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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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The heavy mob and the torturer

Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.

This week, Xamax FC owner Bulat Chagaev says he doesn't need weapons in order to scare his players, 'The Torturer' dishes out punishment at Wolfsburg, Carlos Tevez admits to gorging himself on comfort food and Blackburn's Michel Salgado admits Venky's chicken knots his stomach.

Chagaev: I don't need weapons to scare players

Life at Neuchatel Xamax FC has been anything but dull since Bulat Chagaev bought the club three months ago. And this week, fresh from firing his fourth coach, the Chechen businessman has been forced to refute claims that he sent armed bodyguards into the team's dressing room to terrorise the players.

Following Saturday's 2-2 home draw against bottom-of-the-league FC Lausanne Sport, Le Matin and L'Express reported that an unhappy Chagaev sent a couple of heavies down to criticise the performance of several members of the squad and lambast Spanish coach Joaquin Caparros.

While Caparros was given the axe shortly after the match Chagaev denies any rough-house tactics, or at least that he needs other people to do it for him, in the dressing room. "I do not need weapons to scare these players," Chagaev is quoted as saying in The Guardian. "I regret nothing about how I act ... Rest assured, I feel good."

Back in May, Chagaev is reported to have shouted "I'll kill you all" to motivate his players as they trailed 2-0 to FC Sion in the Swiss Cup Final and then sacked coach Bernard Challendes, who followed Didier Olle-Nicolle and preceded Sonny Anderson in heading out of the Stade de la Maladiere, when Xamax lost.

Felix fines defiant duo

It wasn't just Chagaev who ripped into his players this week. Over in the Bundesliga, 'The Torturer' inflicted his own brand of punishment on a couple of Wolfsburg players, but unfortunately the discipline meted out by Felix Magath didn't do justice to his moniker.

The man known as "Quaelix" - a play on the German verb quaelen, which means to torture - was furious with strike duo Patrick Helmes and Mario Mandzukic following Wolfsburg's 4-1 loss at Borussia Moenchengladbach and, according to Kicker, fined the pair €10,000 each for failing to carry out his tactical instructions during the game.

Not only was it a PR masterstroke in terms of deferral of responsibility by Quaelix, he also made an example out of Helmes, who wants to leave the club anyway, by making him train alone.

Helmes' agent Gerd vom Bruch told German daily Bild: "What's happening in Wolfsburg is purely arbitrary. A global company like (Wolfsburg sponsor) Volkswagen certainly doesn't carry on like that with its employees."

What's eating Carlos Tevez?

Now that serial whinger Carlos Tevez has finished his diet of self pity and is apparently happy to stay at Manchester City to pick up his £250,000-per-week pay cheque, the striker has revealed the depths of despair into which he sank last season.

Despite having "only two restaurants" in Manchester, Tevez, who now looks set to stay at Eastlands after a move to Brazilian club Corinthians collapsed in August, claims he was so depressed he developed an eating disorder and had to spend time in a clinic.

"I'm not the shit that they say I am. I had a personal crisis this summer," Tevez told reporters. "I put on five or six kilos and had to check myself into a clinic. I was depressed and so I ate and ate. Only my family and my friends know this."

Off The Ball can't help but wonder how many kilos Tevez will put on now that he is sitting on the bench watching Sergio Aguero, a more amiable Argentine striker, keeping himself fit on the Eastlands pitch at his expense.

Venky's advert made Salgado sick

Still, food-loving Carlos Tevez could always attempt to get himself a loan move to Blackburn Rovers, where the players are actually encouraged to scoff down bucket-loads of fried chicken - at least when the TV advertising crew from club owners Venky's are in town.

There is however just one small problem, as Rovers defender Michel Salgado revealed this week that his stomach had been left in tatters by the wares of his poultry-peddling paymasters.

"When we found out that Blackburn's owners wanted ten of us to do an advert for Venky's, we didn't really know what to think. I had to pretend to love it but the truth is, one bite and my stomach was in knots!" Salgado told Four Four Two.

"We had to wait ages for them to prepare the food while the acting skills were bad and the jokes even worse. You try to put each other off and ruin takes and you're rolling about. I think I came off worst. I'm not a big fan of spices and sauces. Curry is not something that the Spanish are used to."


Video of the week

This penalty from Al Ahly midfielder Amir Sayoud has been branded the worst ever and certianly deserves to be a contender for the title. Sayoud not only misses with a terrible spot kick but also falls over and gets booked. To see Sayoud's woeful penalty click here ESPN Video.


More than words...


Goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni is drowned in ticker-tape after playing his 1000th game for Sao Paolo.©AP


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