The Lead

It’s a trope as old as Little League itself: losing sucks. Losing close games sucks even more. Losing close games after you’ve gone ahead by a goal sucks the bag. Losing those games after the 90th minute, well…there are only so many of these one can do before things get vulgar.

That’s the great thing about professional sport. While everything ‘fun’ about sport goes out the window with the first six figure paycheque—loyalty to ones team, having fun, learning, sports for sports’ sake etc.—there are two constants that link the game in your backyard to a European night at the Santiago Bernebeu: the love of winning, and hatred of losing.

Which is why harping on the fact Roberto Mancini called out Joe Hart for criticizing Manchester City for coughing up a win is silly. It is certainly not the moment to make sweeping claims about the “brittleness [of] Mancini’s temperament,” as one English commentator put it (oh hell, it was Richard Williams).

Yes, footballers are paid professionals who have a specific role to play in a clearly delineated hierarchy that begins with the owner and trickles down to the chairperson on down to the manager, the players, and the groundskeepers, and eventually perhaps the fan. But the fogginess of a post-match rage—even a game as potentially meaningless as the first Champions League group stage match—means everything is blurred for a little while.

If I were Joe Hart, I would scarce be able to use language as diplomatic as, “We can only blame ourselves” after watching Vincent Kompany inexplicably duck a Ronaldo shot in the crucial moment. Especially after having a camera shoved in my face immediately after the game.

Still, it’s Mancini’s right to disagree, and he was livid too. Does this mean there is discord? Or that this is further evidence Mancini has lost the plot? All of it absurd speculation.

And who watches the watchers anyway? One of the questions immediately posed to a jubilant Jose Mourinho from an English journalist was, “Do you feel sorry for City?” Should we really judge athletes or coaches by anything they say under these circumstances, forced to respond to the utter slop from these tabloid freaks who think nothing of complaining to their 90,000 followers about the poor Wifi in the fully-heated press box?

Post-match quotes don’t matter. They’re the equivalent of pillow talk.

Canada

Toronto FC confirms Paul Mariner is returning for the 2013 season.

Montreal Impact’s Alessandro Nesta on life in the MLS.

‘We need the fans more than ever’ – Vancouver Whitecaps

England

Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra set to shake hands at Anfield.

Andre Villas-Boas denies feeling any pressure during Tottenham’s slow start.

Apparently Wayne Rooney is back in training.

Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba left out of Newcastle’s squad for Thursday’s  Europa League action.

Sergio Aguero confirms he would’ve signed for Real Madrid over Manchester City.

John Obi Mikel admits Chelsea were lucky to win the Champions League.

Roberto Di Matteo aiming for back-to-back Champions League titles.

Steve Bould impressed with Arsenal’s spirit in win over Montpellier.

Manchester United’s annual results reveal the clubs total income fell by 3.3%.

Parliament urges the FA to recruit more referees and coaches from ethnic minorities to help fight racism.

Darren Bent stripped of the captains armband by Paul Lambert.

Manchester United scouts targeting Torino’s Angelo Ogbonna.

Arsenal v Montpellier – Match Recap

‘England should recall Crouch’ – Asmir Bergovic

Manchester United v Galatasary – Match Preview

Italy

 Tottenham were offered to sign Miroslav Klose.

Franco Baldini confirms Roma turned down offers of €100 million for De Rossi and several other players.

Juventus looking to upset Chelsea.

Milan v Anderlecht – Match Recap

Spain

Real Madrid v Manchester City – Match Recap

Malaga v Zenit - Match Recap

Jose Mourinho hits out at his critics once again.

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell aiming to make La Liga more competitive.

‘Real Madrid’s pride is restored’ – Jose Mourinho

Cristiano Ronaldo is happy once again.

Jose Mourinho dismisses talk of problem with Sergio Ramos.

Barcelona v Spartak Moskva – Match Preview

Germany

Mario Gomez still unable to set a date for his return.

Markus Babbel resigns as director of football at Hoffenheim.

Borussia Dortmund v Ajax – Match Recap

Schalke v Olympiakos – Match Recap

Bayern Munich v Valencia – Match Preview

Bits and bobs

Mourinho v Mancini – In Pictures

Zonal Marking – Manchester City left exposed down the right side

ESPN did a pretty good job explaining the City/Madrid match.

Incredible finish from the Croatian League.

That Liam Gallagher is one crazy man.

One of the best football movies…Goal the dream begins

Trip down memory lane – Manchester United v Galatasary (1993)

Barcelona wants only female flight attendants from now on.

Vinnie Jones in Euro Trip.

Freestyle football at its best.

Cheers to Michael Tomasone for compiling the links.