What Happens if Wladimir Klitschko Beats Anthony Joshua?

The buzz surrounding Anthony Joshua is incredible, unprecedented even, so much so – that no one has really even considered he could lose to Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley on Saturday.

He could.  Personally, I’ve got the Ukrainian down to win albeit with a few reservations.  He is 41, hasn’t fought for a while now and was outclassed by Tyson Fury when he was last seen.

Joshua has the power to down anyone but he’s got to land a big punch or two for that to count and Klitschko is an expert at staying out of trouble.  Fury won with his jab and that isn’t a tactic Joshua can adopt, or one he should.

The 27-year-old has completed just 44 rounds in the ring in his 18 fights – that’s barely two hours.  Two hours of preparation to take on the man who has dominated the heavyweight division for over a decade.

But Joshua is the odds-on favourite and the expectation on him is huge.  A few boxing pundits and hardcore fans are going for a Klitschko win but the average man on the street, the people who only tune in to the Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom specials on Sky and will make up the vast majority of the audience on Saturday both in the stadium and via PPV, are expecting a Joshua demolition.

But this isn’t a formality and there is a very real chance Joshua loses.  And what happens in that scenario?

Any other fighter with Joshua’s level of experience would be rated as a prospect, regardless of the fact he holds the IBF heavyweight strap, but the hype-machine behind him has been as effective as his monster punching and the general consensus is he’s already a bona fide heavyweight star.

Joshua has the chance to back up all the plaudits he’s received on Saturday but if he is beaten, irrespective of the manner of the defeat, he will still be an up-and-coming fighter at worst in my eyes, it just remains to be seen how kind or cruel the media will be in the aftermath.

So if Joshua does go down, or is schooled and is on the wrong side of a one-sided points call, just remember he should still be judged as if he’s still on a very steep learning curve, rather than a failure.

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Gonzo Sports Digest; Recreational Drugs and PEDs in Sport Should be Treated Differently

 

I’ve been meaning to write this article for a while and now seems as good a time as any given the allegations about Tyson Fury testing positive for cocaine.

Each sport is governed differently of course so this is going to be pretty general, but by in large most sporting governing bodies don’t differentiate between performance enhancing banned substances and illegal recreational ones – but should they?

As it happens the World Anti-Doping Agency does treat some recreational substances differently and cocaine is not a banned substance when taken out-of -competition.  The definition of “in-competition” and “out-of-competition” depends on the sport and the testing authority , which leaves things open to interpretation. Most PEDs are also banned out-of-competition and that is admittedly a tangible difference. Like I say, this is a general thing.  In-competition cocaine use will get you a ban, and a big one. Hull City’s Jake Livermore was facing a two-year suspension but the FA, quite rightly, opted not to extend his ban due to exceptional circumstances.  French tennis player Richard Gasguet had a two-and-a-half month suspension after a positive cocaine test, which ruled he had consumed “no more than a grain of salt”, which probably happens when you watch ‘Narcos’ on Netflix.

My argument is Livermore, Gasquet and others shouldn’t really have even had to deal with that anyway.

‘Fun’ drugs shouldn’t be regarded in the same way as PEDs, in or out of competition.  My key point is they simply don’t give a competitive advantage, sticking with boxing and marching powder as it is the topic du jour – if you think there is an advantage in being coked up during a professional fight you’re wrong (not that Fury necessarily was/has been of course).  The booger sugar might feel like a boost when you’re throwing fists with someone who’s just spilled your drink in the Dog and Duck; but in a ring, where you need your wits about you and a cool, calm head it is not an advantage.  Unless you’re an animal type fighter like Mike Tyson… that kid was a rare breed though.

Team sports are different, granted.  The individual is employed by the club and being a stoner, space cadet or a raver is going to impact on performances. Sanctions in this case should come from the club, I see no real reason why governing bodies need to get involved in such issues.

Employers in sport do have the right to fire any player (not employee – player) if they are using recreational drugs.  I cannot argue against that.  If you own an NBA franchise and are paying someone $15million+ a season – you get to tell that guy he can’t smoke weed.  That’s fair enough, essentially the athlete’s physical prowess is part of the deal and they have a responsibility to ensure they’re in top form.  That doesn’t mean it should be an obligation because no one would axe LeBron James for rocking up tripping on magic mushrooms.  However, to get sacked and then face time out due to a governing body, that seems unnecessary for substances that have no positive impact on performance.

Maybe I’m too liberal, maybe not. I don’t really believe in prohibition as a concept or an effective method. I just don’t think it works and there’s enough evidence to back up that viewpoint (see further reading, have a google). People will do what they want to do at the end of the day legal issues aside, I doubt there are many teetotallers out there who would be full blown smack fiends if heroin wasn’t outlawed, for example.

I’m fully aware there are other issues too.  Sports stars are supposed to be ‘role models’, whatever that really means, by keeping on the straight and narrow, but drugs are a part of everyday life for many people, whether or not they realise it. Is drug abuse any more immoral than cheating on a partner? Using prostitutes? Violence? I would say no, but hookers and fisticuffs probably won’t leave your career in tatters (examples include; alleged call girl user and England captain Wayne Rooney and Watford striker Troy Deeney, who was found guilty of assault in 2012).

You could club alcohol and tobacco in with recreational drugs and arguably they’re as, if not more, detrimental to health and performance than the likes of marijuana, MDMA, cocaine… but because they’re not illegal there are no real sanctions in or out of competition.  Having the odd night on ecstasy in-competition is probably no more damaging than hitting the booze but the drink is fine and the pills are not. If a sportsperson is using a substance and as such ruins the experience for the fans with sub-par performances that’s not on, obviously, but if they can still entertain and get results… what’s the big deal?

There is an argument that people in other walks of life would get sacked for drug taking but not in all areas.  I’ve had jobs before where bosses do lines with members of staff on nights out (and to ‘recover’ the day after) and where one employee seems like he’s there specifically to act as a dealer, with the odd bit of photocopying and tea making on the side due to ineptness in every other relevant area.

I’m not going to bother with a conclusion, I think I’ve expressed my opinion well enough throughout so I’ll leave it with some optional further reading.  Good luck to Tyson Fury as well, it looks like he’s got a long road ahead of him but no one can take away the fact that for a brief period he was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.  I’ll finish by pointing out that failing a drugs test for cocaine out-of-competition is more widespread than you’d imagine, but mostly it doesn’t get mentioned as bans won’t happen.  As the heavyweight champion of the world however, and being the divisive figure he is, Tyson Fury should have been more careful.

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Reasons to legalise all drugs via Urban75.

Tyson Fury bits via The Guardian & ESPN

Photo Credit: My buddy Dave.

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Klitschko V Fury: Does the Challenger Have a Chance?

Tyson Fury was always destined to be a boxer.  The rest of his family have names like Peter and Hughie, more associated with rabbits and guys who bring you the news in musical form than men who make their livings destroying the faces of other men of a similar weight, but Tyson – that’s a name you give a guy who is going to be a fighter.

He might have been destined to make his career in a ring but could fate hand him a world title in Dusseldorf on Saturday?  Standing in his way, of course, is Wladimir Klitschko – a man who hasn’t been beaten in over a decade.

Fury has alluded to a belief that Klitschko is scared of him more than once but I doubt even he really thinks that.  I reckon the only person that scares the champ is his tiny and ridiculously hot fiancée, because everyone is a bit scared of the Mrs – it doesn’t matter if you’re a rank average writer struggling to scratch together enough money to eat or the heavyweight champion of the world.

That said; why did he never fight Nikolay Valuev? Or even Shannon Briggs (who still wants a crack)?  I don’t know, there are a few theories out there, but boxing is a strange world and the way it works at the moment is the top dogs get to avoid the guys they really don’t want to take on, until it becomes impossible.

Think Floyd Mayweather Jr for example, he dodged Manny Pacquiao until he was way past his prime and signed off against Andre Berto, again a few years too late.  I don’t really blame Mayweather, he was old himself he just wanted that 49-0, he’d paid his dos against the likes of De la Hoya, Marquez and so on earlier in his career. Strangely, I see Wlad as basically a heavyweight version of Pretty Boy at the end of his career, no real razzle dazzle, any desire to entertain long gone, but technically superb – and really fucking hard to land a clean shot on.

Granted he did fight David Haye, but he didn’t really fight David Haye.  Haye isn’t a natural heavyweight, having unified the cruiserweight division before stepping up, a fact many seem to ignore when they talk of the returning Londoner nowadays.  Klitschko had a big height and reach advantage and stayed at range for the majority of that fight, picking him off with jabs as the smaller man tried to find a way in – to me he never really had any intention of knocking Haye out, there was no way he was going to risk a hayemaker coming in.

But now he finds himself fighting Tyson Fury, who is somewhat of an enigma in the ring despite his 24 fights.  The clownish behaviour, the Batman imitating, the pseudo political ambitions and the sauna story, which I’m still not sure I fully comprehend, it’s all a smokescreen whether he realises it or not – my suspicion is he does.

I’ve watched loads of Fury fights and I have no idea how he’ll approach this.  He says he needs a knockout to get a win in Germany, basically Klitschko’s home arena, but maybe he won’t.  Maybe he’ll stay at range and use his longer reach to maximum effect, like he did to Dereck Chisora – twice.

In the second Chisora fight he switched to southpaw for long periods, as he has done in other fights, he’s a better boxer than people give him credit for – the man comes from a long line of traveller fighters and if you’ve ever been lucky (or unlucky) enough to see some of those guys firsthand you’ll know they’re about as tricky as they come, there’s no way that isn’t in his locker.  He has a 24-0 record with 18 KOs but the vast majority of those stoppages are TKOs or his opponent has retired – essentially his relentlessness rather than sheer power has forced his opponents into submission, they’ve been ground down by the size and weight he possesses or they’ve subconsciously (or even consciously) thrown in the towel as they can’t get a knockout and know they have been beaten in every round.

If he does go for the knockout can he get it?  Wlad has been taken down before by Lamon Brewster and, prior to that, the late Corrie Sanders – a hero both in and out of the ring.  So it isn’t impossible, but I just don’t see Fury as a guy who can land one killer shot and take Klitschko out, Sanders sent him down four times before he was awarded the win so it could well take more than one and his game’s changed since then, the defence has become almost impregnable.

If Fury does go in for some big shots you would imagine Klitschko will get a few chances to land some blows himself, certainly to the body and if he’s lucky he might open up the chin.  He’s got faster hands than you’d expect, Haye conceded that after their clash, and gets stoppages most of the time, with 16 in the last 22 (since the loss to Brewster) and 53 in 67 overall.

Height has become a big factor in this fight and it could work both for and against Fury.  On paper he’s got the advantage, but Klitschko’s speed could count for more against a bigger man and we’ve not seen much of that in recent years, as he hasn’t really needed it.  Fury has fought guys the size of Klitschko fairly recently, in the shape of Nicolai Firtha and Neven Pajkic, but they were nowhere near the same standard and the comparison or whatever experience that gave him perhaps isn’t worthwhile.

Maybe it comes across that I don’t really like Klitschko here but that’s not really true, I do like him as a guy and I respect him hugely as a boxer but he’s never really entertained me.  Like most I’d like to see him beaten at some point just to shake up the heavyweight division a bit.  I’m not a purist, I do put the spectacle ahead of the technical standard but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate that he is a master.  I give Fury a chance, not a huge one but he could do it.  He’s surprised me before – the first time he beat Chisora for one (Fury was the bookmaker’s underdog, just) – and I wouldn’t necessarily bet against him doing so again on Saturday.

The general consensus is a Klitschko win, probably by KO.  Fury is an outside bet by any method but the KO is considered the more likely. Most, it seems, aren’t expecting this to go the distance.  I’ve got a funny feeling Fury may attempt to outwork and outbox his older opponent this weekend though, whether it will work or not is the big question.

I had hoped to work my way to some kind of conclusion but I’ve ended up more confused than I was when I started out.  My head is telling me Klitschko will stop him, perhaps even quite early, which is how I felt when the bout was confirmed but the beauty of the sweet science is you never really know.   Come 10pm on Saturday in Germany it will just be the two of them in a ring, having the most honest conversation two men can have.

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Gonzo’s Betting Diary; Misery, Despair and Destitution

In four short weeks I’ve gone from ‘betting tips’, to ‘betting ideas’ to ‘betting diary’.  Now the words misery, despair and destitution have had to join party for this unmitigated disaster of unprecedented proportions.

I could, and probably should, give up – but where’s the fun in that?  If you want to take my advice that’s your prerogative, don’t say I didn’t warn you – but if I was reading this garbage I’d slam my laptop shut and smash the shit out of it with the heaviest thing I could find.  All the while screaming ‘you’re a fucking moron’ over and over and over again until my lungs bled, because for the love of God who uses unmitigated and unprecedented in the same sentence?

Me, when I’ve titled as it turns out.

The Europa League is one of the hardest competitions to bet on.  You never know how seriously a particular team is going to take it, and which players a manager is likely to select.

But I need a win so I’m going for an ambitious fourfold, but with a small stake so let’s call this a 1 point bet.

I’m going to go for two of the 4pm kick offs, and Dortmund at Krasnodar at evens has tempted me.  Russia isn’t an easy place to go but BVB have got a much stronger squad, and a win would guarantee top spot in the group (as would a draw).   On the basis that Russia is a tough place to go I’ve also gone for Rubin Kazan at home to FC Sion, as Kazan need a win and they’re a tasty 13/10.

Fiorentina have been a strange one in Europe as they’ve won two away and lost two at home.  I think they’ll carry on that pattern and just nick it at Basel at 7/5.  My last call is Ajax at Celtic at 6/4, again it is a big ask but the Scottish side have been so poor in Europe and they have to win, as such I reckon the Dutch giants will hit them on the counter.

As a fourfold that pays out at 27/1 so if it lands I’m back in profit, fingers crossed.

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The Toughest Gigs in Football Management

It takes a special kind of guy, or a glutton for punishment, to manage a football team but some jobs seem damn near impossible.  There may be harder ones out there, but here I’m going to run through a few of the toughest.

Real Madrid

The Real Madrid manager’s job comes with a huge weight of expectation. With Barcelona as strong and talented as they currently are; winning the required amount of silverware simply isn’t realistic but nevertheless it is still expected – and demanded.  Carlo Ancelotti was probably their best boss in recent years and even he didn’t make the grade as Real showed little loyalty despite his La Decima success.

Then there’s the rumours of player power/unrest, an over-involved board and the supporters, who want entertainment as well as results. It all adds up to almost certain failure.  Rafael Benitez is the man in the hot seat right now and he got what looks like a stay of execution earlier in the week, but I’d be amazed if he lasts the season at the Bernabeu.

Sunderland

Sunderland have a big stadium, passionate fans and seemingly enough money to build a competitive Premier League team – but no one has managed to put all the pieces together.

Established names like Martin O’Neill and Dick Advocaat (although he was never seen as a long-term option) have failed to build anything substantial at the Stadium of Light and up-and-comers like Gus Poyet and Paolo Di Canio also haven’t worked out.

I never really thought much of Di Canio, that seemed a weird appointment, but Poyet arrived with a bit of promise and didn’t fare much better.  I don’t know exactly what the problems at Sunderland are, I’m not sure anyone does (plenty have offered their theories over recent years, Niall Quinn talked of ‘Gremlins’, Poyet said he knew there was ‘something wrong’ but never managed to pinpoint what that was, those thoughts were echoed ominously by Advocaat prior to his exit earlier this year…), but I do know Sam Allardyce has a huge job on his hands.  If anyone can help them avoid the drop and build something he’s the man, he did it at Bolton and West Ham, but even this may be beyond Big Sam.

Bolton Wanderers

What Allardyce built others have since demolished, leaving current Bolton boss Neil Lennon without a pot to piss in, probably literally.  The problems with Real and Sunderland are more long-term but what Lennon has now is arguably the toughest gig in football management.  He’s got no money for players and not only that – the club decided not to tell him the funds had dried up until around the time a loan move for a winger who can’t get in the Wolves team fell through.

The saving grace for Lennon is that the fans, largely, seem to understand.  The Wanderers faithful got some unfair criticism from various pundits and the press in general when Gary Megson left, when anyone who really saw what was going on there knew he was out of his depth.  The Leicester fans were ecstatic when he departed and the Sheffield Wednesday fans were disappointed when he arrived, which says a lot about his abilities – or lack thereof – as a manager.  If Bolton can get a new owner in Lennon’s job, theoretically, becomes a lot easier (unless the new man makes an immediate change, which isn’t beyond the realms of possibility) but at the moment he probably feels like he’s trying to climb a greased up ladder with his arms tied behind his back.  He might get so far – but sooner or later he’s going to slip back down again, cracking his face, his nuts or both on each rung on the way to the ground.

Palermo

Maurizio Zamparini bought Palermo in 2002 and since then they’ve gone through managers like I go through questionable metaphors. At my count they’ve had 28 in 13 years, which makes Sunderland look stable.  Delio Rossi was fired, hired and fired (resigned by ‘mutual consent’ technically) again within the space of five months and his replacement, current Lazio boss Stefano Pioli, lasted just 90 days.  I’m a huge fan of Zamparini – if you don’t know about him or want to know more, take a look at this – but I wouldn’t want to work for the guy.

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UK Championship: The Contenders

The current format of the UK Championship sees 128 players battling for the title, if I was in charge I’d have qualifiers and start at a last 16 or 32 but I’m not Barry Hearn so that’s not my call.  The first round is a best of 11 frames though so you would imagine the cream will rise to the top but chances are there will be a few surprise casualties early doors (Ali Carter and Alan McManus fell at the first hurdle last year).  With that in mind maybe I’ll do another similar piece before the last 32 when for me the contest will start in earnest, but these are the guys I think are worth watching out for ahead of the start of the tournament tomorrow.

Stuart Bingham

Bingham has struggled for form since his Crucible success in the spring but as the world champion he’s got to have top billing here, especially in the absence of defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.  Bingham has to get used to being the man to beat now he’s taken the biggest prize in the sport and maybe he hasn’t quite managed it yet.  Previously he was one of the ‘other guys’ but now he’s a scalp for lesser known players.  He’s a top price 22/1 and could be worth some consideration, but with three losses in his last five matches he’ll need to find his form quickly.

Judd Trump

Trump is quite rightly ranked as one of the favourites and some bookies have him as short as 4/1.  You can get 6/1 though so it is worth shopping around.  On his day he’s easily one of, if not the, most exciting players to watch but his only ‘Triple Crown’ title came in the 2011 edition of this tournament, although he did get to the final last year, so perhaps overcoming the last hurdle of actually taking trophies still needs to be worked on for the ‘Juddernaught’.

The Other Favourites

Mark Selby and Neil Robertson are the other favourites according to the bookies, with Selby a top price 8/1 and Robertson 13/2.  These two are players I’m not drawn to watch personally but I do appreciate they are top quality, I just prefer more of a gung-ho approach.  That may be a little harsh on Robertson in particular as he is an exceptional break-builder, there is just something about his methodical style that doesn’t really grab me.  That aside, both are more than capable of taking the title.

John Higgins

Writing for the BBC, Stephen Hendry reckons Higgins is the man to beat heading into the UK Championship.  The Scot is available at 16/1 so if you agree with Hendry it might be worth looking into.  He’s already won two ranking titles this year so he’s in cracking form – but he hasn’t managed one of the big three since his last win at the World Championship back in 2011 and personally I’m not sure he’ll take another ‘Triple Crown’ title, regardless of what Hendry reckons.

The UK Championship is the fourth ranking tournament of the season. Higgins has two and the other title belongs to Kyren Wilson, who beat Ding Junhui and Mark Allen on route to the Shanghai final, where he overcame Judd Trump 10-9.  He also reached the Champion of Champions semi-finals so is in form. However, he’s only managed to reach the first round of one of the big three events three times (twice the last 128 in the UKs, which means very little) so anything in York would be a breakthrough of sorts and he’s priced at 80/1.

Mark Allen

When Bingham secured the trophy in Sheffield earlier this year he revealed a throwaway comment from Allen saying he had ‘no bottle’ proved to be a turning point for him in terms of going on and winning titles.  Bizarrely that statement could now apply to the Northern Irishman himself as he’s not really been able to convert his undoubted talent into titles, with just two ranking tournament victories to his name. He hasn’t managed one of the big three just yet but if I do have a flutter on this I think I might have a punt on Allen at 24/1, just because I feel he’s due a big win and that’s a big price.  It would be good for the sport too I feel as he is such a huge personality and one of the few who is really prepared to speak his mind.  He’s been in pretty good form this year having reached the final of the Champion of Champions event, the semi-finals in Shanghai and the quarters at the International Championship and shouldn’t fear anyone at the Barbican.

Ding Junhui & Shaun Murphy

These guys both deserve their own sections but I’ve gone on a bit here so I’ll wrap it up.  Ding had a pretty poor season last year but did reach the quarter finals at the Crucible and followed that up with a last eight appearance in Shanghai.  He’s also won the UKs twice so at 14/1 he could be worth a look.  Murphy seems to come alive in the biggest events (having won all three once) and shouldn’t be discounted at a top price of 10/1.

There are quite a few others worth a mention, Barry Hawkins at 33/1 for example, but this is already too long so I’ll call it a day for now.  I’ll try and do another preview either before the last 32 or the last 16 when it gets really interesting.

I’ve used Oddschecker for the best prices.

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Run, Falcao, run!

A couple of years ago Radamel Falcao was one of the most feared strikers in world football but that reputation is in danger of being erased if he doesn’t leave Chelsea.

He wouldn’t be the first world-class striker to fail at Stamford Bridge, look no further than Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres as prime examples.

I never really thought Shevchenko was suited to the Premier League myself, he was a little too slow and he arrived in west London when he was already on the decline.

Torres had also lost a yard of pace by the time he made his big money move to the capital and confidence was an issue for both of the ‘marquee-buy’ forwards.

I’m not sure it is such a mental issue for Falcao, which is a shame as he comes from a land where confidence comes in powdered form. Although a Jose Mourinho-managed Chelsea is not the place to get caught dipping into the booger sugar – just ask Adrian Mutu.

He had a torrid time at Manchester United last season too but again I don’t necessarily think he isn’t suited to the Premier League.  He wasn’t used enough by United boss Louis van Gaal, and when he was he was asked to play in a role he wasn’t really designed for – and it is the same at Chelsea.

At Atletico Madrid all he had to do was score goals, there was no dropping deep and working for the team in the way Diego Costa does.  That team was built to get him the ball, knowing that chances are – he’d score.

He had awesome records at Porto and Atleti, and a decent strike rate at Monaco too but since then the goals have all but dried up.  Personally, I think he moved to Monaco in the hope he’d spend a season in France and then be signed by Real Madrid, who were heavily linked with the Colombian but for obvious reasons Los Rojiblancos didn’t want to sell to their city rivals.  Whether or not there were any talks or assurances from Real prior to the switch to Ligue 1, I don’t know – but that was the talk at the time.

That move failed to materialise, possibly as a result of the injury that saw him miss the 2014 World Cup, he ended up in the Premier League and has probably regretted that ever since.  His future does remain up in the air, he is on loan at Chelsea until the end of the season but I can’t see the situation getting better there as long as Mourinho is in charge – that team is made for Costa, not a fox-in-the-box guy like Falcao.

A return to Monaco looks unlikely due to the cost-cutting of recent months/years after a brief period of incredible spending and they’ll be reluctant to stump up his wages again.  Whether or not another English club would be keen after his struggles at Old Trafford and for Chelsea remains to be seen but he could probably still get a big move to either Spain or Italy (Valencia have been linked a few times, maybe there’s something in that?), and I hope he does because that four or five year spell at Porto and then Atleti was one hell of a ride.

The Infinite Wisdom of Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini

When people find out that I’m a journalist and broadcaster a fairly common response is “that must be interesting?”

You’d think, but like anything it can get repetitive from time to time. If Hugh Grant can stray from a mid-’90s Liz Hurley and Daniel Craig can decide he’s had enough of being James Bond I suppose anyone can grow tired of anything. Not that my meagre existence is in any way comparable to one spent doing the no-pants-dance with a Liz Hurley in her prime on a regular basis, or holding one of the most iconic roles in the history of cinema, but we play with the hand we’re dealt.

In the heavily scrutinised, and often overly sanitised, world of sports coverage you can read fresh quotes every day that essentially say the same thing – and football is by far the worst offender; the same kind of comments from managers (I swear to God “important” is the only English word Manuel Pellegrini knows) and players after almost every match, no insight, just platitudes that no longer hold any real meaning.

There are exceptions, but none can hold a candle to Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini.

No one is above his wrath, Carlo Ancelotti has won the European Cup/Champions League as both a player and manager but that doesn’t buy him Zamparini’s respect.

“Ancelotti doesn’t know anything about football,” he said in 2012 about the then Paris Saint-Germain boss.

“And do you know what I say? I’m glad that they lost in the Champions League (to Porto), and that hopefully he’ll learn not to play Nene in place of (Javier) Pastore. I don’t rate him as a manager.

“Pastore is still a young lad of 23 years who has found himself surrounded by the wrong people, but he remains a phenomenon.”

He broke a self-imposed six month media blackout to have a crack at Ancelotti for not using former Palermo man Pastore– and that’s nowhere near his A-Grade material.

After being accused of threatening to kill Sampdoria counterpart Massimo Ferrero – by Ferrero….

“Ferrero is insane. I never threatened to kill anyone,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.. “I have the messages stored. I told him not to talk to (Edgar) Barreto until we have discussed the renewal and I wrote: ‘Bravo, you’ll look on the bank of the river.’ This is certainly not a threat”.

In fairness, you have to see his point here. If a businessman based in Sicily cryptically tells you “you’ll look on the bank of the river” it would take a pretty paranoid individual to assume that could in any way be regarded as a warning on your life.

Zamparini recently axed Beppe Iachini as Palermo boss and treated us to some gold on that too. A clash with Chievo prior to the international break was Iachini’s final game after just over two years in charge, this is what Zamparini had to say beforehand to Giornale di Sicilia.

“We won’t be demoted, because Iachini will change the mentality or go home. We’ll see what happens on Sunday.

“I don’t doubt any of the players, or the quality of the squad, right now I’m worried about Iachini. Maybe he won’t agree, but for me it’s not the same as last year.

“There’s great confusion, he’s not as determined as he should be.”

They beat Chievo 1-0 but he was still sacked so clearly he didn’t change his mentality. Zamparini said afterwards to Sky Italia’s Gianluca Di Marzio “there wasn’t any chemistry with Iachini anymore” and stated they secured the win thanks to “blind luck” in another interview.

Chemistry seems important to the Rosanero supremo, on previous boss Delio Rossi he branded him a “coach with no balls”, before re-hiring him just four weeks later and hitting us with “Rossi is like my wife, I want him all to myself” – that’s chemistry right there, although it proved to be short lived as he left again months later. I presume Mrs Zamparini doesn’t have a pair of danglers, and maybe some of the Palermo squad from 2003 don’t either as he threatened to “cut off their testicles and eat them” in his salad.

Never question his judgement, as players Enzo Maresca and Franco Vazquez discovered after they complained about Iachini’s exit.

“In Italy thanks to a stupid law the players are considered to be employees,” he told Radio 24.

“Maresca was talking bullshit*. I still care for him, but I’ll give him a telling off and warn he mustn’t talk rubbish anymore. He’s ignorant and should get informed before talking shit*. It’s not true that Iachini helped me earn €60m.

“All the team is behind me, except for a player and a half. Maresca is the one, Vazquez is the half. From now on, before talking about the club, these players must ask for my authorisation.

“Maresca should be thinking about the €500,000 he earns net at his age. Vazquez gets €800,000 and last season our books read -€23m, so we only balanced them thanks to Paulo Dybala’s sale.”

My all time favourite Zamparini rant, though, was inspired by “out-of-control womaniser” Kyle Lafferty around the time of his move to Norwich.

“Lafferty is sold as a result of a precise request from my Coach Beppe Iachini,” Zamparini told Radio 24.

“He is an out-of-control womaniser, an Irishman without rules. He is someone who disappears for a week and goes on the hunt for women in Milan.

“He has two families with six children, he never trains, he’s completely off the rails. On the field he’s a great player, because he gave us everything he had and more.

“In terms of his behaviour, however, he is uncontrollable. My Coach told me he cannot sort this player out, so he has to go.”

Sadly Zamparini won’t be around forever and he has claimed, in the same interview where he slammed Vazquez and Maresca, that his time in football is nearing a conclusion.

“My family wants me to leave football and this sport really is breaking my balls now. If I find someone who will buy the club, I’m ready to sell.”

So let’s make the most of him while he’s still around.

*I added ‘shit’ here, the original article was censored so I’ve guessed that’s what he said and chances are I’m right.* 

Follow us on Twitter @gonzosportsdesk, we’re not fancy we follow back.

Benzema; get ready for another French implosion

Of all the football stories to emerge this week, maybe this year or maybe even this century, whatever the hell is happening with Mathieu Valbuena and Karim Benzema has to be the most bizarre.

Sex tapes are nothing new, we’re getting to a stage now where they’re barely worth a headline unless you’re triple-teaming a Bangkok hooker, while spouting racist slurs and farts in equal measure – then you get a front page – but alleged blackmail? That shit’s off the hook.

The French media are saying Benzema mentioned the tape to midfielder Valbuena during a national team training session at Clairefontaine last month.  This is how I imagine that conversation went.

“So.. Mathieu, I hear there’s a tape going around of you up to your nuts in guts, now when you play the ball – put it in front of me, oui?”

Maybe not, or maybe so, either way whatever he said would have probably been in French.

There’s something in the French psyche that just can’t seem to accept the status quo and it leads to madness and brilliance in equal measure.  Any history buff will tell you the French Revolution is one of the most interesting periods to study, but their sporting history is littered with an astonishing array of fallouts, revolts and agonising self sabotages.

Back in 2010, the World Cup squad refused to train following Nicolas Anelka’s expulsion for verbally abusing coach Raymond Domenech, Florent Malouda got axed for being too aggressive in training and Patrice Evra fell out with a fitness coach. Unsurprisingly, a team packed with more top talent than your average issue of Playboy went out in the group stages after all of that upheavalIn Euro 2012 Hatem Ben Arfa and then coach Laurent Blanc had a row that “got a bit heated”, I think that means “went bat shit crazy” in football speak, and the world will never forget Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt on Marco Materazzi…  They even referenced it on Family Guy, before the Americans got interested in “soccer”.

It isn’t just football, they do it in rugby as well. At the Rugby Union World Cup reports emerged of a “discreet mutiny” against the coach.  It wasn’t that discreet obviously, as it was all over the papers but there you go.

They’re getting it in early ahead of Euro 2016, and why not?  Make a real show of it as they’re hosting the big shebang themselves.  People will point to the fact they won the 1998 World Cup as hosts but even if this fizzles out to nothing it has already started to show cracks in the French camp. The difference here is this latest apparent spat isn’t a sporting fallout, it could potentially be much more sinister.

Boss Didier Deschamps has got the guillotine out and cut both of them from his latest squad, although Benzema has been banned from contacting Valbuena so that’s probably behind that. It is also worth noting Benzema’s lawyers have strenuously denied any wrongdoing on the striker’s part.

Make no mistake – losing Benzema would be a massive blow for France, Valbueuna would also be a big miss but not on the scale of the Real Madrid striker.  There may be rumours about Benzema leaving Los Blancos in every transfer window but they’re all horseshit, probably based on the fact there are more fashionable forwards around.  He’s a top frontman but if these allegations are true he won’t be playing at Euro 2016 – that I can guarantee.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Needless to say, the midweek Serie A bets did not go well.  I went in down and ended up losing another 0.60 so I’m now over a point down with a one point per bet system after nine attempts. Had Torino not conceded an equaliser with the last kick of the game I’d be up, but they did, and I’m not – so we go again.

Of course losing is half of gambling, maybe more for most people, and without it winning wouldn’t be so sweet and so on and so forth…  I’ll get my excuses out now and hopefully I won’t have to use them again.

Watford had a good win at Stoke last weekend and Troy Deeney grabbed a goal so maybe going against them is a mistake but regardless of that I do fancy West Ham.  I covered that game and I’m not sure how good the Hornets actually were last week, Stoke had a lot of the ball but didn’t do much with it and Geoff Cameron going off early destabilised them a bit.  The Hammers have a decent away record this year and Watford just can’t seem to score at home, although I have a feeling Deeney might be a bit more dangerous now he’s got one.  This one is close but my gut is saying West Ham and at 2/1 they’re worth the risk.

There isn’t much else grabbing me in the Premier League in all honesty, if I was in profit I might have a punt on Crystal Palace at home to Manchester United at around 3/1, simply as Louis van Gaal’s men aren’t scoring and played in midweek, but I’m not that confident.  Leicester are also worth a mention but at 8/5 against a West Brom team who could frustrate them I think they’re too short a price.  The Baggies don’t concede many and are fairly reluctant to really push forward, which could render Leicester’s counter-attacking style pointless if they don’t score early.

Instead I’ve decided to put one point on a Championship double that pays out at 27/10, with Burnley a top price of 4/5 to beat Huddersfield and Middlesbrough at 4/9 to down Charlton. At home both the Clarets and Boro should be too strong for their respective opponents and I’m thinking doubling up makes sense as I try and claw back some losses.

Despite my midweek struggles in Serie A I’m going to finish with another from Italy and go for a Roma win at Inter Milan at 13/8.  Inter have picked up a lot of points but they’re yet to really impress in terms of a great performance.  Roma beat early Scudetto rivals Fiorentina last weekend and you get the sense they’re starting to smell some silverware after years of playing second fiddle to Juventus.  Roma have managed 10 goals in just five away games this season and only one side, Inter as it happens, have a better record on their travels so far this term.  Again this is another close one, but Roma just have that bit more cohesion and quality about them and I reckon they’ll just edge it.

Profit/loss: -1.24