Mesut Ozil row, Cristiano Ronaldo case closed, Roy Keane vs. The World

This week's roundup of the biggest and most unusual news stories sees Roy Keane get angry with just about everyone, the last word on Cristiano Ronaldo's rumoured return to Old Trafford and "FIFA: The Movie" failing to pull in the punters.

TOP FIVE STORIES
Even though Roy Keane's new autobiography "The Second Half" was not officially released until Thursday, an apparently accidental stocking on the shelves of one supermarket four days early helped build a week's worth of publicity from excerpts that were every bit as confrontational as you might expect. Even after the papers had published a stream of passages putting ex-Manchester United colleagues Sir Alex Ferguson, Carlos Queiroz, Peter Schmeichel and the Class of '92 in their place, Keane still had plenty in the tank as he took aim at the very people covering the book's official launch in Dublin by saying: "There are people in this room who are quite happy to tell lies about me, and at some stage you have to defend yourself. Enough is enough."
Even when the Premier League was hit by almost unanimous opposition to its tentative plans for clubs to play a "39th game" outside of the U.K. six years ago, it was never likely to be the end of the matter. And so it proved when this week the revolutionary idea of incorporating the trips into the existing 38-game schedule was floated via the British press. Such a concept has now become commonplace among major U.S. sports, while traditional preseason trophies such as the Italian Super Cup have been staged abroad. But competitive domestic fixtures on foreign soil remain uncharted territory for Europe's major leagues, and many -- including UEFA -- would prefer it to stay that way.
Mesut Ozil has had his form questioned ever since he returned to the day job at Arsenal this season after helping Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The answer to the playmaker's indifferent form for his club may have been provided by his country, but it didn't come as welcome news for Gunners fans already lamenting their latest injury crisis. Ozil has been ruled out for up to three months by the DFB, with a knee problem they say he was complaining about when he arrived for international duty. That duration was reasserted by Germany's assistant coach after an Arsenal statement appeared to doubt it, but Arsene Wenger insists he will wait for his own experts' evaluation. Whatever the exact length of time of Ozil's absence, he is unlikely to be back before Christmas, leaving plenty of scope to fret about Laurent Koscielny's withdrawal from the France squad instead.
There is a strong case to be made that, after FIFA president Sepp Blatter, Jorge Mendes is the most powerful man in football. The Portuguese agent has a client book that includes the world's most marketable manager (Jose Mourinho), the current holder of the Ballon d'Or (Cristiano Ronaldo) and, it seems, most of Manchester United's best players (Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, David de Gea). So when he gives a rare interview on Spanish radio to insist that a much-speculated return to Old Trafford is "impossible," that can be considered the final word on the matter. Can't it?

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TOP SCORERS

1. Raúl - 71 (142 games) - Real Madrid, Schalke 04
2. Cristiano Ronaldo - 69 (105) - Man Utd, Real Madrid
3. Lionel Messi - 68 (88) - Barcelona
4. Ruud van Nistelrooy - 56 (73) - PSV, Man Utd, Real Madrid
5. Thierry Henry - 50 (112) - Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona
In the midst of UEFA's first "week of football" -- that sees Euro 2016 qualifiers and friendlies staggered over a six-day period -- Europe's governing body has made a hugely significant announcement about its flagship club competition. In an apparent attempt to break the hegemony of Europe's top clubs in the Champions League, from next season only the champions of the continent's seven highest-ranked leagues will join the European champions among the top seeds for the group-stage draw. On paper it adds a much-needed degree of meritocracy to a biased format, but how effective it is cannot be truly measured until all the sides for next season's knockout phase are decided.
MEANWHILE ...
We may be some weeks away from awards season, but it's a pretty fair guess that "United Passions," the movie about the history of FIFA, will not be slugging it out for the big prizes. The film, starring Hollywood heavyweights Tim Roth, Gerard Depardieu and Sam Neill, has so far recouped just $200,000 of its $28 million budget.
The biggest market for the movie -- in which FIFA president Sepp Blatter is played by Roth, Depardieu plays Jules Rimet and Neill portrays Joao Havelange -- was the World Cup's next host nation, Russia, which accounts for almost 75 percent of the takings to date.
The image of Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho being kept apart by the fourth official during Chelsea's 2-0 win over Arsenal on Sunday became the enduring image of the week. There is famously little love lost between the pair, but one man who knows them both, Gerard Houllier, believes that the rivalry is overplayed on the back pages.
"Firstly, I understand Arsene, because he was annoyed because there was a tackle by [Gary] Cahill on [Alexis] Sanchez. He simply wanted to see if his player was OK, and he pushed Mourinho, but it's a little bit of the media game over there, the folklore. Moreover, nothing happened after that," the former Liverpool manager said. "It's true that they're not the best of friends, but that's just the way it is. I know Mourinho well. He's intelligent, nice. I can tell you that all the players who are with him adore him, they like his training sessions. I don't share the opinions he has voiced with regard to Arsene, but Arsene can look after himself."
Tottenham fans are well-used to hearing stories of how they almost signed legendary players -- Gerry Francis reportedly chose to sign Chris Armstrong over Dennis Bergkamp, while Glenn Hoddle revealed that Rivaldo sent him "a terrific letter" explaining why he didn't move to White Hart Lane. Now, thanks to former manager Harry Redknapp, they can add two more illustrious names to that list.
"[Patrick Vieira] almost came to me at Tottenham from Inter Milan. I thought it was an incredible decision by him, after he'd been such a hero at Arsenal," Redknapp said in his new book, "A Man Walks On To A Pitch," which is being serialised in the Daily Mail. "I met him at his house in Hampstead and he had no fear about what people would think or what reception he would get. He had enough confidence in his ability to just brush it away.
"Despite all that has happened in his career since, one of the biggest regrets of my life in management is not taking Luis Suarez to Tottenham when we had the chance. 'You've got to take him, Harry,' Ruud Gullit told me. 'He's fantastic.'"
A former Liverpool trialist is facing jail after allegedly impersonating Chelsea midfielder Gael Kakuta in a 141,000-pound credit-card fraud. Medi Abalimba is accused of falsely claiming to be Kakuta, currently on loan with Spanish club Rayo Vallecano, to obtain luxury goods, drink and clothes using a fake credit card, Manchester Crown Court heard. He enjoyed VIP treatment at five-star hotels, helicopter flights, limousine rides and also ran up thousands of pounds in restaurant and bar bills, then disappeared without paying.
Speaking via a video link from prison, he pleaded guilty to charges relating to around 53,000 pounds' worth of goods, and asked for offences totalling another 88,000 pounds to be taken into consideration. The case has been adjourned until later this month.
He may not be a Liverpool player anymore, but Luis Suarez has reportedly asked Kenny Dalglish to travel to Barcelona to present him with the Golden Shoe award he earned with his 31 Premier League goals for the Anfield club last season.
Dalglish was Liverpool manager when Suarez arrived from Ajax in 2011 and famously backed the striker to the hilt amid accusations that the Uruguayan had racially abused Patrice Evra, even after the FA had found him guilty of doing so. It is not known whether Dalglish will wear a commemorative T-shirt for Wednesday's happy occasion.

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 POSTED BY IAIN MACINTOSH
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England manager Roy Hodgson was pleased to get the victory as his side defeated what he saw as an "improved" San Marino 5-0.
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