No midweek matches this week, so I thought I’d take the time to catch up on the last few days’ worth of news. Do try to stay awake at the back. First up, Juventus: The Club That Have No Shame. In the latest episode of their attempt to forever tar the name of one of Europe’s great football clubs, they have offered to not take the FIGC (the Italian FA) to court, if the FIGC reinstate them back into Serie A and reverse the decision to strip them of their 2006 Scudetto. Amazing. The only thing that I can really add to Juventus’ own actions is that if the FIGC do cave in, then Italy and all of their club teams should be banned indefinitely from any European and International team. The idea of one club trying to hold the whole of a nation’s game to ransom, especially when they were caught red-handed and admitted their own in guilt in the first place leaves with me with a rage that I can barely begin to describe. The good news is that the Italian press do not believe that Juventus have a prayer if it goes to court. The Italian season, by the way, is due to start on the weekend of the 8th and 9th of September. Whether this happens or not is anybody’s guess.
At home, the torpor that surrounds the start of the new season has least been lifted somewhat by the silly season that is the end of the transfer window. To be honest, nothing massively stands out. Tomas Gravesen will surely stand out against the likes of Motherwell and Kilmarnock in the SPL, and Middlesbrough have strengthened significantly with the signature of Robert Huth and The Great Lost Defender, Jonathan Woodgate. Woodgate certainly has something to prove. He overcame the darker side of his personality, but has had a horrible time with injuries at Real Madrid. He’ll probably struggle to get back into the England team, but his rehabilitaion can commence in earnest at The Riverside Stadium. Elsewhere, Liverpool are trying to sign Lucas Neill from Blackburn, Spurs are chasing Steed Malbranque and blah blah blah zzzzzzz… The only thing that the transfer window seems to do is induce this lunatic bum rush three times a season rather than just the once, like we used to in the old days. Has a team ever achieved massive success as the result of a transfer deadline panic signing? I’d be genuinely interested to know if they have.
The most intriguing news of the day came from The City Of Manchester Stadium. Manchester City have fined Ben Thatcher six weeks wages and banned him themselves for six matches. I don’t know whether City are merely trying to pre-empt further (and more severe) action from the FA, or whether they’re just trying to do the right thing. The one thing I will say on the matter is this: it stands in stark contrast to the usual myopic denial of any wrong-doing that usually comes after an incident like this.
Finally: Europe. No massive surprises in Spain, though the first Liga table of the season will show Real Madrid below both Recreativo Huelva and Gimnastic. Real could only get a goal-less draw at the weekend, whilst Huelva drew 1-1 against Mallorca and Gimnastic beat Espanyol 1-0 in Barcelona. Meanwhile, with the sort of predictable yawnsomeness that I fear might come to characterise the Spanish season, Barcelona came from behind to beat Celta Vigo. The first league leaders, though, are (drum roll) Sevilla, who thumped Levante 4-0. There are no early pace-setters in Germany, though Bayern Munich are ominously in second place in the Bundesliga with seven points from a possible nine. Three points between the top ten there. In Holland, the only domestic story after two games each is Feyenoord’s Arsenal-esque start – a solitary point from two matches, and a 3-0 kicking at Groningen on Saturday. Finally, in France, the League has something of a topsy-turvy look about it after four matches, with traditional strugglers AS Nancy and Lille tucked into third and fourth place behind the somewhat more predictable pairing of Olympique Marseille and the seemingly perennial champions, Lyon. Meanwhile, a couple of the bigger names are struggling somewhat: PSG, Monaco and Lens are all in the bottom half of the table, whilst Nantes and Auxerre are currently occupying two of the relegation places. C’est la vie, as they say on the other side of the channel.