing," said DeMerit. "It got worse and worse and I still can't see out of that eye. Scar tissue is starting to develop, which is blurring my vision, so I'm seeing a specialist and I might have to have surgery."

Fergie makes Evans marriage gaffe - Tuesday, September 29

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson blundered into dangerous territory during Tuesday's Champions League pre-match press conference when he told defender Jonny Evans to settle down and get married, unaware that the 21-year-old's girlfriend, Kate Wathall, was sitting among the press-pack.

When Evans was asked by one industrious hack if he would heed Ferguson's advice the Northern Ireland international shifted uncomfortably and said: "I don't really want to talk about that here. Especially because my girlfriend's in the middle of you all there. She's on placement at ITV this week!"

Ferguson had been talking about how Wayne Rooney's attitude and maturity had improved his game since he got married to childhood sweetheart Coleen McLoughlin and unperturbed by Evans' revelation he turned to Wathall and said: "Get him tied down dear. Rings are cheap now."

When the questioning returned to football issues Ferguson joked he had missed the TV highlights of the weekend's games because he had been "arranging Jonny's bands for his marriage".

Berlusconi: Milan still best in the world - Wednesday, September 29

Despite AC Milan being booed off the pitch following their 0-0 draw with Bari in Serie A and then becoming the laughing stock of Europe after losing to FC Zurich at the San Siro in the Champions League, deluded owner Silvio Berlusconi still thinks his club are the best in the world.

Actually, the gaff-prone Rossoneri chief originally described Milan's season under Leonardo as a "disaster" but as soon as he realised he had been overheard by an Italian sports reporter he quickly backtracked and in true Berlusconi style went way too far in the opposite direction.

"Well, when I said 'disaster' I was just saying it for the sake of it," Berlusconi explained rather unconvincingly. "It is a difficult moment, but that's football. It will pass. We'll see where things stand in the end."

He added: "The team are not going through a positive period, but they are still the first in the world."

Milan are currently in 11th place in Serie A and have not won a trophy since 2007.

Pointless Pompey fail to pay players - Thursday, September 30

In rode new owner Sulaiman al-Fahim to rescue Portsmouth from financial peril only to forget to pay his players during his first month in charge and put Pompey back in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Although to be fair to the Dubai businessman, the club have been in the spotlight for nothing but the wrong reasons recently.

Portsmouth are quite literally pointless. Bottom of the Premier League and already facing a tough battle against relegation, al-Fahim could be forgiven for purposely not wishing to hand over his cash. However, it seems it was all just a clerical error.

"There was a delay in the transfer of funds but the lawyers have received confirmation that this will happen today which will enable the players to be paid within the next 24 to 48 hours," a club statement read. "The players have all been informed of the situation."

Handing over cheques of between £20,000 and £180,000 must be particularly galling when Portsmouth are rooted to the foot of the table and looking like staying there for quite some time.