Euro 2012

Paul Pogba says he was disrespected at Manchester United


If any Manchester United supporters still cling to a faint hope that French phenom Paul Pogba will return to the club, it’s best to let that dream die. On Thursday, Pogba voiced his opinions of his former club on BBC’s Football Focus – and they weren’t positive.

The midfielder never started a match for United, and made just seven substitute appearances. Then 19, Pogba began a search for a new club, motivated by the desire for regular playing time. He states that his desire to leave Manchester United prompted punishment, with the midfielder forced to train alone for a week.

“They left me out because they said I wanted to leave,” he said. “That is disrespect. Maybe they didn’t think they were making a mistake.”

Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t believe his club were making a mistake, telling MUTV he was “quite happy” to see Pogba leave. “I don’t think he showed us any respect at all,” Ferguson added.

The former United manager may not have regretted letting Pogba join Serie A side Juventus in the summer of 2012, but many believe the club made a mistake in letting him slip away – especially on a free transfer. It’s well known that one of United’s biggest problems in recent times is their midfield; or rather, their lack thereof.

While Red Devils’ fans are bemoaning their lack of options in central midfield, Pogba is lighting up the pitch at Juve. The club are set to secure their third straight title, and the Frenchman has played a major role this season. He’s appeared in 33 of 35 league games, starting 30 times and scoring 7. He’s become a regular in the senior side for France and will surely be on the way to Brazil come June.

Daily rumors persist about big clubs like PSG and Manchester City preparing to spend ridiculous sums to bring Pogba into their squad. But one thing looks certain: he’s not going back to United.

Video: Spain ‘keeper Iker Casillas, magnanimous in victory

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Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas is gaining internet praise today for his call to end the opposition suffering in the final seconds of Sunday’s 4-0 win over Spain.

As the final seconds of the 2012 European Championship ticked away, Spain still had the ball and opportunities to make the final margin even more lopsided against the clearly dejected Italians. So Casillas turned to the nearest referee’s assistant and did what everyone around Europe was surely thinking: asked officials to blow the whistle already:



Respect for our rivals.

Respect for Italia. 4-0, yeah?”



It’s Iniesta! UEFA picks player, team of the tournament


A little update from the earlier post on top man at the European Championship.

Apparently, The Man doesn’t quite agree with me. We all certainly agree, at least, that Andres Iniesta is a special player worthy of special recognition. UEFA’s technical committee named the Barca midfielder (who played one of Spain’s hybrid winger-midfielder roles in Poland and Ukraine) its player of the tournament.

The story inked above is from Barcelona’s site; the next time you see the skillful Spaniard at work, it won’t be for Vicente del Bosque and their country. Rather, Iniesta will be back to work for Barcelona; the Catalan club’s first summer friendly is set for July 24 in Hamburg.

A Barca man won the same award at Euro 2008, when Spanish teammate Xavi Hernández directed his country to its first major title.

The technical committee also selected its all-tournament team for Euro 2012:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Ita), Iker Casillas (Spa), Manuel Neuer (Ger)

Defenders: Gerard Pique (Spa), Fabio Coentrao (Por), Philipp Lahm (Ger), Pepe (Por), Sergio Ramos (Spa), Jordi Alba (Spa)

Midfielders: Daniele De Rossi (Ita), Steven Gerrard (Eng), Xavi (Spa), Andres Iniesta (Spa), Sami Khedira (Ger), Sergio Busquets (Spa), Mesut Ozil (Ger), Andrea Pirlo (Ita), Xabi Alonso (Spa)

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Ita), Cesc Fabregas (Spa), Cristiano Ronaldo (Por), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Swe), David Silva (Spa)

Top man at Euro 2012, Pirlo or Iniesta? Opinions differ


Looking around the journalistic universe – we’re all packing up our memories, buying up the last of our metaphorical souvenirs and moving on from Euro 2012 – there seems to be a split vote on top player from the Poland and Ukraine proceedings.

Some have offered up Italy’s Andrea Pirlo (pictured), who truly lorded over matches with an effortless beauty few will ever match.

Others are offering up Andres Iniesta, many citing the Spaniard’s performance, feisty and commanding, in yesterday’s final as the deciding vote.

A few have even suggested it was Mario Balotelli; his two strikes in the Italians’ top tourney moment, the surprising win over Germany, certainly were breathtaking.

Me? I’ll take Pirlo, not because he’s a better player than Iniesta (he’s not, necessarily) but rather for the more substantial impact of his contributions.

Vicente del Bosque’s team, clearly the tournament’s top collection of talent and surely among the best national teams our planet has ever been privileged to witness, could have claimed this third consecutive major tournament title without their versatile attacker.

But I’d bet an delicious beef sandwich from my favorite, local Italian store that Italy would not have arrived in Sunday’s final without Pirlo’s contributions, especially that absolutely peerless, landmark evening of domination against England.

Still, it’s a tough call, because Iniesta really was something else at the moment that mattered most, on Sunday, the driving force on attack as he operated in such perceptively selected spaces.

Richard Farley, our resident expert on all things Euro 2012, had his say earlier today on the blog.

While you think up your top men, top performances, etc., here are a bunch of opinions from the football smarties at The Guardian.

Lunchtime distraction: fans in full bloom at Euro 2012


What we have in this video are lots of festive Euros in their national colors, wilding in all the feisty ways of the passionate soccer supporter: lovely ladies and handsome fellows singing, dancing, brawlin’, lovin’, cussing in various languages … the whole nine yards.

So it could be any Friday night at Jimmy Conrad’s house.

Or, it could be Conrad and his crew from Kick TV showing you the best and most outrageous fans they encountered during their time in Poland and Ukraine.