A Different Week – Et tu Samuel? Cameroon star turns his back on Inter for record Russian roubles

If Robbie Keane says he quit Tottenham Hotspur for LA Galaxy because it was his ‘dream’ to play in the MLS (ADW 19.08.11) then we will just have to take his word for it, but here’s hoping Samuel Eto’o doesn’t try to make a similar claim, following his move from Serie A giants Inter to little-known but big-spending Russian side FC Anzhi Makhachkala. Despite assuring Inter fans back in May that “No professional situation can take me away from Inter,” the Cameroon international made the switch this Wednesday, for a €21m transfer fee, on a record-breaking contract reputedly worth €30m over three years, with the money being put up by Makhachkala’s billionaire owner Suleyman Kerimov, who bought the club in January 2011.

Makhachkala are not just new money, they’re new full stop. Formed in 1991, the club has spent most of its 20 years in the Russian First Division, surviving three seasons in the Russian Premier League from 2000-2003 before being relegated. Despite finishing 4th in that first season in the top flight and reaching the final of the Russian Cup in 2001, Makhachkala have claimed no major honours other than winning the First Division in 1999 and again in 2009, which saw them return to the Russian Premier League. Then Kerimov arrived and began ploughing his roubles into the club, signing a number of big name players, including Russian international midfielder Yuri Zhirkov from Chelsea (£15m) and Brazil legend Roberto Carlos from Corinthians. Despite these and other big transfers, Makhachkala still only finished 11th last season and are currently fourth in this campaign after comprehensive 3-0 defeats to Moscow sides Spartak and CSKA.

There are also serious question marks hanging over the security of the local area. Neighbouring Chechnya, Makhachkala is the capital of the Caucasus Republic of Dagestan, notorious for its terrorist attacks by Islamic insurgents and known as one of Russia’s most dangerous and politically unstable areas, meaning the entire squad instead live and train in Moscow, flying in 1,250 miles for home matches and giving some credence to the rumours that Eto’o will continue to live in Milan and fly to Russia for games courtesy of Kerimov’s private jet. It is beyond doubt that, at only 30-years-old and still in fine form, the decision by Eto’o to move to this small club in its turbulent location has been almost solely motivated by the incredible money on offer. But while no one would begrudge him such a lucrative end to his successful career, it seems a shame that one of the world’s greatest strikers looks set to end his playing days in footballing obscurity.

Those days of course began with Real Madrid, where manager Jose Mourinho has this week come out fighting in the face of severe disciplinary action from the Spanish FA. Mourinho is in hot water after appearing to poke Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova in the eye during the brawl that followed Barca’s victory against Real in the Spanish Super Cup Final and is now looking at a lengthy ban of up to 12 games, but the Special One is unrepentant and sorry only to his own club’s fans. “I wish to apologise to Madridistas, and only to them, for my attitude in our last game,Some people are better adapted to the hypocrisy in football than I am and they hide their faces and speak in whispers deep inside tunnels.” Mourinho also quashed rumours he was set to quit the Bernabeu, adding “There is no way I am leaving. No way!” presumably resisting the temptation to add “Jose” to the end of that sentence.

Another slightly odd manager is Notts County’s Martin ‘Mad dog’ Allen, who posted the following message on the club’s website towards the end of last week:

I am desperately trying to find somebody that can teach me to whistle. This may sound like a joke but I can assure you it’s not. This is not for my dog, this is for me to whistle from my technical area.

Anyone who can help is asked to contact the club via [email protected]

Staying in the Football League, if someone told you of the Cinderella story at Hereford United, you’d presumably think of the heroics of Ronnie Radford and Co. back in 1972. However, a slightly different tale hit Hereford this week after a shoe kicked onto the stadium roof nine years ago was finally retrieved. The Adidas trainer came off the foot of sixteen-year-old Richard Fensome as he kicked a beach ball during half-time at a United game back in November 2002.

Recalling the incident, Mr Fensome said “A few of us were booting a beach ball around the front of the stand. My trainer came off and flew into the air. It got latched onto the hook in the top of the stand.” The errant shoe became a popular feature of the Meadow End of Edgar Street, but was finally removed as part of a major clean-up of the ground, prompting some criticism from sections of the Hereford support. United vice-chairman Tim Russon said: “” Mr Fensome didn’t mind his loss too much at the time, after the incident was caught by television cameras: “That night I went out in Hereford and was bought drinks all night by people who recognised me off the telly coverage.

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