All in the Game: Hargreaves and McManaman compete for most asinine punditry quotes

Thibaut Courtois aggrieved by Ballon d’Or placing; Ronaldo not interested in management

It always seemed unlikely that anything would ever top Kevin Keegan’s one-time observation that “England have the best fans in the world — but Scotland’s are second-to-none.” (Not to mention “they’re the second best team in the world, and there’s no higher praise than that.”).

But Owen Hargreaves is threatening to steal his crown. His BT Sport take on who is currently the world’s greatest player?

“Messi is one of a kind — but Haaland is unique.”

In quotes

“Declan Rice doesn’t score many, but when he does, they normally end up in the back of the net.” — Thanks for that, Steve McManaman.


Word of Mouth

“Managing never attracted me, no, no: zero, zero, zero. The idea of being a coach kills me. A player does what he has to, goes home, that’s it. A coach has 25 guys — young, bastards, sons of bitches — all wanting to screw you. Unthinkable. Never.” — The Brazilian Ronaldo somewhat ruling out ever becoming a gaffer during his chat with The Guardian.

“You’re just a s**t Andy Carroll.” — West Ham supporters in the direction of Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez last week, although they quit singing their tune immediately after he scored the only goal of the game. Karma, that.

“Everyone is going on about how great and super he is, but if he’s not getting the ball on a sixpence, it doesn’t matter how good your movement is, he’s not getting the ball. He would not score 60 goals in League Two, and I was a manager there with Walsall.” — Paul Merson suggesting that Erling Haaland would struggle for goals at Walsall. Wouldn’t we all?

“Maybe he needed go to the bathroom?” — Manchester United old-boy Nani attempting to explain why his compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo walked down that tunnel.

Fighting Ronaldo’s corner

How did Cristiano Ronaldo’s sisters, Elma and Katia, react to the latest chapter in his book of Manchester United woes?

Elma: “You don’t have to prove anything, it’s all in sight. I could live another 50 years and never see your like again, the great professional who dedicated himself and gave his soul to everything he did. You’re the most beautiful human being I’ve ever met, for you I’ll go to the end of the world. So happy and proud to have the same blood as you ….. I’ll be with you ‘til death do us part. Karma exists. I see a lot, mainly disrespect. Don’t do what you don’t want me to do to you. God doesn’t sleep.”

Katia: “No one who was born to shine by the hands of God will be annulled by someone who has never put on his shoes. He is and will be history. There is a verse in the bible that says: ‘This man was delivered to you by God’s determined plan and foreknowledge — and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.’ And the sinners, the enemies, the judges who didn’t build a third of what he built are the stones ... they are the wicked.”

Erik ten Hag? He should probably beef up his security.

In numbers: 1,000,000,000,000

That’s how many Euros Erling Haaland’s agent Rafaela Pimenta reckons it will take to release him from Manchester City’s grip. A bargain, that.

More word of mouth

“You win La Liga, the Champions League, your team wins thanks to your saves ... and you only finish seventh?

How did Real Madrid goalie Thibaut Courtois take his placing of seventh in the Ballon d’Or vote? Peeved.

“The [Champions League] final was a game where I made several crucial and almost impossible saves. It was the best game by Courtois for Real Madrid.”

Courtois still going on about it, this time talking — unforgivably — in the third person.

“I really want to continue coaching. It’s like a drug that gets in to your blood. Being without football is like sleeping, and I don’t like that.”

Claudio Ranieri (71), out of work since being sacked by Watford in January, has managerial withdrawal symptoms. Someone give that man a job — right now.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times