I spoke to my friends at Sportsnet’s Soccer Central podcast about the opening round of Premier League fixtures, Louis van Gaal’s defensive problems at Manchester United, the battle for number-one status at Chelsea between Thibaut Courtois and Petr Čech, and Tony Pulis’s abrupt departure at Crystal Palace. You can listen here.
From post-match brawls and Twitter spats to weather vanes, broken televisions and Justin Bieber, Football Further proudly presents its seasonal compilation of the year’s best French football quotes.
“People have a good image of me. It’s not these tramps who are going to tarnish my image. They should stop lying to the French people. It annoys me that people talk about ‘your image’. My image is great in France. When I’m abroad, I don’t even talk about it. But in France it’s just these people, these parasites.”
– Patrice Evra on his friends in the media
“I go to talk to the referee. At that moment, the delegate blocks me and pushes me towards the referee. As a result, I touch the referee with my back. It happened exactly like that. I didn’t push the referee.”
– Leonardo‘s not entirely accurate account of his encounter with referee Alexandre Costa after Paris Saint-Germain’s 1-1 draw with Valenciennes in May. It ultimately costs him a 14-month suspension, effectively forcing him out of French football
“This year we’ve lost lots of players, as always, but we’ve lost something very important: the pillars of Valencia, players like [Roberto] Soldado, David Albelda or Tino Costa who talk in the changing room. Now there are lots of boot-lickers who don’t say things to your face. That’s why things aren’t going well between me and Đukić.”
– Adil Rami explains why his relationship with Valencia coach Miroslav Đukić has broken down. And is promptly frozen out of the squad
“There was an altercation that I wasn’t involved in. My goalkeeping coach, Fabrice Grange, was surrounded by a load of people who were pushing him. Jean-Michel Aulas arrived – I don’t know why. All I did was push him back. He says that I hit him in the back, which is scandalous. If I’d done that, he wouldn’t have been able to do an interview with Canal+ three minutes later.”
– Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Stéphane Ruffier rejects an accusation from Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas that he punched him during a tunnel scuffle after a heated derby du Rhône
“And what’s the other one called, Screwdriver? Rolland Screwdriver. All he does is talk.”
– Evra again, unwittingly rechristening manager/pundit Rolland Courbis ‘Rolland Tournevis’
“After the Euro, the media attention was very difficult to digest. I’d say that it ruined my season a bit. Everyone talked to me about it. I handled the situation badly, I accept that. I should have given a mea culpa. I shut myself off and, with hindsight, I realise that I was wrong.”
– Samri Nasri reflects on Euro 2012
“If I had to do everything again, if I had the possibility to relive exactly the same life, I’d do it, I’d want the same one. I’d do everything the same. It’s beautiful, all the same. I’m happy with what I’ve experienced up to now.”
– Éric Abidal on his battle with liver problems
“Above my mantelpiece, in the living room. My wife’s prepared everything.”
– Asked where he would put the Ballon d’Or trophy if he won it, Franck Ribéry reveals that he’s barely given it any thought at all
“When the coach told me I was playing, I said: ‘We’re going to Brazil.’ It doesn’t matter how. If I’d had to score with my hand, the ball would have been in the back of the net.”
– Mamadou Sakho, who scores two goals as France overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Ukraine to book their place at next year’s World Cup
“I’d never seen such an atmosphere at the Stade de France. It was a beautiful moment to experience, all those people behind us, the flags, the chants. From the hotel to the stadium we felt that force pushing us.”
– Captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris
– So often the scourge of the national team, L’Équipe takes its cue from Ali G with a simple one-word headline the day after the match
I put on my posh podcast voice to speak to Sportsnet’s Soccer Central podcast about Laurent Blanc’s winning formula at Paris Saint-Germain, Olivier Giroud and Arsenal, Frank Lampard and Chelsea, and David Moyes’s tactical conundrums at Manchester United. You can listen here.
“LONDON — Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson launched his new autobiography on Tuesday, lifting the lid on his relationships with stars including David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Roy Keane and Wayne Rooney.”
My AFP report on the launch of Alex Ferguson’s forthright new autobiography can be found here.
From AVB to Zlatan, Newcastle to Donetsk, Football Further is proud to present its third annual compilation of the year’s best French football quotes.
“Yesterday, I make one tackle and all everybody speak about is this tackle. Nobody speaks about the 50-yard pass that kills [Florent] Balmont and causes a red card for ‘im.”
– Replete with some elaborate eyebrow-waggling and a healthy dose of Gallic shrugging, Joey Barton‘s attempts to ingratiate himself with the Marseille media become an instant YouTube classic
“Eden Hazard’s English is catastrophic. I asked him: ‘Are you happy with your transfer?’ He said: ‘I don’t understand!'”
– Romelu Lukaku on his new Chelsea team-mate
“It was the feeling I had with the coach. He said he trusted me, but he didn’t let me play. He said I was too young. He said: ‘Your time will come.’ It didn’t come. Even though he’s had a 25-year career and despite the fact he’s the boss, my objective was to play … I’m impatient. When I want something, I’ll do anything to get it.”
– Paul Pogba crosses Sir Alex Ferguson, and lives to tell the tale
“The only thing I miss is in the changing room. I can’t understand all the jokes and it’s frustrating. French is more difficult than I thought. I’m trying to take my lessons very seriously. I listen to them for at least half an hour each day. The other day I watched a film in French, with English subtitles. It was Ne le dis à personne ['Tell No One'], which was a great film. I’m going to do it again.”
– Joe Cole may have left Lille with a sub-GCSE level of French, but he is now a leading authority on the films of Guillaume Canet
“I could become a doctor!”
– Abou Diaby tries to put a positive spin on all the medical vocabulary he has acquired during his time in and out of the Arsenal treatment room
“I accept that you can ask questions about his sporting performances … But when I hear that he could be dangerous for the concept of the group, I feel like we’re trying to bring a wolf into the sheep pen. He’s been a part of the group since the start. He dropped out due to injury and then loss of form. Don’t make him out to be a wolf, because he isn’t one.”
– Laurent Blanc tells the media not to cry wolf after handing Yoann Gourcuff a place in his preliminary squad
“Shut your face! Shut your face!”
– Samir Nasri celebrates his goal in the opening game with England by thanking the gentlemen of the French press for their support
“There was a bit of a slanging match in the changing room.”
– Olivier Giroud lets the cat out of the bag about the row that erupted after France’s shock 2-0 loss to Sweden
“Go fuck yourself! Go fuck your mother, you son of a bitch! There, now you can write that I’m badly brought up.”
– Such a nice boy, that Samir Nasri – lashing out at a journalist following Les Bleus‘ quarter-final elimination by Spain
“We’ve told them to be vigilant and not to say anything that could hurt the group.”
– French Football Federation press officer Philippe Tournon, prior to the tournament, on the instructions given to France’s players about how to handle the media
“Roberto Mancini’s side, runners-up in 2011, needed only to match United’s result at Sunderland to claim the title but as stoppage time arrived, they trailed 2-1 to Queens Park Rangers and United were 1-0 up. Džeko equalised, and with United’s players anxiously awaiting news on the Sunderland pitch, Agüero drove in a 94th-minute winner — drawing a memorable cry of “Agüerooooo!” from Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler — to deliver City from the huge shadow cast by their cross-town rivals.”
I’ve written a review of the year 2012 in English football for AFP, and you can read it here.
I caught up with my friend Dan Levy last week, to talk about France’s chances at Euro 2012 on the France 24 podcast. We discussed France’s friendly victory over Germany, the likely composition of Les Bleus‘ starting line-up at the tournament, and Laurent Blanc’s stand-off with the French Football Federation over their unwillingness to offer him a new contract. You can listen to our conversation here.
NB: The podcast was recorded before news broke that Éric Abidal requires a liver transplant operation, which is likely to compromise his chances of playing at Euro 2012.
“PARIS — With around 50 players leaving France for the Africa Cup of Nations this month, Ligue 1 clubs are having to juggle their resources in order to keep their seasons on track.”
My latest piece for AFP, on the different methods employed by Ligue 1 clubs to cover for players absent at the Africa Cup of Nations, can be read here.
“PARIS — David Beckham may have elected not to sign up for the Paris Saint-Germain revolution, but new coach Carlo Ancelotti’s remit — to turn PSG into one of the world’s biggest clubs — remains the same.”
My latest feature for AFP analyses Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival at PSG and looks at his likely impact on the club’s transfer policy and the team’s tactical approach. You can read it here.
“They say it’s because I’m a sexy boy. The English are crazy!”
– Yohan Cabaye, on the ‘Dreamboat’ nickname bestowed upon him by Newcastle’s fans
“Behind the ‘big guns’ like Chelsea or Manchester [United], there’s also Sunderland or Wolverhampton. French players who are used to getting on the ball end up watching it fly over their heads for 90 minutes.”
– Marseille sporting director José Anigo has some words of advice for any budding Ligue 1 talents dreaming of plying their trade in the Premier League
“If you want us to just stick it in the box like I’ve seen Stoke City do, you’ll have to change the coach. I forbid it.”
– Rennes coach Frédéric Antonetti shares his thoughts on the football doctrine advocated by Tony Pulis
“Without wanting to be unkind, it’s difficult when there are only four of you defending. Sometimes you feel like you’re on your own. When you watch Barça, everyone defends – even Messi!”
– Laurent Koscielny feels a bit exposed in the Arsenal back four
“Sometimes I tell jokes and Joe Cole and I look at each other and we’re the only ones laughing.”
– Vincent Enyeama on the language barrier in the Lille changing room
“Bon match pour… my team – mon équipe – et… I’m very happy!”
– Ambushed by Canal+’s touchline reporter Laurent Paganelli, Joe Cole has a stab at his first interview in the language of his new homeland after Lille’s 3-1 win over Lyon
“Once again I’m attacked by Jean-Michel Larqué. I hope with all my heart I don’t end up like him after my career, but there’s no chance of that because I’m not an idiot.”
– Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Jérémie Janot has a pop at 63-year-old television pundit Jean-Michel Larqué, who had criticised him for letting in two late goals at Lens
– Aly Cissokho’s considered response to a supporter who told him to “go and join Arles-Avignon” during a Lyon training session in April
“Although the score was already 3-0, he’d been taking the piss out of us with the ball for a few minutes, dribbling past his opponent and then waiting so he could dribble past him again. It’s a lack of respect. Even his Lille team-mates said he was going too far.”
– Nancy captain André Luiz takes a dim view of Eden Hazard’s showboating
“Marseille come up to Paris to fuck PSG!”
– Microphone in hand, match-winner Taye Taiwo gets a bit carried away during the Coupe de la Ligue post-match celebrations by leading the OM fans in a chorus of one of their favourite chants
“It was a good response to people who don’t know football. It’ll make them shut their big mouths.”
– Modibo Maiga relishes his brace in a 3-0 defeat of Toulouse after stumbling into the viewfinder of the Sochaux boo boys
“At that moment, I told myself that they’d gone mad and didn’t realise. Today I know that I was wrong: they knew exactly what they were doing. They even closed the curtains on the bus to hide themselves from the cameras… With hindsight, I see them above all as a bunch of thoughtless brats.”
– Raymond Domenech is still struggling to let go of the 2010 World Cup
“Critics will be quick to point to the absence of a creative central midfielder in United’s ranks, and Ferguson could have been forgiven for casting an envious eye at Basel’s bustling Xherdan Shaqiri as he made raid after raid into United territory on Wednesday.”
Read my analysis for AFP of the task facing Sir Alex Ferguson following Manchester United’s Champions League exit at the hands of Basel here.
“PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain brought a measure of solace to their beleaguered coach Antoine Kombouaré with a 3-2 win at home to Auxerre on Sunday that ended a damaging four-game winless streak.”
Read my round-up of the weekend’s Ligue 1 action for AFP here.
I made my debut on The Guardian‘s Football Weekly Extra podcast on Thursday, to talk about Paris Saint-Germain’s capitulation at Marseille, rumours that Claude Makélelé is being lined up to replace Antoine Kombouaré as PSG coach, David Beckham’s proposed move to the French capital and Joe Cole’s start to life at Lille, as well as the likelihood of Eden Hazard leaving Lille in January. You can listen to the podcast (my bit is towards the end) here.
Football Further has very kindly been nominated in the International Blog category at the 2011 Not 100% Awards (NOPA) for football bloggers and podcasters. The awards ceremony will take place in London on December 15 and you can see a full list of nominees here.
In the meantime, you can vote for Football Further in the People’s Choice Award (should you wish to) by clicking here. Voting closes at 2200 GMT on December 13.
I’m pleased to announce that, as of this week, Football Further is in partnership with The Guardian under the banner of the new Guardian Sport Network.
Content from 15 blogs, including Football Further favourites Zonal Marking, Snap, Kaká and Pop! and Hasta El Gol Siempre, will be cross-posted on The Guardian‘s sport blog in a bid to diversify their content and shine a light on the work of some carefully selected bloggers.
The project was launched on Wednesday with the publication of three blogs, including my piece on the search for Javier Pastore’s missing smile at Paris Saint-Germain.
For more information on the Guardian Sport Network, read guardian.co.uk/sport editor Sean Ingle’s introduction to the initiative here.